Dec 26th, 2014
When I was on my way to get out of Pakse, it finally got totally dark. The city was longer, much longer than I had expected…… and busier. It’s stiflingly hot. I would love to be transported to Antarctica immediately and forever! The side of my backpack touching my back was totally wet again and I was gargling down all the water I had like a flushing toilet. I asked many people for the exact direction to go South to a temple named Wat Pho. Guess what? Nobody understood me! …… I was obviously in a total local area, where one could not see a single tourist or find a single English-speaking soul. The rough road of the last two days was wearing me down. I knew that I needed to sleep and think about future only when I woke up the next morning. I headed back to the center. There was a monastery on my way. I went inside. There were some novices in the yard, hanging out outside their dorms, talking on the phone and washing themselves. I asked one of them if I could sleep there. He looked at me seriously and said that he would ask and come back to me later. I waited and waited, attracting more and more attentions of those novices. However, that novice never came back. I guessed that it was their way to say “no” or “leave me alone”. Then I asked another, and another novice. I told them that I could sleep just anywhere. Most of the novices simply walked away, looking a bit scared even, except one with an honest and serious face. He went with me to ask for permission. We heard laughter inside a house. He knocked on the door. Somebody came out. They talked seriously and we left the room again. For the next few minutes I was kicked around like a ball from this house to that house. Eventually we came to the house of a nun. She was about 60 years old, I suppose, totally bald and did not look kind at all. She was obviously senior to the novices and had rights above them. Another novice came up, who was obviously of the witty, smiling and curious kind. He told me that I could sleep just outside the room of this nun and then started to unwrap a thin mattrass for me on the floor just outside the house of the nun. I was so relieved and immediately started to unpack my things. However, the nun came out, started screaming to the novices with fearsome expressions, wide-open mouth revealing her broken yellow teeth and saliva flying everywhere. One of the novices translated for me:
–“No, she said you can’t sleep here.”
–“Why? I can sleep anywhere. I don’t mind. Outside is also ok.”
–“No, she said we do not want anything bad to happen to you. If your things get stolen here, we have to be responsible.”
–“No, you don’t need to be responsible. Even hotels are not responsible for that kind of things. It’s my own choice.”
Several rounds of discussions, nun’s screaming, saliva flying ensued. No, no was no. I had to leave. They started to fold the bed they just unfolded for me. I had a hard feeling. I was never turned down by monks when asking for help. Perhaps nuns belonged to another species? During the whole negotiation, the serious-looking novice was neutral, the witty and curious one was on my side, but they both had to obey the nun, who was as hard as a rock. The picture of other grumpy single elderly females I met before appeared one by one in my mind and I subconsciously categorized this nun with them. I don’t know for the West, but in China we often see a phenomenon — elderly females who have never married or had a man can be so fretful and ill-tempered, especially if they live totally by their own (of course there are many lovely ones, kind and smiling, full of motherly love). Perhaps it is a negative example of what lovelessness can do to one’s temper and character? 😉
They did allow me to refill my water bottles there. I drank as much water as possible and refilled all of them. Then I left this monastery. I actually regreted that I asked for permission. If I did not ask, I could simply use those wooden beds lying in the yard of the monastery and nobody would give a damn.
When I arrived in the city center again, the bustling night life was still on. I went to a restaurant to use their wifi. A guy sitting opposite to me was drinking beer by himself. He was bald, between 30 and 40 years old I suppose. He looked bored. I forgot where he was from, England or US I suppose. I asked him how much he paid for his place to stay. It was a hotel and one night was about 10 USD. From his attire, vibe and manners I could see that he worked, was just spending his holiday and would go back to work soon, not a long-term traveller. He mentioned in another Laotian city he found a cheap hostel, but there were too many “dirty hippies” there, so he left. I laughed when hearing this description, forgetting to tell him that perhaps I was also one of those “dirty hippies”. I asked around and got really tired, so tired that I felt my head was as heavy as the Great Pyramid of Giza and I had to drop it down immediately. Yes, I needed a normal bed, clean sheet and a comfortable room after such a long time of tough hitchhiking and sleeping in a curled-up fashion in a truck. Guess what?! I found a hotel. Yes, a hotel! which had 3-person dorms for about 5 USD per night. Paradise! The room was not shitty at all and they even provided drinking water! I was the only one there that night until at midnight a German girl arrived, awakening me from my dreams in the paradise.
Dec 26th, 2014