4 dormant weeks in Pattaya.... time for a visa run!   8 days till my buddy Tim comes out.... time for a mini-trip to the Issan region!  I hop on an overnight bus bound for Mukdahan, on the Thai-Lao border.  In the morning when we arrive, I cross the border (which was thankfully easy and quick) and into Savannakhet, Laos... a lovely city on the Mekong Riverfront which I have visited in 2002 and 2008.

4 dormant weeks in Pattaya.... time for a visa run! 8 days till my buddy Tim comes out.... time for a mini-trip to the Issan region! I hop on an overnight bus bound for Mukdahan, on the Thai-Lao border. In the morning when we arrive, I cross the border (which was thankfully easy and quick) and into Savannakhet, Laos... a lovely city on the Mekong Riverfront which I have visited in 2002 and 2008.

On the glorious Mekong Riverfront, remembering the good ol' days.... on the opposite shore is Thailand.  The locals have got some nice riverside gardens going on over here...

On the glorious Mekong Riverfront, remembering the good ol' days.... on the opposite shore is Thailand. The locals have got some nice riverside gardens going on over here...

wandering around the Mekong Riverfront in Savannaket...

wandering around the Mekong Riverfront in Savannaket...

Riverside plants

Riverside plants

Sitting at a riverside shack, drinking coconut juice out of the coconuts with a friendly British girl I met, enjoying a gorgeous sunset over Thailand.  The good life!

Sitting at a riverside shack, drinking coconut juice out of the coconuts with a friendly British girl I met, enjoying a gorgeous sunset over Thailand. The good life!

Savannakhet still has a bustling riverfront, with the famed riverside street stalls.  Since a lot of Lao food is identical to Thai food, they have delicious som tam and guey tiaw, among other goodies.  And of course, Beer Lao, long my favourite beer in SE Asia!

Savannakhet still has a bustling riverfront, with the famed riverside street stalls. Since a lot of Lao food is identical to Thai food, they have delicious som tam and guey tiaw, among other goodies. And of course, Beer Lao, long my favourite beer in SE Asia!

the riverside street stalls still going strong... thankfully, some good things never change...

the riverside street stalls still going strong... thankfully, some good things never change...

Mekong sunset

Mekong sunset

The Lao mobile network is.... Beeline!!!  (a Russian company)... it's the same service I had in Moscow!  I wonder if my SIM card works here?  Doesn't really matter, cuz conveniently, my Thai SIM card still works fine, even the mobile wifi, across the river, with no roaming fee!

The Lao mobile network is.... Beeline!!! (a Russian company)... it's the same service I had in Moscow! I wonder if my SIM card works here? Doesn't really matter, cuz conveniently, my Thai SIM card still works fine, even the mobile wifi, across the river, with no roaming fee!

enjoying some delicious guey tiaw, Lao style... basically the same amount of deliciousness as its Thai counterpart...

enjoying some delicious guey tiaw, Lao style... basically the same amount of deliciousness as its Thai counterpart...

The Moped Fish Man pulls up with a moped full of fish for sale!

The Moped Fish Man pulls up with a moped full of fish for sale!

Something I didn't remember about Laos, the street dogs were outrageously mean.  I was nearly attacked multiple times, even in broad daylight, by the mangy beasts, scampering up to me, snarling and showing their fangs as I approached.  Meanest dogs i've encountered since Mongolia.  This bitch damn-near got kicked in the grill as it ran up to me, jaws bared and ready for blood.

Something I didn't remember about Laos, the street dogs were outrageously mean. I was nearly attacked multiple times, even in broad daylight, by the mangy beasts, scampering up to me, snarling and showing their fangs as I approached. Meanest dogs i've encountered since Mongolia. This bitch damn-near got kicked in the grill as it ran up to me, jaws bared and ready for blood.

At the riverside Wat Sayaphum, my 3rd visit here in the span of 16 years... they have a high school for boy monks.

At the riverside Wat Sayaphum, my 3rd visit here in the span of 16 years... they have a high school for boy monks.

This student is making Buddha statues...

This student is making Buddha statues...

A goofy temple cat valiantly guards the door to the temple...

A goofy temple cat valiantly guards the door to the temple...

Buddhist statues at Wat Sayaphum

Buddhist statues at Wat Sayaphum

They put dried up balls of rice into the mouths of the

They put dried up balls of rice into the mouths of the "demons" guarding the temple...

inside the temple...

inside the temple...

nearby is the Savannakhet Dinosaur Museum... apparently many dinosaur bones have been found in the region.  But the museum leaves a lot to be desired; basically just a few small rooms with badly-displayed bones.  There were some French archaeologists at work here, which was more interesting than the bones themselves.

nearby is the Savannakhet Dinosaur Museum... apparently many dinosaur bones have been found in the region. But the museum leaves a lot to be desired; basically just a few small rooms with badly-displayed bones. There were some French archaeologists at work here, which was more interesting than the bones themselves.

The mean streets of Savannakhet

The mean streets of Savannakhet

Savannakhet has a lot of different places of worship for all religions... here is a scene inside the Chinese Temple...

Savannakhet has a lot of different places of worship for all religions... here is a scene inside the Chinese Temple...

frightening Lao electrical outlets...

frightening Lao electrical outlets...

... the search for the World's Creepiest SuperBaby continues... in Laos?

