Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lao Trip 14.4 - Si Phan Don

Following Mr. Singh’s advice, I left his Saythong guesthouse and headed for Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) a day ahead of schedule. Before I left, Mr. Singh’s wife came up short of change -- 7,000 Kip -- for my breakfast. She was steadfast that she would make good upon my return. Of course, my return was never guaranteed and I just basically wrote it off. It was less than a bottle of Beer Lao.

Now, this is a prime example of me not being “fast enough on my feet.” In thinking about it later, I figured I could have at least bartered for a bottle of beer or bottles of water to make up the difference; that way I wouldn’t show a loss and maybe Mrs. Singh would have felt better.

The ride on the small long tail boat from Champasak to the other side of the river was cute and then, after a bit of a wait with some Falang girls, we were off on the bus to Ban Nakasang, the staging port for Si Phan Don. This fact, I’ve noticed, is often overlooked in travel books.

From Nakasang, I rode a long tail with other Falang to Don Khon. Don Khon is the southernmost big island and known for its laid back lifestyle. No cars or trucks on the island that I could see. Opposite Don Khon is Don Det, which is a backpacker party magnet. Don Khong is the northernmost of the three main islands and supposedly even more laid back that Don Khon.

After embarking from the long tail boat from Nakasang, I asked a guy where my guesthouse was. At first, he didn’t understand me -- probably due to my dialect, which is Lao Isaan, and here I was all the way down at the end of Southern Lao. His directions were simple and I found Souksanh guesthouse toward the end of the main road; basic but cheap and -- importantly -- waterside.

Walking to Souksanh on the dirt road lining the water’s edge, I had passed an 18-20 year-old Falang guy with a Lao girl of about 14 years of age. I might have been mistaken on the ages and them being together, but that’s what it looked like. They were walking separately, but at the same pace. Walking separately is not uncommon when you have a Lao or Thai girlfriend. Unless she’s a wife, the girl does not always want to be seen as close to a Falang.

This reminded me of a couple of nights ago, at Savan Kaim Khong in Savannakhet. There had been a really overweight Falang guy with an absolutely beautiful Lao girl much younger than him; maybe her 20 years to his 40; something like that. When she would come back from the restroom, we would exchange looks and smiles. Sometimes I find myself envying these guys who score big like this. Not that I’m unhappy with my own marriage (who could possibly have a bigger heart than my wife?), it’s just that some of these girls are just so beautiful and of the body type that I’ve always admired. This is why I went ga-ga over Nuey, two years back.

After my usual guesthouse settling-in routine, I set about in search of a cold Beer Lao. After that and coming back to Souksanh to hang out riverside, I was happy to finally be able to connect with my wife via Internet. I’d had problems with communications on the front-end of this trip, as times when I expected to have Internet, I did not. Also, I could not use my phone easily, so didn’t. I vowed on the next trip to have comms more together. Buying separate country sim cards and minutes used to be the way I did it and that worked fine. I’ve gotten lazy and cheap by thinking I could have Internet most everywhere in Lao. No, that’s not the case.

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