Shopping and Eating in Pakse, Laos
Have you ever visited a local market in Southeast Asia? I’m not talking about the quaint, cute stalls where local folks sell food or handicrafts. I guess it would be somewhat akin to a Walmart in the U.S., as far as utility goes.
On the last day in southern Laos, our G Adventures group hit a local market and enjoyed a relaxing lunch on the Mekong before hopping a plane to (stunning) northern Laos.
This market, housed in an enormous warehouse complex, was no – joke; we’re talking serious shopping opportunities here! You can buy anything from clothing (in all shapes and sizes) to cleaning products and other groceries to fresh produce; you name it, it’s for sale here.
Seriously, you can purchase your mattress, box-spring, and entire bedding set here. I guess it would be more like Super Walmart-meets-Ikea? Also for sale: jewelry (I think this was the majority inventory in many stalls), electronics (cameras, phones, you name it), accessories (sunglasses, shoes and knock-off handbags out the wazoo), toiletries, medicine, coffee/pastries, and anything else I may have forgotten to list.
Clothes for babies and toddlers pile high on long tables sold by different vendor families.
The market provides many options to the hungry, whether you’re in need of fresh produce and groceries to bring home or a prepared meal on-the-go.
I should note that this experience was not entirely participatory, but more observatory, from my point of view. In other words, I wasn’t really interested in purchasing household supplies or groceries. And lets face it, in Southeast Asian terms, at 5’11”, I am a gargantuan giant. There’s no point in looking at clothes that might cover one of my legs, if I’m lucky.
There were a few group member complaints about the hour-long shopping experience being a waste of time. In the moment, I was inclined to agree. (Plus, markets, malls, Walmart, Ikea, and the like tend to stress me out. I prefer shopping online or at smaller boutiques and grocery stores.) As I write this post, however, I smile at the thought that I was able to experience a brief glimpse into the daily shopping habits of local Laotians.
The Last Supper
Before heading to the airport, we stopped at a local eatery on the Mekong River. Kham Fong Boat Restaurant was literally in the river. We enjoyed shade provided by the colorful canopy, serene river-views, ice-cold(ish) beers, and delectable local food. Good prep for a long wait at the airport before traveling, I think!
Being the adventurous eater that I am, I couldn’t help but order the most local, freshest item on the menu: Apagon fish straight out of the river, served in a red curry sauce! (I’ve been told in the past that I would turn into a bowl of curry if I wasn’t careful. It is my absolute favorite dish.) It was delightful, minus all of the tiny bones. (In hindsight, I should have ordered one of the other 3 local fish on offer. It took forever to eat!)
To the North!
We were really excited about reaching northern Laos. All of our travel researching and networking combined presented solid intel that Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng were two of the most coveted locales in all of Southeast Asia! I can vouch for this fact (and will over my next several posts)…
After several long hours of eating ice cream bars waiting at the airport, we finally boarded the small Lao Airlines plane, embarking on the final leg of our epic Indochina adventure.
Leaving the sultry, slow, low-lying Mekong valley behind, we headed to a more exciting, striking, mountainous landscape to entertain a few more adventures before hanging our hats.
Next stop, Luang Prabang- easily one of my new favorite places on this Earth!!!
Thanks for stopping by!