Thursday, December 16, 2010
I have not been getting much sleep since I got to Asia. Between jetlag and trying to pack as much expriences in two countries in 6 days, my body clock has lost all its rhythm. The days meld into each other. I don't even remember what day it is and how many days I have already been gone for. All that matters is that I am present in whatever city I am in, having the time of my life.
I woke up at midnight to a strange lound noise hammering incessantly in my ear. In my drowsy state, it took me a while to identify it and trace where it was coming from.
It was torrential, hard pounding, angry rain like I have never experienced before. It poured and poured with no signs of stopping.
It took me a while to gather my bearings as I gained lucidity. I am sleeping alone in a tent on the beach in a remote island in Southern Thailand.
I was frightened.
I have never camped in my life before being the city dweller that I am. I am completely out of any comfort zone I have known all my life. I watched my mind started play all these scenarios that make me want to shit my pants. What if the rain never stops? What if I got stuck here on this island and miss my flight out of Thailand to Manila? What if a tsunami comes? Are my belongings dry? Is this tent going to withstand the wind and rain?
I listened to the thunder. Oddly, it calmed me and lulled me back to sleep.
I woke up right at sunrise. The morning had a nonchalance to it like we didn't get pummeled by rain the night before. It was all just a memory.
This place is an amazing piece of earth. I almost don't want to talk about it because I want to help keep it hush hush so that the tourism industry doesn't ruin the purity of it. Getting off the longtail, I felt like I stepped into the filming of "Castaway", except that this is far more real. The sand is very white and soft, reminsicent of talcum powder. The water is clear teeming with life, and from the shore, you can spot droves of tiny fish swimming as a school. There are no permanent resort facilities - guests sleep in tents. It is actually a very luxurious way of roughing it out, if you can imagine that.
Mike says that the maximum capacity in the island is sixty, but could actually be less than that. While I was there, there were only eleven of us. There is a working plumbing system but the bathrooms are shared and doesn't have hot water. Instead of palm trees, the backdrop here is a rainforest. On one end of the island is amazing rockclimbing people travel the world over for. Traveling south from the Hat Yao Pier, one would see island after island, actually more like enormous rocks, that jut upwards out of the water, like phallic symbols. It's just fascinating. The closest island here can be reached by an easy twenty minute trip on a kayak.
There is nothing to do here except master the art of doing nothing. I love it. There are no Thai massages, no wi-fi. It's just the earth and you, baby.
As the day winds down, I soak in The Island's magnificence. This is as close to the earth as I have been and this island is perfect for reminding me of the oneness of everything.. that man is not superior to the other creatures on earth and how utterly important it is to co-exist with the rest of the Universe because they deserve this existence as much as we do. They say time flies when you're having fun. My experience today has shown me another dimension of itself. Nothing about this day went fast. Everything was divinely langorous to be savored, to be cherished. I probably napped at least three times today and I did not even feel guilty about it. I laid on a Thai matress for most part of the afternoon alternately staring at the sea, watching the colorful birds play, crab scurry about, and ants march by. In between, there were two (failed) attempts at snorkeling (the rain brought the jellyfish), swimming, reading, walks, a beach volleyball game, two kayak trips (the island has four kayaks that you can take around The Island or to nearby islands on your own or with friends - no need for tour guides), and lots of rich conversations with new friends from all over the world.
Alex and I formed an instant connection maybe because we're both traveling solo. He's a French banker living in Hong Kong but relocating back to Europe (London) in January. He's obviously very intelligent and I love hearing his English, although I have to ask him to repeat himself every other time. He is tall, lanky, has thick dark hair, smiling electrifying blue eyes that glow when he tells a story he's wild about. Toby, a tall good looking athletic, easy-going German calls him "fussy" sometimes. Him and I giggle about this. Toby is one of those people you would get along with in an instant. He has thick curly hair and an amazing smile. We both Latin dance and just love being silly. Unlike Elmar (Toby and I call him Oscar sometimes - inside joke), Toby's best friend and travelling buddy, who is bit serious and intense. He is very curious about the world, what he sees and the people he meets.
Vaughn is a self-proclaimed pessimist, but I challenged him to distinguish whether it really is pessimism or realism. He is undecided between pessimistic realist or realistic pessimist. I really doubt that he is either, judging from our conversations on apertheid in his country, South Africa. He breathes so much passion talking about life in his motherland. His voice is heavy with an honest mix of responsibility, white man guilt and sadness for the state of things - and how he could just not abandon South Africa just because he can. His original plan of soul searching for 2.5 months (Thailand first, South America next) was foiled after his job rescinded his sabbatical (he's a banker). It is amazing because he's 30, right at the cusp of the "soul searching" age where people actually are successful in finding it. He thinks he is looking for something he didn't have to begin with (his realistic pessimist side activating) but from our conversations, I think he's looking for something he has never lost to begin with.
We're having seafood barbeque tonight and I am stoked. From where I am writing this, I can hear Mike playing the guitar and Tiger (one of the resident kittens) meowing in the background. The waves are softly crashing the shore and in between, there are gaps of unmistakable silence.
It was good finding pieces of myself I didn't know I had here.
Namaste, love, joy, peace and compasion to everyone from Shangri-La...