At the Kalau monastery

Daniel brought me to stay at a monastery on top of a hill. The abbot received us with smiles and we had yet more Chinese tea. I had been fed every few kilometers on this trek, and hadn’t yet figured out how to refuse politely. At the monastery, I gorged on lephet, chewy, fermented tea leaves, while Daniel and his ‘boy’ cooked an elaborate meal. I forced down vegetable curry, dahl, fried tofu, and mountain rice, then sat very still as two pints of saliva rushed into my mouth. Daniel and the abbot chatted in Burmese. They had just turned to ask me questions about September 11th when I sprinted for the door, stumbling over a basket of day-old chicks and causing the mother hen to squawk. Outside, I puked heroically.

All night long, the peace of the monastery was broken by retching Dervala. At four a.m., the roosters, gongs, and chanting monks got their own back.

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