The Buddha Dude

From the mainstream irrational believings that enlighten the people in this our world I always regarded Buddhism as the least harmful one, even liking its philosophical part. Somehow this trip is reassuring my thoughts on the matter.

I grew terrified by the image of a skinny bearded Jew (“perroflauta” look) bleeding in a cross and the fear of burning forever in hell for touching myself. I stopped paying attention to all that nonsense at an early age but probably the damage is in my subconscious.

When paying a visit to any Buddhist temple you will be greeted by the comforting image of a relaxed well-fed Buddha, meditating or just standing, always serene and often smiley. Sometimes you will even find the Buddha reclining, as if he was having some crisps and a beer when enjoying a movie on his laptop. I think the Buddha would have made a fine fellow.

HypnoBuddhas
HypnoBuddhas

OK, I have to admit that the other major sects come as well with some cool stuff: converting water into wine, a heaven with plenty of chicks + growing big beards, doing nothing on Saturdays or an elephant-headed God.

True as well quite often monks didn’t live up to my expectations. The first monk I met in Yangon was reading a book about how to make money (he told me for improving his English), still wtf? It is not unusual finding them with iPhones and similar devices. Sometimes I could see TVs or computers at monasteries of poor villages, and, more than once, they were eager to talk football.

Ivan de la Penha in Burma
Ivan de la Penha in Burma? Novices playing football and me doing scouting for Lendoiro

They get free food and don’t do much work, even less than secular do. I would expect them to do more meditation and have a humble existence less attached to material life.

Alms collection. Dutch national team.
Alms collection by the Dutch national team.

Said that I found them always friendly, helpful and very chatty. Even a few times I got free food and bed from Burmese monasteries.

Breakfast buffet at a Burmese nunnery
Breakfast buffet at the nuns’

With all their faults I am finding Buddhists honest, laid back, always with a friendly smile and usually happy. I can’t think about them going to war for their imaginary friends as others do. Nevertheless their good nature and passive character may favor tyrannical governments and people taking advantage of them.

Tibetan lamas chanting and gonging
Tibetan lamas chanting and gonging at +4k. The real austere ones.

Top Five

It has been a while since I started this trip so I thought a top five could be a good idea. Here we go:

  1. Nepalese Himalayas PB020353
  2. Burmese PeoplePC231161
  3. Lao VillagesIMAG0337
  4. Indian MadnessPB240809
  5. Thai FoodIMAG0219

Extra: My awesomeness

Multitasking: smoking a cigar and being awesome at the same time!

The Sound Of Growing Rice

The Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians watch the rice, and the Lao listen to the rice grow

This quote attributed to the French during colonial times couldn’t reflect better Lao people nature. They are so far the laziest, most laid back and slimiest I’ve ever seen. Compared to them I am a workaholic.

Having perceived the enthusiasm locals put on rice listening I am considering devoting my life to philanthropy and go back to Lao and help them in carrying out such a vital and exhausting task.

Sadly my visa is expiring and I have to leave this wonderful country. Yes liver, you won this time but don’t laugh yet, Cambodia coming, In my memory I am taking 2 weddings, a few more Lao parties, dozens of beerlaos and laolao shots, hundreds of bow pennyangs (no problem) and countless smiles.

Children
Enlightening local children
Sunset
Long time no sunset, here in the Mekong

The Banana Pancake Trail

I made the mistake of going back to the banana pancake trail to spend my last days in Lao. Apparently everyone love the 4000 islands but I didn’t like them at all. People claim it is a great plate to see the sunset, chilling out in a hammock, read a book or smoke weed. I think in this trip I have seen already more than 4000 places more suited for such activities. I am getting a bit fed up with the cool uniformed backpackers hubs. It’s a pity having to end such a wonderful country in this way.

The good thing is that there I find the time to finish Shantaram  (almost 1000 pages). Quite a few people recommended me the book before and I was not disappointed at all. I found the book very entertaining and addictive and the main character life extremely interesting, highly recommended for people interested in India especially. In my opinion I wouldn’t say it is a good book as I think it could be much shorter if the author had skipped a lot of useless descriptions and meaningless supposed clever pseudo philosophical quotations.

