Monday, January 10, 2011

Luang Prabang - off to school

Andrew flew to Luang Prabang to check out the World Heritage town and to attend a cooking course (the same one Paula attended)

I have struggled with the cooking with local ingredients and here was an opportunity to improve my knowledge.  There have been a number of sauce bottles in the cupboard here that were a total mystery to me - I couldn't intuitively relate to them. 

LP is an attractive city and because of it's World Heritage status there are no trucks and buses in the centre of town.  There are attractive surrounding hills and the river provides a boundary for the town. 

After I arrived I wandered around the town checking out nooks and crannies.  I certainly got the understanding there are a very large number of Wats!  You can visit the Wats, but each one wants a $3 entrance fee.  I was pleased to find a wine bar on the main street with a couch on the street level so I sat and watched the traffic going by.  I did check out the night market, with many stalls, it seemed endless.

Next morning the course started at 10am.  It was a bit cool and I wore a jersey.  The Tamnak Lao course is run by an Australian, but the instruction is done by 2 Lao men.  We visited the market and purchased the produce for the days menu and looked around the market.

There were 7 of us on the course and I worked with a German student who had been doing a PhD in Hong Kong.  We cooked on woks over gas burners.  We were shown 3 dishes and then we worked in pairs to recreate them.  They turned out pretty damn good - we all agreed as we ate them for lunch. 

In the afternoon we did another 3 dishes.  I was amazed with what you can do with a wok and local ingredients and it wasn't difficult.  I liked the flavours and I now know what galangal is.  We ate the rest the rest of our efforts for an early dinner and that dealt to the need for any food for the rest of that day. 

I needed a bit walk to deal to the copious amount of food eaten before sitting by the river for a beer and a view of the sunset. 

I got up before 6am the next morning to go and see the monks procession collecting the alms.  It really is a very commercial event with many guests from guest houses transported to the main street to watch the event.  The numbers of monks were the difference from what we see on a regular basis here in Vientiane.  We might see 5 monks in a group, in LP it would be 40

I visited the national museum, which was previous a residence of the Laos royal family.  I was impressed by the ornateness of the building. 

I then walked up Phousi hill.  It was a shock to the system to have to walk up a hill.  I have lost the conditioning I built up in Wellington. 

I wanted to travel across the Mekong on the local ferry.  So i went down the boats and tried to work out how the system worked via sign language.  After being redirected to an empty boat I paid my 5,000 kip and soon we we were off on a 5 minute journey.

The other side was poorer and more like villages I have seen in the rest of Laos.  I found a Wat on a hill and looked back to the town of Luang Prabang.

I returned to Luang Prabang, had a late lunch and headed back to the airport and Vientiane. 

I really enjoyed the trip and learnt a lot.  We can now cook together and I am sure I will be giving Paula plenty of helpful advice.  Meanwhile Paula was in the provinces eating pho noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 


  1. Good on you Dad. Look forward to sampling some recipes you and Paula have learnt when we get home! Love Chazzy xx

  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip - I'm looking forward to getting some tips and of course trying your cooking. See you tomorrow. S xx