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2012 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States
Cave Printing
I wrote a rough draft of what I hope is the first of many examples of “A Picture and a Thousand Words,” and in it titled my current visual exploration Cave Printing. I didn't do lots on the wall yesterday, though I did use a wooden skewer to make tiny dots of black, thinking of both pepper and constellations. I was about to throw away one of those plastic binders that used to slide down the edge of a plastic cover and trap sheets of paper inside, thinking I would never be using such a thing again, but then I suddenly saw it as a source of little triangles, with an excellent handle to boot. I cut one of those sponges with scratchy stuff on the other side into a little cube to use to deliver the paint to the skewer, and I'm thinking the sponge square could be worth a try as an implement itself.
A mountain in a remote time zone
I'm feeling more relaxed about waiting and seeing if the other participant in my most recent disastrous relationship will step up to the plate and broach the subject of a transfer of belongings, or maybe an apology for letting me know that the relationship was over by posting a personals profile that included the information that he didn’t want to climb a mountain in a remote time zone any longer. Nothing could have better characterized the relationship I was under the impression we were still in.

2011 Banglamphu, Krung Thep (aka Bangkok), Thailand
What a good day yesterday was, starting with the words, “No change,” from the doctor regarding the spot on the ultrasound. She was even happy to buy dollars from me at a better rate than the hospital would have, saving them up for a trip to the States.
Count on it
The taxi driver who took me back to my hotel taught me how to count to three in Thai, at my prompting. The numbers look like Khmer but don’t sound like it: nung, song, sam.
Ready, set...
I haven’t figured out how to weigh my bags, so I suppose I’ll be doing that at the airport. I did figure out how to weigh myself, and I weigh 51 kilos, which I think means I’ve lost a little weight.
I walked down to Khao San Road for another fruit shake, thinking they won’t be available in Massachusetts, then came back to the hotel and discovered that my Bangkok buddy had sent me a message, so we took off on a River Adventure that eventually landed us in Nonthaburi, where I ate a yummy potato spiral and we explored a glorious enormous wooden building with elements of both colonial and local architecture.
It’s known as City Hall, but it’s had lots of incarnations. It’s being renovated now, and it houses a gallery of uneven art – one of the artists gave me a print of Golden Buddha, which still stuns me – and a spectacular museum on the history of the building and the area, known for its intricately-decorated pottery.
We had a meal at a little hole in the wall near Tha Pra Arthit and talked about Africa. Maybe we’ll go to Madagascar together. He was the one to broach the possibility.

2010 Don Khon, Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), Laos
Two wheels by day
Yesterday I went for a bicycle ride all over Don Khon with my new friends, a French family. The island is full of roads of varying degrees of difficulty, but I didn’t get a flat tire. We saw an old bamboo bridge, collapsed and in pieces, in the distance, and rode over several good new bridges. We discovered a beach I’ve decided to name Well-Kept Secret Beach, where we spent hours swimming (them) and wading (me) and observing life in the shallow Mekong, including a magnificent little green needle-like fish that appeared to observe us from below the shallows just as we observed it from above.
An amazing old structure I haven’t come close to figuring out stands nearby. There’s a big trestle-like superstructure built into the hill, and several sets of stairs leading down from the platform at the top with no railing, a long sheer drop, and a dizzying view. In the center is a stairway and at the top, a couple of pulleys. Above is a shack, a minor ruin now, and off to the side an old rusty piece of equipment that could be a boiler. What on earth is it and what on earth for?
Count on it
We had cold drinks and lunch and counted in English, French, and Lao - neung, song, saam - and reviewed the cafe proprietor’s French homework, to which my friends made corrections in spelling. I suspect that if I were around people who spoke French, I would pick it up easily. Lao, maybe not so easily.
Bus-sized dolphins
After arranging my Irrawaddy Dolphin-viewing with the cafe proprietor and discovering that I had a companion for that voyage, we bicycled off to the other beach, which I think of as Everybody Knows It Beach, where little naked Lao boys played hide and seek in the water, and the rocks were otherworldly and I sat in the sand and watched.
When I returned to the cafe, my dolphin-viewing companion arrived on a bicycle, and the proprietor told us that a fellow I had slightly negative feelings about was our “driver,” and this “driver” walked us down to within sight of the amazing old structure and turned us over to a tiny woman with a good English vocabulary for dolphin-viewing, who took our money and sent us down the steps in the center of the structure, while the “driver” wandered off. My companion headed down the stairs while I stayed at the top, suspicious. “You’ve traveled in too many countries,” he said. Maybe he’s right. Another “driver,” a quiet, competent fellow, took us in a boat to a wide spot in the river where we watched the enormous – I had know idea they would be big as buses – beasts clear the water. I never saw anything but their grey backs and fins, but they got very close to our boat, one just five meters away, I’m guessing. I am always surprised when I feel deeply moved by gigantic creatures, and I wonder why that is.
Two wheels by night
We headed for shore in the dark, and it was at this unfortunate point that I realized I’d left my headlamp in my room. Fortunately, my companion had a wind-up flashlight which first he and then I used to slowly wheel our way back to town in the gathering dark and then the complete dark. It was truly an adventure, and I got to do something I don’t imagine a lot of visitors to this island – or perhaps even many locals – get to do, exploring it in the dark, with the chomping sounds of big herbivores at the side of the road and the cries of startled birds, and the sense of thrilling risk that probably won’t end in tragedy.

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