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P1030107

Stop number 3; the final destination.  We wanted our last stop to be in a place where the agenda was full of relaxation, and so we found Phuket.  I was told by a friend that Phuket was the Hawaii of Thailand.  Sounds so enticing, so off we went.  Still on a high from Chiang Mai, I was optimistic, but I set my expectations low.  The Hawaii of Thailand could not be better than what we experienced in Chiang Mai.  Maybe I’d be wrong.

As we arrived at the airport and walked to the exit, it was hectic.  I’m not famous, but I felt like I was.  The flashing of the paparazzi cameras replaced with a chorus of “where you going,” and “taxi…you need a taxi.”  It felt like there were  30 people around us hoping we’d choose them from a ride.  The P.I.C yelled “easy,” to get them to back off a bit, which they then used to mock us.  Not off to a good start.  But alas, we made our way to the taxi stand (the one I read was the legit stand), and after a minute or two, we were on our way….or so I thought.  About two minutes into the ride, we made a stop.  She’s back to her old tricks again, I thought.  The taxi driver hopped out, and a young lady approached the cab and motioned for us to open the door.  Brochures in hand, she asked us if we were interested in any excursions.  I had heard about this, and from what I read, I knew that we’d be here for awhile, though the legit taxis weren’t supposed to do this.

I looked at her and smiled, and said we planned on relaxing the entire time, and had no interest in doing anything.  To my surprise, she smiled back and said thank you…enjoy your trip, and that was it.  We were off again toward the hotel.  My main concern now was the increasing number on the meter.  What I expected but still more than I wanted to pay.  The hotel was a regular looking beachfront hotel.  No standout character, but who needs that when you open your door and the ocean is in your face.  She was quiet most of the way, but there’s is where I heard her loud and clear.  The water went all the way to the horizon, and even though the water was much to rough for most swimmers, she was beautiful to look at.  To hear her waters crash against the waves was soothing, though the roar reminded me that these same waters took so many lives in the Tsunami in 2004.

As I said, my expectations were low, and since this was her vacation spot, the food was average though more expensive than most other places.  I guess most who visited her here were not looking for so much of an authentic experience.  They wanted nice water, and excursions; one which we ventured out on.  Here she gave me a first…I jumped off a boat into the waiting waters.  The water wasn’t the clear blue kind that some have mingled with in the Caribbean, but more of a cloudy green (not anything like the Jersey water either).  It felt great, and it’s saltiness made for good floating water, if you’re into that stuff.  On this excursion, she showed me secluded areas where there was only one way in and out.  She showed me caves which we explored with flashlights, James Bond Island, and an entire town built over the water, secluded from the mainland.  It had shops, homes, fishing boats, a restaurant, and a school.  All powered by a generator, that I believe is shut off by a certain time at night.  Apparently it’s really expensive to run at all.  Most interesting was that most people here were not itching to go to the mainland.  They had to if they wanted to finish school, but most came back.  This was her example of how life could be so simple, and still so fulfilling.

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It was the rainy season, and she held back for most of the trip, but here in Phuket, she showed me what that meant.  I like to see it as her way of crying for me before I left.  As that day approached, it was sad. We had a few moments where all we did was sit there in the silence, enjoying each others company.  But it did have to come to an end.  The alarm would ring at 4:15 am, and we had to say our goodbyes.  Her last gift to us, in the form of a boxed breakfast from the hotel.  I’ve never seen that before, but it was a nice farewell gesture.  She didn’t want us to leave, so I suspect she somehow delayed our flight by an hour and a half.  But we eventually boarded, took off, had our last look at her, and closed the airplane window shade.

As I look back on and recap the affair, I realize there’s a really good feeling that resides in me.  She wasn’t the prettiest, or the nicest.  Her personality sometimes made her seem unstable, but she reminded me of something.  Something that is all too cliche, but ignored by so many, me included.  Something that I hope doesn’t leave me as I get back into the routines of my established relationship with my home country.  She reminded me that life is all about living it; not just being present.  Soaking in the good and the amazing, and learning from the bad and the ugly…and to smile, because it really does make others smile with you.  And if it doesn’t, well, it makes me feel good.

I hope you enjoyed this affair…this journey. Shout out to the P.I.C for also making this trip as memorable as it was.

