>I am One

>spent last night meditating. Focusing the mind for the trials ahead. Northern Laos is beautiful and peaceful, just the base for focus. I repeated my mantra, honed it to an automatic state. I practiced shadow movements against a ladder. The guy at the top wasn’t too pleased but I put him out of my mind. I had bigger fish to fry.

A short story. There once was a man called the Yip Man who taught a young Bruce Lee the ancient art of Wing Chun. Bruce made some movies anbd Dan San watched those movies and secretly fanastised and enacting them (He also watched some Jackie Chan but hey its important not to take yourself too seriously. After all, you gotta smile). Alas I digress.

I slept well, calm. I’ve noticed since I purged myself of alcohol my dreams have become more vivid, less open to interpretation. What does that mean? I dunno. What am I? Dr. Phil? The obstacles my enemies tried to put in my way have proved useless. The rough pick-up ride to the border, a futile attempt tp break my concentration merely focused me on the challenge. As we approached their fate, I knew my task.

The stop-off arrived and I dismounted. I remember not the border, the exit stamp. My mind was on the task put before me. My vision was like a stream, moving outward from my body, pointing the way to their fate. The pick-up between borders was spent on the roof, perfectly balanced on toes. There was no turning back.

I approached the enemy with ninjintsu (stealth for those English speakers). They, fearful of their moment, hurried through my visa avoided my eyes and cleared the way whether they knew it or not. I waited for my accomplices, Christine and Estelle, a French girl who spoke better French than me. Damn. My enemies try to distract my mind, hawking and spitting in huge volumes close enough to me to negate negoitations.

I was ready. My moment and their fate was envitable. There would be no mistakes, no half-measures. No misunderstandings that had befallen others. My mantra and body movements moved as one. With upmost stealth I glided towards my foe and my near future and then I enacted.

“Excuse me. Is this China? Where is the bus? You know, bus. Big, yeah. Many people. Brum, brum.”

We are One.

“Now everybody was Kung fu fighting. Those boys were fast as lightning.”
Carl Douglas, 1974


It seems that no matter where I go, a catchphrase for the trip arrives no sooner than I have stood up. This time it was a classic with a close runner-up.
After our big night, we lazed and lazed. That evening we caught the over-night train north to Laos. After endless hassles from the local drunk who cracked onto Tom and then Christine. Knowing where Joey and his hammock adventure got us in Brazil where i ended up with my horny guy’s crotch preciously close to ma honker, I stayed away from the guy. Unfriendly I know, but hey, my lesson shone through as this whiskied dude got on the train and proceeded to talk to Christine until the train pulled away. I told ya…..

Sitting opposite us was a prematurely white haired gentleman, looking a touch grumpy. The train pulls away, and his hostility grows until his rasping finger can take it no more. As the train guard checks the tickets, he throws an pointer finger accusingly at a girl’s bag lounging on the floor and shouts…”It’s not supposed to be there asshole!” Well, well. Wonder what turned his hair white. Actually he kinda reminded me of Christine’s Dad, the man who brilliantly warned us not to go to the west of China as he’d “heard about those Kstans.”

We arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, pre-warned and for me slightly disappointed. The great Mekong River has almost dried up, there are gringos galore accompanied by the usual internet cafes (where i sit at the moment), Western food and “let’s get drunk” signs. the temples looked worn down and the gringo trail is well and truly set. European couples slouch around, late 20s i guess. We ate Laos foodntianeas much as possible and relaxed, stumbling round the construction sites the city in the blazing heat with our new Japanese friend Yusaku with whom I spoke a lot of japanese. That’s cos he wasnt an asshole.

>thats what its about

>For. those who don’t know, Bnagkok’s opening hours have been curtailed to 1am of late. Sad and takes time to get used to but there are ways round it and so we found.
Saturday proved to me why I love Bangkok. Sliding through the market crowds, you find yourself loose, supple, relaxed, unable to get flustered. Foreigners find themselves an anonomous being and love it. There’s no stalemates, blocked alleys, no tension in the shoulders as you expect someone to try to barge you out the way. You just sidle past unnoticing and unnoticed.
Saturday night was planned as the big night and so it proved. Eating and drinking, playing pool and somehow dominating in a land where pool is a national obsession for men and women. Dan, he knows not how, was the King of the Tables for 2 hours or so, taking on all-comers from across the bar. The beer was flowing and he couldn’t miss.
Neil then took us and a few friends to an illegal nightclub, deep inside a darkened building. Arriving, we were greeted by a dusky room and a torch light, first checking us, then highlighting the stairs. We plowed up to meet the owner who provided a free bottle of Johnney Walker Red, a few Cokes. Do I need to say??…the bar was packed soon after, Dan and a bar full of new friends dancing, drinking, smiling to the early morning, like smoke, sidling past, dancing round each other, smiling till the morning.

>Quiet now

>Thais have a quiet, unassuming pride in their country. Despite all the expoitation and abuse (British guy was sentenced to 26 years last week for hiring 6 boys, aged 11-14 to make a gay porno with him), Thais are silently strong. But in a different way to other nations. There is little overt racism, little covert for that matter (though how can you tell Dan?). As far as I can tell talking to ex-pat who live here.

Thais are proud but welcoming; proud of their country, their beautiful people with smiling faces, curious about the world but deeply loyal to their homeland. There’s no ignorant, beligerent faced “we’re No.1 here, ” just

The image many in the world have of loose women and dodgy tuk-tuk drivers is merely the face tourists see through their limited view. Most don’t meet real Thais and hey if this is all you see , then take a look at yourself and ask what are you looking for? Step out of the go-go bars and look around. Tokyo isn’t Japan or London England. It’ll surprise some.

>Its warm baby

>Dan woke up sharpish, got some gym work in, woke the rest up and we trotted for some lunch. food is so delicious and cheap you feel like you are getting away with some crime. the heat (93 – not sorry guys) and the gentle breeze lined up a perfect day. after some boating on the lake in central bangkok, surrounded by greenery (Christine almost kissed the grass, grass, grass), together with Tom with went shopping and lazed around the pool for the rest of the afternoon. Tough eh?

Then the beer started. Always loved talking and drinking with Tom. After an extensive argument where Tom tried to convince me and himself (to back up Christine) that 8 Mile, that Eminem film was his life story replit with the same name (Marshall Mathers etc), we moved onto Schizoprehenia and whether it was genetic or not. Yes, I know, what do we know about this subject but hey, we were drunk.

>Leaving Seoul

>Couldn’t help but smile as I finished my last class.
“But we’ll miss you”, said my students.
“Yup well, see ya”, I smirked. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. Its not the students, its the place. I feel suffocated and inert.

Flying is easy. Got used to it. Christine has a different opinion. Our flight took us via Taipei. Its the second time I’ve landed there and I’ve become curious about the place. To let you into a little secret, Taiwan was our original choice to teach in. Korea lurked in the background but never quite seemed interesting enough. But we heard a few scare stories and the isolated nature of Taiwan (regular flights to China only started this year) shuffled her down the line. I guess i hadn’t thought what different forms isolation can take. People tell me that Taiwan is a cross between Hong Kong and Bangkok, lively but measured. Maybe one day…

We arrived in Bangkok late and arrived at Tom’s too late for a swim but hey, there’s always tomorrow.