Cars, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and vans whiz by in front of me, they’re all in a rush, but where are they going in this bored to death town, I couldn’t guess. Two Laotian boys walk by, one with his arm over the other boy’s shoulders.
I ate Mussaman curry, a Thai dish, served by a Japanese here in Savannakhet, Laos. There are two Danish girls at the table next to me listening to an Englishman tell them why the French are so anal about language. There are two Canadian girls trying to setup a table in front of me. They were here twenty minutes ago, then they left for a bit, and now they’ve returned, probably after coming up empty for things to do after a quick bike ride around the town.
I have a beautiful room that should be going for nearly $50 USD here, instead the owner asked just $12. I’m not sure if she knows she could jack the price up by multiples of what she’s charging. I would have paid $30 without thinking about it. There is WIFI, hot shower, all new furniture, and the owner and her daughter nearly prostrate themselves in front of me every time they see me. They ingratiate themselves and go way beyond the bounds of decency, they are so impossibly polite.
I find all Laos people to be like this. They are hospitable to the extreme, and it’s so comforting and makes me feel so safe that I worry about nothing when I step across the border. I don’t enjoy the city, the country, but there is a definite release of all stress once I’m here. I haven’t a thing to worry about while here, and if I had more time I could probably write a book in a couple of weeks. I’d be so thoroughly bored, that there would be nothing else to really keep me occupied. Writing would be the best alternative. Contrast that with living in Southern Thailand, there is just so much to do. Writing is not the most attractive alternative, by far. I could find, and do, many things that take precedence, to my ultimate detriment. Maybe living in Laos would do us good for a while.
The beer is good, BeerLao, comes in three varieties, Gold, Light, and Dark. When it’s fresh, it’s right on. When it’s old or has been in the heat on the truck, it’s quite obvious and is better off poured on the sidewalk to cool down the ants rather than down your throat.
On the day I leave the man of the house is outside and I take a moment to ask him about his life. How did he afford the monstrosity of a guesthouse when most of his neighbors were living in tin shacks? Turns out he was in the military. Turns out that when the Americans were fighting the Vietnam war, and losing, they offered Laotian guys of age the chance to learn how to fly fighter jets. He passed the tests and was sent to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Same place I had basic training. Then to top it off, his next training base was Keesler AFB in Mississippi. That was mine too. Sure we’re talking about a span of 20+ years difference, but it was amazing to find out we had those things in common.
Anyway, the military paid him well. They had a couple of businesses and saved every Kip so they could build a big guesthouse for their retirement.
I asked him if he knew the tin shack next to his property was running drugs out of it. Yep, he knew. He said as long as they don’t bother his customers, it wasn’t something he was upset about. It happens everywhere he said… even America!
Anyway, an interesting trip to Laos. I’ll be back again in 2015.