Sunday, January 29, 2012

Was Southeast Asia Really All That It's Cracked Up to Be By My Memories? (Answer: Yes!)

"The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be." -- Marcel Pagnol

Truer words have never been spoken -- or written -- and I read those ones for the first time several weeks ago. Where? In someone's Manhunt profile, of all places. (Who says online cruising never leads to anything good?) The guy who dared to put them there immediately topped my list of most likely to receive a reply because I appreciate a man who recognizes great insight when he reads it. 

I especially like the last part because it alludes to hope and faith, two of the most crucial concepts in the lexicon of life. Things have a way of working out -- unless they don't. And even then, what's the worse thing that can happen. Death? In that worst-case scenario, nothing really matters. And if you die another day, at least you're still breathing.

So let it will be. (I promise that's the last Madonna song title I'm quoting.) Doing that brings us closer to a higher state of consciousness, being truly content in the here and now. I'm still trying to get there myself, but six months of Buddhist exposure, has brought me closer than ever.

As for the past, what a truly tricky thing it is. Lately I've been thinking a lot about mine, particularly those six months I spent in Southeast Asia last year. I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure while I was in the middle of it, but three and half weeks after my return to Australia, my memories of Asia continue to grow fonder by the day.

Last night I met a beautiful 29-year-old woman whose father is Malaysian and whose mother is of Irish descent. Although she's never even visited her dad's country, while I was talking to her, so many vivid memories of Kuala Lumpur and Penang began to crowd my mind.

And not an hour goes by when I don't lapse into a daydream, imagining that I'm walking through the streets of Bangkok, standing on my balcony looking out at the city from 14 stories up, or getting ready for a night out at DJ Station. A flaming B-52 shot, prepared by my favorite Bangkok bartender on the second floor, is just the twist in my sobriety that I could use right about now.

Today as I was going through some of the photos from my trip -- which I've really got to post on Facebook ASAP -- I came actress a video from the day I spent touring the temples of Angkor (see below). The Cambodian tourist mecca just outside of Siem Reap was one of the most magical parts of the six months I spent in Asia because it was like all of these images I remembered staring at in Encyclopedia Britannica when I was a kid were coming to life. Not that I'll ever forget any of it, but I'm glad to have photographs and videos to remind me of the life-changing experience that was my half-year adventure.

Southeast Asia, I don't think I'm through with you yet.

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