The Story of One Evening

This story tells how we bought a motorcycle, visited a Phongsali Teravada monastery,
enjoyed a sunset in the mountains and more about the unusual events of that evening.
16 March

There are so many different ways to spend an evening. Most evenings are just ordinary evenings. But sometimes an unusual evening comes. All the events of such evenings are special in some way. One of these unusual evenings began, when, after having lunch in one of the two guesthouses, we went to buy a motor cycle, our first personal property, obtained in Laos.

Alex lovingly examines the purchase. A nice shot – I managed to catch the light of excitement in his eyes.

As we are going to spend here much time, we need our own transport. At first we used to rent motorbikes, but then I got into a traffic accident: the side mirror was broken, I flew off and nearly let the bike fall down into the gorge. It was my first experience of riding a motorbike. So, we decided to buy a motor cycle.

This is how a filling station looks here. Of course, there are also stations that look like the ones, we are accustomed to. But when there is no electricity in the town, plastic bottles are used there.

The motor cycle is Chinese,150 cc. Alex really likes it. We bought it for 5,5 million Lao kip, that is about 700 USD. After the purchase we went back to the hotel. There was no electricity. At this time of the year the whole town has electricity only in the mornings and in the evenings, because the river is sinking and it gives very little energy.

Motor service. Motor cycles are repaired and sold here.

So, we went back to the hotel. I couldn’t work in the internet that evening and I suggested Alex going for a ride in the town. At first we decided to go to the mountain to see Phu Fa stupa and to swing on the huge swings there. It’s a great pleasure to swing those swings. They are attached very high on the tree, that’s why their swing is great. I really enjoy it! It’s just like in my boyhood days. But Alex suggested going the other way round in the direction of Oudomxai and making a stop at a small Buddhist monastery. We hadn’t been there before, and we decided to go there and to visit a filling station on our way in order to get a full tank of gasoline — a little more than 12 liters. Alex kept saying, that the tank was really huge, big enough to get to Moscow. He probably got homesick and missed Moscow.

Drums in the monastery.

There are many things in a Buddhist monastery, that seem unusual and unfamiliar to me. For instance there are graves, surrounding the territory of the monastery like a fence. Or there are also some strange pieces of ground, fenced about for some reason. Some of them have a small tree or another plant in the middle and sometimes you can also see money, left there by worshippers. I saw this in Ban Payasi village on the territory of the local temple.

Graves on the territory of the monastery.

Teenage boys, inhabiting the monastery, wear beautiful bright saffron robes. We met a very kind monk there. Everyone here treats him with the greatest regard and respect. Speaking pigeon English, he asked us who we were and where we had come from. When we told him we’re Russian, he began to smile. Many people here know about Russia and they like the Russians. The USSR used to support this country in the past, and some people here have even studied in our country.

This monk is highly respected and very kind.

Demonstrating his knowledge of Russia, the monk managed to say «Putin». Then the orange strings were brought to him, and while binding them around our wrists, he was singing mantras. A very sacral action. It’s hard to say, what exactly happened to us, but it did happen. Something good for sure.

After spending 10–15 minutes more in calmness of the monastery, we decided to move further in the direction of Oudomxai and to find a nice place in the mountains to enjoy sunset there. Leaving Phongsali, we stopped by a small local shop, something like a kiosk, to buy some water. Close to the shop we saw a small motor service center. Later in this story we will go back to this place.

On the way to Oudomxai. Very familiar symbols and images from childhood.

Sunsets around here are incredibly beautiful. As the sun goes down, it always gets red and is disappearing slowly behind the mountain ranges. We found a nice beautiful slope, and of course it was covered by tea bushes. Though it would be probably correct to say «tea trees», because unlike Camellia Sinensis, Camellia Assamica, that grows here, can grow into a big tree.

So beautiful!

After 20–30 minutes of meditation and saying good bye to the sun we decided to go back to the town, but our new Chinese motor cycle refused to start. All our attempts to enliven it were ineffective. It happened on a mountain road. Not far from that place we saw an unfinished solitary house. A young Lao family lives there with a little daughter, perhaps they are the owners of all the neighboring tea plantations. Seeing our situation, the father of the family went down to us and made an attempt to start our bike, first trying to kickstart, then pushing it downhill. After that we pushed it back uphill together. The man’s wife brought tools. He cleaned the plug and did something else, but nothing helped. We had two variants: to leave the motor cycle at the place and to walk back to Phongsali without it, or to push it the whole way to the nearest motor service centre, the one, I’ve told you about. We decided to push. We said good bye to the kind-hearted family and took the road to the town. Both of us had no idea of the exact distance, but it couldn’t be very far.

Pushing the bike, we took turns: while one of us was pushing, the other could have a rest and gain strength. It was not easy to push uphill and in fact I hadn’t known, that motor cycles were so heavy. When we made a stop to change, we heard some sounds, coming from the forest, as if some creature was making its way through the jungle to the road. Alex suggested it was a monkey. Suddenly a small rodent jumped out of the shrub from the mountain slope. It was not bigger than a squirrel or a rat, but without a tail. Then followed a creature, which looked like a ferret or a marten. We stood stock-still, watching with great interest. The animals didn’t notice us and a violent deadly fight started beneath our very eyes. Finally the predator reached the victim and in a trice gnawed through its chine. I came to my senses and made an attempt to take a photo camera. At that moment the beastie saw me and quickly vanished in the jungle. We were overwhelmed by this scene.

In about half an hour we got to the motor service centre, situated on the edge of the town. Using body language we succeeded to come into notice and to explain, we couldn’t start our motor cycle. I think the woman, who came up to us holding a baby, was mechanic’s wife. She supposed we were out of gas. Then she touched the gas tank and our bike started. Later we tried to find an explanation to this miracle, and we concluded that a motor mechanic’s wife probably has a good motorcycle repairing karma and sometimes one touch of her hand is enough to fix the problem. The man in the shop where we had bought our motor cycle told us that everything was ok and explained that we had filled a full tank and that was the reason of our problem. Actually we didn’t really trust this explanation but since then we haven’t had any problems with our motorcycle.

Your comment