Sunday, 15 September 2013

Soul Searching

If today's blog is not as humorous as usual, I make no apology.  Let me describe some of the day and perhaps you will understand why.

We travelled on the bumpiest, dustier road I have ever experienced.  Even with our good suspension, we rocked and tossed around.  It rivalled Space Mountain in Florida any day.  Houses and small shack shops lined the way, selling all manner of goods from dried buffalo to modern Magnums.  Unusual transport weaved their way round the potholes.  Tiny tuk tuks to cans on four wheels holding a dozen people.  Oh a cow.  I shouted first Sally!!

At the Buddha Park, I made my own personal journey through what can only be described as a giant upturned cauldron.  Around you went, viewing statues showing life's struggles.  I climbed to the next layer.  Steep, narrow stairs with no handrail.  Another layer and then I reached Heaven.  The stonework sides barely reached my knees.  With a rictus smile, I posed for hubby who stayed below.  I sat down firmly to restore my inner self before attempting the return journey.  Coming up had been a challenge.  Going down was a battle.  With no handrail, down I went on all fours, reaching behind fearfully one foot at a time.  For me, that had been quite an achievement.

We had just started our travels again, when the Heavens opened.  Within minutes large puddles appeared.  The poor people on bikes huddled by walls.  The wipers on our bus went 'swish, swish,swish!'

It stopped as quickly as it started.  We arrived at the COPE centre.  This was a very emotional visit for me.  Apart from the human tragedy I saw, it also made me question the way events in my lifetime  had been distorted.  I knew about Vietnam but the story of Laos was not reported.  It seems the Americans dropped millions of bombs on Laos.  Was the country in the wrong place or did it not fit in with the American way?  I don't know and I will have to find out.  But I do know that the bombing left a terrible legacy.  As well as those injured during the 70's, adults and children are risking life and limb, literally, to recover debris for illegal scrap metal.  The countryside is littered with bombs and the contents of cluster bombs, called bombies.  The size of a Christmas bauble but very dangerous.  COPE was established to offer rehabilitation and prosthetic limbs for victims. Hanging from the ceiling were examples of home-made limbs.  There was a bitter irony that some  were made from the very bombs that caused the injuries!!  And the land is still littered, making it useless for farming.  Groups of young people are being trained in bomb disposal techniques to try and rid the land of the menace.  COPE is extending its good work to help rehabilitate other needy people too eg people with a club foot or recovering from brain injury.  A worthwhile cause.  I'm glad I saw it firsthand.  Well done to the English lady who started it.

The afternoon was a gentle guidance into the world of Buddhism.  Our guide was a monk for five years, so was able to explain it well.  Through the use of pictures in the temples and statues, he told us about Buddha's life.  There were so many similarities to Christ's life, it makes you think and question your own beliefs.  I should like to know more on Buddhism.  
We were about to leave one temple when our guide noticed a wedding couple.  My first in Laos.  I know you would all like to see them.  Fabulous outfits.

Our day ended with a Laos meal with music and dancing.  We walked home through the night market.  Country folk sold home-made wares next to fashion clothes and bling.  A colourful end to a most thought-provoking day.  Goodnight dear friends.  Stay healthy and happy x

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