Fake sunsets and a million shades of green

A summer of extravagant visa runs, sampling the delights of the tangible world and East Asia’s finest training courses across seven countries and four continents…

….by the time this fairy tale finishes that is…!

This summer my own thirst for knowledge and new skills, along with my inability to say no, led me to do my 2nd degree in Reiki, qualify in traditional Thai massage, my Padi open water diving certificate and take a Thai cooking course.

In that time i also…
…sampled the residential delights of Bangkok (aka. my very own bedroom at Emma’s gaff, the swimming pool and broadband!);
…explored the depths of the deep blue sea, diving the underwater beauty of Ko Tao;
…tripped over my heels totally out of my head in love, to the beautiful back drop of white sand and impressionist skylines of Ko Phangan;
…freaked out my beautiful and obviously over manly, lover with white knuckle speed boat rides and snorkeling with sharks in Malaysia’s crystal clear seas of the perhentian islands;
…turned 31 in anonymous obscurity on Kapas;
…indulged my Durga side, playing nursemaid to Rory’s just about walking, wounded;
…’popped’ over to Perth looking for Roos and Prema;
…and took to the road again with my Indian travel buddy Mel to Thailand’s islands, northern hill country and to beautiful, lovely, laid back Laos.

By far the hero of my limited exploration of the East, Laos has the most exquisite landscape and scenary and has a genuineness behind their smiles that Thailand’s culture of saving face and keeping their blood cool, for me, seems to lack. Whilst both cultures have an attitude of why do anything (work, eating, shopping etc) if it’s not fun, Laos seems to enjoy having fun, whilst Thailand seems just to want to get onto the next bit of fun, without absorbing the bit they are presently not giving a monkeys about.

Obviously I’m generalising, and no, I’m not basing that opinion solely on the ‘do you have to stay here, then I’ll have to do some work’ guesthouses and restaurants of Chao Phau on Ko Phangan. I’ve clearly gone a little bit over Latino, and I’m just looking for a little light behind the eyes, passion for something, anything, other than what goes in their mouths next!

It always surprised me the lengths of talking a Thai could go to, spending 24 hours living and working with somebody, they still can chatter constantly…. until I was informed by a reliable source that they are constantly talking about food! You cannot take a step without walking past a food cart at the side of the road bbq’ing squid, pork; a som tam lady bashing up the green papaya strands and peanuts in her huge pestle and mortar; a guy briefly dipping his rice noodles in a boiling vat of beef fat or a lady roasting sweetcorns on open coals. In fact if you look at what unites a country, what unifies and homogenises them as a nation; where the US has fear and shopping, the UK has dissatisfaction, India has belief; Thailand is ruled by their obsession with food.

Obviously this is not a criticism, but an observation and an opinion… if I were Thai I would undoubtably live to eat rather than eat to live! How to resist Thai green curry, pad thai, som tam or tom yam soup?! Even with portion control, the Thai style of little and often would ensure that baywatch swim suit remainded forever hanging up in the closet… like the faded super heros of watchmen.

Having already given up my baywatch swimsuit the instant I touched down in mother india and discovered vegetable Thali, the only thing to do was to join them and do a cooking course. Pounding the green curry spices into a paste, bashing up the garlic and green papaya strands and learning to cook noodles, vegetable and egg in the same wok at the same time in different ways. For sure i’m going to be popular in Brazil! 😉

Sometimes travellers get so engrossed in planning their journeys as a route to visit this place or that, they forget that the journey is by far the biggest in the festival unfolding. Whilst I notched up a few air asia miles, and visiting a host of beautiful places and did all manner of amazing experiences, it was the hours spent in the state of perpetual motion that so coloured these pages in the scrap book of my life.

It’s because of this obsession to always busy ourselves so we don’t have to take stock, that God created time outs, periods of reflection and respite. How many of us are guilty of over filling our senses but not even giving them the benefit of 8 hours sleep to be processed and filed away, let alone contemplate what our senses are consuming.

Chugging along the frothy milk chocolate Mekong from the Thai border to Luang Prabang, the old royal capital of Laos, has to be by far one of the most consistently beautiful journeys of my life. Endless mountains smothered in verdant green, peppered with intense clouds in full latino drama displays of soap opera. As my arse gradually numbed to completely dead on a 6 inch wooden pew built for teeny tiny asian frames propagated in a more humid climate, my heart swelled to almost bursting and I almost cried at how lucky I am, my mind exploring and reflecting on what a beautiful life I have! But it’s not about luck, I made this happen and it’s the part I get to play in this crazy play of life. I was always dissatisfied with my the part I got to play in the school plays, chorus role, pah, I wanted a proper part to play!.. but now I realise we’re given the part we have to play with reason, it’s not about the part, it’s the perspective of how we play it.

People go travelling when they feel something is missing in their life and so they go to look for it. But it’s hard to keep travelling when you’ve found what you didn’t know you were looking for. It’s difficult to hold onto things or to be accountable for anything when the ground is always moving beneath you. Whilst you’re always moving forward, it’s still in which ever which way the wind is blowing, and that can be disorientating. So I’m ready to hang up my back pack and my walking shoes and maybe give this ‘normal life’ a try. My next journey will be to somewhere I can call home, where my roots will be watered and my branches and leaves cared for, pruned if need be, and where the buds of love will blossom and share their beauty and sweet fragrance with all 🙂

On the 2 year anniversary of the day I abandoned my known world and stepped onto a plane for India, heading towards an unknown future and unknown present; a very interesting and inspiring woman, we were honoured to share a delightful evening with, asked me what I had learnt these past 2 years. My first reply was, in a cheesy voice, that I’d found myself… because cliched as it is, I had. I had found peace with myself, peace with the universe and my place within it. I had found patience, tolerance, gratitude, kindness, presence, happiness, positivity, acceptance and true love.

As I prepare to pack my bags on my seemingly perpetual holiday (your words not mine!) and unpack them in another continent, embarking on an entirely different adventure… something else this wonderful and wise woman said rings true “trust what comes up”…. so I do; and in the words of that beautiful man who only just found out he could add ‘gardening’ to his multitude of other talents, and who has completed turned my world upside down…

…”the beautiful story continues”


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