Saturday, 19 November 2022

49 times around the buoy


Progress

Lying in the hammock enjoying the evening chorus of croaking frogs and chirping crickets. Not a breath of wind - palm fronds motionless in the still air. Winking stars dot the blackness - incomprehensibly distant. The moonless night rendering Bokor Hill invisible. Perfect. I feel ridiculously grateful to be here.



Old bloggie reached half a million clicks. Crikey. The subpar chronicles of a rootless vagabond's blundering progress through Asia.

Progress? To where?

Good question, I have no idea. Random winds have charted my course since 2006. Brownian motion. My destiny shrouded in a spurious, asynchronous cloak of mystery. 16 years? Good grief.

Freedom

Perhaps there's nowhere to progress to? No grand purpose to pursue? In the words of Alan Watts:

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.

Well said Al lad. Well said. I've never known what I wanted to do - not on leaving school at 16 nor on retiring at 48 - other than a vague niggling desire for freedom.

So where better to start than the military? The epitome of unfreedom. Doh.

But free from what? Free from wage slavery, geography, marriage, addictions, vaccines, obligations, bureaucracy and even the human condition ... whatever that means. Motorbikes partially satiate but you're still shackled by speed limits, helmets and, ultimately, the laws of physics.

Govern me harder Daddy. But it's for your own good. Pass the sick bucket.

Getting On

So aye, I turned 49. Happy Birthday to me. I can't get 7² oot-me-swede. 47 is prime, 48 has many factors while 49 is square. Significant? I doubt it. Might make a case for the Sumerian's sexagesimal number system though.

Sparta

As the sun sets on my fifth decade I'm wondering how life's supposed to be? Do arbitrary chronological milestones automatically confer gnarly wisdom? I don't feel any wiser yet I look back at the person I was in my 20s and chuckle. His hopes and dreams, seemingly so important back then, rendered laughably pointless by father time.These days, when I reflect on the intense biological impulses of my 20's, with the limbic system in overdrive, I can't not contemplate Schopenhauer's concept of will - defined as:

a blind, unconscious, aimless striving devoid of knowledge, outside of space and time, and free of all multiplicity.

The very biology that drove me to indulge in (often sub-optimal) sexual congress, is the same biology that taunts me as I slide past muh physical prime.

It's been 4 years since I partook in alcohol, nicotine or pleasures of the flesh. The clear-headed-contentment arising from this regimen of areligious-asceticism is difficult to describe. Perhaps transcendent in some way? Or am I resisting will? I don't know, nobody does, but I picture it as a battle between Sparta and Persia within a spiritual sphere - the small Spartan force representing stoic discipline and the numerically superior Persian army representing decadent indulgence.

That's just word salad, wtf you on about? Well, in other words: Is the gym a futile two-fingered salute to the cosmos? Feck knows. Ease off the crack pipe mate. Not yet.

LAFS

Then I got thinking aboot me Dad, or Wor Fatha, as we'd say back in the pre-internet dark ages. The single best thing he taught me was LAFS - Life Ain't Fair Son. It was a well-needed slap in the face for this left-leaning adolescent. I used to wonder why nature is so cruel? Why do wolves eat rabbits? Why do we eat cows? Is it fair? I suspect not, but it is the LAFS world we find ourselves in. The rabbit didn't get a say in being a rabbit. Likewise, we don't get a say in our very existence, let alone where we're thrust into the social strata. It just is.

It follows that the best we can do is play the hand we're dealt. This is why I take umbrage with do-gooder Liberal-types. I understand striving for "equality" (nebulously defined - deliberately) may feel good, may be well intentioned and may score easy virtue-signaling points, but, emotional thinking is often at odds with observable reality.

They're always dividing, looking for (constantly mutating) groups of oppressed/privileged to reward/persecute or love/hate. Unhealthy obsessions with the latest arbitrary classification traits de jour. Ignoble goals resulting in bigger governments (govern me harder daddy), unintended consequences and Atlas Shrugged-esque outcomes. Destruction over creation. Oppression over freedom. LAFS. It just is.

Coming back to some classic Alan:

all the do-gooders in the world, whether they're doing it for others or doing it for themselves, are trouble makers.

He's not wrong. Though it's not all doom and gloom, Communists can seek comfort in Marcus Aurelius's meditations:

Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both. They were absorbed alike into the life force of the world, or dissolved alike into atoms.

You see? We're all equal in the end.


With all the chaos in the world today, I'll end these haphazard thoughts with Horace Walpole:

The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.

STFU

What've you been up to? A mixed bag really. Aussie Tim of Battambang fame passed away recently. Sad. I'd spent hours with him in July only for him to take a real bad turn while I was in Saigon. Little did I know that was to be our final chat.

