Sunday, April 26, 2009

360 Degrees

So I pack a few clothes, shoes, laptop, books and my music which I consider to be my "army of thousands". Not having owned much in the way of material things, I give what little is left away. I hop on an Emirates Airbus 330 and head east. My destination, the Kingdom of Cambodia, it should take me roughly 30 odd hours to get there. Emirates is a fantastic airline, I have an array of entertainment to keep me occupied before my first stop in Dubai. I decide to watch the Top Gear crew ride motorcycles across Vietnam then a British sitcom about a group of IT geeks and finally Frost/Nixon which is an excellent movie. Nixon was a bastard and he's unlucky he didn't live long enough to see an even bigger bastard in Bush junior. All this is complimented by some excellent food, something with lamb, some tea and juice, all at several thousand feet. I arrive in Dubai at about 05:30 and get a chance to see it from the air at night. It's beautiful, the lights are amazing, and the highways are like long fiery serpents that wind their way across this desert land. The plane docks at terminal 3 and I step into the biggest airport I have ever visited, I'm afraid of getting lost but thankfully the entire place has signs all over and I make my way to the transfer desk so easily that I have to ask the lady if I'm in the right place. Speaking of which, the stewardesses are hot! Anyway departure is three hours later and I'm on my way to Bangkok and after doing a body odour check I realize that I should have taken a shower before I left for the airport. This time I'm on a Boeing 7something7, it's daytime and I can see the gulf state clearly. It's a marvellous city jutting out of the sand with tall towers everywhere. I remember looking out of the airport at the city and seeing construction cranes everywhere and it strikes me that man is still obsessed with building tall towers despite the failure of Babel. I wonder to myself whether this city has a soul to it, maybe one day I will find out or one who has been will tell me. We fly east and I get the sense that I'm time travelling because of all the time zone changes. The clouds are beautiful; the way the sunlight falls on them makes them look solid. I feel that I could walk on them. It saddens me that you are not here with me to see this beauty and I wonder if somewhere out there, maybe high above the world you can see it too. I watch 'The Secret Life of Bees' and am moved to tears.

I arrive in Bangkok at 18:30 and find the desk to get my next boarding pass, however I have to spend 12 hours waiting for my next flight. This guitar that I'm lugging around is beginning to annoy me but I keep my spirits up and decide to explore the airport. I spend the night visiting the smoking rooms which are a small mercy, riding the elevators drinking mochas and eating New York Subs. At one point I have a chat with Samir who works as a safety auditor on commercial ships for a Japanese company, I learn that there is such a discipline as Nautical Sciences and that he's been all over the world. He's been doing this for the last 14 years and is thinking of retiring and moving his family from India to Singapore. We talk about a lot of stuff, travel, the economy, Uganda, India, Japan, history and the future. It is a very welcome conversation and it whiles away the time. We say goodbye and head to get our various boarding passes. I get to the desk and present my ticket and I'm told I have to wait while they call Phnom Penh to verify my volunteer letter and that I should check back at 07:00. The flight is at 07:50 so this does not bother me. I find a comfortable spot and sit down to while away another 2 hours and then I run into Amkit.

Amkit is from Berkely, CA and is on his way to Kolkata, India to see his mother among other things. We begin chatting and it strikes us how lucky we are to have met at that point, I find him intriguing and full of life. Like me he is a hopeless romantic and has had his own fare share of heartbreak and he too is on a journey to heal his soul. I cut our conversation short because I have to go and get my boarding pass and he becomes concerned that he has offended me. I allay his fears and promise to come back and say bye after picking my boarding pass. I head back to the nice Thai lady and discover that I have to spend another 12 hours in the airport because she has not been able to contact the school in Phnom Penh and I have to take the evening flight. It is now Thursday morning and I have been awake since Tuesday 10:00am. Strangely I don't feel anything negative and I go off to find Amkit who is on phone with a friend back in the states. He invites me to have a chat with Esther who is a retired teacher and has just recovered from major surgery. I am struck by the simple beauty of the fact that I left home a few days ago and here I am with someone I've never met before talking to a stranger in a far off land. We are indeed all connected. After the phone call, he offers to buy me breakfast and we chat some more, he introduces me to the music of Asa which is to say the least lovely. I particularly like the song 360 Degrees which speaks to me in a way only Dincy would understand. I introduce him to the music of Henri Dikongue and he can barely hide his excitement. Some scrumptious Thai food, two cups of coffee, an exchange of ideas and dreams and a promise to keep in touch, we part ways and I busy myself with the internet and the smoking rooms while I await my flight.

I board another Airbus at 18:50 and head to Phnom Penh my journey already having been worth it. I am tired and I have kavubs but I feel inspired and alive.

4 comments:

Shishi said...

What a lovely journey,enjoy every bit og if and ill be so following you evry step of the way like a twit...pictures if you can

~ gnuts ~ said...

"it strikes me that man is still obsessed with building tall towers despite the failure of Babel". Indeed, we never learn.

You have two twits following your every footstep... pictures if you can!

TRP said...

I am tired and I have kavubs but I feel inspired and alive...
Make every moment count :)

Minzo said...

Cheers for the comment and I certainly dont detest being tagged. I dont even have a good reason for not blogging anymore- I keep planning to and putting it off. I appreciate the endorsement and I will-eventually-get back to blogging. Minega