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After a sweet night in Nong Khai, the last Thai city along the Mekong (see last year portfolio “A short trip to Laos”), just need to cross the Friendship Bridge, stop for visa and finally take a tuk tuk to arrive in the Laotian capital. In March, last year, just after the tsunami in Japan, it was rainy all day and unseasonably cold; this time, it’s a hot and dry weather, the dust blown by the vehicles covers and protects the skin from sunburn, very convenient. The Laos, one of the poorest countries in the world, a Thailand’s brother, with whom it shares religion and a part of the culture, except that here, the monks can drive a bike and also smoke (yes, I saw one!). The capital city does not exceed the four floors high, not have much to see, except some old and gorgeous temples like “Phra Keaw” and “Sisaket”, (pictures in “A trip to Laos) and observe the life drain. The mythical Mekong gathers a part of the population at dusk; on its vast sandy banks, monks, families, teenagers, come to salute the sun drowning in Thailand, just in front, on the other bank… also a poor country, but, oh my God, so much richer! Tomorrow is my departure for Sayaboury, 12 hours bus trip to reach the Elephant Festival.