Vientiane is full of rustic charms, from the landmark Mekong river (currently quite muddy) that flows alongside the length of the city and marks the border between Laos and Thailand; to the blocks of ivy-tangled disused land that sprawl everywhere. People live in houses, not apartments; bicycles intermingle with 4WDs and chickens wander in and out of their urban farms.
You can well imagine that in another 5-10 years time, those blocks of overgrown greenery will hold apartments, the bicycles will have disappeared and other relics of a charming sleepy town will disappear into the annals of history.
If, like me, you are fascinated with the changing blur of lifestyle and landscape before your very eyes, then Vientiane is the place for you. It is already happening and when it does, it's nice to imagine that it's mostly inspired by Laotians themselves (as opposed to multinational conglomerates building skyscrapers and opening chain restaurants).
Which is the case with Naked Espresso, a popular falang (foreigner) cafe owned by a young Lao barista called Pop. he went to Australia for a few years on a business scholarship and while he was there, he worked in a coffee shop. Then he returned and put all of that knowledge to very good use.
It's not surprising that the blackboard menu has a long list of Australian-esque coffees like flat white and short black.
Though as a non-coffee drinker, my eye was immediately caught by the jars of T2 teas. I'm always impressed to see a cafe known for its coffee remember that other hot beverages exist too.
There's also a short but broad menu of food to appeal to local falang who fill its 8 or so tables (more located upstairs). Complete with wifi, ever-present a/c and a well priced menu of breakfast and lunch options. A second, "bigger and more fancy" Naked Espresso is located downtown, near the Dairy Queen.
But for now, "Nakeds" is a spot for a quick lunch and it doesn't disappoint.
So, if I've time on my hands to sit and watch the world swirling around in downtown Vientiane, Naked Espresso will probably be my vantage point, accompanied by a nice cup of tea (or coffee).
The original Naked Espresso is on Rue Dongpayna right near the traffic lights and the flower shops. Naked Espresso 2 is in town at Rue Manthatourath, near the Dairy Queen corner and almost opposite Champa massage.