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ABOUT THE PAVIE MISSION

Journeys

"I recognise that journeys at this time of year offer little that is pleasant unless supported by an idea or the importance of a task to be accomplished. I have often admired the philosophy of all these people whom I take with me on this journey across the mountains, who are soaked to the skin almost regularly every day and who are not spared from complaints and recriminations. However the fatigue of all is extreme. The last route has been the most difficult. We have had 6 days of rain out of nine and, in between times, heat that is insupportable. At Hat Bo the thermometer was registering 40 degrees in the shade. The interpreter, Ro, and my aide-de-camp are ill. The first is carried in a hammock. The second misses his mess-tin and sulks about the dishes prepared by my Laotian valet, giving me more problems than my work and myself combined [...]. During the good weather, when legs are in good condition and the stomach solid, a journey into the unknown is nothing but pleasurable and the stages unfurl in a very cheerful manner, even though in the long term the eyes become tired of the same sensations every day, of contemplating the same solitude and the same scenery of mountains and forests that all seem the same. Unfortunately when the rain comes to join us, we can say goodbye to the pleasantness. Soaked paths, sliding on the clay slopes of the mountains, mountain streams that cannot be crossed and halt progress, journeys through brooks for days on end, and the arrival at a stop for the night in the corner of a damp forest, a bivouac in the rain with only dirty, unhealthy water to drink, a kitchen under an umbrella with a cook who cannot light his wood, who brings you an uncooked, tough old chicken, in fact a whole range of thousands of annoyances which make you miss the sun. It is all there." (Cupet)