Week Two Walks & Eats

We spent the last week settling in, viewing long-term housing options, and continuing to explore and eat our way around the neighborhoods in our area. Oh, and Lori worked and Noe made sure I didn’t get into any trouble while she was gone.

Sunday, we had brunch at a coffee shop in Ban Saphangmor before continuing our long walk to Talat Sao (aka, the Morning Market). Given that we don’t have our own transportation, we find ourselves walking a lot these days, which isn’t unusual for us but certainly different with a baby in the tropical sun. I think at some point soon the heat and humidity will finally break us to the point of utilizing tuk tuks more frequently, but for now, we’re content with hoofing it around town.

Talat Sao was an unusual place — parts of it very local-feeling, and a very large part Chinese-trendy-mall feeling. We were glad to stumble upon the older part after touring the newer part and feeling thoroughly unfulfilled. We’ve been told recently that there’s an even more local part of the market across the street next to the new central bus station that’s under construction.

We experienced our first good Vientiane rain while in the market, and stayed an hour longer as a result. After the rain let up, it was evident that today would be a good day to fork over the US$5 for a tuk tuk home.

The apartment we’re staying in for the first thirty days here in Vientiane has basic kitchen facilities for breakfast and lunch, but not all the usual utensils we’d want to make dinner at home. Well, we could make ourselves Top Ramen and Spaghetti, but why when we’re surrounded by Laotian and other Asian restaurants that serve up really good food for less than the cost of making it at home?

The place we’ve visited the most is that same local Laotian place we ate at on the first night in town. They’ve got about 18 different dishes (about six of which we’ve tried so far…we’re slowly making our way down the menu) — and of course, complimentary baby-minding while we eat.

We don’t generally make it a habit of taking Noe out in public in his skivvies, alone. In truth, he arrived at the restaurant fully clothed, but almost immediately after sitting down did unspeakable things to himself, his baby carrier, and everything in between. He had already made a mess of himself earlier that evening, so we packed light for this short outing. We should have known better who we were dealing with.

With nothing remotely salvageable to put him in, I got to carry my half-naked baby back home along the busy road where everyone must have thought we were crazy. It gets bloody hot here, but in Vientiane, even babies wear clothes in public. The shame.

That aside, somebody was obviously loving the exposure.

Now that you’ve completely lost your appetite, on to more food!

These delicious fresh and fried spring rolls are from a hipper Laotian restaurant who’s name translates to: The Very Ancient Boat Noodles. Not pictured: crispy wontons and chicken-rice, with a bonus chicken organ thrown in for good measure.

Lori, apparently, gets to eat at this amazing noodle house across from her office every day (while I sit at home eating my Top Ramen or, if I’m lucky, Laughing Cow and sliced bread). On this particular day, however, her favorite place was closed. So…she tried another place up the street. After having the same old noodles for a week she was so excited to discover these thicker noodles. That looks good and all, Lori, but it ain’t my Mini-Mart Pork-Flavor Ramen. Most certainly not.

We’ve also been keeping busy with the search for a long-term house. Our apartment is serving us well, but we’re looking forward to moving into our home for the next two years. Many of the houses here have quirky features, like this extremely steep and slick staircase in this ginormous house. Great for a couple with a baby!

After viewing around ten different properties (and dozens more online), we think we’ve found a winner. Stay tuned!

Up until very recently, we weren’t sure whether we’d be in this neighborhood for the next two years or not. So, we made certain to take full advantage of all the amenities. After a long walk around the neighborhood on a pleasant evening, a wooden meat skewer laying on the ground jumped up and got Lori in the big toe. Limping and bleeding quite a bit, we decided it was a good time to find a place to eat so she could get cleaned up. Then, right on cue, the Mister decided to add to the mix with yet another one of his unspeakable offerings which always seem to happen around this time of day but always seem to catch us off guard somehow. Haven’t figured that one out. What I do know is that Noe and I have an understanding between us that he gives me all the wet diapers during the day while mommy’s at work and saves up the good stuff for mommy when she returns. So far, he’s been a very good listener.

So anyway, we tripled our pace (as much as two people with a blowout and bloody foot in tow can) to the nearest restaurant that appeared to have a functioning bathroom and grabbed a seat. Lori as expected made a beeline for the toilet and I was tasked with ordering anything but the buffet, which left us one choice. Salmon Nigiri. Lori and kid got cleaned up and, yes, the sushi was very good.

Since we arrived here, we’ve been less than happy with the fit of the diapers on offer. We’ve slowly been making our way through all of the different brands and types we can find. Mammy Poko have worked the best so far (but still have issues), but we did come across this new brand the other day and thought we’d give them a try. The name, after all, inspired great confidence (not to mention the words “Japan Quality” written on the packaging…)

And…I’m sorry to report that they’re just as leaky as all the others…

On a totally unrelated note, I present to you, the wall-o-toilet-seats at our friendly neighborhood Chinese supermarket. In the meat and dairy section, of course.

Above, a road in our neighborhood, and below, a fruit bowl. I’ve been craving fruit for the past couple of weeks but never seem to be in the right place at the right time to get some. So, I got this at a coffee shop, complete with banana, dragon fruit, papaya, and melon.

And finally, I leave you with something really special. The one and only “Mexican” restaurant in all of Vientiane. Ban Gai House of Chicken Tex Mex Cantina!

After a week of noodle and rice dishes, we were more than a bit curious and had to check it out.

The verdict? Pretty darn awesome. We’ll certainly be back, even if it’s nearly an hour-long walk from our place. For killer burritos and salsa, it might just be worth it.

Leave a Comment