Sacrificing Goats – Where the Temple Runs Red with Blood.
Category: Life as a Barefoot Backpacker
Goodbye Phi Phi
So as a hapless backpacker who stumbled onto a little island in southern Thailand called Koh phi phi, after spending a night freezing our nuts off in the Siberian McDonald’s air con almost a year ago, I could not of known what an adventure it would be and adventures it would lead me to.
Phi Phi is like the lover you’d never want to introduce to your parents. The one that everyone warns you about, the one that probably rides a motorbike and has a criminal record, the one that can get you into kinds of trouble you never even knew existed before – and the one you just can’t stay away from. What was supposed to be a few days turned into ten months of dancing barefoot on beaches, falling barefoot off tables (thank you relax bar), falling barefoot down stairs, five stitches in my forehead, half a front tooth smashed out, gallons of alcohol, litres of body paint, more glitter then a party at tinkerbells’ and about 50 random tattoos. I’ve been in love and out of love, laughed till I cried and cried bitter tears until there wasn’t a single one left in me. I’ve seen the beautiful, the ugly and everything in between, the best and the worst – in others and in myself.
Spending nearly a year on a beautiful little island of sin where the only rule is that there are none will change a person. Seriously Phi Phi will bring out sides of you that you didn’t even know were there. I’ve done things that I look back on now and the only words that come to mind are “Jesus Christ!” (And then “please forgive me” as an afterthought occasionally) and I’ve had fellow beautiful partners in crime that I know will be compadres for life. But as in all walks of life the good and the bad thrive and I’ve had the experience of coming across those ugly souls that live on Phi Phi for all the wrong reasons. Living a life without limits is a double edged sword and Phi Phi opens the door for you to do things you know aren’t right that you probably wouldn’t do in other environments and also allows the inherently bad to get away with things that in any western country you’d do time for, things that leave scars on your soul and some of these things have made me hate the island as much as a love it at times.
That said, Phi Phi has given me the ride of my life and I know that it’s changed me, broadened, twisted, scrunched up, added a splash of colour and smoothed out many bits of who I was before. And I’m so glad to have had the chance to come now – despite being some hectic party place Phi Phi is still relatively undeveloped. And that’s how it should stay, I don’t think there was a workers heart that didn’t sink when we saw the sign for a Starbucks going up. As much as Lady Phi Phi is wild and has done things that have made me want to kick her in the face I am, we all are, fiercely in love with her too. She is wild, unpredictable and sometimes frankly dangerous, but for all the hair raising antics of the night, the next day the sun will wash away the dramas and with a short walk you can find yourself a quiet spot of beach and let the island hold you, heal you, and give you a cracking tan.
I felt many things as I sailed away on the yacht that will take me onto my next adventure… Alot of nausea as it was 7 in the morning and I’d spent the last night charging round the island with a bucket dressed as a dominatrix.. but also a sense of peace, almost a metaphorical smile and nod to an old friend that knows .I will miss all of the wonderful friends I’ve made from all over the world for however long or short a time they were in the crazy playing field, and I’d like to thank all of the extra special ones for helping me, loving me, making me smile. My doors are always open to all of you if ever, when ever you need it. Im not sad to be leaving Phi Phi I feel like my time there is done for now, and if and when I want to come back she’ll be there. But I did leave two more little bits of my heart there, one with Phi Phi herself, and one with someone who knows who he is.
Heartbreak on Khao San Road
So for the 5th time this last year and a half, I find myself alone, in my favourite bar that I always seem to find myself alone in for one reason or another, on Khao San Road. Some of the times have been happy, some times nervous, some times exhausted, one time plastered in mud being shot in the face by a water gun, this time heartbroken.
Travelling is the best thing anyone can do, you hear it all the time – The generic “travelling” – and it absolutely is all the fabulous things people say it is. But what doesn’t get mentioned in any of the Lonely Planets or funny stories is the one shitty thing, the big major sweating bummer about travelling (other then the thousands of bug bites and inevitably getting your camera stolen)… And that is saying goodbye to people you love.
Despite trying to be as hard faced as possible due to the not so delightful scoundrels I’ve had the misfortune to spend time with, essentially I am and always have been stupidly mushy. I get attached like you wouldn’t believe. Seriously. I came to this bar with a solid determination to drink a whiskey and look as morose and menacing as I feel – but I never could stomach the stuff. So instead I’m sat here with a Mai Tai listening to a band who are really very good (although they’ve just started playing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, which in my current mood I could murder them all for) and this is what I’ve come up with.
There are many ways to love someone. For as many people I meet that I could happily punch in the face, there are 50 more that I wish could be near me all the time. I’ve met and loved so many people on my Asian adventure, and I’ve found myself bereft many a time… To name but a few: my two Dutch boys who I only had the pleasure of spending a few days with. The dream team girls (oh how I cried when our hands parted on Phi Phi pier Sylvia). My obnoxious Canadian, and of course, of course Ireland, Sarah and Erica. You love people in different ways for different reasons – all unique, sparkling and beautiful. You spend days, weeks, even months sometimes on the road with these people. But it doesn’t matter, once they’ve impacted on you that’s it. They’re with you in some, way, shape, form, memory, photograph for life. And as much as you say “it’s not goodbye, it’s see you later”, you know that some of them you’re just never going to get to see again. And that sucks. Especially if you’re as soppy as me.
Then sometimes you rock up to an island like Phi Phi and enter a bit of a different ball game, it still has an expiry date but it becomes a home and for those there for any length of time, the people more like a family then friends. People come and go but you get to know them just a little bit more, and more importantly, you survive Phi Phi together. And then just sometimes you love someone in a bit of a different way. The feel and shape of someone’s hands. The way somebody knows you even if you don’t speak or they can’t see you. The way they can make you laugh by being simply the most ridiculous person you’ve ever come across. By crying into an orange fanta bottle together about something neither of you are going to remember in the morning. By running away from a bar together so fast you end up throwing up along the way whilst crying with laughing. By being so mad with someone you’re determined you’re never going to talk to them again, as you’re walking to their room. By a look, a glance, a song, a stupid video on youtube that no one else finds funny. By surviving rumours, and finding that you can’t sleep that well when they’re not there, even if they do have stupidly dainty ankles.
When you find those ones along the way, and you know that the inevitable is going to strike one day no matter how much you don’t want to think about it, or try to put it off – that’s when travelling can be a real shitter. That’s when you find yourself on your 5th Mai Thai at a bar getting sympathetic looks from the staff, alone again with another piece of your heart stolen and on it’s way to the other side of the world. BUT. I would rather love with all of me and it to go away, I would rather have this life and find myself doing tequila with two Thai boys who are depressed about the football scores, then never of had it at all. I would rather have sorrows to drown, because that means someone meant enough for there to be sorrows there. I firmly believe that these people come into your life for a reason and it hurts so much when they’re not there anymore. But I’d rather have that hurt and spend tonight skyping my mum, then none of it ever happening.
