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Her face told a story

SOUTH AFRICA | Tuesday, 13 May 2014 | Views [87] | Scholarship Entry

The question, ‘how did I end up here?’ raised a more concerning one, “was this the end?" No, there are places to explore that would have me salivating for life again.

Frantically searching amongst my collection of West End ticket stubs, train tickets, ferry ride papers, and currencies that had once brought me such delights, I found my ticket to the world. Stamp for stamp, I had lived day to day in absolute bliss. My memoirs. My Passport. Flicking through the pages she dropped onto my lap. Nostalgia beckoned as I looked at the lady in the photograph and savoured her call from the Kingdom of Thailand.

I wanted to try everything, explore every morsel of land, and absorb the people and the culture. The piercing fish sauce aroma from the stalls would not put me off the exotic food, nor the battering from street dwellers and sellers, gambling on the gullibility of the unwary tourist, turn my eye. I was on a journey and prepared for anything.

A turn into a quieter road brought me to a tiny, crooked, little book store that held very old, precious books. A small, old Thai lady looking as though she lived her life in the pages of her books sat in the corner, a fan circulating patterns of incense smoke. We smiled, exchanged pleasantries, and I climbed a crooked ladder to delve into her old books. I kept peeking at her, mesmerised by the stories which must lay in the telling lines that crisscrossed her face and the imprint made by the world outside her niche.

The hustle and bustle of the chaotic kaleidoscope that is Bangkok, its streets peppered with hagglers and shops left their mark on her ethereal face. Her deep honey stained glow resembled the city’s gleam of the sparkling palace spires and monuments jostled alongside the modern. She was the essence of Thailand.

The movement of her lips as she savoured the bowl of steaming, fragrant, rich and spicy pad Thai, the twist of her tongue as she chewed each sliver brought me down the ladder away from her books to her raw essence. I didn't care for the books, nor heard the buzz of loud music, or the ceaseless chatter in pursuit of a good time outside. I met the beauty, the honesty and the essence of Thailand in a crooked, musty, little book store in the middle of Bangkok.
I knew it was time to stop asking, “How I ended up here” and find a way to begin again, as her face told a story I longed to find in other faces, in other corners, elsewhere in the world.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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