This is Pa Laem, the loveliest lady in Laos. After our two days in transit on the slow boat and a night in shady Pak Beng, it was with absolute glee that we made our acquaintance with Pa Laem, the sandwich mama! I created a new sandwich too…tuna salad with fresh mango on a baguette. We returned to Pa Laem’s stall at least three times in two days as she was so warm and friendly, providing not just food but love! My next job is to send this photo and the one of her grand-daughter to her son. If you’re ever in the walking street in Laos, look out for Pa Laem and ask for Gavin’s tuna and mango sandwich…when she asked if I would be back next year I asked her to put it on the menu for me.
This little lady is the grand-daughter of the loveliest sandwich maker in Laos, who will appear in the next post! I had to take a snap of the little one and of course I gave her grandmother a little extra cash for her to say thanks. I hope she grows up to be as hard working and happy as her grandmother!
We first met Kaycee and her sister Hannah in Pai whilst out socialising. They then bumped into us in Chang Mai and then on the slowboat. The Govett sisters are from Byron Bay, Australia, one of my favourite places in the world and I hope to catch up with them and their family (all very Irish looking) in 2012!
Laos is a fairly conservative country and there are many restrictions including most places having to close their doors by 12 midnight. When all the bars shut in Luang Prabang, all the travelling folk pile into tuk tuks and head 5km to the late night bowling hall where the beer keeps flowing and the bowling acts as a fun way to continue the party. As you can imagine, many hilarious antics ensued! My ball was the green one on the top left of the image :o)
South East Asia is jam-packed with wonderful markets which are an absolute pleasure just to walk through even if you don’t want or need to buy something. Of all the night markets I’ve seen so far I think Luang Prabang’s night street market is what can only be described as “bijou”, as is this UNESCO World Heritage city. The above image is of kids boots handmade by the Hmong mountain tribes who make most of what is sold in the market. We had a really lovely time here although I did get bitten by an insect on Phou Si mountain at sunset, which catapulted me into the my first experience of a Laos hospital the next day when my hand became rather swollen. After some antihistamines, antibiotics and a little help from my kind friend and “nurse” for the day Holly, I was back on track. I did miss out on seeing the waterfall as the rest of the “slowboat crew” had ventured out to one of Laos’s pristine forests, but sure I’ll save that for the next time I’m there!
“The slowboat” is a name I’d heard but couldn’t quite imagine, until we crossed the Thailand/Laos border and boarded a boat like I’d never seen before! Long, colourful, wooden and fitted with old car seats, Laos slowboats sail down the Meekong at a gentle pace, carrying travellers and locals alike. The Meekong itself was also a mere word to me before I set foot on that vessel. Two days cruising at our ease proved an exceptionally enjoyable and tranquil experience. We made a fair few friends and ended up with a grand wee party boat. Pak Beng was our unique overnight stop in between the two days. The party continued in Luang Prabang as we managed to find a guesthouse that could accommodate all 16 of the “slowboat crew”.