17 July 2010
Day 10 – Vientiane to Pakse
Last night we had some drinks with the Peuan Mit team and some very interesting snacks such as chicken knuckles or tendons, fried eel, beef gum, as well served a spicy beef salad which was delicious and did go very well with the Beer Lao.
This morning Ket and Madame Vone arrived early again to pick us up from the guesthouse, but this time Ghislain and I were ready!
We then went straight to my favorite Kao Peak place for breakfast. We will use their recipe for our cook book and we asked if we could do a small story on their noodle shop and of course like everyone here the owner happily agreed. What a nice start for a day.
We went to pick up our students Cheng and Yearh who will join us on our trip south. They both looked very excited and couldn’t wait to leave. Neither of them have ever been on such a long trip and seemed a little shy so I was a little worried about how they would cope with us loud foreigners.
To make them feel relaxed, we started off by talking a lot to them and playing some games car, and after a short time their shyness was gone and my worries were gone as well.
The trip to Pakse is 700km long and it takes 10 hours to get there. The scenery was very different from what we had seen up north. The weather got really bad half way down and we stopped at the town of Tha Kaek. We had lunch at the market and it was a typical Lao lunch for travelers. Some grilled fish, pork and of course papaya salad and lots of sticky rice to go with it. Our driver Mr Eah had ordered some Lao/ French style sandwiches with pate, pork and spicy papaya salad from his sister in Vientiane and brought them along for us to enjoy. Mr Eah has been very helpful person and has a great sense of humor on top of that. I had to order a milder version of the papaya salad because it would literally burn out my stomach if I would eat it the way our colleagues and students do.
I believe Madame Vone would not survive without papaya salad at least once a day even though Ket informed me that she calls her husband daily to make sure that her kids get proper meals and not just papaya salad.
We then stretched our legs and had a quick stroll and went looking for some local sweets. There was not much available except some outdated Thai 7-11 snacks and god forbid we would eat such garbage.
But then Ket found this really tasty sticky rice cake with yellow bean coated with burned coconut and steamed in banana leaf. It was absolutely delicious and Madame Vone will try to get the recipe for it. It does sound like a typical Chinese sweet but the burned coconut gives it a very special taste. I for one am not a big fan of Asian sweets but this was great.
We then arrived about 6:30pm at Pakse, checked in and then went for a quick dinner. We went to a Lao restaurant were there are musicians playing the guitar while you eat, which was nice because it was not too loud and they played old Lao songs.
I did hope to get some nice Lao food but it ended up being a bit too Thai tasting, which I like but we did not come for that.
On the way back to the guesthouse we stopped at the market to check for sweets and ended up getting some fresh waffles (I wonder who brought them to Laos!). Madame Vone, the kids and I really liked them so we asked for the recipe but once the seller was talking about ingredients such as coffee mate I stopped listening and enjoyed it for what it is and didn’t think about what was in it!