The air vibrates with chirping cicadas. My skin is sticky and my hair curls from the dense humidity. I try to be grateful since the suffocating humidity is the source of life for the lush tropical landscape surrounding me. The city is far behind us now as we journey to the family temple. Crowds of people give way to forests of bamboo. Narrow streets narrow further, twisting around blind curves through a sea of green vegetation. Cramped buildings are replaced with emerald rice patties, sprinkled with huts and an occasional farmer. Mopeds still race by and sneak up with death-defying moves, though with decreasing frequency.
The countryside is sprinkled with small temples and graves tucked into hillsides. We are not alone in our history and customs but it is easy to feel alone in the sparse countryside. The temple emerges. We are on our way to celebrate where we come from and where we are going.