29 October 2007

Lao Lao

Lao Lao is the Lao name for Lao whiskey made from rice. I am in Vientiane province for a seminar I helped organise. We joined one of the participants in visiting his friends nearby for some lao lao. Not surprisingly, it tasted awful. The first one was infused in wood and was probably the nastiest alcohol I’ve ever tasted. I was hoping that it tasted much more alcoholic than it actually was, like some cheap sake’s I’ve tasted before. The second variety had some bits floating in it. Upon closer inspection of the bottle I noticed that it was full of insects. I’m almost certain that they were cicadas. A few days ago my friend told me he recently had deep fried cicadas for breakfast so that gave me some peace of mind. I’m sure the wood and cicadas in the lao lao had medicinal properties, so what’s a bit of short- term loss for long- term gain?

My friend had bought a bottle of Lao whiskey infused with wood for 60c. The funniest thing about it was that it was in a Johnny Walker Red bottle and they had kept the original box. The other funny thing was that there was a lipstick mark on the bottle when my friend bought it. Some people had a few sips of this lao lao but luckily he managed to offload it to the driver that took us home from our kayak trip.

My counterpart says it’s common for people to have a sip of lao lao infused with medicine everyday. His mother has some everyday. He says there’s an animal that can be infused in lao lao that will cure his asthma. Unfortunately this animal is rare and you might only see it once in three years.

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