Friday, January 11, 2008

My Friend Bong and The Island of Don Det

I have a friend named Bong. Now, unlike other friends named bong that I have been acquainted with in the past, this bong is not made out of glass or plastic. Bong is 16 years old and lives on the island with his mother, brother, aunt, uncle, cousins and other assorted relatives whose relations I have not yet begun to understand. Bong has Down Syndrome. Very characteristic of children with Down's, he is incredibly warm and affectionate. I am greeted with hugs every time I see him (which is becoming more and more frequent). This morning my meditation was interrupted for the first time in days when, at 7:30 a.m., Bong showed up to play cards. Unfortunately, I had given my cards back to my neighbors so we had to make do with writing the mathematical equations for sin and cos.
After that it was time for breakfast. Bong has been making breakfast (and any other meal I will eat) for me for the past couple of days now. He makes breakfast with the only toys he has, which he shares with all the other kids in his family, some bottles filled with dirt and some coconut shell bowls. Meticulously he measures out the proper amount of dirt from each of the bottles and fills my bowl. Sometimes gently sprinkling on a little seasoning, other times dumping large portions, It's hard to believe that he is actually just mixing dirt and not making an actual meal.

My days here are starting to become a peaceful routine. While part of me is anxious to hit the road soon and see new places (my Vietnam visa started two days ago), another part of me is stuck in this idyllic routine. I start my day with 45 min to an hour of meditation followed by some pre-breakfast hammock time. Then, it is off to breakfast where I will consume two glasses of thick Laos coffee (their motto could be "Each sip is like a line.") to really JUMPSTART the day. I usually follow breakfast with a little bit of time on a friends porch, then head for a walk or a bike ride. By noon I am back in my hammock or playing guitar (Yay for hippie neighbors who you will be hearing more about shortly). At sunset I can be found sitting on the deck of the aptly named Sunset Bar with a LaoLao mojito in hand, watching as the fire red sun sets behind the Mekong. After dinner it is off to a friends porch for a night cap. Bedtime is somewhere between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. A few meals, and the best donuts I have ever had (Top Pot is for suckers) are scattered intermittently throughout my day, but that is about it.

Now, about my neighbors. They are from Nashville, Tennessee though they are currently living in Colon, Germany. They are in their late fifties or early sixties and are huge hippies (yes they are both folk musicians). However, unlike your typical hippie, he is some weird cross between Jerry Garcia, Ned Flanders, and Clint Eastwood. He'll pass you a joint one minute, and will be engaging you in a deep discussion about religion and politics the next. He also regulates the our neighborhood. Since we are about 1 km from the small town on the island our bungalows are a bit isolated, and he has taken it upon himself to ensure that everything is runnig smoothly. Having become friends with the owner of the bungalows he goes to the dock every morning to bring in new people that he hand picks for the bungalows. A couple of nights ago when some drunk Finnish guys were making a lot of noise at 4:00 a.m. and told him to "fuck off" when he asked them to be quiet, he went to their bungalow at 7:00 when they were passed out in their hammocks and started shaking them until they got up, confronted him, then apologized and packed up and left. Who is this guy?!? She is just as wonderful, offereing me fruit in the morning, and passing joints across the balcony. Throw in that he has a guitar for me to play and, well, I guess the only thing to say is that I LOVE MY NEIGHBORS!

So that's about it. Life is easy right now. I understand how people can just be sucked in to this environment for a long time. I love it, but I also want to get on the road again. Though this morning, as with the last couple, I again decided to postpone leaving for at least one more day...


Natalie said...

Maeve and I are laughing out loud.

Anonymous said...

Give Bong a hug from Zane and me. Trisome gnomes rule!

Mark said...

Ha Ha, Daniel said "G gnomes". insided joke i guess. it doesnt look that funny since I typed it. But im sure it made you laugh!