After our spiritual morning across the border in Myanmar, we boarded an e-tan to have lunch at La Vallee in Doi Sa Ngo. Just like with the motorized rickshaws we used in Myanmar, our e-tan ride was interesting, to say the least. The 20-minute ride was bumpy and full of rural scenery. But it was all worth it because La Vallee is a slice of heaven.
La Vallee is a happy spot where time stands still
Let’s talk a bit about Doi Sa Ngo, the region in Chiang Rai where La Vallee is located. In the past, Doi Sa Ngo was considered to be part of the Golden Triangle—that intersection of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar notorious for being a major source of opium. The tribes of Doi Sa Ngo earned a living planting opium poppy on their deforested lands.
It all changed, however, when the Royal Project came to the area. The Royal Project is an initiative of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who wanted to support the hill tribes by providing them with a source of income other than planting opium.
Despite its notoriety, Doi Sa Ngo is a serene and picturesque place. Tourists visited it for its wonderful views and to experience the slower pace of life there with the help of Thai tour guides. One such guide, a French-educated Bangkok lady named P’Mol, had a desire to live life at a slower pace herself. So, after some convincing by friends, she bought land in the area and established La Vallee in 1999.
It took 20 years for roads, electricity, and clean running water to get to La Vallee. Nonetheless, Chef P’Mol built for La Vallee a reputation as a sanctuary for travelers in the middle of nowhere. There, they can have a place to rest and delicious meals made with organic and locally grown ingredients.
For my Soul Foodies, visiting and having lunch at La Vallee is an opportunity for someone who has never been to Thailand to experience the country as it was back in the day. It is a happy spot in the middle of nowhere, where time seems to stand still.
In the words of Chef P’Mol, “Happiness is everywhere. Just take your time to enjoy your surroundings.”
Lunch at La Vallee is a heavenly way of feeding souls
So, what did we eat for lunch at La Vallee? We had an authentic farmer’s lunch, exactly what the hill tribe farmers in the area would eat during a break at work. The meal consists of grilled pork and chicken especially marinated in a variety of organic herbs and spices, turmeric rice and sticky rice served in banana cups, and aromatic clear noodles wrapped in banana leaves.
It’s simple fare, but it’s heaven. It totally fed our souls. A few of my Soul Foodies aren’t fond of grilled chicken, but they loved what they ate. Opening the banana wrapping of the clear noodles is like unwrapping a gift. The aroma opened my senses, and its taste felt like home for me.
The sauce is amazing. It’s a mix of basil, white sauce, fresh lime juice, shallots, and chili. It tastes so, so good. You can’t get this taste anywhere. It’s fresh and organic, so much that you can almost taste the earth where these herbs and spices came from and feel connected with it.
What’s even more amazing for me is our dessert: banana pie. We’re in the middle of nowhere, but we have banana pie. The crust is so good, and the bananas are locally grown. You can actually tell that you’re eating Thai bananas.
Lunch at La Vallee was heaven. We left the place with our souls fed to the brim.
Watch the episode here: https://bit.ly/NFSSeason2Ep20