Luang Prabang, Laos


I’m sitting in a small cafe in Laos called Cafe Joma. I paid for it with a thousand baht note because I didn’t have enough Lao kip (LAK) to pay for it (an Americano cost 16,000 LAK, roughly US $2). I got my change back as a 20 USD note and the rest in LAK. This is indicative of how the economy here operates with three currencies (possibly in Vietnamese dong too, I haven’t tried to find out).

The coffee when delivered to my table in itself is a symbol of some of the more thoughtful elements of life in Southeast Asia. It was delivered to me in a cup and saucer with a small container of hot milk. I really do appreciate this touch. It’s so common to go to a coffee shop in Seattle (or pretty much any restaurant in the United States) to have to top off your coffee with cold milk from a thermos flask. The cold milk turns your hot coffee into lukewarm coffee. In SE Asia however, almost everywhere you order coffee or tea, if it comes with milk (rather than creamer), it is hot. I think Asians would be rather puzzled at our tradition of pairing cold milk with a hot beverage.

I should of course mention that the very Western style coffee shop I’m sitting in, in the little town of Luang Prabang, Laos, is strictly for tourists and not any kind of fixture in the life of a typical Lao person. And the reason I’m sitting in a very touristy place is because it’s the best sort of place to get your writing done (coffee, comfortable seating, low music, free WiFi). Also, I budgeted three entire days to stay in this little UNESCO World Heritage site, about two more than strictly necessary to see it properly, resulting in a lot of free time on my hands.



Related Posts

Share This