Along the shores of the Mekong River
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Along the Shores of the Mekong River

By Kongkeo Saycocie

Below is my account during my early happy years in Savannakhet, Thakek and Thadeua Vientiane.

Though I didn't have any idea to keep a journal at that time, every event occurring during those times

from 1960 to 1971 is still fresh in my mind. What's more the event of 1981, the year I left Muang Lao

for good, was still deep imprinted in my psyches... the small boat, the receding shore of the Mekong

River, the trembling of my heart and the sobbing of my soul... And lastly, the event of 1998, the year I

went back to Muang Lao, to get a good glimpse of this majestic river and relearn what it is like to be

along the shores of the Mekong River one more time...

A few words with this account...I won't say that I am a voice of Laos for I have only experienced a tiny

part of the modern Laos history. Anyway, I will say that I speak for many, many Lao whose voices are

mute or even silenced. I hope that I will be able to incorporate every event in the history of Laos that I

have witnessed, observed and been told in this account. If there is any good from my rambling, I would

like to give the credit to Thip who once suggested me to write about our beloved Laos which we left

behind and to all Lao patriots who had to leave Laos with a torn heart.

This account will come to you once a week for I have time to write only on the weekend. Anyway, at

the beginning, I will post this account twice a week as I have already written for quite some time.

Likely, this twice a month posting will last for a month.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

*****Along the shores of the Mekong River...

 

I grew up in various places along the shores of the Mekong River. I saw what the Mekong was like. Its current was swift during the rainy season and slow-flowing to the point of standing still during the dry season. In a word, it is very much like the life of ourselves. Sometimes, we are so saturated with happiness that we think this world belongs to us. At another time, we are so sick of the recurring misfortune that we don't want to live anymore. If you ask what teaches me the most. I would say that it is not the Lycee de Vientiane, not the University of California at Berkeley, not the tremendous amount of books I read but the Mekong River. Do keep reading then you will see what I mean...

Savannakhet years (1960-1967)

I don't know exactly the year my family moved from Xiengkhouang, the place I was born, to Savannakhet. What I did know was my next-to-me sister was born in Savannakhet in that year. According to my mom, it was the year that we fled to Savannakhet when it was not safe any more to live in Xiengkhouang, the contested town between the Royal forces and the Ai Nong. As in Xiengkhouang, my dad was the headmaster of the post office in Savannakhet (the government job which ranks no less inferior than any other high-level government jobs in town). What I liked the most about Savannakhet was the place we lived. It was not any other place but the post office itself. Situated at almost the southern end of the town and flanked by the hospital, the bank, the military headquarter and the Mekong River, this place was a heaven to me. Just witnessing a mere sunset would be enough to transport anyone to another world. I will have more to say about the river.

Not far away, I could see the airport from the balcony of my 2-story residence. Sometimes, they would have a military parachute show. What a spectacular view indeed even though some of the parachuters landed on the roof of the houses nearby instead of the airfield. In fact, I wouldn't look to the airport much if it was not for my big brother who was a famous T-28 pilot (he was one of General

Ma's favorites). He once told me that he would take me for a ride in his T-28 so I always imagined that

I flew in any T-28 that took off or landed in the airfield.

(to be continued)

Life in Savannakhet was great. Where we lived was like a palace. Imagine a big courtyard in the

middle full of any kinds of fruit trees such as LamYai, NamNom, and Sida to name a few. Also, with a

clutter of post office employees' houses making a perfect square; wherever I went, I was treated like a

small prince. We had someone to drive our "De Cheveau" car, someone to cook for us, and someone

to take care of my little siblings. I would say that I had all of the post employees' kids to be my

bodyguards for I usually had some toys for them to play with. Though born with a silver spoon, I never

treated them less than my equal. At that time, we had two tricycles which my dad bought for my two

big sisters (I wasn't born yet!) when he got back from France. You know? girls never liked to play tough

so most of the time we (me and my friends) monopolized the tricycles. Besides, they rode those

bikes for a long time, they sure would like to try something else. So, what we liked to do was to race

against one another. With the Mekong river as background and a street alongside it as our

playground, the racing was spectacular. Wonder those motorcycles passing by thought the same

thing. I, with a selected group of friends on my side, and another one with his gang divided into 2

teams. Though only two of us could ride the two tricycles at a time, our friends had a decisive role in

deciding the outcome of the racing too. You know what they did? They pushed our tricycles and ran

alongside cheering us to the finish line! Sometimes, I became one of those who pushed the tricycle or

ran alongside with it. If I remember well, I was only 5 or 6 years old. Still, I was bad enough to get lots

of bruises on my knees. Worse, when I was old enough to ride a bike, my mom had to hold a bandage

waiting for me at the door because I fell off the bike so many times that I couldn't remember. Then, one

day before sunset, I proudly rode my bike home with a retinue of my friends running behind me.

When my mom saw me, she hardly believed her eyes. Believe it or not, there wasn't a slight bruise on

my knees!

At that time, what we liked to do most was to play the seek-and-hide. Since, our post office

playground was so huge, not to mention the post office itself, it would take the finder hours and hours

to find all of the hiders. I remember some of my friends hid in the mail bags. Not to be ashamed of any

trick, some even hid on the top of the trees.

Anyway, once the trick had been discovered, it wouldn't work any more. This caused a great dismay to

all the copycats. The seek-and-hide game went on for a while until some of us got scared because, for

some reasons, the finder couldn't see the hiders even they stood in front of them. This incident usually

happened at the post office itself. What made our hairs stand on their end was when we were told that

this post office was the very place that the Japanese soldiers committed suicide in mass when they

lost the World War II. Telling the truth, even without the Japanese mass suicide, the building looked

very grim. I don't think anyone in the right mind would want to stay in this big building by himself. If I

remember correctly, the 2nd story which was used as our residence had 4 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, 1

bathroom and 1 store room so it was so easy to get lost inside. The 1st story, our hiding place, also

had so many rooms as upstairs.

 

Life in those days was like sailing on a smooth water. I could

frequent the movie theaters (Lao Chareun, Lao Samay, Nang Lith) as often as I wanted to. It is funny

that the movie theaters in those days had a character of its own. Lao Chareun was specialized in

Japanese movies while Lao Samay in Thai movies and Nang Lith in Indian movies. Occasionally, they

would show American or European movies. My mom and big sisters' favorite was Hong Nang Lith.

