I was trying to get to the Nam Kham. Rivers have always attracted me.
But the road conditions were gruelling. It matters not what the angle of the incline is, when the path is fine dust – not even laterite – there is no way to climb it, and pushing Charlene is no fun.
And so I stopped at this village for the night. Beautiful place and kind nay ban, but with the unfortunate addition of electricity that turned this place into a graveyard for the kind of beauty you know exists in deepest darkest Indochina.
I stopped, chatted with the folks, found the nay ban, bucket bathed in the communal bath area, found some hot water to make a coffee and sat down to write. The sun was still high enough to give me warmth. The nay ban was going over his communal documents. Peace was in the valley.
But not for long. Soon, neighbour after neighbour turned on his sound system and those same eight Thai pop songs were blasting out of every hut in the village. Makes you reconsider the miracle of electrification and the wisdom of supplying juice to people who have not paid for it and so can therefore afford sound systems. Far be it from me to patronise, but stepping from the bronze age to the 21st Century in one afternoon seems a bit hazardous a journey.
For the old people in the village all that noise had absolutely no effect. They kept on their chores, drawing water, fetching fire wood, hanging up laundry while I, earplugs firmly in place, went on a fruitless search for someplace over the rainbow where you could still hear the forest.