received the following are e-mails from Paul as he travelled back from
Spain to Australia via Borneo, Thailand and Malaysia.
Date: Sat, 06 Nov
1999 08:22:23 -0800
you tried Snakefruit ? Looks like snake on the outside,
like garlic on the inside, but tastes......well,
but just imagine your 4 or 5 favourite fruits, and
the tastes and multiply it......mouthgasm.
by monkeys, beautiful coloured dragonflies, and a large
beetle as I wandered into the jungle for the first time.
day solo wandering through the most vibrantly juicy and alive
Ive ever experienced, watching a snake devouring a
thick carpets of ants across my path, insects at times
shrill, monkeys swinging through the bushes, and the
and moss and dark spaces filled with green everywhere,
flying flashes of vivid blue and red and yellow, and huge
and towering plants, and dense like a Henri Rousseau
come to life. And after 2 hours emerging from the
onto a white beach....
in Kota Kinabalu, the people smile with their eyes.
Date: Mon, 08 Nov
1999 03:36:01 -0800
a cave in deepest jungliest leech-infested sweltering
Borneo that is 51km long. Yes, 51km. And another
estimated to be bigger than 16 football fields,
in the world. Of course I can't resist the idea, so
I'll be looking to find a way to Mulu.
atop Mt Kinabalu, another crescendo experience. "Is this
happening??". A gruelling 2 day climb up 9km of steep
covered slopes, forests of moss and orchids, misty
jungle and then through the clouds and sheer rock
to towering wartlike pinnacles of rock - the top of
Clouds forming dragonlike swirls and gullies dropping
knees of jelly I sit here, feeling blessed and exhilarated,
amazed at the beauty of this planet.
the tallest point to the deepest, I'm heading underground.
Date: Mon, 15 Nov
1999 08:15:07 -0800
days in Mulu......
caverns and caves, awe-inspiringly, unbelievably big.
awe-inspiringly, unbelievably beautiful. Sounds of water
echoing in sensurround.
in a warm tropical rainstorm through the lush rainforest
yeah, leeches and all that, but it's all part of the fun.
swims in crystal clear waters.
over a fire again.
sun rising through morning mist over the jungle river.
jungle spirits in the trees, while boating down
river, myriad reflections in blue green yellow violet.
in neon crimson and blue and green.
fireflies at night, listening to the jungle sounds.
gentle tribal people, sharing their stories.
for hours watching the river, listening to a most
talking bird, which sneezed, coughed, laughed like an
woman, and spoke like a young girl.
up cliffs and through tangled moss forest to the
towers of the Pinnacles.
disappearing into the massive white cumulus clouds
down from brilliant blue skies.
thunder and more rain. The river changes again.
a word, magic.
in Kota Kinabalu for a few hours, and on to Thailand.......
Subject: Trip 5
Date: Fri, 19 Nov
1999 23:34:25 -0800
for a day in Little India, Penang........endless Roti
daal and conversations with Indians, and watching the
of charcters passing by - a taste of another potential
here on a Thai beach, I feel I've entered another world.
from the tranquil jungles of Borneo, I find a brilliant
haze of monsoon windy palm trees and coconuts filled
delicious juice and incredible food and peace of a
kind, amongst what seems to be a superhighway of young
and Australians and Kiwis here for beaches and full moon
a way I feel nostalgic already for the womb of the jungle.
here has its distinct kind of edge, and to drive through the
forests and see the fronds gently swaying against a pale
sky and feel the warm breeze against my skin is certainly a
are some wonderful fallen palm fronds lying near the beach
which to build fantastic spider sculptures.....
Subject: Trip 6
Date: Tue, 23 Nov
1999 22:24:34 -0800
a relief to have escaped from South Thailand ! With each
3 passing days, the energy shifted from peace to chaos with
influx of hundreds of a different kind of traveller : "Yeah,
full moon, man, yeah, it'll be great, man, party and get
on diet pills, yeah, man......". Enough said.
hasty escape, and a lovely drive overnight by the light of the
moon to Bangkok, landing in the hazy glow of 5am in central
San, and sitting roadside at a 24 hour cafe, surrounded by
detritus of the night pushing themselves just a little bit
sliding towards dawn. Images from a Tom Waits ballad,
everyone with a story. Flotsam-and-jetsam - drunk
men only a whore could want. Green glowing neon
off facades and fading against an indigo sky gradually
day spent meeting local Thais in side-streets and shopping for
everything, before boarding a night bus to Chiang Mai.
I sit, brilliant sunshine, and a Thai cooking course
Subject: Trip 7
Date: Sat, 04 Dec
1999 20:18:44 -0800
in Northern Thailand.
and magical. A forest of giant spiders and snakes.
wilderness lodge without electricity - nights by a fire with
skies and shooting stars, eating by candlelight,
outdoors, connecting with land and life and universe.
lost in the thick bamboo.
bend of the river another world.
the mist rolling in slowly, faintly liquid, each dark
from the surrounding trees, fresh, succulent, with which
watch the morning sun dissipate the mist, and the valley
change with the rising light.
few others, those who made the journey.
to understand each other.
Date: Sat, 18 Dec
1999 06:40:21 -0800
dreamlike quality of past events catches me every time -
in Brisbane, with Malaysia and Thailand nothing but an
- all those lives whose path I crossed, the places I
and the moments witnessed. The little things: the market
the fires in the Chiang Mai sky, the glitter of sunlight
from temples, and that delicious Roti Canai and
with sweetmilk on the final chilled-out night back in
back in Australia, I sit in the 1am calm of a little room at
home of Laura and David (family), the others asleep in rooms
and above me, parents, sister, and the 2 little ones
lives didn't exist when I was last here. Lovely to spend
with them all - chatting, playing, shopping, chilling, with
other agenda at all. The future full of options, the past
and the present the only important thing.
imagine Madrid, London, Melbourne, all the souls in all the
I know, and I smile with fond warmth knowing that it all
and they are there, right now, in this very moment.
means you, reading these words - making the connection NOW
hour at the ghat
26 Mar 2000 17:33:08 EST
at the ghat, the tourists gather to watch.
families of the dead. The burning.
Sleeping, wandering, smelling the scraps for possible food.
offshore. More tourists.
stand, pace, shit.
woman collects shit, sits on the steps and kneads it, as one would bread
dough. Meticulous. Slaps it in pointillist patterns on the
wall to dry in tomorrow morning's sun.
children, 4 or 5 years, run to tourists and offer postcards, or ask for
dealers scout for smokers.
black and white TV, screams, drama, violence. Loud.
bathe in the river, amid flowers, bones, ashes, food scraps.
arrive, cloaked in golden fabrics, yellow garlands.
in the boats get closer, smile, chat among themselves.
in loincloths pile earth into baskets, dump it on shore.
of spices and food, shit, piss, charred flesh, incense, merging into a
weird aromatic cocktail.
skullbone gleams through the orange flames. Once seen, some tourists
turn their attention elsewhere, or leave, or start talking.
golden sands on the opposite shore glow more orange, the green of distant
trees richer and warmer, birds sing louder as the sun sets.
son now squats closer to the fire, in white loincloth, shawl, and with
shaved head, looks deeply into the flames.
flip-flop floats by.
young man spits a vile orange-brown liquid onto the step in front of him,
then holds his nose and blows snot on top.
bell tolls in the temple.