Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Finally!

More Don Det notes... I have about 4 or 5 left...

2 days ago I went fishing with Ken and his friend Ep. It couldn't be more different than how we fish back home...

Instead of a bunch of people sitting in a boat drinking beer and casting a line playing the waiting game, there is one man rowing - in this situation, me - one man standing up at the front of this very unstable barge (Ken) and one man with a diving mask on - a mask that looks 50 years old - actively looking for the fish (Ep).

It is a much more pro-active approach and much more entertaining. As I am sitting in the boat roasting under the afternoon sun, slowly being carried away by the current, pushing at the rocks with the oar, Ken is standing up in a blue speedo and waiting for his friend to give him the go to toss the net. Ep is in his black speedo diving every few minutes, chasing fish and looking for branches. He's pretty good at holding his breath.

Every time we toss the net there's a chance rubbish will get caught in it and that we have to pick out of the net, being careful not to tear the fragile apparatus.

"I'm sorry Étienne, it will be over soon"
"Ken, I like fishing, don't worry about me"
"Ok my friend. Can you go over there?"

The balance that you must have, to cast that net and not fall in the water, is pretty impressive. One of my favourite things to do on the island is to sit with a beer by the river at sunset and watch the fishermen at work. Guarantee you'll see one of them fall in the water every night, then come up and blow his nose while his friends laugh.

That day we caught a fish. I was standing thigh-deep in the water on a slippery rock, holding the boat as still as possible. Ep came up and pointed very excitedly at a spot in the water and Ken deftly threw his net in the air. We watched it unfold and land in a perfect circle in the water, waited for it to sink and silently looked on as Ken, holding on to a piece of string, brought it back up. As it folds under the water, it traps everything inside.

We brought up the net and saw our victim entangled! Ken let a very loud and happy "Finally!!!" and we all had huge smiles on our faces, even if the fish was pretty small. Ken had been fishing regularly since I've known him but always came home empty-handed.

I told him that my beard was good luck.

After this, I had to come on every trip.

Ken and his wife ate their fish that night, with some sticky rice and very spicy peppers. I didn't touch it as I am not allowed to eat that meal any more... It gives me the shits like nothing else.

After this Ken decided to fish closer to home (as in, directly in front of the bar). As I rowed around in circles he'd toss the net randomly and we started to catch fish every 2-3 days. We had to hurry before the neighbor's kids came home from school (Tana and Noua) because they love to play with us and that would scare all the fish away.

Next time I'm over I'll have to learn how to toss the net.

Picture taken by my good friend and fellow traveler Anthony Toussaint

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Étienne, you awake?

(Keep in mind, these are from my Lao notebook)

Every time I start a day with Ken asking me through the bamboo door: "Étienne, you wanna go somewhere with me today?" I know it's going to be a good day.

Today we went to the neighbor island of Don Son to bring 8 bags of rice to the rice mill.

I had never been there and was amazed at it's difference from Don Det, being a short swim away from one another. Simpler (even more) living, smaller trails (no roads), no guesthouses or western-style restaurants. It was also much cleaner.

Our first stop was to eat some "feuh" (delicious noodle soup, also usually the cheapest food available) and we then watched the mill work a little bit. We were there at 1 pm so it was already a very hot day... time for a swim!

Me and Arron jumped in the river and started playing with 3 kids under the watchful eye of their mother (you never know what kind of foreigner you'll get). After 20 minutes of that I decided to walk up to the mother to introduce myself, show her I was the respectful kind of tourist (I realised on the spot that I was not wearing a shirt, which is usually kind of impolite).

As I was buying myself a snack in a tiny store installed in front of the woman's house, a Lao man in his 20s walked past me. I had learned "Kim Beer Bo?" a few days ago (loosely translated to "Want to eat beer?" so I asked him and he said yes with a smile.

As I am grabbing 2 cans of Angkor beer (finally a change from Beerlao!) in the mini-fridge, about 6 kids arrived. I guess the word got out that a farang was in town. I bought them all a little bag of chips and had my beers with the Lao man and the mother.

After this there was no more getting away from the kids. Me and Arron proceeded to spin them around for about 40 minutes. We got hot again so we went back in the river and started throwing the kids around. One of them was a little dare-devil so I threw him as high and far as I possibly could and in mid-air he looked back at me and gave me two thumbs up, smiling wide!

An hour or so of this later, me and Arron are pretty much exhausted. We got out of the water to get dry when the ice cream man drove by with his scooter. You can recognise them because they have a metal coolbox built on top of their motorbike! Me and the kids all ran up to him yelling the word for ice cream (that I since forgot) and I bought about 15 pop sicles for all the little guys and gals - not sure if it cost me over 2 dollars.

By that time the mill had done it's work. We waved everyone goodbye, woke up Ken and got back on our boat towards Don Det.

It's one of my favourite memories of my 6 months of travels.

       The Don Son Kids (click for video)




Dédié à Jessica, c'était cool de finalement rencontrer ta fille! 


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Don Det Notes, Continued

With my last post, Bière de Route (Road Beer) blog just went past 7,000 views! I would celebrate with a Lao-Lao shot...

I was supposed to call Ken today at 8pm (8am one day in the future for him) but Skype wouldn't open... Bo pa nyan.

Without wasting further time:

Friendship Bracelets

When you do something nice for someone here in Laos, they tie a little colourful string bracelet to your wrist as a way to say thank you. I noticed that trend in Cambodia too, to a lesser degree. I really like the concept.

I got my first bracelet (pink) in Angkor Wat after praying to a Buddha statue and making a donation. A Cambodian woman, all smiles, grabbed my arm before I could leave and tied skillfully the string while chanting softly.

I got a head rush from the sheer spirituality.

During my Bolivan plateau loop I stayed in a bungalow by the side of a small, quiet river. The place was very clean and calm and left a nice impression on me.

When I checked out at reception (a desk under a bamboo roof) the next morning I took the time to thank the staff for their welcome and told them how nice their place was.

The lady seemed very happy with my remark: she let out a very american "awwwww", grabbed a small straw pot hanging from the ceiling, reached inside and produced 3 bracelets, 2 bright yellow and 1 half yellow and half brown, which she tied softly to my wrist. She then joined her hands together to her chin and said a cheerful "Kup Chaï Laï Laï" (Thank you very much) to which I replied by joining my hands together up to my nose - the respectful height for a salute to someone older than you - and repeating my best Kup Chaï... they apparently don't have a word for "You're welcome".

I think the mother of the family actually makes them herself and to me it makes them even more significant and symbolic.

I received a lot of those bracelets while attending Don Det parties and weddings (there seemed to be one every week) and sometimes had to take them off because they were tied too loosely. At some point Ken remarked that I was starting to have a lot of them and compared me to Manni, a man from England that had been on the island for 2 years and was pretty much running Happy Bar.

"Have you seen Manni's arms? He has so many friends! So much time for so much friends".

On my last day on Don Det I was eating at the neighbors' restaurant (which had become tradition since I was feeling guilty at making Ban cook for me during her ever-rare time off) when I announced to them that I was leaving. The mother of the family seemed very sad and gave me another 3 bracelets and we took family pictures. The eldest daughter came to me and talked very softly in Lao for a minute - the grandma seemed intent on us getting wed one day - and the kids all laughed.

4 days ago I cut loose my bracelets. I was still carrying most of them to the point where I have a paler spot on my wrist where they were. I had to cut them because I got a new job dishwashing at a friend's bar and I didn't want them to get ruined by the constant water.

They had been a constant reminder of my good times now past and the ones to come as I sometimes struggle to get up in the morning.


Monday, 19 August 2013

Don Det life: Soulith and a visit to the druid

When I moved out of my parents' place a month ago I forgot to bring my little Laos schoolbook with me.

I was with my dad today so I got to grab it.

So, as is tradition:

More on Soulith, the massage master

It is now clear to me that Soulith is completely deaf.

In the first month of my Don Det life I was afflicted with a crippling leg cramp. I was like I had a baseball lodged inside my left shin and it hurt like fuck, to the point where I couldn't walk anymore.

