In the mornings this narrow lane used to be filled with women, mostly, who had come into town to sell what ever things they could. A large Banana leaf would be laid down on the ground and their wares spread out: some roots, fruit, a few dead birds….maybe some prepared food like steamed rice to offer to the monks. Well that might as well have been a lifetime ago as tourism has certainly changed the once humble nature of this magical little peninsula. Now this lane way has a food market every night that is packed with local vendors who create, in many instances these huge all you can eat groaning boards. Others are more specialized, this one sells dessert or fruit, a few people sold local packaged goods, someone else makes Som Tam (green papaya salad). The most popular item it seemed to me the night I wandered into the maw of tourists filling their plates was: protein on a stick. Mostly meat but sometimes fish. I believe the picture above is sparrow on a stick. On a side note, after my first trip to Thailand I became obsessed with the region and its history, especially Cambodia. I read every books I could find on the tragic modern history of this far off country. One of the stories I read that still stays with me is about the liberation of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese. Pol Pot hard tortured and starved his people selling rice to the Chinese for arms. A terrible famine had gripped the country by the time it was liberated. Pol Pot had emptied the cities when he first took power. When life once again came back into Phnom Penh people commented on how quiet it was. It wasn’t just the lack of people, motorcycles or daily life that was missing it was bird song. The sparrows had all been eaten. There were no birds of any kind. Sparrows are not a bird known for its meaty carcass. I was surprised to see it for sale here. My guess is that the Lao eat it as bar food much the same way you see fried bug stands out side of drinking places in Lao and Thailand.And sometimes just meat without a stick. Hungry backpackers. Beer Lao to wash it all down. Or you could have one of these drinks. Sticking a straw in a plastic bag is a popular way to have a drink to go.Dessert.The entrance to the market was jammed packed the night I went, but by the time I got to the end of the lane way I felt sorry for the poor vendors who were so unlucky to have their tables at this end.My trip here this time was totally a last-minute spur of the moment I need to see something other than Bangkok thing. Even though this once quiet town is now way more touristic, the high-end hotels (which have greatly multiplied) have really upped the ante (the hotel we stayed in the second time I visited was $149 a night now it’s $700 a night for the same room! That’s a big change in a little over 10 years).
Luang Prabang is still someplace I would encourage anyone touring SE Asia to visit. I know I sound kind of hippy dippy when I say this, but beyond just the physical beauty of the place there is a vibe here that always seduces me.