Today I read a blog post from a tourist in Vientiane. He was here one or two days ago – for a day. Coming from Bangkok the city was too small for him, the temples not shiny enough. And there is no real market, he writes. My first thought: he is wrong, at least about the markets. Everyday, 2 hours before the sun sets over the Mekong, the night market starts. Hundreds of stalls with red roofs, with food and textiles and toys and everything in abundance. Second thought: I should not blame him, he is a tourist on his way to see the whole Southeast Asia in a few weeks.
We have the luxury of staying here longer. We are slow travellers, we allow ourselves enough time to get to know a town. Time being our first luxury, we consider our actual „home“ the second. We stay in the „serviced residence Somerset“, a rather big complex of smaller and bigger flats. Our studio is compact, but we do not really miss anything. Our little kitchen is big enough for „cooking“ our fruity breakfast and cool our drinks. Real cooking would be a sin. There are so many places to eat real good food for the smallest budget. Dinner for 2 does not have to cost more than 100’000 Kip (= 12 CHF / 100 NOK). Why should I cook, they are so much better in doing that?
The Somerset offers more than a bed to sleep and a table for writing and a sofa for relaxing. It comes with gym and pool and 2 maids that are „tidying“ our mess every day. Of course, not knowing the local rules we washed our dishes after each breakfast. But that is actually part of their job. They now have it back …
We actually go to the gym everyday. All the work and stress in the last year kept us from doing sport-like activities. Now, no more excuses! We have time to do our cycling in the gym every morning. So far, we cannot really do extensive swimming. The water is a bit too chilly. Do not forget, it is still considered to be winter here. But the water is warming up, the maximum temperature nowadays is closing in on 30C.
Somerset is a nice place to stay and for us affordable (CHF 1500 / 13’000 NOK for a month). Yesterday I learned that the average income in Laos is exactly that sum – in a year!
Most of our upcoming travelling will mean guesthouses and small hotels. But it is very nice to have this comfortable studio (and all the service that comes with it) for the first month. It allows us to wind down and get prepared for more speedy days. And yes, it also allows our souls to catch up with the rest of us, being on the other side of the globe.