Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Travel log- Cambodia pt 2

..I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everyone goes ‘Awww!’. –Kerouac

It’s always the mad ones that catch my eye- it’s the certain state of being of these souls that seems rather divine; not holy, but divine. I happen to chance upon some of them whilst in Cambodia and listen to me when I say that Cambodia filled with em’ maddies. God bless their souls, they sure made my trip a whole lot more interesting.

It was in Siem Reap that I met one of the maddest of em’ all. It was about noon and I just got to my room and there she was, lying in a hammock along the shared corridor listening to some reggae music. I nodded a greet (to which she nodded in reply) and retreated to my room to unpack and to rest. When I was finally done some hours later, she was still there listening to her music in the hammock along the shared corridor. So I said hi and she said hi and told me that her name was Lou. Lou-- sounds like a sweet name and you’d half expect her to be ladylike, prim and proper and meek and mild. But she had a nose piercing across her nostrils and she had short braided brunette hair that was tied up with a rubber band. I was beginning to suspect that she was a hippie (which she was as I found out later) but she lacked the common headband that they usually wear and she wasn’t holding a bong. She told me she was form Germany and she’s been travelling for 3 years through Australia and South East Asia. She looked rather young so I asked her what her parents thought about her travelling like that. She saw right through the question and told me that she was 25. She skipped university after one semester because she felt that she didn’t like the way life was laid out before her. So she gathered her savings and bought a ticket to Australia.

I told her that I was from Malaysia and she told me that she spoke fluent Bahasa Melayu which was rather surprising. Her story was even more surprising: Apparently she decided to go to Malaysia after a friend told her about a mystical guy who lived in the jungles in KKB near the dam. So she and a bunch of other friends, all eleven of them decided to buy tickets to Malaysia and head to KKB. Then, discovering that they had no idea where to find this mystic of theirs, they decided to get some food at a stall by the roadside. At the stall, they asked some locals where to find Antaraz (that’s his name), and as fate would have it, the locals knew exactly where he could be found. So all the eleven of them hopped on to 4-WDs and they head of into the jungle. Antaraz our dear mystic, had no idea who they all were and was totally shocked to find eleven hippies wanting to see him. But he was totally accommodating and they lived with him for 5 months in a rumah panjang.

Now, it could’ve been that her story was a whole load of hogwash, but at that moment in time I was rather awed ‘coz she really could speak the language (perhaps better than some of us city kids do) and that sort of lends her story some credibility. Then we talked about life in general and a whole lot of other stuff. Our conversation was interspersed with her deciding to pick dirt from her toe nails with her fingers and I found that kinda cool ‘coz it seemed to me that she wasn’t the type that tried to impress (and she also didn’t shave her armpits which I couldn’t help noticing because she wore a spaghetti strap top and made huge arm movements. that being said, it’s only cool if you’re a hippie. if you’re not, women, please shave your pits). She was biking to Phnom Penh the next day and I thought it’d be nice to have evidence of my encounter with a hippie. But it was totally uncool to ask a hippie if they have facebook (I think that might almost equal blasphemy in their eyes) and I didn’t dare take her picture so this is all the evidence I have. And that sums up what might’ve been my first encounter with a hippie (not a bum, they’re a different species). Of course, it’s equally possible that she’s just a travelling story teller.


And what do you do with stories like this?

People ask me why I enjoy traveling and I don’t have one single answer. It’s the enjoyment that comes from a little bit of everything I guess- the sights you see, the people you meet, the food you eat, the sounds you hear, and (sometimes) the lack of it. I’m pretty sure it is closely related to the way God created us humans to be stewards of this earth. But I think stewardship is more than just being a tourist.

I’d love to see the world and I have deep respect for people who are willing to bet their ranch to this end. But don’t be fooled (and I say this mainly as a reminder to myself), living life only for this would be tragic. Real tragic.

1 comment:

  1. travel stories are the best, esp from strangers you meet along the way. keep writing!