One Tribe Wanderers - Jess Explores Laos
I think there comes a point in everyone's life where you find yourself stagnating.. "What am I doing".. "Who do I want i want to be".. These aren't just midlife crisis stereotypes.
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If you're alive and present you should be asking yourself this everyday.
One day the rut I was stuck in became so apparent that I booked the cheapest flight out I could find. Beauty and hearts are everywhere and what a shame it is to miss any inch of the wonder that lies beyond the circles in our heads.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "I hope you live a life you're proud of and if not I hope you have the courage to start over again".
Travelling and seeing new cultures.. Seeing how people live by their means, gaining perspective, and seeing a richness of happiness in the poorest of places not only makes me appreciate life itself .. But appreciate the life I have the capacity to lead.
And So I Traveled to Laos...
From caves and shrines hidden amongst soaring limestone karsts, generosity spread amongst road side festivals, and hitch hiking innumerable kilometers down bouts of deserted roads, I discovered pretty quickly that the easiest way to find what's you're looking for is to go ahead and get lost.
With little more than the clothes on my back, a bag full of gifts and a sense of adventure, a friend and I rented a moped we could barely drive and set out into the out skirts of Luang nam tha.
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The first discovery was the ruins of a stupa in the mountain. With a hike that left our legs trembling and hearts racing the only thing left to do was climb the collapsed pieces of the brick monument with our bare hands and watch the world fold out in every direction.
Hands in the air, wind in my face, rice paddies below and rolling hills on the horizon.. If you've been looking for peace and tranquility or just want a reminder of how beautiful the world can be.. I've got an idea where to find it..
The rest of that days adventure around luang nam tha rested in the faith that a dirt road has to lead somewhere.
About two hours driving out of the city, we followed a trail deep into a small village. Like the children we once were, we saw the curious eyes of little Laos boys and girls peering out from behind the safety of their parents legs and the stilts of their wooden huts.
It's amazing how cross culture simple human nature can be. We begun offering the combs and soaps we'd brought with us to the mother's and sweets to the kids as a peace offering while we explored.
Before we knew it, the kids were cautiously following, and with a bit of giggling and a few more sweets later, all they wanted was to play. I sat and listened as they spoke to me in a language I didn't understand but the excitement in their smiles said enough.
We were led up the stairs of the hut beside us where a collection of kids, friends, adults and grand parents were all crammed into a barely 3 meter squared setting sharing food and drinks. Sitting with these people, it was clear that language barriers were not strong enough to hold back human kindness.
After lots of hand signalling, drinks and food were thrown around, we came to understand that four shots of whisky was meant to mean good luck, to which our returned charades of crashing a moped were either not understood or laughed away.
Needless to say we all left that day humbled, smiling and tipsy on whisky and kindness. Laos was a place full of endless magic, between the scenery and people discovered along the way, all I can say is that thw easiest way to find what i was looking for was to go ahead and get lost.
Experiences Like These Made Me Realize
I don't want to waste one second.. I want to see it all. The world fuels my soul and I want to stand on top of a mountain and take in as much of it as I can before it, or I, are gone. Perspective is an eloquent illusion and i believe you have to get your hands in the mud, be bound by language barriers and throw yourself into "what could have been" to understand "who I am now". Do as much as you can while you can.
We have one chance to make it count.. Or in my case, one chance to understand why it counts
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April 07, 2015
Very beautifully written Jess, sounds like an amazing trip, a real adventure.