Tell me about it.
21 Months of Vientiane, what can I say, I love it here. Ideally, almost two years in a different country, someone should have 1) Come up with a decent sentence in the local language –I can’t; 2) Had a “gik” –find out what that means, if you can LOL; and 3) Exhausted all the possible city tours like visiting temples and famous landmarks, like going up Patuxay Monument and breathe-in the the beauty of Lane Xang Avenue –I haven’t, until today.
Patuxay, which roughly translates to Victory Gate, was built after the second World War in commemoration of the soldiers who died for their country, and the mark of independence from France. It resembles the Arc de Triomphe and it’s one of the most popular landmarks in Vientiane. Thousands of tourist come in this place and be all touristy in taking photographs.
I’ve been procastinating being all touristy because of my stubborn belief that I would only go up the monument during nighttime, so I can capture the lights of vehicles swooshing against a slow shutter. Unfortunately, the gate opens at 8AM and closes at 4:30PM, which doesn’t really give me much of an edge in capturing a non-mainstream delight. But then again, as instructed at work, I must take a picture of the city. So I did. After a year.
Today, my colleagues were on their usual business out of the office, I tagged along and asked for a sidetrip up the monument. They were a little iffy about going with me. Of course, I understood the iffy-ness, given the fact that summer is approaching (friggin’ thanks to Climate Change) and Vientiane Summer is just hot.and.humid. I couldn’t even begin to describe –even the ACs are giving up! But anyway, I still pulled one of my colleagues to accompany me. Entrance fee is 3,000 KIP, which is really cheap for an interesting surprise. Climbing starts: the narrow staircases are made of cement; the path is a little dark, dusty and the place is really hot. Students, kids at that, are running up and down with you, I must say.
The stairs seem to go on forever but once you reach the third floor, it’s a shopping area! With all the Lao silk, metalcraft, jewelry and T-shirts! You go up and up again and if you feel like you’re going to pass out, just go on until you see the light –literally. Take in the view of Lane Xang Avenue, the light traffic and several ministries and NGOs. You go around the area and there you will see the newly-constructed Prime Minister’s Office and Patuxay Park with the pretty fountain. But the climb doesn’t stop there. You see, the peak is that little space (see below) which is only like 3 x 3 meters (or less!). For the claustrophobics, I dare you 😛
And so, it took me almost two years to do a 10-minute shoot. I decided to do it today, when it’s a little over 25 degrees Celsius; not during the time when Vientiane breeze was cool and calm and friendly. I chose today when I was wearing a tight black shirt, a Lao skirt and 3-inch-platforms, on a school day, at 3PM, with kids who just got out from school. Lesson learned: Never Procrastinate.
But what the hey, view’s good! 🙂