A Faded Image Where The Land Lies Wild

mouhot1.jpgSunlight slants through verdant jungle and illuminates a simple white painted tomb on a hillside overlooking the Nam Khan River. Someone has hacked back the growth to open a view of the smooth brown waters, but vines are encroaching yet again. A square brass plaque, tarnished by constant moisture, reads simply “Henri Mouhot 1826-1861”.

Two Postcards from Laos

lao1.jpgLaos is a jungle country of rural villages with wooden stilt houses and smoky cooking fires. Karst hills obstruct the journey, jutting up like horribly broken teeth, unbrushed and moss-covered. Distances are not great, but winding roads make journeys into marathons. The highway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang is like a footpath that — over time and purely by default — became a highway. Modernization goes no further than the edges of the pavement.