13.04.2010 - 17.04.2010
On the day before my departure, Elona and I took a short excursion to Wat Pho, an Angkor temple. It is somewhat reminiscent of Angkor Wat,
though on a much smaller scale. What makes the place special is the location up in the hills, next to a vaguely phallic looking mountain that is worhipped as a lingham.
It doesn't Look Very Phallic here.
The old temple is slowly crumbling, although attempts are being made to prop it up and prevent further damage.
Looking down into the valley below, the view is expansive.
As in so many other temples, there are women making offerings to the Buddha which they sell for a few cents to tourists and locals.
My favorite part however, was this rock.
It took a while to get down all of the stairs.
On the way back to Pakse, in response to a question from Elona, I got started talking about how I work as a therapist, the notion of taking charge of your own Self-esteem, as well as my own relationship to my mother, who I felt never gave me much approval. This conversation took place in our taxi, which was a small pick-up truck with benches in the back. As I was discussing all this, rather incongruously given the setting and the heat, our driver suddenly gave me a thumbs up, as if he agreed with what I just said. His English was pretty good, but it seemed unlikely that he had heard and understood the conversation. When we got back to town, I asked him about it, and he said yes, he did understand, and added "very good," indicating his agreement once again. I wondered about his own family but didn't ask. How incredible that he could hear, given the wind in the back of the truck, and that he would actually listen and understand, given our cultural,language, and educational differences. Obviously these differences didn't mean what I had assumed.
The next day when I started the three day journey home, I thought it would be straight forward, despite the Bangkok riots and the ash cloud over Europe. However, the local travel company that sold me a bus ticket to Ubon Ratachani, across the Thai border, had put the wrong date on it. When I showed up at the station, I was told the bus was full and that my ticket was no good. I more or less forced myself on despite being told this, saying I would stand if necessary. I had a flight to catch the next day in Ubon, and this was the last bus out. As I stood in the aisle, there was a major argument between a Thai and a French couple, who refused to give up their apparently double booked seats. The French did a lot of cursing and yelling, and refused to move, despite the fact that stools were placed for them in the aisle. The Thai's were equally intransigent, though they did not lose their cool. There was a stand off for about a half hour, while the driver tried to sort it out. In all the hubbub, my own predicament was ignored. Finally, a different Western couple voluntarily got up and sat in the aisle, and the bus pulled away with me on it. In the end, there was one empty seat near me which I took.
Another take on the issue of cultural differences.
The next day I caught my flight to Bangkok without a problem, and then a taxi to my favorite hotel near the airport, riots notwithstanding. Early the next morning I left for the last 15 hour flight home.