Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lao Trip 10.3 - Savan

Day Three, I took the southbound bus from Pakxan to Tha Khaek, passing thru Pak Kading, where the Nam Kading hits the Mekong, and Hinboun, where the Nam Hinboun does likewise; both very sizeable rivers.

This bus was better than yesterday’s. At least we had air-con for a while and we made better time, arriving at the Tha Khaek bus station – hey, I remember this place! – while the sun was still high. So, I decided to get on another bus southbound to my ultimate destination of Savannakhet – commonly called “Savan.”

My sense of timing was right on, for we made good time to Savan, despite a tire blow out toward the end of the ride. It wasn’t a puncture; it was an actual rubber blowout.

In Savan, I checked into Nongsoda guesthouse, where I had stayed last year. I got another dumpy room, just like last time; not out of choice, but that’s all that was available. The “inside” rooms are dark, with a window of little use, and often musty-smelling due to mold and mildew. The “outside” rooms are lots better and both the same price. Importantly, the outside rooms have big single beds and the inside rooms have two doubles.

The big plus about Nongsoda is its location. When the Thai Consulate was located riverside, it was just two blocks away. Even though the Thai consulate had moved since the last time I was here, the location of Nongsoda riverside, not far from the riverside vendors and the Savan Khaim Khong, still made it attractive for me to patronize.

After laundry and a shower, I walked out along the upper banks of the Nam Khong and was soon distressed to find that my favorite Savannakhet bar was now diserted and nearly gutted.

My spirits picked-up soon afterwards, however, when I walked past the new Savan Khaim Khong. Apparently, business was good and the family had built a new and bigger bar/restaurant.

Again, I was disheartened to note that the riverside vendors now quit their work early, with no after-dark activity at all. The larger outdoor sukiyaki operation was still functioning, so I had a beer here before moving onto the new Savan Khaim Khong.

The Savan Khaim Khong is a bar, restaurant and karaoke spot, not dissimilar from the floating ones in PL2; just bigger and obviously land-based. I had some good memories of the old Savan Khaim Khong and was curious to see how the new place would match up.

Although there’s not a view of the Mekong at the new establishment, it was nice again to be in an enclosure with so many young people having fun. I did find myself feeling my age. I saw one other Falang in the place, in the company of Thai friends, who looked very much out-of-place. I wondered if I did, too. Starting to doubt myself a little bit, I also wondered if I was now losing my mojo.

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