Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Paper Walls

I've walked the Phat Pong night market, as the cold illumination of overhanging lights covers my thoughts. I've headed south, and turned right at the Sky Train, wandering west along Silom passing major skyscrapers stretched to obscure the far more numerous tiny dwellings.

Like so many others, I've been impressed by the peak of the dome-covered state tower, and the altering of sounds, as I approach the river, gazing across at the Peninsula Hotel, just down river from the floating restaurants.

Bangkok lays itself open before me, though I'm yet to leave my Toronto apartment.

As I flip through Fordor's See It Thailand, staring at the maps and contemplating the images, I feel as if I know the place. On micrometer thin sheets, a world exists while still managing to remain hidden.

Through my window snow still collects on street corners, clogged with blue and black hulking garbage receptacles. On my bed in front of me, though, it is a night time full of adventurous exploration, half a world away. There are cooking smells, red lights, and allusions to ping pong shows.

I remember the white bricked wall of a York University dorm room, a decade in the past, where a map once hung covered in red and blue smiling stickers all connected together with yarn. Plans for a trip that would occur "sometime." As the map's owner planned and planned time stretched on, and life took over. The trip was destined to fail from the beginning.

I was never the type to hang maps on the wall, or paw over the inserts from copies of National Geographic purchased for a dollar at the Salvation Army. I was never the type to plan out grand adventures that would "someday" occur.

And yet now it is myself who is about to step off the continent and into countries, cultures, and experiences beyond my comprehension. Travel, for me, has never been a dream. Never something to be thought about as a fantasy of things to come. Plans are only ever made to be acted upon.

As I lie on my bed, flipping through one of a dozen books, trying to gain my bearings before ever reaching into the unknown, I think back to March of 2008 when I was doing the very same, preparing for a short trip to a place I had thought about for a large part of my life: Tokyo, Japan.

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