Laos, the short version

Vendor preparing eggs on a stick

This is a bit of a cheat as it was shot in Cambodia, not Laos. But I felt the need to establish that "eggs on a stick" really do exist. In Laos, they're sold three to a stick.

Nothing is rushed in Laos, a startling contrast to neighbouring Vietnam. Lao-lao is the social beverage of choice, rice whiskey rot-gut drunk in shots, alternating with beer. Beerlao is the local, country-wide brew - and it's both very good and very cheap. Food flavours run to bitter or sour (not "sweet and sour," just sour) - I didn't like it much and ate Indian and Chinese for most of the trip. Sticky rice is the staple food, eaten three meals a day. Lao coffee is among the best in the world, brewed strong, usually served with condensed milk, and with a hint of chocolate in the flavour. On long bus trips vendors will gather around the bus at stops to sell you bags of sticky rice, drinks, grilled chicken on a stick, and, most memorable, eggs on a stick. If you want some company, go sit in a monastery for a while - usually in minutes a monk will stop by and ask if they can practice english with you. This is a very Buddhist country. Takraw (known locally as "kataw") is an extremely popular sport. The capital (Vientiane) has a population of 200,000(?) and feels more like a small provincial capital. Baguettes are everywhere, and routinely excellent. Khao jii paa-te is a popular meal - a baguette stuffed with veg, sauce, and something pork-based that has evolved out of French paté. The Mekong River defines the country, and something like 90% of the population lives within about 30 kilometres of it. Vang Vieng is either backpacker heaven or hell, depending on what you want from a tourist destination. The enigmatic Plain of Jars continues to defy every theory of the archaeologists. UXO is a fact of life, UneXploded Ordinance from a war that wasn't even theirs - tread carefully.