Sospel & Italy…..

Sospel & Italy…..

As we decided to check out of this suite and move into another suite, we took advantage of the garden in the meantime.

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Relaxing

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Getting ready to wash the locally grown strawberries

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We then moved to the new suite named after Jean Cocteau. Jean Cocteau, (born July 5, 1889, Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris, France—died October 11, 1963, Milly-la-Forêt, near Paris), French poet, librettist, novelist, actor, film director, and painter. Some of his most important works include the poem L’Ange Heurtebise (1925; “The Angel Heurtebise”); the play Orphée (1926; Orpheus); the novels Les Enfants terribles (1929; “The Incorrigible Children”; Eng. trans. Children of the Game or The Holy Terrors) and La Machine infernale (1934; The Infernal Machine); and his surrealistic motion pictures Le Sang d’un poète (1930; The Blood of a Poet) and La Belle et la bête (1946; Beauty and the Beast).

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In France restaurants usually start service at 12 noon until 2:30pm then reopen in the evening at 6pm (varies restaurant to restaurant, but those the are general rough times)

So around 1pm we drove to Loving Hut in Menton.

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A fantastic dish, that is why you do not see a single bit of food left!

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Delicious vegan cheesecake

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On the way back to Eze, we decided to take the middle corniche road.

Three”Corniche” roads, said to be “Lower, Middle and Upper or Grand” considering their different altitudes, lie between Nice and Monaco.

The Lower one culminates 150 ft above sea level and from Nice, leads to the little fishing port of Villefranche that boasts such a beautiful bay ; after Cap Ferrat, the millionaires’ peninsula, the road enters the little resort of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, that became very chic and fashionable at the Turn of the Century. From Beaulieu through the section of “Little Africa” at the foot of very impressive cliffs, the Lower road crosses Eze on Sea, then Cap d’Ail and its crystal clear little inlet. That’s the last French town before entering the Principality of Monaco.

More recent, the Middle road, offers incredible views at all the little resorts mentioned before and leads to the “eagle nest” village of Eze culminating 1200 ft above sea level.

The Upper Road, a strategic road and the older one, offers great views as well, but doesn’t cross any city center, except the one of La Turbie, little town just above Monaco, renowned for its Roman trophy : built in 6 B.C., this monument is unique among all the world’s Roman remains presently known.

The Upper Road leads finally to the perched village of Roquebrune.
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We seemed to take a wrong turning at one point which was a blessing as we ended up on windy roads with stunning vistas and then onto a quaint windy road to Sospel.

The town dates back to the 5th century, when it served as an important staging post on the royal road from Nice to Turin. The old toll bridge used by travellers to cross the Bevera, built in the 13th century, still stands. It was bombed by the Germans during World War II to prevent contact between the French Resistance (“The Maquis”) and the Italians. Much of the town was destroyed. Renovated after World War II it now houses the tourist office. Ruins of a tower, part of a château belonging to the counts of Provence, are all that remain of the 14th century city walls.

On the way to Sospel

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We wanted to park up to view the amazing sights, it ended up being somebodies garden!

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On the way to Sospel I saw a snake crossing the road! It came as a bit of a shock.

Sospel

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People here seemed very surprised to see us, it does not seem many tourists visit this place. They were very friendly and smiled and said bonjour! It was fun to watch a game of French Boules being played by the locals in the park.

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Boules is a collective name for a wide range of games in which the objective is to throw or roll heavy balls (called boules in France, and “bocce” in Italy) as close as possible to a small target ball.

Boules-type games are traditional and popular in France, Italy and Croatia, and are also popular in some former French colonies. In those countries, boules games are often played in open spaces (town squares and parks) in villages and towns. Dedicated playing areas for boules-type games are typically large, level, rectangular courts made of flattened earth, gravel, or crushed stone, enclosed in wooden rails or back boards.

In the south of France, the word boules is also often used as a synonym for pétanque.

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As Italy is only 8km away we decided to drive there.

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An Italian village

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We drove to Italy, down to Ventimiglia on the Italian coast then back to France.

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Back to Menton

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We decided to enjoy a takeaway in our suite this evening. Previously when entering Menton we saw an Indian restaurant called Indian Moods, we walked to the restaurant, as we saw it was a halal restaurant we decided to go back to Le Taj for a takeaway. On the way we passed a nice fruit and vegetable shop where we stocked up on locally grown apples and a fruit similiar to blood-satsuma.

