Now that you have written a great message title and gotten the girl to click on your email. What should you say inside the message? How can you make yourself standout in her growing inbox of other male suitors? How can you take it from the online dating site inbox to an outside messaging platform like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber? These are all good online dating questions.

Let’s start with the message content. You could say any number of things. I’ve gotten many different variations of messages. They ranged from the obscene to the typical “How are you?” to interrogation style online dating questions. Most of them, I just deleted within seconds.

7 Things Not to Put in Your Email

I think the best thing to do is to avoid putting certain things in your email that will get your message deleted right away. Here are the top 7 things to avoid when emailing her for the first time:

  1. Don’t send any photos with too much skin. For example, don’t send photos of yourself without any shirt on. Don’t send photos of yourself wearing Speedos. For sure don’t send any penis photos. I delete and block instantly when I get those. Remember that Filipinas are conservative. Besides, those photos are available everywhere online. Big turn off.
  2. Don’t make sexual innuendos. Remember that you are strangers at this point. Don’t creep her out.
  3. Don’t use bad grammar or use texting style writing. For example, this will not get my positive attention: “u looks so find, wanna chat it up?”
  4. Don’t interrogate her. I’ve received first contact emails that read like a job interview. Keep it simple and fun. Remember that this is a prelude to a dance.
  5. Don’t be obvious. If you read her profile and write something like this then you are being obvious: “I read your profile and see that you live in Cebu. It is a nice city in the Philippines. It also looks like you are 27. I like that age.”
  6. Don’t be praise her too much. Out of 349 emails that she gets per day, you would be praise number 350. It gets numbing after awhile. Don’t get me wrong. It is good to give her a compliment. But you must do it in such a way that it is genuine and stands out. More on this later.
  7. Don’t be boring. If you are cutting and pasting your message to different girls, then you are boring. If you just state the facts, then you are boring. If you don’t infuse your message with wit, charm, and humor, you are boring.

So what should you be saying in that first contact email message? Based on all the emails that I’ve actually opened and read from guys trying to get my attention, I would say this:

Wit. Intrigue. Flirtation.

  1. Wit. Show some wit in what you write. You can be clever with your words. You can be cute in your story telling. You can be humorous. Girls are into fun guys. If you can show that you can be light hearted and fun, she will open up to you. It will set the mood for follow-up emails. You will likely find that she will play right along with you in terms of wit and humor.
  2. Intrigue. Make her curious about you or your story. Remember how I showed you to use a good headline for your email? Now continue the headline with a good story. Show continuity from headline to message body. For example, if you headline was “Bad news”, follow that up with why you said “Bad news.”
  3. Flirtation. The nice thing about both of you being on a dating site is that you are there to get a date. Unlike Facebook or other social media sites, the whole purpose of an online dating site is for people to meetup romantically. So with that in mind, learn how to flirt with words. You can augment your words with emoticons and images too, but what you say and how you say it will make a big difference. Be playful with what you say. Set the tone with that first message. Show that you are confident yet vulnerable. Women like confident men but they also want to see that you have a soft spot.

So there you have it. I have answered your online dating questions with some important Do’s and Don’ts. If you want to discover exactly what to say to get a Filipina’s attention and positive response, sign up for my email list. There I will reveal to you some real life examples of flirtation techniques that combine wit, humor and intrigue. All this comes to you from a Real Pinay of course.

This guide is about how to get noticed and eventually have an online conversation with a girl. I wrote this guide because as a girl, I see that guys kind of have it wrong in terms of making that first contact. What you say and how you say it matters a lot to a girl. This is especially true during the first two exchanges.

There are many for “How to start a conversation with a girl meme” online. There are many for a reason. That kind of stuff happens.

The base message of these memes is never start with a simple “Hi” when you are trying to get a girl’s attention online. Is this true? I think so. Let me explain why.

First you have to understand the inbox realities of a girl’s profile and a guy’s profile. I’m talking about profiles that people create on dating sites. But hey, this is also true for any sort of online profile.

The reality is:  A girl with a halfway decent profile picture will get a ton more messages than a guy with a more than halfway decent profile picture.

