I counted days and miles like an addict measures ounces. How far had I come, how many days had I travelled, how many countries, how many time zones and how many days were left, and how many days were left, and how many days were left? Over and over in my mind I ran the computation. Every day which passed the end of my idyllic fantasy crept closer into view. I’d set forth to sate a hunger, to slake a thirst but instead I’d drunk too deeply and the world I knew and the life I’d led slipped away like the mournful wail of a train passing into night. Here was my new reality, stalking the earth, another lost and wanton creature with eyes fastened on some far horizon, a donkey following a carrot on a stick, a perpetual optimist.
I tried to gather in my mind threads of commonality between the people I had met travelling, was there any connection between all of these people. Why do some people travel, whereas others detest it, why do some people throw away all that is familiar, their family, their friends the places they have known since childhood and seek out the unknown. Or is to travel the symptom of a greater mental illness. A seeker or perhaps a fugitive? Nothing cures depression like hope, to roll the dice and chance for a better tomorrow. A constant flit of images across the eyes to keep them from turning inwards,
Returning to the capital I begin to sense that my relationship with my two Dutch travelling partners had begun to sour, I told myself that it was most likely down to the fact that I’d been so rude as to have not nailed at least one if not both of them at this point, as it so happened I hadn’t even shown the slightest interest in either of them despite ample opportunity. Of course it could have been down to my cantankerousness disposition and singularly selfish attitude towards travel, who knows. For whatever the reason I’d found Brun-hilda in particular now was poised and ready to strike like some jacked up alley cat at any perceived querulous utterance on my part. This was all becoming very tiring and completely unnecessary. I had decided to travel one last journey with them, south to Sihanookville, although as we approached the bus station a dark thought crossed my mind. How easy it would be to drop behind in the throng and vanish into a side passage, ditching these two irritances. Although I felt like heading south anyway, and I couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t see them again at Angkok Wat, not that it would matter I thought to myself, all this travelling was further the notion of the disposiblity of random people with whom I had little ties. Had I been Bangkok bound then perhaps it would have been a different story, they’d have never found me in that heaving mess of humanity.
Stopping briefly to rehydrate in a small cafe. I notice an extremely fat middle aged Australian man sitting at a table but facing, at a peculiar oblique angle, a young British couple who appeared to be intensely studying the food in front of them as they ate in silence. He looked like he could have been the father of the happy-ending hobbit from Beijing. “Yeeeeeeah” he muttered, “its not like in the movies, not like you see with Chuck Norris, looks like he just stepped out of the hairdresser. And you cant have a beard either, not in the jungle, yeeeeeeahh”. I could only imagine what I’d chanced upon here. “I’ve killed woman and children, you know, yeeeeeeah, killed whole villages of woman and children in Russia, had to be done” I could tell from his tone that this was supposed to be greeted with some form of admiration on the part of the young couple. Eventually the strange filthy looking man mounted a waiting tuk-tuk and swaned off like some hideous Roman emperor. Nothing to see here, just another pervert in the Phnom Penh afternoon. Throw a stone and you’d hit three or four of them here.