Evening, approaching the Mekong/Nam Khan confluence.
Tucked in the far back corner of an outdated sleeper bus headed toward Luang Prabang, an impatient American passenger searched through the dirty window for a sign — any sign — that might suggest an end to his 27-hour journey from Kunming, China.
Bumpy, unpaved dirt roads had led him here: cramped and sweaty, peering into the darkening of North Laos. His bus, now hurtling at about 45mph on a thin, one and a half-lane highway in dusk, couldn’t arrive fast enough. A series of yellow-white lights off the left-hand side of the bus peeked through the blanket black night; the passenger blinked back at the shy lights. Air whistled through his opened window, damp like breath. Two left turns separated by a stretch of road resulted in a bus station where he alighted.
Shoving his shoulders back and stretching his arms into the sky, he stepped into the blacked-out indigo-blue of Luang Prabang.
Continue reading “The Two Rivers of Luang Prabang, Laos”
The Gansu/Xinjiang border is the edge of the world.
Figuratively, of course. But when you’re there it feels plausible. Like when the sand and soil ends, the world ends too. Walk off and you’ll likely fall into infinity.
Although, the friendly owners of Dunhuang’s local guesthouse seem unfazed by the fact that they live so close to boundless space. They have kids and a dog and offered us dried red dates and coal-furnace hospitality in the middle of winter.
Continue reading “The Deserts of Dunhuang”
The colors ripple through droplets
Sending sparks of light through the air
Steam rose like linens blowing in the wind
A rainbow out of crystal.
Beauty came from nothing.
Alone the water nourished the grass,
But the light proved there is more.
We are not just vessels.
Let light shine through you, and others will see your beauty.
Housed in its own worship chamber and sitting in pristine silence is the Jade Buddha statue after which this temple is named. Enormous and impressive, you’ll have to experience it in all its transience: photos aren’t allowed. However, they are allowed in the temple’s spectacular inner courtyard and grounds.
Here are a few I took while visiting this colorful place:
You can find out about the Jade Buddha, the temple’s century-long history, and more here and here (Chinese).
I am lucky enough to have a fellow ELCA global missionary friend who is in a year-long program called, Young Adults In Global Mission (YAGM), and is living in the largest and arguably most historical township in South Africa. She resides in Central Jabavu in the South West Township called Soweto, also known as the home of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
Continue reading “Soweto: Scratching the Surface of A Rich Township”