Postcards from readers:Backpacker's paradise

Published: Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3H
Last Modified: Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 - 9:05 pm

The photographer: Courtney Jallo of Sacramento

Behind the lens: Vang Vieng is a small, tourism-oriented town settled along the Nam Song River in Laos. It was originally established in the 1300s as a staging post between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the country's governmental and cultural capitals. Today the town is a popular destination for backpackers, full of cafes and restaurants, guest houses and bars. The main attractions seem to be kayaking and tubing down the river, where foreigners pub-hop between the bamboo bars perched along the water, stopping in for a bottle of local Beer Lao and to play around on the rope swings and zip lines.

My favorite memory from Vang Vieng was waking up in a bamboo hut along the water to the sound of rocks slapping, where I went outside to find a woman kneeling on the ground, pounding river weed – khai paen – a staple vegetable in Laotian cuisine. Khai paen is often cut into squares, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and briefly deep-fried before filling with sticky rice, lemon grass and peanuts. As she pounded away at the dark green matter, a herd of water buffaloes slowly meandered across the bank, then disappeared into the trees. Despite the rapid growth of western tourists to this area, traditional Laotian life continues on.


Are you a traveler who never leaves home without a camera? The Bee wants you to share your best travel photographs with other readers. "Postcards From Readers" is a weekly feature that spotlights your shots from around the nation and world. Please submit your photograph, with a brief description of what is taking place and the photographer's name and hometown, to Submissions become property of The Bee.

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