To all you beautiful ones who have meant everything to me, for however long you were there for, and to my own personal Phi Phi wrecking ball… Thank you. I’ve had a fucking blast and if I make it to old and dribbling in a nursing home somewhere it will be memories of these times that will always make me warm and fuzzy inside and give me the strength to carry on being as much of a pain in the ass as possible to the poor bastards looking after me.
And, I suppose, who knows. Life is a funny old thing and just sometimes maybe it will be see you later and not goodbye. X
Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie…..
So as we’ve just survived Ozzie day here in Thailand I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about my experience of Australians in the time I’ve been travelling. First off, I love Ozzies. There has been many times in the last year and a half I’ve found myself saying that phrase either incredulously, heartfeltly, disbelievingly, affectionately or laughingly. So at risk of being horribly stereotypical lol, here it is: a light hearted look at the generic Ozzie male through the eyes of an English girl.
I can pick out an Australian guy a mile away, particularly the ones who travel Asia. Medium to longish ruffled hair, THAT particular style of walking, sun kissed freckles on usually rugged faces, twinkly eyes, a lot of noise, a beer in hand and usually aiming for the beach. In a group at least 50% will be wearing caps on backwards, there’s normally one sporting those awful wrap around sunglasses with the orange tinted lenses, and there’ll be a healthy collection of scars and injuries spread out amongst them – each one willingly and joyfully explained if asked about. I can’t help it, nearly every time I speak to Ozzies I’m remind of big cheerful drunken Labradors 🙂
I’ve found that there is generally two main types of Ozzie. The ones so laid back you’re not sure if they’re stoned, smile at them and they’ll smile benignly back and maybe even give you a lethargic “how are ya?!”. Or the ones so over excited they all try and talk at once, and 20 minutes later you have no idea how it happened but you’re having a conversation about “maccas”, rugby and what happened when their friends little brother went to Schoolies. Whatever the subject they’ll have something relevant or not to contribute and will listen earnestly to what you have to say. I thoroughly recommend getting into one of these conversations, one of the best debates I ever entered into was with a group of Ozzies. Subject: scrambled eggs vs fried. Duration: 25 minutes. Conclusion: both over-rated, omelettes are better.
WHEN THEY FLOURISH
In a crisis. Ozzies come into their own in an emergency. I cannot count the number of times one of those handsome rugged types have come to the rescue when in a pickle. For example when an entire longtail of people, myself included, were dumped in a swamp in Laos, complete with all our backpacks etc, and a giant sewage pipe twice my height blocking the way out, it was the two Ozzie lads who gleefully scrambled up and organised an escape plan. Within a few minutes bags were being passed down the newly formed line and the smaller of us were being hoisted up and over to safety. Excellent stuff.
At a party. No party is complete without and Ozzie. Everyone knows this.
WHEN THEY DON’T.
Kuta in Bali. It is possible to have too much of a good thing and Kuta is a melting pot of testosterone/liquor fuelled Australian men there to conquer the waves and anything with tits and a pulse. Guys, no means no! And I don’t want to play that game where you spit beer in each others faces either.
When they’ve lost their pack. Dazed and alone, clutching a half empty warm beer. It’s like little lost lambs without their flock, they don’t like it, we don’t like seeing it, stick together guys!
A FEW OF MY FAVORITE OZZIES
Christian and Co – after a particularly belligerent night of drinking and and early start to help clean up after the typhoon I was in no mood to be selling boat tickets. Instead taking up my usual perch at the bar, I left a note Sellotaped outside saying “I have an awesome boat trip going tomorrow and a stick in the shape of a snake if anyone’s interested” Lo and behold soon enough I am signing up Christian, Ollie, Tim and the rest of the gang on the proviso that I get on the boat the next day with them. I always say to people it’s ok to bring you’re own drinks ie a couple of beers on the boat coz were awesome like that – these guys brought on an entire eskie full of beer, bottles of whiskey, mixer and ice. They even had the best mugs I’ve ever seen (one of which I still have and treasure), I was smashed, the guides had never seen anything like it, and there was topless shoulder wrestling at maya bay involved.
Dirk. Zoolander. There are either no words or a novels worth to accurately describe my friend Mr. Zoolander. Love him or hate him he’s a speedo toting, wall of muscle, force to be reckoned with and if he’s around you’ll know about it. Approach with caution if easily offended, eating Pad Thai, or prone to succumbing to the charms of absolute confidence and a repertoire Casanova would be proud of. If however you’re impervious and he’s sober he’s quite delightful company and you can sit back and watch in wonder as the mayhem unfolds.
Mickey – my usually peaceful days selling boat tickets were unceremoniously shattered by the arrival of the wonderful Mickey. I’m talking to three girls trying to get them on to the boat. Mid pitch he bounds over, big grin from ear to ear, gabbles something utterly unrelated and over excited, leaves me and the three girls I was talking to absolutely baffled, and scampers back to the bar for another beer. It was the start of a beautiful friendship, and despite being marginally insane I miss having his boundless bounciness around to ruin my pitches.
The best thing about travelling is the people, you get to meet such a wonderfully diverse sparkly array of characters and nationalities. You’re never going to get on with everyone, and of course everyone is delightfully different. But for all the Ozzies I’ve been saved by, had the pleasure of chatting with, whiled away nights consuming Asian ethanol in dingy taverns, boats and bowling alleys with, thanks! It’s been a blast.
The Tale of Wailing Jenny.
It was another night on phi phi and everyone was as hedonistic and out of control as usual, except for me. I wasn’t feeling hedonistic at all, in fact I was in a foul mood and, after battling through a shift completely sober, fending off drooling tourists left right and centre, I was positively murderous. The only thought that had soothed my soul for the previous two hours was of getting my 400baht, buying a pizza slice and heading home to my bed and book nice and early. I should of known of course, as I gleefully skipped out of slinkys at 1 with my friend Russ in tow, that we would never make it unscathed.
It happened much sooner then even I could of imagined. I had literally just ordered my pizza slice when an ear splitting shriek tore through the air. If I hadn’t known better I would of thought a “Saw” movie was playing, it sounded so much like someone suffering an agonising torturous death. Me and Russ froze over the mayo, and slowly turned round to see a truly horrific sight. A girl, a big girl, was writhing on the floor of the pizza shop opposite, crying and screaming absolute blue murder. A Thai lady boy was stood over her kicking her, throwing buckets of water all over her, and yelling “you get out, ugly girl, get out”. A couple stood open mouthed and watching, their only movement being to get their iPhones out and start recording. People were walking past, looking vaguely shocked, or sniggering at her misfortune, but no one stopped. Me and Russ looked at each other, and I inwardly groaned. It was one of those things that just definitely wasn’t ok, and being possibly the only two sober people on the island we couldn’t just walk away.