This is what our inboxes look like in our online dating accounts.

You guys have an uphill battle to get your messages read. You guys have an uphill battle to even get noticed. Most of the time, I just delete my messages without reading them because the inbox grows so fast.

So what do you do to get that edge when you PM a girl’s profile? I can’t speak for all girls, but I can certainly tell you what gets my attention. I can probably tell you what gets the attention of my girlfriends too. So take these tips as you wish.

  1. Get a good profile setup for yourself. Be as complete as possible when filling out the sections about yourself. Write a grammatically correct paragraph about what you are looking for in an ideal girl. A good profile is important before you message us because we will do a quick check of your profile to see if you are real and not fake.
  2. Upload good to great pictures. Avoid taking a selfie with your phone at arm’s length because it will make your face look fat. Also don’t upload a photo of yourself where you are only a tiny speck in a landscape. Wear nice clothes. Cargo shorts and a plaid shirt are big turnoffs. Look like you are there to take us on a date. Remember we want to see how you look like so we can make a snap decision about whether you are interesting enough or not to reply too.
  3. When you see a girl’s picture that you like, don’t just send an interest or a heart. That gets you nowhere. Make an effort to write a grammatically correct message.
  4. Start your message with a good headline. Remember that the headline is what she will see first. Make it short and witty. Unusual but not weird. Don’t creep her out. Here are some headlines from my inbox that made me click and read the message:
    – Last email
    – Bad news
    – SURPRISE:)
    – Dumb Mistake
  5. After you get the open, you need to keep her interest. Keep it short but sincere. Don’t tell your life story yet. She doesn’t want to hear it right now. Start with a sincere compliment. But don’t over do it. And don’t compliment her on the same thing that 239 other guys have complimented her on before. That won’t get you noticed. She will simply delete your email. I know I would.
  6. Then you wait. If you did it right, she will reply. If you did it wrong, make your approach better with the next girl.

So what do you do next when you get her to reply? How do you keep the conversation going and move it to the next stage? Good questions.

I will have some good answers for you in my next article.

Subscribe now and get notified when I publish new articles. Also get up to date tips and authentic advice on how to build a connection with the girl of your dreams.

How Adventurous Are You?

What does the word “Adventurous” mean to you? How willing or eager are you to try new things? Very? Or do you find that you shy away from attempting anything new?

While most people think that being adventurous automatically means you are a risk taker, this is not always true. Trying something new doesn’t mean you have to go sky-diving or climb a mountain. There are many ways to be a little more adventurous in your everyday life.

Risk takers, are those that normally do what you might call crazy things. Quite often these people have some type of underlying issue, which makes them act this way. But then, again there are those that just like to seek thrills that are above what we would call normal.

If you are in the mood to be adventurous you can easily just try out something new. This might be eating an exotic food, going to a totally new place or attempting a new sport. Or how about being more adventurous in the bedroom? That counts too.

Trying something new really means just getting outside of your comfort zone. There must be at least one thing that you would like to try, but haven’t yet. Why not work up the courage to do it? You may be amazed at how good you will feel about yourself if you do. Even if you aren’t one hundred percent successful, the fact that you tried is a huge accomplishment. Be proud of yourself!

If you find that life is becoming a little boring, then this is a signal that you need to shake up your routine. This is the perfect opportunity to become adventurous and do something that is different. Take up a new hobby or go on a vacation or just visit a new town on the weekend.

Changing things in your love life is another way to get your partner involved in being adventurous if you are in a relationship that has been routine. I know many people don’t talk about this aspect of being adventurous much. Most people are way too conservative but deep inside they yearn for adventure. So how about starting there? Share one fantasy with your significant other and I assure you that that will be the beginning of your grand adventure. You will add excitement into your lives for sure.

Life doesn’t have to get boring and your daily activities shouldn’t be commonplace. Get into the habit of shaking things up every once in awhile and try new things. Let go of your kitchen duties for one night and verbalize your imagination. For once, just say, “I would like to do that! I will do that starting now!” Plan for a hike. Hire a personal trainer. Sign up to perform stand-up comedy. Make love in the rain. Just do something that is not part of your regular routine and you will be happier for it!

