2001-03-13 Ko Phi Phi Thailand

The weather has been cloudy and of and on rainy for days now. It is cooler, but I'd prefer to have the sun. The low pressure has be keeping things low key.

It is getting to the end of the season here, but this rainy weather is unexpected at this time of the year. But with the global warming the weather seems to be a bit screwed up everywhere.


A new part of this adventure is about to begin. The main goals of the first past of this trip have been to physically get strong and free of pain in my back and to mentally recapture the joy of life and creation. During the dark months before we left for Hawaii by the late afternoon my back ached and my right hip would be giving me trouble. It was hard motivating myself to do much of anything, even getting ready for the trip. If it hadn't been for Marianne I probably would still be on the Vineyard grumping about how I should be where it's warm and the sun shines away the winter blues.

Hawaii confirmed my belief that swimming is the best thing for my back. I could go in the water with my back aching and after swimming for twenty or thirty minutes I would come out of the water walking tall: my shoulders back, my chest out and stomach in; a smile on my face and my body feeling pumped and free of pain.

But the pain would come back, especially after driving the pickup. Marianne did a lot of the driving, which is rare on our vacations. Sitting in the passenger seat was better, but it still wasn't good for my back. It was good to stop every 40 minutes or so and let me get out and walk around a bit.

In our third week we had to leave Hookena for three days, it was fully booked, so we went to Spencer Beach park which is about three quarters of the way up the West coast of Hawaii. There is a good boogie boarding beach ten minutes from Spencer so we stopped at Walmarts on the way up and bought me a boogie board. When I went to use it the surf was up and doing a straight on shore break with a big whomp! I caught a middle sized wave and had a very short and exciting ride with the top of the wave curling over me and crashing onto my back. The next time out I wasn't so lucky. A very big wave caught me and crunched me. The forces were so powerful that it pulled the leash pug out of the boogie board. When I came up I felt a bit dazed like I had gotten a "Zinger". Naturally I was worried that I might have twisted my back and hurt it, but when I checked out how I felt I didn't feel anything wrong. I got out of the water anyway. That night my back got very stiff, but without the usual back pain or the pain in the hip. It took four days for the stiffness to go away, but the amazing thing is that hip pain hasn't returned. Somehow getting crunched in that wave must have realign the place in my spine that was causing the hip problem. Not a recommenced way of dealing with sciatica, but I'm happy to live with the results.

My flight to Thailand was scheduled for two days after Marianne flew home. I didn't really feel like leaving. I had been living an active outdoor life and was feeling pretty good, but still not strong. Why leave and risk hurting my back raveling with heavy bags when I can stay in Hawaii where I know I can get stronger and have a good time? It is hard heading out into the unknown. I'd never been to Asia before. I'd be raveling alone where I didn't know customs or language. I'd gotten used to raveling with Marianne, we work together well and back each other up.

But the day I took Marianne to the airport the weather changed. A low moved in and it became gray and oppressive. It even rained a bit at Hookena, which is very rare this time of year. It was depressing and strange. I wondered if it was just me feeling that way because Marianne had left and after four weeks of living very close and sharing just about everything I was suddenly along. I talked to some other people on the beach and they were getting the same feelings from the weather. So I decided to treat it as an omen that was telling me it was time for me to go.

My karma was good. The plane was totally full but I was able to relax in the lap of luxury because I was bumped up into First Class for both the 8 1/2 hour flight to Tokyo and the 5 hour flight to Bangkok.

It took me a week in Bangkok to get my bearings, with a lot of help from John Robshaw. Then I headed of to the beach at Ao Nang and Railay Beach. I did a lot of swimming and made a couple of small wire maquettes of The Dance, but it wasn't good enough to want to stay there longer than a week.

Ko Phi Phi was different. I quickly felt that I was ready to stop and stay here for a while. I went diving and met C. That opened up into a lot of wonderful diving and meeting people and having a good time. There are no cars on this Island so you are always walking everywhere and running into people that you've met before. Since you are both walking there is no reason not to stop and take a minute to say hello and find out what is going on. I like that. Yet the place is big enough that there is a lot of variety and plenty of good restaurants and even the good ones are cheap.

I no longer know how long I've been here. I could figure it out, but what is more important is that I've had a wonderful time, gotten a lot stronger, and now I am ready now to work on The Dance and get it made into bronze. It is just about time to leave Ko Phi Phi. It is nearing the end of the season here. The underwater visibility is getting a lot worse. I had thought I would be going to the Foundry here in Thailand that is connected to the Paul King Foundry that I use back in New England, but after talking to C and other people about Bali I have become convinced that Bali is the place I want to go to make my art.

A week from now I'll be settled in Bali. I fly in on Monday March 19. C is getting there a few days earlier and will meet me at the airport. It looks like I've got a house there. I met a 49 year old Jew from New York who settled in Bali in the 1970's. Now he mostly based in Ibitha Spain. The person who has been using his house in Bali is leaving for six weeks starting Monday so I can rent it for $800 for a month. It is supposed to be quite nice, with gardens and a guest house and good restaurants near by. Everything is looking good. C is helping me out, he is my guide. We operate well together. It is nice to be able to not have to worry about everything myself and C is good at travel. He was able to get a much cheaper flight (and non stop and no penalty for changing) than I was able to find. I want to be able to concentrate on the art and have time for that. This is one of those rare chances in a lifetime where everything is working out towards helping me make some good art. I believe that The Dance is going to be one of my major works. A lifetime doesn't have that many that you can throw them away with impunity

(Two orange tail Bannerfish feeding)

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