Michael's Dispatches

A Photo for You



Wat Nong Sikhounmuang
Luang Prabang, Laos
07 April 2009

The sun had already set when I settled the bill at l’Elephant and walked up the darkening street away from the Mekong.  This small town with French ambiance and Asian culture is calming, very calming compared to the wars.
The night was cool and quiet and there were no mosquitoes.  No sounds of birds although I saw a few sparrows.  During my last trip to Laos, I ate baked swallows along with beetle soup.  People eat practically everything in Laos.  Fresh bats can be bought in a local market, and live frogs whose legs have been broken.  Without refrigeration, they keep the frogs alive so the meat will not spoil, and break their legs to prevent escape. 

Just across the street from the restaurant l’Elephant, where I had duck that was as good as any I had tasted in China, is the entrance to the temple called Nong Sikhounmuang.  They say the temple was founded about 280 years ago.

And so as I walked up the quiet street, there was a monk sitting in the only open window at the monks’ quarters of the temple, and there I stopped and carefully made this photo for you.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Anna King · 12 years ago
    WOW, how stunning. This should be a prize winning photo!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Christina Farrell · 12 years ago
    You have captured the serenity of this moment of prayer.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim Hopper · 12 years ago
    Beautiful picture Mr. Yon. I was having a very hectic day until I saw it...it brought me back down to earth for a moment. Thank you!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew · 12 years ago
    Cool photo.

    That is one bright light.
    Shall we say...he is enlightened?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim Manley · 12 years ago
    Michael, thanks for the reminder that there is more than war in the world.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James Todaro · 12 years ago
    You 'see' well. Thank You for sharing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley, CDR, · 12 years ago
    You have the eye of a true photographer. Capturing more than simply shows up on film.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    james todaro · 12 years ago
    You 'see' well. Thanks for sharing the moment.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Old Soldier · 12 years ago
    Thanks for this Mike. I spent 9 years in Asia during my 21 years in the military, and this photo brought back a lot of fond memories
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sandy · 12 years ago
    Elegant and serene. Thank you Mike!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joel Picchi · 12 years ago
    Awesome photo.....your work is very inspiring!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mitch · 12 years ago
    Great photo, Mike. Nice to see you moving out of the ME for some, if not quite R&R, at least somewhere less contentious
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Harald · 12 years ago
    GREAT pic. I took a similar pic when I was in Laos back in '98.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 12 years ago
    As a videographer/photog myself I have to say, very well done. Most people have no clue as to how hard it is to get a shot to come out like this one. Composure, lighting, and subject all A++

    I personally know several top notch photogs, one of which graduated at the top of his class from Chapman(http://www.chapman.edu/), you are right up there with them my friend;-)

    Keep up the outstanding work:-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jim · 12 years ago
    What percent of the people have access to clean water, flush toilets, own property, have
    internet access. Does the government allow women to vote or hold office?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Toes · 12 years ago
    Ranks with "Little Girl." ... Kindly ad this pic to your picture gallery...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Rainey · 12 years ago
    echo comments by Tommy B, Sandy, Scott D, James T, and all others so far.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Karl · 12 years ago
    Elegant is a great word to describe this, Michael... keep up the great work, please!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Patricia · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael and stay safe.

    Prayer for you always,
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CW Stephon · 12 years ago
    Thank you, will it, perhaps, be the cover of your next book?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Christina Finn · 12 years ago
    This image sets a tone of tranquility....In a busy World, with schedules that are FAR to busy, it is refreshing and a Blessing to come Home and find this amazing image embedded in our communication. I am grateful you took the time, made the time to create this morsel of Peace! What a lovely jewel you have bestowed upon your visitors.

    God Bless You and nurture your Mind's EYE............Until we have the distinct pleasure of your next masterpiece!

    Christina Finn
    The "Pillow MOM!" take good care and be careful out there, you are in our PRAYERS! GOD Speed!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Valerie · 12 years ago
    Thank you for the lovely break from the ugliness of war and even peace. It's wonderful to remember most of us are appreciative of the beauty and tranquility this snapshot delivers.

    Best to you and may God be with you on your dangerous travels. We all appreciate you more than we can express in these comment boxes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Don Huff A Deuce-Fou · 12 years ago

    Any chance you could turn this into a screen saver download? I think many would appreciate starting and/or ending their computer sessions with the tranquility it projects and inspires.

    Ever grateful,

    Brandon's dad, Don
  • This commment is unpublished.
    david crook · 12 years ago
    Wow, another great shot, your much better with your camera and your pen than you ever were with a gun!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Phil · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter · 12 years ago
    You really are for us a window to another world. Thanks for all the descriptive writing and great photos! I can practically feel the warmth of Laos - and no mosquitoes!

    I frequently pray for your effectiveness and safety as you ferret out truth often in very dangerous places.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark · 12 years ago
    Thank you, Michael, for the image and the thoughts. Be safe as possible.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert · 12 years ago
    Are you OK? I started reading your stuff when Danger Close was the only thing on the web site.

