Sunday, March 17, 2013


The moon tonight is a perfect Cheshire grin- orange from the haze of fires I'd imagine, but matching the northern star- possibly a planet? There's the sound of crickets, and earlier bats dipping in and out of view, a mouse running across the wire, various tourists with laptops like me idling in their hammocks. I'm going to attempt escape from the town tomorrow...

[having escaped] i'm about to fall asleep in this outdoor restaurant establishment called maung neau, regretting my return after my late lunch for iced coffee and mediocre fruit, and then entered Alex. Another one, but entirely different- male and french and a bit drunk. And he sat down at my table and proceeded to talk. And then after two more beers and an hour later, he asked if he could come home with me. Quite nicely and a bit sheepishly, like he just had to ask. I declined (don't tell bruckner) and kissed him on the cheek, only after my handshake didn't satisfy him. It was the least I could do- though perhaps I am already too acommadating. He knocked over his beer and I made my exit.

But more about my introduction to Udomxai after. (Ooodumsay)

First my love, happy birthday. I hope the day, along with those strangely named cupcakes, was divine. I thought of you all the while. But of course, as much as part of me demands a letter all about you, I am compelled to talk to you all about me. Though I should like to hear of your favorite moment of the day, or something small and unique, perhaps forgettable that made you smile.

For my part, the day before, my travel companions from Phonsavan suggested I join them on the 100 waterfalls trek. And I was hoping to shake the gloom and purposelessness- which really had only been maybe 3 days combined- now at least 7. Where I suddenly erase all my experiences and regret extending my vacation and focus on everything negative, and where I have as mentioned a vague sense of danger or death hovering by me, as if one ignored nudge from God and I'd meet some ill fate. So the tour was just what i needed. Our guide Home, spoke excellent english (his father was village chief, and he and the younger generation are literally trying to understand and wrap their heads around why anyone would want to visit them, he said the locals are just barely beginning to understand) and i geek out over tourguides anyway so I got to hear his story, as he was preoccupied anyway purchasing a buffalo to sacrifice to honor his ancestors- i should've stayed now that i think about it, to witness that, but nevermind. So he'd disappear to talk to someone in the village he was giving us a tour of and then explain- along with some read between the lines talk about two people groups living together, the khmu and lao- one animist tribe, the other buddhist. Of course the benefits are school for the kids and electricity... more on that when out of here.

The trek was really lovely- or at least i imagine it would've been at it's best not so far into dry season, but nevermind. We gunned it in a small boat up some, thankfully small rapids, where i immediately regret i didn't buy a waterproof bag, because seriously who doesn't think of capsizing? 45minutes later, we step up a dusty bank into a village of curious kids and somewhat non-plused adults- chickens, roosters, thatched huts, trouble making kids who when making eye contact with us would start chanting 'trung' trung'- the guide said it was their word for 'surprise' or 'WOH', sure it was. and then there was one ominous little boy who'd tied a small warbler to a string like a toy- yikes. I think it will probably come as a shock to him when it breaks. I felt like i was walking through a place in which looks fabricated and idyllic- oh look there's the blacksmith, and the basket weaver and then you're just a little bit like hmm. Let's keep moving. As cool as it was.

And then we entered the rice paddy fields- dried up and waiting for rainy season, a few water buffalo grazing, who were scared off pretty quickly by three boys who were playing with a small soon to be dead fish- we fjored streams and entered some semi-jungly bits with strange red bugs on trees, and you could see with just a bit more water how fantasitc or difficult the trek would be- i loved the variety of landscape we went through- and the waterfall, after climbing up a series of steps, was clear and refreshing- too small for the 12 of us to really get comfortable though I think we could've had we tried. There were only a few of us really into- but honestly it was at it's safest or so it looked to me- no debris, and lovely rushing water. So nice. We got out to have some omlettes with dill and spices, sticky rice, pork and bananas. And then i went into the water again and we made our way back. The guide commented that i must really like swimming, i said yes- and i'm thinking, and hello i paid to trek to a waterfall- it baffles. And then i said, and i don't get cold quickly because i'm- insulated- to which the guide quickly translated "fat". Yes. Thank you.

The irritating part of this long winded trip into the day besides having only a small knick on my shin and a tiny bruise on the side of my left foot which gives no indication to how actually hurt i am- was maybe literally one tier down from the waterfall. The ground was suddenly gone from under me and i had no idea what happened. I was speechless. They asked if I was ok, to which i said, probably not, but I'm fine for now. And I got up pretty quickly and pressed on because I knew it was going to get painful after the initial shock wore off. And it did and soon i was far behind as I popped some advil on hand, and shuffle stepped my way through the now challenging uneven landscape. (An hour back) Though the assistant guide did get to practice a bit of English on me, as he was dead quiet for the 5 hours previous and now it was just he and I and i learned about the death of his father when he was 10 and his siblings etc. And meanwhile I went through the various mental assertations of, you're ok. It's going to be ok. To, it's ok that you're not ok. It's fine to say it hurts. And completely pissed off because I had doubts as to me being recovery ready by the time I got to Laung Namtha- the wonderland where everyone goes to trek. Dammit.

