Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vientiane 9 & 10 Sep 2010

The train was easy and we arrived in Nong Khai about half an hour late, but with no deadlines it was not an issue.   We took a tuk-tuk to the border post, followed by the obligatory short bus ride across the Friendship bridge over the Meekong.

Laos immigration was a couple of forms and we had our 30 day tourist visa. Andrew called Mr Kham the driver for his friends in Vientiane.

We were taken their house in the suburbs of Vientiane. It is a lovely large house, but the road is unsealed and quite cut up after the rainy season.

We went downtown after lunch to try and orientate ourselves with the city.  It is a small compact central city, with very little traffic.  Lots of Toyota utes and Prados.  Cars here have 180% tax over the purchase cost, but utes have a lower tax charge as they are 'working' vehicles.

The good news is there is more than one wine shop, access to western goods, and we have had proper coffee.  Andrew has not yet found the so-called "Australian Butcher", but he has a good idea where his shop is.  There will be plenty to explore over the next few weeks so we didn't target anything just yet.

The biggest danger that we found on the safe streets of Vientiane was the number of cracked and broken drains.

The house where we are staying is inside a large iron gate, has a cold spa and good air-conditioning.  Then across the road and around the corner is the contrast of the stalls, the cattle, the goats...Streets are a mix of paved and unpaved.

Today we have been to look for apartments and have seen a couple and have one real possibility - watch this space as we follow up on this.

After lunch Andrew visited the Ministry of Education and started the process of signing his contract. This probably means he will get paid at some time in the future and this isn't just a holiday trip. It now goes off to be registered by the government.

And we are both kip millionaires after withdrawing 2 million kip each from the ATM machine. That's about NZ$300 each. Costs are relatively cheap.  Of course western goods are more expensive.   6 of us went out for dinner last night to a local restaurant and the cost was 360,000 kip or about NZ$60 all up.

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