After dinner, Fong and I walked to an intersection looking for soy milk stand. He told me there is one vendor with the best soy milk in town. Whenever Fong is in the area he would go by his favorite spot for a “pick me up mug” of warm soy milk and black gelatin (woon dam). He informed me how he found out about all these great places for food and drink. Since he started working with an NGO, he would often go out with his colleagues and would take notes of the best dining places in town. Fong was disappointed when his favorite vendor was not there. We settled for the first vendor at the corner of the intersection.
A big toast to friendship.
I was just happy to be able to taste a nice warm glass (jug) of soy milk in Laos. I have waited all these years just so I can check if it would still taste the same. It may sound silly to you but my memories of Laos involved mostly food. I was torn from my birthplace and had to build a new life for myself in the US. To get me through the first 5 years in the US, I kept thinking about the food that I ate, where I went to the market and with who and what they bought for me. I kept thinking about the treats my Grandmother bought me when she came to visit me. I had craving for warm soy milk that my mother would bought for us daily at the evening market. I tried to remember the cold sugarcane drink during the summer months.
The yearning for the food in Laos was weaker the last few years but not diminished. I still wanted to go back and to taste all the things that I ate as a kid. Sitting there as an adult and drinking a mug of that warm and delicious soy milk I found my answer. I felt as thought I had never left Laos and Vientiane. I felt warm and love. Mother Lao was holding me in her loving arms and not wanting to let me go. The soy milk tasted as delicious as it was many years ago. The only difference is that I am no longer a little girl, sitting on the back of my mother’s motorbike and holding many bags of soy milk to take back home for my siblings. While I can’t recognize the changing neighborhood and the country, the feeling is still the same. I am still Khon Sart Lao. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted time to stay frozen so I will never be torn from my birth place again.
As I sat there and tried my best to absorb everything around me, I said to myself the famous phrase from a movie that we all know so well. I’ll be back.