A day to ponder

There’s only one flight per day to and from the Plain of Jars. That meant we had an extra day and a half to spend in Phonsavan until our flight out. We didn’t plan anything special. Our tour gave us so much to think about, between the mystery of the jars and the consequences of the bombing and the ongoing task of clearing the land of unexploded ordnance.

We revisited the Mines Advisory Group (MAG International) headquarters to buy a tote bag and leave a donation. They have teams out in the fields every day working to make the land safe again. We passed their vehicles and warning signs several places on our tour.

The rest of our time in Phonsavan we spent looking for food. For a vegetarian Laos is a challenge, especially away from the population centers. As veg-friendly as Thailand is, neighboring Laos is the complete opposite. The diet is basically rice and meat, and finding anything meatless is tough. After trying a couple of local places we settled on the only two restaurants that had any meat free dishes, Cranky-T’s, where I could get a salad, and an Indian restaurant with a variety of vegetarian dishes. I preferred Indian, Jack liked Cranky-T’s. Sometimes we ate together, sometimes we each went to our favorite.

We cruised the local convenience stores for healthy snacks but couldn’t come up with anything.

As usual I convinced Jack to visit the wet market. It was the most earthy market we’ve been to in a long time. Alongside the beautiful produce (why weren’t those fruits and vegetables in the restaurants?) there were tables and tables of dried sticks and other woody things. I tried asking people what they were but we had an unbreachable language barrier. Google Lens later told me many were medicinal plants, but I can’t be sure.

The creepiest thing we saw were wasp nests, complete with wiggly larvae. YouTube showed me how to prepare them but I think that’s a hard no for us.

By the time we got to the butcher tables Jack was itching to get out of there. I don’t think he likes to be reminded of what he’s eating.

I love the markets, all markets. I find them intriguing, inspiring (when I have a kitchen to cook in) and a great window into the culture. After seeing all this gorgeous produce though I’m still wondering why the restaurants couldn’t conjure up a vegetarian meal.

Once again we had to check out with immigration, even though it’s a 35 minute domestic flight. The plane parked way out past the runway. You can see from the mountains in the distance that we’re on a very high plateau and the difference in air temperature from the capital was a surprise. We wished we hadn’t left our warmer clothing in Chiang Mai.

And then we were back in Vientiane. Once again the flight connections meant we had an extra day to spend here. We have no specific plans, except for me. I’m looking for a healthy vegetarian meal.

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