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Laos Life: Out on the Farm

When we heard that a local area farm was hosting an open house complete with activities for kids we knew we’d have to check it out. It is autumn, after all.

Breakfast in town before a nice, long drive out to the country.

AgroAsie is a social enterprise creating employment in one of the poorest districts in Central Laos through organic farming. The 5 hectare (12 acre) farm in Sangthong is about 30 miles northwest of Vientiane along the Mekong.

Lori and I first learned about the organic farm through their shop in Vientiane next to Common Grounds Cafe. They specialize in growing certified organic and fair trade products such as native teas (rosella, moringa and neem), spices (turmeric and chilis), beans, and a variety of fruit. They’ve also got a wormery, cows, goats and chicken for fertilizer as part of their organic system.

The entire farm was opened to the general public, offering tours of the land and facilities, as well as activities for kids. They even had a photo area set up for getting your picture on a tak-tak, though we as a family already had one, of course…

Noe wasn’t as thrilled as I thought he might be. I don’t blame him, he just wanted to be running around the farm with all the other kids.




Noe found a stick, which quickly became his obsession. When the stick had to go bye-bye, it might as well have been two star-crossed lovers saying their goodbyes on the sinking Titanic—pretty intense stuff.

Turmeric, in the wild.



We were encouraged by our Canadian guide to sample a variety of edible flowers and leaves. Some Noe instantly took to. Others, not so much.




Most of all, Noe loved running around on the freshly cut grass, which served as a good reminder to get our own grass cut to a usable length rather than the post-monsoon jungle it’s quickly becoming.

Farmer Noe.


Shifting gears…the next morning we realized it had been a while since we’d visited our favorite alleyway eatery. This past June we were aghast to discover Kung’s had made the newest edition of Lonely Planet. Fortunately, here in late October, crowds remain typical for a Sunday morning.


After breakfast, we took a walk around the Simuang neighborhood.


Happy to see they’ve fixed up the canal walk a bit over the past year. And still as quiet as ever. Hard to believe just over a decade ago this was the Mekong river front before the Don Chan [island] reclamation project.

Even after a year, we still stumble upon small, seemingly insignificant neighborhood temples that surprise us.

With the return of the dry season, there are more reasons than ever to be up for sunrise—perhaps chief among them that you actually get to see the sun.

6:41 am, Tuesday morning—cup of coffee, sunrise, and a procession of monks.

It’s been just over a year since we moved into the house—an appropriate time to visit the old apartment on a long walk.

On the way, we encountered a friendly older off-duty tuk-tuk driver who became overcome with joy at the sight of Noe, so much in fact, that he ran back down the street to his tuk-tuk, grabbed a small bag of packaged sweet snacks (what we see tuk-tuk drivers munching on often) and insisted we take them back with us for Noe—no asking us if we need a ride or even passing off his phone number. He just genuinely seemed excited to see us strolling through his neighborhood. Seeing the fair-haired falang noi seemed to make the older gentleman’s entire day—the whole exchange certainly made ours.

Another local bar on our list of places to return to. This one’s not so far from our house. The canals around here can be a bonus or a downside, depending on the day’s stench level.

Lastly, I’d like to share something very special with you. After months of searching, the planets finally aligned to make this possible.

Gin, check. Sweet vermouth, check. The elusive ingredient to my favorite mixed beverage? Campari.

A few weeks back, I finally stumbled upon a dusty bottle at an upscale French-Vietnamese mini market. At first, I was unwilling to shell out the U.S.-level pricing of the exotic liquor, but after Lori and I discussed it at length, we agreed that it was worth the $0.45/shot price tag, particularly considering a Negroni on one of our date nights averages US$7 between the two places in town that actually serve them.

The final component came the following week when Lori found an orange lurking in the shadows of the local market, and, at long last, my Negroni was complete.

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Noe is just adorable — and sticks are soooo very important at times. For our oldest son, Kyle, it was a super-long bull kelp found at the beach that had to be dragged around all day. Saying good-bye to it involved major tears and a promise to return soon to that same beach to play again.


Oh, those big tears…we can relate!