Improve Your Adventurousity

How would you like to improve your adventurous streak? While adventurousity may not be a word, I love the sound of it, don’t you?

As with any personal trait that you are trying to improve using affirmations and quotes can really be beneficial to you. They can even be used to pump yourself up to finally take on that new challenge.

Here’s a couple of affirmations that you might want to use:

I love being adventurous
I love experiencing new things
I love to explore
I will conquer my fears
I am outgoing and headstrong
I look challenges straight in the face
I will focus on the journey as opposed to the destination
I am a brave person
I enjoy danger
I am becoming more adventurous each day

It is quite possible to think yourself into being more adventurous. We were all born with a sense of adventure. How do you think babies discover and learn what the world around them holds? By taking chances and by not being afraid.

Unfortunately as you get older you discover that danger lies within many things and places. This is what often holds you back from facing a challenge head on. It is much easier to stay where it is safe and secure.

Even learning a new skill can help you become more adventurous. Why not learn a new language, which will help you travel to a new country? Learn how to cook foods of a different culture.

Improving your adventurous streak doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in harm’s way. It just means allowing yourself the freedom to experience new things such as foods, cultures, new sports, practically anything that you would love to do.

Your ultimate goal may be to do an extreme sport just once in your life. Life is really too short and you never know when something may strike you down without warning.
Learning to improve how you view the world of adventure can open up a realm of possibilities for you. You could learn new skills, meet new people or be presented with unforeseen opportunities.

So if your lack of adventurousity is getting you down. Give it a good slap by taking action and changing the way you view adventure. Repeat your affirmations several times each day until you start truly believing in yourself. Nobody but you can change the way you think!

 

Vang Vieng, Laos is about 3.5 hours north of Vientiane by van.  It is close to the halfway point between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. As such, it is a natural pit stop for travelers between those two Laotian cities.

When I googled “Vang Vieng Laos”, I saw old posts that referenced Vang Vieng as a party town for backpackers. When I looked in Google Images, I saw pictures of people riding hot air balloons in Vang Vieng. Now that would be a lot more interesting to me.

So instead of flying directly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, my boyfriend and I decided to make the trip by van. We would stop for 2 nights in Vang Vieng.  

You can book a van ticket from almost every travel agent in Vientiane. It is a popular route so you will have many van operators to choose from.  Most times, they will offer you a choice of a van or a bus. We chose the van because we felt we would get there faster.

The “trick” to getting a seat with good views in a van and not be stuck in one of the middle rows is to ask for the front seat. That’s what I did. The van driver accommodated us with two front seats. That allowed me to look around, take pictures, and take videos. The added bonus is that there is a phone charger upfront.  Just be sure to wear your seatbelt. The roads are often windy and there are a lot of potholes and obstacles.

Outside the Vientiane city borders, the buildings and small shops quickly give way to farm plots and houses. What struck me was the number of new mansion style houses being built. For what was supposed to be a poor third world country, I saw that people had nice cars like Toyota Land Cruisers, Range Rovers, and Lexus. They also had really nice farm houses.

The scenery doesn’t really change from farms to rugged mountains until you get closer to Vang Vieng, which is about 2.5 hours out.  At that point, the scenery abruptly changes to jagged mountains covered with lush vegetation.  It is quite the sight. That’s when you start to sense the real beauty of Laos.

As you approach the town of Vang Vieng, it isn’t really all that impressive or nice. There are restaurants, massage parlors, touristy clothes shops, and tour operators all over town. They make up most of what you see.

The van dropped us off at a tour operator in the middle of town. From there we are supposed to walk to our hotel.  Even though the hotel is only a few blocks away, I’m glad we packed light. The last thing you want to do is to drag a bunch of heavy suitcases with you on a dusty street.

We booked our room at the Elephant Crossing Hotel right next to the Nam Song River. Our room was on the top floor with a balcony.  That sounded great except for the fact that the hotel doesn’t have an elevator. So we had to climb 4 flights of stairs up to our room. Again, it was a good thing we packed light. Nevertheless, we got our stairmaster exercise a few times a day. It’s a good thing both he and I are fit.

