I’m regressing, here… folks.
Rather than making forward progress I am retreating further into my cocoon. A little over a week since we’ve been back from our trip and the magnitude of where we were and what we just saw is hitting me now. Allow me to illustrate …
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
This is me chilling on the top of our junk (ship) boat in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. We had just spent the night in a small cabin on this boat. We met some really awesome friends, sang karaoke and drank strong vodka together. Awesome!
Angkor Temples, Cambodia
This is in Cambodia, at the Angkor Temples. The large body of water before me was once the King’s bathtub! The grandiose temples that once stood are awe-inspiring and mind-blowing. The experience left me humbled by the civilization that once existed here.
And certainly not least of all awesome activities, is lying in a hammock. A hammock pro, I purchased my ‘mock in Vietnam for the bargain-basement price of 100,000 dong (about five bucks), and proceeded to laze all over south east Asia in it.
Gili Air, Indonesia
So forgive me a moment, while I nostalgically bid adieu to a really awesome trip.
before I left to travel :
Don’t bring books you don’t want to part with. In other words, books that belong to other people or have personal sentimental value. Otherwise, you’re stuck lugging them around.
Bring the camera. Everywhere. You never know when you’re going to find an indescribable beach, or have that wacky adventure you wish you could capture.
No need for so many contact lenses. South east Asian countries are not the most eye-contact friendly countries in the world. Plenty of dust to get in the eyes. I was far better off with fuzzy vision than dirt in my eyes.
Don’t worry about a thing. We as humans (the majority of us at least), have an uncanny knack for surviving most situations. Our inert ability to survive and make the best out of any given situation allows us to adapt and accept our surroundings. So no sense in worrying about much.
Traveling affords me the practice of not planning for things too far ahead. Hopping from one city to the next teaches me to focus on today – the here and now. To not count my chickens before they hatch, so to speak. Why make any big plans beyond a couple days? Plan only as far as your headlights can see, I say.
Back in reality, this practice of living-in-the-now does good for my type-A personality. I take one task at a time. Not only does this make me more efficient (versus scurrying around trying to do everything and accomplishing less), but far less stressed as well.
One task at a time. It is selecting the right task that is the key to success here. Knowing which task to select depends on three criteria…
1. Priority. These are tasks relating to what is most important in your life (i.e. family, friends, etc..).
2. Time. Time-sensitive tasks or tasks with a nearing deadline.
3. Mood. Work on a task when the mood strikes.
As for the rest… let destiny decide when they should come into play.
It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.
– Winston Churchill
When our small motorboat hit sand on Gili Air I could feel we had landed somewhere different. The relaxation on the faces of the people, the locals. The people who live on Gili Air lead an unhurried and very peaceful life. There are no motorized vehicles on Gili. Try to imagine, if you can, a small island near the equator where the only way to get around is on-foot or via horse-drawn cart. It’s rustic beauty, at its best.
Evidently, I wasn’t the only one who felt this way..
To sign-in at Matahari’s on Gili Air you have to add your name and check-out date to the list. I derived much pleasure in seeing the long line of question marks running down the page – beside every name on the list! We’ve entered paradise and checked into Hotel California!
Such a lovely place. And I thought to myself, ’this is heaven!’ I proceeded to check-in but I never really did leave…
After 2 months in south east Asia I find myself looking around my apartement feeling more lost than I did in the strange foreign countries on the other side of the world. A quick look out my window and my heart drops. I fill with anxiety as the familiar outdoor scene stares back at me. The all-too-familiar street corner, where I’ve watched the seasons change into years.
The cold wet weather depresses me. I will pin pictures of south east Asian beaches to the curtains to keep from looking outside. Brrrrr. In an attempt to not be too negative here, I will focus on the positives.
- I am in one place for a long time. Having continually displaced myself over the period of 70 days I am quite content to stay put.
- I am clean. And will stay clean. One can never really be clean “clean” in countries like Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. There is simply far too much dust and pollution mixed with an oven-like heat. You can be sure after a lengthy shower and good scrub you’ll be covered in sweat again within 60 to 90 seconds.
- I don’t have to go out. I feel fully justified (read: not guilty) staying within the walls of my apartment for an indefinite period of time. Right up until Christmas, in fact. That could mean a whole 3 weeks of self-imposed solitude.
- I’m pleasantly reminded of basic things such as clean-drinkable water from the faucets. No more carrying a water bottle at every moment, after brushing I can now rinse from the sink and open my mouth in the shower.
- The dark, cold and damp weather. Yes, despite depressing me it’s great for getting things done. This type of weather promotes productivity, while its consistently gorgeous sunny twin can be rather distracting.
- And last, but certainly not least… sleeping without fear of cockroaches scurrying inside my sleeping bag.
I suppose it is good to be home – despite the bumpy landing.
I am stunned into silence when I hear the news reports on the killings in Tibet.
This was a matter of time, before the Chinese government found another opportunity to beat up its younger brother. When I was in Lhasa I remember feeling an eery kind of silence, as though it were a city waiting for something bad to happen. There was no peace in the faces of the monks, just fear towards the Chinese guards who counted their yuan on the rooftop of the Potala Palace.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe a boycott of the Beijing Olympics will do anything. I do agree with the president of the European Olympic Committee who says the only people who are punished in a boycott are the athletes. I do believe Tibetans are getting massacred, and I hope the spotlight that the Olympic Games shines on the situation help to bring it global awareness.