We took a local bus from Tha Khet to Savannaket. Unfortunately, someone was permitted to place their motorbike in the aisle of the bus and everyone had to climb over it to get on. Bus stories abound in Laos. Everything is allowed on the local bus due to people having no other form of transportation. One lady told us that she had a rooster chained to the foot of her seat her entire trip. We have had all manner of cargo on our bus/minivan trips, but so far no livestock.
We really didn’t expect much here, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a mostly quiet town with very cute cats and dogs patrolling the temples and streets. It was a mix of decaying early 20th century French and Chinese architecture and contained many temples of various cultures including Vietnamese, Chinese, and what appeared to be combination of Buddhism and Hinduism.
There were numerous small restaurants and coffee shops, some utilizing the old world charm of the area. The Mekong was a few short blocks from our guesthouse which was called Vivanook. The guesthouse was very comfortable and reminded us of a little French villa. It was owned by a very nice French man by the name of Nicholas.
Sadly, Pete continued to have stomach trouble but was beginning to feel better. He stayed in the very comfortable guesthouse while Denise went exploring the area on a rented bicycle. On our last day here, the electric power failed in the our neighborhood and water was off for the entire city starting from about 9 AM. We received various reports that it would be restored in the evening which it did except for very poor water pressure. The power and water were out the next day as well, but we left in the morning anyway so it did not matter to us. It is now getting warmer and not having access to a shower is somewhat annoying. But the people take it in stride here in Laos.
We met a couple of former US Agency for International Development (USAID) folks (Jack and Marge Huxtable) who were statioed in Savannakhet Province during the “secret” war. Marge was also a nurse in Vietnam before joining USAID. Of course they knew Mac Thompson who we met briefly in Phonsavan. We got a chance to have a brief chat with them about their experiences working in Laos under the heavy US bombardment. It is always fascinating to talk to someone who has first-hand experiences like this, and I hope that their memories will live on after they pass away.
We are moving onto Pakse in the Champasak Province by private car tomorrow. This town is the gateway to the south of Laos.
Below are a couple of articles from the Vientiane Times about the recent cold spell.