The lowering sun casts a gold light on the swift flowing Delaware River as diners at Charcoal tuck into tender chunks of hanger steak, superbly seasoned octopus and wild mushroom soup with green curry.
It’s 9:00 pm on a Thursday evening and the Kitchen Bar Restaurant is nearly full. For a weekday night in leafy suburban Abington Township, where even most of the fast food chains are already closed, this is uncommon.
“The idea of the Laos government is to become the battery of Southeast Asia,” Robert Zoellick, World Bank president, Time, 12/09/2010
According to the teachings of the Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another, giving an outward impression that it is one continuous and unified movement, where as in reality it is not. So does life. It changes continuously, becomes something or other from moment to moment. (The Buddhist Concept of Impermanence)
Is Laos in the 19th century racing towards the 21st? Not since the 1970’s has this most relaxed of southeast Asian societies faced the prospect of monumental changes globalization is bringing to this ancient land. In a series of articles for Suite101 and the Examiner, I explore these shifting forces even as I experience centuries of tradition.
Forested mountains and ethnic villages may dominate photos of northern Laos, but it’s the region’s swift rivers an energy hungry southeast Asia covets.
In the misty mountain provincial capital of Luang Namtha in northern Laos, a mere 50 miles from the Chinese border, a traveler would not normally expect to enjoy a perfect grilled cheese sandwich, stuffed with banana, while sipping a shot of Lao Lao.
In the far north of Laos, overlooking the swift flowing Nam Oh River as it cuts a path through towering forest covered limestone mountains, the Nong Kiau Riverside Resort and Restaurant melts into the lush countryside.