Art from wanderings
21 nationalities board a boat that’s oversold, people sit on the roof and in the aisles, but they sell beer in the back! Two days on a boat, stopping in a small town for dinner and sleep, we get in early so the tuk tuks can make some extra money.
New language new currency.
8000 kip is one dollar, as if that baht conversion wasn’t enough division, now they let us use hat and kip in one transaction.
Utopia is the bar here but everything closes at 11, at which point everyone goes bowling! Tonight we will see what that entails, but until than, we are staying at a backpacker hostel, meeting lots of travelers and exploring town!
It’s almost competitive, the majestic of the sky and the mountains here. The mountains are beautiful and should make the clouds look smaller but they compete with such ease you can’t give either enough attention.
Our last day, the breakfast bell rings early. Pee Naan Jim and Pee Naan Tea have made breakfast special since we decided to climb the mountain today. They send us with two hard boiled eggs and five bananas each. Oh, and sticky rice, to the mountain. The entire crew of volunteers (minus sick Sophie) ascend with no sign of trail.
From muddy, snakey, spidery woods, we find dry, pine covered grounds as the view starts to subtly take. our. breath. away. The mountain ridge leads us to the misleading top nearly four times before we celebrate the peak with our humble feast. Everyone lays out, is quiet, ignores the thoughts of the inevitable and exhausting trek down.
Two parties split and mine is strangely welcomed as we accidentally climb into a local woman’s home. She sports a shirt that reads “I’m cute? No shit” and speaks no English. We speak no Thai, so our communication is brief. We rush the showers, and as I turn off the suspended hose, muscles strained, body clean, I’m the happiest. I look out on mountains and painted clouds on the walk to my bamboo hut (whose floor I’m about to fall through any day now).
The garden salla has become our coziest of meetings spots. After hard mornings of work, we retire in the shade to our books for hours until the sun sets. Volunteers come and go to the showers, to the kitchen, to the village, to their huts. Mad swarms of dragonflies occupy the recently weeded gardens and the row of four ducks hurry by.
We spend all our time living.
In the mornings, we wake up and make breakfast. Breakfast always includes sticky rice but we were lucky to catch the end of avocado season and I believe Niav is responsible for the introduction of some eggs, some potatoes, some pancakes? We pray ” every pee naan please go to the mountain and eat a lot. go for it. namaste. and live a long life” – Pee Naan Jim.
We clean. we work. we cook. we eat. we clean. we rest. we cook. we eat. we clean. we rest. we meditate. we sleep.
One lucky day, however, Buddha day, pee naan jim rented us a truck. 7 pee naans and a chicken in the back, we drove around the villages and through the mountains. Pee naan tea stops us in the road to crack nuts open with sticks for future snacking. We lose our way and end up in the front yard of a hot spring resort. As lions, we bask in the sun, bath in the river, and eat. We move slowly.
No plans, no schedule, nothing to get back to. Nothing that needs doing.
Pee naan Vince, ten years of dreads falling low beneath his hips, hands Niav his small knife to cut into the first egg of his feast.
“Is it clean?”
I’ve never traveled this way. I’ve backpacked around Europe couch surfing and moving often and ive studied for four months in India but never have i spent almost four months traveling, moving, staying still a bit, moving quickly.
Wandering around a city, no matter how new and different the city, remains the same activity: wandering, You begin to really feel cloud-like, pixelated cloud-like when it’s deep. Floaty, without something grounding you or making you sit down and focus every once in a while. ( It’s only been a week!)
I’ve never traveled around this long with another person. It’s amazing but easy to fall back on each other in a very comfortable way. Laziness or fear? I think laziness on this one. You feel less a need to make friends and talk to strangers.
It’s great for these same reasons and more. Having a person you’re close with to share these views, tastes, smells, sounds, experiences with is amazing. In real time.
It’s amazing to see what the two of you see and don’t see when looking out on the same scene. What you take with you, how your mind changes. Having to vocalize and articulate all of it is good for me. We are learning a whole lot.
Bangkok chaos. we’d been warned but I’ve never been so disoriented in a city with no glimpse of hope in understanding it.The cleansliness and organization of Bangkok’s subway system impressed us but Tuktuk’s, as in all my experiences with Tuktuks, were exhausting.
We stayed (very happily) at the MHC guesthouse. A good sized,air conditioned room with a mini fridge, tv, and private shower! (Okay, so we spoiled ourselves, but it’s a long trip! ) The location was great, super close to the subway station, only a few stops from Nana (Bangkok’s red light district), soi 11 (a great street of bars & clubs), and a beautiful park occupied by tons of runners and walkers. Free coffee and tea, plus a super helpful, friendly staff.
Thai massages: Lucina, soi 26
Be prepared for a full body experience. Full body for everyone involved.
450Bhat (about $15) for a 90 minute full body massage. It was great and strange and felt good and bad. Definitely worth it!
Chinatown makes me not want to go to China. I’m always in the way, I have no idea what anything is, and it’s hot. I feel bad that i feel this way.
Sky bar: Red Sky
Top floor in the city, beautiful view and fancy prices.
15 hour train to Chang Mai, sleeper, second class. We had the top two bunks over two Belgium kids on a three week venture. Staff walking buy selling beer and hard-core pouting when we declined. Finally granted the time to write, read, and really sleep. I woke up at 5am and went to the restaurant cart where I was clearly unwelcome. Staff just waking up, prepping themselves and food for the day. Windows open, mountains hidden in the mist.
I already love this city. No motorcycles on sidewalks. It’s walkable, laid back, and we are about to eat fried crickets!
Meanwhile, Carolyn cut off my hair, it’s hot here!