Sticky rice in bamboo

Sticky rice is the god of Lao food. It is eaten daily, cooked a dozen different ways, and Lao children take it for school lunch, in small basket 'lunchboxes'.

It's unsurprising then that we'd find it at the boat racing festival. This time, the ever-versatile sticky rice pops up as a dessert.

These lovely ladies are from Ban Kuen, a province just north of Vientiane. They sell a sticky rice dessert rolled in bamboo. Together with a row of other women selling different foods, including the egg babies, they all hail from the same village.

They told us that they stay here in these stall overnight, sleeping on bags at the back, for the duration of the festival, a week or more. Their husbands are at home in the village making the produce, which they drive in fresh to their wives every morning.

This tasty snack is made by pouring uncooked sticky rice into a young green bamboo shaft. It is then topped off with coconut milk, chopped pieces of sweet potato, and sugar, and put on the fire for 5-6 hours. The charcoal is then scraped off with a machete.

They sell at 5,000 kip each ($A1) in either white and black rice.

It's not just a festival food either; they are another popular office snack, break one open and share it round. Sep lai.