Going over to her we tried to get anything coherent out of her but all we could get was more of these blood curdling screams reaching fever pitch, her boobs had flopped out of her bra, and she was quite clearly, absolutely Arseholed. Trying to think rationally through the brain boggling screeches, I left poor russ at the helm and charged into relax bar, the closest bar, to see if anybody had seen her or knew anything about her. No one did. So I commandeered my poor friend Big Richard, who was enjoying a drink at the bar into helping. He wasn’t happy about it, but I think he sensed danger from my tone of voice and wisely agreed to help.
It was a big effort to get her up. A really big effort. Understandably the boys didn’t want to touch her boobs flopping about everywhere, so muggins here had the job of trying to get them back in, and as I said she was no small girl. We managed to get her a few feet up the road before we needed a break, she was literally a dead weight, a dead, screaming, crying weight and it was pretty intense. There was no getting sense out of her, so I came up with the idea of checking her pockets to see if there was a room key around so we could have some vague idea of where she was staying, who she was .. Anything at all really.
It was as I was passing from one trouser pocket to the other that she peed on me. Now up until then I think I’d been pretty calm and collected in the face of the newly dubbed “wailing Jenny” but I can tell you, I really lost my shit. Face contorted in disgust, holding my hand out in front of me I fully abandoned post and sprinted back into relax bar yelling “she peed on me, she actually peed on me” to the absolute delight of my friends there. Much disinfectant and scrubbing later, I regained my composure, and trying to maintain dignity headed back to the mess.
It took us ages to get her back to Big Richards room, there was no point trying to figure out who she was or where she came from, so he’d gallantly volunteered his bed as it was by far the closest, and he was going to sleep on the floor. We had a blissful period of unconsciousness between banana bar and the Irish bar, until she rose up from between the boys again like something out the Exorcist. At this point I’d had enough and turned to her and snapped sternly “pack that awful noise in right now, there’s absolutely no need for it, nothing bad is happening to you you’re just drunk, now be quiet” and I think for about 20 seconds it actually worked, as we just endured some tearful hiccups for the next few steps.
Of course the wailing resumed momentarily and went on well into the night. Apart from her, poor Russ was probably in the worst state as he’d been nursing a back injury from a few days before, both of them were looking like they may develop heart conditions from the effort in later life and I have to say they deserved a medal for managing to carry her between them all the way back, as I brought up the rear – catching Russ’s hat as it was knocked from his head. We got her to the room and put her in the recovery position, which she instantly writhed out of, so as Big Rich gently held her in a safe position (we all knew the inevitable was going to happen at some point soon) we lit up a well deserved joint and pondered what to do.
Within half an hour the vomit was coming thick and fast, we didn’t bother trying to move her to the bathroom instead just trying to put plastic bags down, and consigning Big Richards bed sheet to the grave. Slowly slowly the wailing and writhing got less, changing to intermittent groans and flops from side to side, and we decided that as she’d probably wake up, panic and do a runner we wanted to let her know that nothing bad had happened to her. So I wrote her a note something along the lines of “hey love, carried you home from the pizza shop floor, don’t worry about the mess we’ll clean it up as you’re definitely going to be feeling like shit, nothing bad happened to you, but maybe next time lay off that last tequila :), lots of love” we wrapped it neatly in a plastic bag to ward off the puke and any other bodily fluids, and tucked it under her bra strap, thinking that she’d definitely notice it there rather then just shoving her jeans straight in the wash without checking her pockets.
She was ok the next morning, and I guess went about getting through a week long hangover as best she could. Despite getting peed on, not enjoying my pizza or getting to read my book, I’m glad we stumbled across her because in the time we were watching not a single other soul offered to help. But I suppose it is this island and as everyone here’s life motto goes “it’s fine, it’s Phi Phi.”
God help us all.
The Ten Most Irritating Things About Living In Paradise
So as you know, I live on Koh Phi Phi, and it’s beautiful, it’s a beautiful island and a beautiful life. But just so those of you freezing to death in other places around the world dont get too jealous, I’ve decided to share with you the dark side of paradise. The ten most irritating things about living in heaven. Enjoy!
1) BICYCLES (and their godforsaken bells) – as anyone that’s been here will know Phi Phi doesn’t have any roads, so no cars or mopeds but thousands of bicycles. The streets are narrow, the people are many, the bicycles are never ending. And they won’t stop for you, oh no, they will ring their infernal bells until your brain reverberates and you feel like murdering the nearest living thing, and if they don’t have bells they will literally bawl “beeep beeeeeep beeeeeeeep” at you until your ears bleed. And don’t get me started on the bright spark that’s got a squeaky duck attached to his handle bars instead of a bell. Expect hysterical shouting and bruised ankles.
Which leads on to:
2) People walking in lines across the street. The streets are narrow, I’m usually in a rush and there is always ALWAYS that group that look like the walking results of a lobotomy, spread out in a line, taking up the entire path, ambling along without a thought in their heads. This has always made me murderous, but especially here as there is no other way round. I’d like to say I’m sorry about all the times I’ve kicked people in the back of the knees, but I’m really not. I enjoy it.
3) Mosquitoes – a fairly universal nuisance, but the ones here I’m beginning to think must be the results of some kind of government experiment. I was waging war with a particular one in my room for three days, and when I finally got it and had a closer look it was, truly, monstrous. I’ve never seen anything like it. I permanently have so many bites I’m considering a blood transfusion, and THEY ARE SO ITCHY. All of the time. I actually looked up the purpose of mosquitoes to try and understand why they are here other then to piss us off everyday and apparently it’s to be dinner for bats. Who knew.
4) The staff at 7/11 – because they’re so painfully, excruciatingly ,sloooooooow. Seriously guys, it does not take 15 seconds to slide the till closed. Many a time I have thrown my Milo down in exasperation and stormed out to Fresh Mart.
5) Permanently infected cuts. I haven’t owned a pair of shoes in nearly 5 months, I don’t think many people on this island do. It’s all very liberal and exotic, until you get the inevitable cuts, which will inevitably get infected. Then it’s not liberal or exotic, it’s painful and makes walking a nightmare.
6) The drunken come ons – as I’ve said before this island should be sponsored by testosterone. Literally getting laid here is like a pass time, the people like a walking buffet, just pick what you want. Unfortunately for those that don’t indulge so often, it gets tedious. No I don’t want to come home with your sorry, red, sweating, drunk ass as you lurch out the shadows on to me. I don’t care where you’re from, I don’t care how long you’ve been travelling, you have no need to know my name, yes you’re actually you’re drooling and please move away from me, I don’t want to hurt you because I can’t be bothered with the effort. But I will.
