Motorcycle Diaries: The Fucked Up Foods of Laos

Trip Start Jan 26, 2010
Trip End Jun 08, 2011

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sabadiay 2

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Champasak,
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I strapped my pillow case full of already dirty clothes to the back of my 100cc Honda Moped and threw my day pack in the front basket. I was off to explore remote Laos, the Bolaven Plateau to be exact. In Laos Mopeds, are THE mode of transportation and for six bucks a day, who could argue?

The first day consisted of three water falls. The area is littered with them, most don't even make it on the map. The first was the smallest I visited that day, a mere 100 feet, but also seemed to have the most volume. Children at the top of the falls were excited to see a foreigner, they all waved and yelled hello in their native tongue and showed off by diving into the water and doing jumping kicks above their heads. The second Tad Fane was nothing less then jaw dropping. 2 seperate falls fell 390 feet down into an impossible gorge. I had to climb down a treacherous path, marked by a danger sign, just to see the bottom of the falls. The last a was maybe 150 feet and set in a lush gorge. Actually the entire plateau was impossibly lush, exploding with all shades of green, which is saying something being in the driest time of the year. After a day of exploring falls and feeling the wind in my hair I stopped off at the little frontier town of Thongset, for a few dollars I got an incredibly nice room.

I got up the next morning, had a bowl of delicious noodle soup and went onto Tad Lo. Tad Lo, isn't anywhere near the most impressive falls but for whatever reason has the largest tourist infrastructure. It is littered with guesthouses and even has internet at about 5 times the reasonable price. I hung around for a bit went of a swim and climbed around the falls. Then I went to Sekong, now I was really getting off the tourist trail. I went to some quite falls then back into town. For dinner I decided to eat at the local food market, The market included foods such as, Lizard(live), Catfish(Live), Colorful Tropical Birds, Minnows, Almost Hatched Chicks, Sugar Cane Juice(Delicious), Mekong Freshwater Stingray(Endangered), Pig Tail, Pig Hoof, Dog, Doughnuts, Dog Head, Some Sort of Gamy tasting Dried Meet I though was beef.

This diet, sounds grotesque and disgusting. But it's good to remember that many farmers cannot produce even enough rice to feed their families for a year because they are affraid to dig irragation canals due to the massive amount of Unexploded Ordinances left in the ground from US bombers during the CIA's secret war. No one really goes hungry in Laos, but that is because they are willing to eat pretty much anything and do so with a dignity. More or less this anything goes diet keeps country fed, especially in rural Laos.

After a rest in Sekong I was on to Attapeu. It was a quick ride and upon arriving a massage parlor caught my eye, it was the best yet. After I went to go find a room, the first place I looked was over priced, dark and absolutely covered in Mold. This gave me the urge to splurge. So I went for something more mid range. For dinner I went to a restaurant simply titled Grill Pork. Images of thick and tender pork chops floating in my mind. I was given what appeared to be the ear, judging by the shape and amount of cartilage and skin. You wrapped the meat in veggies with noodles and dipped it in a spicy sauce, this made it more bearable. I hadn't yet turned down a meal and this wasn't going to be the first.

My adventuresome pallet turned on me that night, When I woke up with the sudden urge to vomit. I spent most of that night and the next day over the toilet. What was coming out went from regular vomit(with chunks of cartlidge), to yellow bile, to an odd green color. It was a great time to have HBO and Air conditioning. In the afternoon when all that was left were body aches I went and got soothed and again by my new favorite masseuses.

By the next morning I was feeling well enough to get on the road. I took a badly maintained dirt road along the edge of the plateau. The scenery was the most stunning of the trip, true jungle. I missed the 'popular' falls along the way and stopped at another. It was 300m hike in if you took the right trail. Instead I got lost and wound my way down a steep and eroding bank covered in ash from a recent fire. Then I had to hike a kilometer up the riverbed. However the way I got to approach the falls made it all worth it. In the fore ground were a smaller set of falls and a deep mint green pool at the bottom of them and the 100 foot falls pored mighty in the background. I had the entire place to my self. I spent a good hour swimming and meditating before hiking back the only way I knew.

The rest of the trip back the road only got worse, as an ancient attempt to pave the road left many deep pot holes. But something great happened, it rained! It's been nearly 2 months since I've seen rain, smelt rain, watched it wash the dust and smoke from the air. I made it back to Pakse without incident and hit the 100km/h mark I'd been trying to push the little bike to all weekend.

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