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We placed our takeaway order at Le Taj

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Then went for a wander, since coming to France I have been wanting to eat fresh bread, the lady at Le Taj told us where we can get some so we searched for the boulangerie (bakery.) On the way we saw a live performance by a very good local band:

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httpvh://youtu.be/CFy4-ECLvsM

httpvh://youtu.be/K8Leb1AHLx4

It was a fantastic and lively atmosphere, so good to see people dancing and enjoying themselves, without the need for drink!

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The search for my bread continues!

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Woohoo, found some.

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On the way back to the hotel we passed Carrefour.

Carrefour S.A. is a French multinational retailer headquartered in Boulogne Billancourt, France, in Greater Paris. It is one of the largest hypermarket chains in the world (with 1,452 hypermarkets at the end of 2011, the second largest retail group in the world in terms of revenue, and the third largest in profit (after Wal-Mart and Tesco). Carrefour operates mainly in Europe, Argentina, Brazil, China, Dominican Republic, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but also has shops in North Africa and other parts of Asia, with most stores being of smaller size than hypermarket or even supermarket. Carrefour means “crossroads” and “public square” in French. Previously the company head office was in Levallois-Perret, also in Greater Paris.

There we bought water, fruit smoothie and snacks.

Back at the hotel we ate whilst watching a movie called Short Cuts, wish I could tell you what it was about but whilst watching we felt sleepy, probably because the movie had a very slow start!

Vegan Festival, Manchester…..

Vegan Festival, Manchester…..

What a fantastic day, we visited the Northern Vegan Festival in Manchester, http://www.northernveganfestival.com/

There were many stalls supporting animal rights and conservation of the environment.

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Now what really attracted me was the free food, unfortunately as we arrived at the venue around 3:30pm most of the free food had disappeared. On entering the hall we found a stall that sold gluten free and vegan cupcakes, they looked delicious so we bought two…….nice to have later with coffee!

Further into the small crowded hall we saw a stall selling bhel puri, bhel puri is a savoury Indian snack, and is also a type of chaat. It is made out of puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce.
Bhelpuri is often identified with the beaches of Mumbai (Bombay), such as Chowpatty. Bhelpuri is thought to have originated within the Gujarati cafes and street food stalls of Bombay, and the recipe has spread to most parts of India where it has been modified to suit local food availability. The Kolkata variant of Bhelpuri is called Jhaal Muri (meaning “hot puffed rice”). A native Mysore variant of Bhelpuri is known as Churumuri in Bangalore. A dry variant of Bhelpuri popularly known as Bhadang is consumed after garnishing with onions, coriander and lemon juice.

Sangeet had one bhel puri and said it was good. We were both hungry so everything tasted nice!!

There was a very popular Turkish stall which sold vegan Gozleme, Gözleme is a savoury traditional Turkish pastry dish, made of hand-rolled dough that is lightly brushed with butter and eggs, filled with various toppings, sealed, and cooked over a griddle.
The name derives from the Turkish word göz meaning “compartment”, in reference to the pocket of dough in which the various toppings are sealed and cooked. Traditionally, this is done on a saç griddle. stuffing options were Vegan cheese, mushroom, potato or spinach. It looked very popular. I decided to try this later.

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Around the corner was Mistry’s Catering where I purchased mogo, also called Cassava, Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called manioc, yuca, balinghoy, mogo, mandioca, kamoteng kahoy, and manioc root, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy, tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. It differs from the similarly spelled yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the Asparagaceae family. Cassava, when dried to a starchy, powdery (or pearly) extract is called tapioca, while its fermented, flaky version is named garri. The mogo was fried which is exactly how I like them!

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One of the many stalls:

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There were many other stalls including Lush, Pudology and a vegan clothes stall……I will not be eating my clothes after wearing them!

It was also great to meet David from Dandelion and Burdock, http://www.dandelionandburdockrestaurant.com/_/home.html
(16 Town hall street, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX6 2EA) we have been visiting this excellent vegetarian restaurant for a number of years.

I managed to find a stall which sold fake meats, ‘chicken’ burgers and ‘sausage’ the smell was fantastic, therefore, I decided to sample it a number of times!

