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Published: October 19th 2012
Plaza 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 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.
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