Thursday, April 12, 2007

IN LUANG PRABANG, WHERE PEOPLE CAN HEAR RICE GROW…


 Lao is so quiet that John Steinbeck once penned “People in Cambodia see the rice grow, in Lao they hear it grow”. And it makes sense. No town in Lao is big enough to minimize the sorroundin nature, the rice fields, the banana plantations, the jungle… Luang Prabang is one of the touristic spots of the country. In spite of the quantity of tourists, and the artificial character of the town, with Western style cafes, bistro bars, etc, the town is undeniably charming, with its French maisons of the time when the country was French IndoChina, and its temples of a more glorious and independent past. In adititon to the colonial houses, the French left –God bless them- baguettes! For less than a dollar is possible to have a chicken baguette on the sunny streets of Luang Prabang.


 I have very ltttle to say about the real Lao. I spent most of my 25 days in the country I Luang Prabang, working on my book project, and selling my old book to finnance my staying. I soon fitted into a comfortable routine, spending the mornings selling my book in the cafes along the Mekong River, and the rest of the afternoon writing (the evenings, of course, drinking). Earnings from the books typically added up to 20 dollars a day, while the accomodation was only four….



The most interesting aspect of selling books is the people you meet. One day I ended up having a beer with Maureen, the granddaughter of ex-Chilean preseident Allende, the one that was overthrown by Pinochet. He was travelling with another two Chilean friends, and the funny thing was that Pinochet had died only a few weeks before! His grand-grand father had been the founder of the Communist Party of Chile, confirming the lineage. On another ocassion I met Kath, one of the organizers of Bummit, a charity event that involves a hundred people hitch-hiking from the UK to different points in Eastern Europe, raising money for orphanages.





Some days before Christmas I met Harver, a French resident of San Fransisco, who insisted that we should all wear Santa Claus suits for Christmas night and then get drunk on the streets. According to him this was a way to demonstrate against the commercialization of Xmas, and is supposed to be a major event in alternative San Fransisco. He didn’t quite get the reception he expected, but I respect all crazy endeavours! I also found interesting his idea that Americans are over-achvers in everything from war to festivals. They cannot make a party, they have to do Burning Man. If the bike already exists, they have to build “tall bikes”.


Among the rest of the people I met I would like to mention some friendly folks from the Isle of Man, and also a Libanese who lived in Australia, and who gave me my first lessons on Arabic writing. I had learnt how to say Salam Aleikum in Norway, and I learnt how to write it in Lao… I may master this languagew in another 300 years. I also met Stephane, her Freckled Majesty of Sydney, but that’s another story. I will only say that she had a car, if you can use that word for a 1983 Subaru. And the car had a name, which was Jeff. Stephanie had a amorous ralationship with her car, and was sad because it was comprehensively starting to fall apart.




Most importantly, there was a more meaningful meeting. I am talking about the Poi tribe that I met in the streets of Luang Prabang. Pois are ropes which have a ball knotted to each of their ends, and which you can spin a million of different angles and directions. Another way of playing with movement. I happened to think that Pois are, in a microcosmic level, something similar to hitch hiking, another way of diving into movement. There is no way to relate in a tidy prose all the things that crossed my mind those days. Fortunately, a combination of marihuana and an accidental overdoes of malaria medication gave me a free trip that inspired me to put it down in a more coherent way. Good luck with reading it. (see next post “Circus in the dark”)

9 comments:

Caroline said...

Lovely blog, wonderful pictures.

I'm Channing's mother, and discovered your blog while scanning the internet for updates on the circus.

Good luck in your journey.

Acrobat of the Road said...

thanks for the message Caroline,

you are always welcome on board this blog....heheheh

Juan

abufares said...

I should tell you that you have inspired me to start my own blog 1 year ago, a fact I did not fail to mention on my latest post celebrating this occasion.
Thank you twice, for the inspiration and for sharing your wonderful story.
Good luck, keep safe.

Acrobat of the Road said...

Hi!

am glad that theblog inspired you to create your own. In any case, my debt with Syria, your country, is greater. You guys invented the 28 letters alphabet that we all use today...

keep in touch,
Juan

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