Savannakhet

Right: Friendly monk at Wat Chom Kaew, Savannakhet

"Savan" sits on the eastern bank of the Mekong River opposite the Thai town of Mukdahan. This would be my third encounter with the mighty Mekong having first sighted it at the Golden Triangle in 1997 and then again whilst travelling out of Tibet in 2002.

There wasn't a lot going on in Savan, the population is supposed to be greater than 100,000 but it's one of these places where the main street is pretty much deserted in the middle of the day save a chicken or two scuttling across. Still, it was a nice place to acclimatise. The pace was a lot slower and I found the people a lot friendlier than in Vietnam. I spent my time just wandering around, visited a wat and talked to some of the novices. Many of the monks can speak a little English and are quite eager to get some practice in when the opportunity arises.

Savannakhet

Crossing from Vietnam at Lao Bao (north of Hue) route #9 brings you to into Savannakhet. The road has been much improved in recent years. The new friendship bridge linking Savannakhet with Mukdahan facilitates crossing from Thailand though you can also cross by ferry.