Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


Khong Chiam, Thailand

Sitting by the ferry landing, a place called Khong Chiam, the river is flooded, up two metres from last week, maybe three metres, and up at least five metres from the dry season.  Bunches of water hyacinth float by quickly.  The current is fast.  The water is muddy brown.
Early morning, not yet seven o'clock. Last night the rain fell heavily.  It is not raining now.  Cool.  The sky is overcast.  Clouds are low, brushing the mountains in Laos, just there on the other side of the river.  Clouds brushing the earth.  A broad band lies beneath the grey sky above: rich, thick, heavy, green, dense jungle.  Below that, muddy river ribbon.
There is one smell.  It is silty fecundity.  Wet, silty fecundity.
There are cattle at the ferry landing.  Traditional cattle with long ears and easy temperament.  White and tan coloured beasts.  Their shoulders stand only to the height of someone’s chest.  They are skinny.  Some of them are invisible, hidden among the brush and trees, but the crack of branches and swushing leaves can be heard.  The air is gently filled with klonging donging bonging, the wooden, brass, or tin bells tied around their throats.
People begin to accumulate on the bank, waiting for the ferry.  There are women and a cluster of school children.  One bicycle.  Some excitement - the ferry on the far side has started its diesel engine and moves out into the water.  The boat heads upstream, slightly angled to counter the powerful downstream current.  When it arrives this side it simply drives its bow against the river bank which is solid enough for vehicles to drive up and down.  The concrete ramp is submerged in flood water.
Someone in a red shirt, tiny on the surface of the broad river, paddles a dugout.  They pass silently by and disappear behind a bend in the river.

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