Waiting for the next batch of burgers!

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Ready to sample, even before the owner has put the food on the table!

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As we are now going to phase out processed foods I did not buy any burgers.

The venue was small for the number of people and after a while you can really smell the sweat….I am hoping next year the organisers choose a bigger venue!

In the evening we tried the gluten free, vegan cupcakes they were very dry and did not taste quite how we expected….like a real cup cake, I have tasted many gluten free and vegan cupcakes which have tasted amazing, unfortunately for this one I suggest the creators go back into the kitchen and try again!

Walking…..

Walking…..

This morning I had a very informative breakfast…..in the lounge there was only the waitress and myself so we got chatting, I asked her what the Thai’s think of Indian’s. She said “they are very rude and obnoxious people also they are very dirty and leave the area a mess”. Seems like the Indians are not liked! Now it makes sense why taxi drivers did not want to pick us up. She has, in my opinion got a valid point.

Afterwards, it was time to find a laundry. Now in England most businesses are closed on January 1st. For some reason I was expecting it to be open here! I searched for a couple of hours, whilst Sangeet was relaxing at the hotel. I could not find any open, looks like it is back to hand washing the clothes.

Bangkok is not a city I enjoy. In fact I hate this place, I cannot put a finger on why I hate it so much, just has not got a good vibe.

Back at the hotel, Sangeet needed to get some contact lenses. We walked to one of the many malls in Bangkok called MBK, the walk took about an hour. MBK Center, also known as Mahboonkrong, is a large shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand. At eight stories high, the center contains around 2,000 shops, restaurants and service outlets, including the 4-story Tokyu department store.
The MBK Center management reports daily visitor numbers of more than 100,000, half of whom are young Thai people and a third foreign visitors.
The MBK Center is popular with tourists, although the majority of shoppers are Bangkok residents. Knockoff items can be found in abundance at this shopping complex, but prices are much higher than one would expect. Many stores selling authentic merchandise are also available. MBK Center is connected to the Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon shopping mall by elevated walkways, both of which are more upscale and have only authentic goods.

Walking towards the mall
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Another one of the many malls
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Bangkok sky train
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Bangkok skywalk
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Bangkok, always busy
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The skywalk is an elevated footpath or walkway which has been built under the skytrain in the areas where many of the shopping malls are close together. The Skywalk means it is very easy to walk from Central Chidlom to MBK without having to step foot on the regular pavement / sidewalk.

The Bangkok Skywalk doesn’t run the length of the Skytrain system but it is being extended gradually. The skywalk is clean, even and wide which allows for many people to walk between malls without getting jammed up or bumping into each other.

Opening Hours

It might seem strange, but the Bangkok Skywalk has opening hours:

06:00 – 24:00
These times coincide with the times of the BTS Skytrain opening hours. The other reason for an opening and closing time is to stop homeless people using it at night as a place of shelter. In fact, you will see no beggars, homeless people or hawkers on the Skywalk system. It is kept clean of all people except those walking from one place to the next. It is also a very clean area and kept spotless. It’s a sign of what Bangkok can achieve when it wants to.

Bangkok’s streets are not for use by people wishing to walk on them. Legally they are, but the law isn’t really concerned about that and so at any given time the sidewalks are occupied by motorbikes either parked or being driven, hawkers selling anything at all and food stalls / noodle shops.
Bangkok’s streets are a mess. Just take a walk along Silom road or convent road and you will soon realise that it’s faster to walk on the road than to walk on the pavements. It’s also safer.

Don’t Wear High Heels

It’s unlikely you’d wear high heels if shopping, but you’d almost certainly break your ankle if trying to walk on Bangkok’s normal sidewalks in high heels as they are the worst sidewalks of any developed city. There are holes, uneven slabs and any number of obstacles which making walking a trial.

The Skywalk is not the same. It is flat, even and very easy and comfortable to walk on, but the Skywalk doesn’t go everywhere and there might be times when you’ll have to venture onto Bangkok’s regular sidewalks.

Opening hours for skywalk are 06:00 – 00:00
Skywalk signs are clear and in English

How Far Does The Skywalk Go?

