My friend Don (together with blog buddies Kawadjan and Gibo) recently came from Laos and was raving about their trip, from the photo shoot, to the stench-ridden 6-hour journey to Viang Veng and the food… oh yes, especially the food. It got me thinking about my last trip to Laos in Vientiane where, I was unceremoniously “forced” to eat some wonderfully exciting (read: super exotic) food that would give Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a run for their money.
I was there for a photo assignment and overall redesign of a corporate identity of a backpacker hotel and the owner made sure that I try everything out that Laos has to offer…
The adventure started with a trip to the market where we looked at stuff to photograph for the brochure. While we were going around the wet section, I chanced upon a pile of live frogs and got curious about it. But sadly, curiosity not only kills the vegetarian cat… it feeds them food they are not ready to eat! At the hotel, the frog was deep fried in garlic. I couldn’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but it I don’t think I’ll gorge on it with fries anytime soon.
Another item on the menu was fried river snake which was also seriously good because of the drizzle of fried garlic.
The dancing shrimp salad was another adventure on its own. A trip to the countryside by the Mekong River brought us to this floating restaurant which served a salad which you had to eat quick because it's ingredients are jumping back to where they came from!
This used to be a Jurassic Park-looking fish from the Mekong river, but with a dash of red wine sauce, steamed vegetables and fries, this became on of the most decent meals I had.
Although I wasn't brave enough to eat these pile of crickets, I watched my hosts gorge them like Pringles on a sunny afternoon in June.
Apparently, these plates of insects are a popular snack item.
Any exotic food experience in Laos can only be enjoyed justifiably with their national drink - Beer Lao. Light and mild but equally tasty, I can drink this with any meal!
After a spin of exotic food and Beer Lao, take another spin around the city with this tuktuk...
...and venture out to bsorb Vientiane's sights like their national treasure and symbol... the That Luang stupa painted in gleaming gold.
Pathouxai is the "Arc de Triomphe" of the city. Often called the vertical runway, this monument was built using US funds originally meant for the building of their airport.
Wat Sisaket is the city's oldest surviving temple and is home to a huge collection of Buddhas.
Laoatian smiles and faces...
They say Vientiane is nothing compared to the world heritage city of Luang Prabang, but for me, this adventure was good enough as an introduction to a country as exciting as Laos.