Getting up to the room was a chore, but once we were there it was well worth it. The view was amazing.  We had a big window and balcony that overlooks the Nam Song River. Across the river was a mountain made of limestone covered with vegetation. French sliders opened up the room to the wondrous view.

If you stay here at the Elephant Crossing Hotel, make sure you book the Deluxe Balcony View room. We got up early the next morning to be rewarded with a fantastic sunrise with clouds shrouding the mountains.

Our room also included a buffet breakfast by the river in the morning.

My boyfriend wanted to take advantage of the half off happy hour drink special and watch the sunset by the riverfront restaurant. So we went back downstairs. He ordered a mojito for both of us.

It looked pretty. It had mints. It had carbonated soda water. It had ice. But after take several sips from both glasses, I don’t think it had any rum. Disappointing. So in the end, we just had carbonated detox water. At least sitting by the riverfront was pleasant.

Since we only have 2 days here, we needed to get our plans in order. Step 1 was to book a bus ticket to Luang Prabang. Step 2 was to book a ticket for the hot air balloon ride.

 

Step 1 was easy. We just purchased our van ticket from any of the many travel shops around town. As long as you don’t book it from the hotel, all the rates are about the same. The only choice you make whether to book the van or the bus. The bus will take about 6 hours. The van will take about 4 hours. The van will take the winding road which is the more scenic route. But if it rains, the only road is the straighter road that the bus takes. We chose the van.

Step 2 wasn’t what we expected. It turns out that the hot air balloons don’t operate during the wet season. This includes August. Arghhh and major bummer.  We tried checking around with the different travel agencies. Some said that there were flights available. After they made the call though, their answer changed. There is only one or two hot air balloon flight operators so whomever you check with will get the same answer.

So it was onto Plan B.  We had to choose other activities.  The major things to do here include ziplining, tubing, kayaking, cave exploring, trekking to see the vista, motoring on dirt roads, and swimming in the blue lagoon. Most of the tour packages included some combination of these activities. We chose the package that included the cave tubing, kayaking, blue lagoon, and ziplining. The last activity made me very nervous because I had never done that before. But this was an adventure and where else better to do it than in Laos?

There are many tour operators in town. Make sure you choose one that have newer equipment. For example, ask to see their canoes. Ask to see their life jackets and helmets. Since there are so many tour operators to choose from, make sure you don’t get stuck with one that is subpar.

Our tour truck picked us up from near our hotel in the morning. It made a pitstop at a small restaurant to pick up our lunch. Then we were off to our adventure. If you go, bring plenty of sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a towel, water shoes, and dry gear for your phone.

Dinner in town is nothing special. There are cafes with relatively good coffee and baked goods. There are restaurants that served Laotian and Thai food. There is Western food. But people don’t come to Vang Vieng for the food, they come here for the adventure.

Follow me to my next destination Luang Prabang in my next article. And if you are hesitant about adventures, be sure to read my articles about the art of adventure here.

Are you still single and having trouble finding someone to have a relationship with? If so you might want to look at how much sex appeal you are projecting. Recent research has shown that people who are seen as adventurous are more appealing and desirable to the opposite sex.
If you were to ask a group of people what being adventurous meant to them, you would end up with a ton of different answers. No two would be the safe. Some people view being adventurous as being dangerous and ready to go to extremes. Others think it means doing something that you have never tried before.

So how does being adventurous add or change your appeal?

It is part of human nature to love watching things that are seen as thrilling, exciting and dangerous. By watching these events you can easily imagine yourself taking part, but without putting yourself in harm’s way.

So if you meet a person who you think does adventurous things you are going to be immediately drawn to them. You love watching them take risks such as going sky-diving or even competing in a dance competition. Deep down you would love to do the same, but just don’t have the courage to do them.

