*Excuse typos and formatting. Written via panda phone on the road.
Although our trip to Luang Prabang was rather short, we’ve managed to pack in a number of activities including a LOT of eating. (Shocking) As soon as we landed we ate three meals within roughly a 4-hour window. Mom was insistent that we tried traditional Luang Prabang dishes because they are prepared much differently than Vientiane. Obviously, my arm was twisted and I gave into the moment(s) of gluttony. When passing by a food stall, our verbal exchange typically went something like this:
Mom: OOOH, you see that?? It’s that [so-and-so] dish! You hungry??
Mom: You want to try??
Before you knew it, we were squatting down on plastic chairs rubbing elbows with other Laotians who were probably just having their first meal of the day.
The spare time we had between stuffing our faces, we spent riding elephants, scoping out caves, trying Lao Lao (whiskey), and dipping into the lagoon at Kuansi waterfall. One of my favorite parts of LP was seeing the monks giving alms at 6:30am each morning. You have to be prompt to catch them, otherwise, a minute after 6:31am and they’re gone.
Before leaving LP, we of course ate two breakfasts, took a tour of the King’s Palace and climbed up Phu Si to check out the “excellent” view of Luang Prabang which was conveniently obstructed by morning clouds. Perfect.
We returned to Vientiane for another night at grandma’s for dinner. We arrived with full stomachs and left with even fuller stomachs. I was so uncomfortably stuffed that I internally wished someone would just harpoon me already and put me out of my misery.
(Un)fortunately, I’m still alive to eat another day. We’re currently on a 3-hour drive up north to Vang Vieng. Paul Theroux once described Vientiane in his 1975 book, The Great Railway Bazaar, as a place in which ‘the brothels are cleaner than hotels, marijuana is cheaper than pipe tobacco and opium easier to find than a cold glass of beer’. Apparently, Vientiane is no longer this ‘pleasure palace’. However, Vang Vieng still serves up a number of ‘happy’ meals to backpackers and the like. Meaning, anything with the word ‘happy’ in front it typically means it’s laced with marijuana or possibly mushrooms, yaba (meth) or opium. According to Lonely Planet, one traveler was told it meant it came with extra pineapple. What a sucker. Once I read about this, I immediately turned to my mom and said, “Want to try?!” She said no and rolled her eyes at me. I guess we’ll fill up on ‘unhappy’ meals during our time there, unless I just tell her it’s extra pineapple…
Ran into some buddies from back home!