Vientiane and Patuxai

I've missed cities. I didn't even know it until I got back into one. They have bad things about them, but I love the good things. And what a city! In the middle of the afternoon on a weekday you can walk down the main streets of the country's capital (Vientiane, population 200,000) and occasionally find the proprietors snoozing in their shops! This is a slow-paced place.

Vientiane's Patuxai, which looks very similar to Paris's Arc de Triomphe.

I had a weird moment of deja vu looking up the wide boulevard of Lan Xang toward Patuxai, even though I knew what was coming. Suddenly I was in Paris, seeing the Arc de Triomphe again ... Even stranger is that the Lao chose to build this in the 1960s, after they had violently booted the French out of the country.

A particularly good bit of translation is to be found in the main english signage - notice the second last sentence:

Sign that says of a local monument "From a closer distance, it appears even less impressive, like a monster of concrete."

The French left many things behind in Laos. Their language, although you're more likely to see it on official signage than hear it from the mouth of a local. Their tourists - why would you come to a former colony after such an unfortunate parting of ways? The game of petanque. A bad romanization of the Lao language (Vientiane is pronounced, and better romanized, "Wieng Chan" according to Lonely Planet). A market for good wine. I even saw a Citro├źn 2CV today. And one other thing, for which I can forgive them almost anything: the baguette.