We reached the village of Lao Chai, which was more than half way of our trek from the town of Sapa, Vietnam. Our guide May told us that we would stop here for a lunch break. The trek so far had been mostly downhill, and the weather was cool enough that we didn’t sweat that much. But a break was definitely welcomed by then.
We crossed a wooden bridge that swayed a little bit as we walked across it. The place where we stopped for lunch was just after the bridge. It seemed to be a multi-story structure that stood on the cliff with the top floor set up to be a dining area, and the bottom part seemed to be where the kitchen was located and also possibly where some of the local hosts lived. While it’s set up like a restaurant, I think they mainly catered the trekking groups that passed that route. I didn’t see any sign for a restaurant or any menu given.
After we were seated, May explained that we had a couple of choices for lunch, either noodle soup with vegetable and fried eggs, or noodle soup with chicken meat. The food was part of the trekking arrangement, but the drink wasn’t. So we got to choose also whether to get bottled water or canned soft drinks. Everyone in our group asked for the noodle soup with vegetable and fried eggs.
There were several other trekking groups who were eating at the same time, so they were quite busy preparing the food for us. May helped out in serving the food and drink. The meal itself ended up to be nothing special; it looked like they prepared instant noodles as the base, but added vegetables and fried eggs as toppings. This reminded me to some places in Jakarta where you could get cheap meals on the side street where it’s basically just instant noodles but with added toppings like vegetables and eggs. I think in the end it didn’t matter as much as we were quite hungry by then, and I think we valued more the atmosphere and the people who we were with, as well as the generosity and hospitality of our hosts in serving us. I don’t think May had anything to eat as she was busy helping the hosts serving, but she was still smiling and cheerful even after we’re done with our lunch and ready to continue with our trek.
The photo below was taken from the bridge as we saw the place where we’re about to have lunch. You can see a couple of these places, with the area on their top floors where they set up the dining areas.