The art of doing nothing at all
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
My days are spent biking, stopping in a bar for a drink, reading the newspapers and my wonderful book : "the power of now". Actually, come to think of it, I actually have been doing something : try and do what the book is teaching me, i.e. Switching off my thought generating device, my brain.
You know what ? No way ! The best I got so far must have been thirty seconds. Thirty seconds focusing on sound around me, sensations on my skin, smells, what i could see also but then, systematically my mind comes back and thinks about something related to one of these sensations. Can't switch it off ! It has a life of its own ! This proves how much the author of the book is right : I am completely under the control of my brain ! How disturbing is this ? I cannot tell my brain what to do ! It doesn't listen. Frightening. I am recommending this book to you as a must read. So now you know what I spend my time doing :-)
I also - eventually - made it to the morning monks' procession. The kind of magic moment every guide raves about, that is an absolute must see in LP... I hated it. Let me explain. At 6 in the morning, when the sun comes up, monks get out of their temples in a group, gather at the beginning of the peninsula on one street that is parallel to the main street of the peninsula and start walking all the way to the end, then come back via the main street. On the way, hundreds of people, Lao and tourists, are sitting on the pavements, waiting with food (mainly sticky rice). When monks pass them, they give each monk a bit of sticky rice which monks receive in their big pot they each carry. That's it. Hundreds of hands, clean or not, giving hundred of tiny bits of sticky rice, fresh or not, to hundreds of monks. And monks eat it. This is disgusting. Just the thought of it gives me nausea.
Add to that the fact that it was again one of these days, when I woke up at 5 am, in pain. That I cannot take ibuprofen anymore because my body refuses it and I throw up 30 minutes after intake. That I was shivering in the rain and crying with pain watching those monks basically forced to perpetuate this ritual every freaking morning of their lives. That I know that some unscrupulous Lao people don't hesitate to sell tourists some food that has gone off and that gets monks sick. That although it is widely spread the recommendation not to film or take pictures but rather sit or stand a bit in the back and watch respectfully and silently this silent procession, you of course get tourists basically jumping in the street, ready to catch the best shot, with the best light, commenting rudely and loudly. Shame shame shame. I didn't take pictures nor made videos. But you can find plenty on the Internet... Just type "Luang Prabang Morning Monks" in google.
That day, I went back to bed as soon as I could and couldn't leave it for the whole day, in excruciating pain, sweating, crying in frustration and anger against my own body. Oh there you experience the power of now. Pain is maybe the only thing that shuts off your brain. You are, in this moment, pain personified. Terrible.
It wasn't until 21:45 that I could actually get up and get out, I was a bit hungry you see. At that time, most shops are closed (the law in Lao forces restaurants and bars to close at 23:30 but many close before this). Fortunately a bakery was open so I went it. They call themselves bakery but it proposed a whole lot of stuff. To my great pleasure, they had lasagna. So I ordered this. The guy looks at me and says "sorry, we don't have this". Now you have to imagine my state. I am exhausted, hungry and not in the mood. So, follow this.
- oh. Well then I'll have uh.... Cheese and ham panini !
- (silence).... Uh... Sorry we don't have this anymore...
- (breathe Nadege, breathe) mmhhh... OK. Why don't you tell me what you have ?
- (long silence)... Uhhh, hamburger ?
- Sure ! Great !
- Beef or chicken ?
- Beef !
- OK ! (off he goes to the kitchen and ... Comes back after two minutes) uhhhh, sorry but the cook is gone and we cannot do burgers now.
- right. What can you do that doesn't require a cook ?
- (long long silence)... Uuuh... Pizza ?
- fantastic ! Yeah ! Pizza ! (they have two kinds of pizzas) I'll take the pepperoni pizza. (and there it felt I had spoken Russian to him)
- (putting his finger on the menu where it says "pepperoni pizza" and staring for a loooooong time) ...
- hello ??!!
- uuuuuuuh... Yeah. Pizza takes 15 minutes to cook.
- no problem, I'll wait.
- (more pointing, more staring, more silence)....
- HELLO ?!!! Are you ordering the pizza or not?
- actually we don't have pizza, this is only for breakfast.
- OK my friend, first of all, people DO NOT eat pizza for breakfast. And second, if you have nothing to sell, why don't you close the god damn shop ??
On these words, I bought a Ginger cake and a Fanta and left the place, so angry I could have killed him with a plastic spoon (as said on Facebook).
Well, other than this. I need to get out of here. I have finished my "let's do nothing" and now I want to leave. No way I am taking a bus with all the rain that has been pouring. And planes to Pakse cost USD 175 one way. Rip off ! :-) but hey, I gotta move. So my next moves are to organize my departure !
I am now off to the night market again. I was there last night and the result is : one pair of trousers, two t-shirts, some girlie gifts for my girlfriends... Boys ? What would you like ? Oh, also some old old old sticky rice bamboo baskets... Tonight I might go overboard because I have spotted a beautiful bed cover and I also want a bong (is that the word ? Not the thing you smoke from :-) the thing you bang on in a temple)...
So, off I am. Next time I write, it will probably be from Pakse !