Vientiane gives off a particular aroma, I pinned it down to a heady mix of duck soup Mekong river weed and frangipani, with just a hint of beer Lao. I had a enjoyable time in this relaxed city with its faded French colonial glory evident in the low rise period architecture, boulevards and good french inspired bakeries .
We left our guest house to take a speeding overcrowded tuk tuk to Dongphosy Station. On the way, we passed a freshly killed goat that had recently been struck by a car, two other goats looked on bleating loudly obviously grieving. This sight brought a couple of the young girls in the tuk tuk to tears, while a couple of hipsters with a man buns made sympathetic goat-like noises.
After spending the last of our Kip at the stations kiosk on chips, biscuits, toothpaste and anything we vaguely needed, we filed onto the Lao Railways train for the short journey across the Friendship Bridge into Thailand. Children lined the route forming a waving rag tag line of honour along the edge of the rice paddies.
Changing trains on the Thai side of the border Therese and I were on opposite sides of the Isle; Second class lower, at the end of the third carriage near the toilets.
Whistling through the night, the train seemed to illicit a violent struggle; lurching, squealing and jumping about. It was as if the very tracks were trying to throw the carriages from the rails. People cried out and body parts hung awkwardly, feet pertruding from beyond the sliding curtains.
Seeking a nature break in the wee small hours, the sliding door slammed shut behind me and I found myself trapped between the carriages. Dancing on the squealing moving steel plates, the door into the next carriage had been wedged shut with a block of wood to prevent it sliding open. I called out to no avail. Who could hear me above the noise of the train? I banged on the glass door, nothing. After half an hour or more a groggy, frightened Therese came to my rescue. Around 6am, with little sleep, we rolled into Hua Lamphong railway station, Bangkok. we booked a couple of nights in a guest house just on the edge of the Khao San road tourist area.
We also caught up with a family friend, Ian, who has lived in Bangkok for over 25 years. Nothing like being taken out to lunch by a Thai speaking local! It was the best Thai food ever, while we learnt about how this city really operates. Fascinating!
I’m a bad consumer. Despite the plethora of knick knacks, tourist trinkets, clothing and such on offer, I remain stuff less. My absolute favourite night time activity has been to check out the Bangkok Night Flower Market.
Afternoon showers had broken through the heavy vail of humidity. In the cool of the evening, whole city blocks are given over to the flower market. The intoxicating aroma of fresh flowers set against a background of vivid colour, is simply stunning as literally thousands of people go about the business of arranging, packing, sorting and selling flowers of every shape type and colour imaginable.
I was sorely tempted to buy a huge bunch of yellow chrysanthemums and a few bunches of orchids but practicality got the better of me.
Thailand has been lovely but it’s time to leave and head off on the next chapter of our travel adventure to India.