Pak Beng, Laos


1 June 2004

It’s the beginning of June and the end of my eleven days here in Pak Beng, which is supposed to serve as an over-night stop-over for those travelling the Mekong (river) between Huay Xai, on the Thailand border -the way in which I entered the country- and Luang Prabang, the second largest city in the country run by the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The republic is landlocked with China in the north, Vietnam to its north and east, and Cambodia at its southern border. Thailand to the west and Myanmar (formally Burma) bordering its northwest section.

(My stay here became elongated when I realized I found there is a sauna, and if I had the money I could have a message and sauna every day; after all…this is supposed to be a healing journey. That will have to happen on another trip.)

What really happened is that I saw myself in a mirror, and realized all the exercise I had been doing for the last four months – intensely, had begun to show physically on my body. I figured I could stay here for 10 days and intensify further the routine; to also include the late evening(s).

So I began my own vipassana course as the Unsequestered Monk would want; negotiating a slightly lower guest house rate.

The first three days were spent watching the village and how life revolved around the daily boats bringing passengers up and down the Mekong to this respite. I saw how children made up games with what was at hand -flip-flops / rocks / rubber bands…; saw how the market works; saw the “dance,” the rhythm everyone is in… The merchants seeing money opportunities walking before their eyes, the tourist being careful not to let too much money go as most have no new sources coming in as they travel the 4 or 6 or 10 or 18 months they will be journeying about the globe.

The third day also was my last BeerLao, which is quiet good beer and the locals know it as that is the second or third thing to come out of their mouths when you come hovering by their establishments: “BeerLao?”

I finally was at a point, with my inner musculature, to be able to send air (inhaled oxygen) directly to the muscles, in effect giving an internal message of exchanging oxygen for carbon. Using deliberate breathing and precise exercise movements, I started “seeing” the inside of my body…even to the point of “seeing” the hollow circular area, right below my belly, called in martial arts disciplines: The Power Center.

I realized I was now “in-touch” with the cables controlling the final phases of my healing from the incident with the Virginia
Beach Sea, almost two years ago now. So now I am lying here concentrating; happy with my healing path. One of the best therapies for me has been to lay, listening to the rain pouring down.

I am now ready to move on and continue down the mighty Mekong, seeing how far down river I can go before my visa runs our; that or my money. The (Unsequestered) Monk is living among the people, on the cheap, and on the outside; not contributing to their local economics to the fullest, as traveler from the west should.

But the healing is on track, and I do know now for certain -even as I did know it for certain before- all answers lay within oneself. It is patience and perseverance that brings these answers to the fore.

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, 2 June 2004, I take the passenger boat to Luang Prabang, knowing I have used this respite that is Pak Beng to its, and my, fullest.