Hey everyone, Sam here checking in after our first full day in beautiful, vibrant Vientiane. After the initial wave of homesickness and culture shock subsided, we woke up this morning excited to have the day off and eager to explore Laos. This morning we met Pam, the cultural affairs officer with the U.S Embassy and she took us to her favorite traditional Lao eatery, the Kulao Restaurant, just a few blocks from our hotel. We let Pam do most of the ordering and we enjoyed a smattering of Lao favorites including sour fish soup, papaya salad, purple sticky rice, pork stew with dill, and fried crickets (see andy’s post). Surprisingly the crickets were actually pretty tasty, and they weren’t even the most bizarre thing on the menu…a few lines down I noticed the had steamed baby wasps!
After lunch we all walked down to the most incredible market for the most enjoyable shopping experience any of us had ever had. We each took 350,000 Kip down to the market (about $50 USD) and left with a plethora of silks, sculptures, t-shirts, and other handicrafts. It seemed like forever walking past stall after stall overflowing with ornate textiles and all the while friendly Lao women would pop their heads out bow and greet us with “Sa bai dee” (“hello” in Lao). If I keep buying souveniers at my current clip, I’ll probably have to stuff the inside of my folding bass with clothes to make room for them all! After the market we said goodbye to Pam for the day and wandered around until we came to the quintessential little smoothie stand. We all indulged in different exotic fruit drinks, stash had a Dragonfruit smoothie that was the most purple concoction any of us had ever seen (see below), Eric had guava, Monak drank coconut water straight out of a freshly chopped coconut, and Andy and I each had a smoothie made from a fruit so exotic neither of us can remember it’s name…but rest assured it was delicious! After smoothies everyone headed back to the hotel to relax a bit, with the exception of Chroberson (my favorite nickname for Eric Robertson) who went for am hour-long massage around the corner…I believe it cost him a whopping 9 dollars and judging by the pep in Eric’s step it was fully worth it!
We all went back to the Kunlao restaurant for dinner but mostly to see a traditional Lao music and dance concert. We were all completely blown away by how beautiful the music was and impressed by the amount of costume changes the dancers went through in just an hour and a half! I’m glad we had a day off to acclimate and get acquainted with the city, but I am ready to begin the musical portion of the rhythm road tomorrow night at the Ambassadors residence! Signing off for now…Kawp jai lai lai (thank you very much) for reading!