I had elephant for lunch today.

I paid for my Chinese visa and booked a flight from Vientiane to Kunming, China just now at the travel agency which I’ve been frequenting the last week. The people there are super nice and it’s a pleasure doing business with them. I thought they were taking me for a ride when they said that the Chinese visa would run me $47, so I said I’d shop around first and come back if that was the best price. Say that to any travel agent and behold the reaction. The guy assured me that I wouldn’t be able to find a better price, but he said that if I could, he’d buy me a Beer Lao (the national beer which is fantastic). If I couldn’t, I’d buy the visa from him and owe him a beer. I found it elsewhere for the same price, so when I came back today he set up a game. He wrote two prices on two pieces of paper – $45 and $47. He crumpled the pieces of paper, switched them around, and laid them on the table. I picked the $47 piece – I lost, but I’m a good sport, so I bought him a beer anyway. To celebrate their victory and my finalized travel plans, they locked the door, closed the shop, and invited me to lunch. This was the most traditional Laos meal I’ve ever had, and it included elephant. I won’t say it was delicious. I think he knew that I approached my meal with slight apprehension, and responded by giving me a huge portion. I ate it all while everyone else eating with me looked right at me, anxiously awaiting my reaction.

“DELICIOUS”, with a huge smile.

Like I said, it wasn’t really delicious, but¬†I was¬†paying my compliments to the chef and to the small group for being kind enough to invite me to have lunch with them.

I’ll see my last sight in Luang Prabang now, Wat Xieng Tong. I think I’ve seen most everything else along the tourist trail in the surrounding area over the last four days here.