We fancy ourselves explorers; always ready to head off to a new country, try new food, and meet new people. But in the rush of wanting to see something new, maybe sometimes we miss out on being a part of the place we are visiting.
Let me give you an example. We love food. One of our first priorities when we arrive at a new destination is to scope out the restaurant scene. Then we decide which ones will provide us the best value with the best variety so that we can sample a complete taste of the region. At each new establishment we meet new servers and, usually, new owners. We almost always receive efficient friendly service, yet impersonal service. After all we’re strangers, and to boot, tourists.
But in Nong Khiaw, we found Alex’s. This rickety, dirt floor, table-propped-up-with-rocks establishment had character, but most importantly it had Alex. Alex could cook up a mean German dish with the best of them, but was really in her element when cooking Lao cuisine. Our first time at Alex’s was for lunch. It was cold, so Lao noodle soup would do nicely. While waiting for our soup, a Canadian traveler at the adjoining table highly recommended Alex’s breakfast called ‘The Farmers’. Although she had tried a few other places during her stay, she always ended up back at Alex’s. The food was great and Alex made her feel special.
So back we went the very next morning for the infamous breakfast. As we entered the place one of the family members was watering the floor to keep down the dust. From the kitchen, Alex spots us, smiles and waves. She remembered! Breakfast served with a glowing smile and a “Ah, you come back!” Breakfast; excellent, as advertised. Enjoying our little Alex moment we decide to go back for dinner. Again, we’re received with a big grin as she hands us our menu. She tells us about her menu and makes some recommendations. After another very good meal, I head up to the counter to pay. While I dig out my Kip she pours me a shot of the locally distilled moonshine. “We make this here”, she says. She takes my money as I down the gut burning elixir.
We’ve run into this feeling of connectivity over and over again when revisiting an establishment. So it’s a fine line. Do your research and get a good sampling of the area’s food, drink, sights, etc., then if you find that special little place, like Alex’s, then go back and enjoy ‘a locals moment’.
Hike Drink Live Laugh
4 thoughts on “Nong Khiaw, Laos: Can you get everything you want at Alex’s Restaurant?”
Hi Pat and Carrie,
I tried to send this via your listed e-mail address but it came back so sending via your comment link and the info will probably be good for some of your other followers…..
Sounds like you are having a great time (other than the phone theft). I have been reading your blogs with gusto!
Yesterday, a friend introduced me to servas.org. Check out their website and links. Many countries have a detailed web page, but if the country doesn’t have a page they usually have a contact person’s e-mail address link listed. My friend is going to France next month for 3-4 weeks and has most of her home stays organized.
You are probably familiar with it, but if not, it is an international organization for hosts and travelers in almost every country offering free lodging, sometimes with meals in their homes – sort of like Airbnb but free. It started out as an international exchange peace movement in the late 1940’s.
You have to join (contacting the chapter in your own country first) and be “interviewed” and approved but sounds perfect for you guys. You can use me as a reference. I know they have many hosts in Asia and all over Europe, basically all over the world. It could save you thousands of dollars and you’d get to meet some of the great families involved.
I am going to join as well and am thinking of becoming a host offering the use my guest house/studio, but not until I get back from China (leaving in 30 days!)
Let me know if this is all new to you and if it works for you
That sounds like a very interesting and cool organization. We will definitely check it out!
Carrie and Pat
Postcard came Mon but we didnt pick up mail until thurs (the hectic life of the retired). It reminded me of the Apartment in Boston you and I went to many years ago that the folk singer (David Blue?) was having a party at and the dude on Acid had strangled the dog (much to his horror and surprise). If you remember the dayglo posters – they were the first thing I thought of when I saw the postcard. Coincidence? or you too? Or Carrie never showed you the card? Or you had sampled enough of the local Vino that the blur was just right? Ahhh travel is so – rewarding…..
Hey Joe and Dorothy!
Glad you guys got the postcard(s). You should receive one from Laos and one from Vietnam as well. Yes, I remember that apartment in Boston very well. I did pick the postcard, so maybe a bit of deja vu? However, we have been sampling some of the local hooch, so the blur thing could have been in play as well. We’re currently in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Big City that we’ve just begun to explore. Another place of harsh contrasts between those that have and those that don’t.
Take care and keep in touch.