Waiting for the Godot Train: Beaches are nice.

Starting this entry at 19:25. Cafe. Waiting for a train due 01:26. Delayed by 80 minutes so 02.50. Worst part of travelling is the travel. The waiting to travel. Just a void of nothing. Nothing nothing nothing. At least we’re not the couple delayed 5 hours. Thailand has nicer trains but Vietnam had a working clock. Communism can do what Mussolini could, but definitely not the Thais.

Before starting this entry: bus, boat, bus to get to the train station from Koh Phangan. The islands – an education in Mother Nature’s untouchable and unwavering authority in the sublime. A storm will remind you of her power to destroy, but the serenity of such spotless water lapping onto the sand, a fundamental interface, washes away the blind complacency of banal existences to reinforce the grandiose. The calm giant,  the still beast.

Before the islands: A day in Phuket town. Mum was right – seedy. Retreated into a cinema (only Transcendence was showing in English – much disappointment in missing out on Watson in Noah) owing to Nic dying of Dengue Fever or Japanese Encephalitis. Couldn’t decide which but it definitely wasn’t the travel bug that it obviously was. Important update: he’s not dead, and perfectly fine but for an ever increasing hatred of cockcroaches.

Koh Phangan and burning my midriff after 10 minutes by the pool. Mortifying. Not much else to describe in many ways. Not the architectural wonder of Angkor, unbelievable for its age, or the grandeur of Halong Bay, or the visceral history of Vietnam and the vibrancy of its today, Agent Orange still alive in the cells of a generation’s children. This is an island, small, stunning, heaven on earth. And that is the attraction. The ease. No expectation to learn, mourn or pay attention. Just lie down, have a coconut and listen to Don McLean’s Greatest Hits with which I have formed an oddly strong connection. Also, an opportunity for Nic to discover Thailand’s third gender, the Ladyboy, outside Koh Samui’s very own Moulin Rouge.

“You can not be telling me she’s anything but just a woman.”

“I dare you.”

He didn’t.

Finishing this blog entry in Georgetown, Penang. 18:19 and all the more gloriously sunny for us having arrived after the 24 hour journey from the proverbial in the knowledge we have 4 days here sans any travelling at all.

Georgetown deserves a blog entry of its own, to come. Just a note to stress the mightily confusing phenomenon that is Malaysian society. A literal melting pot (38’C). Walking through the middle of Jaipur, you can cross the road into Bejing or turn left onto Armenian street within the space of a town much smaller than Oxford (although they definitely cram in more people). Watched Liverpool vs. Chelsea (Nic almost had a heart attack) in the street with locals blowing on horns louder than a cruise liner. Discovered the delights of a beer tower. Fascinating to watch the local waitresses sprinting up and down the street, athleticism matched by the mental ability to remember the orders of increasingly drunk holler-ers. And they can speak English, are shrewd and beautiful. I often feel outdone by waiters/resses. University was a doddle.


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