I had taken muscle relaxants, minerals, I even paid a visit to the village druid and applied a potion on my leg made of grinded roots, bark, rocks and seashells - to no avail.

That visit is worth its own footnote: Ken grabbed his neighbor's scooterbike and I hopped on as we drove accross the island to the next one, Don Khon. We drove through the monastery lands and parked under a house that was built behind the actual temple. We climbed wooden stairs to the 2nd floor where directly in front of us was a bed frame with no mattress. Sleeping on it was a Lao man that must have been about 80 years old. I mean, 80-years-of-working-rice-fields-old. We woke him up and Ken explained the ordeal with my leg, which he touched and felt and squeezed for a minute, not once caring about my tattoos. He then turned around and looked through a few bedsheet bundles that were laying under his bed and pulled one out, opened it. Inside were hundreds of pieces of plants and rocks and animals. He handed a pot and a grinding stone to Ken and instructed him on how much to grind of each ingredient, which he then mixed with water and poured down a plastic bottle that he ended over to me. His payment: 2 Beerlao. One for me and Ken, and one for him. As we were leaving one of his 80-years-of-hard-hard-living-old friends showed up with home-made Lao-Lao which we had to stay and take a few shots of. Best. Druid. Ever.

Back to the bar, as I was taking a 1-meter-an-hour trip to the bathroom Soulith happened by. His first reaction was to laugh - Laos Classic, more on that in another text - but then he looked worried and pointed at my leg.

I grabbed my shin, made my hand into a fist and then knocked on a tree. Soulith understood, pointed at his wrist where a watch would be, and showed me 5 o'clock by spreading his hand open.

I smiled and thanked him by joining my hands together.

He returned at 5 with a pot to make a fire which he used to warm up some banana leaves. He then proceeded to massage the cramp out of my leg with the hot leaves and worked the cramp out of my muscles with his iron-hard fingers, forcing me to endure one of the worst pains I have ever felt, if not THE worst pain.

After the session - which took place right on the floor of the bar with clients looking on - I had to sit back and concentrate on staying calm while my teeth were actually shaking.

The next he day he returned for session #2, this time adding chants and rituals, one of them involving dropping hot candle wax on specific parts of my legs, and spitting water on me in a fine mist.

After THAT session which got me an amazing headache, I thanked him by giving him a 100,000 kip note (his regular massage fee was 35,000 kip but I had been getting them for free for a while) and went to bed.

The next morning Ken said that I should stop the treatments as he doesn't like to see me feeling pain like that and so when Soulith showed up at 5 o'clock on the dot I declined with a smile.

He laughed and left, returning a minute later with a Beerlao that he insisted we'd share.

He did this for 10 days straight. I would be serving tables or talking with someone when I would notice him sitting silently at a table with a Beerlao open and he wouldn't touch it until I joined him.

The price locals pay for a Beerlao is 10,000 kips. I gave him a 100,000. So, he spent the whole thing buying beer that he would share with me.

I was walking 3 days after the second massage.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Sweet shirt bro

We spend so much time focused on our appearance.

We're built that way. Can't help it.

I come from a family that's never had (that I'm old enough to remember) any real problems with money. I've always tried to look poorer than I actually was though. I think it comes from the fact that when I was younger some kids in my group of friends lived in a trailer park and I was maybe ashamed of the abundance of foodstuff at our house, at all my shoes and pants and shirts and gaming systems so I started changing what I presented to people.

They were the tough kids too. Survival instinct? If I don't look too much like a nerd they won't beat me up?

After that, throughout high school I'd wear army pants, loose t-shirt, black hoodie.

Pretty sure Kurt Cobain had something to do with it too...

We spend so much time searching for just the right article of clothing. We do it so much in fact that we congratulate each other on a fucking t-shirt we bought.

We didn't design it. We didn't sow it. We didn't have anything to do with the creation, production, shipping of that particular product. All we did was walk around on our free time in a giant area dedicated to stuff for our appearance and spend our money on it.

"Fucking sweet shirt bro"
"Thanks man"

I've said it, I've heard it. It gives me a honest feeling of pride and happiness. Yesssss, the dude at Soundcentral likes my new Stormtrooper t-shirt! I remember that day, I was looking for leftover weekend passes to the first Pouzzafest. It was sunny and I was full of pep.

Fucking ludicrous.

I have tons of t-shirts. I gave a lot away to charity before leaving on my trip, about 3 garbage bags worth. The ones left are - for the most part - band shirts bought in live shows. I'd like to think I bought them mostly to support the groups but in reality it's because of what it makes me look like when I wear it - that's why I kept them too, it's my favourite image of myself. Not the comic book geek nor the slightly-outdoorsy guy but the show-goer.

We spend so much time fine-tuning what our outside looks like.

Is it to hide what's inside?

Is it rather to showcase what makes us, us, without having to talk to each other?

What if we started to focus all that time and energy on something else?

What if we started to make our core beautiful?

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.

I don't believe in the concept of a soul.

I do believe in smiles though. It's one of my favourite things. I like to smile, I like to make people smile.

It's contagious.

It's free.

Monday, 29 July 2013

La vie, la mort, pi les ptites boules de poils

Aujourd'hui on a endormi Spoutnik, notre chien depuis 16 ans maintenant.

Presque aveugle, complètement sourd, les cacas et les pipis partout, les fixages de murs...

Ils ont duré longtemps. Mais il avait pas l'air d'avoir mal. Tant qu'il souffre pas, que mes parents disaient. Les vets nous disaient depuis 4 ans déjà qu'il était sur le point de mourir. Mais le pti gars, il s'accrochait. Il chialait pas. Il n'aimait plus les marches mais des fois il avait des élans d'énergie. Mes parents l'endormaient pas, il avait pas l'air d'en avoir fini.

Hier soir par contre, c'était la crise d'épilepsie. Je l'ai pas vu, mais ça l'air que c'était assez violent merci. Tellement que mes parents croyaient que ca y était, il s'en allait tout seul.

Le reste de la famille était là aussi. Pas mon frêre car il habite à Sherbrooke, mais Mini-Cookie, Chuchotte, Peter, Frizbee. Ils se demandaient bien ce qui se passait avec le doyen, celui qui les a accueillit sans méchanceté.

La nuit a été dure ça l'air. Il avait des nouveaux signes aussi... Les jambes qui lâchent, les gémissements. Sa petite énergie n'y était plus. Ils m'ont demandé mon avis... Je ne suis plus aussi optimiste qu'avant, plutôt réaliste maintenant.

"Tant qu'a étirer ses souffrances... Aussi bien lui donner une belle mort"

Lui ce qu'il aimait, c'était ma mère et les écureuils. Pas trop compliqué, le Spoutnik.

Il a une très belle histoire quand même. Dans le temps, ma mère passait à l'animalerie toutes les semaines acheter des grillons pour le gecko de mon frêre. Une journée, un nouvel arrivage: une portée de chiots, tous beiges sauf le petit Spoutnik tout noir. Chaque semaine ma mère y retournait, et chaque semaine il y en avait un qui partait. Sauf Spoutnik.

Et ensuite c'était les semaines de solitude. Le pti a regardé ses frêres partir sans trop savoir où ils s'en allaient, et éventuellement il les oubliait. Chaque semaine, son prix baissait.

Une bonne fois, c'était rendu que la cage était incluse avec le chien. Il n'était plus un petit chiot, il ne partirait surement pas. Ma mère l'a prit par pitié, sur un coup de tête.

Moi et mon frêre, on était fous comme dla marde. On a tellement rit avec ce cabot tellement bizarre. On a choisi son nom d'après un dessin animé qu'on aimait beaucoup dans le temps, Capitaine Star. Spoutnik, c'était son chat. On trouvait ça cool.

Tantôt je suis passé lui dire mes adieux. On lui a donné un bon dernier souper, des saucisses, de la bouffe de chat molle (y'adore ça), et des ptis biscuits pour chien. J'ai demandé à ma mère si elle voulait parler à mon amie tattoueuse pour un pti souvenir.

Moi j'me suis assis à côté de lui, à lui gratter derrière l'oreille tranquillement. Il me fixait avec ses yeux pleins de cataractes sans trop comprendre mais il me laissait faire.

