local time (hong kong): friday, october 15, 2010, 1:25 a.m.
i left ko phangan on wednesday morning in time to catch the 12:00 p.m. ferry to chumphon, and from there the overnight bus to bangkok.
i have no regrets whatsoever about returning to thong nai pan for the end of my trip. although there's nothing terribly exciting to report, my last few days there were fantastic. i spent my mornings on the beach, my afternoons practicing poi (i've decided that i want to learn to dance with fire, and a couple of my friends were kind enough to give me a few lessons) and getting massages, and my evenings eating, drinking, and being merry. i'm so glad that i gave myself a little more time there.
you know the saying "go to your happy place"? well, my happy place has always been an abstract idea, but in thong nai pan yai i found my real happy place. from now on, that is where i will go in my head whenever my current location or circumstances just aren't quite cutting it. i know that i will keep this place in my heart and visit it in my dreams; that the experiences i've had there will stay with me as i return to the "real world." so i tried not to be too sad about leaving. but as i caught my last glimpse of the bay before my taxi rounded the last curve from which it was visible, i did actually have to fight back tears.
i had planned to spend thursday in bangkok before going to the airport for my early evening flight, but i ended up getting quite sick on the bus and consequently didn't sleep. by the time i arrived in the city in the early morning hours i was exhausted and still not feeling well, so i decided to go straight to the airport and spent the day recovering there. not very interesting, but it was all i could manage.
as the day wore on and my departure time grew closer, my sadness over leaving thailand grew stronger. by the time i boarded my flight to hong kong, i couldn't fight it anymore and the tears started flowing freely. don't get me wrong - i'm looking forward to seeing my friends and family and good old california, but in some strange way i feel like i am leaving home rather than going back to it. that is how strong my connection to that place is. i know that i was on holiday and away from the cares of every day life, so there's bound to be a letdown around coming back, but it feels like more than that. my heart has been very quiet for the last couple of years - almost like it's been in hiding. over the course of this trip - between the beautiful surroundings, the new experiences, the time to myself, and the people i met - my heart found its voice again, and by the time i returned to thong nai pan after going to krabi, it was singing like it hasn't sung in a very very very long time. leaving the place that helped my heart find its song was incredibly difficult. but at least now i know what it sounds like and feels like again, and i know i can keep it going when i get back. i just might have to work at it more consciously than i did on my beautiful beach.
there is more to say about this trip and how it has changed me, but i'm writing this from my layover in hong kong (now extended by at least three hours due to technical difficulties) after being up for over 36 hours, and i'm pooped. i'm going to finish the journey home, get some sleep, give myself a little processing time, and post my final thoughts in a couple of days.