Daily Archives: 2010-01-13

Cooking Thai and Travel Into Laos – Vientiane, Laos

The Sunday market on Walking Street in Chiang Mai did turn out to be massive and I got entirely overwhelmed by it all. But again, I managed to spend baht only on food and services rather than useless souvenirs I will regret later. I tasted a bunch of different flavors from the hundreds of choices including 10 baht pad thai (just ok) and 20 baht passion fruit/apple/watermelon smoothie (yummy time!) and 1 baht coconut pumpkin sticky rice in banana leaves (drool). By the end of night I felt I earned a serious massage having navigated the shoulder to shoulder packed crowds. For 120 baht I got a nice hour long massage in one of the rows of recliners set up.

The next day, I took a cooking class at “AsiaScenic” which included an educational field trip to the food market. Gay, our young bubbly teacher, took us into her garden and told us about all the spices and herbs she grew there. Our group of 10 young traveler all chose different dishes so we got to learn almost the entire spectrum on offer. My selections included spring rolls, pad see uw, coconut milk soup, massaman curry, deep fried banana and what turned out to be my favorite, chicken with cashew nuts. The whole day was exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed not only preparing my dishes but eating them too. Everything turned out perfectly and I couldn’t believe that I was responsible for creating such flavorful fare with such little effort. I am really looking forward to cooking these again in my own kitchen for future dinner parties.

The next day, I decided to head over to Laos for a spell as my Thai visa was about to run out. A small group of us (some friends I had met down in Koh Phangan) climbed aboard the night bus for the 12 hour journey. Unfortunately for me, I was seated in the top very back by the window which I believe was the coldest place on the bus. I watched “Where the Wild Things Are” on the laptop before trying unsuccessfully to contort myself into a decent sleeping position.

In the morning, we were dropped off at the bus station where we got a tuk tuk to take us the 10 minutes to the Thai-Laos border. After getting stamped out of Thailand, we got on a shuttle which carted us over the “Friendship Bridge” over the Mekong River. I paid the $42 dollars for a visa (Canadians have to pay substantially more than any other country for a Laos visa) and happily walked on into a new country.

We were all pretty exhausted and I was really looking forward to getting some rest in Vientiane (literally “City of Sandalwood”). I would have gladly overpaid for a bed to sleep in but the others I was with were hell bent on finding a good deal. After scoping out a dozen guesthouses and hotels, we finally found one we could all agree on which happened to have a great view of the river. We grabbed a quick bite at the Joma bakery before I packed it in for the night. I zoned out a bit in front of the TV which was showing some awful Ben Stiller movie before passing out.

It’s a new day now and I am back at the Joma café as I write this. I am feeling a little sad because this morning I watched a cat get hit and killed by a car. I didn’t cry but I felt really really empty and cold as I watched her body twitch and convulse as her spirit left her. I said a little prayer for the dead cat as a local walked over casually picking her up by her tail and flinging her off the road. I hope I never get so numb to death.

I am going to go for a wander in this very French influenced town and look for a place to get a massage. Its certainly much more European here than I expected and the place is chockablock with tourists. It is a interesting fusion of French Asian but still, I am very well aware of the basic quality of life here.

Grateful for affect.

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