16. Sengdara

photo via: jclao.com

photo via: jclao.com

Falang complain about it incessantly, but still fork over a relatively large sum of cash in order to sweat it out at the see-and-be-seen gym in Vientiane. In the midst of their complaints (which conveniently serve as a way of placing themselves in the sporty/fit falang category), they will often lament the fact that no other acceptable gyms exist in an appropriate radius of their house. Drive all the way out to BeeBee? Unthinkable!

How could you possibly complain about a gym as conveniently located as Sengdara? Well, for starters the building mysteriously maintains a temperature consistently four degrees warmer than the outdoor air, despite the numerous AC units that adorn the walls. (Experienced falang will claim to have never seen them in use). Want to turn on a fan to prevent yourself from passing out during your run? It’s not recommended—you’re sure to get a glare from the person walking next to you in a luminous silver sweat suit. Passive aggressive on-off fan battles have been known to occur.

If you can take the heat you still have to combat a gym full of dysfunctional, ornery second-hand equipment. Ever been mid-stride on a treadmill that has suddenly decided to stop moving forward? You aren’t alone. Can’t get a treadmill to turn on? Tell the desk staff and they are likely to shrug and tape ‘out of order’ sign on it. Want to work out at 6PM? Good luck finding parking…or an elliptical. You’ll be relegated to the reject (aka dead) equipment upstairs, which would function as a nice memorial to cardio equipment of days gone by.

Despite its shortcomings, you too may find youself inexplicably drawn to the land of misfit fitness goers.  Soon enough, you will start recognize the quintessential Sengdara cast of characters:

  • The Lao ‘bodybuilders’, who inspire awe with their ability to hold up massive upper bodies on such spindly legs and their dedication to monopolizing every bench for television viewing
  • The high society housewives, who alternate patting themselves with towels, talking on their iPhones and strolling at a breakneck 3 kilometers an hour on one of four functional treadmills
  • The motley crew of personal trainers, who are perhaps the only people who know how to work that strange medieval torture machine located on the second floor
  • The misguided wrong-kind-of-falang, who have been fooled by Lonely Planet into thinking they’re paying for one day at a luxury spa
  • The unsupervised children, who either beeline it straight to the pool or make you incredibly nervous by trying out every piece of free equipment while their parents secure towels

Sengdara’s redeeming qualities may be few and far between, but let’s face it–see you falang at the gym!


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2 thoughts on “16. Sengdara

  1. seeharhed says:

    LOL… You nailed it… hahahah Although, I am not falung, I like to workout there whenever I’m in town. I used to like the old Sengdara, where it is not so crowded and a lot cheaper to be a weekly or monthly memberships.

  2. onthego says:

    You absolutely nailed it. There equipment is always breaking down or just not getting fixed. For 4 weeks I tried to get them to fix the treadmills I like, the only ones I feel I can use because they don’t hurt my knee or my leg injury and it took them five weeks to just fix one machine. But I asked one of the desk workers if they had someone to fix the machines and she said yes they have someone full-time. So what is he doing? That’s what I want to know. And when you ask the desk worker if they can try to fix the machine, they just shut if off and turn it back on, a lot of good that does. And the unsupervised children wow there are a lot! And they run up and down the stairs, and many times run into you and keep right on going. Plus the owner is a real jerk.

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