Un gros bec sur le front.

"Viens-tu avec nous au vet?"
"Tu-malades... Bin trop pleuré quand on a fait endormir Cookie"
"Ok. Bin, passes souper cette semaine d'abord"
"Ok. Bonne soirée"
"Bye"

Repose en paix mon Spoutnik, en espérant que notre famille t'as donné une belle vie.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Réflections de banc d'parc

Je sors du métro Lionel-Groulx en réalisant que je suis moins chaud que je croyais.

Je donne un gros deux au mendiant tattoué dans face et me dirige vers l'arrêt de la 211, cet autobus que je fréquente depuis 15 ans.

Manqué de 1 minute. Le prochain: minuit 18 genre. Bo pa nyan, ca me donne le temps d'aller m'acheter un café pi un bagel, plus que le tattoué dans face. 

À la station-service/Tim Hortons le gaz est à 143.9, 6 cennes de moins que vla 6 jours.

Gang de crosseurs.

Pendant que le gars sur l'autre banc s'endort je réfléchis à ma soirée.

Si à 15 ans on m'avait dit que je ferais 30 minutes d'autobus pour aller trainer dans un tattoo shop à boire de la bière AC/DC et me faire tattouer un dessin random par une amie, j'aurais dit "fuck oui".

La ride d'autobus consista d'un duel entre ma volonté et le sommeil, ça s'est terminé 1-1.

En débarquant une belle gothique me lance un sourire.

Je lui répond en levant les sourcils mais en débarquant je réalise qu'elle est surement jamais allée aux Philippines donc elle ne sait pas que je viens de lui dire salut.

Ah bin.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

More Don Det Reflections

It's a nice sunny Sunday here in the english-dominant upper-middle-class suburbs of Montréal and as one of my old co-workers would say every day for the whole season, it's hot as bawls.

I find it harder to feel comfortable in the summer than in the winter, mainly because in the coldest season you can always put more clothes on but during the warmest part of the year there's only so much you can take off.

Coincidently, today's entry is called:

Comfort

More and more I find myself sitting in the internet shop here, watching hockey game recaps of the Habs while my mind starts to drift to my comforts from home.

Tv.
Couch.
Bed.
Manageable room temperature.
Hot shower.
Food ready in minutes.
Music shows.
Friends.
Beer.
Diversity of said beer.

I'm reflecting on this in my hammock on the balcony of my bungalow which hangs over the Mekong. My living quarters consist of a second hammock for guests, a large bed with cheap mattress, pillows, a fan and a light, all contained within a bamboo square room. I also have a mosquito net that I don't use (it blocks too much of the precious wind created by the fan) and a window that I don't open (the street is made of sand so by the end of the day my stuff was covered with an inch of dust).

I could use a drawer.

I spent so much effort at home looking for simplicity. For some reason, it's hard on my continent. There's just too much available for every possible need.

Here you make do and I think it's great. The Laos people are also not used to having furniture or much of anything, really. Lately there has been a sort of economic boom and for the first time the locals have "big money". They build giant houses (compared to their hutts) but they don't have anything to put in. No extra money and as is mostly the case, the products are simply not available here.

A TV with satellite, a table, mattresses on the floor.

I was also on the internet to try and find work back home for the summer.

The fact that I've lived with nothing but the shit in my backpack should help me however, because no matter what job I get (fruit picking, marina work, landscaping) I'll have to live with very little in order to save good money to come back to Laos as fast as possible.

I can't wait.

I'm finally getting the life I've always dreamed about.

I just needed to get depressed first.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Halfway through the Don Det notes... more or less

It is with a not so weary body, a mind on caffeine and the ears full of Fake Problems that I open once again my schoolbook of Don Det scribblings to share with you bits of what was easily the best 3 months of my life.

I'm happy to have been able to share it with dozens of amazing people, characters and party members that collaborated to this, my first adventure as a solo nomad human.

For those of you that were not there, these lines spew forth from the past, out of my mind and onto paper, later copied onto a virtual surface available everywhere in the world...

"Everything's amazing right now, and nobody's happy" - Louis C.K.

Well, I'm happy.

Enough attempted poetry for now, here's an entry!

(If my writing style seems to have changed it's because I've been watching a tonne of videos from these guys over the last few days, I think they're the best thing to happen to Youtube).

Peritos!

Last night Sandy gave birth to 8 little furry blind creatures. It's the first time in my life that I get to witness a dog's pregnancy and the aftermath. I won't get to watch them grow into adulthood but I should be fortunate enough to play with them for a month or two, long enough to imprint my face, smell and voice on them.

Smiley face.

That was the end of it originally. Peritos means puppies in spanish, yes I picked it up from the argentina  chickas.

I didn't witness the puppies exiting the dog's vulva live and although I'm naturally curious I'm not sure I needed to see it just yet in my life.

Turns out there's a lot more to taking care of puppies than I first thought and since we're not even sure Sandy was over one year old (talk about teenage pregnancy! You slut (her 3rd nickname)) I was overly protective of her. She didn't leave their side for the first few days so we'd go into Arron's bungalow where she had done her business (right under his bed) and leave leftovers and water easily reachable for her.

We'd get woken up by sounds of the puppies yelping and it took me a few days to realise that - since they were blind and could barely move - this was their way to let their mother know where they were.

The pups became very popular very quickly (especially with female travellers and clients) and once their eyes opened and they started walking around and pooping we moved them to larger quarters. That meant that now any Don Det resident had easy access to them. That meant that sometimes I'd be walking around and see whatshisname driving around on his motorbike with 3 puppies in the front basket.

At the same time a dog smaller than Sandy, probably 6 months old, decided that One More Bar was his new home and decided to take up residency. There was a breed of dogs - or at least a family branch - on this island that looked like nothing I've ever seen. They had barely any hair, were pink and scruffy and fugly as hell.

Some backpackers were saying they were the result of mating between a dog and a pig.
Some backpackers are idiots.

Anyways. This unfortunate little guy was probably the last survivor of the most recent batch of little gremlins the poor mother birthed and was now looking for a new home.

That's right, in Laos, the dog adopts YOU. Sandy wasn't even Ken's in fact, she just kinda showed up one day and started being the awesomest dog ever.

After a few days of the little bugger disgusting/gathering pity from the clients I started to evict him a few times a night. People (mostly female travellers/clients) would go aaaaaaawwww and look at me with sad faces making me feel like an asshole as I was literally kicking him out of the restaurant, until they'd see Sandy full of motherhood and protective bad-assness show up and kick the living crap out of the little dood.

So, in retrospect, I did it for his own good.

He's probably living on the beach now with all the ugly discarded dogs of the island, being hated by the indigenous population but accepted by the invaders, the falang, the weird pale and tall people that show affection to animals and don't see them just as nuisance, food, or tools.


Friday, 28 June 2013

La peur

La peur.

Peur de mourir jeune.
Peur de mourir vieux.
Peur de mourir seul.
Peur de mourir pauvre.
Peur de vivre pauvre.
Peur de vivre seul.
Peur d'être jugé.
Peur de pas vivre pour de vrai.
Peur du futur.
Peur du passé.
Peur du présent.
Peur de perdre ses amis.
Peur de perdre ses rêves de vue.
Peur de la routine.
Peur du changement.
Peur des autres.
Peur des différences.

Avant, c'était les religions qui faisaient peur, pour nous garder en place. Je crois honnêtement que les créateurs de ses mythes et de ses fables avaient les meilleures intentions en tête... Après tout, il fallait bien controller la population et leur donner une raison d'être bonne.

Malheureusement, ce n'est pas tout le monde qui est bon dans le seul but d'être bon.

Alors pourquoi ne pas donner une raison à ces égoïstes, ces obsessifs, une raison d'être bon?

Une promesse. Un paradis. Allez, donnez au prochain car une fois votre vie terminée, ça vaudra la peine.
Mais si vous ne le faites pas, vous souffrerez pour l'éternité.

Tabarnak! C'est lourd.

Ensuite, les médias. En plus des sermonts d'église, les journaux, la radio, la télévision.

