Backlog – Disuted Territories

time to spare

<a backlog of bits about traveling in various states of cohesion. traveling Much more enjoyable than suggested by tone>



Subset within “largest change in life” may soon be “greatest travel”. Sitting now in a lino-floored construction crate, music rattling from the base of my phone, I am preparing to go backpacking around the Disputed Territories with a certain man of good measure. Blah blah blah, text, but this is a chronicle of things that are coming in my bag:

1 Arch, charger&case
1 camera, case, batteries, charger,
2 phone chargers
2 phones
1 dual speaker
~3 cables

1 satchel bag
1 drybag

2 sketchbooks
1 pencil case (pencils, pens, markers, sharpener, eraser, misc)
1 travelbook
1 starbook
1 daily planner
1 log book (diving)
1 log tables (diving)
1 goggles (swimming)
1 wallet

1 hat
1 p. siunglasses
8 tshirts
1 shirt
4 shorts
1 trousers
1 pair shoes
1 pair sandals
8 pair boxers
3 pair socks

razor cream
face moisturiser
wash cloth
sun cream

mosquito net

5 plastic bags
10 ziplocks
5 sealable
3 bars food
1 cutlery set

painfully co-ordinated

with a clamorous slam, we are off


Moving Now

The bus shudders beneath me, and I jump up and down on the seat. The excitement is bleeding through now, hurried along by some upbeat throwaway music: it doesn’t belong to me so I don’t care what I do with it. I’ve kept a lens pointing out the window on the ride south from the corporate stockade, accumulating images of what this place is like. I’m excited. I want to take out a sketchbook, but long grey rips across the pages have taught me that drawing is not for roads. Or at least, none of the roads I’ve seen.
The bus is mercifully empty, a gift from St. Frigeow. Thin blackened men in their midyears stare out of their chairs at the bleached road like I do, but their expressions tell me there is no recognition of this shared activity in their faces, nothing common between us.
I will never integrate into Malaysian life I know, and it shall be because I do not speak the behasa melayu. “Language barrier” is another term which we use with such fluidity that we lose sight of what it actually infers until we come up against it. In the calm white room where we imagine things, we might have supposed that, at a push, we could communicate the basic essentials through gesticulation: it is not so. This barrier is thousands of years old, and has been passed down through a hundred civilizations, it is far more resilient than, say, my gesturography for “fire”.

AN AIRPLANE, AEROPLANE! We’re close now, close.

ho ho ho ho ho


Will you please all stand

Curving up in front of me was an enormous white screen, something impressing backwards on us from the future, when everything must surely be much bigger than the present. The films end resonated in the black pit which collected the screen at the very bottom, and the patrons groped for their belongings in a way particular to the cinema: sleepers woken with a start, realising that they are compelled to get about their business.
I sat, legs splayed, fingers arching under my dry mouth. For a little spell, I had been neither in Ireland, or Europe, or the wide world, but in the film. For I’d been engrossed, and was now harshly awoken to the fact that I was in Asia, somewhere. Not even in SNG, which was a stable move: in a city which I knew not at all, and would swallow me entirely, with no thought or trace. The part of my stomach comprised of cardiac emotive muscle dropped slightly: could I make my way back home through the familiar portrayal of things I understood on the screen? Would they let me try? Outside the door, I knew it was dark. Where was this going?

obsesssed with the window


long bouts of distance

Ragged clouds now expand in all directions around our little shuttle, capping a wide plateau which looks as smoothly created as an arcade racing simulator. At eye level, paddy fields stretch in every direction, clearly boundless. Abruptly, with no sign of transition, dark unreadable mountains jut up, taking half the sky with them. The resulting uproar throws the clouds in shattered broiling pieces across the scene: no organisation as to where the water collects darkest. Palls of smoke add to distance’s fading murk; something is somewhere being forced into something it did not want to be.

Closer, up against the road, men transport sacks of produce bound in plastic on carts attached to the replacement for the work-beast, a two-wheel’d tractor engine: malformed but utterly simplistic and practical. A large wooden tiller extends back from where the steering wheel ought to be to the wooden cart which carries everything. The people gather and talk, half dressed for sitting, half dressed for labor. Mansions decay in some of state of unrealisation. Nothing seems to have any order, no foresight. No cohesion. Everything is everywhere.



the most beautiful marks though

I sit in a hawker stool, back to the ill wrought aluminium. Tied to my feet, and slumped against my leg is my bag, and its holding all I have brought with me. My arm extends out over the table: marbled plastic. grit and salt adhere to the aerial grease that has been spread over the (sic) restoran table.
Steed is only directly opposite, arm to chin. There is old dead blood on his pants, small orange smears. That is invisible below the table, but is important later on. The third chair is occupied by a compulsive traveller; her name can be Lucia and she can be Dutch. She has absorbed so much sunlight and language her face is stained with character, marking her thick encircling Norse hair as a separate feature. She moves constantly and her voice is loud: at her side is a cotton sack for effects. There is a fifth chair, empty at the tables end, but to my right is a man who is probably forty-something on paper somewhere; however to describe him as such disregards all the things he has done that I will never see. He plays alternatively with a personal token, a rolled paper nicotine wafer, or a phone model unavailable outside of asia. He intermittently switches attention between the thing he is holding and the conversation at large, slouched sideways, arms crooked to meet in the middle, where he manipulates his fixation.
Asia is passing around us, like a filthy green glacier, unconcerned. Fans are whirling, and monks somewhere are driving around in the back of a pickup, smoking and talking.

The girl across from me begins to talk about her situation. Behind her is a row of hawker stalls, decked out in worn metal, food steaming gently since this morning, now crusted and out of solution. She begins telling us of plans to travel across the world> “I’ve always wanted to get out gah gah gah gah


slow boat

Complicated physics makes the surface of the tannin river flex and shudder, alternatively grabbing and releasing the branches floating at the surface. Pasty white legs protrude from the boat like ranks of oarmen, stowed while the current has our longboat. I fill my eyes with the riverbank- the thin young trees and the balding hills, the black hard shale.


One comment

  1. […] Backlog – Disuted Territories […]

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