The adventurous person will enjoy the companionship and encouragement from another person. This often fuels their drive and spirit to be even more adventurous.
Another concept is of two adventurous people connecting with each other. This can build a strong, fun relationship. You both enjoy being daring and are not afraid to jump into something head first. Neither one of you worries about the dangers because you are fueled by each other’s projected energy. You are just having fun living in the present and enjoying every possible moment. My boyfriend and I really connected and bonded this way. We often say to each other that “this was the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like this.”

If you are looking to meet someone new then getting out of your comfort zone and taking on new challenges the way to do this. You could join a biking club, hiking club, dance club, or go mountain climbing.

By surrounding yourself with adventurous people, you are more likely to unlock your own adventurous spirit. As you see people fulfill their dreams and take on new challenges, you will be tempted to do the same.

So, if you are having trouble finding a date then why not let a little adventure into your life and see where it leads you?

La vie est faite de petits bonheurs.  Forgive me if I am feeling a bit inspired with French right now. I just came back from Vientiane, Laos. The capital city of Laos is, perhaps, the most French you can get in the Far East.

Some of you may say that Vietnam is the French ambassador of the Far East. Arguably, that is true. The French did colonize and occupy Vietnam for a really long time. They were there for about 67 years.  They constructed French style buildings. They influenced the food by introducing French pastries, coffee, and pâté. They made Western clothing like neckties and business suits trendy.  You could say that the French influenced Indochina as much as the Spanish influenced the Philippines.

All this about the French and Vietnam is true. However, the French did also rule Laos for almost as long a period of time. The introduced French cuisine to Laos. They influenced the architecture. They influenced the dress.  And most distinctively, they influenced the building of the Far East version of the Arc De Triomphe.

In the center of Vientiane is the Patuxai war monument. It is smaller in scale than the famous Arc De Triomphe war monument in Paris but it is unmistakably French inspired. In real life, it looks pretty cool. You won’t find such a monument in Vietnam. But more on that later. First I will need to show you how to get around in Vientiane.

If you arrived by air, Wattay International Airport is about 20 minutes from the center of town where all the main attractions are. If you arrived by train, Thanaleng train station is a bit further out. I arrived by overnight train from Bangkok. The minivan from the Thanaleng train station to downtown Vientiane took about 25 minutes. It is about 20 kilometers away. By the way, this railway station is also called Dongphosy train station.

If you can, try and stay close to downtown. That way, you can walk to most of the major attractions. There are tuk tuks, but sometimes walking may be the best way to see, hear and feel all the happenings in the city.

New Rose Boutique Hotel

I stayed at the New Rose Boutique Hotel, 339 Pangkham Road off of Samsenthai Road. It is around the corner from That Dam.  The New Rose is centrally located and walkable to almost everywhere around downtown.  It is close to the sights, restaurants, massage shops, and even Patuxai.

As a note, you will see the word “road” interchanged with “rue” on maps and street signs. The word “rue” is French for “road”. The Laotian word for road is “thanon”.  Of course they don’t spell it that way. They just pronounce it as “thanon”.

After your journey, the best way to ease yourself into the city of Vientiane is to have a drink. I recommend checking into your hotel, leave your luggage in the room, and head out to a cafe nearby.  You will have plenty of choices.

The coffee is really good thanks to the French. And the fruit smoothies are great too thanks to the availability of fresh tropical fruits in this part of the world.

It will most likely be hot or even very hot when you arrive in Vientiane. So I recommend availing yourself of a nice cool fruit shake.  The best place that I know for a freshly made fruit shake is called House of Fruit Shakes. It is only a block away from the New Rose Hotel.

BCEL Currency Exchange

If you haven’t exchanged currency yet to Laos Kip, head to the money changer. There is one near the hotel on on Rue Pangkham called BCEL.  To get there, turn left after you exit the hotel and walk south on Rue Pangkham for about 7 minutes. You will cross Rue Samsenthai and  Rue Setthathirath.  If you don’t mind a lower exchange rate, the M-Point Mart right around the corner from the hotel on Rue Samsenthai and Rue Pangkham.

