While searching for some unique experiences to try out during my visit to Luang Prabang a couple of weeks ago, I came across an interesting tour that stated it would involve making rice noodles from scratch. Intrigued I booked the tour and was informed that I would be picked up at 8.50am on the day of the tour from my accommodation place. As the tour operator had mentioned that I was the only one booked for the day, I was surprised to see a family of three when I got into the van. One of them had been working in Luang Prabang for the past 7 months and had already gone on this tour and had decided to take her visiting parents to share her experience of the organic farm.
The guide introduced himself as Lee and informed us that we would be visiting his family’s farm. He explained that there were 7 brothers in the family and him being the 7th brother, the farm was called Lee 7 farm.
Upon arriving at the organic farm, a group of children greeted us and Lee mentioned that they were his and his siblings’ kids, who were all at the farm because it was the weekend. He also introduced us to two children from the neighbouring village, who were learning English, and who he had invited over to the farm during tour days so that they could practice their language skills with visitors. Lee first gave us a tour of his herb and vegetable patch, where he was growing different herbs and supplying to restaurants in the city.
After sharing some of his successful and unsuccessful farming stories, Lee pointed out his family’s paddy fields and mentioned that the rice grown on the farm was just sufficient for his extended family’s annual rice consumption.
We were then introduced to his buffalo, Pling, and a demonstration of ploughing a plot of land was given.
After the others in the group tried out the ploughing, we pulled some paddy from the nursery and planted it in the international rice patch, so called because Lee had his international visitors to the farm sow the paddy in that patch.
Then, Lee proceeded to show us how the rice was threshed and then winnowed and the different ways of carrying the grain baskets. We moved to the rice de-husking area with one of the baskets and ground the de-husked grains to rice flour.
Lee explained that the rice flour was fermented for a few days before being made into rice noodles. A teacher by profession, Lee mentioned that he had got the idea for the tour when he realized that very few of the younger generations in his village knew how to make rice noodles. Given that his neighbour was an expert noodle maker, Lee decided to partner with her to share their heritage with the younger generations as well as international visitors.
Lee’s neighbour then demonstrated how the fermented rice flour was kneaded and converted to the noodle batter.
The batter was then squeezed into a pot of boiling water and cooked for a few minutes.
Once the noodles were cooked, it was transferred to a pot of cold water and then transferred to the serving tray.
After showing me how to make a papaya salad, Lee invited us to have our freshly made lunch of rice noodles with steamed vegetables and papaya salad.
The freshly made rice noodles was delicious with the tangy papaya salad and the four of us enjoyed it seated around a low table on a raised platform overlooking the paddy fields.
Lee decided to make us some fresh sugarcane juice after lunch and we relaxed with the sweet drink while sharing some of our travel plans for the coming days.
The Lee7Farm tour is an authentic experience that I would recommend and especially as it supports a local entrepreneur trying to maintain and share his organic lifestyle.