Food and photos in Luang Prabang

Last week Kees was coaching young botanists (new grads form NUOL) and other staff from the Pha Tad Ke Garden in Luang Prabang. The garden isn’t open to the public yet as it is still being landscaped and plants take a long time to grow, but it should open in a couple of years time. The garden is on the opposite side of the Mekong River to Luang Prabang so getting there every day involved a tuk tuk ride followed by sliding down a steep river bank, into a very skinny, very long boat (shake shake…) and across the river. Early mornings the mountains and river banks were shrouded in mists. Two pullover temperature. Then the morning exercise came – clambering up the bank (the river is very low!) We did this for five days.

Botany staff and Kees
Photography workshop

After a morning’s work we’d eat lunch, cooked in the local village. Here is a sample of the dishes:

Soop pak
Soop pak

The sook pak had both ginger and sesame seeds and lots of succulent long beans. This was accompanied by sticky rice and a chicken lahp which had beautifully balanced flavours.

Chicken lahp
Chicken lahp

Another day we ate aw lahm, which sported the whitest, freshest pieces of sakharn I’ve ever had and lots of  black mouse ear mushrooms.

Aw lahm
Aw lahm

A very mildly spicy, mildly sweet-sour chicken dish incorporated finely sliced lemon grass. It also had Kaffir lime leaves and lots of onion.

Fried chicken with lemongrass
Fried chicken with lemongrass

Of course, one day flash-fried kai pen (river weed) was served:

Kai pen
Kai pen river weed

While Kees and The young botanists were using the big Canon cameras I tripped around the botanical garden with my little “slip in your purse” Fujifilm Finepix with auto disabled. I haven’t got around to examining the photos in fine details, but here’s one of the inside of a sida flower (guava)

guava flower
Bee's view of a guava flower

And this is torch ginger flower:

Ginger flower
Ginger flower