Sawadee Krap

The bitter taste of Bangkok still lingering, me and the P.I.C advanced our affair with Thailand, and moved on to Chiang Mai.  The promise of seeing the “real” Thailand was a major driving force in moving our affair up north.  However I was skeptical that this relationship would actually go anywhere now.  She was as superficial and money hungry as any other affair I had been a part of, and she was not apologetic.  As I look back, I likely was a bit too harsh in my judgement.  My adjustment to her timezone, her way of talking, and her way of interacting probably had as much to do with my impression as did the unseemly characters.  It makes me wonder, what damage had her past lovers done to make her so cold…but I digress.

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Our arrival in Chiang Mai was uneventful.  Our walk through the airport and eventual ride in the cab was as plain as vanilla ice cream.  When suddenly, a glimmer of hope reared its head.  She showed me the most beautiful place to stay.  Chiang Mai offered your standard hotels and backpacker paradises,  but this place was neither.  It was called Ruen Come In, and it’s style was considered lanna style, and was decked out in all wood.  Quaint and private, it had reflections of a B&B, but offering much more privacy to the guests.  Shoe removal when walking on any indoor surface, or outdoor surface leading to a room, was required and added to the charm.  I didn’t want the same ole same ole….or “same same,” as I saw written so many places, and this was far away from familiar for me.  She made me smile, but I was cautious.

We walked through the town, and our first encounter was with a man trying to sell tickets to a Muay Thai fight, and I thought, “here we go again.”  Another scam.  Though genuinely interested, we held off on purchasing, and I immediately realized that he actually didn’t push too hard, if at all.  This was followed by an individual who showed interest in us while we looked over a map…his interest was that he only wanted to point us in the right direction.  We had a decent dinner while watching people come and go, and ended up at a nice little spot where a live band was playing.  They were quite good, I might add, and the people watching was just perfect.  As we lay that night, I had hopes that our relationship would continue to improve.  With a visit to the Elephant Nature Park (ENP), it had to.

The visit to ENP showed me just how compassionate, patient, and dedicated one person could be.  The love I saw given to these creatures was just amazing, and unlike anything I had seen up close and personal before.  I saw personable animals that had awesome size, and such grace.  Powerful in their movements, but gentle as they took food out of our hand.  Seemingly disinterested as we doused them with water, but stood still because they knew we were happy and well…they had food and they were genuinely happy.  I learned so much, and I am so thankful that I was able to experience firsthand.  And this is where it started to happen.  This is where I began to fall in love with her.  This was followed by another nice dinner on the river, where the loud sounds of club music played in the background.  I saw her younger side, and how she liked to party.  There was a cover band, and plenty of 20-somethings singing along, and throwing back liquor.

Our chariots while there were these red vans that could fit eight people comfortably, and 12 people with someone hanging out the back.  It seemed dangerous, but it gave her personality.  Bargaining for the cost of a ride, and bargaining for goods was becoming second nature, and it started to become fun.  It’s as if she took my hand and said, “relax…this is all a part of the experience,” and I began to let go.  She introduced me to others on vacation, and we hung out with natives.  She also allowed me to see how good she actually is in the kitchen.  I enjoyed some complex food (khao soy….I still taste it), ate delicious dessert, and she showed me that breakfast isn’t all about eggs and bacon. It was here that I also learned how to wai…slight bow with palms pressed together. And it wasn’t forced; I meant it as I thanked people for various things. The P.I.C was really good at it…”kop khun krap.”

We explored the city on bicycles and witnessed amazing consideration.  The traffic was chaotic, but there was rhyme and reasoning, even if I didn’t understand it.  Oh the difference a city makes.  Bangkok was uncomfortable, but Chiang Mai slipped on like a nice pair of old sneakers.  She embraced me and made every other moment of my trip worth while. This here, was the land of smiles.  They were genuine, and wider when I initiated.  I wasn’t ready to leave here.  We had much more to share with each other, but an affair is only temporary, and with limited time, we needed to move on.  If only I could have sat in her embrace, in this beautiful city up north, a little longer.  But alas, we must go…onward the island.

 

To be continued…

P1020807

This affair is not quite your typical affair from one person to another, but rather an affair from one person to a country.  Yes, my loyalty to the USA is strong, but I felt the need to step out on her for what I knew was going to be a temporary affair.  I’ve stepped out on her temporarily before, but this time would be different.  This time the seductress was further away, making her slightly more exotic.  Her name was Thailand, and from the moment I was told about her i was mesmerized.  Hot blooded, I was told, as well as the fact that she could cook a mean meal.  That was the kicker…she could cook, and I could eat.  Her vast landscape was attractive and our activities could be endless or we could just relax in the sun.

