Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion but was later looted then razed to the ground in 1827 by the Siamese (Thai). It's famous as the home of the most significant national monument in Laos: That Luang, which is a symbol of Laos and an icon of Buddhism in Laos.
Our first activities were an orientation walk followed by our home-hosted dinner. Our dinner host’s sister (Sun) picked us up in a nice new large SUV. She lives with her sister Nom (Nom is the real host) and son (Fon) above an auto shop that her sister owns and is about 15 min away from the hotel. We helped to make a few dishes and served in a nice dining room. After dinner, we went into another room and received blessings and exchanged string bracelets in a Baci ceremony.
The follwing day we went inside the Wat Sisaket Museum (oldest Buddhist monastery in Laos) to talk to two monks (a novice who was 20 yr old and an ordained monk about 23 yr old) about daily life of a monk. Both are soft spoken. We asked questions for about 45 minutes and saw how they wrap their robes. Then we went to visit the golden-domed Prathat Luang (Great Sacred Stupa) (a national symbol of Laos built in the 16th century) and on to Patuxai (Victory Gate Monument) that looks like the Arc de Triumph. That evening our guide arranged for a dinner show of traditional Lao dance.