Surrounded by majestic dark mountains and large golden rice fields, Konglor is a small village in central Laos, home to the spooky 7.5km Konglor cave. Contrary to the latter, its inhabitants are so warm and welcoming, shouting ‘Sa bai dee’ (‘hello’) at everyone passing by.
Just as my travel companion and I sat down at the table of Saylom Yen, our guesthouse, to order some food, the family running the accommodation started pulling out their burgundy and beige woven rug and setting their dinner feast on the floor. They invited us to join them with a big smile we couldn’t turn down.
For the next 30 minutes, it was a show of simplicity, senses and happiness. Everyone was shamelessly diving their hands in the big sticky rice baskets, drawing out rice that they’d shape into hard balls with one hand before dipping them into the communal bamboo or fish dishes. We were eating the rice they had planted, seen grown, harvested and prepared themselves only a few days earlier. From field to table in 10 metres!
All this was done while sharing funny stories, which I could only guess due to the giggles and laughter going around the rug. Life just seemed so real and pure and all my senses were there to celebrate it. There were no worries to be had about how we looked, how we ate, what we said… Authenticity at its best. An authenticity which I feel gets sometimes lost in the rules and appearance-driven society we live in…
We finished dinner and the two elderly men of the house performed a simple ritual to wish good travels to my companion and me.
I left Konglor with a big smile on my face and a promise to myself to remain authentic in every aspect of my life.