Maybe, they liked to cry for Indian movies usually had a sad part in it Also, they liked Thai movies

especially the ghost ones such as ENakPargKaNong. It was strange that whenever EnakPargKaNong

was showing, they would put an altar with bowls of roasted chicken, steamed rice and lit incense in

front of the theater. Wonder who would eat that yummy chicken. For me, I liked the Japanese movies

especially the Samurai ones. My dad, he didn't like to watch movies that much. He always

complained that Indian movies were full of untimely songs which just popped up for no reasons. As for

the Japanese movies, they were much of a bloodshed. Still, he was so nice that he would accompany

us whatever movie we chose to watch. I, myself, would go with them if they promised to buy me a

bunch of candies. In fact, I almost always won except once in a while when they were so hurried to

catch the beginning of the film that they didn't have time to buy me anything. Still, they gave me a firm

word that they would buy me some candies when the movie was over. Unfortunately, the candyman

wouldn't wait for us so they had to bear with my loud and stubborn crying that they couldn't help but

remember the incident for a very, very long time. As a price winner, I had a mouth full of rotten teeth

now.

Savannakhet was famous for its hundreds of noodle stalls in the well- lighted yard close to Hong Nang

Lith theater. There, you could satisfy your hunger with the best noodle any place could offer. We liked

to frequent that place whenever we went out especially after the movie. Even we left Savannakhet and

had a chance to come back, we always went to eat noodles there. For me, noodles were okay

especially when I was hungry. I remembered one time when my dad and me got back from

watching the soccer match, the noodles were so yummy. Maybe, we hadn't eaten them for so long

after our relocation to Thakek. Or maybe we were just dead hungry.

If you ever lived in Savannakhet or just had a chance to visit it, you would know that the town was well

planned. Looking down from the airplane, you would see how lined-up the streets were with blocks of

buildings well structured within them. I would say that I flew as many times as any Lao kids would ever

do. The simple reason was that our family was on a good term with General Ma, the chief Air Force of

Savannakhet base. Too bad I didn't know the type of airplanes I flew. Anyway, some names came up,

according to my childhood memory, were the Helicopter, the Beaver, the Dakota and the one with the

big hole on the end. I remember that, at one time, I flew a helicopter with the door open (I guess it is

always open), the view below was incredible. It looks so real whenever the helicopter flew not far from

the treetops or the tall buildings.

(to be continued)

 

My school, which was the catholic school ( I don't remember its name now), was on the small hill of

DongDamDouane (almost the same name as my mom if taken out the first word). My mom told me

that I started school at the age of four. No wonder I had to repeat the first grade for 3 years. Besides,

I didn't like the school at all (at least at the beginning). My driver and my mom really had a terrible time

getting me out of the car for I tightly held on to whatever I could lay my hands on. Yes, as usual, I

cried all the way to the classroom. So, when my sister was about to start school (at much later age

than me), the teacher wouldn't like to take her into her class easily. I guess she had to be my 1st

grade teacher! After the first grade, I began to like school. Why not? There were lots of candies selling

at the school. What's more, the KokMakTaKop always challenged me to climb on and tasted its red

fruit. Still, the best was that the school liked to show the cartoon movie "TinTin" every week. I guess it

was not a surprise at all because they charged our parents heavily for the tuition. Of all my friends at

the post office, I was the only one who had the

privilege to go to that school. There, we studied French as a first language. So, whenever we wanted

to go to the toilet, we had to beg the teacher with these recited words (at least to me, because I didn't

like to speak French): "Pardonez moi aller au cabinet, s'il vous plait?"

What's interesting about this school was the Christmas time which they called "Noel". Every class, in

fact every student, had to participate in the play in front of the whole school plus the public too. I

guess if they didn't make it a rule, we, kids, still would be more than happy to get involved. Why?

Because we would have a chance to dress funny clothes and, of course, to show off. This Boun Noel

was such a hit that there was no place for anyone even in this big hall if they didn't get there hours

earlier. I guess every parent whose kid attended the school must have been there, at least my parent

did. In general, I was very shy but still I managed to sing and act with the class to the great

satisfaction of my parent. There was one more thing that got imprinted in my mind about my childhood

years in that school. When I entered the 3rd grade, I did very well in school that I got a big bag of

candies and toys from school. I don't know why they did that but it sure made me want to study hard

in order that I would get more candies and toys. What's funny was that it was no one else but my

mom who got the honor of giving the toys to me. In our class, only the top five students got the prize.

Being so, it gave my mom a big smile that she could boast about her dear son for the whole year. I

guess I would do very well in school if only my parent didn't move to Thakek, my dad's hometown _ the

stronghold of the Saycocie family.

(to be continued)

 

In the circle of my friends, I remember only one name. That was Lui. I could say that he was my best

friend. Even when I moved to Thakek, I still visited him during the summer vacation. To say the least,

he was a strong boy who could carry two big buckets of water from the well to his house. In contrast

to me, I could carry only one small bowl at a time. Still, we were good friends. I needed his strength

and his camaraderie while my toys and an equal treatment from me were what he liked. His house was

at the other corner of the post office compound. It was close to a big playing yard which was used as a

soccer field. Also, when we wanted to bathe in the Mekong River, we had to pass his house so it was

kind of my favorite place. In general, I needn't have to bathe in the Mekong River at all, but because it

was so much fun playing with my friends in the water than taking a shower alone at home. Still, there

was one thing I didn't like about taking a bath in the river. The bank was too steep so it took me a lot

of sweat to climb up and down while my friends just ran up and down. I guess that was one thing that

street boys like them fared well than me. Also, it seemed that my friend, Lui, knew all of the tricks

such as where and how to get the worms for our little ducks. At that time, I liked to raise ducks but I

had a hard time feeding them for wherever I dug the ground for worms I got pure dirt or, the best, pure

muddy dirt. What's more, he could climb the tree so fast and so good as if he were a monkey

himself. In a way, he was like my extended hand to get to the far reaching fruit. Without him, I had to

use a long pole and still it wasn't long enough to get the red and yummy Mak Nam Nom. At one time,

my brother's friend (the pilot) climbed the Mak Nam Nom tree and, with no warning, he slipped off the

tree while reaching for the Mak Nam Nom, and fell to the ground. Know what medicine our friends

came up with? The pee! And that was the precisely the very thing that saved his life. I don't know how

so please don't ask me.

