Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I long to capture
certain scents of place in time,
but have the wrong snare.

At about the time the sun rose, I woke up to hear, nothing. The air conditioner and fan were both silent, and there was no sound from outside. I went back to sleep. When we did get up and started puttering about to leave, something Jimmy had mentioned came back to me. He said that he has three separate pumps systems to ensure that they have ample water pressure. Quickly doing the math in my head, I calculated that, no power + multiple pumps for water pressure = not even a cold shower. Quick sponge off with the dribble from the spigot it was. After eating the other half of our watermelon and gulping a cup of coffee, we got on that gorgeous ribbon of road back to the main highway. 

The weather was breezy, bright, and clear, and the ride was a heavenly trail of scents. In a span of several miles, it changed from light flowers and warm dust, to mint and cucumbers, to dry, musty leaves. I just kept inhaling it all! I really wish there was some way to record smells. I read sometime ago that scents are strong triggers of memory, and I know that at random times, I've walked through some trees in the summertime that take me back to hikes through the woods at 4-H camp in Ohio. It's not just the place I recall, but also the people who were there and the conversation. It would be nice to somehow bottle a smell and be able to uncap it later and remember what a time it was.

Buddha production line
We spent most of the day riding to Savannakhet, another city on the Mekong River, arriving in the late afternoon. After finding a place to stay, we strolled down to the riverfront to watch the sun set and find some dinner. It's a smallish city, with not a lot to do in the touristic activities department, but we decided to stay the following day to walk the back streets and admire the early 20th century French architecture. We paid a visit to the Savannakhet Provincial Museum to see their displays on the local history, economy (they do a lot of copper mining), and the war (they had Claymore mines, 'bombies,' cluster bombs, and a variety of guns). 

Different types of handmade brooms
On a more peaceful note, we walked the grounds of one of the working Wats near the riverfront. As opposed to the shimmering tiles and freshly painted walls of many temples, this one showed its age, with its crumbling walls and the paint oxidized and chipped, but it was quite an atmospheric place to be. We stopped to watch the Buddha statue production line in action as they applied swirls of hair and lots of gold paint to the basic figures. 

Oh, and we ate some very good food while we were there. Again, because of the French, they make some killer baguettes, which we enjoyed in sandwich form stuffed with omelet for breakfast. And I discovered my love of passionfruit shakes made with a touch of sweetened condensed milk. Mmmmm.

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