7) Homesickness. It’s unavoidable. It sucks. Sometimes you just need a cuddle from particular people. And they’re really really far away….
8) Being ignored whilst selling boat tickets. I know there’s a lot of PR’s on this island, but we’re just trying to stay alive, and sometimes we’d like to have a little chat with you! A polite “no thank you”, or even a “fuck off” is better then the total non-reaction. It makes me think I haven’t said anything at all when I know I have, which makes me anxious and a little piece of my soul dies each time, I don’t like it, don’t do it to me! Besides my boat is actually one of the bestnon the island so you really should stop and listen to what I have to say, I’m just trying to make sure you have a good time! 😉
9) Asia madness/problem brain. Three buckets and untold tequila on a regular basis can interfere with normal thought patterns. Yes I’m deranged when I’m drunk, and during the day if I forget what I’m saying half way through a sentence.. please bear with me. It usually comes back within the hour.
10) No Air Con = hot. Too hot. Waaaay too hot.
And as a personal gripe: 11) My landlord is a lunatic. God knows what issues he’s got, being many and varied that is one wild mix of personality disorders right there. I get evicted on a regular basis, he stares and shines torches in my face, wears a fannypack, and is genuinely terrifying.
So there you have it, the blue side of living the dream. Don’t get me wrong though, I love my life and all said and done things are pretty wonderful. Nothing wrong with the occasional vent though, even in paradise 🙂
Late Night Ramblings
Tonight I couldn’t sleep. It’s quite a regular occurrence for me, but tonight was a bit different. I didn’t want to be alone. I desperately didn’t want to be alone, and I felt the lack of companionship so much it was almost unbearable – which is not a regular occurrence for me. And almost as if it was a command I felt compelled to go for a walk. 4am on Phi Phi is a terrifying time, and, wearing a football shirt and my glasses so no one would recognise me, the horrors this island has to offer were out in force. As I negotiated my way through the streets to the beach these are some of the things I saw: a man who I would probably be friends with at home counting out a few hundred baht for a “happy ending” with a Thai lady old enough to be his mum, two guys that I know are friends squaring up to each other, some idiot girl falling for the worst pick up lines from the most dismal looking drunken mess on the island probably, and someone having a poo on the floor.
I bought myself a drink and I walked for ages, until the relentless beats of bass music, and the shrieks of revellers finally faded, until I arrived at a spot of beach where there was – nothing. And I sat down. And then I laid down. It was beautiful, all I could hear was the sea gently gurgling, all I could see was the velvet sky spotted with diamond stars, and the moon shining with all its brilliance, all I could feel was a soft breeze washing over my body, each breath like a thousand gentle kisses. There was nothing but me and this world. And I began to think about things, about those that aren’t here anymore, about the unjustifiable dislike I have for people that holiday here, about how this is the island of lost souls, about the fact that I’m with everybody all the time, but really I’m alone. All of these things would usually depress me, but tonight it was different. I felt strangely at peace with things. Maybe because being distinctly so small in such a big universe put things in to perspective.
There’s no point trying to figure things out because no one has the answers. People can theorise/believe/hope whatever, but no one knows what’s really going on. Horrible things happen, and people leave this earth and it hurts so bad. People go mad loving people that don’t love them back. People mask problems with alcohol, religion, careers, anything that works for them. But as I lay there musing all of this, it struck me that none of it really matters, none of us know when we’re going to go and none of us know what happens afterwards, the only thing you can know for sure is that where ever you are on this planet it’s beautiful, what ever the reason were all here it’s lucky, and we should try to zoom out abit and just look at who and where we are. I thought about all the people that mean the most to me in this world, and that although I haven’t seen a lot of them for a while, the love I have for them never fades, and I know that I’m lucky enough for them to always love me back.
I laid there for I don’t know how long thinking about all of this, and although I could still do with a good spoon (I never turn down a good spoon), I didn’t feel so sad anymore. And I didn’t feel alone, because I’m not. Life on this island is hectic, the people that end up here are generally on the more extreme side of things, you have to be to survive. But it’s a beautiful life, where ever we all end up, and I value every minute of it.
As I walked back, the only person to recognise me was a lovely little Thai massage girl I’m friends with. She doesn’t speak much English but we cuddle every day, I give her cigarettes and she puts this magical ointment stuff on my permanent thousands of mozzie bites. We’re friends. Her life I can’t even begin to imagine, but she’s always there with a smile on her face, and some story I can’t understand to gleefully tell me. She gave me a big hug and I felt like everything I’d been thinking before had been confirmed. No one knows why, but were lucky to be here, this planet is beautiful and we should try to make the most of every day, because I guess as cheesy as it is, no one knows what tomorrow holds.
The Kindness of Strangers: The Amazing Race to Bali Edition.
At some point this year I found myself negotiating the perils and delights of rural Laos with a wonderful American psychologist called Eric, and a completely useless lonely planet. Laos is probably my favourite country in the world, but can be slightly nerve wracking when your buried completely off the beaten track trying to get to a cave no one seems to have heard of, bouncing around on the floor of a tuk tuk with roof tiles, chickens and a handful of locals squabbling over the map in the guide book – who,after much shouting and controversy, reached the excellent conclusion that this tuk tuk was going no where near where we needed to be and was in fact going to the Vietnamese border (at which point I was frantically yelling at Eric who was having to hang on outside to the back of the tuk tuk “ERIC – we’re going to Vietnam, do you have your visa!?” Before bursting into hysterical laughter, much to the alarm of the locals and the chickens)
All turned out well in the end of course as it has a habit of doing in Laos, we didn’t go to the Vietnamese border, we did see the cave after spending a night with a Lao family home stay, and we did make it to the 4000 islands right at the bottom of the country where we had a simply delightful time lying in hammocks reading, snoozing, playing plenty of shit head and eating curry in electrical storms with my beautiful kiwi boys who had also arrived by this point.
All too soon it was time to move on as I had promised my dream team ladies I would be in Bali in time for Floras birthday. Now I had a slight dilemma with flight times as the trip involved getting a boat off the 4000 islands then a big long bus journey over the Thai border to Ubon where I would be dropped off at an unknown place, transfer to Bangkok, and have to get to the airport myself from there. Taking into account the journey times I had two options either go for one that by my calculations would mean I would get to the airport 2 hours before the flight took off, or book a later but safer flight that would mean I would lose a day and have to spend a night in Ubon. I had a very sincere and heartfelt discussion with the bus ticket man who assured me that the bus left at exactly the time I needed and would definitely definitely get me there in time for the early flight. I was dubious, but in a moment of wild faith I took a risk and booked it. Big mistake.
