Since writing my last post I have been busy refining my itinerary and considering what to bring and how much to pack. I have decided to travel as lightly as possible, taking only a small backpack, a carry-on bag, and my laptop. It will be important to be pragmatic since I will have several days in Thailand where I plan to leave Bangkok and travel by local train or bus out into the country to visit lesser known sites. I also may consider seeing the famous bridge on the River Kwai. This means having the flexibility to navigate from place to place with ease and without the encumbrances associated with luggage. This will also apply to my river boat journey down the Mekong through Cambodia to Viet Nam. In any case, I will have several days where I will have no idea where I will spend the night. In spite of much experience in that regard, the risk and unpredictability associated with finding safe, comfortable lodging still generates in me substantial anxiety. I am only mollified somewhat by the knowledge that the unknown often provides the richest experiences.
Psychologically, I still feel like I'm on a pogo stick. I fluctuate between short moments of joy and longer moments of depression, a tempo I am acutely familiar with and which has resonated in me already since birth. I shared this emotional dilemma in my last post and received supportive and validating comments mainly from people of my age group. Others, mainly family members, expressed themselves constructively and spoke of ways to "fix me" through various therapies. My own method to find comfort has been to immerse myself in writing and in art. I find these pursuits useful a means to release tension. Daily I plop myself down at a table at a Starbucks, at Whole Foods or at a tea shop, put on a headset to listen to music on Pandora Radio, and jot down thoughts in my laptop on current political topics, on the timely, personal question of dynamics between men and women, and my problematic role as a parent. Likewise these locations are useful to find subjects for quick sketches. Drawing brings me great pleasure which I hope will be prepare me to do some decent drawings while I am in Asia.
My passport arrived in the mail yesterday. On a back page I found an exotically designed Viet Nam visa. Its strange script and picture set my mind swirling with visions of jungle, muddy rivers, strange Buddhist statues, large elephants and of millions of Asian people whose faces, words, and lives I will be unable to understand. On Tuesday morning I leave Portland and, by the next night, will be in Bangkok. The weather will be humid and the city noisy with motorbikes. From the airport I hope to dive headfirst into the melee by finding a small cab or local bus to take to my lodging instead of using a "safe, prearranged transfer. During those hippie days of now so long ago, such an adventure on which I am soon embarking was called a "trip". My instinct tells me that this sentiment was prescient then and is still valid today. I am excited and as usual nervous. At least I know it is neither Heart of Darkness nor Apocalypse Now!