At about 6 pm on New Years' Eve, we packed up and headed to the Luang Prabang airport to fly to Vientiane. Nobody seemed terribly fussed on our drive there that it was NYE - I was totally with them as I have never really understood the pressure to have the best night of the year. There did seem to be an inordinate amount of dogs being washed though.
Our flight left just as it had gotten dark, and we arrived in Vientiane on schedule an hour later. A taxi whisked us to Villa Manoly. We were both a little disappointed, as I had specifically booked a double, but were given a twin. We had to press for a double, which the manager finally begrudgingly gave us.
We then went out for an Indian dinner alongside the Mekong and had a Beer Lao to celebrate. We were back in the hotel room around midnight to continue watching Dexter.
The next morning we checked out as we had walked past a nice looking hotel near our restaurant the night before, and were able to book a "VIP" room for less than our room at the Manoly. The Riverine was sure worth it - huge room, four-poster bed and the bathroom was like something you would find at a spa.
We spent our first day proper in Vientiane cycling around on rented bikes. Again it was a great way to see the city, and our first stop was Patuxai, the victory gate built in the 60's. I climbed up to the top, while T opted to mind our bikes down below and listen to some music.
We made our way through the huge park that Patuxai is set within, with huge crowds of people enjoying a large fountain, music and ice cream in the heat. We rode out to what was my highlight of Vientiane: Pha That Luang, the Great Stupa, which is Laos' national symbol. By this time it was late afternoon, which was the perfect time to see the stupa in all its' glory.
It seemed like a good idea to celebrate New Years' Day with a cold Beer Lao at a Mekong riverside bar and watch the sun go down. This was followed by dinner at a huge beer garden type place that had a tree growing out of the middle, accompanied by more Beer Lao and some night-cap cocktails over the road at a quieter bar. Two Singapore Slings later and T was escorting me back to the guesthouse to sleep one off. Very sensible, that T.