Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Khaiphaen Restaurant, Luang Prabang, Laos

Enjoy Lao cuisine in this UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang.

Voted as the number 1 restaurant in Luang Prabang by Tripadvisor, a meal spent in Khaiphaen is truly delicious and enjoyable. Named after the popular Laotian snack, made of crispy Mekong River weed unique to Luang Prabang, this vocational training restaurant is operated by a cookery school that trains former street youths and marginalized young Laotians from nearby villages to cook, prepare, handle food and wait on tables.

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch comprising of extraordinary local Laotian dishes that were fresh and locally sourced. The whole experience was superb, high quality dishes with brilliant textures and flavours, extremely courteous and attentive staff who even gave us a tour of their kitchen. They are definitely doing an amazing job. 

 



Rice Cake and Crispy Mekong River Weed (Kai Pen) Sprinkled with Sesame Seeds
Kaipen or Mekong River weed is a Lao delicacy found in the rivers of northern Laos. Its distinct salty and nutty taste with crispy texture makes it so delicious and addictive. This exotic superfood is often served with jams or chutneys and tastes a bit like "nori".




Chicken with Mint Laap with Roasted Squash, Spring Onions, Chilli and Lime


Lao Pork Sausages with Banana Pepper and Spring Onion Chutney


 Or Lam- a Stew of Pork, Eggplant, Pepperwood and Wild Forest Greens


 
Mekong River Fish and Coconut Laksa with Prawns, Rice Noodles and Banana Blossoms



 
 Cashew Crusted Banana Fritters with Kaffir Lime and Coconut Ice Cream



Coconut and Pandan Panna Cotta with Mango Crsipy Rice and Chilli Syrup



Pandan plants


"Khaiphaen is run by Peuan Mit, an organization founded by Friends-International in Vientiane in 2004, in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to address the needs of street children and young people in Lao."
- Tree Alliance 



Khaiphaen Restaurant
100 Sisavang Vatana Road, 
Ban Wat Nong (Between the French Institute and the Mekong River), 
Luang Prabang, Laos

Monday, 17 April 2017

A Day Trip to Mont Saint-Michel, France

Mont Saint-Michel is an excellent choice for a trip away from Paris. As soon as I stepped off the shuttle bus and took my first glance of the island, I stood there in awe at the grandeur and size of the monastery itself. 
 According to legend, the archangel Michael appeared in 708 AD to the bishop of Avranches and instructed him to build a church on this rocky tidal island just off the Norman coast of France. For centuries, the abbey has been one of the most frequented destination by religious pilgrims. The past few years saw approximately 2.5 million tourists visit this island every year and with only 50 permanent residents this island relies much on the tourism. 

 As we continued to ascend we noticed the crowd starting to thin out. The climb up to the abbey was excruciating and definitely not for the faint hearted. When we reached the top, the horizon widens and the views were incredibly amazing. The climb was well worth the effort.

My tip: Avoid going on the weekends as the place will be packed with tourists.

An overnight stay in Rennes is one of the best ways to get to Mont Saint-Michel. The hotel we stayed in was only a few minutes walk to the train and bus station.



We had our breakfast at this cafe near our hotel.


Breakfast options.



 It was cold and windy on the day we visited. 




 



La Mere Poulard, famous for its ridiculously expensive omelettes.

Preparing the omelettes.

Navigating through the narrow alley ways.




During the Middle Ages, pilgrims had to walk barefoot on this dangerous path to reach the island on sand, water and mud during low tide. Today, you can simply enjoy a walk across the bay of Mont Saint-Michel on "foot" accompanied by licensed guides. Just don't get caught in the quicksand.





Let the magic of the island seduce you and let its charm take you back to the Middle Ages.


 


 





 





 Many restaurants were full and we only had less than an hour to grab some lunch before our bus arrived. We found this casual spot that serves sandwiches and freshly cooked oh-so-delicious crepes.

Hmmm... The scent of the crepe filled my nose leaving me very eager to try it.

You'll find creperies line the streets leading to the abbey.

Set lunch: Sandwich, Dessert and Drink
Crepes are extras.
Crepe with Caramel Sauce