Monday, March 28, 2005

Something finally snaps 

Thanks to an overwhelming number of roosters, rosy-fingered dawn was scarcely gone from the sky before I gave up on further sleep and rousted myself from bed. Heading down to the cafe, I sat with my book and a cup of cafe lao and enjoyed the morning, chatting with other travelers eating bfast. Eventually, my new friend PA made it downstairs. An American who arrived in town the same day as me. He tossed a great idea my way: rent scooters and ride the 55 kms or so up to Muang Sing; spend the night then ride back. I thought about it, briefly, and accepted the challenge.

By noonish we were no the road. Yes, we had helmets and even wore them most of the time. But it was a scooter! So light and nimble (though on the curvy mountain roads I did need to reign myself in with a reminder that I was not on a cycle built for leaning over. And gravel and tree bits rampantly scattered themselves in the road) and a lot of fun! The road was in fairly good shape and there was very little traffic. Little villages were everywhere, and the people were always running out to say hello. Briefly we stopped at one to chat with the kids (which entailed all of us saying "Sa bai di" [hello in Lao] over and over). Very cute. Half clothed, snot covered faces, bright smiles, and when they saw the pic I took of them on my digital their din echoed off the huts. Very very cute. Mists (smoke) covered the hills and distant villages, small streams reflected the mountains, and all was quiet except for the buzz of our engines. About half way along we stopped for a rest and to enjoy....life. The mountains were beautiful and as we neared our destination we descended down into and thru a large gorgey canyon.

As we rode along, I found a grin creeping onto my mug. The air rushing past seemed to be stripping away at me and leaving me exposed. Finally. For the first time in way too long I found myself completely in the moment and enjoying and noticing all the fineties as they cruised past (which also made me a poor leader, as my riding speed became more than a little erratic). Instead of looking for things to take pics of, I enjoyed everything I was seeing. Instead of looking ahead to our destination or my planned boat trip or heading to Fiji or Hawaii or anything, my head was concerned only with what I was seeing and doing. And since that hasn't been the case for I don't know how long, I felt more than a little relieved and it made me grin even wider.

The town of Muang Sing saw us only for a brief stop for lunch and a wall hanging purchase for me. Then we pushed on to check out the Lao/China border (not where I crossed) and a guest house out of town. The guest house was amazing-small bamboo huts off the road in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains and fields. Beautiful-and cheaper lodging than in town. We droppde our bags then headed down the road to the border. Fields aflame, small villages with people heading home from the fields, and water buffalos led the way. At the border we shut the engines off and PA and I ended up getting into a 2 on 2 volleyball game with a couple of the Lao border guards! It was a riot! No one won or lost (not EVERYthing is a contest), but we all laughed a lot.

The sun was setting so after washing a bit in the large water basin (there aer pics, but I need to get them from the girl who accompanied us) we headed back. My head was in the clouds and I was perfectly at ease and happy. Dinner was good and we were joined by a great guy from France who works in one of the local villages for an NGO. A few BeerLaos went down, and the night was concluded with one hell of a thunderstorm! A shock (and problem) to all since it's still the dry season. Bad for the mango crops, I believe. But for me, not having seen a real thunderstorm in months, it was great.

I crawled into my mosquito net covered bed very contentedly. And eventually slept.

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com