Vientiane celebrates the Vientiane celebrates the end of the Buddhist equivalent of lent with fireworks and a big boat race. The parties around the city started many days in advance of race day. I could feel the excitement building even though I know nothing of the local language.
The Mekong River was very low this year. I checked the web and the actual dates were different than what I was told would be the dates of the races. I called my local Cornhusker compadre and he gave me the 411. I took an extended lunch walking downtown for lunch and to check out the scene. Police had barricaded the access so that only scooters and pedestrians could pass. Sidewalks were taped off to prevent parking. That didnít prevent the masses from gathering. The day was incredibly hot. The best idea was to find a shady spot with a view that served your favorite cold beverage. I did that but realized I couldnít stay too long so I went walking. I saw nothing but people and folks trying to sell stuff. After a couple of hours in the sun, I started overheating and my sunscreen was playing hell on my eyes so I headed back home having seen no boat races. I was informed that the racing would be sporadic so it was a crap shoot whether Iíd see any racing at all. If you zoom in on the picture at the top, youíll see the burnt candles on the toy boat. This was a frequent sight at many locations around the city.