The first couple days in Vang Vieng, I rented a scooter to get around. My mission was to find a particular rice field, with an elevated wooden walkway, a pavilion at its end, and the mountains beyond. I failed to find that rice field, or any rice field worthy of a photo.
On the third day, I slept in. It was late afternoon by the time I stepped outside, and thought that I might as well take one more look around. But the scooters had already been rented. I snooze, I lose.
So I rented a bicycle. The world moves much slower when under one’s own power, and you can notice things that might otherwise fly by. Across the river, between two buildings, I saw a flash of bright green. I stopped pedaling. I’d passed by here several times before, but never seen that green. It looked like grass. No, it looked like rice. Could it be?
But how to get to that flash of green?
A path led back down to the river, and then… to an elevated wooden walkway. This looks promising. I walked down to the river, and onto the walkway. There was a gate with a sign, “Private. For our customers only.” I didn’t stop. I parked the bike and kept walking.
Through another building I can see the brilliant green rice and the pavilion beyond. Its the right place, but I am not yet in the right place to get the right shot of it. Ahead of me is reception and a security guard at another gate before the field is fully revealed. Its a hotel.
I walk up to the front desk. “Hello, do you have any rooms available?”
She says, “No.”
I am secretly filled with glee, but say, “Oh darn! That’s too bad. Do you mind if I take some pictures so I can show my wife?”
“Go ahead, sir.”
I walk by security onto the walkway above the glowing green rice illuminated by the late day sun. I’d given up finding this place. It hadn’t occurred to me that it might be a commercial creation, rather than an agricultural handiwork. And so as I zipped past on my scooter, I neither saw it, nor had time to see it.
It was only by slowing down, by moving at human speed, that the secrets of Vang Vieng became available. I was late getting to the rental place, and it turned into a blessing. I snooze, I win.