A Trip to Savannakhet, Laos.
Above Photo: Oh God – a Catholic Church, St Teresa’s, in Savannakhet.
On my recent research trip to Laos, I took a beat-up bus from tatty Tha Khaek to see the splendours of Savannakhet, travelling along the side of the Mekong River with great views across to Thailand.
After I’d found a hotel in the centre of the old town of Savannakhet, I went for a walk and was surprised how pleasant the town was. Apart from the ferocious, almost-literally man-eating dogs, that constantly attacked me on the streets, day and night.
I ended up going around with stones in my pocket, and I saw locals carrying big bamboo sticks to protect themselves from the dogs.
They were the most aggressive animals I’ve ever encountered anywhere, inlcuding in Thailand, and that’s saying something.
Dogs aside, I really liked the few days I spent in Savannakhet, with its range of old colonial French buildings. It’s like what Tha Khaek could be if someone cleaned the place up.
It was also good to see how many of the old buildings are undergoing face-lifts instead of crumbling into ruins, although I saw plenty of those too.
Savannakhet is such a pleasant, leafy, quiet town, and it was dead by 8pm, the streets in the town centre deserted and dark well before then.
Each morning I’d walk down to the the side of the Mekong river for delicious coffee and bread for breakfast. I saw hardly any Western tourists while I was there. Maybe five over 3 days.
Of course, I hadn’t gone to Savannakhet just to gawk at old buildings, but to use it as a base before heading across Laos to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, where I needed to do some BACK-related Vietnam War research, before heading down to Pakse and Attapeu to recreate the trek my backpackers took in the novel.
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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