February 16, 2010

311206 Pak Beng - day version

First impression of Pak Beng town for those who arrive by boat, after braving the backpack-nappers & Pak Beng guesthouse tout welcome committee:


Beyond the river end of the main road & the greatest concentration of guesthouses in Oudomxay province lies Pak Beng the typical northern Lao town. At 6:00AM, Mr Kiwi & the cat set off for the market:


For the first time both got to see Pak Beng filled with Lao instead of Western faces :P & for the first time Mr Kiwi got to see the 'non-Luang Prabang' version of bindabaat, & a freshly-slaughtered water buffalo with steam rising from a basin of its blood in the cold morning air. Mr Kiwi himself attracted quite a bit of attention from locals in the market.

Like most markets the cat has seen in Laos, there are two parts for the fresh food section - one where people rent stall/table space (usually sheltered), & the other a more informal arrangement where people grab a spot on the ground or along the road & lay their produce out on mats, canvas sheets or banana leaves in the open. The latter can be more interesting in terms of biodiversity. In Pak Beng the two parts are on opposite sides of the road, with the 'informal' part just next to the police 'station'.

Table with bottles marks the foe/pho stall where the cat had noodle soup with greens sold literally behind its back & meat from a few metres further away:


Canard à l'orange Pak Beng style - ducks in lady's hand + pile of mandarin oranges at her feet:


More Pak Beng:


There is a hilltop viewpoint + two temples in Pak Beng (where Monk TYF used to overnight at when travelling between Bokeo & his village), & also the towns of the hinterland (Muang Beng & Muang Houn), but guess all that has to be for a future trip. More info on what to see/do in & around Pak Beng here (including a PDF map of town).

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