Thursday, August 11, 2011
Alright, so in the two and a half months that I've been traveling I have blogged twice. WOMP! I know, I know. In my defense internet was really slow most places and/or I just didn't feel like sitting on the computer for an hour while I had a country to explore. So to my loyal reader(s), I sincerely apologize and I will make it up to you with a big picture update....when I get home. :)
Since my last blog update Hera and I have been through Laos, Cambodia, and now, Vietnam. Hera actually left yesterday and before she left, at our last dinner, we kind of did a big recap of the whole trip. I asked her what she thought she learned, what part was her favorite, what part was the hardest, and it just trickled into us recollecting all the major things that happened on this wonderful trip. As we were doing that, I kind of got overwhelmed. It's hard for me to think about how this was our lives for two months. We packed and unpacked our backpacks countless times, we laid our heads on a different bed almost every other night, we crossed paths with so many incredible and not so incredible people and to top it off, I don't know how many times we have said, "eh let's just go with it or we'll cross that bridge when we get there".
I can't complain one bit about my life back at home but I'm already back to making appointments here and there or thinking about two weeks from now. When traveling, it's day to day. It's that moment that's real, not what's happening weeks from now. Thinking about what's happening weeks from now really meant nothing to us this summer.
So as you can tell, I'm in process mode. I'm trying to process all the things that I went through and what I've learned, because I've learned a hell of a lot.
I'm actually finding myself staring at this computer screen because there is so much running through my head. I can't wait to share with you guys the things I've learned but I think I need a little more time. So in the meanwhile, I'll leave you with a story from Laos.
Buddhism is the primary religion in Laos. And actually, many Buddhists from surrounding countries often make journeys to Laos because they are said to be one of the only places that still hold on to the original Buddhist traditions. a.k.a they keep it old school. Well Hera and I were in this beautiful city called Luang Prabang in Northern Laos. This city is known for the Buddhist temples and monasteries. They are also known for the hundreds of monks that come out in the morning to collect alms. Alms are something that regular folks like you and me give to a monk in order to be blessed and to continue their monastic continuity (shoutout to wiki for that one) Alms are done everywhere but due to the fact that there is a particularly large number of monks in Luang Prabang, the Alms are a sight to see. It's like seeing a sea of orange walking along the street. The people sit on the sidewalk with pans of sticky rice or some other food/gift to give and the monks walk by with what look like bronze vases slung across their shoulder and you just drop your alm in.
Although it required a 6:00 AM wakeup, I was excited to see this beautiful tradition in action. I told Hera the night before that I definitely did not want to participate in this but just wanted to observe. I even read up on it online the night prior and the article talked about how some Buddhists want this tradition to no longer continue because it's becoming more of a tourist attraction and losing it's authenticity. So in my mind, I was set. There was no way I was going to participate. I had no desire to- The last thing I wanted to do was to taint this beautiful tradition.
So Hera and I walk out our guesthouse, bleary eyed and sleepy, and this lady runs up to us and she tell us to go sit down where the locals are giving alms. Hera and I said in our robotic, slow english, "no, no, no, we're going to just watch". She kept insisting and we kept saying no. We tried to walk away but when we said no, she looked like she was getting upset so I thought maybe we were disrespecting her and her religion. She ended up dragging us to where the Alms were being given and made us kneel down. She handed each of us plate after plate of these packaged cookies to put in the monks alm basket. As soon as she was out of plates and while monks are passing us by she whispers, "you pay money now".
WE STRAIGHT UP GOT PLAYED!
Ugh... So Hera and I were upset to say the least and we paid the stinkin' lady. We paid her less than what she asked for but it was more than we wanted to give.
So there was lesson #29342789349 out of 129837192412094010248... Just say no and quit getting so emotionally attached to people you don't know. Hera and I had a hard time saying no and this story proves it.
To tell you the truth, we got played quite a few times. We have many a ridiculous story to tell and I can't wait to tell them. But for now, I must go.
See ya later Southeast Asia, you've been damn good to me.
Posted by traveling dirtbag at 3:17 AM