Headed back to Europe: I started to write a bit of reminiscence, trying to remember the highlights of my time in Asia before I return to the west, but about halfway through I kept thinking of a popular Buddhist saying — be here now. Most of these dispatches are written in past tense, but this time I want to simply be here now. This moment, on this train. This is the last time I'll post something from Southeast Asia.
I wasn't expecting much from Ko Kradan, but in the end I discovered a slice of Thailand the way it's often describe by wistful hippies who first came here twenty years ago. Tong and Ngu and the rest of the Thais working at Paradise Lost were the nicest people I met in Thailand and Wally was by far the most laid back farang I've come across. I ended up staying on Ko Kradan for the remainder of my time in the south.
The Phi Phi Island Resort, where some friends were staying, is nestled on the leeward shore of Koh Phi Phi Island and posts a private beach, beautiful reef, fancy swimming pools and rooms with real sheets. Unheard of. I sauntered in a day early, acted like I owned the place, rented snorkel gear, charged it to a random room number and spent the afternoon on the reef. If only I could have put it on the Underhill's credit card.
The light outside the windows was still a pre-dawn inky blue when the freezing cold water hit my back. A cold shower at six thirty in the morning is infinitely more powerful, albeit not at long lasting, as a cup of coffee. After dropping my body temperature a few degrees and having no towel to dry off with, just a dirty shirt and ceaseless ceiling fan, a cup of tea seemed like a good idea so I stopped in at the restaurant downstairs and, after a cup of hot water with some Jasmine leaves swirling at the bottom of it, I climbed on my rental motorbike and set out for Doi Inthanan National Park.
The all night bus reached Chiang Mai well past dawn, the city already beginning to stir. I considered trying to nap, but in the end decided to explore the town. What better way to see Buddhist temples than in the dreamy fog of sleeplessness? Chiang Mai has over three hundred wats within the somewhat sprawling city limits, most of them reasonably modern and, in my opinion, not worth visiting. I narrowed the field to three, which I figured was a nice round one percent.
The house Jim Thompson left behind in Bangkok is gorgeous, but the real charm is the garden and its orchids. I wandered around the gardens which really aren't that large for some time and then found a bench near a collection of orchids, where I sat for the better part of an hour, occasionally taking a photograph or two, but mostly thinking about how human orchids are.
"The city is a cathedral" writes James Salter, "its scent is dreams." Salter may have been referring to New York, but his words ring true in Bangkok. And the best place to feel it at night is on the river or from the top of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel — where a circular, revolving observation deck offers 360° views of the Bangkok nightscape.
Seasons Greeting from luxagraf. I'm in Bangkok, Thailand at the moment. I am taking a short break from traveling to do a little working so I don't have much to report. I've seen the two big temples down in the Khaosan Rd area, but otherwise I've been trying to live an ordinary life in Bangkok, if such a thing is possible.