[From Railay, in the midst of an awful bout of Norovirus:]
Haven’t eaten now for…31 hours. It’s surprisingly easy to fast for so long, but maybe because I’m sick? I am hungry – I really am – I’m just afraid of making myself sick again by eating.
I understand how fasting can be a spiritual thing; all of my movements are slow and deliberate and weirdly meaningful. It’s like everything feels a little bit glowy around the edges.
Last night when I was writhing in bed with a fever I lost all track of time. My brain only worked in circles, stuck on this or that feverish and entirely irrational thought. I don’t know how long it took me – felt like hours – to reach for my bag at the foot of the bed to grab some paracetamol for my fever. Then I had to fight with myself to actually go on and tear open the package once
…and then twice…
I couldn’t help but be reminded of that mountaineering guide Krakauer wrote about – the one who got stuck up on Everest in a storm and just for hours fought with himself to work up the might to try to climb down. They had him on the radio, everyone trying to motivate him to move. And he promised he would – in just a minute! – but he never left that spot and died there instead. I felt like that. Incapacitated, unable to help myself.
Okay, obviously that’s an extreme comparison but it’s what was swimming around in my mind at the time.
Well. Koh Phi Phi is an insane universe. The single most hedonistic place I’ve ever seen – even beyond Koh Phangan and the Moon Parties. This place literally exists for one purpose only, and that is for young people from different countries to become as disengaged with their individual identities and moral compasses enough to have, and enjoy having, completely meaningless, entirely random, sex with each other.
It’s moderation. It’s always moderation.
I’m so fucking sick of mediocre food. Mediocre Thai food, mediocre Western food, all of it. Sick of it.
As if the limits in variation of Thai food weren’t enough, I also can’t count on the quality or even exact nature of the food itself.
I order pad prik gaeng gai and get chicken in massaman curry (no potatoes or carrots or onions) with a piece of plastic floating around. A coconut shake could mean coconut water blended with ice (a light, refreshing and replenishing drink) or coconut cream and sugar and milk and ice – enough cream and sugar to induce a tummy ache, surely.
I’ve ordered a tuna baguette that looked like a tuna baguette but smelled like a plastic bag. Didn’t eat it. Couldn’t eat it.
I’ve ordered something as simple as grilled corn (HOW CAN YOU MESS THIS ONE UP?) that looked AND smelled right, but had no taste at all.
Scrambled eggs cooked in fake butter. Red curry that isn’t red but rather a soupy, granular light brown. Grilled chicken on a stick maintaining the appearance of juicy chunks of white meat, underneath which hid hard, bloody pieces of meat. Even the sticky rice was old and crusty.
The variation in quality and integrity is simply exhausting, and no dish is safe. I’m sick of approximations of food – things that appear or pretend to be what you want them to be, but are in fact tasteless or disgusting or otherwise unappetizing.
Pizza made with ketchup instead of tomato sauce. A bagel (hardly deserving the label “bagel”, the specimen I have in mind was merely round bread) shmeared with strange, feta-like, slightly creamy, but mostly crumbly and definitely not “cream”, cheese.
There’s no consistency, no standards.
I order a chicken burger and it comes, hot and juicy breaded breast meat on a bun with tomato, lettuce, and mayo. I go back two times and get the same thing. On the fourth time, the patty isn’t breast meat at all but instead dense, ground dark meat. Disappointed.
Sometimes I wonder if Thai people do themselves consider what they’re serving us falang tourists “food” because it often just doesn’t qualify. Would they eat it?? Then I remember the vats on the streets. The vats of Thai food with weird pieces of chicken and pork, stinky fish bits, dark green sauces, unidentifiable mushy vegetables. So their standards are different. Perhaps.
I can’t *wait* to cook my own meals again. To have control over the quality of the ingredients that I put into my body. Oh, a salad! Oh, cheesy eggs! Oh, brownies!! Real, dense, gooey brownies made in the oven. Not cakey and dry or frosted like a cake. Not out of a package from 7-Eleven. Real brownies. Real food. Consistent, delicious, stuff that won’t turn to dust in my mouth. I can’t fucking wait.
Had the most intense out-of-body experience tonight as I was walking back from the Internet cafe.
I booked my flight home.
The thing everyone has been asking me, and I haven’t had an answer, and now I do… I’m going home. I’m going home at the end of July, 2 days after my 23rd birthday. What does one do with this nugget of absolutely pivotal information? Should I be feeling excited, sad, nervous, what?
I feel like I’m not here. For as long as I didn’t know when I was leaving, I was here, but now I not only know I’m leaving but I know exactly when so I’m not here. My mind is…there. Or, almost there.
It’s not fair – there’s still so much to experience between now and then.
It’s all so real and it’s all happening right now. Too real. Surreal. I don’t feel like me. I’m going to travel with my bestfriend from Australia who I haven’t seen in over a year in India for five weeks; I’m going to travel in Europe for ten days, seeing another bestfriend from Australia who I haven’t seen in three years; and I’m going home. To Atlanta, GA, USA, on July 28th of this year. Almost exactly a year after embarking on this epic journey. You guys. I’m going home.
I don’t understand what it’s like to like someone or let someone mean something to you for only a certain time and space. I care, and I guess I care too much. But the thing is, if I didn’t care – if none of the people I’ve connected with during my travels should matter just because we’re not in that same space and time – then what am I doing here?? What a disgustingly massive waste of time this has been!