Sunday, January 24, 2010

on the hunt in Pakse

One of the benefits of not being distracted by a guidebook full of places to see that as I wrote earlier, its easier to focus on the journey and the simple joys of the road and how the experience is possessed. We have now travelled about 1000kms on this leg of the trip and head for the hills for a few days and then Cambodia awaits.

It took a while to register that for instance there are virtually no billboards advertising on the roads so that the few we do see merit special attention, but more importantly the awareness is heightened about all the the persuaders we are subject to, thanks to the constant market research to probe our psychological defences to create needs, when there is none, or to chose between brands of identical properties.

One that we have seen with some frequency, usually when entering a larger town said ""25th SEA GAMES, LAOS 2009". It took a while to reflect on the message, since Laos is a land locked country that, sea games would unlikely have taken place on the largest body of water, the Mekong, but that the sea in this case, was South East Asian, games which obviously was of considerable national pride and there has not been a message to replace it since the year's end.

Instead of market research, we engage in considerable market search, usually for the basic staples: water, bananas and the opportunity to have yet another noodle soup or friend rice. Once challenge being that Alison does not eat meat and its almost always added to each serving here.

This search also applies to finding places to stay, which at time involves the simple comparison of guest houses, especially if there is more than two that offers hot water, which seems to have some priority on the scale of desirability.

The bigger challenge is when there is no congruence between the place names on the map and the villages on the ground and the choice is to stay at the best place in town, meaning the only one that present itself.

This searching or hunting is a skill that hearkens back to our primeval roots. In fact, I recall one university course that argued that our brains evolved over about 5 million years and that we have only become the sedentary, urban dwellers over the last 50,000 years and modern only in the last 5,000 years or so, and that our brains are wired as that of the primitive man, so the pleasure of learning the day after, that the decision to stop at the guest house, with the next one being some distance away, is immensely satisfying.

The course on environmental psychology also talked about the pleasures we derive from water, green associated with foods, fire for protection and cooking, and of course the act of "hunting" and sex.

That water is the lifeblood of the land is so apparent from the irrigation channels that flood small parcels of rice fields to water buffaloes and children frolicking in mud holes, although usually not in the same ones.

There is so much more to share but so little time.

Happy hunting to all,


Laura Jacob said...

Sounds like everyone is having a good time. What time do you leave in the am and how long does it take to find a place to stay?

Julia said...

Andrew, as usual, I catch my breath after reading your blog. We are now looking forward to reading Jess's too. It sounds as if you are really back to basics and I know that I could use a dose of that myself. Maybe I will stop working and go and simplify a room in this house. The rain is falling as we experience a January thaw. We think of you often as we decide which kind of toast to have in the morning. We love and miss you and wish you safe riding.