I often wondered what it will feel like being back in Laos after returning to Europe in March 2014. Would Luang Prabang still exude this magic spell of an exotic, sleepy, tropic town to me? Would I still enjoy watching the rise of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, with massive tree trunks drifting along from the heavy rainfalls of the wet season? Would I appreciate the slowness of life and its people as much as I did (most of the time) while I lived here? Would I feel at home again or rather like a tourist and merely visitor?
Those and many more questions floated around in my mind a couple of weeks before my trip to Luang Prabang.
Flying over the lush, green hills and seeing the mighty Mekong snaking along Luang Prabang brought back the very same emotions I had on August 14, 2012 when I first flew over this town: overwhelmed by the beauty of this part of the earth, and an unexplicable sensation of happiness, contentedness and calmness.
Within the first few days I realized how much I had gotten used to the Western lifestyle again and how many things I had taken for granted such as potable tap water, an insect- and gekko-poo-free home, vehicles on the road actually looking at the traffic before making turns, streets without potholes as big as a volcano crater.
At the same time I cherished all those things we lack in the West or have to pay a very high price for: a tropical climate, strolls in warm summer rain, hundred shades of green wherever you look, 100+headed frog-and-cricket orchestras performing goodnight concerts, the freshest vegetables and tropical fruit on the many street-corner markets (at almost no cost), walking on emtpy streets under a starlit sky after 7 pm, noodle soups at small local shops while watching the slow-motion life go by, enjoying massages every other day, submerging in the crystal-clear and cool waters of Kuangsi-Waterfall, catching up with old friends, savouring every single sip of heavenly lime-mint shakes while watching the Mekong waters slowly moving by, and perfectioning the art of doing (and enjoying doing) NOTHING.
I have been here for more than 2 weeks already and if someone asked me what I have been doing all that time I would answer “NOTHING”.
Although that is de facto incorrect, it still feels that way. I felt the same when I used to live here. No matter how many things I might have experienced or achieved during the day, in the end it always felt like I had done nothing. This will sound negative to most people but in fact I experience it as something good. Because I feel very grounded, peaceful, relaxed and connected to myself (no mind-races, no impatience, no trick-playing playing mind). A sensation that I miss all too often in the Western world. Here I don’t feel the urge to go faster, higher, quicker or to compare myself with anyone. Here I simply feel at ease – being in the moment.
And I am deeply thankful for every one of those moments I experience.