Enough said, I want to meet her.  And with my P.I.C (partner in crime) by my side, we set out on the long journey.  In total, 27 hours of travel time.  Smooth flights and dim lights made the trek easier, along with the provided entertainment and of course, the P.I.C.   After the final leg, an 11 hour flight, I was ready to make the acquaintance.  My first impression…..wow.  I wanted it to be magical, and I probably forced it a bit, but she was beautiful.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she had more landscape than I had imagined.  Was she third world or was she still developing?  It was hard to say. Run down homes side by side with beautifully landscaped complexes and colorful buildings made it an artists dream. So many emotions to capture, yet I was still only on the sky-train.  We were off to a good start though and after a helpful girl in a hostel pointed us in the direction of our hotel, we were ready for the affair to begin.

After settling into the hotel, it was time to explore.  We were tired from the journey, but it made sense to get to know each other a little better. A quick walk around found us a 7-11 (a dime a dozen with her) for a sim card and a shopping mall. Wanting to do so much more but exhaustion started to set in and a nap was necessary.

After the brief slumber, we ready to explore again and found ourselves on a riverboat headed to an outdoor market.  The breeze felt fine, and the euphoria of just being there was still motoring us along, though additional sleep was probably needed.  Once we arrived, there was finally an opportunity to see her cook.  A crowded location filled with locals and tourists was enough to attract us, and we sat and we ate.  Though, not as tasty as I anticipated, it was a welcome introduction into what I assumed would be a wonderful culinary relationship.

Unfortunately, this was the peak of the introduction period.  As with any relationship that’s just beginning, there’s a possibility of things getting rocky, and that it did.  As I explored her landscape further, all while still in Bangkok, I began to meet the unseemly characters of this culture.  Everyone had a scam, or a hustle, (one I got caught up in) and eventually I began to trust no one.  A friendly hello was now met with skepticism and the checking of my pockets.  “I can sell you a suit real cheap,” or “I’ve got a great deal from you,” followed by the inevitable “where are you from,” became echos that I wished to escape.  I was so disappointed since my expectation from her was so different.  A land of smiles….deceiving smiles, as it were.  I really wanted to get to know her, but this facade seemed too much to overcome.

To add to my dismay, she wasn’t the cook I thought she was.  I tried to follow the rules that I had read.  Find a busy food stall…one with lots of locals and plenty of turnover.  Therefore, you know it’s good.  But none of the places I had seen seemed to fit the bill.  It wasn’t busy season, so the crowds were non-existent.  I tried to play it safe and had her only cook up a few “safe” meals.  I didn’t even approach half the carts I saw, which kind of left me and the P.I.C hungry.  As I said to the P.I.C…how could I go on vacation based on the good food, and come back having lost weight?  It doesn’t make any sense.

Nightlife was confusing as I had a hard time finding where she liked to have fun.  Sure, I knew where the clubs were, but that wasn’t my focus.  I wanted to chill, and have a few drinks.  All I found was clusters of bars where girls outnumbered the guys, and the extreme friendliness of those places led me to be even more suspicious.  I wasn’t yet regretting this affair, but I was fast becoming less excited about my decision to be here.  Don’t get me wrong, there were a few bright sides.  Transportation was easy, the weather was hot as I expected (I don’t think I’ve sweat like that before), there was great people watching, and the P.I.C made great company, but how would this affect the remainder of the trip?  I would soon find out, as after a short four days, we were moving on to Chiang Mai….

 

To Be Continued…

You left…so long ago

And I want to begin my journey forward

But how can I begin to make that next move

When the past continues to sit right in front of me

Most of it hidden away in boxes

But it still screams at me

In the night as the liquor flows

The sounds only seem to get louder

And all I can do to get through, is to listen

I’ve pretended for as long as I can

But the things get the upperhand….occassionally.

I just wish I could sleep

Without seeing them floating

Causing dreams that make being awake a nightmare

There truly is no escape

And as I close the books, and put away the pictures

Assuming it’s all locked away

Something rears its head

And I’m back where I started.

Rummaging through the embedded memories

Watching as if it were a motion picture

The scenes more dramatic when played back like this

They make me more emotional

And suddenly, I’m back in that room

With the portal re-opened

The visuals more real than my mind could imagine

Wondering when this cycle will end

Hoping it never does

As the emotion keeps me connected to you

And somehow that gives me hope

Gives us hope.

