So people, after a hasty visit to Bangkok (two days in fact) we are settled into our little villa in Thakhek. Our friends have all arrived and we are enjoying the company of each other immensely. I must say it is a truly wonderful experience to travel to a nation and hang out with friends whom you have met in your travels, kept in touch with and all decided to converge in a tiny dust bowl of a town.
I am saying this partially in jest as Thakhek is an amazing place, rich in history and culture. Steeped in tradition and as a foreigner quite enriching. Thakhek is situated by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain, hill tribe settlements and an amazing array of cave systems that are relatively untouched.
Just this afternoon on a self guided tourist ride on our trusty Chinese made 50cc scooter we stumbled across a small and very new monastery. Walking across the access bridge we were greeted by a local man who gave us a tour of one of the cave systems. The cave had a small temple in it and as we went deeper into the caverns the more incredible it became.
Simply wandering around aimlessly will get you a long way in this dusty, bustling town. At night the restaurants are a buzz with locals and foreigners a like and the food is not only very cheap, but for the most very good. It is important to also learn a little Laotian while you are at it. Sabaidee is Hello. Kopchai Lai Lai means Thank you very much and Pet Nit Noi is A little bit Spicy. It’ll help you just get by if you know these things. English for the most is off the agenda.
A favourite of mine here is Roti. Its very similar to a crepe, with banana, egg and condensed milk. Sugar is a main stay of the Laotian diet and everything will have it unless you say “No Sugar Kopchai”. I would eat one everyday if I could but I have to control myself and keep a moderate intake of filth. I am yet to have a bad experience with food, but be sure to bring your own coffee and lots of it.
This the second trip to Laos for me and I must say I do like the feel of the place. It would be a big culture shock for the less travelled or the lovers of home luxuries, but for an outer world experience and a truly wonderful place to start a trip. The Thakhek Loop is the popular tour with the people staying here. You hire a bike and head out through some incredible country. It’s highly recommended. The sunsets over the Mekong are sublime and the scenery is magnificent.
Go to Thakhek……and you no come back 🙂