Monsoons, Monks and Monasteries a very special day
Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
371Trip End Feb 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
In a monastery somewhere???
The trekking was fantastic, even better than Sapa. What made the day so perfect though was the incredible people. Operating with nothing but ox carts, horse carts and simple digging tools these people work the fields for about 15 hours per day. We met women of 80 years of age who worked these hours seven days a week for pretty much nothing except personal survival, yet the happiness was obvious to see and she offered to share half her lunch with us. These are still ethnic minority tribes like in Sapa so you can imagine all the colourful dresses and scarves. The villages were basic beyond belief, often with no electricity just wood huts an open fire stove and an outside hole in the ground. Well, after our stinginess around the world so far we found this experience a complete soul cleanser, I have never seen women of 60 years of age sprinting across fields to receive a toothbrush and be so over the moon with it. The kids could not take the smiles off their faces when they were given a pencil. Perhaps the highlight though was one of the poorest villages where we met the teacher and gave her a good amount of the gifts. The kids lined up in front of her in the torrential rain and were given pencils, pens and notepads, you just haven't seen happiness quite like it, it was more like complete amazement.
To reflect on my own life and how greedy all us Brits are we would have needed a new bike or something to bring that kind of joy, 20 years later it would need to be a Playstation 3, new bike and £300 quid of games etc
Anyway we walked for about another hour and a half through the sun and the wind saying hello to everyone we met. I tried to help a man weed his field but after about 5 minutes I was knackered and doing a very bad job of it. Eventually we arrived at our overnight accommodation, a monastery in the middle of nowhere. The monastery had one head monk and 6 novices. The novices could not be supported at home as their families could not afford to feed them so the only remaining option was for the head monk to take them in and teach them. We sat outside an old teak monastery in candle light drinking green tea and had a fabulous meal and an interesting chat. We particularly got on with the Belgians who were both chatty and funny but also appeared able to laugh at themselves the way E and I do. We were completely knackered having walked about 19km and we were asleep on the floor of the monastery in front of all the Buddha’s with the monks in the same room by about 9pm. Despite the monsoon rains hitting the tin roof and the roof leaking a little we were soon asleep, despite the deep ponderings about life, happiness and the future of a country I have already fallen head over heels in love with.