Even though the country’s development is being slowed down in almost every aspect, visiting the land is still much a pleasure as confirmed by an interview with a stranger on a train.
It’s the beginning of May and the day’s hot and humid. Noon just passed as I embarked on a long train journey from Bangkok to the rural north of Thailand, the so-called land of smile. On the train, an attractive young, carefree-looking German lady which, after self introductions, became my interviewee reasoned that travelling to Thailand was a pleasure. “There’s a variety of delicious foods, travel expenses are cheap, people are friendly and it’s relatively safe compared to its neighbors”. As a person who spends most of the time in Thailand, I find blessings in those comments. At least, the tourism industry is still not plagued by the disease of political turmoil.
After 6 hours and 490 kilometers on the tracks, I said goodbye to the train as it departed for the next station, slowly crawled its way further north in loud clanking noises. The scene must be more than familiar to those who live along the tracks as the train has done the exact same thing, travelling with more or less the same speed and producing the same sounds for more than 3 decades.
Where’s the place that sparks your childhood imaginations and ever calls you to visit your whole life?
Where’s the place in a far-away land you need to go to before you leave this earth for good? A mountaintop, perhaps?
“A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb it twice” – Japanese proverb
It’s been just 3 years but it seems like forever. From the day I left the summit of Mt. Fuji, my ‘foolish’ adventurous spirit promised that I would somehow visit that place again in this life. After a bus trip from Tokyo to the so-called ‘5th station’, it’s walking all the way to the top. Beautiful, unearthly scenes unfolded before my eyes along the way up. It’s the place that fueled the fire of my childhood imaginations and actually climbing it felt like climbing Mount Dream. After a cold and violent storm, watching sunrise at the summit was like catching a glimpse of realms beyond that of human beings.