The morning started off normally enough, at least for what I was expecting in Laos. We were in Vientiane and headed out with Green Discovery, one of the local adventure/eco-tour operators, to the forest a couple hours out of town; we were going to play on the zip-lines for a few hours. We had breakfast and hopped in the van where we met our driver, a guide and another guest who was doing a similar trip. It turns out that he hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning, and that worked out VERY well for us. I offered him a granola bar from my stash but that wasn’t enough going in to a full day of activity. Our guides insisted on stopping at a small shop on the way out of town.
It was a tiny stand, tucked into the endless row of shops alongside the road leading out of Vientiane, past the airport and into the country side. I don’t know the name. I don’t even really know where it was. Even the driver didn’t really know where we were going; the guide pointed at what seemed a random store-front and we pulled over to park and grab our meal.
A few young women worked the counter, whipping up sandwich after sandwich (they make about 2000 daily) for the throngs who come throughout the day to eat. They weren’t cheap, at least by local standards, probably a couple dollars each. But filled with pate, various meats & veggies and then topped with a couple different sauces (assuming you said yes to the only question asked, “Spicy?”) they were oh so very, very, very good.
I only recognizes a few of the ingredients, mostly the vegetables. That didn’t stop me from chowing down. The French influence in the area is strong, particularly when it comes to food, and this sandwich certainly showed some of that influence.
It was a moment of travel serendipity, one of a few on this trip. No way I would have found the shop on my own and definitely no way we would have gone that far out of town just for a sandwich. Fortunately, we got lucky and didn’t have to figure it out on our own. Alas, it will never happen again. Just one of the many great things that happens when traveling.