Our destinations were three different countries in one day. We wanted to visit a small island in Laos, the largest Buddha in northern Thailand, and then go on an excursion across the border into Burma. The schedule was ambitious given our flight at 4 p.m. later that day. It was unclear how we were going to do this without someone pushing us at a pace that defeated the purpose, left us short-changed, or with a feeling of what could have been.
As we walked from the reception of the hotel to the van, a smiling young man turned towards us in prayerful greeting. “My name is Anan. You can call me Mr. A if you would like.”
Everything during the day unfolded as if it was on a divine script. The first part of the journey was on a longboat powered by a 1.6 liter used car engine. The driver’s experienced showed as we accelerated up river, effortlessly skirting the logs floating downstream from Burma, up pass the nexus of the Golden Triangle. Each time I focused the lens of the camera, the boat slowed to a standstill, drifting with the current as if on my command. We took our time, strolled, stopped to reflect, and leisurely took the pictures we wanted.
The second phase was the restored Buddha of Chiang Rai. The old city walls were still visible in spots, along with moats and stories of crocodiles and periodic battles between the kings that wanted to dominate the area. The same cycle of peace pervaded our time of reflection, pictures, and questioning.
Even as we headed for the Burma border city, I knew the cycle would repeat itself. Our ideal guide was going to be with us. Things would work out (and they did)! We would not be left with “nobody to help you home, no one among your friends or children to take you by the hand and put you in bed.” (Isaiah 51.18) We never need travel alone. The Spirit and Elders are here to guide us, aka Mr. A.
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