I had promised my friend Savath that I would visit him -- as I do most every time I am in and around Pak Lai. It was my good fortune to meet him early on in my trips to Lao. We have remained friends for about four years, now.
Savath is a hardware salesman and the Beer Lao distributor for Pak Lai. He also distributes Lao Khao (rice whiskey). He is a big man in this town. You wouldn’t know it because of his posture, but he is given great respect everywhere in these parts and everyone seems to know him or know of him.
Unlike times before, I was able to pin-point my arrival ti his hardware store adjacent to the market and attached to his home. Usually, I would just show up. Now -- thanks to smart phones and social networking-- he knew within the half hour of when I would arrive. And he was ready for me!
Turns out he had land for sale and his sons’ English teacher ready to help with translation.
I was somewhat embarrassed when Sone (sown; sewn) mentioned to me that we had met several years before, at Heuan Phair. I kinda remembered her and if she is who I remember, I even gave her a follow-up call the next day that didn’t go anywhere. You don’t forget a Lao English teacher and when you meet one, you want to try to stay in contact. If she was who I remembered, that was good. If she wasn’t who I remember, it would be further embarrassment to mention it. So, I had to drop that avenue of conversation.
Sone is a good woman who hasn’t met the right guy, yet. Her market position was slipping, though, as she is -- I guess -- is in her late 20s; never married, which is a bit unusual in Southeast Asia. I advised her to keep her eyes open, don’t shut them. Her man will come along.
I kinda think Savath thought I might be that guy, because if he were to sell land to “me,” I would have to have a Lao wife and she would actually be the owner; same way it is in Thailand. All the land Thip and I have in the Isaan is really owned by her.
After Sone had to leave and after Savath had his guys close shop, he drove me over to his Mekong river property in Ban Nah Sak, south of Pak Lai, just a little south of the ferry crossing and new bridge going in.
Fantastic location, really. About four hectares (1 hectare = 6.25 rai; 2.47 acres or 10,000 square meters). There was no way I could afford it -- even if I had a Lao wife. But, I wasn’t going to tell Savath that. I didn’t want to disappoint him. I’m pretty sure, though, that he figured if I couldn’t couldn’t or didn’t want to buy, then maybe I had family or friends who would and could. He mentioned the equivalent of that, several times.
Savath has multiple properties he wanted to sell -- not only in Ban Nah Sak, but also across the river in Ban Khokkaodo. I asked only about riverside land because if there was any possible way I could pull it off, I’d only be interested in the view.
Anyway, after viewing the riverside property that he had actually used for warehousing, we made our way back to the guest house -- a distance of about ten kilometers. We started in the late afternoon and didn’t arrive until late evening. We stopped multiple places. Every time I thought we were almost there, Savath would park his new truck at yet another watering hole.
One of the places we stopped was Par Sai -- the restaurant overlooking the port, where I had eaten coconut just the day before. It was good the owners saw me with Savath. I’m pretty sure they will remember me next time.
Another place we stopped was Sabaidee, where I had met that first group of dirt bikers what seemed like ages ago. Here, things got crazy. We ate and drank and Savath disappeared for a time. I joined the hostess in a karaoke rendition of “Sai Woosy.” It was all great fun.