Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One Week Home

It's been a week now since the airport bus dropped me off outside the darkened fairgrounds in the sub-freezing night.  I'd been warned that we were having a tremendous cold snap, but how does one prepare after a month away in the tropics?

For several nights I woke up very confused, not knowing where I was.  Even last night, waking up to go pee, it took me awhile to realize I was back home in California.  It really is an amazing thing to be standing on the other side of the planet one day and back the next.

People ask me how my trip was, hoping perhaps to get a short, satisfying answer.  Ha!  I'm more likely to come after them with my iPad full of photographs and long stories, now oft repeated.  I should just tell them to read this blog if they are really interested.  Or just say "fantastic!". 

Before I ever traveled overseas, I asked my friend Susan what the big deal was.  She'd take off for three or four weeks at least once a year.  She was the first person I knew who'd been to Thailand.  She told me that the memories from travel are different--far more rich and dense with experience.  So true.

It was a little harder this time to be traveling solo.  There's such a natural desire to turn to one's friend and say "Whoa!  Look at that!" least for me.  I got to do a bit of that with strangers, fellow travelers also having their minds blown.  But I'm very grateful to have been able to share my trip with you, dear reader. 

Traveling across the planet to places of incredible beauty, but where local people are so humble, or even poor--it made me so aware of my good fortune, and so grateful for the experience.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Random Images and Thoughts

I'm still at Miracle Springs and will stay one more night at Steve's dome.  It was pretty damn cold last night!  I had on everything I brought plus some of Steve's clothes, but it was unusually chilly I guess.
On the ride back to his place the stars were about as bright as I've ever seen them.  We just stood out and stared up at them for quite a while.
Tomorrow I'm breaking camp and heading by bus further north to Nong Khai, which is right on the border with Laos.  It sounds like a charming little town and I'm happy to get to explore it a bit.  I'll spend the night there and zip down on Wednesday to catch my plane back to Bangkok.  Alas, I'm looking at an 8 hour layover.  Steve thinks I should grab a taxi and go have fun in Bangkok!  
At the least I can get one last massage at the airport before my long flight home.
So here are some random photos for you, dear reader....
Thai filling station.  Actually same in Cambodia, though the sign is a bit unusual.  
Another building project underway here.  I like the shapes!
A fairly prosperous farmstead outside Seam Reap in Cambodia.  I saw a lot of big hay stacks and many water buffalo wallowing in the little ponds or streams.  It was incredibly hard to get a good shot from the bouncing, careening tuk tuk though.  
This was flying in to Udon Thani.  So much farm land, not just here but the whole flight, and most or all of it obviously cultivated by small farmers.  So much more productive--and beautiful--then massive corporate holdings.  This picture needs major Photoshopping, but believe me when I say it was really lovely.
Can't remember if I posted this already.  The Khmer (and Hindus) really celebrate the whole male female thing.  I saw these things in pretty much every temple, but this was the only one with any detail left!  
So one of the great things to come out this epic battle between the gods and demons was the birth of the Apsaras--sort of celestial dancers.  I don't pretend to know jack about this, but it was a really big deal for the Khmer.  Pretty much all of the temples had a big Apsara dancing hall where specially trained women would do the sacred dances.  This is the only real link back to that culture, 1000 years earlier.  There are still Apsara dancers and nightly shows in Seam Reap.  I ducked into one, but it was too crowded for me at that moment, so I missed out.
More Apsara dancers
Just another few days and I'll be home.  Back to my wonderful family, satisfying work and the craziness of the US at holiday time.  I feel extraordinarily grateful to be on this trip and to be able to share it with you!

At Steve's Domicile

It's pretty amazing being here. Steve is a really excellent photographer and he caught the dome in the best possible light.  But even the best photos don't convey the presence of a place.
So here are some of my non-photoshopped photos of the place...
Here's the fish pond right off of the living room, and the welcoming alcove for the front door.
There are no glass windows here, just screens (ah, to live where it's never cold!).  Alas, rats from the mango orchard have breeched all the screens.  They seem to use Steve's place as a kind of club ho use.
The front door from inside the house.  Note the machete and the Namaste banner (from Mandala Arts).
The portal to Steve's bedroom off the kitchen.  He has a little propane stove that swings out from under the counter there on the right.
The doorway to the bathroom.  There's the shower in the background.  And one of Deva Luna's stickers there on the fridge!
The stairs up to the covered balcony...
The view from the top!  That's a sweet little lake in the background, complete with lotus flowers.  And those are mango trees.  This is all in the middle of a mango/rubber tree farm.
The operating principle here seems to be fun.  And relaxing.  I've had a very mellow day after so much travelling.  At times the only sounds are wind in the trees, way off dogs barking, roosters crowing and occasional sounds of scooters or tractors in the distance.