Savannakhet (17-20 Oct 12)

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October 19th 2012
Published: October 19th 2012
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Plaza and Catholic ChurchPlaza and Catholic ChurchPlaza and Catholic Church

Mid-day and not a person in sight! Wonder where everyone is...
Continuing my journey back northwards, past Pakse where I entered Laos, and into Savannakhet, another border town connected to Thailand via a Friendship bridge across the Mekong. Savannakhet is Laos's second largest city after it's capital Vientiane, but you wouldn't have guessed it walking around downtown. The place almost always seems deserted!

But the signs of prosperity due to the influx of Thais from across the border, as well as Vietnamese who enter from the east, are obvious. Plenty of banks, guesthouses and hotels, as well as some boutique cafes, and relatively good roads. There must be a lot more tourist dollars/ baht/ dong pouring in since the building of the Savan Vegas Casino just outside of town. Baht is essentially legal tender here (tuk tuk drivers quote in Baht first), and with Thai seemingly spoken almost as much as Lao here, it's hard to remember this isn't actually Thailand.

Nevertheless, all the glitz and glam (or rather smoke and sleaze) of the casino, and the busloads of punters being shuttled around aside, the city retains many of the small-town characteristics you would expect from peaceful Lao.

Case in point -- I walked into a tailor shop one
Savan Vegas CasinoSavan Vegas CasinoSavan Vegas Casino

Yes, so that's where everyone has gone to! Location 10 km outside the downtown area does little to deter hard-up punters...
day, hoping to fix the broken zips on my pants and shorts (cos I was too cheap to buy new ones, even in Laos!) The auntie said she couldn't do it for me, but knew someone else who could, so she asked me to hop on her motorbike, and brought me there. Just not something I can imagine in my hometown of Singapore...

Stayed at Leena Guesthouse.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Savan Vegas CasinoSavan Vegas Casino
Savan Vegas Casino

Classic -- no windows, clocks, mirrors or natural light.
Casino RoyaleCasino Royale
Casino Royale

Ok, not quite, but in gambling town Savannakhet even the makeshift stalls by the Mekong cater to itchy punters. In this game you choose some animal(s), then draw an envelope which has three pictures inside. The payout depends on the number of pictures matching the animal(s) you bet on.
Late Night PetanqueLate Night Petanque
Late Night Petanque

Walking around at night, I noticed several such places, literally mini-arena with multiple petanque fields (?) A relic from the French colonial days, still extremely popular amongst the locals, young and old, though it seems to be a men-only game.
Savannakhet MuseumSavannakhet Museum
Savannakhet Museum

Some artefacts from pre-history, and lotsa photos from more recent times, especially the Vietnam War and Independence era.
Lin's CafeLin's Cafe
Lin's Cafe

Needless to say, THE BEST IN THE WORLD!
Dinosaur MuseumDinosaur Museum
Dinosaur Museum

Yes, they found dinosaur fossils and bones in Savannakhet province a couple of decades ago. Not quite a full skeleton though, as you can see from the photo. Mr Saur is missing several bones still!
Wat in ProgressWat in Progress
Wat in Progress

So they're not really that old after all?!?
I Love Goooooold!I Love Goooooold!
I Love Goooooold!

Jewellery stores and goldsmiths-only on the second floor of the Savanxay Market, aka Singapore Market cos it was apparently started by an enterprising Singaporean investor. Hmmm...

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