Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I am mother to two young adults in their mid to late 20's. I work in the medical field as an admin officer/personal assistant. I look forward to the day when I can spend heaps more time taking and making photographs. However, for now, the bills have to be paid. I married a jazz musician many, many years ago. My adopted home is Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I am originally from North Queensland... a tropical place!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Travel Update - Thursday 8th November 2012

Mmmm, well it's been a hard week but someone has to do it. Our priority has been to kick back and relax this week with lots of shopping therapy, late breakfasts on one river or the other, lots of book reading, more eating of great food, with a few specials thrown in.

Sunday afternoon saw us on a mini-bus to Kang Si falls, about 30 minutes out of LP.  What a sensational place!  The walk up the river only takes about 10 minutes but we took about 2 hours to do it.  The photos below will show you why.  Around every bend there was another sensational view of waterfall/swimming hole culminating in the biggest, loudest waterfall I have seen for a while.  At the beginning of the walk, there is a sun bear rescue enclosure and, as it was pretty hot, the bears were kicking back for the time we were there.

While we were collecting people for the mini-bus, saw this tuk tuk driver having a rest with his mate.  After I took this photo, his mate started swinging his hammock.  Hard life for some!

One of the sun bears in a hammock.

The bottom bear was on it's back, spread-eagled trying to cool down.  They really didn't move while we were there.

A dragon fly which looked part dragon fly, mosquito and butterfly.  Beautiful irridescent eyes and backs on these critters.

Mary having a natural spa and thoroughly enjoying herself.

And, finally, the 'big' falls.  Just beautiful. 
Monday morning saw us up early and down to the Tamarind Restaurant ready for our cooking course.  We were teamed up with 10 other women, mainly Australians, who were out for a good time.  Chai, our chef and guide, took us to a big (mainly) food market just outside LP where we were educated about what foods were used for Laos cooking and why they were used.  We also saw baskets used for cooking, as wel as dry herbs, spices and stuff like mushrooms and, of course, meat.  I won't post photos here -- look at my albums when I get back to Australia!
The cooking school was about 30 minutes tuk tuk ride from LP nestled into tropical forest but beautifully set out.  A small river ran down one side and provided water for 2 'lakes' framing the school buildings.  The cooking area was very clean, amply stocked and set out to be very efficient.  Benches were at a good height so no backaches.  Chai was a great teacher and a very funny guy. 
The first cooking lesson we had dealt with sticky rice as so much of it is used in Laos meals... white for main meals and purple for sweet dishes.  We were shown how to wash it, drain it and steam it using bamboo baskets.  We cooked four dishes - a dip to eat with sticky rice, steamed fish, stuffed lemon grass (stuffed with a chicken mince and herbs) and a minced buffalo salad.  When we finished, we sat down to eat what we had cooked and had a feast, helped along with an ice cold beer.
The 'lake' and gardens one side of the cooking area.

The 'lake' at the other side of the cooking area where the tables were laid for eating.

Looking at the cooking hut while having a welcoming glass of tea.

The bench work area where the chef could walk down the centre to help out as required.

Cooking sticky rice on charcoal burners in bambo baskets.

The chef's bench at the beginning of the day.

Washing and draining the sticky rice prior to steaming.

Ingredients for the dip.

The dip in finished form.  Didn't look much but tasted sensational, if somewhat chilli hot.

Chai explaining the process for the Mok Pa - steamed fish in banana leaves.

The ingredient list.

The final product ready to go into the steamer.

Stuffed lemon grass waiting for cooking.

The ingredients for buffalo salad.  Tasted wonderful. even with tripe and buffalo bile in it!

The feast before we started eating.
After the mains,we proceeded to cook sticky rice pudding.  I didn't think I could eat another thing, but I was wrong.

Fruit toppings for the sticky rice pudding.

Shredded coconut (which made the coconut milk the rice was cooked in) and the purple sticky rice.
Needless to say, we didn't need any dinner that night.  We were back in town around 3:30pm and kicked back with a book before crashing for the day.
Tuesday (Melbourne Cup Day) was my birthday and, as the cooking class was my present to myself, Mary and I didn't do much on the Tuesday.  A late breakfast was followed by a trip to the book exchange and then a leisurly stroll up the river, taking photos the whole way.  Stopped off at the Aussie Beer Bar and had a very cold beer served in chilled glasses which was very very refreshing.  I had baked beans on toast for lunch, something I have not eaten for a very long time but which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Mossied on to the fish spa and massage place where I spent a pleasurable 1 1/2 hours, followed by more strolling up to a cafe at TEAC for a fruit smoothie before heading back to the guesthouse for a rest before dinner.
Found a great restaurant by the river (The Indestructable Rock Restaurant) to eat dinner and we has a feast accompanied by a bottle of Australian bubbly - most enjoyable.  The owner threw in dessert for us both when I said it was my birthday.  Lovely man.  We rolled back to the guesthouse and crashed.
Wednesday found us late rising for breakfast which we enjoyed by the riverside before coming back to the guesthouse to be picked up to go to Tad Sae falls.  We were collected and, after about 15 minutes, I realised we were going back to Kang Si falls where we had been on Sunday.  There was nothing we could do about it except ask for a refund from the guy who booked the trip for us.
We walked up to the falls, took some more photos and read our books to the thunderous sound of the waterfall.  While we were there, a very old buddish monk sat down opposite us and looked at the falls.  I raised my camera to him to ask if I could take a photo and he graciously agreed (see below).  We had a big laugh when he pulled out a cigarette and lit up and thoroughly enjoyed himself smoking the cigarette.  Those robes have pockets which hide packets of cigarettes.
We will try to go to Tad Sae falls tomorrow but will probably go by tuk tuk.  We have planned to leave Luang Prabang on Saturday and take the day bus to Vientiane.  It's about a 10 hour trip so that will be the day on Saturday.  We aim to spend about 3 days in Vientiane before traveling on to Siem Reep.  Will catch up this blog as I can.  Cheers for now.


Anonymous Lizzy said...

Hi Chris,
Your photos of LP look amazing!!!! The waterfalls are just something else aren't they?
And it looks as though you did the same cooking school I did - just fabulous! Making me wish I was back in SE Asia!!!!!
Safe travels and I look forward to hearing more of your trip and seeing more of your beautiful shots.

3:01 am  

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