This market was maybe three blocks long but filled to the brim with stuff. For such a little town, it was really jam packed when it had to be and really wide open when it had to be.

The most interesting item I found… tuberculosis. Seriously, someone explain this to me.

Then we’ve got Buffalo Skin – basically buffalo chicharon. No I didn’t try it cause it only came in dried pre-cooked form and I didn’t have the ability to fry them. Otherwise it would have been game on!

Some other mystery greens

And your typical mysterious and sometimes not so mysterious market goods… bugs with the shell, dried seaweed, so many limes, chilies, etc.






I also just have to say that these folks love their donuts.

There was also this awesome pancake lady, who made these delicious coconut flavored mini pancakes.

Then there’s this egg pancake guy. If you look at the photo, in the very front, he’s got a tray of homemade dough that he’s portioned out into balls. He’ll take one and roll it out to the right size, super thin, then toss it on the hot plate, crack an egg on it and swirl it around. Since it’s so thin, it cooks so fast and it’s so crispy, yet still juicy from the egg. So good.


Then of course you’ve got your hot buffets on the street.

Take away wraps of all sorts.

So much grilled meat.

Last but not least, hot pot. This is a serious hot pot with a large clay pot for the coals in the center of the table and all they do is throw a pot on top.


Really amazing sites to see and scents to smell and random fun things to try.

Luang Prabang is also a sleepy town, lets just say all of Laos is sleepy. You seriously have to take about twenty steps back and just relax cause no one will move faster than a snail, no matter how quickly you need to move, in fact, if you are in a rush, they will just think you’re nuts.

My adventurous ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang:
Wanted to leave less of a footprint in this incredibly well preserved country, so I decided to take the bus to Luang Prabang as opposed to flying, even though flying would have only taken forty minutes, I took an overnight sleeper bus. Sleeper bus means, you get to sleep on the bus in a bed. I took this to mean, I got my own bed but this is a terribly wrong assumption. In fact, you get to share this cot size mattress with another stranger AND the mattress is about 66″ long cause that’s how tall I am. They accidentally put me next to a local dude and he and I just stared at each other like, no way. So the bus organizer comes over and tells me to follow him to the front cause apparently there’s a bed with only women. So the front and back of the bus has a single mattress that covers the width of the bus and can sleep four. Maybe four little Laos women, who all happen to at least be a foot shorter than me and forty pounds lighter. The mattress in the front may have stretched the width of the bus but was also a good eighteen inches shorter in length, which meant, when I laid down, I had my knees bent the whole time. Indian style. I feel for all tall people. And I should mention that since Laos is so nicely preserved environmentally, their roads are also nicely unmaintained. It was as though this bus had absolutely no suspension system at all and the worst driver to top it off. So needless to say, my ride was fun!

And when I finally arrive. I reward myself with a bungalow on the Mekong.

With a view.

And a victory beverage.

I’m sure I’ll be writing more about them when I’m in Vietnam but Laos also happen to be taken over by the French at one point and they happened to leave behind some of those amazing bread products that they are so good at. So I decided to try one of their many French bakeries for breakfast. And to my surprise, it was awesome. Simple and perfect.
Just so happens, my favorite breakfast of all time was in Paris, at this little hostel, where she baked fresh bread, had homemade jam and jelly and the best butter of my life.
More Pastries

Then of course there’s the infamous Vietnamese Bahn Mi but here in Laos it’s just a baguette that you can have stuffed with meat, cheese, or eggs. The bread is wonderful but the stuffing is lame, to be nice.

Couldn’t help myself, more fruit shakes…

And their OJ is this little clementine and it’s just sweet, sweet, sweet!

Asia in general has a few Buddhas here and there. I was bound to come upon a few. Luang Prabang probably had one of the more interesting Buddha settings where you walked up endless stairs to reach the top of the hill and have an amazingly hazy view of the city and the smallest buddha you would think sitting at top. But on the other side of the hill that I walked down, I came across some fantastically large Buddhas.

Never ending stairs.

More Stairs.

View from the top.

And another.

Golden

After a climb, had a little lunch along the river. Some curry, fried thai basil and a daikon salad.

By far the coolest thing is this bamboo bridge. During the dry season, the Mekong get real low that a foot bridge is built between the two sides. Made of bamboo! And it’s totally awesomely rickety and bouncy and just all around amazing. As I prepared to walk over the bridge there were two dudes fixing it! HA!


Notice the intricate weave.

Then when you reach the other side it’s a green tunnel of fairy books.


It’s very underwhelming when you get out on the other side but I won’t show you so you can have this magical imagine forever.

Also just so you know how cute and small this town is, this whole thing took me maybe two hours and I was walking very very slowly.

Street food duh!
It’s not easy asking these Laos what things are, how things are made, etc. They are not so good at the english and I am not so good at the Laos. So there was a lot of blind ordering and guess what I ended up buying? Maggots. They came in this awesome bamboo package and I usually love things in a pretty bamboo leaf BUT NO! Not this time.

