The Selfcleaning World

stories & images from a world on the edge..

Five Stars

I have a short story in the new issue of Schlock Magazine: http://www.schlockmagazine.net/2013/06/24/five-stars/

It’s titled Five Stars and is about a couple vacationing in Mexico who get more than they bargained for on the white sun-drenched sands . . .

Returning to their room they view the spinning ceiling and warping walls. They take turns vomiting and then lay naked, blistered and sweating. Hours later a maid comes in, also spinning. The husband groans something. She ignores him, continuing to freshen things up around the sprawled bodies.

Aztec Calendar 

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Hanoi street scenes

Bamboo for sale on Hang Vai street…

Bamboo for sale

Ancient banyan tree rooted between buildings…

Banyan tree

Architecture in Hanoi’s Old Quarter…

Old Quarter Hanoi

Serpent Gods from Southeast Asia to the Amazon

Naga - Chang Mai

Nāgas are a class of serpent beings or minor deities in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology.  They take the form of massive, often multi-headed snakes with human features.  Nāgas are said to reside in Pātāla, the seventh of the nether-dimensions, and are associated with the underworld, caverns, rivers and other water bodies.  They are believed to possess the ability to change into human form.

In many temples they are architecturally rendered slithering down the front steps of the main entrance, providing protection.  These photos are from temples in Thailand and Laos.

Naga - Laos

Nāgas are part of a shared serpent mythology that extends to the dragons of both Chinese and European lore.  There also appears to be a parallel with the cosmic serpents described in the shamanic ecology of the Amazon river basin.  Visions of serpent deities are enabled by the shaman’s use of ayahuasca, and depicted in art and religious iconography.

The Snake Gods by Pablo Amaringo

Amazonian serpent entities include the Yakumama, mother of the water, Sachamama, mother of the jungle, and Huairamama, mother of the sky.  These entities are illustrated in the paintings above and below by the artist and shaman Pablo Amaringo (in Ayahuasca Visions: The Religious Iconography of a Peruvian Shaman, 1999, North Atlantic Books).

Jungle Mother by Pablo Amaringo

Yet another connection can be drawn with the reptiloids of recent UFOlogy and conspiracy lore.  In Cambodian legend, the nāga were thought to be a reptilian race of beings who had a large empire in or near the Pacific Ocean.  Could this belief be related to stories of shape-shifting reptilian aliens from the Alpha Draconis star system?

Type C Male Reptiloid, from Blue Planet Project - Alien Technical Research 25  http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vida_alien/blueplanetproject/blueplanetproject06.htm

Type C Male Reptiloid, from Blue Planet Project – Alien Technical Research 25

Serpent deities appear to be metaphysical creatures conserved across cultures, beings of influence and portent that, it can be imagined, have made their presence known among many peoples.

Kinh

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These are people I met when my friend brought me to a place called Tinh Bien in the far southwest corner of Vietnam.  They are relatives of my friend’s wife.  The boys are 12 I think, a good age to be.  The woman is pressing sugar cane to make and sell a sweet iced beverage.

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Temple stories

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I’m fascinated by the murals found in Buddhist temples. These are from Wat Phon Xay in Luang Prabang, Laos. Epic stories that I would like to read or learn more about.. The murals in this temple appear to be about Phra Malaya, a monk who through meditation visited the numerous heavens and hells in Buddhist cosmology. The Lao version of the Ramayana epic may also be depicted here.

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Laos

A boat down the Mekong brought us to the Pak Ou caves, a shrine filled with hundreds of Buddha figures. Back in the night food market of Luang Prabang, you can fill a platter from dozens of delectable noodle and vegetable selections for about a buck fifty.

Luang Prabang

WP_20130507_030.jpgWP_20130507_071.jpgLuang Prabang in Laos is a peaceful, picturesque town on the Mekong River. The alluring wats (temples) with distinct sloping roofs are home to orders of orange-robed monks. Strolling markets, listening to monks chant and drum, delicious food – a perfect place to mellow out.

Mountain Biking on Fansipan

We did a mountain bike trek from Tram Ton (Heaven’s Gate) Pass on Mt. Fansipan to Binh Lu, through myriad villages in the area. Coasting down winding mountain roads it was the easiest 40 km I’ve done on a bike, since it was – thankfully – mostly downhill, and fun as hell.

Sapa

A town perched in the far northern mountains of Vietnam, where terraced rice paddies drape the feet of steep jungle-clad peaks. Hill tribes like the Hmong were late arrivers in the area, and had to bring under cultivation the rugged terrain they were confined to.

Nokia Lumina 920 picture quality

All of the pictures of my southeast Asian trek on this site were taken with a Nokia Lumina 920 Windows phone. No filters or other mods were used; I’m happy with the camera and picture quality. It’s a sturdy, durable phone that has stood up well to over 5 weeks of travel.