Trip Notes, From NZ To Bangkok

Trip notes

The flight from Kerikeri to Auckland was on time.
We arrived early, and had a long lunch at the Cinema Cafe in town.
The regional airport is tiny and they do not even open the airport lounge until an hour before each flight.

We flew to Auckland on a bigger jet than the tiny one they usually use.
It was dark and rainy when we landed.
We stayed at the airport Novotel hotel, and for food, we had a miserable dinner at the airport.

I felt bad. It was Jules’ birthday and we ‘celebrated’ it with a lousy meal and a night at the airport.

Jules was in high spirits and did not mind at all.
He truly did not care, and I remembered many other miserable birthday ‘celebrations’ we have had before…

Especially one we had in a dirty rural town in China, surrounded with loud dinners who smoked, spat on the floor and threw the chicken and pork bones all over the floor, drunkly missing the small plastic buckets that the restaurant had placed under the tables; a regular practice in those rural restaurants.

I reminded myself that the Masters of the Far East never celebrated birthdays and do not count the passing years.
They live as timeless beings.

Everything seems to be covered with an invisible layer of dust.
It is not dirt, it is just that nothing glows and sparkles like it does in the bright light that seems to pervade our home in NZ.

We had booked an airport hotel, since we arrived in the evening and had a flight to Manila the very next day.
The hotel looked decent on the Internet, but not so good in person.
The beds are hard as a rock, the shower inconsistent with changing pressure and erratic hot and cold temperatures.

Regardless, we slept very well that night.
We took a walk to a nearby row of restaurants and chose a place that seemed to be filled with locals and had a picture menu. Easy to understand.

The spicy green papaya salad was tangy and fresh, the steamed Morning Glory Greens dish was awesome, the fried rice was good and served with fresh cucumbers and spring onions.
The stir fried seafood dish had fresh peppercorns, basil, galang Thai ginger, something that looked like peas but wasn’t, and lots of other interesting flavors. 
It might sound like the normal Thai food you get in your town, but trust me, it was way, way better.

The food was good and they placed a mosquito repellent coil burning by our feet.
There was also a fan to cool us nearby.
Big families of Chinese people dined next to us.
They downed whole bottles of whisky, one after the other and took selfies of themselves on their smartphones.

The service was somewhat friendly, if you don’t look too close to notice the tourist-weary looks on the girls’ faces.

The next morning, from the windows of my hotel room, Bangkok shows its many faces.

The airport area is busy with wide roads surrounded with green fields.
On the green river, an old couple lives in a one room wooden house with a corrugated iron roof.

They have no running water. They store water in many large plastic containers by the side of their house.
Laundry hangs under their patio awning.
A small veggie garden is planted by the river.
The old lady weeds the garden squatting down in the easy way that workers in Asia do, but which is almost impossible to do if you have western knees.

They walk around their small plot of land half naked, comfortable in their weather worn brown skins.

I think about all the wealthy elderly people I know in Jupiter, Florida or Boca, or Palm Beach… None of them is as comfortable in their skins as these Thai people.
Who knows… They might not even HAVE a mirror in their small home by the river….
Mirrors are curses of the gods of vanity and insecurity….
But is is not just mirrors that make us body-conscious and insecure.
It is a whole lifestyle that is divorced from the harmony of nature, that causes every adult in our societies to become uncomfortable in their bodies.

Kids are always comfortable in their bodies.
Adults rarely are, and most elderly people carry their bodies as if they were a separate entity from them. 

Adults in our society always wear shoes, which break the connection between us and the earth.
We rarely squat unless we do it in the gym for a short period of time.
We do not sit on the floor for hours without back support, we lounge on comfortable sofas or beds.

I am also not yet as comfortable in my body as I was when I was a child.
I am working to improve this.
In the studio, I paint sitting on the floor for eight hours with no cushion or back support.
I also meditate sitting with my legs crossed.
At times I rise up feeling achy and stiff, but it gets better and easier with time.

I know that we are improving, because sitting for long hours in airports waiting for our flights and sitting in the economy class flights for ten hours have not make us achy or weary.
We felt good and comfortable all the way to Sydney and on to Bangkok.

White geese float on the green river beside me.
It almost feels harmonious and peaceful here… That is if you do not look to the other side of the road, which is full of traffic, tourist services, and malls.  This is the side where the commercial and industrial parts of life consume people, and abstract their vision of the harmony inherit in the matrix of life….

We have decided that Jules will start sharing his own trip observations on my blog also.  
We have been sharing both of our photographs for years now, but for the first time we will also be sharing our impressions in the same space.  


Kerikeri to Auckland, then on to Bangkok by way of Sydney – May 12 and May 13, 2015

The stormy weather in the Far North on my birthday did not affect our travel plans.  

In fact, the intermittent rain and wind did nothing more than encourage us on our way, as if the wind were at our backs, as we got ready to leave New Zealand for five months, until our return in the springtime of late October and November.  

I had done as much as I could in the month that we were at our home in Kohukohu NZ to convince the house and gardens that they were loved, but there had been precious few days of sunshine for me to feel motivated to begin the larger projects I now knew were going to wait until next summer’s approach.

After an overnight at the airport in Auckland, we took a set of flights that brought us to Bangkok rather well, despite our very early morning departure.  

We have been developing more flexibility of body and spirit in traveling over the past several years’ worth of frequent journeys, suffering from neither stiff joints nor a stiff mind, expressed as jet lag, despite long days spent at airports or in planes.  

Bangkok at night was still sweltery, super hot and super humid, even so only an incomplete introduction to tomorrow’s destination, Manila, which is another 5 or 10 degrees warmer…humidity converges to 100%, unlike temperature, which doesn’t stop at 100 degrees, so there might still be some more surprises in store!  

Our airport hotel, Suvarnabhumi Suites, was just a few minutes’s drive on crowded highways  from the airport, but because it was set back from the busy road by about a hundred meters’ walk, it was surprisingly quiet.  

We checked in and glumly compared the modest accommodation to the suite at Lebua towers, where we had stayed the last time we were in Bangkok, but we actually slept very well that night, hearing birds living along the nearby river before either planes or cars.  

After showering, we walked back up to the busy road to find a spot for dinner, and happened upon a crowded locals’ seafood restaurant, where we had an excellent meal that included sautéed morning glory with garlic, papaya salad, and rice, along with a mixed seafood dish that was full of Thai herbs and spices.  

The food was fresh, delicious, and despite our request for not much chili, seriously spicy!  Once our lips stopped burning, we headed back to our room for a rest.  
It feels great to be traveling again, especially here in Asia, which always feels closest to my heart!

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