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Avalon Residence (Savanakhet, Laos)

March'2105 A brand new apartment style hotel not far from the bus-station. Rooms are basic but big, comfortable and clean. All rooms have private bathroom, TV, Airco and fridge. All rooms are non-smoking but every room has a small balcony. And there is free Wifi everywhere in the hotel. The hotel has private parking. The staff is friendly and service minded.

As said it is a apartment style hotel so no restaurant and no breakfast. Also be warned that the hotel has 4 floors and NOT YET an elevator.

All together I think good value for money, and I would stay here again.

Photo courtesy of the hotel (but it looks like our room)

Visiting That Ing Hang stupa (Savanakhet, Laos)

The "That Ing Hang" stupa is located about 15 km east of Savanakhet city. Follow route 9 for about 12 km and turn to your right and continue for another 3 km (passing Dong Natad protected Forrest). The stupa is one of the oldest in Savanakhet province and for that reason highly respected by the local people.

You will have to pay entrance fee of 5.000 kip and ladies will have to wear a sarong. Do not worry you can rent one there. The stupa is surrounded by a wall with a roof (like a gallery) with hundreds of Buddha images.
Struggling

Detail of the stupa


Hundreds of Buddha images

Sook Savan Restaurant (Savanakhet, Laos)

March 2015 Since last year there is a new  restaurant & bar at the old square near the French church in the old quarter of Savanakhet. It is setup by people from Mukdahan. And it is setup in a trendy vintage style with the slogan "Vintage Emotion in Savanakhet". A wonderful location, with good food but a bit limited drinking choice. The staff is friendly and the boss speaks English and Thai. A very nice addition to the restaurant scene of Savanakhet.

A day in Savanakhet (Laos)

Sunset over the Mekong River
A visit to Savanakhet is not complete without a walk thru historic downtown and afterwards sitting along the Mekong River enjoying the sunset.

Historical downtown is a collection of beautiful buildings build between 1900 and 1970. With a mix from French colonial style, Chinese shop-houses,  Russian communist style cinema, French church and an Art-deco cinema. Of course the French did also created a city square and that is still the center of town. In the evening many young Lao students gather here at one of the small restaurants or they come buy some BBQ food.

It seems slowly Savanakhet is waking up from it time-warp sleep. Along the Mekong River are 2 new restaurants / bars, some old buildings are being renovated, there is a brand new hyper modern Thai consulate, in April 2015 a new modern coffee shop annex restaurant will open and roads are being upgraded with cement. When I came here 10 years ago for the first time it was a sleepy town with not much traffic. People on bicycles and some on scooters would move slow and sometimes like stupid chickens. Never mind there was not much traffic. Unfortunately now there is much more traffic, more scooters, more cars ... and many people still drive like stupid & blind chickens.

Road Conditions in South East Asia

First I wanted to title this "The dangers of riding in Thailand" but then I realized that this kind of dangers are common all over South East Asia. So you are riding on a beautiful road in the mountains like you see on the photo above. It is great riding on your motorbike or driving in your car. A smooth road and beautiful views. The tarmac is smooth, there are lines along the road and even signs for sharp curves.

But be careful taking it for granted .... it can suddenly change. Although I must say the road-workers are much quicker and better with putting up signs in case there is a problem with the road.

But suddenly the road might end up like the second photo. And then you are still lucky because .... there is a road!

Road conditions are 1 of the reasons not to drive/ride in the dark. But also in day-time you should be aware of the fact that road conditions can change suddenly (and not for the better) and sometimes totally without any warning. Well, a warning could be a branch of a tree on the street. If it is old and dry there is probably nothing going on ..... if it is fresh and green there could be a recent landslide or accident. Drive & ride safe!

And you might find yourself in a situation like this .... but then still riding!

Mae Nam Kwae (Kanchanaburi, Thailand)

Going to our hotel along the Mae Nam Kwae (Kwai) north of Kanchanabur

Wangburapa Grand Hotel (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

Parking and entrance
Oct'2012 A recently (good) renovated apartment building that is now home to one more hotel right in the old city of Chiang Mai. The hotel has private parking, swimming pool and serves a simple breakfast buffet. The staff was friendly and the comfy rooms were of a good size (not so small as in new hotels).

Nice hotel, good value for money and private parking for my motorbike. See Wang Burapa



My room


Bathroom


Swimming pool




Sa-Zap Restaurant (Khon Kaen, Thailand)

March'2015 a small restaurant serving Thai food and some Italian style food as spaghetti. It is simple and basic but indoor only. So with aircon and that is a nice thing during the hot season.