Bangkok Matt cancelled an October visit whereby he was going to bring some items he'd bought online for me. He ended up posting them instead which involved a trek to Kampot's sleepy Post Office - reminding me of the great 2020 Battambang postal debacle. We squared up via wise - not a bad option for small cross border payments.

Heritage

I can't stop watching this Ashington song. Great lyrics, great accent, great nostalgia. This is Hintons Ramp. I think Hintons changed to Prestos while I was at Asha High. Google maps says it's a Wilko today. See, some things do change, even in Ash-ganistan ...

... jewel of the north,
center of the orth - hehe.


Folk

Been hanging out with El Tel a bit. A canny lad from daan saath, though he wasn't too happy when the Toon took trois-points from whatever they call White Hart Lane these days.

Conversations revolve around how grateful we are to have escaped the west, his marriage plans and the general mechanics of living in the tropics.

He was keen to show off his juicer (love that name) with these illuminous carrot drinks that look like they'd make a Geiger counter scream. Reminded me of Geordie Neil raving about one in 2013. He went on to sell bottled juice across Bangers. Entrepreneurial non-teaching W⚓.


Simon was passing through for a few days. He's pretty much lived in Phuket since 2003 and was an eye witness to my orgy of alcohol-fueled hedonism on the island circa 2010 to 2012.

Here we are enjoying cocktails (and coffee) at a riverside sunset bar.

Great crack.


Saigon

A couple of random Saigon pics.

1. Kicking Andy's gloved arse.
Eh? A glove? To play pool? Aye, a knaa, shocking, he lost 3-0 an aal, propa fanny like!

2. Was riding the Mary when it started lashing down. Took shelter under a (rare-in-Saigon) tree where I was stunned to encounter two wild boars on the verge (building site just out of shot).

Lists

I love em. So it was a pleasure to work out where I've spent the last 16 years as a wokefugee.

122 months - just over a decade - in Thailand. No surprises there.

Always thought I was in Taiwan longer than China. Wrong.

The European section includes Shetland, Faroes, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russia for that particular stint.

Mongolia fails to get a mention as I was only there a week and the measuring instrument's temporal resolution is too coarse, or lacking in granularity - a not so subtle nod to my non-QTS physics classes.

Cambodia should overtake Vietnam in 2023. I wish Laos was higher and the Philippines lower. Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong were brief stays due to the higher costs. I wouldn't mind repeating Burma, Indonesia and Nepal should the urge for transience ever return.

Back in 2006 the original plan was to continue on to Australia and South America. However, I became increasingly smitten as I weaved my way through SEA. From the Tibetans of Litang to the exotic hill tribes of northern Laos/Thailand. Backwards Burma to Bountiful Borneo. I was seduced. Completely.

I had to grab the bull by the horns and do whatever was necessary to stay. After some brief barstool-based research I'd learnt that there's only really one viable option. Aye, you guessed it. Teaching. Damn.

Initially I resisted. Fumbled around in the dark for other options but friends would mockingly shoot down lame alternatives. Eventually, I submitted to the inevitable, pinched my nose and embraced the shameful profession. Many have tried to cheat the flowchart - many have failed. Except Geordie Neil. The one that got away. Entrepreneurial non-teaching W⚓.


Frugal

Landlord family
Finally, I'll touch on minimalist living. In September and October, I spent $420 and $320 respectively. Eh? $320? For a whole month? All in? Aye, a personal best.

The main outgoings were: $85 rent + utilities, $44 visa, $10 gym, $5 phone, $0 transport, $0 alcohol, $0 cigarettes, $0 dating. Food and entertainment are variable and make up the rest. Visa costs are paid annually.

Much Nescafe (black, no sugar) is consumed in the hammock. Rolled oats with sliced banana is a brunch staple. Unsalted peanuts provide an evening snack. Evening meals are at the three or four eateries I've become loyal to, a mix of English, Pakistani, Khmer and Thai cuisine.

Possessions? Not many. A suitcase, a bicycle, a laptop, a smartphone, a bowl, a cup, a kettle and scant clothing. The room comes with a fridge but I've yet to plug it in. It's not much, but I wouldn't have it any other way. It all fits in a case and I can be out of here in a heartbeat. Free.

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants - Epictetus

2 comments:

  1. Great update matey, as usual, thankful for more frequent updates!

    ReplyDelete
  2. No need to be fixated on squares, three is the magic number. De La Soul taught us that.

    Did you know Einstein was working on defining the universe in shape and number... Wish I had before an LSD fuelled morning bus ride broke me by the Barr's cottage chippie.

    Toodle-pips

    ReplyDelete

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