Four Thousand Islands Ablaze

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lovingpenfull
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Joined: August 10th, 2005, 10:52 pm
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Four Thousand Islands Ablaze

Post by lovingpenfull » August 28th, 2005, 2:53 am

A motor boat ride from Strung Treng in northern Cambodia, one of the first of Pol Pot’s bases when forming the Khmer Rouge, takes me into souther Laos. I cross the boarder with another American and two Czech guys both named Tomas. Once through the wooden shack check point, we get a bus to the Si Pan Don (Four Thousand Islands) area of southern Laos in the Mekong River. A few days are spent visiting the rusting relics of the long passed French colony and some waterfalls. The day before I planned to leave, I took a quick jaunt up a small mountain in the center of the island to see a small cave filled with Buddha junk. On back down and back into town, I stopped to eat as the sun was going down. Suddenly a commotion began and the power went off. Sensing a slight panic in the restaurant lady’s voice, though unable to understand what she was telling me, I got up to go see what the fuss was about. There was a slight glow above some distant trees and so I rushed over to confirm that it was a fire of some description. It was at first a small flame licking out of a second story window, but it soon engulfed the entire ramshackle, wooden structure and the other ramshackle, wooden structures connected to it. Flames were jumping over and scorching the power lines and I was afraid that they would snap like guitar strings. Then things started exploding. Probably not propane tanks because I guess that would have brought the whole thing down and out, spreading it all everywhere; but maybe television sets and radios, aerosol cans and anything else. Nobody seemed to know what to do except evacuate their homes of valuables as we were on an island and there could be no communication with the mainland as the power was out. It was probably the owner of the house next in line to be burnt and some foreigners who initiated the first chain of people passing buckets, wash basins, sauce pans and anything else that could hold water, from out of the river and onto the fire. Finally, someone showed up a few hours later with a water pump on a boat with a long piece of PVC pipe and a small length of hose attached to it with which to fight the blaze. It took a few hours, but we actually put it out! At first it seemed like it was just going to go from one house to the next fastern than a Jehovah’s Witness until the entire block was burnt, but we all kept at it even a bit after the pump boat arrived to ensure that the coals wouldn’t spring to life again. It was really interesting to see how people just kind of started working together, it was a little like a festival in a strange way, though a lot of Lao people were just standing around watching the place burn. It is terrible that those people lost their homes, some five houses were destroyed, but no one was hurt and it was damn interesting to witness. No one was really sure how it was started, but with the way they wire their houses I wouldn't be surprised if it were an electrical cause, though someone said they heard that it was a prayer candle that started it. These people and their prayer candles and incense burning; it really is un-Buddhist in the first place. Buddha wouldn't give a damn if people burn candles for him, in fact he would encourage them to spend their time confronting their own egos instead of praising his egolessness. And, when respecting Buddha carelessly, the risk of burning the whole place down is run. That was my excitement. There again, the Buddhist existentialism prevented many Laotians of taking a passionate stance toward putting the fire out. They opted to just watch it and flee if their place was in direct danger. A cool heart always wins out they say, but I say a cool heart is a dead heart that lets his town burn down. Anyway, after that, back into Thailand; I feel like I am permanently trapped in a shopping mall here in comparison with Laos. Too Westernized. My new teaching job fell through. I am going to India…
I am looking for a home for my thoughts.

saw
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Joined: May 23rd, 2008, 7:32 am
Location: B'more, Maryland

Re: Four Thousand Islands Ablaze

Post by saw » June 8th, 2018, 10:47 am

thirteen years ago
a story was told and no one responded
til now
I hope you are well
If you do not change your direction
you may end up where you are heading

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judih
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Joined: August 17th, 2004, 7:38 am
Location: kibbutz nir oz, israel
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Re: Four Thousand Islands Ablaze

Post by judih » June 8th, 2018, 11:56 pm

It's been a while - thanks, Steve, for re-opening the channels to the posts of lovingpenfull

saw
Posts: 5742
Joined: May 23rd, 2008, 7:32 am
Location: B'more, Maryland

Re: Four Thousand Islands Ablaze

Post by saw » June 9th, 2018, 9:41 am

you're welcome
someone spent some time
words they deemed as valuable
left here in the studio
it saddened me yesterday
to know there wasn't a response
as I worry more each day
about he fate of studio 8
the activity is getting spottier and spottier
but in the end we all do what we can
and it's been a lovely ride thus far
If you do not change your direction
you may end up where you are heading

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judih
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Posts: 10486
Joined: August 17th, 2004, 7:38 am
Location: kibbutz nir oz, israel
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Re: Four Thousand Islands Ablaze

Post by judih » June 10th, 2018, 10:48 pm

lovely, indeed

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