First of all the boat was late and then for some unknown reason the driver decided that it would be far too logical to drop us off at the pier, instead choosing a swamp directly next to a giant pipe about twice my height that seemed to be serving no purpose at all. Cue 20 tourists with 15kg backpacks wading through slop desperately trying to hang on to their flip flops. Thank goodness there was one of those rugged over enthusiastic Ozzie types on hand who delightedly organised a chain to pass the bags over and then physically pull all us slightly weaker specimens up over the pipe and on to the road. It was already clearly ridiculous, and my unease was mounting.
We were then left to wander absently down the road before a mini van turned up, took us about ten minutes down the street and dumped us at a bus station where I found out the bus I needed and had been assured left on time, definitely didn’t. It left an hour later. I tried not to panic. I soon gave up feverishly asking/playing charades with the locals to find out if there was any bus coming earlier as all I was getting was benign smiles that showed they clearly had no idea what i was raving about, and sat down to play subway surfers miserably, musing over how much it was going to cost me to get another flight. Then lo and behold, half an hour early the bus turned up and hope twinkled. The journey itself was excruciating, and it seemed to me that if we went any slower we would be outstripped by passing butterflies. My anxiousness was growing, I was getting twitchy legs and intermittently pulling tufts of hair out, and those that know me will know that when I’m anxious – I talk. Unfortunately I was sat next to a thoroughly miserable Swede who not only had no idea how much further away we were, or how long it took to get to the airport from our drop off point, but clearly had no interest in listening to me at all, a fact made abundantly clear by him putting headphones in as I was mid sentence.
It was at this point my angel made himself known. He did indeed have a gammy eye, abit of a wheeze and generally looked a little on the verging on death side but he coughed and said confidently in a thick American twang “sorry I couldn’t help over hearing, but it’s another hour to the border and then from there only another 3, you can get a tuk tuk from the drop off and be at the airport in 15 minutes, so I think you should make it”. For me the heavens opened and I beamed delightedly at him whilst infuriating the miserable Swede by barging him into my seat next to the window so I could talk to lovely American angel more. And he really was lovely. We got to the border and virtually ran to customs, I was frantically filling out my departure card next to him when I noticed that he was struggling to write out his, he was apologising and getting in abit of a flap so I seized his card and passport and filled out all his details in record time before grabbing him and running through customs whilst he thanked me profusely, as he apparently always has a nightmare with the cards due to his dyslexia. We ran back to the bus, in time to hear a Russian chap asking the driver if he had time for a smoke to which my American promptly responded “absolutely not sir, this lady has a flight to catch, on to the bus please”, and then carried on in half Thai half English to the driver that it was deathly important I catch this flight, we must leave immediately and he must not take any kind of speed limits into consideration.
The rest if the journey was intense, we were both peering out the windows and yelling gleefully whenever we spotted a sign saying how many kilometres it was to Bangkok, and then he had the brilliant idea of trying to ring the airline to say I may be late. Obviously I had no phone and nothing with a phone number on it, so he called his friend IN AMERICA to google the number for Air Asia for us, the friend texted back a handful of numbers, the first two were wrong, and on the last one we finally got through to the right airport, I was halfway through explaining my situation when his credit ran out, which meant he wasn’t going to be able to call his friend for a lift when we arrived. I felt awful but he assured me it was fine, and that he’d figure it out. what seemed like forever later he was like “this is it, were nearly here, now there’s going to be a mad scramble to get off the bus and get tuk tuks so I’m going to hold up the crowd and give you clear reign to get off the bus first….” I felt like I was receiving the battle plan from the commander and was getting fully over excited by the whole situation. Finally with 12 minutes till check in for my flight closed, we turned up in a random car park, I could see the tuk tuk drivers running either side of the bus. It stopped, the doors opened, my American valiantly used his body to block the rest of the people trying to get off (fuck you miserable Swede hahaha) and I literally ran for my life.
I seized the nearest tuk tuk driver and yelled “AIRPORT” in his face, he said “ok ok, 50 baht” at which point I looked him dead in the eyes and replied “you get me there in 10 minutes, I give you 200 baht” there was a split second of understanding between us and without another word he ploughed a path through the melee yelling “which bag yours!?” over his shoulder, I pointed and as he grabbed my rucksack like it was feather light we literally, literally sprinted for his tuk tuk. The last I saw of my beautiful American was him waving and shouting “GOOD LUCK NIKI” from the middle of an irate group of Russians.
Now then, 200 baht is only 4 pounds for us English bods, but it clearly meant a lot more for my tuk tuk driver who took his instructions extremely seriously. I was thinking maybe a little too seriously as my body was pinned to the back of the seat by G-force, and I was having to turn my head sideways to be able to breathe normally. I actually screamed and ducked at one point as we sailed in between a lorry and a moped with a child on the back of it, so close I could see the whites of their eyes, Michael Schumacher however didn’t bat an eyelid, a look of grim determination on his face as we weaved though the thick traffic, totally ignored red lights and at one point were driving on the pavement for a solid 7 seconds. We screeched to a halt outside the airport pretty much 8 minutes later, I looked completely deranged with hair everywhere and an air of hysteria floating around me, he was already off and loading my rucksack on to my back as I shoved the most well deserved 200 baht ever into his hands, and then I was shouting “thank you, your insane but amazing” as I stampeded through the airport doors. Obviously I was going too fast and struggle with walking at the best of times normally, so it wasn’t long before my legs were tangled and I was epically face planting along the floor (again, sigh) which in turn set off a toy monkey that I had attached to my bag and makes very loud monkey noises when pressed.
Trying to ignore the stars dancing merrily in front of my eyes, and the throbbing pain in my face which had turned a fetching shade of crimson I doggedly hobbled up to the Air Asia counter and threw my passport at the lady. There was a charming little baggage handler guy standing next to her who had seen my spectacular crash and burn clearly, as he was grinning sympathetically at me whilst clambering over the counter to help me take my bag off, setting the monkey off once again. It seemed to cause much joy amongst the workers, all except my check in lady who’d gone from expressionless to scowling menacingly between the monkey and me. I was just asking for the fifth time if I’d made it in time when she quite unexpectedly took the monkey off my bag and came out with:
“No monkey, must come off”
Lady: “yes must come off, take battery out”
Me: “are you serious the battery doesn’t come out, it’s sewn in, look” (demonstrates sewn in battery)
Lady: “monkey no come, communicate with American terrorist, you know, naa”
Me: silence, except the sound of my jaw hitting the desk.
