In May of 2012, I was 6 months pregnant and had just traveled 8 days (stopping in Istanbul and Bangkok) with my family all the way from Peru to Laos. We walked a lot in Istanbul and Bangkok, then we got to Laos and I got tired of the belly and the heat. And I started to do a lot of sitting around.
When we left Peru, the plan was to go to Luang Prabang in Laos and stay for three months, return to Bangkok for the birth and then maybe go back to Luang Prabang. After six months, we were still in Bangkok and not sure if we’d ever go back to Luang Prabang at all.
But since destiny and fate are uncontrollable, the universe made it be that we would meet someone in Luang Prabang that would force us to maintain a link there. If it wasn’t for her, I’m almost sure that I would never go back to Luang Prabang. Now, I have more than a good excuse to go. Maybe she reminds me of myself, maybe it was just luck. In any case, I made a friend. Her name is Elizabeth and she’s just awesome.
Luang Prabang is a pretty tiny place. A small temple-ridden peninsula between two rivers full of french colonial buildings and tourists passing by on the Southeast Sian tour. A must-stop point on the Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia itinerary.
Before going to Luang Prabang, friends in Peru would ask where it was that we were going, what it was like. I imagined it would be like the Cusco of Laos. in a certain sense I was right, but it felt more like jungle than mountainside.
On one of the exploration walkabouts that my husband and son used to take, they found a little place off the Nam Kan river that looked inviting. They came home excited to tell me they had found a place that I would really like, and that it was owned by a Hungarian woman.
Unfortunately, she went on vacation for two weeks and I had to wait. When she got back and we found her, it was instant witchy magic! Her bar, the Icon Klub reminded me so much of the little coffee shop I owned back in Cusco, Peru. It had similar characteristics, it was small, fun, artistic and had a crazy owner!
So we hung out, made a couple of pies, very cheesy macaroni and cheese. Our daughters hung out out together and watched movies, we had Campari and juice, went market and flower shopping for the bar. For two months I had a great friend whom I nicknamed “Mi Amiga la Hungara”.
I was reminded of what its like to be an expat anchor in a very touristy place, one that serves and entertains the passers by on the way to somewhere else. Watching how lots of them stay longer than planned, how some stay for months, being almost a landmark for the town.
“Mi Amiga la Hungara” is much more disciplined than me so her bar does really well and she always has guests. She decorated and designed the entire place herself so its like an extension of herself.
I’m glad that my husband and son found the Icon Klub and I’m glad Elizabeth owned it. Every time I went by I said, “I have to come back here when Im not pregnant so I can try ALL the cocktails!” I still haven’t made it back but I hope it will be soon.
Lisa not only has the bar, she also makes amazing clothes and sells them in her boutique Lisa Regale and she also writes poetry, a couple of years ago she presented her first published collection in Hong Kong.
If you ever go to Luang Prabang in Laos, you should most definitely visit the Icon Klub and say Hi! to Lisa for me!
This video says a lot about Lisa and her bar and it will want to make you travel to Luang Prabang if only just to visit her bar!