Wednesday, September 24, 2008

of fried frogs and dancing shrimps

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.

13 comments:

the donG said...

now that's exotic! im not into exotic foods not unless someone secretly gives me something exotic without telling me what it is. hahaha...

the spool artist said...

it does take a certain level of complexity to be able to appreciate fully this kind of cuisine, but I think it all boils down to culture. we have our own share of weird and wonderful food back home. maybe i should invite you for inuman one time and serve you tarantula pizza (a delicacy here in cambodia)! of course, i won't tell... lol

Gayzha said...

very nice photos ... i wish i could also visit these places soon!

salingPUSA said...

the food looks good in picture but I really can't imagine eating them. sensya na po----ewwww. Don;'t show that to lasengeros here in the Phils. that would make their mouth water.....

....on a positive note though---I admire people who could eat anything they are served.

Neil said...

Hi,

I love photography so much but i dont have the chance and opportunity to travel or visit other countries...so i really like your photo and the places you feature.

Visit you again soon.

Borneo Falcon said...

I plan to go to Laos next year. Nice insight on what to expect.

kouji said...

thanks for the virtual tour. :) my dad's mentioned the jumping salad. and the snake looks rather good. and anyway, perhaps it similar to how i feel like chuckling a bit when i see how some tourists view balut. :) can't say the same thing though about diniguan... could never get used to that... :O

the spool artist said...

@gayzha: thanks... laos will be waiting for you!

@salingpusa: i couldn't imagine eating them as well, but i was really "forced" into it. but then again, at least i can say i tried them!

@neil: i'm sure your opportunity to travel will come soon!

@borneo falcon: i'm sure you'll enjoy Laos. Will you go Vientiane or Luang Prabang?

@kouji: i used to eat dinuguan before i became vegetarian! hahaha.

KRIS JASPER said...

I should not say "ELK!" coz those are their foods and in the same way we Filipinos have weird dishes that might be "unacceptable" to some cultures, still... I couldnt help it..

the spool artist said...

@kris jasper: i know, i know... you are happy with your crumpets, pie and earl grey tea in london! hehehe. well, if you happen to pay us a visit in cambodia, we could probably serve you more exotic food that you can actually enjoy eating!

cheers!

kawadjan said...

wonderful pics you've got here (as always). i agree... beer lao is one amazing beer. my fave so far (sorry, san miguel).

i cannot help but comment... that monk is divinely lovely.

sherwin said...

i wanna try thejumping shrimp but not the crieckets.. Iv'e been fantasizing on having a trip to asian countries..love your travels and your posts oo..ur lucky!!

the spool artist said...

@kawadjan: welcome back to the blogging world! heard from fuchsiaboy that you were out of touch for several days because of a symposium! hehehe. i knew someone would definitely comment on the monk! too bad you didn't meet him in vientiane!

@sherwin: now is a great time to visit asian countries and to try the jumping shrimp salad! there'll be surprises in every bend and curve!