Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The end????

The hammock sways slightly and a light breeze runs over my sweating forehead. The sun is high in the sky and it is a sweltering 30 degrees next to me is a table littered with last nights story of empty beer bottles, cigarette ends and a huge pile of chips next to one seat. Two cards lie face up, an Ace and a Queen. I close my eyes and start to fade out listening to the calls of a Gecko shouting its name from my balcony. Lying here doing nothing I know it is over. You can call it a halfway stop, a short break or even just another part of the journey but the truth is it is over. The bike sits infront of the house stripped bare of its travel gear and reduced to short rides to the dive shop or the 7-11. It is always the same road and I always return to the same house.

I came to this island originally almost 3 months ago for only 10 days and I think I knew straight away I would be back. As you know I headed off to the jungles of Cambodia and Laos, rode the mountain roads of Northern Thailand and overindulged in Chaing Mai. It wasn't really enjoyable though, Koh Tao was in my heart by then and as much as a place can call you it called. So on the 7th of June I left Chaing Mai and headed South. 1300Km from one end of the country to other. It sounds like a long way but it isn't. Break it down into petrol stops, cig breaks and the odd photo and it soon changes from distance into time and time, in a place like this and on a trip like mine, is irrelivent. Less then 20 uneventful hours later I am a few hundred K's from my destination and right on time for the 9pm car boat to Koh Tao I get a blow out. The front end looses all feeling and I am swerving across the road. A tree barrier protects me from oncoming traffic but I am out of control the bike is driving and I am just a passenger. I glide slowly to a stop, reach for a cigarette but they are gone so I breathe deeply instead.

Kit out, Wheel off.... the 10mil spanner warps as I remove the brake calliper. The only god damn 10m spanner I have warps on the brake calliper. I can see the boat sailing away. Solve this, you have a 10m bolt and no 10m spanner. How do you get the bolt out? Answer YOU don't. Sitting by the bike now contemplating what to do and the old saviour comes to hand. I've seen him before but he had a different face then. Now he drives a Hilux and is a tyre salesman. He pulls over and, in broken english, offers to help. He has a tool kit and a pack of smokes. Saved, we soon have the tyre off and the tube out. It's torn, no puncture repair kit in the world is going to fix it. Somehow my spare is torn too. It's just one more sign. ...... leaves me a smoke and a bottle of water, takes the tube and drives off, 20 minutes later he is back with the tube and we put the wheel back on. He gives me contacts for all over Southern Thailand and then he drives off.

I don't know if I believe in angels but what I do believe in are people who are just that little bit more decent than the rest of us. Those people always stop and help when someone is in need no matter how busy they are or what is on their mind. More people like that could only be a good thing.

I arrived at 9pm expecting to have missed my boat but it had been delayed and wasn't leaving till 11pm. I'm on the island by 6am and lying in a hammock by a deserted beach as the sun rises.

It's either ironic or fitting that my journey ended the same way it began. A long ride, a short nights stopover, once with my brother and once alone, and a badly timed boat crossing once from and once to an insignificant yet deeply personal island.

I've been here a month now yet a part of me still itches, still waits to leave. I know myself I am staying but how to convince that part of me that sent me out here in the first place? People here ask me “where next?” and I don't really have an answer. The plan is still there but does it fit any more? Is it even possible? Money? Time? Desire? There are too many questions and no answers because honestly I am happy here. Why think about the future when it is now that is good? Tomorrow the only decisions I have to make are Do I dive? Do I lay in my hammock? Night in or night out? They are not hard questions and whatever the answer it is always the right one. So I lay in my hammock and as I drift off I know it is over. For now, at least, I've stopped.

Ok bit of an epilogue or something here. This blog has probably been as important as the trip itself to me. For one it has helped me to understand things better. To write about it I have to consider what has happened more deeply than I would otherwise and that is a good thing. More importantly it has been my connection with home. A weak connection as far as they go but as good a one as I was able to hold. So I thank you for reading and, for a little time each month or so, thinking about me. When I needed it most there was always someone from home or my past who had just the right words at just the right time. I can't thank you enough. You stopped me from stopping, you gave me strength when I had none. Sorry I am smiling as I write this, I am remembering the bad times and I am smiling so I think that sums it up. You made even the bad times a good memory.

So many people to thank but only one to mention by name. Thanks Mum, for always always believing in me and supporting me no matter what. There is nothing I can possibly say to thank you for the encouragement you gave me from the first day I considered this trip. No scrap that, from the first day I took a breathe on this earth. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


stacato said...

Old Abe once said "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

I been following not only the blog but tried to get some live feed from you whenever I do catch you online.

And there is one thing that I have noticed. What started as a splendid adventure, slightly a running away from a day to day life which didn't completely appeal to you, a mountain to climb to prove to yourself you are man enough to chow it down, has turned into something completely different.

Maybe you remember when I told you that I envy you for this trip.
It isn't envy for seeing the world, traveling across nations, tasting the vibrating air at each new stop, it's envy in regard of having the balls to face yourself.

I bet somebody has already said it, but before you can battle a war, you first have to win over your own demons.
And boy, did you have enough private time your own worries, your mind, your fiendish inner devils.

You know what, I think you got through it quite well. Life isn't the perfect slice of white bread that can be toasted a nice crispy golden shade.

Just to quote again, and you might have noticed that along your travel by getting to know the people. Buddha said: "If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."

You are right at that point. Your life has changed cause you yourself were willing to let it change and are welcoming it with open arms.
Who of us can say we have the courage to do this ourselves?
It doesn't require the path you took, but it requires leaving behind that shiny sphere we build around our self.

So, there we have it. you have come to a stop, however long it will be. It is what is right cause you said so yourself.

Enjoy the hammock my friend. If you do end up coming back, be assured I will have one waiting for you here to crash in.

Anonymous said...

'The End'? You really believe that? No way my friend, trust me I know these things.
Enjoy the life it's a good one but don't close ANY doors, ever!

There's sooo much beer to drink in other places and sooo little time!!

Options open?
Go for it and enjoy, we're with you all the way.

Unknown said...

I dunno about defeating my inner demons. I don't think you ever really beat them just kinda pin them down so they can't do too much damage. There will always be things in your life which you lock up but will escape from time to time. The key is to not let those things dominate. And, when they do come out, hope you are surrounded by friends who will forgive you for them.

as for the other stuff, it is what it is! there is no describing it or understanding it. To explain it is to try to explain myself and that, I can assure you, is a complex task.

Anyway, thank you Stacato, you always had a good word for me when things were shit and I appreciate it.

And Pete, I know! ;-) cheers.

Duncan Cartwright said...

Hi Oliver,

A friend and I followed your blog before we set off on our own personal adventures around the world on the back of bikes.

I've just arrived on Ko Tao and was wondering if you were still here.

If you're still around it would be great to get a beer with someone who inspired me to set off into the unknown, if not, have fun wherever you are!

Duncan Cartwright