And really no one else besides the lovely Annie and Home, had anything at all to say to me about my sudden drop- weirdly it was as if it hadn't happened. Not unlike looking the other way with the warbler tied to the string. They can't do anything about it, so they just ignore it. Or supress it until it happens to them and then they get it. The other non-paired person on this trip was an extremely attractive Englishman, where i literally had to whip my head away when he took his shirt off- his girlfriend is sick and I was the only one who was (because of the morbid vietnam stories) asking, how long did she have a fevor? Is she better? Does she need anything? The rest were like, oh. End.

I must remember to be attentive and non-callused when people complain or don't of something that's just happened to them- it does take me a delayed reaction fraction of time to process but still. So then as I'm swinging on my hammock after my consilatory lemon shake, contemplating what happened, trying not to cry and rain self-pity down upon myself, i must have been doing a sidestep down the at least 2ft drop with my right leg first, and then the ground broke away from my left foot- and i grabbed a vine with my right hand, which i felt though reflexive and lucky- to be a bit stupid since it could've been thorn laden or a snake- but it slowed me significantly until it broke and that's when and where i felt the pain press into my left foot- as my whole weight must've come down at that moment into my awkwardly bent foot- still not sure about how it got wedged awkwardly but there it is. It could've been way worse- without the vine, if it'd been on slippery rock... whatever!

I can walk very slowly if i don't apply any bending and flex pressure to my arch whatsoever. Yea! I stayed an extra day to 'rest' and then got into altercation with the landlady upon leaving about whether i stayed 4 or 5 days- her husband i think understood and believed me but this previously smiling and benign woman swatted at a kitten and then continued to stare at me as if i was robbing her. And even the woman at the other restaurant i'd inhabited the last 4 days had lost her lustre too- so i can't tell if it was good or bad to move on when i did, and i know the thing about guests and 3 days- but really this was the first neutral place i'd been in until it wasn't. I do regret not being able to see the buffalo sacrifice.

So as I'm walking very slowly with my pack, up the rocky drive from my guesthouse, a few people commented in English, I can't tell if they thought I didn't speak English or they didn't care- but they were like oh, i'm not ready to put my pack on just yet, and especially not a pack that big! (Totally getting shit for how big my bag is! Whatever!!) I turned around and said, well I'd been gone for a year, and i was going to ship stuff but then i didn't, and i extended my stay, and i just peetered out into being completely annoyed. Not bothering to explain i only had a week left- and i wasn't trekking around the world and obsessed with keeping my bag at 11lbs. Lame! They were actually like, oh, ok, that's reasonable. They were literally that close to being like, no, your bag is too big. What were you thinking. But the fact that they misunderstood and thought i'd been on the road a year, somehow made it all ok. Backpacker snobs- thee nerve!

Cut to- me at Home's travel shop, conviniently at the top of the street, praying that Home had left a note explaining I needed a ride or tuk-tuk something to the bus station- he hadn't. LAME! But after a lot more communication issues with Home's brother, (as Home was off learning how to kayak), he generously agreed to give me a motorcycle ride to the bus station- my pack wedged btw/under his legs- and me with my small pack trying not to look at anything and hoping it didn't take too long lest i fall off and die. To thee most broken down van by the river of which i got acquainted and abused by- as i was basically sitting on metal bars because the cushions had rotted (my ass still hurts) and made for people who were 5,1 maybe, with the engine heating up the plates where my feet, knees/legs were, as i bent myself into different positions for the 3+hour drive, so i was using this bundle to keep me from burning AND the potholes on this 'road' were so bad my shoulder got bruised from being flung into window latch and that was when i was like- wait, you only took half of your 'vomina' pill? Let's go ahead and take the whole thing. And no, there wasn't a head rest left- so when i did pass out, my head jerked back and hit the hard plastic where the cusion would've been. Oh, and the whole of laos is ON FIRE. I know i can't stop from complaining and I know lonely planet warned me. But I will never again, agree that slash and burn farming is a good thing. This one guy as we passed had a 20ft flame going, i believe near some electric lines. I am OVER IT.

I really didn't start this as a rant. It feels good though. I have so much latent outrage in me over the smallest things. That at the time, i let pass by me and then i'm like hang on a minute! So tonight I'm sleeping in a hotel with no wi-fi because i was just like, oh get me to a place- and nevermind the place across the street has it- i don't need it! I can live without it! Who cares if this place might actually be a brothel! I don't! Keep walkin. Oh, Alex, if you had only said, let me take you back to my place!

On a positive note, i had some really excellent fried chicken strips. And the mango was pretty tasty. And despite the possibitly of running into Alex again I'm going to stay another day just because- and set myself goals like: find other hotel, find a way to hobble to the postoffice, visit the place where they used to sell opium but now make paperproducts and the like. I'm sure it's going to be bliss.


somebody's mom said...

The work out you are giving your guardian angel! Love you

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