Looking back on Saturday, November 17th:
Rachel, Mel, and I in pursuit of nature. Seeking waterfalls as a medium for our renewal. We depart on a 3-hour journey eastward to Khao Chamao National Park, piling into a 12-seater mini van packed with no fewer than 20 people. The driver is possessed–speeding, honking, swerving. His partner, a woman, is antsy and alert, crouching in the aisle of the van like a lion ready to pounce on her prey. Every few feet she slides open the window, yells ‘Rayong’ and a slew of indecipherable Thai, and searches for signs of submission. The driver stops and she hastily herds more people in, directing us like cattle. Meanwhile, methodically collecting a wad of bills.
After repeating this cycle for about an hour and effectively counterbalancing the high turnover rate, both the driver and his assistant begin to unclench their jaws. As the van begins to empty and the front seat again becomes vacant, the woman crawls into the seat, slouches down, and kicks up her feet. She tosses the now massive stack of cash onto the middle console, laughing. The driver, his brow no longer furrowed, looks over at his profits and allows a smile. It appears to be upwards of 3,000 baht. They share a snack from the woman’s purse and relaxed conversation, letting out repressed laughs. Pleased with themselves, they rejoice in the fruits of their labor. Like they’ve just robbed a bank.
The mini van drops us off at a nondescript street corner in the middle of a nondescript town and takes off without giving us the slightest direction. We are confused but unfazed. Skip the opportunity to complain, and instead start walking. Soon two motorbike taxis appear behind us and agree to take us into the park, which they tell us is 16km away. A heightened elevation and a canopy of trees and we are at peace. We rent a bungalow for the night.
I experience the waterfalls as symbols of a flow that washes over, rules all life in Thailand. A subtle but pervasive undercurrent that guides events, circumstances, and interactions between people. The transmittance of this energy is steady and rhythmic, like a pulse. Life here operates within a cycle which should not be broken or interrupted, else everything and everyone within it would cease to function and die. The beating heart of Thailand is a closed circuit system.
This is why the people move quickly, erratically, taking your hand and rushing you into an already full mini van. This is why they do not slow down or stop for pedestrians until within centimeters of fatal contact, and why, if they hit you with their car, they will smile and keep driving. They are trying to maintain the flow. They are replenishing the source. This is also why Thai people are always willing and making time to help others. To get you going where you need to be. To get you moving, like them. A cyclical, dynamic nature in a culture that thrives on mobility. Hesitation would be unnatural, would cut off the source. The chaos is somehow contained in movement. Everyone remains connected if they all move forward together. A collective unconscious.