Don Khong, Siphandon, South Laos - It was always part of the plan - to see Muang Saen. Officially, the island of Don Khong has 19 villages spread out across its 18 by 8 kilometer landmass. Unofficially, the most important are two towns that the locals call Muang Khong (located east of the island, and has the "ferry") and Muang Saen (located west). Most of the islands 15,000 population gather between these two towns: the tourist lodges and restaurants in Muang Khong; the bustle of local residence in Muang Saen. In fact, while Muang Khong mostly drowses even at sun up, Muang Saen is a little more enervated by its conglomeration of houses, markets, a bigger gas station, temple in every village, etc.
This post tries to document that ride from my hotel in Muang Khong to the road that heads west to Muang Saen. Kham, my motorcycle driver, suggested that we leave at 3 PM to avoid the harsh rays of the sun, but even as we drove into Laos' netherworlds, he was awkwardly covering himself from the sun, I somehow had to offer my sunglasses (he refused).
At a petrol station somewhere in Ban Hinxiao, we stopped to load up and Kham pointed to a huge, beautiful hive of bees. Further on, the landscape alternated from dried rice paddies to lush mini-forests, with a smattering of typical Lao wooden houses that rise on stilts. I knew where we were because every "ban" (village) were properly identified by signs. We'd occasionally find Caucasian bikers huffing away in exhaustion and the very rare local transport. Somewhere between Ban Sentai and Ban Houasen, I finally found the island's most populous area - Muang Saen! It's a market town.
And this is the Eye in the Sky!
|Each ban is identified by signs like this.|
|Ooops there is me on a running motorbike. :)|
|Market in Muang Saen|
|Market in Muang Saen|
|A shop for motorbike parts and accessories.|
|High rise construction|
|Tractor punctuates the rural scenery.|
|Kham stops by for a barbecue... and offers a stick for me!|
|Who'd have known there were sausages here as well.|
|Full passenger capacity|
|Wat Ban Houasen|
|Wat Ban Kangkhong|
|Another bridge in Ban Kangkhong|
|Back in Muang Khong, I went straight to Pon's River Restaurant.|
|Dinner at Pon's River Restaurant.|