What's normally a small stream flowing lazily through an otherwise dry river bed has swelled with the rains of the latest typhoon to a wide, swift flowing river. Just a few meters from where I'm standing there's a kind of wier, consisting of a series of large concrete blocks, stretching across the river. Normally you'd be able to get across to the other side by jumping from block to block but today that's not possible. The entire wier has been turned into a waterfall, the concrete blocks engulfed in muddy brown water. Just below it, there's a massive standing wave, the water curling in on itself as it flows across the stones and concrete. A loud booming fills the air of this otherwise peaceful river valley. That even a relatively small typhoon can transform a river this much is a stark reminder of the truly awesome power of nature.
The same road that I've driven every day, passing the same houses, the zebra crossing with the orange light, the pizza place at the corner, the house covered in vines on the way up the hill; all so familiar, like home yet it's not. Every day for two months but now it's the last time. In a few hours I'll be sitting on a plane on my way home and it's unlikely I'll be back. I'm happy to leave, but also sentimental. It's strange, this may just be some insignificant village in the German countryside, a boring little town not worth caring about, but the place has gotten to me somehow, the tiniest part of me will miss it. Goodbye.
I'm on what I believe is the main shopping street in the city, it's wide but free of cars with shops and restaurants all along the sides. Despite being a fairly sizable city, all the shops are closed; the lights are on but the doors are locked and not a soul inside. Out in the street there are a few stragglers but otherwise it's deserted. At this hour, when the light has started to fade but the street lights have yet to turn on, the feeling of emptiness becomes profound, like the entire city is dead. And there, for a few moments, I flash back to the deserted airport with its long corridors and waiting halls nearly devoid of people. In the back of my mind I know that this is normal for Germany, but for a brief moment I can't help but think that this is due to the pandemic.
I have just left the passport checking counter and I’m walking towards my gate. I turn a corner and walk a few meters down the corridor, idly remembering what it used to be like here, and that’s when the emptiness of the place hits me with full force. There were a few other passengers at the security checkpoint, and at emigration there were the border controls officers who checked my passport but here I am all alone. The long, wide corridor with its conveyor belt walkways and information sign hanging from the ceiling, normally so busy, is completely devoid of … Read the rest
I stand just meters from the fall looking up at it. It is tall and narrow, the stream of water tumbling down a near vertical cliff, hitting little protrusions in the cliff face on the way down, sending a fine mist into the air. The mist catches the rays of the sun, forming a permanent rainbow that hovers in the air just above the the shallow little pool at the fall's base. The little gully where I stand lies in the shadow of the cliffs above and the air is filled with the rushing of the water. Outside, the landscape is bathed in sunlight, all green and bright and swelteringly hot, but here it's cool and calm with the soothing sounds of the water drowning out all other noise. As I stand there admiring the view, the excitement of successfully scrambling my way up the lower falls to this place slowly dissipates and I feel a calm settle over me. It's as if my mind has been emptied of all worries and negative feelings and I simply feel happy.
We've decided to take down the bathroom mirror and replace it with a cabinet. Unfortunately, the thing has been glued to the wall with silicon and it's nearly impossible to get it down. So here I am, dressed in as much protective clothing I could find, standing on a ladder, chipping away at the mirror with a hammer and chisel. While breaking the mirror is less than ideal, it seems to be the only way to remove it. What concerns me more are the small pieces of glass pinging off in different directions and now and then hitting me in the face; I'm so glad I decided to wear my sunglasses.
I’m sitting here in the lift, waiting for it to bring me to the top, contemplating my situation. It’s really quite strange when you think about it, you travel hundreds if not thousands of kilometers to some small town somewhere where everything is overpriced. When you get there you spend a large portion of your time sitting in a chair that’s suspended several meters above the ground with nothing but a thin metal bar keeping you from falling out, and you get get slowly pulled towards the top of the hill, all the while being exposed to the elements. When … Read the rest
It seems no matter how many waterfalls I see, they still have a powerful draw for me. This one is neither the highest nor the widest I’ve seen in this journey, just two streams of water, tumbling down an irregular cliff face covered in plants, to a pool and a small beach of coarse sand. I stand, ankle deep in the cool water, contemplating the booming noise.… Read the rest
I’m looking out over the valley below and the mountains rising up on the other side. The slopes are all covered with terraced fields making them look like the sides of giant stepped pyramids. It’s late in the year now, the rice has been harvested and the paddies lie barren and empty, just the prickly stalks sticking up from the mud. The mist lies like a thick blanket over everything and two days of drizzle has made things all damp and soggy. Standing here I imagine how it would look earlier in the year, just before harvest, the golden yellow … Read the rest
The sun is shining, the rain seems to have dried up completely; the road is straight, only one way forward, with trees and small shops by the side, I keep the throttle at a steady 60 km/h. The theme to Smoky and the Bandit keeps playing in the back of my mind as I reflect on my first day of riding in Vietnam: my bag falling off the luggage rack, the rickety wooden bridge, the water buffalo by the road side. So many impressions just in one day…… Read the rest