Friday, January 25, 2008


A long day of meetings and finally, we drove back to Salavan after dark. It's a whole different world on this highway after dark, in a land where there's a strong belief in ghosts and spirits. And no lights along the highway, and the truck suddenly comes up on something, barely perceptable in the dark. A tok tok, stranded in the middle of the road, without lights, a sudden herd of cows just standing there, and people sitting at the edge of the road, just talking.

In 2000, my strangest drive along this road was as someone was driving us back to Pakse. As it started to get dark, the truck broke down. At that time, no one lived along this stretch of road. As the sky darkened and the driver crouched down on top of the engine, pulling out the carburator and blowing through the intake value to dislodge dirt, I wondered if we would have to sleep there during the night. Fortunately, whatever was wrong with the carburator got fixed and we continued to Pakse. In the glow of the city lights, I laughed about the experience - but at the time, I felt very spooked.

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