Contra Costa County: Wat Lao Rattanaram

T's coworker invited her to celebrate Lao New Year at a Lao temple in Richmond and the rest of us were lucky enough to tag along.  Wat Lao Rattanaram was bustling with people:

We were a little confused about how everything worked, but T's coworker quickly set us straight.  All the food is free.

Yes.  FREE.

Just get in line and start piling onto your plate:

The challenge is finding utensils.

So many trays...and no labels in sight.  I have no idea what I picked up:

I know I got a couple different kinds of larb (minced meat salad), but I'm not sure what was in which.  I did recognize the chicken larb though.  That one was my favorite.

We spotted a line at the back of the parking lot, so of course we had to get in it:

Good thing we did.  The papaya salad was superb:

Superb, but SPICY AS HELL.  You have been warned.

Dessert came in the form of a coconut taro soup:

When people weren't eating, they were praying and asking for blessings in the new year:

Holy water is poured into one end and people sprinkle it onto their heads as it comes out the other end of the pipe.

After all the food was demolished, there was a parade:

The party section was at the back:

Onlookers tossed/splashed/dumped water on the cheering dancers.  We especially loved watching the elderly folks having fun, shrieking in laughter like little children.

T's coworker started an all out water fight against basically all the children there.  Somehow the battle spread  to innocent bystanders...including us.  I don't think anyone left the premises completely dry.

I had so much fun.  Being there brought me back to the time I celebrated Songkran (Thai New Year) in Northern Thailand.  Love the sense of community and the genuine warmth of everyone at Wat Lao Rattanaram.

Kind of belated now, but Happy Lao New Year everyone!

Wat Lao Rattanaram
2417 Barrett Ave
Richmond, CA 94804
(510) 236-8592


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