Faire peur à la population pour qu'elle reste bien ancrée.

Va travailler et surtout revient vite vite chez toi t'enfermer à clef, car ce monde est si dangereux.

Mais quand il pleut, tu devrais aller te gâter au centre d'achats. Tu le mérites, avec ta conduite exemplaire! Et puis, les voyoux, ça sort pas quand y mouille.

La peur de l'inconnu. La plus facile. Tout le monde en souffre. On a peur du noir, on a peur des étrangers, des autres cultures. C'est naturel on dirait.

N'apprenez pas une deuxième langue, surtout. Sinon vous allez vous promener dans le monde et découvrir d'autre cultures et ce qu'on vous a montré à la télévision, dans les films et les livres d'écoles ce serait que de l'argent gaspillé  car vous réaliseriez qu'on vous a menti.

Je ne crois pas que ce gouvernement a notre meilleur destin en vue. Je ne crois pas la droite, je ne crois pas la gauche. Tout le monde a un agenda.

Par exemple, le miens: donner une petite poussée dans le dos à tout ce monde que je connais qui a l'air si misérable à l'école, au travail, sur leur sofa. Ce blog a commencé pour me pousser moi-même dans le dos et si une seule personne a finalement eu le courage de faire ce qu'elle a toujours eu envie de faire, alors je crois que c'est réussit.

L'argent, ce boulet.

C'est le meilleur outil. Esclavage du dernier siècle.
"Crisse que t'es chanceux de pouvoir décalisser quand tu veux!", je l'ai entendu souvent dans la dernière année.

J'aimerais spécifier que je ne me pense pas supérieur ou plus intelligent à cause de ma façon de penser. Si avoir une famille est ce qui te rendrait le plus heureux alors bien sur, vas-y à la vitesse maximale. Le but dans la vie, c'est d'être heureux.

On pourrait aussi dire que j'ai simplement peur d'avoir des responsabilités. Moi je pense plus que ça découle de la simplicité volontaire.

Je ne suis pas "chanceux". Cette vie est une accumulation de choix, d'obstination, et de se boucher les oreilles par entêtement.

J'ai jamais vraiment eu envi d'avoir de carrière. Je me tanne souvent de ma job très rapidement. Aucun engagement égal je peux démissionner quand je veux. Par contre, cette sécurité d'un gagne-pain régulier s'évapore du même coup.

J'ai jamais cru en l'âme soeur. De toute manière, je vire trop facilement jaloux et possessif quand je tombe en amour. Cet automne ca va faire 4 ans que je vais être célibataire et ca ne me dérange pas du tout. Oui, des fois je me sens seul, mais mon sentiment d'indépendance l'emporte.

J'ai pas d'auto, pas de maison. "C'est un bon investissement" qu'on me dit, mais ce semble être la cause #1 qui retient les gens à leur point d'origine. "Es-tu malade, j'ai bin trop d'affaires à payer! J'ai des paiements moi crisse" qu'on me lance, comme si ils essayaient de se prouver ou de m'impressionner.

Depuis quelques années que je pense mettre sur papier mes pensées de tout les jours, ma façon de penser face au monde, à mes principes.

Je n'ai pas de religion. J'en ai pas besoin. J'ai un bon coeur et je le sais, j'ai pas besoin qu'on me dise comment faire pour être bon. Mais après mon petit voyage en asie, le boudhisme a clairement fait son influence sur moi.

Tempter d'aimer personne en particulier, mais tout le monde en même temps.

Tempter de trouver un objet, y mettre un effort pour l'obtenir, et ensuite le donner.

Se débarasser du besoin matériel, du sentiment d'appartenance.

Je suis pas pauvre, ni riche. Je ne suis pas québécois, ni canadien. je ne suis pas de gauche, de droite.

On est que la personne qu'on veut être.

je sais pas où ça va m'apporter. Ça risque d'être dur, je vais peut-être perdre des amis en chemin, du respect, du comfort et de la sécurité.

Mais en ce moment, cette cage dorée qu'on nous a batît, cette frontière pour garder les autres en dehors, j'ai plus l'impression qu'elle me garde en dedans.

Un jour je vais sauter sur un train, disparaitre au bout du chemin.


Monday, 24 June 2013

Don Det Thoughts

Hello folks!

I was supposed to work today. It's sunny, it's windy, it would have been perfect, except for my stomach that feels like it just shotgunned 6 energy drinks.

In truth I just had an espresso and already my body has expressed itself twice on that regard.

These following notes were scribbled down when I came back from the scooter trip I did with the two nice Argentinas. Another hard good-bye.

Sans plus tarder:

Back to "Work"

After a few days off Don Det for a much-too-quick Bolivan Plateau motorbike loop I am back at One More Bar.

I will spare you the details but the cook quit while I was gone, taking with him his only possession: his hammock.

The 13-year old girl named Ban who had been helping out has picked up the slack and it really shows how the kids really are mature here, and how quicker they become it. At 13 I couldn't be bothered to cut the grass for 5$ and when I did, I botched it.

That was the original text. However, the 2 individuals mentioned deserve to be fully fleshed-out.

Pan, who we called "Pee-Pan", was a gay, 40-something Lao man working in the tiny kitchen of One More Bar. When it was quiet he would be sleeping in his hammock or playing games on my iPod. Sometimes I'd find random pictures he took during the day, mostly of the kids walking by.

I was not that surprised to discover that he quit, however. His frustration had started to show a few days before. I mean, he's there working hard (when it was busy) every day while I, the new guy, was holding the bar and joking around with the people I met. One night he thought I was slacking and when customers left after their meal, he immediatly went and cleaned the table, slamming the empty beer bottles on the bar in front of me when he was done.

Message understood.

We always got along though, even if we couldn't communicate very much. I was always patient when giving him the orders (he couldn't read english but would re-write my instructions in immaculate Laos and then take an extra second to make me practice pronouncing the words. Basil = Pakapow. Pah-kapow") and always invited him for drinks, to which he would always say no and rub his flat stomach.

The day I decided to leave the island for a few days was the same day Ken, Matt and Arron all left for a visa-run that got extended into a week-long drinking fest, Ken visiting his relatives that lived in the north of the country.

When Pan saw me with my bag, leaving, he just ran up to me and said "Pakse?" which is the name of the next "big" town over, north of Nagasan. I said yeah, motorbike, Pakse, Paksong, 3 nights and mimed sleeping, then held 3 fingers up.

he nodded, put a hand through his hair, then got his cellphone and called Ken.

He was pi-issed. I could not really understand what he was saying except sometimes Pakse! Pakse!

I left with a mild feeling of guilt and only saw him 3-4 times after that, riding his bike around the island or sleeping in his hammock under a cousin's house.

Ban, the 13-year old. Always with a look on her face like she is going to poison me. She started liking me after a month and we started playing rock-paper-scissors when it was quiet. She tried teaching me to count but I never memorised the words.

From what I gathered, Ban was a kid going to school on the island when the family decided that it was time for her to learn to be a woman and a good wife. Off she went to Ken's family to work in the kitchens and basically become their servant, learning with Yaun, Ken's wife.

I could always eat for free at One More Bar, and they never let me cook, so if I wanted to eat during the day they would yell Ban's name until she'd show up, give me a look of hate and cook me some fried rice. I only did it twice however, when I realised that. I felt bad about ruining her play-time.

I'd go walk around and eat at another restaurant even if that meant digging into my precious and dwindling remaining budget.

I met a lot of people that way however, so I guess it all evens out!

But yeah. In retrospect: Laos kids are hardcore.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ma barbe, cette bête

Aujourd'hui, sur un coup de tête, je me suis rasé.

En fait, hier je l'avais raccourcie un peu... Un peu trop.

Depuis ce matin que je me regardais dans le mirroir du pick-up et j'étais tout débalancé.

La passion n'y était plus.

Alors je l'ai rasée.

Tuée.

Cette barbe que j'entretenais depuis le 5 novembre 2012, qui m'a suivi dans 4 pays de l'asie. Cette barbe qui a méritée d'inombrables commentaires d'humains des 2 sexes.