At the moment, the main Skywalk area is from Central Chidlom all the way to Siam Paragon. The Skywalk stops at Siam BTS station but you can re-join the Skywalk by walking through Siam Paragon and by going through Siam Center and Siam Discovery. The Skywalk starts again at Siam Center and goes through to MBK and National Stadium BTS station

The Skywalk covers the main shopping section of Bangkok and connects places such as Central Chidlom, Gaysorn Plaza, Amarin Plaza, Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, Intercontinental Hotel, Central World, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery & MBK

Other sections are being added and most department stores down the Sukhumvit road are being joined to the Skywalk or BTS Stations. However, there could come a time when the skywalk extends all the way down Sukhumvit road and this would be a very good idea.

The Bangkok Skywalk Rises Above The Fumes & The Traffic,. Stretching Off Into The Distance

For some reason, perhaps because of the pollution, heat and humidity, Bangkok just tires us out!

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Finally arriving at MBK
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Inside MBK
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Sangeet bought the contact lenses, we then went to the fifth floor where Sangeet had dinner at

Big PAPA – MBK
444 Phayathai Rd,
Mah Boon Krong,
5th floor food court,
Bangkok, Thailand
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The food is fresh and made in front of you. I was still full from a big breakfast, well people do say eat breakfast like a king!

Fifth Food Avenue has a great variety of kiosks in a spacious setting, with chefs preparing the foods in open kitchens. Options include Arabic, Vietnamese, Hainese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Italian. There is also a vegetarian section with a good, all-natural, MSG-free menu, called the Tamarind Cafe.

Then there’s the ‘Signature Dessert’ bar, with the most exquisitely presented delicacies. The strawberry pavlova is sensational; two layers of meringue sandwiched with whipped cream, fresh strawberry and kiwi. And so too the trio of vanilla, caramel and dark chocolate creme brulee. This is a good place to have a filling meal in an appetizing environment.

MBK Food Centre on the sixth floor is much cheaper and the food on offer ranges from pre-packaged sushi sets, to deli-style salad and noodle outlets. Here you can either sit down for a quick bite or take home a neatly-wrapped item from the bakery, or something from the fruit or dessert stall. There is a dining area called ‘Kou Asian’ with an interesting menu, which includes vegetarian fare. It differs from Fifth Food Avenue in that it is right in the hustle and bustle of the main shopping area.

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The mall is outside a sky train station, so we decided to take the sky train back to Wireless Road, where we walked to the hotel.

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McDonalds written in Thai
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Sky train station entrance
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The sky train
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Information on Bangkok:

Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand and the most populous city in the country. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. The city occupies 1,568.7 square kilometres (605.7 sq mi) in the Chao Phraya River delta in Central Thailand, and has a population of over eight million, or 12.6 percent of the country’s population. Over fourteen million people (22.2 percent) live within the surrounding Bangkok Metropolitan Region, making Bangkok an extreme primate city, dwarfing Thailand’s other urban centres in terms of importance.
Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of Siam’s (as Thailand used to be known) modernization during the later nineteenth century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was the centre stage of Thailand’s political struggles throughout the twentieth century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy and underwent numerous coups and uprisings. The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s and now exerts a significant impact among Thailand’s politics, economy, education, media and modern society.
The Asian investment boom in the 1980s and 1990s led many multinational corporations to locate their regional headquarters in Bangkok. The city is now a major regional force in finance and business. It is an international hub for transport and health care, and is emerging as a regional centre for the arts, fashion and entertainment. The city’s vibrant street life and cultural landmarks, as well as its notorious red-light districts, have given it an exotic appeal. The historic Grand Palace and Buddhist temples including Wat Arun and Wat Pho stand in contrast with other tourist attractions such as the nightlife scenes of Khaosan Road and Patpong. Bangkok is among the world’s top tourist destinations. It is ranked third after London and Paris in MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, and has been named “World’s Best City” for three consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Bangkok’s rapid growth amidst little urban planning and regulation has resulted in a haphazard cityscape and inadequate infrastructure systems. Limited roads, despite an extensive expressway network, together with substantial private car usage, have resulted in chronic and crippling traffic congestion. This in turn caused severe air pollution in the 1990s. The city has since turned to public transport in an attempt to solve this major problem. Four rapid transit lines are now in operation, with more systems under construction or planned by the national government and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

This is a great place as well…..!

This is a great place as well…..!

Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, situated on the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion. During French rule, Vientiane was the administrative capital and, due to economic growth in recent times, it has now become the economic centre of Laos.
The estimated population of the city is 754,000 (2009). The city hosted the 25th Southeast Asian Games in December 2009 celebrating the 50 years of SEA Games.

Our hotel
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A temple opposite our hotel
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Presidential palace
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Wat Sisaket in Vientiane
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As the temple was closed for lunch we also decided to go for lunch
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Vegetarian in the Golden Age
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Buffet for 25,000 kip
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We recommend getting there early as the food will taste fresh and will be hot

Afterwards we walked back to the temple
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I misread the entrance fee instead of 5,000 kip I read 50,000 kip. We took out way too much money!

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Walking through a mall
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Back outside the temperature was a mild 26 degrees C
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Back to Wat Sisaket in VIentiane
Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist wat in Vientiane, Laos. It is situated on Lan Xang Road, on the corner with Setthathirat Road, to the northwest of Haw Phra Kaew, which formerly held the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Si Saket was built in 1818 on the orders of King Anouvong (Sethathirath V.) Si is derived from the Sanskrit title of veneration Sri, prefixed to the name of Wat Saket in Bangkok, which was renamed by Anouvong’s contemporary, King Rama I. Wat Si Saket was built in the Siamese style of Buddhist architecture, with a surrounding terrace and an ornate five-tiered roof, rather than in the Lao style. This may have kept it safe as the armies of Siam that sacked Vientiane in 1827 used the compound as their Headquarters and lodging place. It may now be the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. The French restored Wat Si Saket in 1924 and again in 1930.
Wat Si Saket features a cloister wall with more than 2000 ceramic and silver Buddha images. The temple also houses a museum.

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Next was Haw Phra Kaew which was built between 1565 and 1556, on the orders of King Setthathirath. The temple housed the Emerald Buddha figurine, which Setthathirath had brought from Chiang Mai, then the capital of Lanna, to Luang Prabang. When Vientiane was seized by Siam (now Thailand) in 1778, the figurine was taken to Thonburi and the temple was destroyed. After it was rebuilt by King Annouvong of Vientiane in the 19th century, it was again destroyed by Siamese forces when King Annouvong rebelled against Siam in an attempt to regain full independence. The revered Buddha now resides in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok. The temple was rebuilt for a third time by the French between 1936 and 1942, during colonization of French Indochina.

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Looking out to the gardens the temple is behind us
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We took a tuk tuk to Pha That Luang (‘Great Stupa’) is a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of Vientiane, Laos. Since its initial establishment suggested to be in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions until the 1930s due to foreign invasions to the area. It is generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.

Pha That Luang according to the Lao people was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 3rd century. Buddhist missionaries from the Mauryan Empire are believed to have been sent by the Emperor Ashoka, including Bury Chan or Praya Chanthabury Pasithisak and five Arahata monks who brought a holy relic (believed to be the breast bone) of Lord Buddha to the stupa. It was rebuilt in the 13th century as a Khmer temple which fell into ruin.
In the mid-16th century, King Setthathirat relocated his capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and ordered construction of Pha That Luang in 1566. It was rebuilt about 4 km from the centre of Vientiane at the end of That Luang Road and named Pha That Luang. The bases had a length of 69 metres each and was 45 metres high, and was surrounded by 30 small Stupas.
In 1641, a Dutch envoy of the Dutch East India Company, Gerrit van Wuysoff, visited Vientiane and was received by King Sourigna Vongsa at the temple, where he was, reportedly, received in a magnificent ceremony. He wrote that he was particularly impressed by the “enormous pyramid and the top was covered with gold leaf weighing about a thousand pounds”. However, the stupa was repeatedly plundered by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese.
Pha That Luang was destroyed by the Thai invasion in 1828, which left it heavily damaged and left abandoned. It was not until 1900, when the French restored to its original design based on the detailed drawings from 1867 by the French architect and explorer Louis Delaporte. However the first attempt to restore it was unsuccessful and it had to be redesigned and then reconstructed in the 1930s. During Franco-Thai war Pha That Luang was heavily damaged from Thais air raid. After the End of World War II Pha That Luang has been newly reconstruction.