A footnote about Lui: I learned from my distant relative that he got shot while attempting to cross the

Mekong River in the late 70s. I couldn't tell how I felt at hearing that tragic news. Suffice it to say that

I lost my own brother. His story was like our country story - full of promise but was drastically cut

short by fate. So it goes Quon Dee Khong Muang Lao again and again!

(to be continued)

 

At that time (the 60s), one of the radio program that became a hit in Savannakhet was from a 909

station broadcasting from Sakonnakhone, Thailand. That program was a news program spoken in a

Lao language with an Isan accent. It was called "Thit Kham Tham Khao". I guess most of post office

residents listened to it. It broadcasted at noon and lasted for half an hour. I guess it was so popular

among Savannakhet population was because Thit Kham spoke like them and talked about things that

they could associate with. One sign that shows this program popularity was I heard Thit Kham's voice

everywhere I went in the compound because everyone seemed to turn on their radio as loud as possible especially when the sound of Khong (drum) hit the airwave at the beginning of the program and at the end of it. It was later known that the Thai policy was to win the Isan population of Lao ancestry to the Bangkok side. More, it aimed at propagating the anti communist stance among the population in Laos especially those who lived across the Mekong river. I heard that, to accomplish this aim, the Thai government used about 150 stations to send their powerful signals aiming directly to people along both banks of the Mekong

River. No wonder Lao people were influenced by the Thai culture so much that even they live in the

U.S., they still actively use Thai products, watch Thai video/TV, and listen to Thai songs. Of course, it

was not that Lao people didn't love their country but because we were too poor to produce anything of

value comparable to what the Thai had to offer. Frankly speaking, what the Thai fed us was very

demoralizing. On the surface, it looked great because it showed us a life of plenty such as a big

house, a fast car, and a pretty girl. Going deeper, one would find that it taught us an unhealthy

attitude about life. What I mean was it made us divorce from the harsh reality of life therefore making

us docile and distrustful of ourselves. I wonder if anyone who was heavily influenced by the Thai media

didn't have a single doubt about the pride of being Lao whom the Thai liked to associate it with

backwardness. If you ever watch Thai video, you will clearly see the caste system portrayed in it. Of

course, the lowly Isan people (meaning the Lao people in general) are nothing but maids, drivers,

clowns or anything that we couldn't be serious with. They acted and talked funny as if their harsh lives

didn't teach them anything. On the contrary, the Bangkok people were smart and unbelievably

wealthy. They were the ones whom you would unconsciously aspire to be one. In fact, at that time, I

didn't come to that conclusion but, with time, everything was kind of revealing itself.

(to be continued)

 

I guess it would be complete if I tell you about how my dad who was

originally from Thakek, a town in the middle of Laos, met my mom who

was born and raised in Xiengkhouang, a town in the north of Laos. As I had been told, my dad was assigned to be the post office master in Xiengkhouang right after his disastrous first marriage. He took two of his 4 kids with him there. From the picture taken during those days, his eldest son was almost at the same age as my mom who, at that time, was 14 or 15. Typical of a Phuan girl, my mom wore Sinh with her hair tied up. Even with the black and white picture, you can tell that she had a very fair skin in contrast with my dad who had a somewhat dark skin. Whatt made this joining hands of 30 something man and a 15 years old girl possible was one incident.

According to my mom, her heart was with a young man of 20 something who was second only to my dad at the post office. Unfortunately, that young man was ambushed by a tribal divorced woman on a hunting trip that he had to marry her to save his skin. From that day on, my dad had no contest with anybody. He was a big favorite of my mom's dad who was older than him for only a couple of years. Seeing what kind of a man he was, my mom's dad gave her hand to him. I guess they married in 1953 for, the next year, my elder sister was born. Me? I was born in the year when the Buddhist calendar turned 2500. According to my mom, I was born on Thursday in the year of a monkey but the current astrological sign pointed that I was of a rooster type. I guess they are both right in their way. As I was born in the month of January, my astrological sign should still be of a Monkey for the Chinese

new year kicked in the following month. Anyway, as the standard

calendar is of a Western one, my astrological sign becomes a rooster. My wife was kind of kidding when she said that I was all over her the way the rooster was towards the hen. No wonder what a beautiful girl like her fell for a soso guy like me. Just a footnote... My wife was of Pakse, the south of Laos, while I was from the middle of Laos. I guess only fate could tell why we met and joined as one.

(to be continued)

 

_ Now, let's talk about my dad who was kind of an interesting person. He talked very little very much like me. The only difference between the two of us was he wasn't interested in the opposite sex at all except my mom. Me? I even loved my Catholic female teacher who always wore funny clothes. Still, with her hair covered, it still didn't deter me from having a crush on her. Getting to my dad again, I remembered only one occasion that my mom had a quarrel with him, presumably about the opposite sex. To say the least, he was kind of husband that was too good to be true. He neither smoked nor drank; plus he would spend all of his time for the family except that once in a while, he would go out and hunt with his close friends.

Also, while studying in France, he hardly ate out or even went to a dance once, he saved all of his allowance to buy us great toys and nice clothes. What impressed me and people who knew him the most was his unassuming manner. He acted as if he were not different from others though he could boast of studying in France and holding a high government job. With that in mind, I guess that was one of the reasons that his employees loved him so much. This showed in that the employees would volunteer to help our family out with any errands. Besides, he was very honest, sincere, and dutiful. I guess that is the trademark of the Saycocie clan. Adding those qualities together, he was like a being from another planet. For any reasons that I happen to have some of those desirable traits, it was mainly due to his gene

and influence. Let me add a little bit about the Saycocie. They were kind of the king in Mahaxay, even in Thakek; they were 2nd only to the Chounlamany. My grandfather who was the head of the clan was a Chao Meuang in Mahaxay. Maybe, because we were originated from Mahaxay; our last name started with Say (pronounced like "Xay"). As you might know, before we didn't have any last name; only when the French dictated that we had one, Lao people started to have a last name then.

Now, let's talk about my mom, she was a beauty of Xiengkhouang. Though

finishing only the 3rd grade, she was so smart that I wonder whether my

dad's degree could rival her in the dealing of every day life. It was her who handled all of the family affairs. As she held all of the money matters, she was kind of an absolute queen reigning in our domain. I guess my dad had to beg for his own money when he wanted to buy something, the way I do with my wife now. what a circle of life! According to my grandmother's sister, our clan "Thongkham" used to hold the title of a vice king of Xiengkhouang. Whatever the truth may be, my mom was proud of her Phuan heritage. And so do I!

