Posts Tagged ‘history’

A Timeless Beauty

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

SAVANNAKHET, LAOS – Sometimes it’s good to go back. There are occasions when revisiting a place after an absence of years brings back good feelings of nostalgia.

It’s this nostalgia that I’ve been basking in for a few days now.

In the early 20th century, Savannakhet was an important French trading post in southern Laos. As a result, there are plenty of examples of French colonial architecture scattered throughout the old quarter of the town.

This is the part of Savannakhet that I’ve spent most of my time in. I’ve found myself very inspired by being in this place, and have discovered a few little cafés that provide not only excellent coffee, but a quiet area in which I can write.

I’ve written more in the last few days than I have in the last few months, which is a good thing.

There isn’t much of a nightlife here, only one or two drinking spots that are more like restaurants than bars. It’s more the atmosphere of Savannakhet that is the main appeal of the town. Sadly, the Lao government does not seem all that interested in preserving the old colonial buildings, and many of them are in terminal decay.

Another change that has come to Savannakhet is the opening of the Friendship Bridge which spans the Mekong River, giving much more convenient access to Thailand. The highway which runs across Laos between Thailand and Vietnam has seen an increase in traffic and trade, but the old quarter is relatively untouched, having changed little since my last visit in December 2004.

Progress is good, but not when it comes at the cost of destroying history. For me, the old French buildings in Savannakhet are part of the town’s charm (just as it is in Battambang). It would be very sad to see these things slowly crumble into dust.

I love Savannakhet, and when I leave here, it will be with strong reluctance. I just hope that it’s not another six years before I can come back to this beautiful town.


Truth in Genre

January 3, 2010 1 comment

Anchor What?

February 6, 2005 Leave a comment

Well, we’re still in Cambodia. Tomorrow we’re getting a bus to the “wild west” town of Poipet and crossing over into Thailand. With luck we will arrive in time for a train back to Bangkok.

Still trying to put into words the way in which this country affects me. I’ve never been somewhere that has such a sad history. Then of course there’s the ancient splendour of the temples around Siem Reap. Angkor Wat is the best known of these, and I have to say that it truly is an incredible place. It was built in the late 1100s as a temple to Vishnu, and served as a Buddhist monastery in the 16th century. There were hundreds of tourists/travellers there when we visited three days ago, but even so it’s so peaceful there it’s like another world. There are about 800 meters of old bas-releif carvings depicting scenes from history and Hindu mythology. Climbing the stairs to the central tower would have Sir Edmund Hillary thinking twice. To be in a place so old when my country is so young is quite an experience.

Another experience, far less fun, is cycling 12 kilometers in total darkness. Well… it wasn’t total all the time. :) I had 2 tyre blowouts yesterday, the second one taking place about 5 minutes to sundown. It cost US$2 to have a new tyre fitted, but then we had to ride back in the dark. Fortunately we had an escort for several kilometers, 2 local blokes on a motor scooter kindly shared their illumination with us until we got to a road with some streetlights.

Jen and I moved house to the lodgings annex of the Dead Fish Tower restaurant. And there are more crocodiles there! Much smaller, but more active. One jumped and hissed at me as I strolled past the pit, and I nearly leapt into orbit.

My trip is drawing to a close. :( But we still have a few days in Bangkok before I fly out for a night in Hong Kong.

That’s about it for now. Take care.

Paul C./Karsoe