Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.
Much to my disappointment there really isn’t “waterfront” dining in Vientiane. I expected (wanted) cool casual strolls along a boardwalk followed by drinks and dinner right along the river’s edge with many riverfront restaurants and bars to choose from with outdoor dining on decks overlooking the water shaded by big trees. Instead, there is either a paved road or barren concrete walkway or a dirt road with establishments set too far back from the river to enjoy the view, and not as many as I had hoped which I guess is a nice part of Vientiane’s lack of development. There is, however, a huge riverfront development project funded by the Chinese that looks as grand and shiny, and therefore lacking the current charm that is Laos, as these architectural drawings of another development project depicts. Both projects are full of hope for a “better” Vientiane, but as a friend who’s lived in the region for many years commented when I gave him the report, “…for me its sad but I hope it does something to improve the lives of all the common people…hope dies hard.” So true.
Right now, this is how things are looking along the peaceful and languid river during a dinner out at The Spirit House. The restaurant offers a vast array of exotic mixed concoctions along with a good variety of Western and local fair. We stuck to the local Beer Lao (dark and light) and enjoyed pork laarb (traditional Lao chopped meat salad, a delicious salty-citrusy-herbal mix with mint, lemongrass, lime leaves, and garlic among other flavorful additions depending on the chef), steamed river fish topped with a spicy lime and garlic sauce, and stir-fried river spinach in oyster sauce. The kids liked the crunchy chicken fingers from the kid’s menu but was too tired to enjoy the deep-friend bananas dipped in sweetened condensed milk afterwards. The reason there are no photos of the food is the lack of hands and stillness to click even one photo – such is dining out with toddlers. Maybe next time. We want to go back and try their extensive breakfast menu. Check it out if you’re going to Vientiane.