Today’s blog post nearly didn’t happen, because I killed my computer. By dropping it down a gully? Drowning it in a rice paddy? Not even: I usually carry it around in a waterproof bag and a protective case made out of an aluminium road sign to prevent just such disasters (yes, that is about as lightweight as it sounds). But it turns out that no amount of road sign will save your single, over-used USBC port from giving up the ghost after five years. May it rest in peace.
Anyway, technological problems are boring but they are also expensive, hence their featuring front and centre in my thoughts today. Lucky I ride a KTM, so am used to the sensation of being suddenly and abruptly impoverished by some rare, showstopping equipment issue. Of course, I speak in jest… sort of. There was that month I spent as a pedestrian in remote Laos waiting for clutch plates, but that’s a story with its own chronical place in this great litany of huge joys and tiny disasters.
What I really wanted to tell you about is the pleasure of ancient ruins in the jungle.
There was one particularly obscure set of ruins shown to me over in with east of Thailand by a friend who has now, sadly, passed on. These ruins were wild to experience – especially for an Australian. In Australia, we think things are old and historical if they are a hundred years old; without wishing to reignite the history wars in the comments section of this blog, I will venture to say that this aforementioned perception of the ‘shortness of history’ is largely due to looking in the wrong places, partly due to willful ignorance, and certainly not due to a lack of depth of history.
Suffice merely to say that I am not at used to riding my motorcycle amongst the brick ruins of ancient villages and irrigation works, stone statues and urns of inestimable age, all swathed in jungle vines and coated in moss.
The question which gripped me was: what made the people abandon the village? Because that’s the thing – village life continues in its ancient footprints all over Thailand. New temples are built around the remnants of the old. What could have happened to make these people walk away from perfectly good earthworks, from perfectly good stone statues?
I will never know. But the roads to get there were lovely. The day before, I went out with our friend David on KLXs and we rode the rolling hills and the quiet mountains trails gently cradled by arching bamboo. This was one of his favourite things to do. Stopped on the hilltops, surrounded by blue skies and glorious views, he told me how very, very proud he was of his son.
David has since passed away, but this is how I remember him.
When all is said and done, it is our relationships and shared experiences which make life worth having been lived, and all the harder to relinquish. The flavour that makes goodbye so difficult. The world will go on without us – perhaps with ruins as a memorial, but more likely swallowing up our footsteps with the newer prints of those who come after us. It will go on. We have only our own small slice of this mortal coil; let us burn it hot, and white, from end to end.