House of Fruit Shakes and Manivanh Sandwich Shop

After you get some Laos Kip, head to House of Fruit Shakes located at 128 Rue Samsenthai at Rue Chanthakhoumane.  You will see a booth with hanging fruits out front as you approach the House of Fruit Shakes. There is a menu out front with all your choices of juices and shakes. They have everything from fruit juices to detox style drinks.  The prices are in Kip.

I tried the Avocado shake on one visit. And I tried the Lime Mint on another visit. Both were AAA perfect. Very refreshing and very healthy.

If you want a bite to eat, head next door to the Manivanh Sandwich Shop.  Experience for yourself what a really good baguette tastes like. Remember that Laos was a French colony. There are many downsides to being a colony. The upside, though, was learning how to make excellent baked goods. The Laotians have mastered this to the nth degree.

I ordered the baguette with butter, pâté, and pork salad.  One bite into this exquisite combo and you will be hooked. It is that good. Combine this with my shake and I was completely satisfied.

The total bill was 28,000 Kip.  18,000 Kip for the Avocado shake and 10,000 Kip for the half baguette.  That’s about 172 Philippine Pesos (PHP) or $3.40 USD.

After my stomach was full, it was time to plan my time in Vientiane. I want to visit the capital, then head north to Vang Vieng for some outdoor adventures, and then to Luang Prabang for some traditional culture.

There are two ways to do this. One is to fly and the other is to take a bus or a van.  I chose to take the van because there are no flights to Vang Vieng.

Van Ticket to Van Vieng

Since I wanted to secure my seat, I walked over to a travel agency on Rue Samsenthai.  Scenic Travel Co. is directly across the street from House of Fruit Shakes. The van ticket to Vang Vieng cost 50,000 Kip which is 307 PHP or $6 USD.  The van company will pick me up from my hotel and take me to the main van.

After that was out of the way, it was back to planning my tour of Vientiane. I definitely wanted to see the Buddhist temples, the Night Market, the Shopping Mall, and Patuxai war monument. Vientiane is very hot during the day, so you will not be able to see too many places without a lot of rest stops in order to avoid heat exhaustion.

Taking my own advice, I rested at the hotel until the evening. The staff at the New Rose Hotel is very warm and accommodating. You can tell it is a family oriented hotel because some of the staff members had their young children at work. That was okay by me because the Laotian people are very well mannered.  They are also easy going.

Night Market at Chao Anouvong Park

Stepping outside again after the sun goes down is a big relief temperature wise. It is still very warm but it is more tolerable. To get to the Night Market at Chao Anouvong Park, head south on Rue Pangkham all the way to the end. The Night Market is between Rue Fa Ngum and the Mekong River.

You will find many items for sale from souvenirs to clothing all at really low prices. You can also try local Laotian foods and snacks from the street vendors. One snack that I really like is khao lam. Basically, it is sticky rice and beans with coconut milk stuffed into a bamboo then grilled. The combination is delicious. You can taste the creaminess of the coconut milk and smell the aroma of grilled bamboo. It costs 10,000 Kip per bamboo stick.

You will find many items for sale from souvenirs to clothing all at really low prices. You can also try local Laotian foods and snacks from the street vendors. One snack that I really like is khao lam. Basically, it is sticky rice and beans with coconut milk stuffed into a bamboo then grilled. The combination is delicious. You can taste the creaminess of the coconut milk and smell the aroma of grilled bamboo. It costs 10,000 Kip per bamboo stick.

In terms of items for sale at the Night Market, the most interesting thing to me were the traditional Lao skirt called “sinh”.  I noticed that many Laotian women wore this skirt to work. It is very pretty and on the conservative side. Curious I tried one on. It was heavier than I thought.

That meant that it was rather hot to wear especially in this weather. I guess you get used to it. There were many colors and patterns to choose from. The vendor would alter it to fit perfectly. I decided to pass since I didn’t have any room in my small luggage. I am a light packer.

Across the street from Chao Anouvong Park, there are many places to eat. There is street food and many types of restaurants from Japanese to Western. I was already full from the baguette sandwich and khao lam so I only ate a small bowl of Laotian noodle soup.

On the morning of Day 2, I had breakfast at the hotel. The buffet style breakfast was included as part of the hotel price. There was a good mixture of Western and Laotian food. The coffee was decent.