(to be continued)

 

My dad liked to play soccer and was a big fan of it. What's more? My brother in law played for the

famous Taharn Akart (the Air Force team) which, to some, was better than the national team. In

Savannakhet, the only

team that could rival the Air Force team was a team of a Vietnamese descent.

In fact, my brother in law was half Vietnamese. He was also the adopted son

of Colonel Bounkhong Pradichit of the police force. His name was Kinh (in

Lao, it means very, very short). In constrast to his name, he was rather

tall and a very proficient goal scorer. I guess every opposing team was very well aware of #8 that he

wore. Once we, my dad, my grandpa and I, followed Taharn Akart team which played against the

Taharn Akart Thai team in Vientiane. At that time, these two teams were the best two teams of both

countries. As usual, I sat close to the field waiting excitingly for the

game to begin. Out of nowhere, the T-28 passed by the stadium and dropped

the ball to the big applause of the fans. Maybe, because of the high expectation, Taharn Akart Lao

seemed to be nervous that they let the opposing team scored 2 goals in a very short time. Realizing

that the game was getting out of hand, they regrouped and was able to get back 1 goal. As

if luck was not on their side that day, their furious attack missed the goal

quitely badly. When the final whistle was heard, the score remained 2 to 1

and Taharn Akart Lao lost for the first time. I was kind of shocked that we

lost because Taharn Akart team was the undisputed king of the hill for so

long. In my naive mind, I thought that we lost because Taharn Akart Lao team always wore the dark

blue uniform which happened to be the same uniform that Taharn Akart Thai wore. Because of the

Lao courtesey, we sacrificed our uniform to the Thai and wore the uninspiring white uniform instead.

I guess that is our expected norm in regards to the Thai.

(to be continued)

 

Getting bak to Savannakhet again, "Kou Voravong" stadium was the pride of

the town. Even today, "Kou Voravong" stadium was much better than the Vientiane soccer stadium.

From the seat on the top of the stadium, you could see the Mekong River. To say the least, the view

from this stadium was spectacular. You felt spacious with lots of empty space surrounding the area,

unlike the crowded Vientiane stadium. I remember that once Savannakhet held a national

sport event (Kila Heng Xat). My half-sister held the flag of a Savannakhet

team during the opening ceremony. If I remember correctly, I even saw the

crown prince at the closing ceremony. He even played on the same team as my

dad during his stay in Savannakhet.

If anyone ever wonders why Taharn Akart team was so good, just look at who

was at the top. Yes, that was General Ma, the first Lao Air Force pilot and

general. He had so much money (of course, it was U.S money) that his pilots

were more than well fed and became the envy of the town. It was said that

whenever one of his pilots went down, he would give handsomely to the family

victim. Sadly to add that when he was gunned down and laid dying in Vientiane airport during the

failed coup d'etat in 1973, none of his pilots came to his aid. It was said that he was betrayed by General

Khouprasith Aphay, regional commander of Vientiane area.

I wouldn't say that what he did was the right thing. He attempted to overthrow the government once

before in 1967 but failed. As a result, my brother who loyally participated in that coup had no choice

but to flee to Thailand too. To me, General Ma was a product of a military mind who would

be fabulous if not interfering with politics. Though a good acquaintance of

him, my dad didn't agree with what he did. As if of fate, Laos lost such an

exceptional military man like him for no good reasons times after times.

(to be continued)

 

In general, I wasn't considered naughty at all. In fact, I was a good kid. Still, what my mom told me

about my childhood years was different from what I perceived myself to be. One of such stories was

that I insisted on having my own way. It happened like this:

I cried for some unknown reasons. At that time, I was downstairs while my mom was upstairs. She

then asked me kindly to come upstairs and let her know what was going on. Turning a deaf ear to her,

I cried louder and louder. Maybe, she couldn't stand my crying or she was just afraid that I would pass

out so she came downstairs to tend to my concern. Still, on one occasion during the That IngHang

festival, my dad took me to watch the soccer game. So bored that the game went on and on, I pleaded

to my dad to take me home. Maybe, because he was enthralled by the game, he didn't pay much

attention to my plea. Realizing that he wouldn't leave until the game had been over, I decided to take

off alone. For those who don't know how far That InHang is and how scary to walk home by yourself. That InHang is about 10 miles away from downstown Savannakhet. Stretching that distance is only a few

pockets of houses here and there. The more you are away from downtown, the less you see houses.

That means trees envelopes both sides of the road most of the time. Once in a while, you will see rice

fields along with a thatched house. Luckily, on that day, I got some companions when I took off for a

couple of minutes later. They were some young monks, maybe 11 or 12 years old, walking home too.

Still, it didn't deprive me of how tiring I was to walk home in such a distance. The day was hot and we

carried no water with us. Fortunately, along the road, whenever we came across a house, no matter

how poor it was, it had a bowl of water for us

travelers. I guess that is the Lao hospitality we should be proud of.

At Lak 4 (km 4) beside the chicken farm, while being exhausted, we were graciously picked up by an

army truck. Asking where we were going, they kindly dropped us at our destination: the monks at their

temples and me at my home. When the truck dropped me off, my mom hardly believed her eyes that I

was home without my dad. No need to tell you how mad she was with my dad when he was finally

home. He told mom that he looked for me every place at That IngHang with the thought I would still be

there somewhere. I guess he didn't know how stubborn his son was, and maybe, still is. With that

incident behind, my dad had to keep a close eye on me wherever we went somewhere together. The last memory I had associated with that event was that I was so hungry that I devoured all that was in front of me. And that was very, very delicious!

(to be continued)

 

Before I get on to other things, I would like to talk at some length about

That IngHang. To the Lao people especially Savannakhet ones, That IngHang

is considered to be one of the important and revered That (stupa). It is said

that it is the place where the Buddha came down and leaned at the place where

the That was built. I guess that is why the stupa was called "That IngHang"

("Ing" means lean and "Hang" means the ground where some animals made a dwelling place such

as Hang Mot (ant dwelling place) and Hang Taen).

In terms of architectural style, That IngHang typifies what is considered to be

Lao style, different from our neighbors. In general, Lao architectural style is

kind of square. If you don't know what I am talking about, just take a look

at That Luang, That Sikhot (That Muang Khout) and That Phanom (the Siamese

made some changes to That Phanom to make it not so Lao). What is different

about That IngHang than other Lao stupas lies in its complete

squareness. Besides, it thrusts into the sky like a bamboo shoot. Also, maybe, to preserve

its uniqueness, That IngHang still keeps its ancient color: black; unlike

That Luang which is painted golden now.

