It’s a splendid little big town. There is a brand new mall, Maya, where I wasted some of the scorching daylight hours in virtually empty air cooled movie theaters and intermittently playing video games. At night, the air fills with jasmine, and the city moat sparkles from the headlights of speeding cars. Tourists pedal around on their cruisers, locals hide in the shade. The temple count felt as high as that temple saturated village of Luang Prabang. I like to visit them and look around, enjoying the calm gaze of Buddha and the gentle jingling of wind chimes.
The temples elicit a certain lonesome euphoria, a knowledge of impermanence in this world, to crave less and give more.
The walking night market creates agoraphobic nightmares. It wasn’t even that crowded, it just wasn’t my scene. So much for sale, so much unnecessary goods, so many things I wanted to buy! That’s how I knew it was wrong. Nothing I saw was anything beyond a simple, silly luxury that would be fun to have or to give as a gift. Backpacking ensures you carry only “what you need to survive.” The bag has limits and trinkets don’t fall into the backpack’s purview. However, I suppose it’s a nice place to buy stuff that will eventually become junk.
This girl was a highlight, she sang with confidence and used her arms to exaggerate emotion.