Friday, January 29, 2016

Lao Trip 13.4 - Duangtar and Students

On the sawngthaew headed north to Pak Lai, it was a beautiful day and I had a great spot out the back of the truck to take it all in. I felt great, too, beginning to get excited in anticipation of what lay ahead and also just being in the moment.

We passed the small Nam Kay Bridge. As we passed Tak Daet, I thought about Nout. What was she doing, now? How had she fared since we met three years before?

Tuk-Tuk driver Lou was at Pak Lai’s southern transit center as we rolled in and I got in with the group he was transporting.

This time, I decided to go back to the Sayadeth, part for the wi-fi that worked on the ground floor (but still not in room #8), part for the south-facing room, and part to continue my acquaintance with the owners of Khemkhong restaurant, who also owned Sayadeth guesthouse.

After doing my laundry, a shower and change of clothes, I went over to Seng Chalerm’s Mekong-view restaurant where the 130 ML bottles of Beer Lao were still 10K Kip. I had one while renewing my acquaintance with the owners there.

Then I moved on to the port area in hopes I could have a bit more privacy and hang out at that sleepy restaurant above the dock and ramp. It turns out that it is now a catering spot for weddings and big functions – one of which was in progress, complete with double decker buses, people dressed up and even a few Lao army uniforms scattered about. So, I walked over to the port’s small service store on the other side of the ramp, where my Beer Lao was a staggering 13K Kip – the most I’ve ever had to pay anywhere in Lao.

I called Duangtar and set up a rendezvous for after school let out. Then, I went to the outdoor market and bought some ping gai (barbeque chicken) and fried bread. These I ate over at PL2, on the banks of the Mekong, looking down on Heuan Phair Tha Phow. It was closed, so I headed back to Pak Lai. Having previously noted that the Mekong Restaurant was open, I went in and had another beer while waiting for Duangtar and some of his students. The Mekong Restaurant had been closed the past couple of times I’d been in Pak Lai.

Duangtar and three of his students soon arrived – Dao, Samneuk and one other guy whose name I forget. They also seemed to bring the rain with them. After switching tables two times to get out from under it, we quickly walked through a break in the rain, down to Khemkhong for dinner.

(a look back at the port when the rain started to roll in)

At Khemkhong, we had a good meal, protected from the rain, with plenty of food and beer. We even invited a German cyclist to join us and I reminded Duangtar, Dao and Samneuk about the similar way we four had met just the previous year.

After we made plans for the next day and my friends and the cyclist departed, I had another beer while I availed myself of the restaurant’s wi-fi. I got caught up on world events, communications and how Thip was faring without me. Given the rain, I had the place to myself.

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