Wat Sisaket

Then I was off to see the Buddhist temple. I wanted to get a good luck bracelet for my wrist. I was told that you can get one at the temple if you visit a real Buddhist monk.  Wat Sisaket was within walking distance so I headed there. It is located on Ave Lane Xang between Rue Samsenthai and Rue Setthathirath.  It costs 5,000 Kip to get in. For women, you will need to cover your legs so don’t wear shorts. If you do enter with revealing attire, they will loan you some conservative Laotian clothes to cover yourself.  I had to wear a sinh.

This is a relatively small temple. There are over 6,000 Buddha statues here but no monks so I couldn’t get my lucky bracelet. Maybe at the next temple stop..

Kualao Restaurant

Dinner on my second night in Vientiane would be at the famous Kualao Restaurant located on Rue Samsenthai. It is walking distance from the New Rose Hotel. The building looks like an expensive house rather than a restaurant. There is a cool retro Jaguar sedan parked out front.

I didn’t make reservations so getting a seat would be tough. Luckily they were able to accommodate me. However, my table was not close to the live music and traditional folk dancing show.

It was hard to make a choice from the menu. At last, I decided on larb which is a traditional Lao dish. I love the taste of herbs mixed with meat. You cannot normally get fresh herbs in the Philippines.

Dessert was banana flambé with ice cream. That was surely inspired by the French. Yummy it was.

Parisien Café

It was really hot on my last full day in the capital. Rather than risk getting heat stroke, I decided to sip some coffee and work at one of the local cafes. The Parisien Café on Rue Pangkham looked suitable so I popped in.

The place looked very Western. They had all sorts of pastries including macaroons and cheesecake. Choices, choices. I decided to try both. You only live once. The sweet goods went well with a cup of cappuccino.  

They offered free and reliable wifi so I was happy. The hotel’s wifi, by the way, was not as reliable.

Patuxai Monument

In the early afternoon, it was not as hot as midday. I decided to head out and see Talat Sao shopping mall, the Lao National History Museum, and Patuxai.

I headed to the museum first since it was only a block away. Unfortunately it was closed.

I then headed to the shopping mall. It was closed too. Being that there aren’t that many malls in Vientiane, I was out of luck. Oh well. I don’t think I missed much.

Luckily Patuxai Monument was further down on Ave Lane Xang. So I continued my walk down the avenue towards Patuxai.

The view as you approached the monument did not disappoint. It was especially picturesque with the early evening sun shining on it. For a capital city, there wasn’t that many cars on the avenue.

The monument looks like a small Arc de Triomphe. It sits in a property with a park and water fountain. It is a lovely area to spend the afternoon and watch the sun go down.

Indeed it was the perfect way to end the last day in Vientiane.

Tomorrow I will begin my journey to Vang Vieng for some outdoor travel adventure. Check back for my next article about Vang Vieng and follow me there.

Sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam is the undiscovered country of Laos. When I say “undiscovered”, I simply mean it was undiscovered to me.

There I was spinning the globe in my room looking for my next overseas adventure travel.  Spining, spining, spining, … I made the globe come to rest in Southeast Asia.  The first spot I tried to find on the globe was Singapore. I never really cemented in my mind where Singapore was located.  Searching around for a minute, I saw that Singapore was at the bottom tip of Malaysia. It is due east of the Philippines.

Okay, mission one was accomplished. Next, I let my eyes wander up towards Thailand. I see Bangkok, I see Chiang Mai, then I see Laos. The first thing I noticed was that there are only two cities listed on the map:  Vientiane and Luang Prabang.  

“There are only two cities listed. Laos must be an undiscovered country,” I thought jokingly.  I must make Laos my next overseas adventure travel destination.

And just like that, I would go to Laos.

I was already planning a trip back to Thailand so taking a side excursion to Laos would not be too bad. A quick look at Wikipedia showed me that the country has 6.7 million people in a land mass of 69 square miles. That means there is a lot of space to roam around. As long as there is internet, buses, cars, motorbikes, planes and trains, I’m good to explore.

