So I am home. The past six weeks went more quickly than any trip I have ever done. Mostly because I did not keep a “base” and move out from and back to. This trip was all about movement. This is both good and bad. It was great in that I was able to visit many places in my short time in the region. Bangkok, Chiang Khong, Luang Prabang, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon/HCMC, Phonm Penh, Siem Reap, Ko Phi Phi and Phuket all in less than six weeks. I was moving. Movement was also cool because it enabled me to meet a lot more people on the trip. Sophie, Joren and Margaretta and of course Martin and Lucia are the people I was able to travel with for multiple days and these days are very special. It is great to meet with other open minded people from all over the world (like Lapland and Slovakia) and to talk with them. Talking politics and trying to explain Fox News to Joran and Margaretta in a Swedish restaurant in Laos or talking to Martin and Lucia about quality of life vs money and then talking them into reading Milan Kundera’s “Unbearable Lightness of Being” on a beach in Hoi An, Vietnam. (Guys I’m waiting for your reading responses : ) And my long talks with my friend Phikun in Bangkok while she was supposed to be working! These are all part of the awesomeness of movement. The random connection of travelers, not tourists, from all over. The Universe just sees fit to bump you into people that change your worldview and make connections that span continents and generations.
The downside of all that movement is a lack of time for reflection. Facebook is a great way to keep in contact while on the road. A couple of pics with some short, funny stories is easy and fun and important. But real reflection, like on the S 21 prison and Killing Fields in Phonm Penh, is not really possible. I mean, I will be thinking about them and that small kitty in the street for a long time. Part of the beauty of photography is that it gives us a “do over” a chance to have visual reminders of all that we have seen and gives us that time to reflect.
Over the next few weeks I will be posting and commenting on photos from this trip. I hope you enjoy the stories and forgive some of low points. It was both an amazingly beautiful and a cripplingly sad trip. Both the weight of some of the places and just the vast inequities of life in the third world make the experience more difficult but the resilience, openness and warmness of the people once again really made this trip what it was. The Buddha says, as part of the Four Noble Truths, that “Life is suffering” and that this suffering is caused by an attempt by us to place permanence on an impermanent world. I am still wrestling with these ideas, but I know this as a Truth. It is the joy of life and connection and human warmth that will help us find the middle way between suffering and beauty.
Thanks to all of you for your love and support. I look forward to traveling with you again and feel free to comment.