... the search for the World's Creepiest SuperBaby continues... in Laos?

from the pulpit of the surprisingly delightful (and deserted) St. Teresa Catholic Church, right around the corner from the Buddhist Temple... there was also a Vietnamese Temple right nearby as well.

from the pulpit of the surprisingly delightful (and deserted) St. Teresa Catholic Church, right around the corner from the Buddhist Temple... there was also a Vietnamese Temple right nearby as well.

from inside the church...

from inside the church...

Bibles translated into Lao.

Bibles translated into Lao.

The church from the outside... it was surrounded by a lovely plaza and garden, with caves and fountains housing countless SuperBabies...

The church from the outside... it was surrounded by a lovely plaza and garden, with caves and fountains housing countless SuperBabies...

And, of course, the Lao Buddhist temples were delightful, as well... this is from the Wat Rattana.  Loud but pleasant monk chants' were being blasted throughout the temple grounds by loudspeakers while I wandered through it.

And, of course, the Lao Buddhist temples were delightful, as well... this is from the Wat Rattana. Loud but pleasant monk chants' were being blasted throughout the temple grounds by loudspeakers while I wandered through it.

Lao kip offerings to the monks

Lao kip offerings to the monks

scenes from the temple

scenes from the temple

offerings on the floor of this temple... including my beloved M-150 energy drink.

offerings on the floor of this temple... including my beloved M-150 energy drink.

the final temple of my walking tour today, the Wat Sayamungkhun, which has murals of the life of Buddha around its' walls...

the final temple of my walking tour today, the Wat Sayamungkhun, which has murals of the life of Buddha around its' walls...

Around the temple is a Buddhist cemetery, with the ashes of the cremated people put into these little plots in the walls...

Around the temple is a Buddhist cemetery, with the ashes of the cremated people put into these little plots in the walls...

the Buddhist

the Buddhist "cemetery" at Wat Sayamungkhun

A monk and two other dudes crafting up some Buddhist statues out of clay, in the shade of a tree outside the temple...

A monk and two other dudes crafting up some Buddhist statues out of clay, in the shade of a tree outside the temple...

A hollowed-out car skeleton on the mean streets of Savannakhet...

A hollowed-out car skeleton on the mean streets of Savannakhet...

More Beeline signs!!!  Reminds me of Russia!

More Beeline signs!!! Reminds me of Russia!

the ol' panoramic security mirror

the ol' panoramic security mirror

My glorious hotel in Savannakhet, which even included a sit-down toilet, for $6 bucks a night.... no shower, but had a bucket and scooper... just like all my showers in the Philippines!

My glorious hotel in Savannakhet, which even included a sit-down toilet, for $6 bucks a night.... no shower, but had a bucket and scooper... just like all my showers in the Philippines!

After the night train arrived in Nong Khai, we had to go through the familiar border-crossing routine, then take a bus the final 12km into Vientiene city.  It was BLAZING-hot out, but we had a 3km walk to get out toward the Thai embassy.  We finally got there, exhausted and drenched in sweat, only to find the embassy closed today (Monday).  Too exhausted to do anything else, we get a nearby hotel and relax a bit... had a great commons room, at least!

After the night train arrived in Nong Khai, we had to go through the familiar border-crossing routine, then take a bus the final 12km into Vientiene city. It was BLAZING-hot out, but we had a 3km walk to get out toward the Thai embassy. We finally got there, exhausted and drenched in sweat, only to find the embassy closed today (Monday). Too exhausted to do anything else, we get a nearby hotel and relax a bit... had a great commons room, at least!

lotsa' flies caught by this street banana stall....

lotsa' flies caught by this street banana stall....

The ol' Nazi sign (haha not really, it's Buddhist sign) on the World Peace Gong!!

The ol' Nazi sign (haha not really, it's Buddhist sign) on the World Peace Gong!!

This is my 3rd journey to Vientiene, after visits in 2002 and 2008.  When it finally cools off a bit, around sunset, we walk to the famous Patuxai monument.  The monument, or at least the area around it, has changed drastically each time i've returned... now it's surrounded by all paved streets, and a series of water fountains in the surrounding park.

This is my 3rd journey to Vientiene, after visits in 2002 and 2008. When it finally cools off a bit, around sunset, we walk to the famous Patuxai monument. The monument, or at least the area around it, has changed drastically each time i've returned... now it's surrounded by all paved streets, and a series of water fountains in the surrounding park.

Hanging out by the Patuxai in Vientiene!

Hanging out by the Patuxai in Vientiene!

re-visiting my old friend, haha

re-visiting my old friend, haha

Beeline (Russian mobile service company) has taken over Laos, the yellow and black is on all the benches around!

Beeline (Russian mobile service company) has taken over Laos, the yellow and black is on all the benches around!

Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset

Sunset in a still-scorching-hot Vientiene

Sunset in a still-scorching-hot Vientiene

Unfortunately the monument is closed for people to go to the top, but we walk underneath the arch, which is fully coloured and far more elaborate (and finished)-looking now than the bland grey colour it was back in the day.

Unfortunately the monument is closed for people to go to the top, but we walk underneath the arch, which is fully coloured and far more elaborate (and finished)-looking now than the bland grey colour it was back in the day.

Underneath the Patuxai

Underneath the Patuxai

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