lunedì 29 luglio 2013

Another Chance

                                                                                Thailandia, Bangkok

And Finally it’s raining: the usual purifying half hour of the day. I saw the golden lights of the Wat Po from a motorbike that runs fast, a nice ride to make you forget the heat, the rain and the traffic of the day.

August, the 31th : Bangkok a month later.
Taxis, motorcycles, buses, tuc-tuc, speedboats, slowboats, metros and bicycles, canals, flower markets, stalls, shopping malls and skyscrapers. I left the city wet, messy and dirty, shaken in a cocktail of electrifying moves. I greeted it crunching chicken pretzels, watching it puzzled from the top of a Buddhist stupa.
I went back to say goodbye, and give her another chance.

So, I found out that the posh district of Rattanakosin is not all but gold, that the other side of the temples are red-light, districts, squeezed between rooftop bars and five-star hotels. I discovered that the mecca of food is not in Chinatown but in Siam Square shopping mall food courts and that behind the canals there’s another side of the city waiting. I found it changed, dressed up with Marc Jacobs clothes and Prada handbags, clean and tidy in the cold subway cars. I watched it staring at its reflection through the shining water of Silom lakes, rejoicing for the perfect game of mirrors of its gleaming harmonic skyscrapers.
Shopping centers in hand with temples, sloping roofs decorated with gold.
At the bottom of the river, cradling whispering slow ferry boat.

sabato 20 luglio 2013

Escaping in a island

And now it’s time to stop being turists. Towards the end of our trip, that’s adventure what we want.
Ko Chang, Ko Rung, Ko Krong: we try to figure out where heading, evaluating all insect warnings, struggling with adverse weather forecasts, trying to avoid the ubiquitous mix of “resort-lounge-club”.So, we end up in the “Rabbits island”, a tiny paradise in the southern part of Cambogia, facing Vietnam. We get there from Kep, after a night in a bungalow on a tree, a ride through durian fields and a feast of crabs and squid .
"Hey Nat, have you realized that you will have no internet, no computers and no electric power for a couple of days?"
O yes, for a couple of days I'll have to give up my pc, my faithful listener and keeper of all my stories. But no worries: I ll come back to pen and paper and use stars as lights ...
And I find myself on the beach, half asleep in a hammock, watching the moon, in a silence broken only by the noisy light of two candles in the restaurant, where a dozen of survivors are telling their stories, between pastis and Angkor Beer. I quickly join the crowd, adding my stories to their  tales, sharing my chronicles of travel and my concerns about the future.  Heart windows open to complete strangers, we share our lives under the stars.

venerdì 12 luglio 2013

Following Happiness

Feet in the river,  in Kapot we lie in a bungalow on the water, following our dream of a 'Neverland.
It's raining, reminding us not to rely on our expectations, teaching us to take happiness as it arrives, giving up on beaches to rediscover rivers instead of the sea, starting loving a quiet town accidentally ended up on our path.

Sleepy morning on cosy chairs facing the river, a soft orange light, a lullaby for our tired eyes, which easily close to the rhythm of Radiohead… There's always music at the bar.
Abandoned our plans of visits to waterfalls, jungles and caves, we hardly resign ourselves to rest, defeating our curiosity to discover and wander around.
"Maybe it's time to wander a bit 'inside myself," I think, “to have a look not only at the travel notes, but also at the thoughts, emotions, people who have run into me during the last weeks.

And thoughts start to reorder, slowly, and I start to face my problems. Apparently lefts at home, they continue to knock at my door, incessantly.

Finally, the sky opens up and we're immediately ready for a bike ride on muddy roads. The countryside is full of children playing around, men riding buffalos, Cambodian monks walking to their English classes.
And then evening comes, a comfortable silence falls upon our words, so simple to share in this darkness ... "Are you happy?"

I walked a lot, during these days, discovering amazing places and doing incredible things. I swam in a dark river, I followed reckless bikers in jungle, I watched sunrises, I fell asleep to the sound of the rain, I discussed art and human resources with Buddhist monks.  But above all, I gave up my independence and my self-consciousness. And I realized that I can handle to lose control, I can be safe trusting others. So I started my adventure with two great friends, discovering that joy that is full only if shared.

martedì 9 luglio 2013

Life Fragments at Angkor Wat

                                                                    Cambodia, Angkor Wat

There’s no rest for the tourists who visit Angkor Wat.
Temples as large as cities are waiting in ambush, exciting the curiosity of hasty travellers and tireless explorers, condemning them to wake up at sunrise and march till sunrise,unsuccessfully escaping the sun and the thousands of fellow tourists packed in increasingly crowded temples. Staircases, domes, statues, altars and lakes, bridges and sacred groves. Dozens of pages of history, a heavy feeling of helplessness, a sorrow for not having enough time to contemplate everything.

Today, on my third day, I realized how much I have changed during these months.
Abandoned the list of Wat, Ta, Preah [1]  to visit, today I allowed myself the luxury ten hours of sleep. I decided not to hike to the river of a thousand lingas and I had a slow breakfast, enjoying banana pancakes to the rhythm of Beatles.
My “to do list” forgotten, I rent a bike and I left.
Once in a while, with no self-imposed tour de force to respect, riding through the trees lining the road from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat, I discovered the magic of these places. With no rush, no more running and stairs-climbing, I took the time to look at chickens and butterflies, to stare at monkeys and dragonflies, to smile to Japanese tourists and Cambodian families.
"Do you want ten postcards? One, two, three, four ... ".
 Smiling, I followed the chant of children at the entrance of the temples. I turned off the sound of thoughts and I walked to temples already seen, so different if looked in a different way. Tiptoeing without making any noise, I collected fragments of other people's days, women squatting in the rice fields, men sleeping under a tree, children greet each other, shouting "Hello" as loud as they can.
And I realized that it is not running that I will find my joy.

[1]  Names of some of the temples of Angkor Wat