A woman with her well-groomed dog that is dressed in a fancy coat, is walking past. Her hair sticks up in the air.
I am sitting in the sun on the terrace of my guesthouse trying to sort out Amsterdam, Kentucky, Southeast Asia, and finally Switzerland. A journey through my notebook, while the snowman in the garden is melting. As his shape changes his posture becomes more human like.
Amsterdam to Florida to Kentucky to Thailand to Laos to Thailand to the Netherlands to Thailand to the Philippines to the Netherlands to Switzerland. A mouthful.
I look at one of the many half blank pages. The page is filled with just one sentence, taken from “The Darjeeling Express” soundtrack:
“Where do you go to my lovely, when you’re alone in your bed?”
I am back on Long Beach in Koh Lanta. Sunset. The song is in my head. I am covered with sand and watch the small life around me. A repetitive screenplay that continues every evening. Crabs walk sideways as they rise up from their holes and dig new holes. They have small territorial space and fight when one crab moves to freely towards another crab’s hole. I watch them run as the tide moves up. A dead fish is being explored. Far away a dog is barking. One hermit is chasing another hermit. Another wave breaks. The last strip of sunlight gets swallowed by the sea. Time seems endless and meaningless. Sunsets, objects, animals, emotions, all come and go. Sooner or later all will be washed away by the sea, towards an endless horizon. The rhythm of the waves will continue, and the new moon will come.
And so did my return to civilization.
Amsterdam, the beginning of October. I arrive cold turkey from my tropical paradise. Quicker than my human mind can process. In the beginning I am afraid of all the rushed people and the way they ride their bikes. It is a different world, with nature’s forces far on the background. The amount of choices freaks me out in the beginning. How to pick the best out of sixty different bottles of red wine to take to my friends? Options seem endless and a sunset is hard to find. Everyone is busy rushing around. And so am I. Hugs, parties, friends, family, passport and on my way back to Thailand before I know it. A rehearsal, the tryout before the real deal. Time is ticking.
The “Amsterdam” part of my notebook is filled with practical notes: import and export wishes. Ponstan for my sister (and yes, I forgot..). To take Dutch candy back to Thailand and a copy of our police report. And list of good brands of Bourbon for a gift back home.
Here, the snowman is melting. He leans forward now. In spring someone will put a chair on the spot where he used to be. Present, past, all is just a matter of time and timing. I blink my eyes.
Someone is playing hair metal in the far distance. Alice Cooper? And I look at another, half blank page of my notebook.
Koh Chang, the end of October. It is morning and I am still waking up on my balcony. A monkey jumps right across me. He is looking directly into my eyes, and tries to tell me that he is the boss. I don’t know how to make clear that I am in charge, that it is MY balcony and not his. He seems to feel different about his rights to this platform. I call Greg and tell him to make the monkey go away. Greg puffs up his chest and the animal looks at him while showing his teeth. Then he jumps.
An invasion of ants is marching over the same balcony in the evening. Our table and chairs are covered with the little creepers. We don’t understand why they picked our balcony.
Two hours later the table is normal again, like the big migration has never existed. Maybe we just came back too early and nature decided that it was not our balcony yet.
A picture from Halloween. Freddy Kruger on Khao San Road. We chase him for a picture, all the way into the Kentucky Fried Chicken. Apparently Freddy likes his chicken fried. KFC is very busy and we have to go upstairs to catch Freddy and his friends. We ask for a picture, thankfully our serial killer is in a good mood. We have our snapshot and make our way out. Our last night in Bangkok for the year.
I take a sip of Swiss wine. The sun is away now and it is getting colder. The last day of the year. In a couple of hours the Philippines will already be celebrating. Sixty minutes later it will be midnight in Bangkok and six hours later, it will be our turn, here in Switzerland and most of Europe. Then, eventually America will prepare for a happy new year. The crabs in Koh Lanta won’t notice.
I flip back through the pages of my notebook. The Philippines. My last Asian country for the year. And finally, I find many notes. Mostly because it was almost the end of my trip.
I will sort them out later, and make ONE New Year’s resolution for now: to take more notes.
My new notebook will be full with experiences, thoughts, lists, recommendations, mistakes, and so on. All written down. I will make a note on the first page of my notebook not to forget. The waves will wash away the memories faster than we think.