Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Northern Lao Countryside
Mia and I on our way back from trying to touch China on my birthday. We made it to a checkpoint a kilometer away from the Chinese border and the guard stopped us and turned us around. ON MY BIRTHDAY!
Along every highway people stand and sit beating and crushing some type of dust out of these bits of plant they have collected. Roads and village squares are blanketed with the bundles of the thin branches. Though I am TOLD that they will be dried and used to make brooms, I remain skeptical. How can ANYONE need so many brooms. How can I believe that a country would focus its entire labor force on making brooms when they still haven't invented 'Not pooping in the street right in front of me' and 'not throwing garbage EVERYWHERE'? It doesn't make sense.
Fog envelops a mountain village in the early morning as seen from a bus window.
In Nong Khiaw every home has huge stacks of crates filled with empty BeerLao bottles. It is as if they are waiting for God to come and they know that the more bottles they have, the better chance they will have of getting into heaven.
A boy leads his buffalo out to pasture in the morning.
This tiny monk stopped us on the road and asked if we had a pen. We handed him one and he said, "Siyanara, SuckaZ!" and ran off into a field with it. We waited for a few minutes for him to return but instead a second monk approached us from the direction the first had disappeared to. "Can I have a pen too?" "Nope", I said, and kicked the bike into first gear, leaving him to shrink to a tiny orange dot in the side view mirror before fading into the late afternoon haze.
Late afternoon haze.
Gawkers mill about a burning house. People here love to gawk at things like traffic accidents and fires. None of this 'pretending to look at something else as you walk by over and over business'. You can just walk right into the scene of the accident and stare at it open mouthed with everyone else.
Lush countryside. Perfect for motorbike rides.
An ancestor gate. Only ghosts are allowed to pass through these. They stand at the entrances and exits to villages.
On a wall through the hills.
A boy in a dusty village nibbles on a stone.
Out the back of a bus.