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Friends of a Long Year is a private mailing list bringing stories to your inbox like it's still 1995. It's written in the spirit of Mary Austin. It was originally called Place Without a Postcard, which does a better job of summarizing what I like to write about. Friends is delivered roughly twice a month.


Closing Time

Koh Kradan, Thailand 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.

Bird of Paradise

Koh Kradan, Thailand 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.

Beginning of the End

Koh Hai, Thailand I will confess to being a bit melancholy on the ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lanta. It was slowly beginning to sink in that my trip was nearly over, the money nearly gone and coming home no longer felt so far in the future. Still, it;s hard to be too melancholy in the Thai Islands, even the one's that are covered in trash.

Going Down South

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand The Phi Phi Island Resort, where some friends were staying, is 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 King of Carrot Flowers

Doi Inthanan National Park, Thailand 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.

You and I Are Disappearing

Chang Mai, Thailand 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.

Buddha on the Bounty

Bangkok, Thailand 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.

Brink of the Clouds

Bangkok, Thailand "The city is a cathedral" writes James Salter, "its scent is dreams." Nowhere in Bangkok is it more so than in the view from the top of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel.

Merry Christmas 2005

Bangkok, Thailand 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.