Cette barbe qui mangeait autant de beurre de pinottes que moi.

Cette barbe qui me donnait du caractère à la tonne. Un air de marin. Un air de pirate. Un air de gars, un vrai.

Cette barbe qui me démarquait de la masse.

Cette barbe, cette masse.

Mon père vient juste de me dire ''C'est comme si t'avais eu un déguisement''.

J'ai même pas gardé la moustache. S'aurait été une insulte.

Top moment de ma barbe:

Assis sur un ti banc en plastique devant mon auberge de jeunesse, à Bangkok, durant leur nouvel an. J'ai un fusil à eau (et une barbe) et j'arrose qui bon me semble dans leur face. Un couple dans la trentaine se tenant par la main, venant du moyen-orient, ceux que leur barbe fait partit de leur religion, passent devant moi. Je ne les arrose pas, ils étaient bien habillés. L'homme me regarde en passant, je lui sourit. Après 2 mètres, il s'arrête, comme si soudainement il était inspiré. Il se tourne et me pointe en disant à sa femme: "Mielleuse (Honey), regarde, c'est une barbe comme ça que je veux!" Il s'approche de moi pour mieux la regarder. On jase barbe. Une moto s'arrête derrière lui. Un conducteur adulte, 2 enfants en arrière de lui, armés de fusils à eau. Le devoir m'appelle.

Je l'aimais, ma pilosité faciale. Secrètement je l'appellais ma barbe d'écrivain. Entre 2 lignes je la flattais d'un air penseur.

J'ai des sueurs froides en écrivant ce texte. C'est plus dur. Pour vrai.

Un jour tu vas revenir, je le sais, je le sens.



Le jour en question. C'est de la farine, pervers!



Merci Mélanie de corriger mes fautes ;)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

More Don Det Pondering

Hellooooo.
Landscaping has really been kicking my ass.
Also, when it rains, I don't want to trek to Twigs, the little coffee place where I write most of my stuff, so the blog gets updated less often.

I'm doing an effort (really just killing time while Skyrim downloads) to have at least one update this week.

This last entry was written after 2 awesome weeks with an awesome girl and my moods were not very bright. Saying good-bye is not my thing.


Back to Atheists

The new energy displayed by atheists online has really become hypocritical. You spend so much time and effort to debate something you deny the existence of, to convince a believer that his faith his foolish... you become a fucking missionary of your non-faith.

You're doing what you blame them for: impose your beliefs onto someone else's.

By giving so much attention to the inexistence of God, you make him real.

You are just like the religious zealots that you claim to hate.

You don't believe in God?

Just don't talk about it, then.



Sunday, 9 June 2013

Thinking on paper

Oh boy. Here’s a pretty personal text. I didn’t want to put it in at first but I think it’s those that really count. I’m letting off steam. I’m calibrating my own moral compass as I said when I first started writing this blog 9 months ago.

A little background story for these following lines: I was still on Don Det, on my last month. I was starting to think about the fact that my money was running out, my health was not doing so good, I was starting to miss home. I had been hanging out with this woman for the last 2 weeks and we both had an amazing time and I was starting to think again about relationships – something I mentally blocked for the last 3 years.

Due to a difference in cultures we had 2 pretty big arguments in the last few days we were together and it really pissed me off. I mean, if I can’t even stand sharing my time/life with someone else for such a short amount of time – with such little constraints as we normally have – what chance do I have to settle down with someone permanently back home?

Not that it keeps me up at night, but I already know I would be lonely if I ended up with no girl by my side, no children running around, no family later in my life.

So. Here goes a text I wrote when I was angry at said woman, trying to cool down (both emotionally and physically) under the shade of a tin roof in Laos. It starts rough but you almost see my mind fighting itself, trying to fight the negativism with bullet-proof positivity.
At one point I’m literally talking to myself.


What’s the fucking point?


What is the point of being nice to everyone, let alone just one person?
You try your best to make that one woman feel special, to make her see how unique she is to you.
You can spend minutes, days, years doing this but eventually a collection of events will make you two hate each other. To me, it seems inevitable.

I don’t believe in soul mates or life-long love so why do I even bother with relationships? I could just be fucking around. Seems simpler.
Maybe because when you share your life with someone it feels like you are building something… “Look what we made together!”

And when everything is going smooth, you’re on a fucking cloud.

So, I ask again, what’s the point of being nice if it all comes crashing down anyways.
It comes down to that day-by-day mentality I guess. When I wake up before her to bring her a fruit salad and a coconut shake it’s all about the smile she gives me and the way her eyes look at me.

The rest of the world doesn’t matter.

I’ve had a few years of being not-so-nice. Not being an asshole, just being less of a nice guy. It felt simpler.
When you’re doing favors for someone else or try to surprise them with a gift or take that little two minutes to send her a compliment by text, you’re using of your own time – your most prized possession – to make her time better.

These are the foundations of your construct.

When something happens between the two of you and the whole structure is shaking, it’s these foundations that save the day.

So, again, what’s the fucking point when you have “Everything good has an end” mentality?
Maybe it’s selfish. Maybe I get off on making people happy. It makes me happy to see you smile.
Or maybe there’s no point to it besides why not?

I’m as far as anyone can be from being religious –even atheists get on my nerves lately – but “Do not do to others what you wish would not be done to you” sounds like a good mentality. I want to take it farther though and say “treat others how you wish you would be treated”. Pretty much how I’ve been trying to live my life since as far as I can think back.

A little backtracking to the construct. As I re-read these last lines, the best way that I could picture this said construct was a sandcastle built by two people trying to withstand the waves. It is possible but when high tide comes and goes and nothing is left…

Do you rebuild? Do you quit? Do you start over, maybe with a different partner? Farther from the sea? Sure it’s easier – safer even – but it lacks the excitement, danger, chance that you may lose it all.
If your castle will be smothered in a ruinous pile of mud in a few hours, why build at all?

Because it’s fun.


And sometimes you have cool pictures afterwards.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sandy and A Little Break

Don Det: The Lost Chronicles Double Header



Sandy

Sandy is a female dog the color of sand who is currently pregnant with what looks like 6 or 7 puppies. She's huge.

She smiles.

You call her name and she actually smiles. She lowers her ears horizontally and squints her eyes manga-style, and her tail wags so hard her whole body swings from side to side.

In the morning we get on our little boat to go to Nagasan (the mainland) where the market is. Sandy always willingly comes along. She hopes on the boat and sits at the front, sniffing the air.

Only, we don't take her back. She makes her own way to Don Det. Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes a few hours. Sometimes she's all happy, sometimes she's dead tired and covered in mud.

I really want to write a children's book about her adventures.

With dimensional travelling and left-wing propaganda.

Awesome Picture by Anthony Toussaint 



A Little Break

I've been fortunate enough to meet two really cool Argentinas (Florencia and Melissa) while "working" at One More Bar and after 10 days of hangouts they invited me to join them on their Bolivan Plateau motorbike tour (a little area in southern Laos sprinkled with waterfalls. You rent a motorbike and do a loop of the villages in 2-3 days and it's awesome).

This required us to stay one night in Pakse, a little town north of my new lieu de residence, Don Det.

I'm telling you this detail because as I arrived there I had to cross a street during very very light traffic and I literally froze. There was one car driving very slowly on the street and I waited until it was completely gone before I stepped on the pavement.

It then occurred to me that I did not have to do watch for cars for a month and a half. In fact I can count on my hands the number of times I've seen a car in the last six weeks.

I was then assaulted by thoughts of me having a mental breakdown in the middle of downtown Montréal a week after I came back (for the record, it did not happen, but then again, I've avoided downtown so far).

The next day we reached Paksong and it was so cold, we had to stop and buy warmer clothes. Florencia was always speeding ahead on her little scooter so we lost her but me and Melissa thought we should stop for the night and wait for her to realise we were not following her any more.

We stopped at a little store installed in the front room of someone's house, what would pass as a thrift store back home. The owner was trying to sell me a girl's hoodie. I was outside trying it on outside when the group of 6 young Laos men drinking on the terasse next door stared laughing at me really hard. I started laughing too and went back inside when I realised it was not for my sex.

