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Add fruit shakes and friendly expats to the list of things to recommend Vientiane. The only problem is that the guesthouse situation is still pretty pricy here in Vientiane, especially since I’m paying the “single tax”—dorm accomodation is unpopular compared to Europe because a) everything’s cheaper already b) people steal stuff more from dorms c) maybe not so many people are crazy enough to travel around here alone.

The temperature is thoroughly reasonable, I can go out midday in December and not fry.

Did the (very small) tourist circuit of Vientiane this morning, going by Patuxai (big concrete arch a l’arc) on the way to Pha That Luang, the national symbol. Closer to the center I also figured out that the fortress with what looks like an Air Traffic Control tower sticking out is the US Embassy, near the attractive but rather boring Black Stupa.

Vientiane is like that, except maybe not always attractive. Definitely boring, though, in the best way. NGOers have to like being based here.

I was invited for a touch (Aussie) football match this evening by a couchsurfer but couldn’t find the field (winding up on a highway about 4km outside of whatever the sign considered to be “Vientiane”). Had a nice chat over lunch earlier though.

After horror stories from every direction about the ordinary buses to/from Luang Prabang I bought a ticket on the “VIP bus” which I hope won’t be like Thailand’s infamous scams. It cost enough that it’d better not be like that. Anyway, tomorrow morning I should be picked up from my guesthouse for the 8-12 hour ride to Luang Prabang… I could keep lounging around here and eating well but I don’t want to run out of time at the end (which is fast approaching).

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