On Saturday we had a ride around the town on our bikes. The main aim was to get a sense of the layout of town.
We headed out toward the airport and out to the King Fa Ngum statue. The King lived in the 14th century and had a kingdom that covered parts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
After a coffee in town we hit Putaxay.
Left: Looking back down toward the Presidential Palace
Right: Behind Putaxay
Putaxay (also commonly spelt Patuxai, Patousai and Patusai) was built to honour those who died in the struggles for independence from France. It looks like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but with Asian decoration. The was built in the 10 years up to 1968 with American funds. The funds had been given by the Americans to build an airport, but the Laoations decided to build a monument instead.
It is one of the tallest buildings in Vientiane, and from the upper floors you get a good view over the city.
Next door there is an enormous building which is the Prime Minister’s office and was funded by Chinese money.
At Patuxay I saw for the first time photographers carrying around portable printers. The tourists can pay to have their photograph taken and then the digital image can be printed there and then. This is the white machine in the picture below slung on a belt over his shoulder.
I thought this was interesting, Andrew didn’t :-). The most interesting part was watching the photgrapher showing the tourist the pose he thought she should make from a shot catalogue book he had. You didn’t have to understand Lao to understand when she struck the pose of head to one side and hand artfully supporting her head the photographer said “that’s it, you look great” (in Lao)!