june 17th, 2000
chiang khong, thailand
well, i'm back, you landlubbers. i know, i know, you think i just left. but what the hell, i've been on the "slow boat" - up the mighty mekong for the last 2 fucking days. lonnnnng lonnnnng, beautiful tom sawyer/apocalypse now days on the mighty, muddy mellifluous mekong.
you should have seen the boat. a blue clap board, lao (as in wow!) flat top/tin roofed, diesel puffing tug/ferry dinosaur. huffing and puffing her way UP the mekong - as opposed to DOWN the river ie. AGAINST the flow, as opposed to WITH the flow -- SOUNDS like me already, eh? anyway, she was a bee-yoot. and although they tried to keep me off the roof, it was ultimately and utterly impossible. i mean, whataya supposed to do – sit on the tiny hard wooden benches for 48 hours straight while the sun and the rain and the river are shining and pouring and rushing by?
so there i was - bligh/kurtz/narcissus - the only passenger really INTO the river - watching it swirl and change currents every few kinetic and frenetically alive nano-seconds. the simply-clad, lao (as in wow!) peasant/captain commandeering the ship like chris columbus or ferdie magellen... anyone of those mighty river, conquistedoring, syphilis-spreading spanish sea pilots. this guy - our guy - had the touch. the diesel monster humming along in sonorous symphonic perfection, yet never loud enough to drown out the pervasive and even more sonorous "cricket-cricket-cricket-cricket" - jungle rhapsody coming over the transom in four part harmony from the mucho verdant shores of the surrounding jungle. tall green shoreline grasses, banana/coconut/nipah leaf palms, hardwood teaks, rattans, and bamboos, cicadas, gibbons, monkeys, monitor lizards -- a million more/other species i wish i had the pleasure of acquaintance - all bustin' a rhyme - singing sexy solos and careening collaborative choruses from the million-eyed insect jungle lao (as in wow!) orchestree.
wet, pregnant rain clouds hovering over, then enveloping soft green mountain tops - like tender lovers. the peaks bursting the soft gray sky into torrential down-pourings of monsoon madness. bombarding the tin roof like machine gun fire - or mccoy tyner on the jazz piano keys. me not knowing which metaphor to follow - the marty sheen dead-eye soldier of paradise lost up river looking for apocalyptic, deader-eyed, but far-crazier, cave-dwelling kurtz. or -- the tom sawyer/huck finn mighty mississip joni mitchell i'm a free-man-in paris/i'm happy & alive one. all my fellow international passengers - german-french-sweedish-greek - reading their guide books, their travel novellas – trying so nonchalantly to avoid the boredom of the lonnnnggg somnambulant daze. me, just riding the wave -- out in the muddy mekong, feeling separate and alone, one of the flotsam and jetsam broken-off tree logs, swirling hither and nither - no keel to my course, just at the omnipotent beck and will of - the river.
i'm now out of lao (as in wow!) - back in better tastin' thailand. cruisin' along the mighty mekong – landlocked again - on my rented 100 cc moto-bike. chewin' on hard, stringy sugarcane, leanin' into the windin' thai roads open full throttle. off to the poppy field, hill country tomorrow of "the golden triangle" (burma-laos-thailand). hope to try some things i haven't before....
got it? awright. put that in your pipe and smoke it....
hopin' the grass is growin' through your weeds,