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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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The Language Company
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River Music


Three days and 400 kilometers north on the Nam Ou river into Pongsali province between China and Vietnam were magical and marveLaos.

Serene, wild, majestic rapids and calm zones. Pure nature. Rough, steep, verdant. The river is life's highway providing food, electricity, water for crops, bathing and transport. Images are being processed.

One clear mind-at-large image is of six young naked girls sitting on a sand bank in afternoon sun waving, yelling, dancing, running into the river...Hi! Hi!

Here are a three links to web sites to enjoy.

Elaine Ling is a professional photographer based in Toronto. We met here. She does amazing work and it's well worth a look. She uses a large format. Her recent book is Land of the Deer Stone. Mongolia, Cuba, Baobab trees, Tibet, Chile.

Legend and meaning in Lao textile motifs. Fibre2Fabric Gallery.

Literacy is an ongoing need in Laos. When I lived in Indonesia I met a teacher on Gili Air island off Lombok. She'd travelled by train from England across Russia, Mongolia and down to Laos. She mentioned Big Brother Mouse in Luang Prabang. 

It's a well established essential Lao center for local kids and literacy programs in remote villages. 




Flowing North


I take a long slow boat north tomorrow to Nong Khiaw and overnight. 

The next day another slow boat north floats to Muang Khua. Then a five hour bus to Pongsaly. In this area are diverse ethnic people. I will trek, explore villages and meet the Lao Sung people before returning south by river in early December.

I imagine there are similar yet distinct ethnic qualities and traditions with the Hmong people I met in Sapa, Vietnam last year. Nomads are nomads. 

Live Forever! more>





It feels wonderful to be in Luang Prabang with new language, music and energies. Very refreshing cool temps.

It is high season. Luang is on the tour circuit for backpackers, lots of French and the odd super anxious German. Lots of elderly folks exploring their planet using canes. Tribes of noisy young white people walk down streets drinking beer and ride bikes without shirts and many foreign women think they're on a beach.

Camera happy snappers. Similar to all those crazy folks at Angkor feeling the experience with their digital.

Hoards of snapping tourists focus on orange rows of meditative monks at dawn receiving alms from locals and the extensive golden and red hued wats or pagodas. Architecture. Soaring wings.  Lines of small alleys and wooden homes. Plentiful gardens. 

Mix in the peaceful Japanese and super rude pushy and arrogant Chinese and everyone's happy. Babble tongues. 

It is a small world heritage city surrounded by mountains and bisected with two rivers. The Mekong flows strong. I move like a river.

Initial impressions: the Lao are more laid back than the Cambodians. They don't speak loud or yell. No whining crying children. They don't hassle visitors. They smile. They are gentle people with a deep spiritual life. Serene. 

Population density: Laos 6 million, Cambodia 14, Nam 85. Eighty percent of Laotians live in rural areas.

The night market rolls with lights, merchandise, food, and souvenirs. People watching.

Textiles are huge in Laos; lovely silks with animistic and natural designs - peacocks, birds, fish, rivers, protector dieties, ancestor worship, woven Buddhist prayer flags. Traditional values and motifs. Visual woven stories.

Hand made paper is an integral part of their life. The art of paper, making paper, using paper, honoring paper, community and family paper, painting and writing. Burning paper, making offerings. 

All the girls and women wear a sarong. Delightful and soft. Art, culture and life. 


Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre, Luang Prabang, Laos.




Jampa is a star. She is seven. 

My father died in Thailand when I was five. I've been to America. I was in Utah and Florida. My mother is Khmer. She is always sad. I speak Khmer and English. I have a telescope. I can see the moon. Did you know aliens live on the moon? I saw them.

Did they wave at you? Jampa laughed. Are you crazy! They can't see me.

I'm an alien. No you're not. How do you know. Because you're human. It's my disguise. I 'm here to learn from humans. Maybe the moon aliens have a telescope and waved back. They don't have a telescope. How do you know? I don't.

I saw a shooting star. We lived in a place with many rocks. I made a wish. What did you wish for? I can't tell you. If I do, it won't come true. True. Have you seen a shooting star? Yes, you are a star. No I'm not! Yes, you are. 

I was born in the year of the horse. Someday I will have a horse. How long have you been in Cambodia?

All day. I leave tomorrow. I travel on the river to the far north. People there believe in Earth spirits. I'll look for you flying across the sky every night. 

That sounds like fun. Goodbye and good luck to you and your family.

See you star.



Mental state


1.6 billion Chinese have been locked up in mental wards. "This is for their own safety," said China Slim, a spokesperson for the ONE party State. 

When asked to elaborate on the mental condition of peasants, pro-democracy activists, lawyers, artists, musicians, writers, poets, playwrights, play wrongs, playing the idiot medication needles and thought control exercise, Ms. China Consumer sighed, "We have so much trouble with these pig headed liberals and running dogs. It's best if we confine them, drug them, torture them and relieve them of their worries and DELUSIONS."

She confirmed the recent Nobel Peace Prize awarded to 1.6 billion citizens had nothing to do with the detention and disappearance of the masses. All communication in and out of the Kingdom has evaporated. 

"After a long vacation with heavy daily medication they will be productive citizens in a harmonious society," said Doctor Zingo.




One flew over the cuckoo's nest.