Here now and now here or nowhere

The title of this blog comes from a play on words that "now here" is also the same letters as "nowhere" just with a space added in the middle. I am always trying to get better at being in the here and now, and I've always been a bit of a joker so that is why I chose this name.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jeans.. random

That's what my friend Corey said when I mentioned to him how his friend is giving me a pair of jeans.  But let me backtrack a little.

Having been in town for a while and planning to stay a little longer I've decided I'd like a pair of jeans. It's not great to longterm travel with jeans as they are heavy and don't dry quickly but at the moment I'm not traveling. So why not get some jeans? Well... to start off with I'm loads taller than almost everyone in this country, ex-pats included. So finding jeans in my length is near impossible. Scratch that.. it is impossible.

Last weekend a guy I know in town drunkenly asked me, "how come you never wear jeans?" I had to explain to him what I just explained above, but it left me wanting a pair of jeans more. The comfort as well as protection (especially when riding off roads on my motorbike.). There was a sense of longing with a knowledge that there was nothing I could do. And I was ok with it as it's just how it goes.

Flash forward to last Sunday night. I was having dinner with friends of one of my bestfriends from college, Corey.  I was explaining how it is nice living here but we can't get so many things, jeans being one of them. Matt asked, "What size are you?" Turns out that we're about the same size. Him and his wife were heading up to a ziplining treehouse place north of here, so he'd need them for that but when done he could leave them in Vientiane for me. WHAT?  really??? jackpot. They were nearing the end of their honeymoon travels and could get more jeans when home. but me? I was at a loss. Humanity at it's finest (well, maybe not the finest but damn great).

I've posted a bunch about how the universe is in tune with our needs and us asking for what we want and receiving it. It happens again and again and I couldn't be more pleased. Even when it doesn't happen it works out great. Like the Rolling Stones said, "You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need." Well, not sure if I need them but I do want some jeans and so with Thanksgiving having just passed I should add that I am thankful for this (and so much more.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Rice Experience

A few weeks ago a friend of mine invited me to go to "The Rice Experience." She is in charge of volun-tourists (people doing voluntourism) and her group got offered to help demo the program.  The Rice Experience is a new tourist activity that is almost ready to be open to the public here in Luang Prabang. And it's right up my alley.  The Rice Experience takes you through the 14 phases of rice development, with eating being step 14 (a step I have mastered.)

One of the things I had hoped to learn while in Asia, and especially on my farm work, was about rice development. I eat a lot of the product and by product but never knew how it was grown, harvested, produced, eaten.  Well, I knew the last part.  This program shows and involves you in all the stages.  From pushing Susan (their albino water buffalo) in the mud to til the land, to planting sprouts, to chopping stalks, to shaking the shit out of the rice. The Rice Experience does it all.  And it's SUPER fun. Learning and entertainment, hand and hand.  I have to say, I had a great time with Susan only I was a little sad as she was pregnant with a month to go before birthing which meant I couldn't ride on top of her. boooo!.

Besides The Rice Experience, the Living Lands area also has an organic garden and they are growing some great veggies. (Heeellllllooooo beets!!!!)

If you're in town, try to take this exhibit. It was a super fun time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Traveler with a Great Story

The other night I had dinner with a friend of a friend of a friend. yeah, third cousins twice removed. he he he.  His name is Daniel and he's traveling in what I find a very interesting and great way to do it. Each month a different city/country/culture. The idea is to spend a more extended time period in just one place.  Sure you don't see all the country or area has to offer, but you get to experience more of the culture and more of the people.  He also is doing volunteer type work or home-stay helping gigs in each place.  He started on January 1st, 2011 (which I think is truly just wonderful and a perfect way to start) and for November he finds himself in the Luang Prabang area.  I could tell you more about it but it's probably better that you read more about him yourself at his blog site, 

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Better Living Through Corduroy!!

In honor of today being the day that most resembles corduroy (11/11/11) I thought I'd share a recent story about how small the world is and how wonderful a place it is. 

