Nestled in the meanders of the cocoa brown Mekong River overlooking jungle and mountains, Luang Prabang really is situated in a very scenic area. We arrived by minibus from Vang Vieng after twisting our way through the mountains, keen to explore more of what Lao has to offer.
Upon our arrival we found a guesthouse just out of the town centre and headed in for some food after visiting a few of the town’s temples. The guidebook suggested that Tamarind Restaurant was well worth a visit with it’s traditional take on Lao food and so that was where we went. Looking through the menu it was clear that the food on offer was unlike any food you would expect to see in many other restaurants. Particular stand outs included stir-fried frog and fried buffalo meat with buffalo bile and tripe to add to the flavour. We opted for some slightly safer options, fish cooked in banana leaves (a Lao speciality) and barbecued buffalo (without the tripe and bile!). The meals were sadly disappointing, maybe we should have been more adventurous!
The next day we headed out to the Kuang Si waterfalls, 32km from the town centre. They were a very impressive series of waterfalls working their way through the jungle slopes, the biggest of which was a huge 50m, you could feel the spray from miles away! We spent a very rewarding few hours swimming in the pools and relaxing in the refreshing cold water.
That evening it transpired that our poor run of luck with regards to food was to continue. We ate at The Big Tree Cafe, given it’s name by the truly enormous tree outside of it’s entrance. Sitting beneath the shade of its branches we chose from the large array of dishes on offer. I decided to be a bit more adventurous after the let down of the night before and opted for KimChi fried rice. I had no idea what it was and hoped it would be good!
Now up until now I have taken care not to order particularly spicy food as I’ll happily admit that I am not great at handling large amounts of chilli.
I probably shouldn’t have ordered KimChi fried rice…
KimChi fried rice turned out to be fried rice mixed with green chillies. After I has taken a few bites my mouth was on fire, I was bright red in the face and apparently I looked like I had just run a marathon with the sweat appearing on my face. Needless to say I will now make sure that when I’m feeling a bit more adventurous about ordering food in South East Asia I will try and make sure that one of its main ingredients is not green chilli! Tonight it seemed that the motto of the SAS is not always correct, he who dares does not always win.