Like I've mentioned before, many many people here in SEA are on a spiritual journey of sorts. Religion is a topic that comes up pretty much every day. Possibly could be slightly influenced by the millions of temples... I've found that I've been able to speak so much more openly about being a Christian here in Asia than I was at home - however these discussions have all been with other fellow travellers rather than locals.
Last night I caught up with those guys from the band again and ended up having quite a good very late night chat with one of them in particular. They're originally from Arkinsaw (spelling??) in the US, grown up in the church but now "fallen away" as P. put it. They were playing another gig at a bar in town, and when it shut at 11pm due to the curfew here in LP, everyone all headed off to the Bowling alley as for some bizarre reason that is the one place that is open till the early hours of the morning. I'd grabbed my guitar (they play banjo and mandolin) and we'd jammed a little bit. I'd earlier seen P. and had a bit of a chat with him before he'd started his gig, during which he gave me a list of christian books to read (my ever expanding list!).
Anyway, P and I were there sitting outside in the dirt late at night having this full-on chat about faith, beliefs, and proof that the Bible is a reliable document. He was telling me how he was not sure where he stood anymore. He asked me a question about what I thought Jesus meant when He said that we would do greater things than he?!! Asking all these deep questions and I was starting to think "aahhhh I don't have the words to answer this at all". A bit funny really, as I'd been reading Genesis a day or 2 previously and the whole story with Moses and him not being eloquent enough but God using his words regardless. Then we were discussing how we knew the Bible was true and . I felt way out of my depth as he knew way more of the bible than I did. I was there wishing I had finished all the apologetics classes from my early uni christian group days, and perspectives course! I don't think I was particularly all that convincing, but it was good to have such an open discussion in a country that is so closed in.
I've had a few Sara Groves songs stuck in my head over the past few days from her Conversations album - particularly 'Painting pictures of Egypt' and 'Hello Lord'. Good songs.
Anyway, today I'm having a chill-out day. Woke up still full from all that food yesterday and jumped into a slow-boat heading up the Mekong river to the Pak Ou caves. Along the way we passed by many people working along side the river, some of them sifting gravel out the section full of pebbles, others shovelling pebbles, and where the sandy banks are (as it is dry season and river is low at the moment) there are many many people there gold panning! I would never have guessed there was gold in the river here! We had a quick stop at a village to try some lao-lao (rice wine whisky). Always a good thing to have a couple of shots of extremely strong spirit that early in the morning on an empty stomach... Good thing they had some 'take-away' on hand. Banana's roasted on a charcoal fire - instant breakfast. Yum!
The caves were interesting, they have hundreds and thousands of statues of Buddha and other God's as a huge shrine. Sad though. One God is not enough. They have to have thousands of them.
Tomorrow I'm leaving town, heading east to Phonsavan to go and see the Plain of Jars. Its a bit of a mystery as to what these jars are for. They are man-made, weighting between 600kg and a few tonnes each. Theories are that they could have been for cremations, or for preparation of lao-lao. See if i can help unravel the mystery... :)