dali china hutong

“How many roads must a man walk down…before you call him a man?”

Bob Dylan asked that question years ago. I don’t know either, but I intend to walk all of them and will become a better man in the process.

Now I find myself on an old familiar road, which sometimes is nice. As I type this, I am sitting in the southwest corner of Thailand, on the island of Koh Lanta. The Andaman Sea is about 100 meters behind me, a breeze is blowing across it and cooling my back (I’m not wearing a shirt), and the smell of fruit and basic happiness hangs in the relaxed air. The sky and sea are mixing together in a collage of blue that only God could find on a pallet.

I left Beijing a rainy, cold, gray mess — but as with every country or city I spend months in, I left a small part of myself behind as well. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back to collect it one day. Even sitting here in paradise, a part of me wishes to be back in that insane country with my friends. I’ll be honest: I even miss the hellish torture of life at the Shaolin school!

My flight from Beijing was perfect. Sri Lankan Air might just bump Korean Air as my new personal favorite. The huge plane was half full, and I had no neighbors which is a rare luxury when flying. There was a menu, you could choose your own dinner and snacks from Thai, Chinese, and Sri Lankan choices. The staff were traditionally dressed and very happy to be there. All that for $190? There were even cameras around the outside of the plane that I could choose to view on the personal LCD in front of me.

As we approached Bangkok, I chose to the bottom-facing camera and watched as mile after mile of green jungle passed by underneath of us. It looked sweltering hot, wet, and dangerous. I felt such an urge to get back out there into the madness once again. My heart was racing and I was on fire with excitement…this is Thailand…this is home.

I began my vagabonding two years ago with a three-month trip to Thailand, and for some reason I think that I will die here with a smile on my face one day. The hardcore types say that Thailand is too touristy, but there is roughly as much territory here as France, and hundreds of islands. You can find whatever you are looking for, and could get lost for years, both in the jungle and in the incredible Thai culture.

I am no longer sick. In fact, I have never felt better. Too bad I only have a few weeks here to enjoy before returning to cold London, England, and then Kentucky in the U.S. I don’t care. That is the future, and for now, the present, I need to go get a mango shake and continue my sunburning.

Life is good.