Friday, December 2, 2011

True confessions

We're in Mae Hong Son. I must be getting snobbish in my approach to Thai food because Nut and I just came back from a dinner that, while nominally Thai, was simply not very good. I had eaten at this particular place, the Sunflower, on my first visit to Thailand and remembered having a good meal there, a fried fish with chilies. But the three items we ordered tonight were bland and uninteresting. The tip-off that I might have noticed if I were being observant is that the clientele was exclusively farang. This is often the kiss of death. Nut will dismiss a place out of hand when she sees that and this used to irk me a bit. Now, I see the wisdom in her judgement. A place crowded with Thai diners is almost sure to be better than one full of farangs. Unless farang food is what you're after.

The ride over here from Pai is one of the best in Thailand. Magnificent vistas and nice road surfaces with plenty of curves for the motorcycling enthusiast. Yet, when I woke up this morning I had this fleeting feeling that I was just getting up to do the same thing all over again. Get some breakfast, then hastily pack, throw our stuff on the bike and take off after a short visit to another cute little Thai town. My inherent negativity kicked in and I began questioning myself. What the hell am I doing? I asked. The days of travel have run together in a kind of blur.

View from Route 1095

View from Route 1095

View of a hill town -- Route 1095
We get up between 7 and 8 every day. I spend at least an hour ot two on the Internet reading email, checking Facebook, chatting with friends far and near as I drink my morning tea. Nut, ever hungry for her next meal, starts talking about breakfast and eventually after showers we head out to scout up some food. If we're just hanging out in Chiang Mai or Udon, we'll do some errands or maybe go for a short ride somewhere. If we're in travel mode we'll pack and check out of our hotel to hit the road to the next place. Pretty soon it's lunch time. If we're not driving, afternoons are spent reading, napping, writing blog stuff, processing photos, gossiping with friends, joking around with Nut. Evening brings another discussion about where we'll take dinner and what we'll eat. While often fun, it can be slightly hum-drum too. Living day to day in hotels has made me homesick for our little place in Banglamphu and the great food in our neighborhood.

Retirement has been a mixed bag for me, mostly good but sometimes causing me wonder what my life at age 68 is, or should be, about. I suppose it's that way for many retirees. If you have income adequate for your chosen lifestyle and you're good at keeping yourself occupied, it can be a good life. If you have a propensity for self doubt or feelings of inadequacy, it can be not so good. When you're in harness and going to work everyday we dream of retirement and escape from the schedule imposed on us by job and responsibilities. But when those responsibilities end the reality is sometimes quite different.

Usually as I drift from day to day I'm happy enough and riding the bike out in the country always invigorates my spirit. I try to explain to Nut what this desire to ride is all about but she, imprisoned on her uncomfortable rear seat perch, doesn't quite get it. Driving the bike is fun, riding in back, not so much, especially if the road is bumpy. Usually she endures quite well. Yesterday I even heard her singing a tune as we cruised along, but sometimes the bouncing and swerving make her headachey and even physically ill. She's a good traveling companion though and I'm thankful for her normally cheery presence.

So, off we go to the next town on the loop, Mae Chaem. I've been running ads on the Internet to sell the Phantom and now have a few inquiries and a possible sale awaiting our return to Chiang Mai. I had wanted to wait to sell it until this Mae Hong Son loop was complete but we're also getting anxious to get back to Bangkok. The old Phantom is running great but we both want to upgrade to the CBR250 and the best prices for that purchase are in Bangkok. Best to sell it quick and get on with the plan. And too, my new front teeth will get installed in a week or so in Bangkok and even though I have gotten quite used to my jack-o-lantern look at this point, I've completely disowned those damn flippers that look good but feel like a plastic shoehorn in my mouth, despicable things that they are. I haven't worn them for weeks.

Not to change the subject but changing the subject: I'm reading a terrific book, Jupiter's Travels, four years around the world on a Triumph, by Ted Simon. His 1974 trip was an amazing accomplishment, all the more so because when he did it Africa and South America were in political foment. And he rode a Triumph! DOH! His travel commentary is by turns entertaining and riveting. The man writes like a dream, his metaphors are masterful, his truthfulness about his own shortcomings and fears is to be admired and emulated. This is a motorcycling classic and the best of that genre I've read. Highly recommended, whether you happen to be a rider or not.

These ramblings are terminally dull by comparison. By way of justification I want to say I write because I enjoy writing and because someday I might look back on these journeys with a wistful eye and be able to imagine myself still able to do things I take for granted today. That means I write for myself. I also write for my family and friends, so they know what's up with me and where I happen to be in the world. All bloggers ask themselves certain questions from time to time I reckon: Why do I write? Who reads what I write? What difference would it make if I didn't write?

And then this one: Why do I ask myself these questions anyhow?

Hah. There you go.