We're back in the Laos capital, Vientiane, after a long but beautiful drive back from Vang Vieng.
We've been to some distinctly average Chinese restaurants whilst here (largely to keep Ma-in-law happy) but the Laos meals we have had have been exceptional, especially the DIY all-u-can-eat barbecues. Laos food is similar to Thai food, but without the mouth-burning chilli dishes or the stomach-turning sour dishes.
We visited the Buddha Sculpture Park in Vientiane yesterday. I was last there was in 2006. It's a bizarre collection of sculptures, religious and fantasy, which JD thoroughly enjoyed climbing on and in! It's hot here (30ºC today) and after meandering through the park we sat by the Mekong Rover and ate ice-creams.
Jiajia and her brother "Li" haven't always seen eye-to-eye in the past, but he and his new wife have been surprisingly hospitable and generous so far. His Laos wife "San" doesn't speak English or Chinese, but has been making every effort to connect with JD. It helps that they have a pet monkey! Li works as a taxi driver, but has been transporting us around instead this week (and obviously missing out on fares).
It's been refreshing to see Jiajia and Li laughing and joking together.
Jiajia, JD, Ma-in-law and I all flew to Laos today. Jiajia's brother lives there with his "girlfriend" (we later discovered they are recently married and expecting a baby). It's a new country for everybody, except me, and Jiajia is keen to escape Kunming's recent cold snap.
Laos is only a 2½ hour flight from Kunming, and a one hour time difference. So, on arrival, Jiajia's brother "Li", whisked us straight off from the airport to 2-3 tourist sights in the Laos capital of Vientiane - "Victory Gate" and a couple of temples - before heading out of town to his house to unpack and have a rest.
Despite only having one bed in the house, Li's insisting all six of us sleep there, using sofas and floor. Frankly we'd prefer a nearby hotel, but he seems very insistent on showing his hospitality!
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