I instead bough an army jacket I found lying under a pile of pyjama pants. The dudes showed their approval for it by laughing again while shooting me the thumbs up and then invited me over for a glass of Beerlao. I drank a few down with them as Melissa was finishing her shopping. I pretended to leave but instead I went to get Melissa and bought a bottle of beer sneakily. 

When I returned with a woman and a bottle of beer they all started laughing and cheering and suddenly we had 6 new friends.

Genuine laughter ensued despite the language barrier.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Single women traveling, Beerlao, Random Conversations

Don Det, The Lost Chronicles

It's pretty cool to work in a bar, let alone a bar in a communist country on an island standing in the middle of the Mekong.

We only serve one kind of beer: Beerlao. I am also only aware of 3 types of beer from Laos, so it's not like you're missing out. The other two are Dark Beerlao, and Namkhong Beer.

This lack of alcoholic diversity is offset by the fact that the bar is situated in the middle of the fucking Mekong, close to the Cambodian border.

Don Det is the place to go if you want to relax from all the moving around that comes with travelling (local buses, VIP buses, city buses, trains, skytrains, taxis, tuk-tuks, the list goes on) and for some of you, the hard drugs abuse. Consequently, I meet a lot of people who stay for a week instead of a day.

No drugs besides natural marijuana on Don Det. A curfew at 11pm makes sure the night doesn't last for ever everywhere on the island, so if you're not sleeping close to the beach, chances are you'll have a quiet day and a good night of sleep.

Since most of the people that stop by are back-packers (older or calmer travellers go to Don Khon instead), these individuals are also quite different from each other and my evenings are usually entertaining.

From a successful 33-year old Argentinian businesswoman in a mid-life crisis exploring life and the world, to a heroin addict running from the Cambodian police, to a traumatized German dude confused about what to do with his friend who is turning skyzo in front of his eyes because of drugs from Cambodia, to a Swedish drinking-machine (people petrol!) obsessed with tubing, to a sexy Dominican stuck in a love triangle, to a 50-year old Breton man enjoying his beer with a broad smile every night at 8pm, to a Japanese woman with the cleanest dreads I have ever seen who has watched every single anime ever who ended up staying on the island for 4 months...

That was just in one week.

I miss you all, you lunatics, goofballs, misfits and soldiers of awesomeness...







.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Don Det: The Lost Chronicles continues...

"I ordered steaaaaaaamed rice, not sticky"

The waiter nods and walks away. End of discussion.

The logic behind this: I was out of steam rice, you're still getting rice, yes? What's the problem? Just eat.

I love that. This waiter would get stabbed in Montréal.

This happened every week in our bar and is a reality in Laos restaurants. You might not always get the food you ordered. You won't get a warning. Sometimes, they totally ran out of food but you won't know unless you ask a waiter after about 2 hours of waiting.

I have identified two factors that influence this "eat this instead" outcome.

First: the Laos people don't prepare food for the future, don't over-stock. At the market they buy what they think they will need for the day. When they run out of food, no problems, let's just close the business for the night!
Second: Losing face. This is pretty much the worst thing that can happen in a person's day. It brings terrible shame upon a person and to avoid this they will ignore a problem (you will NOT get food until you order something else), find a debatable solution without asking you (let's bring him chicken instead of fish. Same same) or simply go bat-shit crazy, forcing you to back down (I have heard of the cook coming out of the kitchen with a broken bottle in his hand, ready for a fight). And so, instead of the waiter coming back to tell you they don't have what you ordered (seen as "we fucked up" from the waiter's point of view) they will just bring you something else or more accurately, nothing at all.

This has led me to witness a broad spectrum of emotions displayed by foreigners.

Stuff like:

It's not what I ordered but I'm hungry, fuck it. This usually ends with no further problems until it's time to adjust the bill. You see, the cook will usually replace the item with something easier (thus cheaper) to make but you will still be charged the previous meal's price since there was no communication between the cook and the waiter.

It's not that I ordered and I'm going to complain about it. Ah, 'murica. This usually ends with either the waiter simply walking away mid-sentence, or the waiter listening to everything you have to say with a composed face and then just walk away. Your table will probably not be served until it's time for you to leave.

It's not what I ordered. I WANT WHAT I ORDERED! Vive la France! This usually ends with the foreigner walking out in frustration or an argument that will go nowhere for an extensive period of time. Sometimes the foreigner will ask for a discount and he will never get it. I was faced with this situation once, as the barman and liaison between waiter and cook. The client would simply NOT accept that we did not have any pizza dough left and demanded that we make him one. I simply told him that he should go look for a pizza elsewhere.

It's not what I ordered and it's hilarious. This is my favourite one, usually happens when a young happy couple is the subject in question.

I love this attitude. What? Why are you complaining? There really are worst things in life, don't you think? Besides, you are white and rich, so fuck you.

To be more realistic the real reason is probably that Laos was poooooor for a very long time and it probably influenced the way they react to problems with a "Next Best Thing" attitude.

Another example of the "Next Best Thing" mentality:

One night I was cleaning the bar after closing time and found a Laos business card lying on a table. I picked it up and read the person's name and contact information simply hand-written with a blue pen on a white background.

Out of curiosity I flipped it to discover on the other side a genuine business card printed, complete with graphics and colours.

A big X marked across it with a blue pen.

I couldn't help but laugh.

"No, the information you want is on the other side! Don't bother with this"

Friday, 24 May 2013

Don Det: The Lost Chronicles

I have had a very lazy week. It's been raining every day it seems, and as a landscaper it means instead of feeling gloomy, I get to stay home in pyjamas and do what I please.

For those of you who are asking, it means looking at different visa types for asian countries (Japan!), pictures of cat on the internet (catbeards!), write this very line you are reading at the moment (4th wall!), work on other little projects (Mountain City!), read comics (Chroniques de Jerusalem, Calvin & Hobbes, Naruto!), and play video games (Civ 5, Fallout NV, Minecraft) or just sit around and de-construct my own mentality.

A healthy mix of productivity and entertainment.

When I first started writing Bière de Route I wanted to post a new text every week. Then during travels - as it was also my own personal journal - I started posting almost every day. I wanted to keep this up when I renewed my activity last week, but I don't have that much to say, and not that much of an exciting life at home, so I will go back to once or twice a week.

Enough details, here's part II of Don Det: The Lost Chronicles

"The Mystery That is Soulith"

Soulith at first glance: a Laos man in his fifties with skin darker than bronze, still fit, wearing nothing but old football shorts.

If he likes your face he'll take you by the hand, asian-squat in the middle of the road, and start to tell you your fortune by drawing signs in the sand and making himself understood with hand gestures. I've had mine done three times now and watched countless other fortunes being told.

Soulith, as I would later learn, is deaf.

The theme is always similar, and through drawings and hand gestures he makes you understand what he sees. I can summarise easily: don't worry about the past, you'll make good money soon. Don't travel during year X because the plane you are on will crash (usually the same year you or your girlfriend is pregnant). You'll get married in year Y. Sometimes he tells you the year you will die, but that wasn't very popular so he didn't do it often.

After a month on the island he has taken a liking to me and me to him. He's especially fond of my beard. If he sees me speaking with a girl he will mime taking my beard and putting it on his on face, then shoot us two thumbs up and start laughing.

Over my stay I was lucky enough to meet two beautiful and laid-back argentinas and Soulith approved of both of them. He would see me walking around with her, come by, check to see if her arms are strong and shoot me two thumbs up. And start laughing. Then he would point at his wrist where a watch should be and spread his hand open. "5 o'clock. Meet me at 5 o'clock" it meant.

I'd usually share a beer with him and then get a massage.

I also knew he approved of the ladies because he would show up at One More Bar while I was "working", sit down with us and start his antics: he'd point at her with the left hand, me with the right, then bring his two index fingers together side-by-side and gesture kissing on the cheeks with the his eyes closed. Then he would start laughing.