Boun That IngHang was held in the same month as Boun That Luang. The difference was that Boun

That Luang offered a greater variety of entertainment

than Boun That IngHang. Besides, there were many foreign pavilions to visit.

I guess that didn't surprise anybody because That Luang was in Vientiane, the

capital of Laos, and was considered as the national symbol of Laos. One thing

that is still vivid in my mind is in the mid sixties. They had a real train running

around That InHang that we could actually ride on it. Wasn't it exciting for a

country that had no railway at all?

(to be continued)

 

Savannakhet was very much like Thakek or Pakse in regards to population content. That was it had a

big concentration of Vietnamese residents in town especially in the urban areas. One thing that

showed this aspect was when a certain Vietnamese died, they would have a long procession of

Vietnamese looking people parading behind the black casket truck right in front the post office as this

town belonged to them. Besides, as a person in charge of the post office, my dad was constantly

visited by the Vietnamese bringing presents in the hope that they would get some favorable treatment

from my dad. The big present, of course, came when the Vietnamese (Chinese) New Year arrived.

There was a joke circling around the post office employees. It went like this: there was a certain

Vietnamese who wasn't received warmly by the Lao. Then, when the Vietnamese New Year kicked in,

everyone was extremely nice to him so he said: "Before, everybody called me Buc, Buc. Now,

everybody called me Ong, Ong." I, personally, knew one Vietnamese woman. She was a woman who

regularly came to the post office to sell Nam Vane Thoua Dame. Her name was Lane but the

employees liked to call her "E Lane". Her Name Vane was so good that it was sold out each time she

came by the post office. From her, I learned that the Vietnamese work very hard to earn a living; unlike

us, the Lao, who spent most of the time having fun.

Besides the Vietnamese, there were the Chinese in every corner of the town. Wherever they were, they

had shops selling everything from candies to food. With time, the Chinese shops seemed to get bigger

and bigger. Lastly, there were the Indian selling cloth and Roti. Their main headquarter was near the

Hong Nang Lith movie theatre. There, the whole street virtually belonged to them. It was not hard to

distinguish them from other groups for they (the men) tended to wear turbans on top of their heads. In

general, we considered them to be very honest. That was why my mom loaned them a big sum of

money for their business. Honesty or not? that Indian fled when his business was bankrupt. I guess

you could not fully trust people because they belonged to a certain respectable ethnic group no matter

what.

I almost forgot one group of people. Though looking and talking very much like us, they were called

Thai Isan. They were the coolies hauling the bags of rice in and out of the boats and trucks at Tha

Dane. These people skins were a little bit darker than us, the Lao, but they worked extremely hard that

we could envision doing the same. They were from Mukdahan, a Thai town from across the Mekong

River. At this point of the river, it was very wide. You could hardly see what was going on in Mukdahan

from Savannakhet shore, unlike Thakek or Vientiane. As I remember, I went to Mukdahan a couple of

times and witnessed how hard the Isan people worked to earn a living. No wonder why so many Isan

people settled in Savannakhet or any Lao towns across the river. As I liked to frequent the river, I saw

many things happening to it. Of course, there were boats bringing people and goods across the river.

Also, there were fishermen stationing their pirogues a little bit off the shores. The time that the river

was mostly swarmed by people on both shores was on two occasions: bathing at sunset and boat

race in the eleventh month of the Buddhist calendar (October). You wouldn't believe how many people

bathed in the river if you never lived by the river. Yes, there were a lot from people of all ages. Some

just grabbed a bowl and poured the water on their bodies. Some would dive and remained under the

water for some length of time. Some would swim with fast moving arms and feet, and some, especially

the female, would make a balloon out of their Sinh and float with it. Sometimes, some people

especially the young male would stop by to watch the female taking a bath in the river. I wonder why

they were fascinated by that sight. Of course, I didn't know at that time how fascinating the female

body was because I was too young and too naive. Anyway, bathing in the Mekong river was fun.

People really had a good time and helped tie a bond between people in the community. Thinking

back, I wonder why people liked to bath in the Mekong river which was murky and muddy. I guess only

the above statement explained it all. About the boat race, I didn't have much collection for I was young

to enjoy it. The only memory was that there were so many people lining up the shores of the river. With

fun, the Mekong river also brought sadness especially during the rainy season. At times, I would see a

drowned and swollen body floating with the current past the shore. As my residence was next to the

hospital, I came to see so many bloated bodies getting pulled out of the river and lay face up on the

hospital floor. I guess that was life. Good times and bad times came together in one package. You

can not pick and choose one and discard another. What you can do, instead, is to come to terms

with it, and then you will be fine. Isn't life is to grow wise with time, after all?

(to be continued)

 

It is worth noting that Savannakhet, as a town, didn't exist in our history until the late 20th century (a

creation of French administration). It was first mentioned with Pho Kadouat, a revolt - part of the Kabot

Phumiboun in the early 20th century. That revolt was an uprising of the ethnic Lao on both banks of

the Mekong River against the oppressive French and Siamese authorities. Sadly to say, the revolt was

crushed and Pho Kadouat was killed. Still, Pho Kadouat legacy lived on the heart and soul of the

Savannakhet people. That's why the "KhiKha Muang Savan" (Kaysone, Nouhak) as some people

labeled them fought on. Also, it is interesting to note that Phoumi Nosavanh coup against Kong Le

was based in Savannakhet with the backing of the U.S. and Thailand. Apart from those events,

Savannakhet was quite a quiet and peaceful town. To me, personally, I have never heard anyone

mention the Pathet Lao even though the outlying areas of Savannakhet were "liberated". Talking about

the outlying areas of Savannakhet, two came to my mind: Zeno, a former French military post and

Kengkok, an Insisiengmai town. It would be more right to say that Kengkok was comprised of only a

few houses here and there rather than a town.

In fact, Savannakhet was kind of cool. Being the second biggest city of Laos, Savannakhet had almost

everything that Vientiane but on a smaller scale. There were Lycee de Savannakhet which I loved to

attend after the primary school. One of my relatives went there and he was treated like a celebrity. I

guess being a Lycee student must be the cause. Besides, once he was there, his math genius really

shone. I wonder whether it was the school or his innate ingenuity. If I remember correctly,

Savannakhet had a factory of soft drink. I don't remember what the drink was called but I do remember

that the drink was of an orange color and bottled in thick glass. By the way, this soft drink was my

favorite drink. That was why I still remember it.