Baggage Handler wades in and says (looking disbelievingly at lady) in Thai but I imagine something along the lines of “stop being so bloody ridiculous and pull your shit together”
Baggage handler takes monkey. Lady is outraged. Argument breaks out. Monkey is snatched back by Lady. Baggage Handler is getting high pitched, takes monkey. Monkey is thrusted into my hands. Lady beings to look alarming. I’ve had enough and bawl:
“GUYS! I really don’t care about the monkey. Have the monkey, look (puts monkey on desk) I just really need to get on this flight, please. Please.”
Baggage Handler has a “see, now you’ve gone and upset the customer” look on his face and defiantly takes the monkey and shoves it into my hands with and air of finality.
“Alright” snarls Lady, “but you declare at customs for talking with terrorist ok, ok”
And with an utterly baffled “ok, fine whatever thank you” from me… me, myself and the monkey made it through the gates with not even one second to spare and the champion Baggage Handler winking cheerfully at me.
The Kindness of Strangers – Finnish Edition.
So as it’s all been rather tortured soul recently I thought I’d pick up on one of the chirpier aspects of my last blog. I do still believe in the kindness of strangers. I arrived in Asia 9 months ago now entirely on my own, and one of the many things that has taught me is you can be as ‘prepared’ as you like but sometimes you will find yourself in situations you just couldn’t of dreamed up in a million years. Add into the mix my natural haphazardness and an age old, relentless and unfailing ability to get into mischief, and sometimes you find yourself quite frankly, fucked. I’ve arrived in a few of these situations, and as much as I’ve come across people I’d happily push off a cliff, I’ve also come across more then my fair share of angels, some of whom have actually probably saved me. So I thought I’d sporadically share a few of these beautiful people with you, for faith in humanity reasons.
So a long time ago now I found myself leaving Koh Chang (my favourite place in Thailand incidentally) very early in the morning and very dubious to be leaving my wonderful Dutch friends to get a bus to Cambodia, (my least favourite place in Asia or possibly the world incidentally) where I was aiming for Sihanoukville. The bus was of course late, and my grouchiness getting worse by the minute, not helped by seeing my two Dutch boys tired little faces holding my bags for me and trying to convince me to stay. As close as I was to sacking it off and going back to bed, I knew that I had to go and soon enough the bus which was actually a mini van trundled up the road. After a very emotional good bye I clambered on, trying to arrange my face into something friendly as a lot of people you end up with you meet on the bus journeys. I shouldn’t of bothered because as I got on my friendly face instantly dropped to one of disbelief. Three of the most gigantic bodies I have ever seen, taking up two seats each, greeted me – two slumbering and snoring loudly, one blinking benignly at me, and all three plastered head to toe in tattoos. I smiled weakly and took a seat on the front row, occasionally sneaking looks at the solid wall of biceps and muscle snoozing behind me. Soon enough we stopped and picked up our final passenger, and what an absolute treasure he was. Clearly into his late 50s, saggy moobs flopping around all over the place, a moustache Hulk Hogan would of been proud of, green fluorescent shorts and a bandana wrapped round his head, he was loud, he was American, he was awful, he spotted me. I already had my eyes closed and was inwardly groaning as “well hey there ain’t you just the beautiful one” boomed out round the bus, causing some stirring and indecipherable mumbling from one of the bodies behind us. Of course he took the seat next to me, and within ten minutes I’d resigned myself to being subjected to his utterly bizarre ramblings about all kinds of madness. ‘Talkers’ I can cope with (being one myself to an extent) but after hearing about this dog that he has – ‘won’t let nobody else near him, only me, yes ma’am, that dog knows, he knows….” He really decided to push the boat out and turning sideways with his back against his bag he stretched out and put his feet On. To. My. Lap. I was that horrified and in actual shock just staring at his GROSS gnarly feet on my legs that I was speechless for a second, and didn’t immediately notice him staring at me looking like an old hairy porn star. I muttered something like ‘dude!’ and shoved them off, which caused riotous laughing and he leaned right in, stroked my face (can you believe that) and said laconically into my ear ‘you wanna stay with me in Sihanoukville purdy lady, ill show you a good time, you won’t of had nothing like me I can promise you that”. I was mortified, actually nearly barfing and then thanking The Lord God when the bus got on the ferry and the driver opened the door for us.
One of the huge boys got out and lit up a cigarette and in my haste to follow him I got my legs tangled with Porn Stars and tumbled out on to the floor, all arms, legs and wild eyes. I breathlessly stumbled up to Muscles and fairly begged for a lighter in a big rush of words and gibbering. Muscles blinked slowly at me, seemed to consider me for a minute, blinked again and very carefully said ‘what?’. A mild amount of manic gesturing and cigarette waving later all was cleared up and before long we were holding some kind of conversation. His name was Tony, he was from Finland, he didn’t have great English and he spoke verrrrry slooooowwwly. We went upstairs for a sandwich and after a long silence which he used to study me thoroughly, he sighed and concentrated and came out with ‘this… man on bus…. no gooood. I wake.. brother….. you sit here.’ Thank God. After sitting upstairs for a little while in companionable half conversation it was time to get back on the bus. As we got back on Porn Star was actually sitting in my seat, and I kid you not, patted his knee implying I should sit on his lap. Oh yes, this guys a riot. I shot him the filthiest look I could muster and stalked past to cries of ‘OOH not good enough for you now am I’ and similar nonsense. Thank God Tony was true to his word and was waking up Brother who was stretched out over the back seat and clearly not very impressed at being woken up. I squidged into the end (these guys were genuinely. Huge.) and was studied again by the just woken one, who was looking vaguely confused and puffy. I couldn’t help it, I giggled, which caused the slightest fraction of an eye widening, much blinking and more studying. I was still trying not to laugh at his expression when he clearly reached the conclusion I was mad but harmless and said slowly ‘hello’. ‘Hey’ I replied, trying not to blatantly stare at all the drawings on his body, or collapse into giggles.
I don’t know how many of you have experienced the traumas of border crossings in Asia or the particular delights of the Thai/Cambodian pass, but I can assure you they’re not for the faint hearted. In due course we were unceremoniously booted off the van with no further instruction in some dusty unknown location, to be immediately set upon by swarms of snarling hawkers, thrusting coke cans and wooden frogs in our faces. I quickly learnt that my Finnish friends way of dealing with stressful situations is to stand, just stand. And that’s it really. As I stood next to them trying not to actually eat a plastic butterfly being rammed into my face, I felt my bag being lifted off my back and silently placed on the other massive shoulder of my tattooed previously sleeping friend who’s name was Davin. I stared at him and my bag, he stared forward and I assumed this meant I was ok lol. At this point Porn Star emerges from the bus, (the plastic butterfly which had been perilously close to going up a nostril and its shrieking owner instantly disappeared in his direction) and as relentless as ever boomed over the crowd “hey you, you coming to shianoukville babygirl, I’ll get you there c’mon….” Panicking I grabbed Davins arm and urgently whispered “where are you going!?”, by the time the assessing of what I’d said had gone through, I was getting frantic, finally ‘Phnom Penh” came the reply. I was just about to attempt suggesting I may tag along when he very carefully said “you…come…with…uuus”. I was beaming, and with a stout nod to my questioning of weather that was really ok, it was a done deal, and I was able to happily chirp to porn star that sorry but me and ahem, these three lovelies are now going to pnom penh, and to quite literally cock off.
