Weatherwise, this was a good time for a long trip to Southern Lao. The Monsoons hadn’t started -- although there was a rainfall in Pakse when I was here last week and then, again, overnight at Champasak, but neither one what I could consider Monsoon-status. In fact, based on the low levels of our local klongs in the Isaan, I agree with the Thai government prediction that this rainy season will again be drier than normal.
As is my usual pattern, I got up and going shortly after six. The day was clear and I easily caught a pedicab to the Savannakhet/Vientiane bus. At first, I thought I’d have to pay a lot more than the second class Savan-to-Pakse bus I’d taken last week, because this first class bus was outfitted with good air-conditioning, well-padded seats and even doilies on the head rests that actually looked like they were washed regularly. No, the price was about four beers, which I think the other one had been, too. This ride turned out to be my most comfortable ride of my 11-day trip.
Red blossoming hong nok yu trees dotted the green landscape, making the ride even more beautiful than it would have been. However, Lao -- like the rest of the world’s land mass and oceans -- is being covered over by plastic. Here in SE Asia, glass can also be added, though to a far less degree. Thai and Lao people are very pragmatic when it comes to plastic and glass. They just throw the stuff away or leave it where it falls and don’t worry about how long it is before it’s picked up -- if ever. This lack of awareness and care of “Mother Earth” upsets me, of course, as I struggle with it even in my own village and out on our farms. I don’t like seeing the stuff all about and am constantly picking up plastic and glass, but I am in a small minority when it comes to caring, here in this part of the world.
On the bus to Savan, I spent a lot of time noting different ways water tanks were elevated at various homes because that’s something we will need to tackle sooner or later at our country home. I reminded myself that I did the same thing, a couple of years back, when we were going to put in the roof on Bann Nah. I spent a lot of travel time observing lots of roofs.
Still leary of poorly cooked meat, I got a ping gai sandwich at the same Savannakhet bus station outdoor eatery I had got one the week before. Then, I took a tuk-tuk back to Intha Village Restaurant and Guesthouse where I’d stayed only last week.
I like Intha because it is self-contained with wooden balconies overlooking the Mekong. The down side of this is that you don’t get to meet anybody except for fellow travelers, if there are any about. The price is a little more expensive than my usual upper limit, but the saying “you pay for what you get” certainly rings true here and I’ll make the extra allowance just for the Mekong views.