Sunday, September 20, 2009

Will you take me as I am, strung out on another man?

Koh Phangan sunset 1

Back in Bangkok for a couple days before flying out, and I've got to say that the city is not as impressive to me on the second go-round. Then again, the elation I felt when I was here before had more to do with not being in China anymore. Since then, I've cleared out my lungs and brain in the wonderful, fresh sea air. It's hard to get excited about any city after spending more than a week sitting under the shade of coconut trees, breathing along with the tide. I'm now having serious Koh Phangan withdrawal. But perhaps it's better this way. If I were leaving directly from the island, I might never actually get on a plane, just disappear into the wild hills and turn up several years later as the proprietress of a guesthouse on a remote beach, my hair in dreadlocks and my feet rough from never wearing shoes.

I've returned to the cultural airlock of Khao San, the necessary step for the leavers and the arrivers, bars open all night for the jet-lagged and the party-till-you-drop crowd, playing the same music they've been playing since they filmed Cheech and Chong there, interspersed with bad techno. I got in last night and somehow ended up drinking with South African sailors until nearly dawn. That's the kind of effect Khao San has, somehow: staying up late with people you don't expect.

About 24 hours left in Thailand before two overnight flights in a row deliver my exhausted and miserable self back to San Francisco. My bags are packed (not hard to do, I feel like I haven't unpacked in years), my mouth used to the taste of travel. The soundtrack is Joni Mitchell, the consummate melancholy woman on her own in a strange place, always Joni Mitchell singing in my ears when I travel alone. Here she is, singing a song that rings perfectly true.

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