The actual crossing of the border was a complete nightmare. Cambodians love a rip off and we found ourselves with no choice but to pay for a small yellow bit of paper with some bizarre information about dengue fever on it which was, naturally, “compulsory health insurance”, our passports were snatched from our grasp by a gleeful chap in a football shirt, and we were herded to a spot under a tree where a load of wizened toothless taxi drivers were gambling and leering at us gummily. We had no idea what was going on so we did what seemed to be the natural progression – stood. I was clearly the subject of something amusing to the gambling taxi rabble as there was much pointing and laughing in my direction, but it was when one of them actually came over and grabbed my arm that the Finnish sprang into action, and pushed him away rumbling ‘noo… no touch’ I found myself ushered into the middle of them and sat down on Davins bag, as they closed ranks protectively around me. It was then that I used the time to assess my new companions, I knew they reminded me of something but until then I couldn’t place it. As I watched their gigantic tattooed backs and their stoic steady expressions, it struck me, they reminded me of three big beautiful cows lol, and I mean channelling bovine in the most complimentary of ways – I was so glad they were there. Soon enough we were grabbed and dispensed to a surly looking man behind a counter who tried to demand 20 US dollars off us for absolutely no reason at all, he didn’t even bother to try and make one up, our passports were unceremoniously shoved back to us over the counter – and then came the taxi haggling. Oh Lordy, the taxi haggling.
Just to set the scene it is a long and arduous journey from the border to Phnom Penh taking 6 hours through rough terrain. There is a bus but according to every taxi driver this is an entirely fictional vehicle made up by those pesky little fibbers at Lonely Planet, just to ruin your day – and anyway you’ll have missed the last one by whatever time you arrive at the border regardless, yes even 10am. As I’m sure I’ve portrayed my wonderful Finnish did nothing at speed, and I consider myself quite privileged to have witnessed the extraordinary battle of wills between Tony and this taxi driver who could have had no idea what he was up against. The majority of the conversation went like this:
Taxi “$150 to phnom penh my friend, come we go now”
Tony: ‘Noo. Is..tooo….much. We take bus”
Taxi: “no bus my friend”
Tony: “yes bus”
Taxi: “no bus”
Tony: “yes… You…take ….to bus station. Hooow….much”
Taxi: “no, no bus my friend, no bus here.”
Tony: “not here… You take us…bus station”
Taxi: “how much you want to Phnom Penh, $150, come my friend”
I was watching, mesmerised, as David took on Goliath. I asked Davin if he had any idea what was going on, he didn’t, neither did Otto – who’d never really properly woken up at any point, the gamblers were grimacing, eager for their friend to make the kill, sharp little eyes darting between all of us and the gleeful chap in the football shirt was still bouncing around trying to get a tip out of us for carrying our passports the three steps to the counter. It was all very tense, and I was gripped. Davin bought us a coke each to try and wash away some of the dust that had been steadily coating the inside of our throats, and we settled down on our bags to watch the match.
Precisely two hours and 43 minutes later, 6 coke cans rolled miserably in the dust all around us. Otto had gone back to sleep, Davin had glazed over completely other then to buy coke, ask me if I was ok and keep me up to date intermittently, the gamblers were slack jawed and disbelieving, football shirt was absolutely un-gleeful sitting subdued under the tree – still tipless, I was star fished over the bags staring at the sky and listening to the ongoing loop, mouth open and dusty, faint beads of perspiration were dripping down the unfortunate taxi drivers despairing face, there was certainly no more ‘my friends” to be had, and the only one who seemed perfectly unfazed, and hadn’t budged an inch was Tony. Who was still going strong.
It was when I heard the taxi say something along the lines of:
“NO, I have sick brother and 100 children to feed, a cat, a dog and no wife, no help, hungry, no food, you very rich western!” That I knew Tony had won. Desperation was pungent in the air, and the hysteria was plain to hear with every octave higher our unlucky (but slightly plump and clearly well fed) drivers voice went.
Tony was unruffled.
“$80 to pnom penh…. We go now…. Or take bus”
Scraping a dry tongue over my scorched mouth I sat up achily, the gamblers dice remained unthrown, Davin blinked, Otto snored, football shirt sulked, tension loomed.
“Fine!” Snapped the driver furiously “we go now, come”
Much scrabbling off the bags commenced, and they were testily snatched and thrown roughly into the back of the car.
Now. Trying to fit all three of them, myself, our bags and the driver into one car was another matter entirely. After trying a few unsuccessful variations, two of which one of the back doors literally wouldn’t close, I took charge of the situation, mainly because there was a vein pulsing dangerously in our drivers temple and the whites of his eyes were starting to be a little too visible. Putting tony in the front I strategically (ahem) placed myself in the middle back, where there was just room for my body, my head not going higher then the tattooed biceps either side of me. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was all of that body heat plus shite air con = UNBEARBABLY ROASTING HOT, but if it hadn’t of been for that I would of quite been enjoying myself actually 🙂
Tony and the ever sleepfull Otto were out like lights, I was exhausted but quite uncomfortable having virtually no room at all, sweat dripping into my eyes, and a foot resting on the gear stick. Davin couldn’t sleep either. I watched him out of the corner of my eye looking studiously at my leg for a good 8-10 minutes and by now I knew that he was assessing an idea in his head. I tried not to smile. Eventually he cleared his throat and nudged me saying in his usual steady way “if.. It… Help….. You…. Put….leg….herrrre” indicating over one of his own. Well yes it did help and before I knew it my head had moved half an inch, so it was resting on a large chunk of muscle, the air con feebly began to make a dent on the fuzzy heat and sleep pulled me down contently into her arms. I didn’t know anymore until I woke with a jolt as we swerved a cow in the road. Eyes opening sleepily the first thing I noticed was that my legs hadn’t moved and must of been an absolute dead weight draped over his, which had gone flat down under the seat in front, the second thing was that 4 and a half hours had passed, and with mounting horror and the ultimate shame the third thing I noticed was that I had dribbled. All over his arm. I frantically used my top to wipe it off whilst jabbering away:
“I’m so sorry, oh my god I’m so sorry, I must of fallen asleep”
And with a very wry little smile he looked down at me and simply said:
I had a delightful 24 hours with my Finnish friends, they paid for the taxi and refused to let me contribute, meaning I only paid $5 for the tuk tuk to a hostel they knew, all the way from the border (I won’t even go into the four of us and all of our bags on a tuk tuk, or the fact that tony was adamant it was 99 Happy house, when 40 minutes later and the millionth person was asked we finally discovered it was 19 Happy house) we sat in the hostel all night with the mentalist owner Alex, eating food, playing pool and smoking the occasional joint. The next day they had to move on and I had things to do, but they made sure I was going to be ok, left me an iPad charger because mine had gone missing, nearly crushed me to death hugging me goodbye and if they hadn’t of brought me to that hostel I would never of met the three beautiful ladies I was to spend the next few months of my life with (the girls had assumed I was Finnish as well but couldn’t place the accent and asked me the next day, we all ended up going to a vile little establishment aptly named ‘the heart of darkness’, and later on formed the dream team going on many wild and ridiculous adventures together). I would of loved to show you a picture of my boys but this was Cambodia and my bag with my camera in it didn’t even last the week before it was stolen. I have no way of finding them and I’ll probably never see them again, but wherever they are now they will always have a friend in me and I will always think of them with absolute fondness, because as funny as they were in their own solid way they were also extremely kind to me, didn’t once make me feel uncomfortable or try anything on with me, and helped me out of a few situations that could of been slightly unnerving had I been on my own, without my asking for it, and completely unconditionally.
