A Savannised Bum

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 03, 2011

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Where I stayed
Sayamungkhoun guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Savannahkhét,
Saturday, January 8, 2011

For 10,000 kip, I was tuktuked to Sousai Guesthouse but it was full. Single room with cold water shower here would cost me 30,000 kip, which made it the cheapest room deal I had encountered so far in Laos. Thats approximately US$3.50. So I left my backpack there and ventured the town for other options. The sleepy town had just awoken and the locals were preparing to give alms to the local monks for their blessings.
Finally settled in Sayamungkhoun for 50,000 kip with hot water shower and a bathroom which I thought was Savannakhet's mosquito farm. Mosquito coils and insecticide out in action. I breathed in so much Baygon I could kill a mosquito with just my breath. Out in town again, I met some of the most friendliest people in Savan. A block down from Sayamungkhoun guesthouse, I breakfasted at Natalie's Kitchen and the elderly couple-owner had so much interest in knowing me and even invited me to return for a chat at night over dinner. You might think it is their way of building customer rapport but it was definitely not that. Even during my breakfast we had interesting conversations - mostly about me and where I am from and why I travel alone and why I visit Laos. They were simply intrigued that a foreigner was in town!
Another block down where I rented my bicycle for the day, the vietnamese owner was verbally enthusiastic, even with his basic grasp of english. I felt really pampered that someone is more interested about me than myself! he revealed that his hometown was Hue, Vietnam, not far from Savan. He picked up Laos language on his own and now is very much part of the Laos community. His honest down-to-earth personality warmed my heart tremendously. For 15,000 kip I was on the go with leg power. Visited the historic downtown - more like a war torn village, the Mekong river looking towards Thailand (you can see the Thai-Lao Friendship bridge II in the distance) and the dinosaur museum. Savannakhet is a hotspot for pre-historical fossils and dino footprints.
It was almost 11am and right there and then decided to do the That Ing Hang Temple and Bungva Lake trail on bicycle - a do-able 24 km loop out of town. Having never been on a bicycle for years, I had overestimated myself. I was not even 5 km into the trail and had already tenderised (and marinated) my bum. One third of the route was on the highway and uphill - not very nice, especially on a scorching day. But I got to That Ing Hang somehow and the feeling was great. That Ing Hang is said to be the location where Buddha stopped to rest leaning against a hang tree during his journey in ancient times. Thus this place is sacrilege by buddhist standards, and considered one of the holiest in Laos.
The route back via Bungva Lake was pleasantly nice. Flanked by dense forests, the road leading to Bungva Lake was lonesome but shady. At Bungva Lake, it opened out to a vast wide landscape of simmering water under the blazing sun. Parts of the lake were leased out to outdoor pubs with interesting vernacular bamboo huts perched on the lake banks. I would have loved to stay for a drink if they have a better choice of music other than the campy techno. Bungva Lake for most parts is surrounded by rice fields which gave the landscape its serenity and peace. My sore bum was worth it. A slow painful ride back to Savan town and headed straight to the banks of Mekong river to catch the sunset over Thailand.
Looking for local food in Savan was pretty challenging. There was none but one noodle soup stall. And of course Natalie's kitchen. The auntie feriously fanning chargrilled satay sticks that looked absolutely delightful that I had to buy some. I bought three sticks but only ever swallowed two pieces of meat - everything else was rubbery and tough tenons, so I fed the street dogs the rest. Aah..urban people with weak jaws. The thought came much later - what was the meat? Decidedly had a japanese Katsu Don at Anourkat cafe, which was the nicest cafe I had dined in Laos. The rustic Laos-Japanese decor and 3000 kip an hour wifi was definitely a winner. I stopped by Natalie's Kitchen on my way back and briefly chatted with Natalie. She was disappointed when she learnt that I will be leaving Savan tomorrow.
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