The Buffalo Boy.

We woke up to foggy mystical skies. Life starts early in the Hmong villages in the north. It didn’t take us long to realize we were no longer in the “Land Of The Morning Calm.” Life in Vietnam, particularly here in the north, starts early. I’m talking 4am early!

By the time we crept out of bed it was already 7am and the grandmother of the household we were staying at had already been awake for hours. She was this tiny lady who just never stopped moving. It wasn’t long before we set out along our way for day two of our trek. The fog made for this magical walk as we spent the morning walking through it. We weaved in and out of the terraced rice fields and all of a sudden you would hear the faint sound of a cow bell in the distance. It would come closer and closer and as I looked around (even though the sound of the ringing cow bell was quite loud) I still couldn’t see anything yet. Finally, just at about an arms reach, a small boy and his mother came into the clearing. They were guiding their water buffalo back home. Water Buffalo trudging along as they hauled a heavy load of wood from the forest. This wood would later be used in the adobe style indoor oven to fuel the fire for dinner.

It was just about this same time we encountered the only person we had seen for many kilometers. This tiny human left me thinking about him weeks later. He was dressed in a blue coat, blue jeans, and flip flops. He was sitting by a fire that was more smoke than fire. He sat in the grass beside the fire just observing us. He didn’t seem scared, but rather just observing us. Our guide walked over to him as Tom and I followed. The three of us sat there with him. I could feel my heart just being pulled on. Chu-in (our guide) began speaking to him and we learned he was six years old. His job was to lead these massive water buffalo out to the fields to graze and bring them safely back home. Tom worked on making the fire a bit warmer for him. We learned he built the fire himself to keep warm. We emptied our bag of all our food to pass along to him. He was the sweetest little boy. He didn’t have a single toy or book out there with him he just sat there, alone, watching the buffalo.I kept glancing around for an adult and no one was in sight.

Later, his mother came along- I think quite some time had passed since we had arrived- but she was working the fields & came back to check in on him. We chatted with her for awhile. Chu-in speaking Vietnamese to the buffalo boy- the boy translating Vietnamese to the Hmong language back to him mom. I could tell she loved her son. We chatted for a bit more before we departed. Her eating her grasshoppers she had collected and us eating the bread/Vietnamese hot dogs.

I wonder what the future holds for this boy. I know it will probably look a lot different than my future and that’s okay. The buffalo boy changed me. I loved him instantly. He had the sweetest eyes and a very important job looking over the family’s most prized possessions. Sometimes, I don’t think words are necessary to communicate. When you want to show someone love- you don’t always need the words. I don’t necessarily think he was unhappy. It didn’t feel right that I could feel “more fortunate” or that he was “less fortunate.” Traveling does that to you, you know? It shows you that what you’ve known isn’t necessarily always best. It shows you that love is universal. That pain doesn’t have to be felt to be understood. That your way isn’t always the best way. It changes you.

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the buffalo boy.

the buffalo boy.

Appreciating it all in Thailand- The 5 S’s of our trip.

It’s been just over 2 weeks since we have gotten back from our trip to Thailand. As you know, Tom and I aren’t really the “party” type, but more enjoy a beer (or drink) while enjoying the sunset. While researching Thailand we decided to go to a place very little had been written about. Away from the crowds and mobs of tourists. Away from the islands made famous from Leonardo Di Caprio’s -The Beach. Away from the hustle and bustle of a full moon party. Away from it all. We tend to really like to get away from it all. Of course- those touristy things are sometimes worth seeing! BUT we try really hard to get away from the crazy and get into the lazy. Our vacation lined up perfectly with our friends Alison & Kenny who also live and teach in Korea! So I reached out to Alison & the two of us begun our search of a hidden gem in Thailand.

The places we went were so laid back that I can see why people choose to spend months at a time each year in these places. A few families. A few retired Europeans. Pristine vacant beaches. Delicious food. Amazing sunsets, swimming, and sun is what we found. It was a rough life in Thailand I tell you.  Extremely easy to loose track of the days, the time, and heck even the month. Was it really FEBRUARY and in the 90’s? I’ve spent the last few years of my life in (literally) freezing Wisconsin during the winter months. Now, I found myself on a beach with my husband Tom, and our two great friends Alison and Kenny. Life couldn’t get much better.

This is what our typical day consisted of…

1. Sunrise

2. Sun

3.Sand

4. Swimming (Snorkeling)

5. Sunset

6. Repeat

 

At the end of our trip Alison said to me something along the lines of: If only everyone could watch a sunset more often in life. Think about how much more peaceful the world would be.

During our morning sunrise sessions or watching the sunset while sipping a beer I realize just how peaceful they are. I prefer the sunrise. The silence of the new day. The animals stirring awake. The waves crashing upon the shore, gently, but surely. The warm wind lightly brushing my face. The dawn of a new day. The hope of a new day. Anticipating the arrival of a new day while starring off into the ocean. Finally, after a few minutes of waiting. A tangerine colored sun awakens to meet the day. As if to say “I am here just as I am every single day. Slow and steady does it. Just relax in the joy of a new morning.”

-and I do.

While I lay in the hammock my feet full of sand. My hair full of salt, and my skin turned a shade darker from the days lounging in the sun. Today is a gift. Another day to live in joy…and I remember what Alison had said…If only each of us could stop and take in a sunrise a bit more often. How much more peaceful the world would be.