Oh look, I’m a tasty bamboo wrapped package…

Filled with Maggots!

So, yes, I did try it. And I only did it cause these two amazing Dutch dudes were pigging out with me at the market and they did it. And I have to say, it was quite tasty. Tasted like coconut and lemongrass and the texture was like sticky rice only softer BUT I would never eat it again! Gross.

And of course Laos like pigs… insides

Outsides

Crispy

Then they’ve got this traditional dish they make where they ball up sticky rice in their hand and dip it in different homemade chili sauces and my goodness do they have a lot of varieties.

There was this one wrap we tried and we all loved. It was sticky rice but mixed with who knows what and wrapped in lettuce with peanuts, fried shallots and fried lemongrass. So good.

And then the usual market fun, chickens stuffed with chicken parts, massive arrays of sweets, bugs, and other unidentifiable items!







And I’ve been seeing grilled bananas all over Southeast Asia and they’re always the mini bananas and sometimes they have the peel, sometimes they don’t so I finally decided to give it a go. Grilling leaves the banana a semi-tougher “skin” and a warm center.

Ba Naw Nah as the Australians would say.

Otherwise known as zip lining. Oh this was FUN! Laos is a beautiful place and my goodness was this amazing. It’s two hours outside of Vientiane and we started off with the guides grilling us a lunch while we sat in an open hut above the river, then took a boat ride up to a spot where we hiked for about 40 minutes, mostly steep uphill but totally worth it. And we arrived at the first platform where we fly, as the guide would say. It’s a whole day trip and it’s worth every second.

Nam Lik River

Guide

Lunch

With a view

Took a dip here

View from a treetop platform

A little belaying

I’m a monkey in a tree

Last bridge we crossed

Jungle Flying is awesome!

Sleepy town. Small, slow, French influence lingers and some of the best fruit shakes ever. I think it’s cause they add simple syrup to everything even though their fruit is already ripe and sweet but then add about a cup of simple syrup made from palm sugar and TADA! Some of the tastiest fruit shakes ever.

I love mango.

I’m totally all about this mortar and pestle “cooking”. It’s so ingenious to just give everything a little smash to bring out all the flavors and oils of each item and then muddle them together to make flavor magic. Even this simple noodle salad I got was packed with flavor.

Condiments. Why don’t we have better condiments in the states? Every table should come with tons of condiments and a fresh plate of veggie condiments. I got some traditional Laos noodle soup and it came with all this stuff! Limes, Thai Basil, Cilantro, String Beans, Chilies, etc etc

Table Condiments

Variety of Chilies and be careful and this stuff is SPICY

Noodles and Beer, Yum!

Bangkok to Nong Khai. It took about twelve hours but I had a sleeper car and nice chats with the security guard and dude who came around and made our beds. I was exhausted cause nothing runs on time, nothing moves quickly, no one moves quickly and you are forced to just sit back and relax cause otherwise I would have gone insane. If this wasn’t Southeast Asia, I probably would have thrown a fit but I kept telling myself that I’m in no hurry to get anywhere and neither was anyone else.

Sleeper Car

A little Beer

Crappy Dinner

Morning View

Crossing the Border was fun.
You get off the BKK train, onto another train that’s a fifteen minute ride that takes you to a station to get your visa, then you take either a tuk tuk or mini van, which you have to make friends with other backpackers and get a bunch together to make the ride cheaper. Met a lovely gay couple from, guess where? Astoria Queens! Small world. Awesome folks.

Wasn’t planning on going to Laos but you know what, I’m off! Taking an overnight train from BKK to Nong Khai then a mini bus over the border and off to Vientiane.

Bye bye Bangkok!

There are just endless supplies of markets and food and cheap clothes and so much stuff. It’s all good, it’s all dirty, it’s all awesome. It goes anywhere from fish flopping around, tiny shrimp, hanging meat, open grills, giant woks, plastic bags filled with who knows what. One of the things that I love the most about this food stuff is that they give you these packages of condiments/veggies that go with the dish. Depending on the dish, it can come with fresh herbs, veggies, salt, crushed red pepper, fresh chilies, etc.

Pad Thai. I really didn’t think I would see pad thai in Thailand, I don’t really know why but it just didn’t occur to me so when it found me, I was so surprised and pleasantly surprised.

Green Papaya Salad. I’ve been looking for the POK POK or mortar and pestle here since it’s such an essential tool and there was no disappointing. Spicy fresh salad right out of the pok pok.

Candy. They’re are so many kinds of dessert here, including donuts, they love donuts and French style pastries as well as jello anything. All colorful and seemingly tasty though I’m not much of a sweets person, more eye catching than anything else.

Sushi. Only saw one stand with their version of sushi. Colorful to say the least.

Mystery Fruit. If anyone can tell me what this green fruit is in the first photo, I’ll make you some totally awesome food in return!