Monk chat, cooking class, change of pace
Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
54Trip End Jun 15, 2007
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During our bus ride from Pai, Jessie, a gregarious, well-tanned, stubbly theater guy from America, mesmerizes us with an unselfconscious monologue about his last three months of travel bliss
When Todd and I retreat to the solitude of our dank grungy hobbit-hole of a guesthouse in Chiang Mai, I have a minor monologue-induced freak-out. A lot had been percolating over the past month and it was time to crack open Pandora's box to see what unspoken secrets it had been keeping. I declare an end to schedule slavery, abolish all agendas, slam the brake on our eternal hampster-wheel pace. I confide to Todd, who's been a bit detached and overwhelmed of late, that from this point on I don't care if I spend the next year within a one-block radius as long as I'm living by the callings and whispers of my heart. No more photo-crazed mania. No more careful predictability. No more moisture-wicking, synthetic tourist trap crap. As if from a far-off place, he mumbles agreement
Something shifts. The next morning Thailand looks different. In the days ahead, when people ask what we've been doing we can't say, but it's been fun. We both fall in love with the tasty food cooked by the warmly engaging Kenjana at her little open air restaurant across the street. I take fewer pictures. We go to a "Monk Chat" and for three hours get the real skinny on the state of Buddhist practice in Thailand from three skinny young Laotian monks who "chat" with us primarily to improve their English while I bombard them with questions about meditation practice, chants, lineage, holidays, home. They ask for help with pronouncing "How's it going?" which they've just learned in class.
Todd and I camp out for a few hours on a rooftop bar, vodka pineapple bucket in hand, and a fun group of drunk Australians adopts us for the evening.
We explore our inner chef by taking a cooking class at a farm in the quiet countryside outside of town. Using a mortar and pestle, we grind together fresh garlic, spicy peppers, galangal root, and other fresh ingredients into fiery hot curry paste, whip together crunchy sweet and spicy green papaya salad, laugh at the chewy juiciness of raw uncooked sugar cane hacked down and stripped by machete moments before we're popping it in our mouths.
This little taste of newfound freedom makes the whole "blog" idea feel self-conscious, overbearing, tired. Writing about my travel experience encapsulates it, restrains it from moving along its natural progression of one event changing into the next. Too much checking in and commenting and analyzing. Not sure what this means for the blog.
Tomorrow we leave for Chiang Kong, and the following morning we enter the rugged forests and mountains of northern Laos.