Doi Inthanon is a national park in northern Thailand an hour from Chiang Mai. If you are in a car. If you are on the wasp, a small yellow and black scooter, it is two and a half hours including a coffee and shaking-in-fear break.
It is not easy to write humorously about traumatizing experiences. But I didn’t know it was traumatising until afterwards. Until now really.
By the time I got on my scooter to hit highway 108 south of Chiang Mai, I had been travelling alone for five weeks. I was feeling isolated, and was in constant pain from my chronic back condition. In no mood to go out and meet people, I thought a road trip would be a great idea, as I did not need to speak to a soul. And I didn’t. For the entire three day trip, apart from asking in key words and sign language to switch to an AC room, no words passed my lips.
Continue reading “Thailand : the ups and downs of Doi Inthanon”
Apparently, when Neil Armstrong looked down from space, he saw something glowing on the face of the earth. When they zoomed in to see what he could see, they realised it was a structure in central Java, the enormous Buddhist stupa, Borobudur. I got up at 5 to go there before the heat and the crowds. I was prepared to be overcome, and I was.
Continue reading “Indonesia: at the top of Borobudur”
When I read The Lord of the Rings the first time my favourite bits were the ents, the Wood-elves, and The Shire. I understood the Shire as I grew up in the Cotswolds, which had thatched rooves and flower gardens tumbling over warm walls. My childhood was not idyllic like a hobbit childhood by any means, but I can’t deny the rolling hills, the round pubs and the Morris men dancing on a Sunday.
There is something about The Shire that is pristine and nurturing. Tolkien wrote it like that to show that the starting point of anything is home – soft, nourishing and womb-like, somewhere we all belong. Many of us never had that kind of home but we still remember it somewhere in our sinews. It makes us feel a yearning for what life should be like, what it was like in some fantasy time, before supermarkets and war and Donald Trump.
I couldn’t put my finger on it straight away, at Nyambu Village in Bali, but there was this feeling that I was in The Shire. Not just a reminder, but actually there. The wistful unreachable feeling of what home really was, the warm pinchable centre, I was feeling it right there. Everything was dusted off, the surface peeled back, to reveal people living as they should. And lots of little houses.
Continue reading “Bali: Nyambu Village – The Shire”