Monday, April 16, 2007

Goodbye Luang Phabang (reprise)

I've left... here'a a film I made 2 years ago when I last left Luang Phabang...

same emotions...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Beautiful Ordinary

I walk pass the old abandoned hospital in Luang Phabang pretty much everyday and in the same way, my mind passes by it everyday without giving it any thought at all. And in the slowness of my brains it suddenly occured to me that it might make a good photo essay... and what's better is if I involve the photographers at the listening library and challenge them to take pictures in it.

You see, the library breeds some really good photographers, coming back after 2 years, I can see that their work have improved dramatically. However, being in Luang Phabang, a land of such abundant beauty, one is not hard pressed to find suitable subjects for photography. Hence, this aims to challenge the kids to lend beauty to something as ordinary (to a certain extent, ugly) as the hospital.

The winnner gets 25 US dollars... nothing much really, but considering that they make about 30 usd a month, that is a pretty substantial amount of pocket money to play with. So here goes, these are some of the photos I shot with the library's digital camera.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Four Days

One part of me feels that I am ready to go home. To face the realities of existence of living... to work, to deal with family and friends, and all the nitty gritty details of existence. To a certain extent I am looking forward to being home.

The other part however longs to stay here in Luang Phabang for as long as I can. As the week started I am begining to realize that this would be my last week here. The pangs of leaving slapped me in the face. I sip my coffee and wonder where the past 3 weeks have gone to, since every single day of those 3 weeks felt like they never moved at at all. In the slowness of time, it deceived me and zipped by without me noticing it. Further proof that time never runs in a continuum, but rather as collective moments moving in parallel simultaneously.

To make things worse, the two parts of me connected to each other and are running in opposite directions... with this going on, I fear 2 things might happen:
1) These force of these 2 parts running in 2 different directions might be so strong that they break free from each other. Each then running into oblivion in opposite ways.
2) The bond that holds these 2 parts are so strong that when they run so far apart, it becomes taut and could strech no more... the potential energy would ricochet these 2 parts and they'll crash into each other.

I don't know which is worse. 4 more days in Luang Phabang.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Thoughts On Time Travel (part 01)

Time travel will never be realized. I believe if time travel is ever realized in the future, the people then would not be able to resist the temptation of fixing things in the past. There would be a grand send off party for the team destined to fix up the past so things would be better for the present. Then they'll be documented in the past and those of us in the present would have known how great these time travellers were through our history books.

No, that did not happen. The fluidity of time dictates that even before one can change the present by going back to fix the past, the present would have changed dramatically even before the intended time travelled was permitted. It makes no sense. I reckon a common perception would be that time is this linear continuum that had no beginning and will have no end.

My mind of pure genius tells me otherwise, time is non linear, and all the moments all run in an almost paralel non linear fashion. If time really was linear, that it streches from way back and way ahead without an end, the metaphysical space that's available would never be able to accomodate all that exists. No, time is not linear, its just that our experience of the arrangement of time is linear.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Jai Guru Deva Om... whatever that means. Though I have to admit that it sounds super cool in a beatles song and I sometimes chant it to give myself some sense of peace.

Finally I have achieved enlightenment, through constant meditation (though not the usual kind) over the past fortnight or so.

The pace here in Luang Phabang is very slow. So much so that I walk slower, I breathe deeper, my heart pulses less, I think slower... pretty much everything I do feels like a Akira Kurosawa film. It takes its time to move, never in a need to rush anywhere.

How so? A typical day here involves me waking up, having a baguette sandwich and coffee in the local coffee shop whilst reading my book; taking a slow walk around town; stopping by the royal palace grounds (which is now a museum) sitting under a tree reading, writing, or thinking... usually I lull around there just gazing into forever; having a fruitshake by the mekong river zoning out as I watch boats pass by slowly; going to the internet cafe; walking around; more thinking, writing, reading; sleeping once in a while; heading to a nice cafe for tea or coffee; sleeping; doing stuff; more walking around, sometimes I go to the library and help out, sometimes I watch a movie at a cafe... Yes, I have to say it is a very hectic lifestyle here.

Such a, if one may call it, 'passive' lifestyle would, no doubt cause one's brain to slow down tremendously. This can be demonstrated in two recent events:
1) When stopped by a stranger asking me for the time, I looked at my watch, scratched my head and it must have took me more than ten seconds to figure out the time... it was 10 minutes to 8.
2) On a night when Luang Phabang was bathed in darkness due to a power failure, I told myself 'Oh, since there is nothing to do, maybe I should get on the internet then.' It took me quite some time for a lightbulb to smash me in the head that the 'internet' requires electricity.

In retrospect, this may cause one to think that my brains have been fried to a crisp. But in reality, this slowness in my thoughts has been a blessing. By thinking much more slowly, I realize that, my thoughts brew, like a pot of soup cooked slowly over a slow fire, and the end result is usually a concoction of ethereal epiphanies on the realities of myself and the world around me, and the way I interact with it. This slowness in a sense, have caused my thinking process to be almost meditative; so much so that I'm beginning to believe that I've reached the highest level of awareness in Buddhist teachings where one is in a state of 'neither perception nor non-perception.' (I may be delusional). Once again in a fight between thingamajigga and whatcamacallit, thingamajigga wins.

Today, I am at complete ease with myself, and for some strange reason for the first time, I feel like I am ready to go home and deal with all the realities that await me. It is strange, but this readiness to go home is usually foreign, almost alien when I travel. This time however, I realize that I am neither a tourist nor traveller, for I am neither touring nor travelling. I lack a route, I lack adventure, I lack all the essential elements that makes one to be travelling. However, this time around, I am a pilgrim. And on this pilgrimage, I believe I have achieved what I've set to achieve.