One of my favorite questions to ask people is what they would do if they had 5 million dollars.
Most of the time, the first answer I receive would be: “But 5 million is not enough wor. Very fast finish one leh!”
Hearing that, I gladly upgrade the question to 10 million. “What would you do with 10 million dollars then? Remember: You can do aaanyyythinggg.”
The answer that follows usually goes: “Donno. Maybe save 1 million. Buy a house. Sleep. Travel the world. Why you ask this kind of question?!”
The reason I love this question in particular is because money, is undeniably one of the main factors that stops people from doing what they are most passionate about. How a person answers the question says a lot about their dreams and deepest desires; which are the two things that I find make life magical.
I ask myself that question many times – exactly what would I do if I had 5 million dollars?
For the longest time my answer would be more or less the same like the rest, but a recent trip to Laos added another layer to my wish list. I was brought to a Hmong village en route to Kuang Si waterfall. It was the tuk-tuk driver’s impromptu decision. It is my favorite part of the entire trip, as it imprinted a very deep impression in my mind.
“I take you to monk vilej. Monk vilej.”
“Monk? Monks live there?”
“Yes, yes, monks.”
So Big Guy and I walked through the village but saw no monks. Where are the monks?
Big’s answer cracked me up. “Probably they all went to work and left their wives here to take care of the kids.”
“Monks don’t get married. That’s why they are called monks!” (Later I learned I was wrong, but I’ll leave that story for another day.)
Yesterday, while desperately trying to Google ‘monk village’ to no avail, I suddenly realized that what the tuk-tuk driver meant was Hmong Village! (Hmong, is an ethnic group of Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and China.)
The moment I stepped foot into the sleepy town, I was surrounded by beautiful brown-eyed children who timidly tried to sell me handicrafts. Unlike the kids in more touristic areas like Angkor Wat, they could barely say more than 3 english words. The handicrafts are almost like clones; just different color, patterns, and their prices amazingly vast – between 5 to 20 USD.
I looked into the eyes of these kids who really captured my heart and I yearn to do so much to help them, yet I can’t buy all the handicrafts to save the entire village. What’s lacking at this forsaken land is proper education. With that, I’m confident that these kids can grow to become the new generation who builds this community-based tourism development project. They will learn to price their goods reasonably and some key languages to do better sales with the tourists at the very least.
That said, the FIRST thing I would do if I were rich is to take a break from my jobs and drop everything to live in Luang Prabang for 3 to 6 months, teaching at the nearest school of THIS Hmong village.
It’s true I don’t need to be rich to do that, but right now I’m at a stage of my life where my
job career is escalating; with a full-time job, 1 running project of my own, this blog to maintain, and incoming freelance work to steal my weekends. Juggling all this, I hope either one of them may one day allow me to have at least 5 million ringgit – hopefully before I have kids.
More pictures that show why this village broke and healed my heart:
Someday I’ll be back. Maybe, baby . . .