From our beach side bungalo on the island of Koh Samui we watch International CNN with its stories of Sidewalk Santa parades, the record crowds for day-after-Thanksgiving shopping and snow storms across the US in our "air-con" room. It all seems so alien and yet vaguely familiar, like a dream one struggles to remember on awakening. One with little relevance to real life, but interesting.
As soon as we have satisfied our curiosity about the rest of the world, we grab our ever present passports and baht* and head down the coconut-lined path to the twinkling lights of the local beach-side eatery. Our new friend, waiter and card-partner, Mete (pronounced 'met') greets us. The waves make their rhythmic sounds, crickets chirp, and small picturesque fishing boats hover offshore. We see the bobbing lights of boats further out.
Time and seasons are meaningless here. The pace of the day is exactly what we wantedalmost non-existent. The only clock is the schedule of the Germans next door: they slip down for their morning swim at 7 a.m.and eat dinner at 6 p.m., precisely. It reminds George of the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, whose daily activities were so precise that the shop keepers set their clocks to his ambulations.
We had been moving at such a hectic pace that we found after we had gotten to Bangkok and done an initial "temple tour," we went catatonic. "Help! Get us to a quiet place where we can just be still," we pleaded. "One that is simple and quiet but with electricity for the computer. . . ." The local travel agent quickly signed us up for Koh Samui, an island in the south of Thailand populated by coconut farmers and tourists. (The tourists now easily outnumber the farmers 10 to 1.)
We realized (as we watched it tonight) that we have been like the central character in the movie "Johnny Mnemonic." Our brains were loaded way past capacity. We needed to hook up to our computer and drain. We needed to just be "normal," and stay in one spot. No logistics to consider, no input. We needed a holiday from the considerable work of travel.
We take turns swimming, reading, playing cards and working on the computer. We work on Samantha's math and Cassidy's spelling. Occasionally we watch CNN or Thai and Indian MTV or write postcards. The only shopping we do is for ice cream or postcards at the local market and the only red suits one sees are swim suits.
I guess this is our version of the holidays.
*baht is the name of Thai currency.