Saturday, April 12, 2008

Down to Luang Prabang

The ride from Kui Kacham to Luang Prabang (80 kms) was exhilarating. The first hour or so of the day was a ride down like no other. It was the kind of experience that might make a drug abuser pause and realize that there are experiences and sensations that don't rely solely upon pills. We sped downhill at incredible speeds for an incredible length of time. It was hard to believe that we had gone up so far. We went up a time or two, only to be rewarded with more downhill. Our hands were tingly, and we just about froze to death, but it was worth it.

The last town we hit after an incredible downhill stretch, which is also the last town before Luang Prabang, provided an ideal lunch stop. We quickly spied a place for lunch, and were informed that what they had was pho. Hmm. Ok, that sounds good. As I watched the sweet couple prepare our pho together I knew we were in for something special. After I made our order, the proprietors pulled back a large piece of cloth that was covering their greens. I knew that these people took their pho seriously.

This has to be the most beautiful bowl of Pho I have ever eaten. Made up of the usual suspects, plus crispy pork and ample tomatoes, this bowl was a work of art.

These greens were also a source of excitement. Once again, a few familiar greens such as lettuce and mint, and a few other unfamiliar ones. The point of interest here is the sauce served with the greens. It is a sweet sauce with peanuts which is sometimes referred to as Lao Suki sauce. This was the first but not last time we would encounter this sauce in this part of the country. I'm still not sure how you're supposed to eat it though. Only on the veg, in the soup, or both? I did a little bit of both.

Coming soon, a post or two, or three about Luang Prabang. Don't be a stranger.


Robyn said...

The chili sauce makes me hungry. I'm a sucker for a saucer of anything with chilies in it.

Will be interested to read your take on Luang Prabang, given today's article in the Herald Tribune:

a said...

Wow, this is maybe the first and only account I have ever read about the place that is in line with how I feel. I thought I was just being a grump. Last night I wrote what felt like a pretty negative blog post about some of these issues, but left it unpublished. Maybe I'll let it see the light of day after all. Thanks for this. said...