To wherever you are now, all the best my friends xxx
Sparkling and Broken.
So I’ve been thinking recently about who I am and everything I’ve experienced in my life. I still feel tiny, like a child sometimes not knowing what’s good and what’s not. I seem to be incapable of making ‘right decisions’ according to those who think they’ve made them. I get questioned constantly about what I’m doing, how I’m living my life. When people at home find out what I’ve been doing, and how I’m choosing to spend my time, they cannot understand. They ask me why, how, when will I stop, when will I ‘settle down’, ‘find a nice boy’. And I say to them, I do not judge you for living your life in England, if working a nine to five and being lucky enough to find someone you can live your life with makes you happy, I am nothing but happy for you.
I’ve always known since I child I wasn’t really a usual girl. If I had a pound for every time I’ve been called, funny, eccentric, quirky, a dreamer and some not so complimentary things I’d be a rich young lady. But. I don’t judge myself in terms of being what society deems successful, I’d make a terrible lawyer, I don’t particularly want a nice car because I’m an appalling driver anyway, I’ve never liked white picket fences, I think 2.4 children is clearly a ridiculous number and I certainly don’t judge myself in terms of being ‘with someone’, inherently I am fairly hopeless when it comes to being ‘in love’. As those of you that know me will know, I have had possibly the most horrendous choice of partners you can imagine. I’ve looked into the eyes of someone professing to love me so much he would die for me, as he descended into a madness that terrified me so much I struggled to even comprehend it – I watched as his insanity dismantled my life and everything I cared about, I watched as those I loved the most suffered vicariously through me by his hands, and when he finally crossed the line and went to prison I did what I do best. I ran away. The open road offers a solace to those that have been frightened and broken by life, that those that have been fortunate enough to avoid it, will never understand. And it offers its own challenges which are a welcome distraction from whatever it is that has made you leave. I’ve been in situations that even by my own standards have been slightly hair raising, and as silly and as daft as many think I am I’ve survived everything that life has had to throw at me – Ive just chosen to deal with them in some of the most amazing places on Earth and had the pleasure to share, learn, seek safety and heal with some of the most interesting ‘eccentric’ people travelling the world.
I have also known for a long time I have an indecisive and somewhat conflicted soul – it’s been extremely infuriating at times. Naturally, I’m a curious creature, my dad always told me I have a wandering spirit that has no fixed direction, just a constant inner nomadicness that can never be pinned down, I can fit in anywhere. Ive belonged to everyone, I like to think I can hold my own in most situations, but I’ve never really belonged to anyone, and I’m wary of letting people too close. Obviously every one has someone that meant the most – to him who knows who he is memories of dancing through the autumn leaves in 10 inch heels and patterned tights to the sounds of the mamas and the papas. Memories of being so outrageously wild I’m surprised we didn’t end up in jail. Memories of I love you written in blue sparkly glue on a window in south east London. Memories of smuggling tuna into a vegan house, lying on patch work quilts, being beautiful, young, fucked up, comparing poetry, laughing, dancing and crying together. Memories of notes on the middle page and secret looks shared, of aliens called Mike, of being barred, disgraced, dark and dingy taverns and secret deals in the night. The time you picked up that womans scarf and hung it back over her chair without her even noticing and I thought you were the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen to the point it made my heart ache. Those memories will stay with me forever and where ever you are now I think of you. I will always think of you and I pray that you’ve made it. That you’re ok. Because you’re the one that knows me best, and I miss your beautiful soul and life has taught me since that I will never be that person again. Maybe I will always think of you because I’m still looking for others like us.
Life since has taught me some horrible lessons that go against everything I know I am. After being battered and bruised by the paths I’ve chosen or been shoved on to, I’ve tried many times to trick myself into thinking I can be hard, I can not care, I can be the ice queen. And the inner conflict between life experience and the stupidly soft person I naturally am has driven me nearly to insanity before. Not even the open road can save you from that. So I’ve arrived at a place where I’m beginning to understand who I am, I’ve pushed myself to limits and places that would horrify some, but I’ve allowed myself to experience my darkest fears and desires, I’ve built lives that were everything I could of wanted and I’ve seen them crumble into pieces around me. I’m still dazed and a bit confused when I think about some of the things that have happened but I try not to take them with me, because I’m still going, and to those that are comfortable and have a home it may seem baffling. I search for safety in other people, and I know that nine times out of ten those people are not going to care as much as I do and it will hurt again, but this is who I am, and that is ok. I may appear crazy to some but I know that certain types of lives would make me wilt and die within weeks. I know I have an inner conflict and a struggle to stay who I am in a world full of people I sometimes don’t understand, I’ve accepted it, but I’d rather deal with it running round a beach then an office, that is my choice.
I still believe in the kindness of strangers, in small acts that make the world a nicer place, in the wishes I’ve made on stars or those little white flower things you can sometimes catch in the sky since I was a little girl, and I still believe that I’ll find whats right for me. And if I don’t, well I cant complain, I have nothing material to show for it, but I’ve had times and experiences that sparkle within me every time I think about them. everyday I have a deeper understanding of myself and an acceptance/determination that the bad will not change me from who I am, and if at any point that gets too unbearable where I am, well I have a backpack and I will pack it and I will keep going.