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.

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