He'd follow up by slipping a pretend ring on the appropriate finger, point at me again with a cheeky smile and shoot two thumbs up. He would then direct their attention towards my beard and tattoos - and his lack of both. One night he had me draw on his arm with a pen as he sat very still looking proud as fuck until I was done (I tried to draw a bull skull but red ink on his ultra-dark skin barely showed, wasn't very nice, but he was still happy).

Through mimes and drawings I also learned that in 2009 he was at a party on another island (maybe a temple party on Don Son, those are crazy) but drank too much Lao-Lao and somehow cracked his skull open, and that is how he became deaf.

I was also told by another local that Soulith drinks a bottle of Lao-Lao a day.

One day he was walking around with a big brown envelope. He stopped at One More Bar and showed me a laminated letter of praises he received from a Thaï bridge-building company that hired him in the past.

When I inquired about the letter he rubbed his thumb and index together (the money sign) and mimed accumulating a great pile of it by putting his two hands together horizontally and separating them slowly. Then he started laughing.

A lot of locals thought he was a lunatic and an a little special, wouldn't take his money or let him in their restaurant. I was always very sad when I saw this but thought to myself "There must be a reason". It is very rare that a Laos person is blocked entrance to another's house as in Laos culture, every one is supposed to be welcome anywhere, anytime. Ken later informed me that it is because he is too much like a farang, a foreigner. It is okay for us to behave like we do, but not for him. The way he suggests to people that they marry is considered rude in their culture. He has forgotten his roots.

Over my 3-month stay I learned a good deal about him, more than most people I would like to brag. He was apparently a kick-boxer in the Philippines in his younger days. There is the business of building bridges, and his art of massages that I will cover in a later text... He must have been extensively trained (some say by monks) as there is no one else on the island (or that I've met so far) that does his type of massage.


The legendary man and his shorts

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Don Det - The Lost Chronicles

Wow... Feels like it was a lifetime ago for some reason... But it was not even 2 months ago that I was taking a small wooden boat packed full of backpackers, the heart full of melancholy, leaving my little paradise island towards Nagasan, where I would catch a ''VIP'' bus for about 20 hours, all the way to Bangkok, in company of Constantine, a German dude that was chilling with us at One More Bar.

Today I found my little notebook of scribbles from my stay on Don Det. As promised (if you read my stuff written in french), time to shed some light on my 3 months-stay in the 4000 islands region, province of Champasak.

The first notes were written after I read a few pages of a book written by a Buddhist monk, over one of many hungover breakfasts with a new acquaintance. It was her book, and I was digesting in a hammock conveniently set up between two tables right in the restaurant over-looking the Mekong river, a nice breeze helping us ignore the imposing hot temperature of the country. She was checking up on her messages using the Laos-speed Wi-Fi.

It made me want to write again. So, after about a month of absence, later that day I dug out a pen and a notebook from the pile of my limited possessions lying on the floor of my bamboo bungalow, and set out to write - with a Beerlao, music in my ears, sitting on the floor mats of One More Bar.

Here is the text, with some corrections and add-ons (When I handwrite, I become impatient since I'm too slow and I often skip words or whole sentences)

When you see these *** it means the end of the text from that day.


''Today is Sunday''

Not that different days of the week make a marginal difference in my daily life here on Don Det, but on Sundays I make poutine.

So, on Sundays I rent a bike and pedal over to King Kong Bar on one of the two roads following the river (sunrise side), where I order two liters of gravy that I will come pick up with Ken and his scooterbike before sunset. We put the gravy in a juice jug and I hop on the back of the seat, making sure not to spill any as Ken negotiates the tiny sand road back to One More Bar.

My fucking chain kept on coming undone. By the fourth time I was swearing. On the fifth, as I was putting it back on impatiently, muttering to myself. I hear ''Bo Pa Nyan''. I look up and see a Laos man missing an arm, smiling at me.

There really are worst things in life than a skipping bike chain.

I gave the man an apologetic smile, gave him the joined hands salute as I said ''Sabaïdee!'', and left.

I was still infuriated by the eleventh time the chain came undone. This, however, gave me cause to ponder. Why should I let this minimal complication unnerve me? After all, I still had both my arms. All of my limbs were present and intact, in fact.

I tried to find good things to retain from this experience and found one: it took me seconds now to put the chain back on. By the 13th time I was in all respect, an expert. By the 14th time I was a zen master.

On the 16th time it all came crashing down on me as I fought the temptation to throw the bike in the adjacent river. I looked for something positive again and found rejoice in anger instead. Motivated, I used the excess energy to pedal faster.

I can't remember if I was wearing my Yoda shirt.

Certain emotions are addictive.
Love.
Hate.
Anger.
Sadness.
Wonder.


***

Hahahaha! I was obviously influenced by that Buddhist book I read over breakfast that day.

The following page is covered with chaotic pen markings, the art of Baringa. (Read my previous post about having to take care of her randomly). I kept it because it helps me remember what my days were like. She was probably dumped on my lap and grabbed the pen instantly, started imitating me and drew on the notebook as I laughed.

Well my friends, this is all I will be writing today as well. I like to keep the posts short, because I tend to lose my train of thoughts (if you haven't noticed), I am lazy, and am working on something else as well.

Sabaïdee = Good day/Hi
Bo Pa Nyan = No worries (kinda)

My writing spot. From the glass of water I can deduce that it was probably in the last month as I was struggling to stay hydrated

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Babies... Babies Everywhere

I always knew I wanted kids.

I think back to when I was 16 years old and I already knew I'd want a kid one day.

(I'm not going to be a dad, relax).

On Don Det, I sometimes had to take care of Baringa, Ken's 2 year old daughter (she turned two 4 days before my birthday, Manny ((more on him in the future)) baked a cake for her and all the neighbours' kids came to eat it with her and play and run around and it was a blast).

I would often just be sitting on a mat, listening to music, reading, writing or just drinking beer with a new acquaintance when Mea, the family nanny, would shoot me a full Lao sentence with a grin, dump the kid on my lap, and leave the place, making sure to spit out a mouthful of red bark chew-juice on the ground.

I'd have to - and be happy to - drop everything I was doing and actively watch this little thing who liked to put everything in her mouth and climb the low tables to stand on her feet and look at people walking by, only to let go of her hold with no warning and come dangerously close to cave in her fragile skull on a table corner.

I'd get a few looks from travellers too... Who's this white dude with a mohawk, beard, tattoos but no shirt, is that his daughter?



''Is this your bar?'' Is what I heard every week.

''No, I just hang out here and try to help. It's Mr. Ken's bar and your stay on Don Det just got more awesome because you now know him. Ken! They like your bar!"

"Thank you!" Would say Ken, and promptly return to his tiny kitchen to make another delicious pizza.



Losing my train of thoughts here. Kids and babies.

As I extended my stay on Don Det and went less and less on the social media monster (because of shitty connections not because of lack of interest, I'm totally addicted to this shit) I got less and less news from people back home. Then, one day for me which was one night for you I decided to actually pay for a good connection at the local internet shop and try to get news on everyone.

All I got was broken-up couples and even two divorces. It made me feel sad for my friends, I wished I could be having a talk over a pint with them, help them try to figure it out or change their mind.

In a more selfish tone, it didn't really make me look forward to go back home.




 In the last 3 years I've tried a few times to date girls and women I felt were worth the shot, to no avail (mostly my fault). On the island, it was easy. A drunken night of farang debauchery, people coming and going, visas ending, the trip must go on.

It was never a break-up, just a good-bye, thanks for the good times.



Back to the kids, again.

On my way back home I stopped in Bangkok for a week. I didn't want to miss the New Year and Water Festival.- The guest house where I was staying had good computers for cheap so when a married couple back home- friends of mine - offered to Skype I accepted and finally got some good news.

Earth's population was about to increase by 1.

I was happy for them and wished them all the stuff you wish new parents. On a more selfish note I was happy to finally hear some positive stuff from home and having something to look forward to.

Most every day on Don Det I'd try to catch Noua (who was always running everywhere), or tickle Soun (who now wants to be called Yukee), or tease her sister (who would try to sneak up on me and tickle me), or help San with his english homework, or go swim with Pea's younger brother and sister. I was always surrounded by children and their youthful energy and laughter.

