Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bikes and That Dam

On Sunday our mission was to find bikes to give us some freedom to explore the city a bit more while we are here (and to make grocery shopping a bit easier!)

We were told about a 2nd hand bike place. It was a big open shed that also sold Mercedes and Tractors. After tire kicking a few bikes we went into negotiation phase. The man wanted $1.5million kip (NZD 250) for two rather delapidated old bikes.

The Laoations don't really negoitiate as much as you see in other Asian countries. Once he had given his price there was no movement. We walked away, and there was no call-back.

In the end we purchased a couple of new bikes, which the shop will buy back from us at the end of our time here. They aren't the biggest bikes in the world, but we'll cope. The best part about Vientiane is that we have not seen a single hill yet.

With wheels we started to have a look around.

We had a look at That Dam (tawt dahm) -That Dam translates as the Black Stupa.  A Stupa is a mound like structure that holds buddhist relics or is a memorial.



The stupa is located in the mjiddle of a roundabout in near the city centre.  Once it was apparently covered in gold.  Supposedly it was built over the cave of a seven headed dragon .  The dragon saved the Lao people during the 1828 Siam-Lao war, but the gold was stolen by the Siamese (Thais). Being black and overgrown it provides a contrast to all the decoration and gold we see elsewhere.

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