January 28, 2009:
After getting dropped back at the bus station we decided to walk from there to Phathat Luang, the most important monument in Laos. Phathat Luang (Great Sacred Stupa) enshrines a relic of Buddha. It is indeed quite impressive! Before entering we crossed through a huge empty parking lot, indicating that when the festival takes place here thousands of people must come to pay their respects. The brilliant gold stupa sparkled against the blue sky in the afternoon sun. George took lots of photos (my camera broke, so I haven’t been able to use it since Thailand), and then we browsed at the stands outside. I bought a pretty silver heart necklace that I bargained down to $1.25.
That evening we splurged and went out to a French restaurant, Le Silapa. We had to take advantage of the inexpensive (compared to back home) French food at least once while we were in Laos. The melted brie on croutons with honey and raspberry sauce appetizer was the best part of the meal (a 10+ on George’s scale). Appetizer, soup, salad, entrees, and creme brule, and we spent a whopping $44. It did seem like an awful lot of money to us after bargain hunting our meals, but it was a welcome change to relax in a clean candle lit restaurant and not have to worry about whether the utensils were clean and if we could drink the water.
The owner made it a point to let each customer know that the only item on the menu that wasn’t available was almond crusted veal brains ($10.50). Not to worry, we weren’t planning to order that anyway :).