Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Lao Trip 14.1 - To Savannakhet

There are basically two approaches to taking trips. Of course, back in the day, I might have argued that there are three.

The trip that is planned is my most preferred; over pointing myself in a direction and seeing “whatever happens.” There’s a lot to be said for just going with whatever transpires, but I’ve found that it is more rewarding to plan something out and see what your percent of success is; going for objectives and achieving them.

I left our village with several things going on. At Bann Nah, the stairs tred was being placed. Thip was sick (cold with cough) and it was the time of ow gah (rice seeding) on both our farms. Then there was all the usual stuff, too.

Due to logistical problems, I wasn’t able to apply for my one-year Thai visa while I was in the United States. So, within a month of returning to Thailand, I set about to leave the country once again and apply for the visa in Savannakhet, Lao, where I have previously applied for and received my one-year “Non-Immigrant ‘O’ Visas.”

As Thip was not feeling well, I didn’t want her to drive me into Nong Bua, to the bawkawsaw. Instead, I just had her drop me off at the highway (210) and I picked-up a sawngtheaw (passenger truck) from there. From the provincial heart of Nong Bua Lamphu, I took a bus to Khon Kaen and then another, longer one to Mukdahan, on Isaan’s eastern border with the Mekong and Lao. At Mukdahan, I rode the International Bus for checking out of Thailand, crossing the Mekong via “Friendship Bridge 2,” and checking into Lao. From the Savannakhet border crossing, a tuk-tuk driver drove me into the city and to the riverfront, to Intha Village Restaurant and Guesthouse. I had spotted this place last year but had, regretfully, not taken a room there. It was a bit of a bust that night I met Jitzy and her girlfriends in March 2015. I was in one of the worst rooms at Nongsoda Guesthouse, at the time, when I really should have upgraded to Intha.

After a shower, I had a Beer Lao Mekong-side and talked with a Norweigan guy, then headed off to my favorite spot riverside in Savannakhet: the Savan Khaim Khong karaoke bar and restaurant. Nothing as exciting as the night, last year, that I met up with Jittzy and her friends. Eventually, the staff checked me out for my own good. They do that when they think someone’s had too much to drink. Maybe they saw me dozing off. That’s fine. I appreciated them doing it.

Back at Intha, as if confirming the feelings of the Kaim Khong staff, I slipped on the bathroom tile and got a bad bruise to the forehead. I’m usually very careful on the slippery wall tile that is used on floors throughout Southeast Asia, but when I’ve been drinking, I’m less careful. I lucked out this time. It could have been lots worse and even a show-stopper.

Beware the floor tile, mixed or not with alcohol.

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