The architecture of the building includes many references to Lao culture and identity, and so has become a symbol of Lao nationalism. The stupa today consists of three levels, each conveying a reflection of part of the Buddhist doctrine. The first level is 223 feet (67 metres) by 226 feet (68 metres), the second is 157 feet (47 metres) along each side and the third level is 98 feet (29 metres) along each side. From ground to pinniacle, Pha That Luang is 147.6 feet (44 metres) high.

The area around Pha That Luang is now gated, to keep traffic out. Previously visitors could drive around the whole complex. The encircling walls are roughly 279 feet (85 metres) long on each side and contain a large number of Lao and Khmer sculptures including one of Jayavarman VII.

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Patuxai (literally meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, formerly the Anousavary or Anosavari Monument, known by the French as Monument Aux Morts) is a war monument in the centre of Vientiane, Laos, which was built between 1957 and 1968. The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. In romanising the name from the Laotian language, it is variously transliterated as Patuxai, Patuxay, Patousai and Patusai. It is also called Patuxai Arch or the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane as it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, it is typically Laotian in design, decorated with mythological creatures such as the kinnari (half-female, half-bird).

Dec 30, 2012 4:38 PM

Dec 30, 2012 4:38 PM

Had to complete the day with ice cream! So back to Swensens.
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In the evening we walked to the banks of the Mekong River to view the sunset
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The land across the Mekong River is Thailand
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You walk through Chao Anouvong Park in which stands the majestic statue of King Anouvong. The park was named after the King and he is highly regarded amongst Laotians. The statue was constructed in 2010 during Vientiane’s 450th Anniversary to commemorate the King’s noble contribution to Vientiane during his reign.
Chao Anouvong was the last king of the Lao Kingdom of Vientiane. During his era, he struggled to fight against the Siamese invasion of Vientiane. In the end, he was unsuccessful and was captured and the Kingdom of Vientiane was forced to surrender to Siamese rule and ceased to exist. Because of his persistent attempts to defeat the Siamese forces, Chao Anouvong is considered a courageous hero who fought for Vientiane until his death.

Chao Anouvong Park

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Chao Anouvong Park

Dec 30, 2012 5:50 PM

Me looking at the statue
Dec 30, 2012 5:51 PM

And not at the sunset
Dec 30, 2012 5:51 PM

You maybe asking why?!
Let me explain
Whilst looking at the statue I saw families having their photographs taken, by a local photographer. This photographer wears coloured top and carry badges to say they have permission to take and sell photographs. They are totally genuine and I am sure their charges are reasonable, otherwise, locals would not use them. Anyway, once the family takes a photograph they go for a wander whilst the photographer develops the picture. The family return to collect their picture and are mesmerised by the picture, some laugh whilst others are in awe of how is this possible, their in this piece of paper. They then very carefully handle the picture so as to not damage it. For them it is a very precious memory of the trip out. This made me appreciate what we take for granted…..between us we have a digital camera, iPad and two iPhones which we use as cameras, we take them for granted. The poor camera gets thrown about but it still serves us well. The iPhones get dropped every other day but still serves us so well. We always expect it to work as it should regardless of how we treat it. If not we would just buy another one and not think about it. Here families really do appreciate every little thing. The picture of them. Their family walk on the beach. I noticed in Luang Prabang their dinners around the family table. Watching their car battery powered televisions as a family. Here throwing away items e.g a radio, television is not an option. They treat it well if a mechanical fault does occur they will fix it, in the west if a mechanical fault occurs we throw it away and buy another one!

Dec 30, 2012 5:57 PM

Sangeet took amazing pictures of the sunset, here they are…in fact 99% of the pictures on this blog are were taken by Sangeet.
Dec 30, 2012 6:02 PM
Dec 30, 2012 6:10 PM

The statue from behind
Dec 30, 2012 6:14 PM

Whilst walking through the park we came across an aerobics class
Dec 30, 2012 6:16 PM

For email subscribers
Aerobics in the Park

On the way backup the hotel we walked through the night market
Dec 30, 2012 6:42 PM
Dec 30, 2012 6:47 PM

For email subscribers
Night Market, Vientiane

Goodbye Luang Prabang…..

Goodbye Luang Prabang…..