I sometimes I see beyond those things in that box

I see things that don’t belong to me

They belong to the world, yet they are mine…my burden

That tree we had our first kiss underneath

Or that coffee shop we ate in every Saturday morning

Even that bar you met him at

All reminders, some gentle and some so heavy

Of a time that has expired

I swear I’m ready to move on

But how….how can one take that next step

How can one move forward

When with every step, I risk

Running into one of these Things?

You left hours ago

And though I’m alone, I don’t feel empty

Your love has brought me further than I ever imagined possible

And though I’m unsure of our direction, I do know that your love is uplifting

Not to be cornered by the usual suspects of jealousy and envy

That upward movement can only take us over and above the haters

Yes, they will do what they do, and you and I will keep it moving

As they self destruct in our wake

Their emptiness is of no concern to me

Their bitterness toward our happiness, is a trophy worthy of its weight to them

And like a prize to us, for we wish them well,

And we are better for it.

I lay here smiling because I worked so hard for you, before you

I wasn’t a saint, but for every one of them, I’ll show you a sinner

My mind previously clouded with thoughts of just getting some

Has figured out that my focus on just getting one is more than enough

No longer insecure….I’m sure you are all I want and need

I no longer look to stray to have something to say to the homeboys

They’ll never understand, but it’s all good because it’s not about them anyway

Truth be told, I’d rather be a fool to them than to you

Shit, I can’t believe what I’m saying…but I’m truly trying to put in work

It’s weird because I’m using all the tools I picked up along the way

And this time I swear, I’m not taking any emergency exits

I’m occupying your soul until I collect dust

So instruct me the best way you know how

Of the ways to make your heart happy

Because I’d be sick if I only ended up playing a small part

A trivial role in your life, ignorant to the art….that is us

I know I can be a bandage to your past scars

The arson to burn those, forgettable relationship, bridges

And guarantee any future turn you make will be in the right direction

My sense for you has been strong since birth

It just took me awhile to find you as I had to work on my vehicle

Not necessarily one that corners well

But one that could deal with life’s ups and downs without breaking…no insecurities

So now the confidence I have built, will allow me to carry us through floods…if necessary

Preserving the world I’m so certain we can construct

And offering no apologies to those who go against us

Which may mean saying goodbye to a few who don’t want to see our success

Let their hate thrust us even closer

And hold on even tighter

Wow…maybe I’m moving too fast, but the deed to my heart

Is already yours, and the bond that is developing

Is a feeling that is so unfamiliar to me

All that being said, I don’t truly know where we are headed

And I may be just grasping at straws

But in this moment, where my head is swimming in the possibilities

The future of my relations is almost indistinguishable from yours

And once I lay inside of you, consummating our bond

A simple I love you will be all that is needed

Followed by a kiss on the neck

And there isn’t shit I wouldn’t do for you!

Faithful Silence

I once heard…though it’s quite possible that I’m making this up, in which case I’ll take credit…..that life, in it’s most basic and simplest form, is a series of decisions.  What time should I set my alarm for?  How much can I snooze it?  What should I eat for breakfast.  All decisions you have to make for the morning, and this isn’t nearly half of them.

See, as we gather information (1am means bedtime, growling stomach means I’m hungry) we are then prompted to make decisions.  Almost everything we do is based on a conscious evaluation of available data, and then a conscious action.  This is not always the case as we do not consciously control our breathing or heart beat, though these are necessary functions.  We also may not make conscious decisions when it comes to life or death split second reactions, like moving out of the way of an surprise oncoming vehicle.  Even then a decision is made, just not one that you had time to think of.

It’s this decision making followed by an action that helps us live a fulfilling life.  It’s also the same thing that gets us in trouble sometimes.  It’s important to take cues from the data and react, but sometimes the reaction is to do nothing.  It’s a decision, and it’s an action, but it’s seemingly less dynamic than what we are programmed to do.  The actions we take can get us into trouble when we have evaluated the information incorrectly.  This typically happens when there is a lack of information.  We sometimes get ourselves into trouble by allowing the action to be an emotional confrontation.  This serves no purpose, and your action will likely be met with an emotional reaction (that other person or group of people are choosing to act as well).

I am not a faithful church goer, but I feel I have a good relationship with God.  Whether or not you do, is up to you, but I think it’s an important relationship to have.  So much that I have to continue to learn that if I put my faith in Him, that things will turn out okay.  They may not turn out how I want them, but they will be okay.  And sometimes, when I want to act on my interpretation of data, I have to think about what God is truly telling me, or not telling me.  Most of the time, he’s telling me to let him handle it.  Whatever needs to be done, will be done….and maybe I’ll see it and maybe I won’t.  But I have to have that faith.  He has said, “Vengeance will be mine.”  If I don’t, I risk doing more damage than good.

