Still wasn’t used to the jetlag, so I got up at 4:00am, Vientiane time. Had nothing better to do so I stepped out of the hotel and started walking to the That Luang Stupa, which is the national symbol of Laos. It was a somewhat long walk to the site, and at that hour of the night/morning, there was nobody on the streets except me and some really mean dogs. During the two hours I sat in complete darkness waiting for the sun to rise, it was disconcerting, but the sky was exactly how you see it here–beautiful.
The stupa was built in 1566 by King Setthathirath over the site of an older one, which supposedly housed a relic of the Buddha. Over the centuries, it has been damaged and pillaged by so many different people (…Thailand, I’m looking in your direction…) but it still holds a presence.
During the early morning I chatted with some of the older folk, who were doing their daily exercise rounds around the monument and market. It was your typical Lao conversation: where are you from, oh I have kids/relatives in America, I can’t believe you can still speak Lao, type of conversation. The elderly lady that took my photo at the bottom, actually invited me over to her house anytime for papaya salad. That’s Lao hospitality for ya.