Boat racing festival

There's nothing like a national holiday with streets festooned in flowers, rivers alit with candles and jumbo tuk tuks bussing in thousands of villagers to get you excited about living in a new country. Throw in some dragon boats and who wouldn't get on board?

Pun intended. Though actually there is one boat that takes volunteers. If you can get through the mandatory ten training sessions...

We were lucky enough this year to be invited to a friend's place who happens to live right on the river and right near the starting point. So we hot-footed over there through the packed city, thousands of cars, closed streets, and then down (partly in reverse) a narrow and very bumpy lane that in the space of a few hours had morphed into a major thoroughfare.

But we arrived. And the view was oh so worth it.

The river downstream towards the city. The white building in the distance is the Landmark Hotel which more or less marks the end of the main town. In other words, a long way to row!

The river downstream towards the city. The white building in the distance is the Landmark Hotel which more or less marks the end of the main town. In other words, a long way to row!

The boats were doing heats all day long. I don't know who the teams were but the green boat was particularly enthused in its chanting and rowing.

The boats were doing heats all day long. I don't know who the teams were but the green boat was particularly enthused in its chanting and rowing.

Image credit: Mombert Hoppe

Image credit: Mombert Hoppe

The sun was scorching hot at about 35 degrees with an intense glare bouncing off the dirt road and the water. I could barely see what I was taking a picture of. Luckily, I had some help here (see image credits).

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I took a quick stroll around the carnival that had set up along the riverbank. Watching boat racing is fun but it's much better enjoyed with friends, a cold drink and a hot BBQ, Lao style.

Image credit: Mombert Hoppe

Image credit: Mombert Hoppe

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These pippis are a common streetfood, kept fresh by blocks of ice. They are barbecued to order over a hot grill.

These pippis are a common streetfood, kept fresh by blocks of ice. They are barbecued to order over a hot grill.

My favourite - the ever-present balloon darts. 3 out of 3 wins the smallest prize. I managed 2 out of 3 and was impressed with my efforts. I couldn't persuade az to have a go and he actually has aim. That giant green teddy bear in the plastic bag remains elusively out of my reach.

My favourite - the ever-present balloon darts. 3 out of 3 wins the smallest prize. I managed 2 out of 3 and was impressed with my efforts. I couldn't persuade az to have a go and he actually has aim. That giant green teddy bear in the plastic bag remains elusively out of my reach.

I don't know which team won the boat races. But I loved seeing the river so alive and bustling for once. It was awesome to see the dragon boats races, particularly up close and personal. Welcome to Vientiane!

Image credit: Mombert Hoppe What's your favourite Asian festival?

Image credit: Mombert Hoppe

What's your favourite Asian festival?