A very relaxed morning, before our flight to Vientiane, the hotel organised courtesy transport in form of a tuk tuk, on arrival we got picked up in the hotel car, on departure it is a tuk tuk!
Dec 29, 2012 12:47 PM
Dec 29, 2012 12:59 PM
Departures to nirvana?
Dec 29, 2012 1:00 PM

The airport check in and security was a breeze no issues at all.
Dec 29, 2012 1:02 PM

At the departures gate
Dec 29, 2012 1:23 PM

The walk to the plane
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gaygoat/8341135050/
Dec 29, 2012 2:46 PM

On arrival into Vientiane as we exited the airport we saw a monk whom we saw earlier having a cigarette. Kind of strange to see that. For transport you have a number of options for transport, courtesy bus from the hotel which is usually chargeable, taxi from the airport to the centre, cost USD$8 or walk 200 yards away from the airport and get a tuk tuk for 30,000 kip (GBP£2.50) of course we did the latter!

Negotiating the rate
Dec 29, 2012 3:52 PM

On the way to the city centre
Dec 29, 2012 4:24 PM

The tuk tuk dropped us off about 10 minutes away from the hotel due to language issues! We thought he knew where we wanted to go…ah well good chance to walk around and see a bit of the city centre.

Dec 29, 2012 4:23 PM

We booked the following hotel
Salana Boutique Hotel
Chao Anou Rd, Vientiane
T: + 856 21 254 254

Once in a while you just book the suite, especially as we got a good deal!
Dec 29, 2012 4:34 PM
Dec 29, 2012 4:35 PM
Dec 29, 2012 4:35 PM

View from the bedroom
Dec 29, 2012 4:41 PM
Dec 29, 2012 5:04 PM

Dec 29, 2012 5:35 PM

Vientiane is like any other capital city apart from being quieter and no Starbucks, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut….yet!

For dinner we went to:
Vegetarian in the Golden Age
0155 Hatxadi, Saylom Road,
Chanthabouly District,
Vientiane, Laos
T:+856-20550133169 or +856-2055505305

Dec 29, 2012 6:34 PM

Afterwards we had ice cream at Swensens

Dec 29, 2012 8:04 PM

Next door is the Heritage Cutural Centre where does was a concert

Entry sign
Dec 29, 2012 8:07 PM

Dec 29, 2012 8:06 PM

Dec 29, 2012 8:08 PM

Dec 29, 2012 7:43 PM

Was Singapore like this…..?

Was Singapore like this…..?

Today we rode a couple of bikes (courtesy of our hotel) into the city, the round trip is 6km. People here drive on the left. Cycling to town was very enjoyable, it gave us a chance to see everyday life. Passing by the market you could see all he traders with their home grown produce in front of them, a long basket of chickens literally overflowing from the basket, yet they put more in. Children and monks going to school. It also gave us a chance to actually see litter. We rode over a small bridge and the litter was thrown over the bridge. We started from the hotel and headed east onto Lao-Thai Friendship Road then headed north on Phothisarath Road which turned into Chao Fa Ngum Road that turned into Sisavangvong Road and finally turning into Sakkarine Road.

Dec 26, 2012 12:42 PM
Dec 26, 2012 12:52 PM
Dec 26, 2012 12:53 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:08 PM

People here are curious as I do not think they have seen many people with turbans if any at all. They will look for literally two seconds before getting on with their everyday lives. People here unlike most other people elsewhere in the world do not involve themselves with other peoples business. It does not matter to them how people look. As long as people are friendly to them that is all they ask. They say ‘sabaidee’ (hello) to you with a smile without any ulterior motive!

Dec 26, 2012 1:15 PM

Whilst on Sisavangvong Road we enquired at various tour companies for a boat trip to the caves, prices varied from 50,000 kip to 60,000 kip….I know only 10,000 kip which is about 80pence but I am a Scrooge!

Dec 26, 2012 1:16 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:21 PM

We then headed onto Souvannabanlang Road, parallel to the Mekong River.

