Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Walk Around Muang Khong - The Mundane and the Ordinary in Don Khong

Lao Telecom

There are specific places that are hard to describe in a journal. Sometimes the best way to do so is to just photograph them.

I always want to remember parts that, though they may not be pretty or picture-perfect, constitute the salient features of a place. This has been a not-so-savory, albeit compulsive habit of mine. I have mellowed down  through the years, but I remember Europe very well due to that far gone predisposition. I remember walking around Brussels, or the Netherlands, or Cologne and Hamburg, or Paris and Luxembourg (and so many other places that are too numerous to mention) - and jutting down the street names that my feet were walking on. They are permanently etched in a worn out journal that hasn't been opened since I can't remember. But times have moved forward, and the wide world of cyber space has allowed me to record my travels in more convenient and enjoyable fashion. For this I have to thank the people from Blogger for this opportunity to document my travels. I prefer remembering my journeys and misadventures this way, instead of paper with faded ink. Thank you.

After a midday sleep (something that I do not do when I am on the road), I woke up and decided to just walk around Muang Khong; a continuation of my early morning activity that took me northward. This time, I decided to see the area in the village south and west of the bridge.


Don Khong occupies 18 kilometers (on a north-south axis) of the 50-kilometer stretch of Siphandon (4000 Islands). Don Khong has two important villages: Muang Khong to the central east and Muang Saen to the west with 8 kilometer of slightly reddish soil between them. But these two villages appear to be unofficial names that locals use to call the area. Officially, there are 20 villages ("bans") spread around the island. One of it is famous being the birth place of Khamtay Siphandone, the postman who went on to become the country's President.

The row of hotels on the riverside sits on Ban Xieng Wang, but its southern ban of Kang Khong has blossomed into bigger (pricier?) and better looking hotels. The northernmost villages are Hatngiao to the west and Khonglem to the east. The southern tip has Ban Houay. Meanwhile, Ban Phosi is the most central village, sitting in the very heart of the island.

For completion, here is a list of the villages:

Western villages (north to south)
1. Hatngiao
2. Khongnua
3. Nanoktek
4. Senhatnue
5. Senhattai
6. Houasen
7. Sentai
8. Hinxiao

Central village:
9. Phosi

Eastern village: (north to south)
10. Khonglem
11. Senlam
12. Dong
13. Veunthong
14. Xiengwang
15. Kangkhong
16. Phoxay
17. Na
18. Houay (which has a ferry that can also take tourists to Don Det on a more expensive boat journey)

Muang Khong appears to include the more central Xiengwang and Kangkhong. Most tourists populate Muang Khong simply because travels in the area ply Route 13 at the eastern side of the Mekong. Meanwhile, the villages right across the western villages of Don Khong are said to have no roads and the only way to get there is by boat. In short, west of West Don Khong is the nether regions of Siphandon. Furthermore, Muangkhong appears to have the amenities that tourists require - restaurants, post office, a telecom, a bank with a Western Union, internet cafes, restaurants and little shops.

Looking at the small map provided by LP, there are essentially 4 main streets in Muang Khong: the riverside pathway that tapers as it goes south; the highway that heads north; the highway that heads south (to Ban Houay) and the highway that heads west which I thought was the road to take if I decide to visit the more populous western village of Muang Saen.

This time around, I headed south of the main bridge, the southern highway and the western highway. I was glad I did because I discovered there was so much more of this village than my row of guesthouses. The village sure got bigger. The following photos shall document this midday journey.

Like an Eye in the Sky!

Xenesothxeune Hotel - one of the hardest names to pronounce or remember. It's situated south of the bridge, along the Mekong.

Restaurant tables and chairs fronting Senesothxeune Hotel.

Another bridge after Senesothxeune Hotel.

Mali Guesthouse

Mekong Inn

Tables and benches fronting the Mekong Inn. Just playing with colors.

Villa Muong Khong Hotel, the back of a bigger sprawl.

Villa Muong Khong Hotel's side road going towards the southern highway.

Villa Muong Khong Hotel's facade facing the southern highway.

Agricultural Promotion Bank with a Western Union where a simple exchange of a single $100 bill can take  close to an hour despite having only 2 customers before me.

Agricultural Promotion Bank - Notice the ledger on the table where every serial number of paper bills is written down.

Don Khong's Historical Museum - not yet open to public.

These makeshift benches sell lottery tickets. They can be found all over the country on certain days and open til 7-8 PM.

Lunch at Don Khong Guesthouse's Restaurant, just one building away from my Pon's River  Guesthouse. I wanted to try their Fried Noodle with vegetable and pork to compare it with Souksabay's delicious entree. It was just okay.

Despite its less than appetizing food (it's the hotel closest to the bridge), it's at Don Khong  Guesthouse where I got my motorcycle ride to Muang Saen to see Wat Phu Khao Kaew. I also bought 3 postcards at 3,000 kip each.

Governor's Office located at the western highway.

A bust in front of the Governor's Office. I'd make a guess that it's dedicated to Khamtay Siphandone, the postman who became president.

Bureau of Finance

Don Khong's Post Office where I sent my mother her postcards.

This post office had a single employee (wearing a red uniform shirt) who was very helpful. I paid 11,000 kip each for a stamp to the Philippines. 

Bandavong Restaurant and Hotel

From the crossroad, this is the western highway.

Police Station at the junction of the western and northern highway.

A waiting shed beside a pond. This is located right across the Police Station.

Musical shells making tender music.


R.Ramakrishnan said...

Unable to post comments in many of your recent posts as there is a notification which says - " Administrator has disabled comments". Please investigate & take corrective steps.
Rgds Ram

eye in the sky said...

@ Ram:

Comments now open. :)

NRIGirl said...

Creamish white exterior with red tiled roof is my dream house! Thank you for the delightful pictures.

Nice to know you send cards to Mom from your visits; she has trained you well! :)

eye in the sky said...

@ NRIGirl:

Mom loves to receive her postcards. She neatly keeps them in an album (two of them now).

I think it's cool because going to post offices in these far away places isn't always the easiest. Sometimes they stray far from the usual places tourists go to. They're adventures themselves. :)

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Many of names sound complex to me:)For the locals it must be child's play to remember these.Love the name "Xenesothxeune" though.At the end of it all a nice looking meal. Khamtay Siphandone, the postman who became president -love to know more about him.

eye in the sky said...


No matter how many times I practice the name - Xenesothxeune - I never learned to pronounce it with relative ease. :)

Twin said...

Postcards with handwritten notes---the best surprise & souvenir :)

eye in the sky said...

@ Twin:

It's nice to get one occasionally. :)