Getting to Laos would be fairly straightforward. Option one was to fly.  Several airlines including Lao Airline fly directly into Vientiane, the capital.  From Thailand, I have the choice of Thai Airline, Air Asia, and a few others.  From the Philippines, Philippine Airline, China Southern, Air Asia and others service this route.

Since I would be in Thailand already, the other option was to take the train.  Hmmm. Taking an overnight train would

  1. Be cool to see the countryside;
  2. Save me money on an overnight hotel room;
  3. Cheaper than flying.

Here’s how it is broken down in more detail in case you are using this blog as an actual guide for your travel:

  1. Buy your train ticket at Hua Lamphong Train Station in Bangkok. Do this at least a week ahead of time because tickets sell out. They will give you a choice of which class ticket to buy — 1st class, 2nd class or economy class.  1st class means you get your own room. 2nd class means you share a table with other passengers. 3rd class is rough. Forget about 3rd class.
  2. Arrive at the train station about 30 minutes before your scheduled departure. Pack light because there isn’t much room for luggage.
  3. Since it is an overnight train, it will be an evening departure. Grab some food from the train station before you board or you can eat in the dining car. You won’t have much to choose from on the train so it is best to buy food before you board. The other issue is that the dining car has limited seats so you will be forced to wait.
  4. The train attendant will convert your seat into a bed after dinner. If you are in 2nd class, you will lose your table. Your seating area will be converted into a bunk bed. Your privacy will be your curtains.  The noise will come through though so better hope that you don’t have noisy neighbors. Of course you could very well be that noisy neighbor to others. In the 1st class room, the bunk beds are already in place. The train attendant simply puts down our sheets.
  5. Wake up the next day and have breakfast on the train. Continue to charge your phone or read emails if the wifi is working. If you are in 1st class, there are shower rooms, albeit small.
  6. The train arrives at Nong Khai station. You get off the train.
  7. Walk to the ticket booth and buy a train ticket to Laos. They will try to sell you an expensive ticket that includes the van. If you want to save money, just buy the train ticket.
  8. Walk through Thai immigration. Have your passport and departure card ready to show.
  9. Wait for the train to Laos on the platform. The ride is very short but very scenic. You will go over the Mekong River which separates Thailand and Laos.
  10. At the Laos train station, be prepared to fill out the immigration form to enter the country. If you are part of Asean, the process is straightforward. I only had to pay $1 to enter. The fees and Visa requirement will vary depending on which country you are from.
  11. Since downtown Vientiane is not within walking distance, you will have to pay to ride in a van to get into town. The van driver will take Thai Baht or US Dollars. It is cheaper to pay in Lao Kip but there are not money changers until you get into town.

That’s it. You are in Laos!

In my next blog article, I will share what to do and how to get around Vientiane and other really cool places for adventure travel like Vang Viang and Luang Prabang.

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Laos food is similar to Thai food but less varied. One popular dish that they share in common is Laos larb.  If you haven’t tried it, you are in for a treat. In essence, larb is the balanced mixture of cooked meat with cool herbs. The combination just works.

Because Laos is landlocked, the traditional larb recipe uses buffalo meat or fish.  Pork, chicken and beef are luxuries.  Here we will use pork or chicken or fish since they can readily be found in the supermarket.  I haven’t seen buffalo meat offered much here.

Ingredients:

  • Ground pork, chicken or fish, 200 grams
  • Roasted and ground sticky rice, 1 tablespoon
  • Fish sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • Lime juice, 1 tablespoon
  • Chili powder, 1-2 tablespoon
  • Finely chopped shallot, 1 to 2
  • Chopped mint leaves, 5 to 7
  • Chopped spring onion, 1 stalk
  • Chopped coriander, 1 stalk

Preparation:

  1. Boil meat for 2 minutes and drain water. Place in mixing bowl.
  2. Add all ingredients to meat in the mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Serve with fresh slices of cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers and leafy herbs.

Serves 1-2

About Maria

Maria Peña is people connector. She created Real Pinay to connect foreigners with authentic Filipinas for friendship, romance, and perhaps even marriage.

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