travel bite: Tad Lo, Laos (Pt 1)

I HAVE been transported to a little piece of heaven. A bamboo hut leaning askew; shaded porch overlooking grazing cattle meandering across scorched fields. The cows are calling out to each other in the twilight, great groans – as though involuntarily – escaping them.

The wooden decking beneath my feet is flanked with faded floral mattresses and a sturdy bamboo hammock nursing a brightly coloured padded blanket. Lazing in comfort will be easily succumbed to within my rural surroundings.

Tucked in one corner of the porch is a basic open kitchen: small stove, worn metal pots and the odd leftover condiment.

Adorning the walls – both inside and out – are mementos and useful travelling gifts left by those that have slept here before. Tapestries are also draped on the walls, and a bright pink mosquito net hangs above a bed that takes up most of the floor space within. A tiny desk is nestled beneath a lean-to window.

I feel as though I have been transported back to the golden days of my childhood summers, spent roaming through rivers, fields and farms around the bungalow that my grandfather built in the countryside outside Warsaw. It’s comforting. It feels like home.

My second home in Tad Lo swiftly becomes Mama’s: ‘Big food. Small Kip.’ An absurdly accurate description of the restaurant’s offerings, which secures my consecutive return over the days that I spend here.

My first encounter with the place – and the lady herself – is when I first arrive in the waterfall-edged tiny village. I have viewed an array of bamboo huts but, hot and bothered by my backpack, head swimming with the thought of making a concrete decision on where to stay, I opt for my fallback choice of an ice cold beer. And a long table beneath a shady roof – plus dirt cheap beer – lures me in.

this was actually my fall back option in Don Det, but it’s glorious depiction of Beer Laos makes for an appropriate picture here…

As I relax into my seat and take a glorious gulp of  amber liquid I take in my surroundings at Mama’s. Hammers intermittently echo in the distance, faint music from a sound system far off can be heard above it. Closer by, a man is singing to himself whilst hanging out his washing, and bikes rattle past on the road out front. Beneath the table lies a dog, legs twitching in his sleep. Suddenly awakening he stands up uneasily, revolves on the spot and, unsatisfied, walks off.

Mama sits in the corner with her family. In the centre of the woven matt that they sit upon is a huge basket of sticky rice, a bowl of curry beside it. They are all noisily tucking in to their meal.

Mama herself is a tiny older woman with enormous character. Randomly clothed – one day tracksuit bottoms and patterned shirt, next day sarong and fleece – she puffs away on cigarettes, her face scrunched up, her voice a bark. But beneath her initially intimidating exterior is warmth and a strong maternal instinct. It is instantly natural to call her Mama. And as she becomes accustomed to your presence her stern expression breaks into a smile; she jokes with you and takes care of your needs.

As the beer comes to an end I have made up my mind on where to stay (the paradise bamboo hut) and quickly pop to the loo before leaving. As I pass through the living area – Mama’s is also a homestay – I spy a chicken idly pecking about the kitchen floor. A TV gently hums in the background. And by the door a baby peacefully sleeps upon a faded floral pillow – arms and legs akimbo. Pale green shorts and a petal pink t-shirt pull apart to reveal a milky coffee coloured belly.

I’m hooked, Tad Lo Home No.2 has been found. I return that evening for dinner and am not disappointed: portions are generous and prices are a backpacker’s dream.

No wonder I end up staying in Tad Lo for six days…

Stay at: Palamei Guesthouse


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

  • on instagram

    There was an error retrieving images from Instagram. An attempt will be remade in a few minutes.

  • and all that’s in between

    loves and hates, hints and tips, observations, musings and reviews; on food, fashion, travel and art; and all that's in between...
%d bloggers like this: