I stay for about a week in Luang Namtha. Three days I am in the jungle, hiking up and down and up and down the trail and along the stream. I remember being slightly off balance but never off the edge 😉 One evening we receive a bamboo cup. Another evening the guides go fishing in the small river after dark and come back with some mini fish. They are grilled over the bonfire and downed with lao lao. Mister Mii also produces special accessories for us and sings a song with natural percussions. After trekking we return to the town.
I remove my tent from Phou Iu ecovillage and stay at a guesthouse nearby to catch an early bus to Oudomxai and Muang Khua the next morning. The tuk-tuk is full with 16 people. Banana sharing.
What I remember from the first week in Laos territory…
Loudspeaker music on the bus. Koh tot bor seu: sorry no buy. A great trip to the jungle. The river 5 mins from my tent. Very funny and relaxed evenings at the night market. Local youngsters inviting us to drink with them, serving us Beerlao with a smile. An Italian guy so happy he has found his way to the Golden Triangle and incidentally freezing his ass off in the tuk tuk to the bus station. Forests so full of fruit. Valleys and hills and valleys again. Landscapes with at least 40 different shades of green. Rice fields. Banana trees. Coconut palms. Monks going for alms chanting their blessings. Old women carrying basket silently walking on the side of the road with their children. Plastic bottles and nylon bags everywhere. Clay huts with dry fern roofs. Cutting my left hand when helping a woman take the bamboo bundles out of the river to let them dry and crispy on the riverbank.
Whatever this journey may become, it is transformative. I urge everyone, and in particular you who are reading, well, I don’t urge, no, I highly recommend you to ask: ‘Why am I here?? Why am I on this trip??’ And I suggest you take this question to heart and let it sink in for a while. It will result in your being more in accord with your general intention. Your aim will be clearer. Or at least it will teach you about your current state of confusion. In the end, it amounts to the same: self-knowledge.
Being confused about one’s clarity, thinking ‘I am clear’ when one is not and making assumptions about one’s accumulated life experience and one’s so called attainments reminds me of a saying of what Ajahn Buddhadāsa once said: ‘The stupider you are, the cleverer you think you are.’ Similarly, knowing about your own ignorance accounts for a solid insight and reminds me of what Socrates once said: Εν οίδα ότι ουδέν οίδα.