(to be continued)

 

Savannakhet also had a 7 stories building like Vientiane but, to my dismay, it wasn't finished.

Standing dejectedly like a skeleton right across the market, it invited the rough and naughty among us

to fly the kite over there. I once went there with my friends. The higher I climbed, the scarier I was.

Once, I was at the top of the building with only the sky above us and no walls around, I couldn't even

move my legs. On the contrary, all of my friends ran around and flew their kites with so much fun as if

they were on the ground. As you also know, Savannakhet was the military region 3 and its

headquarter was next to my residence, the post office. Every morning I was greeted by the blare of the

military horn at 8 o'clock. Yes, it was the time to raise the flag up the pole. Like it or not, the routine

of saluting the flag every morning made me an ardent patriot at an early age. It was said that the

regional commander was like a king in his region. I would somehow concur with that view. General

Bounpone, later became the powerless commander in chief of the military forces, held more authority

than Chao Kaeng, the legitimate governor of the region. For those who are not familiar with the military

structure of Laos armed forces, let me give you a brief sketch. There were 5 military regions. Region 1

covered Luangprabang and the outlying areas. Region 2 covered Xiengkhouang and SamNeua (as you

might know, this region was ruled by General Vang Pao _ an absolute king in his own right. His army

was directly financed by the CIA). Region 3 covered Savannakhet and

Khammouane. Region 4 covered the whole south of Laos. Its headquarter was in Pakse Region 5

covered Vientiane and Paksane. Its headquarter was at Chinaimo (General Kouprasith Aphay, its

commander, was second to none even though Vientiane was the seat of the government). Curious to

learn that its military region had its own autonomy therefore making a concerted effort for the war

campaign in all of Laos impossible. No wonder the military effectiveness was a joke. That was why

once the prop (the U.S. backing) was gone, the whole structure easily crumbled down.

(to be continued)

 

Close to my residence, there was a technical school. Ai Nou (literally means mouse) went to that

school. Though not related to my family, he was well treated as my parents liked to help people. I,

too, liked to go to that school. Of course, it was not to learn anything because I was too young to be

accepted to

that school. Besides, I liked to go to that school when they had no class, preferably on the weekends.

What attracted me the most was Mak Chab as we, kids, always used it to fight one another. The one

whose head still remained after the furious hit would be declared the winner. It was known that, Mak

Chab over there was strong and you could collect as many as you

wanted. If I remember correctly, this

technical school had three buildings in a very big area. As a result, most of the empty spaces were

occupied by the weeds and Mak Chab especially during the rainy season. Sometimes, the school

backyard became a fishing pond as a large pool of water emerged after a heavy rain. During the night,

you could even hear the sound of the frogs and toads plus the flashing light shining everywhere. Ai Nu

was one of the many who participated in the frog and fish catching. By the way, Ai Nu was a very

amicable guy who liked to tell me old stories about Yak, Phi, and Thevada. To me, he was an expert

in the storytelling as he could recited stories like SinXay, Khoun Lu Nang Oua, Nang Phom Hom,

and so on ... as good as from the radio. Besides, his style of

storytelling was animated and always

had something new added to the stories each time he related them to me again. What I learned from

those old stories was that truth and goodness always prevailed in the end. In another word, If one

was really good, honest, diligent, caring, just and courageous, heaven (or "Savan" in Lao) would

always

be on his/her side. There was one saying that captured that

spirit: "Tok Nam Bo Lai, Tok Phai Bo Mai".

Translated into English, it was: "Even if you fall into the river, you won't be drowned. And even if you

are caught in a fire, you won't be burned." Ai Nou, true to his good nature, survived all the vicissitude

of life, is now prospering in Laos (that's what I heard).

(to be continued)

 

In Savannakhet, during those days, they had a bicycle race. That was fun lining up alongside the road

in front of the post office to watch the bicyclists racing by. I thought if I were older, I would sure take

part in the event. Just imagine dressing in a tightly colorful outfit and riding on a slim bike would make

anyone's heart pound faster. What made the event more exciting was the blooming of Dok Phal Deng

by the road. As one's eyes fell on the red color this flower, one couldn't help but being captivated by

it. Adding to the white and yellow color of DokChampa in front of the post office, the place looked like

a heavenly lush garden. In some years, I even watched the bicycle race on the Champa tree. Talking

about the Champa tree, I and my old sister were kind of attached to it. Standing proudly since the

days we came to live in Savannakhet in 1960 to 1967

(the year we left Savannakhet), this Champa tree became our playground where we climbed, where we

hung

among its branches like a wild monkey and lastly where we hid our parents where we were upset with

our parents. There was one black and white picture featuring me perching on the Champa tree while

my sister was kind of leaning on it in our family album some time ago. I wonder if my mom still has it

or not. To say the least, every picture of the olden days carries lots of meaning to me.

Oh! The time bygones

you are very much part of me...

In our post office compound, there was a well. Everyone in this little community made use of it to the

fullest. The water that we drank, washed clothes, bathed, and sprinkled onto the Buddha statue came

from this well.

As I witnessed, the men, no matter young or old, were always courteous to the women, also young or

old.

They were the ones who pulled the bucket of water up the well for them. Before the installing of the

pulley, pulling water up the well was very tiring. At times, it was dangerous as one had to poke one

face down the well almost all the time. The task of carrying the buckets of water back to the house

was shared by both sexes. Still, the men carried lots of load and they seemed not to mind this kind of

burden. By the way, the well was a fun place to be especially during the evening as many people

gathered (some came to bathe, some came to get water to use at home, and some just came to hang

around). Most of the time, the sound of laughter, joking and teasing pervaded the place. Wonder

where else could we find such a magical place like Muang Lao. Talking about bathing, we kids found it

very appealing. Know what? The place we liked to station ourselves to watch this

fascinating act was the second story building of the hospital which stood above many of the backyard

of the post office houses. As you might realize, the backyard was the place where they had a big bowl

to store water for various uses including bathing. Most of the time, it were the young girls who took a

bath there. They might think it was more secluded from the eyes of the naughty opposite sex. What

they didn't realize was that we kids didn't spare any movement of their bodies especially when they

shifted their Sinh around to soap or to let the water run through body freely. We enjoyed this kind of

spectacle for some time until the hospital staff chased us out for good. Wonder if they monopolized

the spectacular viewing for themselves or not.

