Although there are many examples of French architecture abounding along the riverside cities of Pakse, Savannakhet, and Thakhek, I tried to find the ones with character, the ones with a personality, lived-in, lived-around, but some were brand new, as Laos inches toward the 21st century with better education and more tourist money. These cities along the Mekong were one to two big streets long and had little to do besides watch sunsets and drink BeerLao.
This massive 40m waterfall was the highlight, I sat on the top, dangled my feet over the edge and giggled with that childish fear of height coupled with excitement.
Chicken head served with the meal! This was no plump factory raised bird, this was a yard-bird, meat was as hard to find among the bones as it must have been to chase and catch that chicken.
Later, I happened upon a Trattoria Italiana in Pakse, and of course tried it out when I spoke some cursory Italian with Corrado, the owner/chef. He was a smile wrapped around poor posture. There is a small menu of pastas, panini and some meat dishes as well as home made desserts and cheap wine. A nice surprise in a dreary town.
On the 7th floor of the Pakse Hotel, there are vistas of the Golden Buddha on the distant mountain, the swirling river and a town asleep before 9pm. I was full from all the pasta so just ordered something light–gazpacho.
There was a large, torso-sized fish frying beside me, covered in salt. It smelled great, but way too big for one person.
Walking farther along the river, past the grilling fish, there is a local place where we ate some spicy, delicious Lao food.
Nothing amazing here, just a good stop in Southern Laos to help move on from the horizontal pace of 4,000 Islands.