Be Here Now

Originally I had pretty ambitious plans for travel in SE Asia. There is a whole list of places everybody tells you you must go: Ankor Wat, Phnom Penh, The Delta Region in Vietnam and so on… Whenever you meet fellow travellers the easy conversation (like “what’s your major?” in college or “what do you do?” afterwards) is to compare places you have been or are going.


The problem is, like so many things it can be a trap. It is easy to spend all your time negotiating the next bus trip or where you will stay, or to keep your nose buried in the Lonely Planet or worse yet, Internet message boards trying to get something for even less than the absurdly low price you are already being offered.

Not long into my trip here a friend suggested that I take my watch off – not simply to reduce the likelihood of crime but specifically for the purposes of not knowing the time. That when people asked me what time it was, I would respond “I don’t know”. It was good advice.

In that vein, not only did I do that, but I returned to Ko Phang Nan, where there were people I knew I liked, and booked myself into a nice bungalow for a week. A week of not thinking about bus schedules or guidebooks or places I was supposed to want to see; or of logging onto the Internet. Somehow a little group of six formed (conveniently around 3 motorcycles) and so for the last week we have driven out to deserted little beaches, played cards, hiked up to scenic views or – more often than not – done not much of anything.

 While there may be other chances to “hit the highlights” of Asia I doubt I’ll get another chance to truly disconnect like this and have my biggest worry be whether I prefer a Thai or Swedish massage today. For the record, I generally prefer Thai; but only after extensive research…