(to be continued)

 

My grandma, a very kind lady, liked to make Mumh - a liver stuff which she hung on the weaving

machine (Houk). I would have to say that it was very good. A tiny piece of it would be enough to go

with a handful of sticky rice. That's how good it was! Sadly to say, my grandma passed away the

very year we settled in Savannakhet. Even she was no more, her Mumh was good to last for some

years to come. My mom told me that my sister next to me was born not long after my grandma had

passed away. And she recognized most of my grandma's belonging! My mom loved this sister dearly

and they were good friends until this very day. Talking about my mom, she was young and beautiful

even with 6 kids of her own. From the old picture, she was a darling of a high class society. Maybe,

to impress her high class friends, she collected a lot of Khanh

(a bowl used to give alms to the monks). As I remember, in one of the showcases, Khanh occupied

the whole case. Besides, she had lots of Sinh that I even got lost in her big closet. Smart and rich as

she was, I wondered why she didn't invest in anything beside the land next to the airport. Yes, when

one was up, one didn't think of being down so did my mom. And all the treasures were lost as did the

high class friends gone once we left Savannakhet to settle in Thakek, a town less glamorous and far

from the center of power. My brother, a T-28 pilot, didn't relocate with us as there was no base for

T-28 in Thakek. I was kind of missing him dearly. He was very much my hero - a handsome young

man who was always on the move. Wherever he went, he would bring us presents. One time, he went

to Hongkong, he bought a big case of red apples for us. To say the least, eating the apple for the first

was very yummy. My brother was a big fan of Elvis Priestley. He bought hundreds of Elvis records.

Sometimes, I wonder why a tender heart like him became a T-28 pilot whose only mission was to

destroy. He told my dad that he bombed the XiengKhouang post office, a place we used to live.

Because of his courage and his intelligence, he rose up in the military rank to the second lieutenant in

a very short time. It was known that he was one of General Ma's elite officers and likely to be very

successful in his military career if not for the failed coup d'etat of General Ma in the later half of 1967.

Nothing could explain the rising and demise of a great future than fate itself. I would like to take this

occasion to let him know that he was a man of great character whose fate dictated that he had to live

outside his beloved country for the rest of his life.

It was funny that some post office employees called me "Koey". Literally, this word meant "greedy" or

"take everything as one's". Maybe, they thought when we had a Boun and served food at our house, I

swallowed everything down my throat without leaving anything pieces for them. Or maybe, it carried

some special meaning to Ajarn Koey who became a legend himself in Savannakhet folklore. I don't

know.

Whatever it was, nobody called me by that name again once my family moved to Thakek in 1967.

Before we left Savannakhet, my family went for a family picture featuring every member of the family (at

that time, there 9 people including my parents and my adopted sister). My parents thought that they

were not going to have any more kids. From Thakek to Vientiane, the members of our family were

almost annually added: three more in Thakek and the other two in Vientiane. That's to say the family

picture which we hung in the living room in respective towns showed a different face each year until

there was no place to add anymore, and that's when my parents decided to go for no more kids once

and for all.

(to be continued)

 

In Savannakhet, during those days, they had a bicycle race. That was fun lining up alongside the road

in front of the post office to watch the bicyclists racing by. I thought if I were older, I would sure take

part in the event. Just imagine dressing in a tightly colorful outfit and riding on a slim bike would make's heart pound faster. What made the event more exciting was the blooming of Dok Phal Deng

by the road. As one's eyes fell on the red color this flower, one couldn't help but being captivated by

it. Adding to the white and yellow color of DokChampa in front of the post office, the place looked like

a heavenly lush garden. In some years, I even watched the bicycle race on the Champa tree. Talking

about the Champa tree, I and my old sister were kind of attached to it. Standing proudly since the

days we came to live in Savannakhet in 1960 to 1967

(the year we left Savannakhet), this Champa tree became our playground where we climbed, where we

hung

among its branches like a wild monkey and lastly where we hid our parents where we were upset with

our parents. There was one black and white picture featuring me perching on the Champa tree while

my sister was kind of leaning on it in our family album some time ago. I wonder if my mom still has it

or not. To say the least, every picture of the olden days carries lots of meaning to me.

Oh! The time bygones

you are very much part of me...

In our post office compound, there was a well. Everyone in this little community made use of it to the

fullest. The water that we drank, washed clothes, bathed, and sprinkled onto the Buddha statue came

from this well.

As I witnessed, the men, no matter young or old, were always courteous to the women, also young or

old.

They were the ones who pulled the bucket of water up the well for them. Before the installing of the

pulley, pulling water up the well was very tiring. At times, it was dangerous as one had to poke one

face down the well almost all the time. The task of carrying the buckets of water back to the house

was shared by both sexes. Still, the men carried lots of load and they seemed not to mind this kind of

burden. By the way, the well was a fun place to be especially during the evening as many people

gathered (some came to bathe, some came to get water to use at home, and some just came to hang

around). Most of the time, the sound of laughter, joking and teasing pervaded the place. Wonder

where else could we find such a magical place like Muang Lao. Talking about bathing, we kids found it

very appealing. Know what? The place we liked to station ourselves to watch this

fascinating act was the second story building of the hospital which stood above many of the backyard

of the post office houses. As you might realize, the backyard was the place where they had a big bowl

to store water for various uses including bathing. Most of the time, it were the young girls who took a

bath there. They might think it was more secluded from the eyes of the naughty opposite sex. What

they didn't realize was that we kids didn't spare any movement of their bodies especially when they

shifted their Sinh around to soap or to let the water run through body freely. We enjoyed this kind of

spectacle for some time until the hospital staff chased us out for good. Wonder if they monopolized

the spectacular viewing for themselves or not.

