We trod old ground again in Savannakhet, where we pitched up at Leena Guesthouse straight after the minor ordeal of a 19 hour two stage journey across Thailand and the ever changing demands of the Thai Consulate.
Four years ago getting our Thai visas in this crumbling colonial city was a brief delight but, as with the city itself, things are changing. Last time we pitched up and handed in our documents with minimal fuss. This time, in Thailand’s new consulate, further from the river, things got tricky for us and much of the queue when asked for proof of our financial health.
One by one frustrated segments of the queue reassembled across the road where a clever man charged 100thb for a few print outs and the privilege of entering our personal banking details into his old PC.
With their futures in doubt – the next 2+1 months anyway – people had bonded in the adversity, including us and Michele, a Swiss traveller, who we discovered was staying at Leena Guesthouse, our first choice of where to stay when in town.
Our double room set us back 50,000kip for which we received a rock hard bed, a fan, bathroom, and a chance to hang with a small friendly dog in a dress.
I’d forgotten about the dog in a dress from our first visit. How much of life do you have to see before forgetting spending time in the company of a dog in a dress?
Down a lane, off a quiet road, but still close to the old town, Leena’s is good value even without the dog in a dress. More than we paid here will only buy a dorm bed in guest houses nearer the river.
Some of the rooms closer to reception got good wifi. We couldn’t, but a few seats and tables are dotted about the place and there’s the restaurant/breakfast area too by those that need to get a bit of work done or make a sexually suggestive Skype call, as one guest was happy to demonstrate.
On both our visits we have found Leena’s to be a very sociable place and have made friends here, but don’t expect the staff to be of any use once the sun goes down.
Already a little irked with the lack of assistance the previous night on a trivial but to me important matter I had a little falling out with the lazy chambermaid.
She liked to hide, sometimes just sitting on the floor next to her broom, sometimes, for a bit of variety, standing and leaning on it. When she thought someone could see her she’d make a few desultory swipes at the floor. I’d caught her doing this but didn’t care, though was annoyed when she walked away in the middle of a sentence and started to have a public moan to other staff about me for wanting help with something. Laos standards of customer service are often amusingly lax – it can be part of the charm of the place – but in her case I can only assume she must be related to the guesthouse owners to have kept her job this long.
Rude, dim witted relations aside, we generally like Leena’s and expect we will stay here again.
Leena Guesthouse, Chaokeen Road, Savannakhet