Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Night Time in Muang Khong – Don Khong Tales

Darkness was gradually ensnaring the island of Don Khong, Siphandon’s biggest of its 4,000 islands.  I’d freshened up with a fast shower at my room in Pon’s River Guest House. If Champasak felt like some zombie’s haven at night fall, Muang Khong wasn’t too far behind, though there were obvious signs of life and activity. There were more tourists too. But not by much.

The island itself stretches for 18 kilometers from north to south and 8 kilometers from east to west; big enough to require transportation if you wished to explore every village (“ban”). I wasn’t that ambitious. I was set on seeing the major temples in this village – and a temple (Wat Phu Khao Kaew) poetically perched on a hill at the western village of Muang Saen some 8 kilometers from here. That was for the day that follows. For now, I needed a drink so I got myself a sugarcane juice (5,000 kip) from a Vietnamese peddler. With the sun conveniently tucked in the horizon and the gentle breeze that blows from the surrounding Mekong, it was walking time; exploring time.

The row of guesthouses looked vibrant in incandescent illumination. I crossed the bridge and turned west, passing by empty fields. I could see the village’s central temple Wat Phuang Kaew. It was really too dark to truly appreciate the architecture and design, but there’s something about navigating temples in limited lighting. Very… hmmm… hypnagogic. I noticed a monk lighting the candles. Praying time was near. I planned on coming back here at sunrise. Meanwhile, I met a group of kids who were clowning around when they saw my camera. As mentioned before, Lao children are hardly bashful.

Sunset in Don Khong (taken from Hat Xai Khun).

Vietnamese vendor selling sugarcane juice.

Sugarcane juice at 5,000 kip a glass.

Giant Buddha sits atop a pedestal in Wat Phuang Kaew.

One of the temples of Wat Phuang Kaew in the heart of Muang Khong

Some 300 meters south of Wat Phuang Kaew was an internet café marked “M Phone 3G”. They were cheaper by 5,000 kip so I made mental note to do all my netizen needs there. Along the way, I saw a beautiful white building – Don Khong Historical Museum – which seemed to be in the works, thus it wasn’t open for public. There wasn’t much in the area that particularly caught my attention so I headed back to the main strip, the road along the coastline where my guesthouse stood. It was already 8:30 PM and my stomach was making quaint noises.

I didn’t want my dinner in the same place (Pon’s River’s Restaurant) so I walked further north and finally decided to try Souksabay Guesthouse’s Restaurant, famed in LP for their cuisine and the owner’s attention to pamper their guests. I was handed a menu by a tranny. I ordered “Fried Noodle with Pork” (15,000 kip) and a bottle of water (2,000 kip). When food came, my gustatory senses were already wrecking havoc on my lips. It was a huge serving, and it absolutely tasted as delectable as it looked! Yum! I already wanted to come back here even before gobbling on my order. How’s that for a slice of satisfaction?

If that didn’t cap my night, I wouldn’t know what would. Back in Room 9, I blasted my AC to 18 and hang down my mosquito net just to try it. The azotea (porch) outside looked dreary and desolate so I decided to call it a night.

Night,” I called. I sensed a grin. Like an Eye in the Sky!

Don Khong kids clowning around for the camera.

M Phone 3G Internet Cafe - the cheaper internet at 15,000 kip an hour.

My browsing screen.

I was initially alone at the computer shop but was later joined by 4 more tourists.

Don Khong Guesthouse just beside Pon's River Guesthouse.

Pon's River;s sister hotel, Pon's Arena.

Souksabay Guesthouse & Restaurant - and the popular lady owner on her rocking chair.

Fried Noodle with Pork: Delicious!

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