A Guide to South-East Asia: Part Two
Worrying about getting around a new place can be stressful. Read this guide to alleviate your transportation anxiety and learn some tips.
Depending on where you are there are endless options to get around. I found Bangkok, Thailand to be a transit friendly city. The bus, ferry, BTS Skyline, and MRT Subway all have set fares while other cities may take a little bit more negotiating.
I Love Bum Spray!
My initial arrival was filled with worry. I was weirded out that the airport wifi demanded I put in my passport number and was reluctant to enter it in case it was a scam. Half of my SEA prep consisted of reading up on local scams. I hadn’t prepared well. I hadn’t prepared at all actually. I had done a lot of reading but hadn’t bothered to book a hostel or research public transportation. A traveling companion I had yet to meet in real life was already in town but it was midnight and the check in desk at his hostel was closed. There was a large hotel across the street from the airport. It screamed money. After a lot of back and forth with my brain I decided to try to get into the Monkey Nap Hostel that I had been browsing earlier on Agoda. It was more affordable than the place he was staying, looked clean, and had good reviews. This was to be one of the best decisions I’d make.
I didn’t think this was proper to write from the beginning. Tonight is the last night of the first leg of my journey. I’ve spent the last two weeks at Alpha Farm. An intentional community located in Deadwood, Oregon. Population 294. I’m currently sitting in the living room of a one hundred year old farmhouse. I’m tending to the fire as an Alpha member plays piano. I thought it was fitting that “When you wish upon a star” should play as I’m writing this. I don’t think I put enough wood in. Fixed. I confess, I was going to read a book but I found the music inspiring. That happens a lot here. From here on out I’ll probably post more often, but that wasn’t right here. In fact that is the complete antithesis of the vibe here.
It’s March 23rd, I know the publishing date says September 1st but it’s March 23rd. Most of the residents here have retired to their rooms. People sleep fairly early around here. It was one of the first things that I’ve become accustomed to since my arrival last Thursday night. I arrived shortly after dinner. Caroline, the last founder of Alpha Farm who remains here and another member, we’ll call him Bill, picked me up from the Eugene, Oregon airport. At fifty miles way it’s the nearest major city. My flight hadn’t come in on time and they were kind enough to wait for me.
On the plane I was in absolute awe looking down upon the mountains. I flew in during a storm so I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get to see Crater Lake from above. That disappointment quickly faded on the drive in. We were now “in” the mountains. Deadwood is in the coastal region so most of the locals refer to them as hills. Compared to these hills the ones I was accustomed to were children, babies. Tiny natural waterfalls poked out of trees covered in moss. There were shades of green that I had never seen outside before. I saw lamas that weren’t lamas (alpacas) and asked nonstop questions about the wildlife. I was so entranced by the scenes around me that it pained me to have to glance at my phone and converse with my mother who was texting me non-stop as I explained to her that my cellphone service would soon cut out.
We arrived at dinner time and I quickly said hello to everyone. It would take me a couple of days to learn everyone’s names. Though the number is everchanging there were ten permanent members, one extended visitor, and two short term visitors when I arrived. A short term visitor can be here for a couple of days to a couple of months. An extended visitor can remain for several months either living here temporarily or in the process of an internship to become an official resident. Dinner was brought out onto the table. It was curry, millet, and salad. A circle was formed around the table and I was a bit confused as everyone began to hold hands. Why are we holding hands? Are we doing grace? I didn’t think there was organized religion here. We held hands for several very long seconds and then my eyes widened as everyone began to kiss hands. Later that night I’d find a pamphlet in my room that explained the nightly ritual and how we kissed hands from left to right. Or right to left, I never did get it right. It was to show our appreciation for each other and to thank those who labored over our meal.
The hardest thing about traveling is not the struggle for food. It’s not wondering where you’re going to rest your head that night or if you’ll manage to get a shower that week. You don’t really need one that bad after all. The hardest thing about traveling is becoming comfortable.
It’s been five months since I arrived in Eugene, Oregon. My main concerns no longer have to do with getting robbed or assaulted. I have a knife. I mostly use it for spreading peanut butter and cutting bread. At this point I feel like I can handle anything short of death. And maybe even death itself. Because I’m living for the first time. My fears no longer stem from anything with hands or eyes. Complacency is my enemy. I must push myself forward.
I’m back in Eugene once more. I’ve made friends. Crashed on different couches. There’s a spot in the woods I often sleep in behind a closed down building in an industrial park. I know all the shortcuts to get around there. There’s not a lot of tweakers and I feel safe. Soon I might not have a penny. My back tooth is broken off. After three months of ignoring my dental needs it’s finally starting to hurt. But I’m not worried about any of that. What I’m worried about is that I like it here. I can see myself settling down here.
Earlier this year I spent a couple of weeks at an intentional community. It was peaceful. I was inspired there. I wrote more than I had in years. I started a short story. I stopped writing it, and much of anything else, when I was on the Vagabus. I was busy. I had a purpose. There were so many people around that I never checked my facebook or bothered to upload pictures to my then bare Instagram account. I had constant companionship. Sometimes to the point of claustrophobia. All in all it was positive.