Working with me at One More Bar was an american guy named Alex. The day he left, he told me ''I'm leaving this place to go somewhere with no babies and no kids. The best part of my day is when I go play in the water with them. Take care of this place''

I now know what he meant.

Still, I'm older than him, so respectively my group of friends is older than his. I've been back for a month and 4 days now and I've seen 4 miniature humans under 4 years old. To clumsily quote my friend Phil C - new dad - when you have a kid, you stay young. Just being around them seems to give me a little jolt, put some spring back in my steps.

I know I'm better around them now - toddlers and younglings - and I'm not scared to handle them anymore.

For some reason I think it's one of the best things this trip has tought me.




***
All of the Lao names are spelled to emulate how we would pronounce them, I don't know the actual spelling (except for Ken - heh)

Farang means foreigner in all the countries I've visited in asia.

For the record, I still want to have a kid one day, I just don't think I can provide enough comfort and security for one at the moment.





                                                                Still... this little face.


                                                                       Baringa



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Le retour

Je suis conscient que dans mon pti pays virtuel (dans la blogosphère, get it?) il y a un gros trou d'environ 3 mois, la totalité de mon séjour à Don Det, mon deuxième chez-moi, facilement le plus beau moment de ma vie.

J'ai écris quelques pages dans un petit cahier d'écolier sur place, je l'ai trouvé mais je me garde une journée spécialement motivé pour l'ouvrir, le relire, et vous décrire ça en détails ici.

J'attend aussi que le blues du retour se dissipe complètement.

Faut dire que, revenir contre son gré car pu de blé et problèmes de santé, c'est ordinaire.

Je m'étais dit toujours concentrer mon blog sur le positif (au moment du premier texte j'étais sur le bord d'un gouffre) pour m'aider moi-même et parce que c'est plus sympa à lire, donc on va pas explorer ce dit gouffre, d'acc?

Je suis à la recherche de nouvelle musique sur bandcamp et sur youtube, et je trouve beaucoup de choses complètement différentes de ce que j'aime à l'habitude.

Mais, fidèle à mon punk, je dois plugger un de mes amis.

J'ai rencontré Tim, un allemand, en ''travaillant'' au One More Bar, on a bu et jasé ensemble et comme j'offrais une pizza gratuite à qui voulait bien nous jouer quelques chansons, lui et son amie nous ont fait une petite démonstration de leur talents (covers de chansons pop à la guitare acoustique et quelques unes de ses propres pièces, stai super nice).

Il est dans un groupe punk qui s'appelle les Stumbling Pins et ils ont tout plein de stock sur youtube, alors si c'est votre truc (ou même si ce l'est pas), prenez 3:52 pour regarde ceci.

C'est le dude en rouge.

Ou faites-le pas, chui pas là pour vous dire quoi faire.

Bonne soirée, les Walking Deads et Labatt 50 m'attendent.

Oubliez pas de vous foutre de ce que le monde pensent de vous.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Coucou

Bon!

Eh bien, je m'emmerde.

Et j'écris vraiment pas assez pour en faire un métier.

Et y'a énormément de blogs qui deviennent des sites internets qui deviennent des livres, alors pourquoi pas continuer avec une formule qui fonctionnait si bien?

Bière de Route. Un blog. Une mentalité.
On se calme.

Je dois aussi avouer que je suis en train de dévorer les bandes dessinées de Guy Delisle et je suis un peu jaloux de son style de dessin, et qu'il ai déjà réalisé mon projet de rêve (voyager+écrire+dessiner). Je me trouve soundainement motivé de recommencer à écrire et même dessiner. Avec mon nouvel emploi comme paysagiste en plus, j'ai un peu trop de temps pour réfléchir et mon cerveau trotte d'un sujet à l'autre (son gazon est bin cours pourquoi faut le couper? Je me demande ce que fait Caro live. J'espère que Ken va bien. Crisse que je m'ennui du Laos. Je me demande ce que ça sonne les jams de Matt et Matt?)

Alors, me revoilà au travail (entre guillemets). Lazy folks don't do extraordinary things, disait Hugo Ste-Cath dans une toune.

Et puis boum! Un blanc...






Je réfléchis à mes débuts, il y a de ça environ 10 mois. J'avais reçu beaucoup de bon commentaires venant d'amis, mais quand je retourne lire mes premiers textes je trouve ça beaucoup trop personnel. Je crois que c'est ce que les gens aimaient car c'était très honnête et je voulais faire réfléchir mon pti monde à leur vie (car beaucoup de mes amis ont pas l'air trop trop surs de leur direction) mais en fin de compte je suis pas enchanté à l'idée de vendre mes pensées les plus profondes et j'aime pas les prêcheurs alors j'essaye de pas trop dire ma vrai façon de penser face à notre société et ce qu'on est forcé de sacrifier afin d'y faire partie.
Oups, c'est sorti tout seul!

Ensuite est venu le voyage et je m'étais donné comme mission de pousser mon niveau d'écriture. Les lecteurs avaient l'air d'aimer les descriptions des lieux et les petits moments anodins que je décrivais. Je lisais la série Game of Thrones en même temps et je crois que c'est reflêté dans mes textes en anglais.

En ce moment, comme je disais, Guy Delisle, et je crois voir son influence dans ces mots plus haut. Pas grave!

Ce que j'aimais faire aussi et que je compte continuer, c'est décrire mon entourage au moment ou j'écris (je trouve pas le bouton pour faire l'accent grave sur le O)

Live, je suis assis le dos droit sur le sofa de mes parents (pousser des tondeuses toute la journée ça fesse) devant leur télé HD en écoutant le match #1 des séries Pingouins-Sénateurs (j'aime bien regarder les gardiens de but travailler). Je déguste une Labatt 50 laissée ici par mon ami Jonathan et mon acouphène me chicane d'avoir écouté de la musique trop fort dans mes écouteurs pour enterrer le bruit des machines.

Bon. Je commence à me perdre dans mes pensées, et ça commence à être long, donc je vous quitte.

Avant de partir, voici quelques petites tâches que je me donne afin de redonner un peu de vie à ce blog:

Trouver quelqu'un qui voudrait bien corriger mes fautes d'ortographes.
Rajouter plus de détails à certains textes déjà écrits.
Ajouter plus de stock (séjour à Don Det)
Commencer à dessiner des croquis, chercher à mettre sur papier le style de dessin que je cherche (très simple et cartoon car je suis paresseux)
Et finalement, tout traduire (ce qui prendra du temps car au risque de me répéter, je suis paresseux)


Moi j'aime ça partager la musique. Étant donné que j'ai mentionné Les Saintes-Catherines plus tôt, voici une belle ptite toune de ce groupe dont les paroles ont l'effet de me faire réfléchir.

The Sainte-Catherines - Confessions of a Revolutionary Bourgeois Part III

Bonne nuit! Moi je vais m'écraser dans mon lit avec une deuxième 50 et les comics Walking Dead.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Laos et un au-revoir

For those if you still checking in and wondering why I stopped writing, here goes.

As early as the 2nd grade, my french teachers were telling me that I should consider becoming a writer.

I've always been very very lazy at it but it's been part of my life since those highschool nights where I'd be grounded in my room, writing lyrics about Aryane, skateboarding, and anachy.

My mind has been constantly motivated since on Don Det, and two days ago I started working at a little dream/life-project I've had in mind for a while now.

So, do not despair. This is a long-term project, but you and me, it's not over. You'll get to glimpse into my psyche like the telepathic pervert that you are faster than you know.

Only, I've always wanted to write and publish a book (comic book, photography, novel) and the blog was meant to motivate me and help find my writing style - to get me started.

Anthony's mom told me that I write with my guts, which I think describes it very well.

Now that I am somewhat comfortable pouring my bowels on paper I intend to document my life on Don Det, my reactions to events that transpire here - western style of living versus eastern - and how can I elevate my consciousness.

If my plans work, I should be here for 2 years on and off. If everything goes as planned (it never does) there will be a book self-released by Étienne Bureau-Brousseau in 3 years, and I want every dedicated reader/friend of Une Bière de Route to get a free copy.

Until then,

Étienne



Live slow