Vientiane, Laos

Posted on February 12, 2012


I love making surprises. I decided to make another surprise visit to Winston on his Smile Trek. He posted a public event at the US Embassy in Vientiane, Laos so I figured it’d be easy to find him. Vientiane is a pretty mini capital “city” as well. Turned out, he was just 3 blocks away eating lunch as I was checking into my hotel. I just strolled on up and said hello 🙂 Imagine sitting outside a cafe in a far away land and having a friend walk up to say hello. I honestly can’t imagine the feeling, but it felt good to be on the other side.

The very next day we set off to continue the Smile Trek. Oh, the excitement of touring SE Asia by foot! Walking through villages, small towns, meeting locals, eating good local food, camping, adventure, etc… Boy did I romanticize the whole thing, in more ways than one… I thought I LOVED walking, for one. I do, but at the rate (fast) and distance (25 mi/day) Winston walks, one needs to properly train. I might have just gotten out of intense “yoga camp,” able to hold a head stand or seated fwd bend, head to knee for several minutes, but walking 25 miles a day was not in my capacity. Still, i tried… As for the villages, they don’t really exist when you take main hwys. But, we did come across some random “resorts.” These resorts seemed to always be under construction, but open for business; big man-made lakes encircled by cabanas; extensive half-way done landscaping. The very fact they existed was a bit confusing, as i wondered how the resort could be anything more than an expense rather than an investment.

The first couple days got me 16 miles a pc. and 2 newly formed blisters. Oh, and 2 “black toes.” After a day or two of respite, I pushed to continue. Silly me. Those next couple days got me 8 miles a pc. I downgraded! 😦 I gave it all i could, but the walking became utterly painful. My feet cried blood and sweat and other liquids for help. It just wasn’t worth it to continue. Time to head back to Vientiane for some rest and good food…

Now what?! I dread this point of open travel where I feel a loss of control and direction. I felt this twice before in this journey and each time fate had its way. A new light is always shed, a new destination or activity always comes along. This is exactly how the Yoga Teacher Training happened- in and out of this exact state and sensation of confusion… If i just wait it out a few days, relax and enjoy where I AM at right now, inspiration and direction will come…


Yoga –

Being the foodie I am, I scouted the online reviews of the tastes of Vientiane. I tried many, but just to note a few:

Ray’s Grill – The cafe i first met Winston at is owned by an American who opened just 2 months ago. wiki – nestled on Rue Nokeokoummane (across the street from Mixay Guesthouse), owner Daniel serves up delicious Philly Cheesesteaks, kebabs, and quesadillas, all prepared, seasoned, and grilled fresh to order. Baguettes are freshly-baked each day, and sandwiches are given generous amounts of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Middle-Eastern options are accompanied by homemade tahini or tzatziki sauce. Also possible is a traditional family-style Thai feast prepared by Daniel’s wife (just ask ahead of time). The quality of the food is rivalled only by the friendliness of the chef. 17,000 – 30,000 kip.

Joma – mmmmm. breakfast as it should be.

Le Benneton – French bakery. Good Breakfast and Lunch.

Makphet – Very good modern Lao food. Also, a very tasty French resto next door.


Mixay Guesthouse – Backpacker style. Clean and simple. $6.

Lao Heritage Hotel – Nice, but needs work. mosquito haven here. $20.

Benacam Guesthouse – Just a notch down from Khamvongsa, but a better value at $20. Feels like an apartment (because it is) where a sink, electric hot water maker, bowls and utensils are provided in room.

Hotel Khamvongsa – My favorite place. Runs $30, but the cleanest rooms and overall hotel, with good breakfast, nice bathrooms with endless hot water, and very helpful english speaking staff.

Posted in: Laos