Tuesday 23 November 2010


You may have gathered by now that I'm growing rather fond of Laos. You are also probably sick of hearing me gushing on about its cheerful, languid population, decaying architectural glory and overwhelming air of gentle serenity. But we haven't been to Savannakhet yet.

My first interaction with the locals came when two kids quietly approached me as I took a picture of the Catholic church (the only building in town not in a state of utter disrepair), and started looking at my camera. I pointed it, shot, and showed them the picture on the back. The result was a sort of shuddering laugh of total disbelief, shrinking nervously away from me, as if I had just performed some twisted kind of black magic.

When I walked back a couple of hours later they were still pushing each other round in circles on their tricycle, and had apparently recovered from the shock.

Shops and homes spill out onto the streets, where kids play as grandparents sit and watch and mums and dads quietly tinker about. Again, there is that wonderfully calming sense of a place just ticking along, doing what it needs to get by, and never anything more. Of course, there is absolutely bugger all to do here except watch these warm, hypnotic scenes playing themselves out before you, but who cares?

I looked over the balcony just after sunset, and saw a kid of maybe four or five strolling down the street, past a stray dog licking itself and someone sweeping the front of their shop, all of them with an extraordinary economy of movement. High above the rooftops that teeter on the edges of crumbling walls, a makeshift kite danced its way across the full moon, watched by invisible but audible children, shrieking in the nearby square, as I reclined, took another sip of Beerlao and sighed contentedly.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! If you are still in Savannakhet, we would like to invite you to our cafe. We have only been open for 3weeks, but probably serve some of the best Western oriented food in town, at the most reasonable prices. We are listed on Wikitravel as Savannakhet iLounge Cafe. Hope to see you before you leave Savannakhet. If not, enjoy your time in Laos