local eats: market lunch

Since we haven’t done a lot of cooking in our first few days (or weeks) here, we’ve set out exploring to see what local eats we could find.northern laos morning market

It didn’t take long to discover this long aisle in the large covered building at the market full of wonderful pre-made lunch dishes.

northern lao market foodIf you’re there at the right time, both sides of the aisle are lined with little plates topped with a jeow ແຈ່ວ, a dish to be eaten with sticky rice.  The choices seem endless.  There are meats, greens, mushrooms, snails, innards, and many jeow that we have yet to identify.  The vendors are even happy to let you sample a dish before purchasing.2014-01-10-DSC_4548The girls are often recipients of free samples, like from the lady snipping her freshly made rice noodles.

2014-01-10-DSC_5448Each plateful costs only 5,000 kip (around $0.60).  Some of our favorites so far are the bamboo shoots (left) and greens.

2014-01-10-DSC_5440As well as the rattan shoots (yes, the same wood used to make furniture!) and mushrooms.

2014-01-10-DSC_5456So far, we’ve shied away from the intestines and other less-identifiable items.

2014-01-10-DSC_5459These smoked pork sticks are incredibly delicious and a great protein addition to the lunch purchase.2014-01-10-DSC_5464There are also these homemade sausages.  Each vendor has their own recipe.  We’re still working out which is our favorite.


Finally, there are the thermoses full of steaming hot sticky rice sold by the 100 grams.  2014-01-10-DSC_4804The morning market provides a delicious, inexpensive lunch for people with all diet preferences.  From vegetarian to paleo and everything in between.  Over the past two years, I’ve drastically improved my health through dietary changes alone.  Now, we eat a modified paleo diet…. no grains (except some rice), only natural sweeteners (like honey), and lots of veggies, good meats and fats.  More on that another time.

What’s your go to lunch if you don’t make it yourself? 

get out! {on making friends in a new place}

2014-01-06-DSC_4706edit After living in many places over the past few years, there are a few things I try to remind myself when trying to make friends in a new place:


1. Just do it!  I might not feel like it, but I push myself out of my house.  The longer you wait the harder it is.  It is necessary to meet people and make friends if you ever want to feel at home!  I never regret going out and meeting people, sometimes the hardest part is simply getting past the front door.

2014-01-06-DSC_47052. Smile.  A smile communicates in any language.  No matter what else you do or don’t do, smiling is so important (especially here in southeast Asia)

2014-01-06-DSC_47083. Be bold.  Just go for it.  If someone seems friendly and receptive, I stop and try to talk to them.  I use as much of the local language as I can, which brings me to…

2014-01-06-DSC_47104. Do what you can.  You might not know much of the language, but I’ve found that if I use the few words I know, people are generally very happy for my attempt and are excited that I’m even trying.  If you run out of things to say, or can’t understand them anymore, that’s okay!  Just smile, use sign language and come back later.


5. Prepare the kids for what we’ll do and say.  Have them practice saying the greeting, smiling, etc..

2014-01-06-DSC_46976. Give back.  If someone gives us something, like fruit for the kids, we like to try and go back a few days later with something for them.  Reciprocal giving is a big thing here in southeast Asia, and almost guarantees that you’ll have a friend if you join in.  2014-01-06-DSC_4696

7. Don’t give up.  There are times I go out and can’t seem to talk to anyone, or I make mistakes and feel stupid.  It’s ok.  Just try again another day.2014-01-06-DSC_47138. It takes time.  This is the most important thing for me to remember.  In the past, I’ve gotten discouraged when, after a couple of months I don’t have any close friends yet, or not enough friends, or I’m not happy with how much I can say or do.  I have to remind myself that even making friends in my own language and country takes time, but making friends in a different language and country and culture takes WAY more time.  Just be patient and do what you can.

Thankfully, everyone we’ve met here has been super friendly and welcoming!  The pictures above are all of our new neighbors right down the path from our house.

What do you feel is key for meeting people?  Have you made any new friends lately?