I met Pieter in Vang Vieng, Laos at the blue lagoon. I had gone alone there as the friends I was spending time with there didn't want to go and I had heard it was very nice.  Shortly after arriving to the lagoon I found myself in good conversation with Arne and Pieter, two travelers who also were traveling alone but met along their trip.  We swam in the lagoon, explored the cave and then after we left the lagoon we helped some local village people with a little construction type work in moving some big cement pieces into place. It was raining and we were hungry so we stopped into a place for some food and then we went our separate ways, after we exchanged contact information.  And this is how travel is a lot. You meet people, connect, talk, share and then go. But of course these connections are always sort of with us, right?

Flash forward 7 months and I get a message on Facebook from Pieter. "i've got a little bit of a weird question since i thought i recognized you on a picture.... are you a member of the corduroy appreciation club???"

well, of course I am, and it's something I'm proud of, but how does a person in Belgium know of this club and further more how would they know I was a member?  so i asked and received this answer.

"this is a great story!! i was with some friends thinking of starting a club for carnaval, i thought it is mardi grass in english... and then we came up, after some beers, with the idea to call it corduroy club and all wear red corduroys... a few days a go a friend of my google corduroy and he went to the wikipedia website and saw that 11!11!11 is also a holy date for corduroy, this is also the holy day for carnaval since this is the start of the season, so we were amazed by this fact. then we saw the website of your club and could not stop laughing, it was so nice!!! after a while i saw your name and though i know this name.... and then i recognized you on a picture!!! this is so great!!!"

better living through corduroy!!

Here's another little story (though not corduroy related). I had planned to do an Anusara yoga training in Chiang Mai in January but due to newer developments I won't be able to attend. I let the instructor know my plans had changed and how I was going to be working with this place that I'm working with a little longer. Turns our he knows the head chef there, but not from being in SE Asia but from Bhutan years ago.

And of course another little story. I had written this post earlier in the day but wanted to check with Pieter to make sure it was ok for me to repost his letter.  Well, in the time that I wrote it and got permission I ran into another old connection. Last January when I was in Hanoi looking to buy a motorbike I was sharing a dorm room with Adam, Kaja and other travelers. Well one was this very sweet Israeli girl who spent about 3 or 4 nights with us before heading back to India.  Today I was having lunch with my friend when I turned around to leave. Who was sitting there? The Israeli girl of course.  It was just another one of those moments you experience in travel and in life.

I am constantly amazed at how small a world it is, but how wonderful a place it is as well.  I love seeing our 6 degrees of separation break down to 2 or 3 or less. I love sharing and connecting and I look forward to one day finding a mutual friend of yours, yes you the person reading this right now, and sharing with you our new connection point.

love from laos

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Boun Ok Pansa

Last month I was fortunate enough to be in Laos for Boun Ok Pansa.  Here is a description I found from another website. 

Held to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent, the nationwide Ok Pansa Festival starts at dawn on the first day with donations and offerings made at wats around the city. Then in the evening candlelight processions are held at wats, and in a ceremony known as boun lay heua fai (equivalent to loi krathong which the Thai people celebrate in December) hundreds of colourful paper boats decorated with flowers, incense and candles are set adrift on the Mekong River to pay respect to the river spirit and eradicate bad luck, bad deeds and disease.

I originally didn't want to go as I was in sort of a funk, but ended up checking out the parade and had a wonderful evening.  Each village builds lavish boats, usually with naga (river dragons) themes. The boats are judged and a village is crowned winner, enjoying the street-cred that comes with it. Candles are everywhere as is the spirit of merriment. I ran into a friend from a different village and walked in the parade with him and his son alongside other villagers of his and their boat.  Near the end his son got tired and I had to carry him all over.  Needless to say, carrying kids is tiring. :)

After the judging, the boats are put in the water to float away.  People also offer up little boats made from banana leaves with incense and candles.  The city is ablaze with lights and good feelings. Paper lanterns are also offered up to the heavens.