15 May, Laos – ‘All Over The Place, Asia – part 2’
Spent the day dressed as Boy George singing about Buddhism.
I’d quite like to leave it at that as I’m a bit tired, but I should probably offer more explanation. Last night we stayed in Vientiane, the capital of Laos (and had our first western style meal at a very nice French restaurant, which seems to be pretty unique round these parts). This morning we were off at 6.30am along a large dirt road to beyond the outskirts of the city to film Buddha Park. Built by a monk in the 1950s it houses concrete sculptures of the Buddha’s teachings and also a number of Hindu gods. Boy George sang about karma, so OBVIOUSLY Richard and I dressed as him and sang a song all about the park and what you’ll find if you pay a visit.
We had that exciting urgency that comes when you know you have a flight to catch, and in between bouts of torrential rain we nipped out from our corrugated iron shelter and worked our AOTP magic. Once we’d all piled back onto the buses and made our way back along what was now a mud road (and one of the main routes into Vientiane) we dropped off Richard and our exec Yvonne at the hotel so that they could get a few hours rest before their journey back to the UK (Richard’s done a great job and fitted in straight away with us all, which must never be easy considering some of us have been working together for nearly 10 years now!). Then we zoomed off to the airport to catch our flight to Hanoi – Vietnam!
Vietnam is one of those places I’ve always been intrigued by having studied it at school, but never actually thought I’d end up visiting. In all honesty, I’d never heard of the city of Hanoi either, but on arrival I loved it. It seems like a fascinating mix of old style Communism and 21st century Capitalism. From the air I could see factories with well know brand names plastered across their roofs, but on the drive from the airport the roads are still peppered with Soviet style posters of smiling workers and families. The primary mode of transport is motorbikes, which fill the roads and litter the pavements. Once we’d checked into our small Parisian style hotel in the centre of town and had met up with another brand new AOTP presenter – a slightly jet lagged Ricky Martin from ‘Art Ninja’ – our fixer Lan very kindly led us through the rain sodden streets, past hundreds of tiny shops selling anything from leather goods to barbecued sparrows, to the hipster area of town where we spent the rest of the night pretending we were on holiday. Not quite sure how we found the energy!