Pha That Luang and Buddha Park, Vientiane, Laos

Today is hot, really hot! We catch a tuk tuk to Pha That Luang, the amazing golden temple that is the oldest in Lao, and one of their shinning symbols. We wander around taking photos, but it is so hot that we have to dive for the cover of the shade as soon as we leave. Abs isn’t feeling so well so we buy a umbrella to keep her in the shade.

We walk down to the bus stop and try and find the bus to Buddha Park. Several taxi drivers tell us that the bus takes 2.5 hours and will finish by the time the park closes. I don’t believe this, but I’m unable to find any official information about the bus times. I do find the bus though, but it is already full and we don’t fancy standing for the 45 minute ride. The taxi drivers want 150,000Kip for the ride, the bus is about 10,000Kip each. A girl approaches and says that a tuk tuk to the park will cost 50,000Kip return. We agree to this and are led to the tuk tuk.

The ride out to Buddha Park is an interesting one and we pass a few sights. The end of the road is bad and the tuk tuk fights to negotiate the muddy lane which is being made worse by the construction lorries which are dowsing the road with water to keep the dust down.

Eventually we make it to Buddha Park. It’s quite small but packed with amazing constructions. Strangely the monuments are all relatively new, being made in the last 60 years. There is actually quite a lot of concrete around.

We shop and chat to a monk for a while. He is keen to practice his English. We exchange postal and email addresses, and will communicate soon. In a few days is the Laos New Year, and he was particularly keen to take us to the south to celebrate it with his family, but sadly we don’t have the time.

I buy the tuk tuk driver a bottle of water, but he doesn’t accept it, which seems strange. After the ride back to Vientiane city I go to pay the drive 60,000Kip instead of 50,000Kip as a nice gesture. But, he then claims that the deal was 150,000Kip, all via his mobile phone as he doesn’t speak English. I say no way, I triple checked with the girl that the price was 50,000Kip for 2 people, return. He looks puzzled and drives over to his mate, who does speak English. His mate isn’t very interested in helping with the situation, which confirms to me that it is a scam. We leave him with the 60,000Kip and walk away. It’s a shame that such a nice trip should end with a scam, but we don’t look back as we walk to the guesthouse.

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