Friday, May 09, 2014

En route from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Bridge over the River Kwai, tonight
This morning I woke up, packed, and took a motorcycle taxi to the pier with my big backpack.  Took the boat to stop eleven, the Thonburi stop, and then a sohngtaeou to the train station.  Bought a ticket to Kanchanaburi, and here I am, writing in blue pen, speeding west, towards jungle and mountains and a border.  All of the steps I have rehearsed so long in my head carried out, exactly as anticipated, made flesh.

Banana and palm trees and rice fields line the track.  White and grey egrets by the dozen fly up from swamp as we pass.  We cross rivers choked with water plants, above them houses on stilts.  It's mango season, and as we cross roads I see fruit vendors set up at roadsides, with piles of golden fruit.

Ladies walk through the car selling fried chicken and I want some, but I'm embarrassed.  All I had for breakfast was three pieces of watermelon and some half-eaten bones and sticky rice, but the vendors aren't even soliciting me.  Besides, the middle-aged lady to my left has been eying my over-consumptive purchases since I got on, the overpriced peanuts from the Bangladeshi grifter, the iced coffee in a can for 25 baht.  I don't want her to smirk as I get ripped off a third time.  But I really want chicken.

The rice fields are impossibly green, the greenest green you'll ever see.  Brightly painted houses and trucks rest by the dusty tracks.  Drainage ditches are flush with cattails and lurid algae, bony droop-necked flop-eared cattle grazing among them.  Each stop gets me closer to the border.

I think this may be the bravest thing I've ever done.  Not as brave, of course, as many:  Paul Salopek, Rory Stewart (who walked across central Asia), Sarah Marquis (an extreme walker who faced down Mongolian horsemen in her tent), or any of your average everyday foreign correspondents in Afghanistan.  But it's still something.  The Lord has not given me a spirit of fear.  Everything I see with new eyes.


Lamanda said...


Melissa Jenks said...

I ended up eating moo satay (pork skewers)--but only after judgmental lady got off the train. I always think I'm going to made these bold, brave food choices--and it's amazing how many things (and, generally, other people) intimidate me into eating a different way than my own hunger would choose. And I'm almost always hungry for fried chicken. :)