-- Ko Lanta Yai, Thailand
What a Christmas.
Today is a lazy day. I tanned on the beach and swam
in the warm ocean. Tonight, we will sit around the fire
on the beach and learn Thai songs and marvel at our
January 1 -- Ko Lanta Yai,
Wonderful party last
night to ring in the new year. I was having such a good
time at the party on the beach. It was only at midnight,
when it became painfully clear how alone I actually
am here, that I felt homesick. Feel better today after
calling home. Costs the moon, but it was worth it to
hear my dad's voice.
January 3 -- 2000 Krabi, Thailand
Said my farewells
today to Mama, Oy, Bang, Bao, and the rest on Ko Lanta.
Sort of hard because I feel like I've become part of
the family. They've been so kind, open, generous, and
fun. Mama sent me off with pineapple, watermelon, bananas,
and a couple of yards of beautiful green Thai silk.
I'll miss them.
January 5 -- East Railae, Thailand
I'm thoroughly enjoying
myself in this idyllic place, surrounded by limestone
karsts and blue, blue ocean. And as I suspected it might,
home is looking better and better all the time. Like
HOME, somehow, something I've never felt about Toronto
and my life there.
January 9 -- East Railae,
I realize why I'm
so lonely here in Railae. Aside from the fact I haven't
had a conversation in 4 days, the fact is that I formed
attachments on Ko Lanta. I fell in love with the children
there, bonded with the grown-ups. It was hard to leave.
And easy, because I was itching to see new places.
January 15 -- Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi is a remarkably
beautiful city, filled with bicycles and street markets
and little lakes and lovely temples. Vietnam's not been
easy, but there've been way more ups than downs. I'm
feeling the loneliness more here than in Thailand...
January 17 -- Sa Pa, Vietnam
This place is more
beautiful than any where I've ever been. This is what
I was thinking as we wound our way up into the tiered,
misted mountains. And then I misted up myself thinking
about what's even more beautiful: my best friend's voice,
my nieces' laughter, my mother's face... Despite the
new, glorious, fantastical sounds, the best is my name
on the lips of my people, a cry of welcome, friend,
I missed you. I'm so glad you're home. I guess I'm a
little emotional. But who wouldn't be? I feel so alive,
open to everything, hurt and joy alike.
January 19 -- Bacha, Vietnam
If possible, Bacha
is even more gorgeous than Sa Pa, even in winter. But
my heart is heavy. These people are so poor. They don't
really have enough to eat in winter. They are shy but
generous. I find it difficult to reconcile their poverty
and living conditions with their sweet souls. I'm having
a case of privilege-itis.
January 23 -- Catba Island,
This is a wonderful
place, a world apart, a floating town filled with lovely,
bright children. But I'm tired. Sometimes I feel I'm
in exile. I'm homesick and scared. I'm fed up and hungry.
I feel like I'll never be totally clean again. One of
the things I miss most is my language, its subtleties.
Also miss cheese. And red meat. And mashed potatoes
with gravy. And really good wine. I'm soon going home.
I can't wait.
February 5 -- Karachi, Pakistan
I'm in a very strange
airport waiting for my connecting flight to England.
Getting on and off planes is such a breeze now. I'm
an old pro. It feels weird to have left Southeast Asia.
I haven't organized all the information in my mind.
I'm looking forward now, not back. I can't wait to see
my friends in London. But what I do think is that this
trip may have been one of the most important things
I've ever done for myself. Time will tell. I'm tired,
but I feel terrific. At peace. Very strong. And happy.