I recently found this journal entry, detailing the night I spent sleeping on the floor of this hut in a rural village on the Mekong River:
📝 “The people here are beautiful. 342 of them from three minority tribes, speaking three different languages and practicing customs unique to each, but living here together in complete peace.
...at dusk, I found my way to the Chief’s hut. I removed my shoes and entered to find a mattress pad on the floor tucked into one corner of the room. It was veiled in a blue mosquito net and offered a hard square pillow and sturdy blanket for protection against the cold.
Opposite my anything-but-luxurious bed was a brightly patterned sheet draped from the ceiling to create a makeshift room in one corner. A small candle burned from within as I tucked away for the night. The chief returned, snuffed out the candle, and retired to bed.
I was surprised to find him speaking to a woman, presumably his wife, of whom I had been completely unaware. Soon after, I also heard the cooing of a baby and realized I was sharing a dwelling with not just the chief, but the chief and his young family.
I laid on my back, cloaked by the sheer mosquito net, and stared blankly into oblivion. I found that I had an unparalleled clarity of mind as the only distraction was the incessant (yet welcome) sound of wildlife just outside the walls.
I thought about how Americans would view such people as crude, undeveloped, and unfortunate. But in fact I believe it may be the other way around. These people may be without electricity, running water, pizza delivery, IKEA, Netflix, and cars; but what they lack in (western-defined) sophistication, they make up for in beautiful simplicity. There exists a romantic notion within me that a life devoid of material things (and the responsibilities and expectations that accompany them) would in fact be one of deeper joy and satisfaction than the possession- and appearance-driven existence I lead back home.
At 4:30am, awoken by a cacophony of roosters, I made my way across rocks, brush, and sand back to the slow boat. And now here I sit, rocked gently by the undulating river, last night already nothing more than a surreal memory.”