The staff is friendly and speaks a bit of English. The food is good and they have a lot of choice of food. It is a bit more expensive as eating at a street food stall. But well worth the few extra baht.

It is located along Bung Kaen Nakorn lake in the south part of town. Actually on the other side of the lake as the pyramid style temple. We liked it and have been here now already twice.

Old traditions in modern Bangkok (Thailand)


In between all the modern high tech developments in Bangkok the old fashioned traditions are not lost. Here the merit making of the beginning of the building of another new highrise building at Sukhumvit road.

A weekend at Koh Samet (Thailand)


Although we were living at the Eastern Seaboard about 2 km from the sea and visiting Koh Larn is actually very easy, still my favorite nearby island is Koh Samet. Beautiful beaches, clear water and nice restaurants & hotels right on the beach. And from Pattaya it is only about a 1-hour drive away to Ban Phe (just east of Rayong) where you take the 25 min ferry to the island. It is actually amazing that Koh Samet is still such a "small town" laid back island considering the fact that it is a mere 3-hour drive from smog filled Bangkok. No high-rise buildings, no busy roads (actually almost no road at all) and not too much nightlife like disco's or beer bars.
When going to Koh Samet be aware of two things. First of all it is a "National Park",one of the reasons why it is still a nice & clean island but also the reason to pay entrance fee. And westerner tourists have the privilege of paying 5 times the entrance fee as Thai have to pay. And secondly as said it is only 3 hours from Bangkok so Friday & Saturday it is full with people from Bangkok. Prices of hotels are higher and you will need to make reservation before you are going.

So when we go, we go most times on a Sunday when everybody just goes back home. We drive to one of the many piers at Ban Phe where you can park your car secure and in the shade. From there we hire a speed-boat to bring us to our beach in 20 min. I like "Ao Wong Duean" beach but there are about 5 big beaches. We have stayed at a few different hotels at this beach and the last time we did stay at "Samed Cabana Resort" (see http://www.samedcabana.com/ ) and we liked it very much. They have about 10 bungalows at the beach front and about 12 rooms around their swimming pool.

In the evening the whole beach side is transformed into a line-up of romantic restaurants and some bars to eat & drink and enjoy the sunset with friends. Can life be better?

For more information about Koh Samet see http://www.kohsametislandguide.com/

Lunch along the Mekong river (Nakhon Phanom, Thailand)


While making a small trip along the Mekong River in North-East Thailand, we made a lunch stop in Nakhon Phanom. We had lunch at "View Kong Restaurant" right along the Mekong River. It is a nice town with some colonial style houses and a great view over the limestone mountains landscape of Laos. On the other side of the Mekong River is Tha Thek (Laos). At Nakhon Phanom is a bridge crossing the river as international border-crossing to Laos. This is a great gate-way to South-Laos and Vietnam. 

If you want to travel in the North-East of Thailand have a look at Beyond Highlights Travel



Overnight in Chiang Khan (Thailand)

Not our room
We made a trip from Khon Khan to Khao Kho and Phu Ruea and we ended up in Chiang Khan. This time not in an weekend or holiday and not while all Bangkok was flooded. So despite that Chiang Khan has became touristic, it was like a nice laid down place should be : laid down. The main street is still like a kind of living-room for the locals.

We had no reservation for a hotel so we had a look at a few hotels along the mighty "Mae Nam Khong" (Mekong river). There are many hotels and in the week-days the most are not even 50% full (some are even closed). Hotels tend to be a bit expensive in Chiang Khan, and in the weekend the prices will even be higher. We did finally choose a brand new hotel "Sri Chiang Khan".

The small street along the river is full of old fashioned shops selling a kind of souvenirs. And there are a few restaurants. It is nice to walk and relax and just to go with the flow. So we walked from one end to the other and back via the small "boulevard" along the riverbank with a beautiful sunset.

If you want to travel in the North-East of Thailand or along the Mekong River, have a look at Beyond Highlights Travel


We did found our self a nice restaurant with outdoor seating and enjoyed the still cool weather. We walked back to our hotel and had a T-shirt hand-painted.  It is a place to sleep early and wake-up early, so we did. The next day we did wake up at 6 when the monks are going to the streets to accept food as alm. We had breakfast on the verandah of our hotel, with the french baguette that I had bought the evening before. A bit a pity that the hotel only serves that cheap "Best Food" jam. 

So after breakfast and a morning walk we left Chiang Khan to go straight back to Khon Kaen (about 250 km). Well not all the way straight as we made a little side-seeing in Loei city and on the way back we had an early lunch at "Coffee Lovely" in Nam Nao.