Ban Xang Ha
Cobra Whiskey will either solve all your problems or create more of them!
On our way back from the village school we were visiting north of Luang Prabang, our driver asked if we could stop at a tourist market where they sell their local tonic of Laos moonshine filled with snakes and other critters as well as handmade silks. We usually avoid tourist traps if possible, but our local guide told us that one of the vendors was an old friend and so we figured why not, but just for a moment. We got to the town, Ban Xang Ha with no other tourist in site. Just about 15 people sitting around one of the stalls laughing so loud, we could here them way before we could see them. We were immediately handed us a cup filled with a liquid I could as intense, although that does not even begin to describe the sensation! We looked at the bottle he poured it from and saw 2 giant snakes coiled in their afterlife state surrounded by the potent liquid we just downed. Our host laughed wildly and pointed his index finger straight out and said “BOING!” which we could easily interpret without speaking the same language. Our guide did translate that action to “men fertility.” We spent the next hour sitting with the vendors, and even though most of that interaction is blurry to me, I remember the warm welcome and the bitter taste on my tongue (although it got better after the first 3). Although I woke up the next morning in a daze with a terrible headache, I learned that even if you try to avoid the touristy spots, sometimes they can lead to some engaging opportunities.
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