INTO THE VOID.
To call this place a village would paint the wrong picture. A 'jungle hamlet' would be more apt. There were maybe a dozen wooden, thatched bungalows with chickens running around, pigs grunting in pens and a plethora of dogs putting around . The villagers stared at me out of their windows like I was an alien.
You read all the time about people being invited into indigenous communities, staying in yurts and eating goat bullock soap... I was banking on the same kind of hospitality here, I just wasn’t sure how to ask for it.
I didn't want to bowl in and ask straight away for a place to stay, so I signalled to my tank for petrol first. I was lead into teh village by a friendly looking guy in his 40s with a brilliant pot belly, a big grin and wild looking rotten yellow teeth. He led me into a little yard, covered in pig shit, with pigs snoozing and little kids staring out of the window.. An old guy in his 60s shuffled out with half a dozen 1 litre glass bottles of petrol and proceeded to fill up the KLX. That was one problem sorted.
I naively asked if there was a hotel near by. They all chuckled and laughed amongst themselves, of course there were no hotels out here. But it worked, I was led back to the entrance of the village. I was to stay with the head of the village. My new host, who didn’t speak a word of English and who's name I cant remember, welcomed me into his home. It was a two-story bamboo building, exactly how you'd imagine a creaky jungle hut out of Apocalypse Now. Inside it was cosy, rustic, warm and creaky as fuck.
He led me through to the living room on the second floor and we sat my down around their fireplace in the centre of the room. The atmosphere immediately reeked of peace. It hit me like a wave.
His wife came in and introduced herself with a warm smile and a gentle handshake. Another friend came over, he didn't speak a word of English either but looking into these peoples eyes, I knew I was welcome and I truly hope my own eyes showed my gratitude.
We sat around the fire staring deep into the embers.
There was no wifi, no electricity, no bullshit...
It was perfect, simple and I wanted for nothing.
His wife prepared and served us food. It was basic, yet delicious. A pleasant mixture of vegetables I’d never seen before and steaming rice. I devoured everything they offered me like a starving street dog.
I admired my new hosts; there was an air of peace and calmness to them that I rarely, if ever saw back in my day to day life in London. I loved the calm pace of their conversations and the real quality of their time shared together. I pictured my old friends back home, I wished we hung out like this.
Minutes turned into hours and we stared into the red hot embers all night long
I had of course, stumbled into my first introduction to the world of Zen. Whatever impulsive, irresponsible decisions had steered me into this situation, I knew I was EXACTLY where I supposed to be. I felt safe, warm and welcome. It was the perfect ending to a wild day.