On the side of the road we could hear men laughing and what sounded like jesting at each other. We stopped to see what was happening and they were playing French boules. The game looked like fun, just wish we knew what the guys were saying. The atmosphere was amazing and very jolly.
Dec 26, 2012 1:29 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:32 PM

We walked up some stairs to
Dec 26, 2012 1:33 PM

Wat Xieng Thong
Luang Prabang
Lao

Dec 26, 2012 1:35 PM

An amazing temple. Wat Xieng Thong (or Temple of the Golden City) is a Buddhist temple (wat), located on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Phrabang, Laos. Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art. There are over twenty structures on the grounds including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences, in addition to its gardens of various flowers, ornamental shrubs and trees.
Dec 26, 2012 1:37 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:36 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:37 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:38 PM
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gaygoat/8340127965/
Dec 26, 2012 1:44 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:45 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:48 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:50 PM
Dec 26, 2012 1:55 PM

Back down by the main road there are a number of steps leading down to the Mekong River. We walked down to see this amazing river. The Mekong is a river in Southeast Asia. It is the world’s 12th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 4,350 km (2,703 mi), and it drains an area of 795,000 km2 (307,000 sq mi), discharging 475 km3 (114 cu mi) of water annually.
From the Tibetan Plateau this river runs through China’s Yunnan province, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. In 1995, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam established the Mekong River Commission to assist in the management and coordinated use of the Mekong’s resources. In 1996 China and Burma (Myanmar) became “dialogue partners” of the MRC and the six countries now work together within a cooperative framework.
The extreme seasonal variations in flow and the presence of rapids and waterfalls in this river have made navigation difficult. The river is a major trading route linking China’s southwestern province of Yunnan to Laos, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand to the south, an important trade route between western China and Southeast Asia.

Dec 26, 2012 2:02 PM
Dec 26, 2012 2:04 PM
Dec 26, 2012 2:14 PM

I am in need of a laundry, yes it is time for washing again, in an alleyway I saw a laundry service which just looked cleaner and more professional then the others, there charges are 10,000 kip for a kilo….will pop back later as I do not have my the laundry with me…….well what do you expect, me cycling around Luang Prabang with my dirty clothes?!?!

We then cycled towards Kingkitsarath Road, which runs parallel to Khan River. Here we stopped at
The Varanda by Villa Nagara

For a can of sprite…..we were overdue a trip to the ATM so only had 20,000 kip. The can cost 10,000 kip, about 70p.
Dec 26, 2012 2:43 PM
Dec 26, 2012 2:54 PM

Selling artwork
Dec 26, 2012 3:19 PM

Afterwards we cycled back to the hotel so we could pick up the clothes for the laundry.

Dec 26, 2012 3:42 PM
Dec 26, 2012 3:54 PM

Back at the hotel we spent a few minutes where I devoured some ritz crackers…..damn they are good!

We then got a tuk tuk back to town, it dropped us off near Wat Xieng Thong, we walked through the temple to the other side which is closer to the laundry. After dropping off the clothes we walked towards the night market. Yesterday I was fortunate to hear the monks chanting and I wanted Sangeet to experience this. So we walked to the temple and caught the last few minutes of the chant. The monks came out all looked at us and one said “Indian?”, I said Sikh. He was intrigued and sat next to me. His name is Kum Chi….not sure on the spelling. We chatted for a while asking each other questions…us about him being a monk and he asked us about Sikhi, England and football! He could tell I do not like football. He said he loves the sport and supports Arsenal. After about an hour of chatting we said our byes and carried on walking towards the night market. Sangeet browsed the stalls whilst I went to the ATM. We met back at the stalls and decided to go to the vegetarian stall for dinner. I really enjoyed.

Dec 26, 2012 4:43 PM
Dec 26, 2012 5:28 PM

Before entering the shops, people leave their shoes outside
Dec 26, 2012 4:55 PM

Dec 26, 2012 5:35 PM
Dec 26, 2012 5:42 PM

Chatting with the monks
Dec 26, 2012 5:46 PM

Dec 26, 2012 6:33 PM
Dec 26, 2012 7:07 PM

Afterwards we took a tuk tuk to the hotel, the driver asked for 40,000 kip I said for the last two days I have been paying 20,000 kip. After playfully trying to negotiate more knowing it was not going to work, he agreed 20,000 with a smile.

Later I decided to go for a walk. It was dark but it still felt safe. I walked passed shops shutting up, families gathered around the television, other families around a big dinner table just talking, stalls holders cleaning up their area. Also a sports club where people were playing badminton and pool. I wonder if Singapore was like this 30 years ago.

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