Leaving Las Lao

When leaving Taoy I met a local who works at Tad Lo tourist office. I didn’t have any plans so he easily convinced me to go with him some beer. I didn’t regret it. The place has a good and a few waterfalls and shit but the best was the host, a charming old lady that everyone know as mama.

On the following days the most remarkable was a home-stay at a small coffee producing village. It happened to be on the second biggest day in the Capitalist religion, Saint Valentine’s. Luckily villagers there were taking it just as another excuse to get pissed and they provide us with abundant beer and weed (a pity I don’t smoke). Next morning in a different place some dudes forced us to join them in the malt juice sipping activity again. People here really know how to treat tourists.

Note since I don’t have my electronics with me any more and computer access will be very limited, from now on, posts will be published without much checking so I have to apologize in advance for the misspellings and other errors. Anyway, I don’t give a fuck; spell checks, safe usb removals and dildos are for pussies.

Guerrilla
Guerrilla

Big Snake

Hope the title didn’t mislead you, this post is not about my penis.

One day on buses and I got to a place called Salavan, which picture could be in any dictionary illustrating “the middle of nowhere entry”. They were not used to tourist there. As I was walking people were looking and talking about me. I knew it because I could hear the word “falang” – foreigner all the time. Children where especially interested on my actions:

– Look, “falang ” is walking

– “Falang” is lost hahahaha

– “Falang” is having beer for breakfast

– What is “falang” doing unzipping shorts?

– “Falang” is peeing on us

– “Falang” is yelling at mum for trying to stop him.

As the place didn’t feel remote enough I decided to go to Taoy, in the middle of the middle of nowhere. On the way there the bus suddenly stopped and I thought it was broken again, but it just run out of petrol. I helped them to get a motorbike from the bus rooftop so a guy could go to the petrol station.

I stayed one day in Tahoy being the only falang there I guess for quite a while.

The way back on a truck was very entertaining since along the road kids were selling different unrecognized mammals they hunted with homemade guns. Alive frogs were sold as well but the star was definitely a huge alive python for only 10 euros. A phallic joke here would be too easy.

The Opium Of The People

Note I am not gonna write about religion or football. Actually it is about opium.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/07/vang-vieng-laos-party-town So this was Vang Vieng before the authorities decided to shut down the fun and stop natural selection. I would love to see how it used to be. Even better should be visiting Lao in the opium den times which are not so far. Here, more than ever I had the usual feeling of arriving late.

Nevertheless Vang Vieng is still worth a visit to check the dramatic scenery and the wonderful caves.

Mild parties are still happening and some bars keep a “happy” menu but the crazy times of almost free drugs and booze are gone. I found the tubing boring and I was stupid enough to take my phone with me. Apparently phones, same as cats or gipsies are not good friends with water. At this point my watch is the only device still with me, for how long?

Lots of happiness
Lots of happiness

Black Buffalo, White Buffalo

Leaving behind Phongsally sea clouds I took a couple of boats down to Muang Ngoi Neua (easy name). The place is only reachable by boat though they are building a road, good for locals but will spoil the charm. The setting was beautiful with dramatic karst formations around. Not less impressive were the 1.50 euro dinner or breakfast buffets. On arrival people were having party, wedding? Nope, a lady got well after being sick. A good reason for people to get drunk.

From Muang Goi Whatever we walked to a pretty Khamu village. There we slept in a bamboo for half an euro the night. The village was more developed than the Akha one but still no electricity, hence no cold beer. Surprisingly there was a 3 days wedding party happening there. We stayed 2 nights joining them on the eating/drinking (the usual laolao free bar)/circle dancing. This time they slaughtered a buffalo for the occasion and the intestines were on the table, yummy! The atmosphere reminded me of Kusturica movies, but in slow motion (Lao pace).

Once the party was over we left to walk through the jungle to get to a more remote village with only 4 families living there. One great night there and time to walk to the river to catch a boat and comeback to the buffet.

On my last day in the main village I went for a swim. I spotted a bunch of water buffaloes sunbathing on a pretty river bank sand river.
They seemed really cool and laid back. I wanted to hang out with them and even have the hope they may like me and would accept me as a member of their gang and stay there. Not even close. When I was approaching them with my best smile the leader of the group stand up and stared at me in a non friendly way. I knew that look. I was used to get it from the herds of posh girls at Spanish posh bars. – What you think you are doing? You don’t belong here. Go back.