For those of you who do not believe in God, look at it this way.  The world is about balance.  Maybe not specifically in your life, though I’m sure if you took a good hard (and honest) look at it, you’d see just how balanced it is.  But since the world is about balance, anything that’s happening to you…any wrongdoing that someone has committed against you, as long as you choose not to react, the pendulum will swing the other way.  You have to believe that.  If you react, and your response is just as toxic, you’re likely to be on the bad end of things once balance is sought.

I know this sounds so out there, and even as I write this I feel like I’m trying to sell you a book, but I’m not.  I’m just trying to share something that I constantly have to re-learn.  Just as recently as today, a series of emails at work were sent, and I was clearly thrown under the proverbial bus.  My immediate thought, after analyzing the information, was to attack back.  I had the facts that weren’t being shared, and I had the venom to make someone else’s day (really just that moment) as bad as mine.  But I didn’t.  I sat quietly, and waited to see if balance would vindicate me.  And though it didn’t happen quite how I wanted, the truth was brought to light.  And once it was, I would have been well within my rights (at least I thought so) to rub it in, but I didn’t.  I simply replied with the facts available, and even removed people from the email that didn’t need to know that these other people were idiots.  LOL, I can say that now.

My point being is that having a belief that your wrongs will be righted, and they don’t have to be always righted by you, will make your life a little less stressful.  It will prevent you from doing things that you’ll eventually regret.  It will stop you from making big mistakes that are life altering.  I’m not saying you should never react.  Sometimes, that’s just what the situation warrants.  Just understand that some decisions can be to just do nothing and wait for balance to be restored.

Casually Related Sun

If you ever want to truly get to know someone, spend approximately 48 straight hours with them.  This number can certainly change depending on the individual in question.  The initial high, natural or artificial, that normally accompanies a brief period of hanging out tends to wear off within that time frame.  Don’t believe me?

Think about it.  How many people do you call your buddy, or good friend, that you only seem to see at the bar?  Hopefully not many.  But what about coworkers, or friends of friends that you like hanging out with at bars?  You feel you know them.  You’ve seen them drunk and sober.  They’ve talked about their jobs and friends.  You know all about their spouses, significant others, and family.  But how well do you really know them?  The bar only offers an opportunity to see your “friend” in one state of mind.  Yes, the state of mind has different frequencies, but it’s all basically the same.  Sober, drunk, and that weird energetic talkative stage in between that people call buzzed.

The truth is, you haven’t really understood who this person is.  I’ve gone on overnight trips with different coworkers that has given me this perspective.  Sure, you arrive at your destination and everything is all good because you’re riding that high.  Hell, you might even get high, but usually by the next day that’s all fallen flat.  Now you meet the real person.  Some people are really early risers, while others sleep late and hate when you’re banging around the house.  Some people are cranky and some are downright rude.  Some don’t like it when all of the orange juice is gone, and some really get pissy when you move or touch their stuff.  Oh, and it gets so much worse when you have to now come to an agreement on things like what to do for the day, or who’s going to drive everyone to the place where you’re going.  Finding showers when you need them, or leaving the toilet seat up, or not cleaning up after yourself can all be things that shed a new light on this “friend.”

The little knowledge you have of this person is like how we casually relate to the sun.  I mean, we know it keep us warm, and greets us in the morning while bidding us farewell at night.  But we forget about the other things that happens with the sun…the various solar flares it gives off.  The giver of vitamin d, initiating photosynthesis, and the fact that it is the center of our solar system.  These friends are so much more than that person you see at the bar, so it’s important that you play your position.  That is, be aware that if you take your friendship beyond the boundaries of your frequented water hole, you may not be able to come back from the potential disaster that awaits you.

Me, I’ve been lucky.  The friends I have are planners.  That is, they lay out the events so very little (of the conflict causing decisions) is left to chance, so things like meals are planned.  And you know it ahead of time.  They are also good at allowing large chunks of “do whatever you want” time.  If it’s a ski trip, you know where and what time you’ll be skiing, and if you’re not into it, that’s fine..do whatever you want.  It’s a two-fold attack that allows fun to be had by all and allows everyone to be in a good mood once it’s time to get back on that high (dusk).  Still, be aware of the other little intricacies listed above (clean up after yourself).   LOL.  Anyway, this was just my rambling.  No real point.  Happy New Year!

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