Rod McLaughlin


A month without the internet (02 dec 15)

Not quite completely without the internet. My phone battery isn’t quite dead yet, so when my Mac wifi card failed shortly after entering Laos from Khe San, I could still check email. The phone lasts about ten minutes, then takes two hours to recharge.

Anyway, I rode into Laos, stopping in various nondescript towns all the way to Thakhèk, where I climbed at Green Climbers Home, and also stayed at various establishments near the bus station, including one, Lyly, which had a sign “Savvy Divorced Chicks” in English at the front. The owner thought “Savvy” was “Sexy”. You can guess what kind of “guest house” it is. Instead of Lyly, I’d recommend the Manivanh hotel, just up highway 13 from the bus station, 100,000 Kip for one, which also had a killer Chinese restaurant. Cheaper is Samy’s, not the one in the bus station, the one just outside it. Samy and his family speak good English.

I’d not recommend the International Guest House in downtown Thakhèk. Nor Mr Black’s Cafe. The DD Bistro was pretty good, until the chick behind the counter acted bad-tempered when I couldn’t understand the receipt. The place with yellow wallpaper and pictures of the food on the wall was pretty good, except it has a spoiled brat. There is a dim sum/juice bar which is pretty good too.

There were two good things I immediately appreciated about Laos. First, there is far less traffic than in Vietnam. It’s so nice to be able to ride a bike without constant horns honking. Second, the food is better. This is a real surprise, since Laos is poorer than Vietnam. You never know what you’re going to get in a Vietnamese “Pho” or “Com” - they use all the bits of the animals. Whereas Lao Pho has just slices of beef. Plus, the noodles are chewy, not soggy.

I like not having to pretend to like animals, and ate dog for the first time. Quite tasty. I also actually like children, for the most part, in South East Asia. (To look at, not to eat). They are cute, well-behaved and friendly, with the exception of the children of relatively well-off families.

I took the bus from Thakhèk to Vientiane. Stayed at the Soradith 2 Hotel. There is a sign pointing to it on Dongpalane road. Like many signs in Laos, it’s only half-true. It says “Soradith Hotel and Pub”. At the other end of the alley is a sign saying “Soradith Hotel and Karaoke”, but in fact, it’s just a hotel. 

Within five minutes walk, this area of Vientiane has everything I needed. I got my Thai visa at the consulate on Rue Bourichane, NOT the one further north just off Nongbone Road. On Dongpalane road is Top Cycle Zone which fixed my bike cheap. To my surprise, there is also a computer store where they know how to fix Macs. They put a new wifi card in my Mac Air, which is how I’m able to post this. It’s called LC Sell and Repair Computer, and it’s just next to the D-Mart, Unit 64, Dongpalane Road.



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