    I have never seen you running around in circles trying to decide where you are going. Both AfPak and Mexico are dangerous, especially Mexico. I have lived in Texas most of my life and I work daily in construction with illegals. My take on Mexico is that the Mexican Government (Calderon) have taken sides in the drug wars. They are trying to wipe out all the competition. It is the only thing that makes any sense.
    This is not a situation for a "Gringo" to get involved in. All the combatants will kill you for sport. Stay on the Texas side of the border.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frances Mayhew · 12 years ago
    Michael, I so appreciate your stories and photos. Bought your book and follow your travels. You have moved beyond being the next Ernie Pyle.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sheryll Sanderson · 12 years ago
    Thank you for all that you do. I hope you heed Robert's advice and stay out of Mexico. The photograph is beautiful and very peaceful. Your writing is soothing and exciting. You are in my prayers always. Stay safe.
    Semper Fi!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carl Nogueira · 12 years ago
    Very beautiful and serene photo Michael. I'm glad your taking some time off from the war coverage, prior to what certainly sounds like a very busy "campaign season" in the AF-PAK theatre. God Bless and watch your 6.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barb Mungovan Koch · 12 years ago
    Michael, you bring dignity to the faith of this man, and so many others. There are reasons beyond which and for which people fight wars. Men of faith, women of faith, are united in the respect for one another's beliefs and one another's knowledge of the God who numbers our days. You bring depth of understanding, you celebrate tolerance of another way of expressing faith, and you share your mind's eye with all of us. Thank you. May your days be safe and infinitely enlightened by His light. During this Holy week, may you find peace.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joseph Cox · 12 years ago
    Any idea what the book the monk is reading is? It almost looks like a stylized American flag on the cover - although it is hard to see without a very high resolution image :-)
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John Yates · 12 years ago
    Stunning work, Mr. Yon. Practically takes one's breath away. Thank you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert Brown · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael. Its great to see a photo at last from our photo journalist, more please.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    jessie voigts · 12 years ago
    LOVE this. such a great composition, and colors, and subject. bravo! your story behind the photo makes it even more interesting. thank you for sharing!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pavel Bondarenko · 12 years ago
    This is a great photo. More photos would be wonderful.

    Thanks Mike
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kristen King · 12 years ago
    I've been following your narratives and journeys in the War zones.. off and on... observing, primarily, YOU. .. what your take on life is ...feeding back war stories and photos... to the USA. I wonder what happens to a man, who digs deep, continually, on the dark side of this life, a man who lives, breathes, and skirts death, for years.. living in the shadow... to bring the story back.
    I wonder how you fill your "off" time over there.. the spare afternoon or evening connecting.. is it at arms length?

    Do you know America at this time in history? Have you photographed/written stories on the American plight.. the war that has been going on HERE? I think, not. Pick one.. there are many!!!
    Come home to yourself..
  • This commment is unpublished.
    William Scott, M.D. · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael for this beautiful picture. Seems like you are surfeited with war are all its wanton cruelty and destructive passions. I got my fill of killing in Afghanistan in 1987 as a member of a mujahideen group that fought the soviets. Now I appreciate the stilling of the passions that Buddhism promises. I haven't quite gotten to liberation yet but its the journey that counts, not the destination. I hope you get there too.
    Peace, Bill Scott
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gismo Fly · 12 years ago
    Dear Mike,

    I'm a cynical old bugger so I think your photo is abit odd. I think the monk is a statue and you are being just a smigin leg puller! I mean why would the lad face away from the light to read sanscrit? Come on Mike - come clean! You're having us on, right?


    Jungle Bunny
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Marjorie from NC · 12 years ago
    As I turned on my computer this morning at 7 am there was the email from you and this very beautiful photograph. Just what I needed before starting another busy day. I came across an email the other day and discovered I have been following you in your journey since 2005. Hard to believe. I will continue to. Your photographs are always so wonderful and I hope to see more peaceful ones as you take a break. Stay safe and know there are many of us praying for you and thanking you for telling us the truth about these awful wars.
    God bless you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    DagneyT · 12 years ago
    I'm glad you were able to find a peaceful spot before you head back to Afghanistan.

    I sent out 4 boxes of toys to the Army Chaplains in both GWOT arenas, as I do at least quarterly. In January it was 5 boxes. If you ever get a chance to photograph a child with a stuffed toy, please e-mail me a copy.

    God bless you for all you do, Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Blue Star/ SF Mom · 12 years ago
    Thank you for posting such a nice peaceful photograph!

    Enjoy your time, and stay out of Mexico!!!

    Take care! Be Safe!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tracy Early · 12 years ago
    This is an absolutely gorgeous shot, Michael. You caught that singular moment in time very well.

    As ever, Peace.

    Shoreline, WA

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