Quick visit to the National “Revolutionary” Museum gave us a bit of the taste of how difficult it must have been to live in laos. First the violent French colonists, followed by Independence conflicts , then American carpet bombing and a communist regime as the cherry on the cake.
Unfortunately, the propaganda which has been spread for the last 50 years has not diminished and especially not in this museum - staged pictures on wealth and health, easily compared to the eastern block of the recent past. On a more positive note, Laos has normal sit on toilets and they drive on the right hand side which in comparison to nearby Thailand is a big improvement for me.
At about midday when everybody was hiding from the heat, an English woman and her dog cycled out of Vientiane. A huge new express road and heaps of new cars proving that economic growth of 8% a year is not a joke. Drivers are extremely safe and reasonably slow, but sometimes experienced lorries heading towards us on our side of the road - not mentioning the myriad of mopeds.
People became much friendlier out of the capital, and happily shouted “sabadee”. The countryside seems to be quite free, not many fences and gates, good for camping eventualities. Every town seems to have a temple (wat) with heaps of ornaments and colours. We passed a big roadside party which could have been a wedding, but we decided not to gate-crash (We were too smelly by then!)
An old man with his kids or grand kids slowed down to chat to me in French. I even had a conversation with him! (French lessons must have worked!) He was mega impressed with the long distance cycling and the eco side to it.
Saving time, we got some Laos style snack sandwiches - it reflects the French heritage.. Baguette with thinly spread pork pate topped with cucumber, coriander and I believe julienne of halumi and sweet chilli dressing. Almost European but refreshingly different.
Camped for the night in a field with light local music spreading from a nearby house, accompanied with hundreds of night creatures singing their hearts out throughout .