Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Sawatdee Pimai ! (Happy New year !)..back at last....
So it has been just over a week now since I boarded a plane from Honolulu…..it seems like months ago, really…it is amazing how some weeks just seem so much “fuller” than others and this sure was one of them….
Of course just the anticipation of leaving for this trip and the long days and nights of packing weeks before left me exhausted as I said goodbye to Hawaii for the next 3 ½ months- this factor alone made just the last few days before I left seem to drag on forever…
…. But there was a pleasant calm and a child-like excitement that overcame me the moment my China Airlines 747 jumbo jet took off the coral reef tarmac of Honolulu airport…..I knew my next adventure was about to begin….and all exhaustion seemed to vanish almost immediately.
And what a beginning it was ! A little over 12 hours after I settled into my Bangkok apartment, there was news of a rash of bombs going off in and around the city, several quite close to where I was staying….all a bit too eerie, as well, for I had a strong “hunch” just hours earlier that something like this was going to happen…..and in exactly the same spot where I thought….(the shopping center where I had this feeling used to be called “the world trade center” (name was changed after 9/11) – I felt that if anyone had a political statement to be made, it would be here)
I was glued to my laptop for most of New Years Eve as all major celebrations were cancelled by the Thai government- we were told to stay off the streets if possible so ,of course, I took the safe course and just stayed indoors the entire evening- I just wasn’t in the mood to be doing much celebrating after all this….I was just feeling very sad for the city and of course for the families of those who lost loved ones from the bombs..
Throughout the evening, I was constantly logging on to CNN.com and the Bangkok Post just to get hourly updates of what was happening in the city….there was no TV where I was staying so I am most thankful that I had a connection to the “outer world.” The irony is that a friend of mine on the east coast of the US actually emailed me the moment he heard about this news…otherwise, I wouldn’t have had a clue (at least for a short while anyway..) so thank you, Frederic, for being the first to give me the “breaking news”….it is also a bit strange when you read about your situation as a “top headline story” on the eve of a major holiday…it is always fascinating to me to see how such stories are ‘presented’ to the world, when you, yourself, are right there “where the action is”…..but I am thankful I had any news at all just to keep me informed and , of course, out of danger….
So I left Bangkok January 2nd and took a very short flight south to the city of Krabi….then after a 2 hour ferry ride (filled with Swedes, Brits, and Italians), I arrived on my favorite little island of Koh Lanta…..
I had tears of joys in my eyes as my boat got closer and closer to this magical little island that had provided me so many wonderful memories on my last trip here. I was so looking forward to seeing my old friends here and getting back to my simple beachside bungalow lifestyle.
However, after just a few minutes of being in my “tuk-tuk” (thai taxi) to my bungalow, I came to the stark realization that in just the short period of 8 months since I was last here, this island had grown and expanded in ways I never thought could happen is such a small span of time….Granted, it is high season right now and the tourists are “en masse” here right, but what has shocked me even more is the amount of construction that has taken place since I was last year….quite sad ,really, as I had hoped this island would remain forever quaint and calm…
But alas, when there is money to be made, there will be “progress”….and I have to make peace with this worldwide notion as I don’t think there is really much possibility of escape from this on the planet right now…
But I have my bungalow by the beach and I am happy…..it is relatively quiet here throughout the day though nighttimes have provided me a bit of a challenge as of late…it seems that music with loud strong bass lines( from nearby bars) still can penetrate my trusty ol’ earphones so I probably am going to have to get used to not getting some real sleep until about 2 am every night….nevermind, though…..I don’t have an office to report to every morning so I know I will be fine..
I plan on being here in Lanta a month now…..I will be enjoying my time with friends, start teaching my online course in a couple of weeks, and work on a couple of creative projects that I have been in my ‘back burner’ for awhile…..Of course, I will have my daily walks and swims on the beach and my nightly gatherings with friends here….a wonderfully calm and relaxed routine. I am very grateful for this and have worked hard for 8 months to come back to this.
Then in February I will go north to Chaing Mai to visit friends there and explore more of the hillside tribe areas of Pai and Mae Hong Son. Then at the end of February, I will go to Malaysia for a week or so to enjoy some of the beautiful islands in and around Penang. That is all the plans I have so far. I did just meet up with a friend just now and there was talk of us doing some traveling to Vietnam together so we will see….
I must divert a bit and say how great it has been having my laptop here. I have never traveled with one before but decided that since my chances of finding wireless networks will be pretty good, I would bring it…and , of course, since I am teaching an online course here, it will make it all that easier to get organized and carry out my job in the next few months.
IT has also been great to have my little white MAC as I can write whenever I want now and find I am already keeping a pretty thorough personal journal of my travels. This makes my days feel much more creative and purposeful at times….I also forgot how much I love to write !
Laptops also make great photo albums so it has been fun to be sharing photos with friends here- so many others travelers have also done the same- this makes for a nice community of sharing stories whenever the opportunity arises….….Photos also provide such a nice sense of background and history for others to enjoy…it is like more dimensions of oneself come to life when friends see pictures of your own home, family, and friends; it brings us all closer, I think…
Oh yes, I even get wireless connection from my bungalow, 20meters from the ocean ! ah, gotta love progress….:)
Okay, I think that is all for now…..I know this entry has been a bit long-winded but I felt I just needed to share with you my initial feelings and reactions to being back here….It is not often that I return to the same place when I travel so I have been intrigued with the whole “honeymoon is over” notion as I settle in to a more local day-to day lifestyle.
Because of this, I will probably not be doing a lot of entries on this site (at least not as often as my last trip). I am going to be on one island for a month now so the variety of pictures and stories might be a bit less than last years’ entries..l.but who knows…..my last few days have already been so full of amazing gatherings with friends…I could write several short stories just from those meetings alone !
I hope you are all well and are enjoying a nice calm start to your new year. Personally, I am very glad the holidays are over and am most happy to be out of traffic and shopping malls !
Will write soon…and thank you for keeping in touch with me…it really does mean a lot.
And , oh yes, I do have a Thai cell # here so if any of you wants to text me and/or say hi , here is the number : from US dial: 011-66-81-029-7677
I have used the calling card program from www.pingo.com Check it out…calls to Thailand are about 2 cents a minute….I also use Skype (www.skype.com) and my log-in name is : lavalife007 We can literally talk free from our computers if you sign up (free sign up as well). I truly believe that Skype is the best bargain on the planet !
p.s. as of last night, my trusty ol camera has broken…so it may be a few days before I can get it fixed….could be a bit of a project on this very small island !
Okay, that’s all for now.
Sawatdee ka !
have a wonderful day…