We say goodbye to Kung on our last night of the 40 day Intrepid adventure through Indo China. While I have more travels planned here in Chaing Mai, this particular journey has come to an end and Jane will check out tomorrow for another hotel. I won’t be saying goodbye to Jane just yet, but we both realise this is almost the end of an amazing experience – one that we will look back on fondly for a very long time.
We decide on a Thai BBQ for our last dinner together. The concept is similar to the Lao BBQ I described earlier, except this is at a massive hall filled with local families. The din that greets us confirms this is definitely a local favourite and we are looking forward to this experience!
The hall is filled with raw food which you can BBQ yourself, or you can take the lazy option and just fill your plate with the pre cooked food.
There is only one rule here. You can eat as much as you can and there are no limits of the number of times you approach the buffet but if you leave any food on your plate you pay double! Seems fair and a good non wasteful way to run a BBQ.
We are fairly conservative the first time, only taking food we recognise. We have fun cooking our food but we are still hungry after the first round. Both Jane and I are more bold on our second approach to the table.
I spy some bugs that look suspiciously like cockroaches and avoid that but come back with something that looks like fish and is deep fried in a tasty batter. I ask Kung to be sure. She is offended when I check to make sure this is not a disguised cockroach. “We only eat grass hoppers”, she says..and then admits they eat the roaches that live in the water…Right! and of course they are completely different to the insects that run around our living rooms!
Jane is back with what looks like a fresh salad. It looked good..but she screws up her face after the first bite. She looks to Kung for confirmation of what she has just tried. Oh…“that’s just chicken feet”, Kung informs her. Ok….Jane is not that amused and is not prepared to finish her food! “I’m happy to pay double to not have to eat this”, she informs Kung!! No worries - Kung admits to us that she is the ‘cleaner’ at BBQs, that’s the person who eats up everything that nobody else wants - and takes over the chicken feet salad and the other left overs!
We reflect back on our time in Laos. It has been a surprising destination. Laos is a really stunning country and we have had an amazing time here. We have found the culture to be gentler and more laid back than that of it’s neighbour Vietnam. I think the low population density makes this a country that can afford to be friendlier to its visitors and not present a dog eat dog approach to everything. We are not ripped off very often but the cost of living is certainly higher. Bargaining happens but there is a fixed limit beyond which they will not budge. Being a land locked country, they have sea port and import most goods from their neighbours. The standard of living of the average citizens seems higher, the streets are cleaner and the houses seem to be of a much higher standard than the average found in Vietnam or Cambodia.
We have had a good taste of this country in our journey by air, land and sea. We are ready to start a new adventure and thank Kung for her part in making our journey through here a great experience. We have not got to know her in quite the same depth as Dino and Phouc, but she has taken the hassles out of our journey here and we are thankful.