My grandma, a very kind lady, liked to make Mumh - a liver stuff which she hung on the weaving

machine (Houk). I would have to say that it was very good. A tiny piece of it would be enough to go

with a handful of sticky rice. That's how good it was! Sadly to say, my grandma passed away the

very year we settled in Savannakhet. Even she was no more, her Mumh was good to last for some

years to come. My mom told me that my sister next to me was born not long after my grandma had

passed away. And she recognized most of my grandma's belonging! My mom loved this sister dearly

and they were good friends until this very day. Talking about my mom, she was young and beautiful

even with 6 kids of her own. From the old picture, she was a darling of a high class society. Maybe,

to impress her high class friends, she collected a lot of Khanh

(a bowl used to give alms to the monks). As I remember, in one of the showcases, Khanh occupied

the whole case. Besides, she had lots of Sinh that I even got lost in her big closet. Smart and rich as

she was, I wondered why she didn't invest in anything beside the land next to the airport. Yes, when

one was up, one didn't think of being down so did my mom. And all the treasures were lost as did the

high class friends gone once we left Savannakhet to settle in Thakek, a town less glamorous and far

from the center of power. My brother, a T-28 pilot, didn't relocate with us as there was no base for

T-28 in Thakek. I was kind of missing him dearly. He was very much my hero - a handsome young

man who was always on the move. Wherever he went, he would bring us presents. One time, he went

to Hongkong, he bought a big case of red apples for us. To say the least, eating the apple for the first

was very yummy. My brother was a big fan of Elvis Priestley. He bought hundreds of Elvis records.

Sometimes, I wonder why a tender heart like him became a T-28 pilot whose only mission was to

destroy. He told my dad that he bombed the XiengKhouang post office, a place we used to live.

Because of his courage and his intelligence, he rose up in the military rank to the second lieutenant in

a very short time. It was known that he was one of General Ma's elite officers and likely to be very

successful in his military career if not for the failed coup d'etat of General Ma in the later half of 1967.

Nothing could explain the rising and demise of a great future than fate itself. I would like to take this

occasion to let him know that he was a man of great character whose fate dictated that he had to live

outside his beloved country for the rest of his life.

It was funny that some post office employees called me "Koey". Literally, this word meant "greedy" or

"take everything as one's". Maybe, they thought when we had a Boun and served food at our house, I

swallowed everything down my throat without leaving anything pieces for them. Or maybe, it carried

some special meaning to Ajarn Koey who became a legend himself in Savannakhet folklore. I don'

know.

Whatever it was, nobody called me by that name again once my family moved to Thakek in 1967.

Before we left Savannakhet, my family went for a family picture featuring every member of the family (at

that time, there 9 people including my parents and my adopted sister). My parents thought that they

were not going to have any more kids. From Thakek to Vientiane, the members of our family were

almost annually added: three more in Thakek and the other two in Vientiane. That's to say the family

picture which we hung in the living room in respective towns showed a different face each year until

there was no place to add anymore, and that's when my parents decided to go for no more kids once

and for all.

(to be continued)

 

It was funny that some post office employees called me "Koey". Literally, this word meant "greedy" or

"take everything as one's". Maybe, they thought when we had a Boun and served food at our house, I

swallowed everything down my throat without leaving anything pieces for them. Or maybe, it carried

some special meaning to Jarn Koey who became a legend himself in Savannakhet folklore. I don't

know.

Whatever it was, nobody called me by that name again once my family moved to Thakek in 1967.

Before we left Savannakhet, my family went for a family picture featuring every member of the family (at

that time, there 9 people including my parents and my adopted sister). My parents thought that they

were not going to have any more kids. From Thakek to Vientiane, the members of our family were

almost annually added: three more in Thakek and the other two in Vientiane. That's to say the family

picture which we hung in the living room in respective towns showed a different face each year until

there was no place to add anymore, and that's when my parents decided to go for no more kids once

and for all.

On the very last note, I would like to talk about Savannakhet

patriotism before I moved on to the next installment about Thakek. First, let me touch on a personal

note. I came to know one post office employee very closely. In fact, it was both him and his wife who

was a babysitter to my little brother and sister. Their names are Ai Thaum and Euay Bea. Their

houses were close to the market. I frequented their houses quite often even when I left Savannakhet

for Thakek, I liked to spend my summer vacation in their houses. Built like a typical Lao house with a

first story vacant, this house was but one big room. It was used as a sleeping place for a family of 5

(at that time), as a dining place and as a place to park Ai Thom's bike. It must be hard for him to carry

his bike up and down the steep stairs every morning and evening. Whatever it was, he loved his bike

dearly. He wiped it until it shone very brightly. Anyway, that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, it

was his patriotism. When Vice

President Johnson (before he succeeded the assassinated President Kennedy) visited Laos in the

early 60s, there was talk about deploying American troops in Laos. I thought it was a good idea

indeed because that was the only way to roll back the North Vietnamese gains in Laos. He didn't

entertain that idea at all. He said that was like bringing the fire into our house. With hindsight, I came

to realize that he was right. This made me appreciate the wisdom of the ordinary Lao more and more

as time passed.

Secondly,, there was a music concert held in Lao Chareuan movie

theater. If I remember correctly, it was the band from Vientiane featuring many famous Lao singers

such as Khamteum Xanubanh, Kobkeo, Thantavan (a local singer who later became famous for the

song "Song Phal Kong" - the two shores of the Mekong River ) etc... The place as tightly packed - a

sign of Lao patriotism running high in every Lao vein. On another time, there was a Lao movie showed

in the same theater. We, Savannakhet people, rushed to support it with all of our heart. If I was not

mistaken, the place was packed for quite some time. From those two events, I came to realize that

Savannakhet people were very patriotic. They didn't think they were apart from the Lao nation as some

Lao people from other parts of the nation tended to nourish this divisive idea. Sometimes, I found it

odd as Savannakhet, as a town, was quite a recent phenomenon. Historically speaking, Savannakhet

should think of itself first. It has its own distinct accent - a Savan accent which is kind of middle tone

between Pakse and Luangprabang accents. Maybe, because of that, Savannakhet temperament was

kind of in the middle perfectly reflecting Buddha's teaching the way of the middle road to life. I guess I

just understand Savannakhet when I discovered that it had a legend of Chao Ratsavong - a Lao hero in

the war against Siam, breeding in every Savannakhet soul. It became even clear to me when I found

that not a few of Savannakhet people resettled the area from the left bank of the Mekong River. They

were the descendants of the great Chao Anou warriors who would rather being Lao than being Thai.

On this note, I would like to take this occasion to salute you, Savannakhet people especially my dear

friend - Thip Chinthalasy for carrying the torch of a true Lao to us, the ethnic Lao everywhere on the

globe.

May Savannakhet spirit live in our heart and soul forever!

May the good people of Savannakhet fight on with an undying spirit! and may Savannakhet rise up in

unison greater and brighter!

 

The End

(Thakek coming up next)