Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Time Travels

About six and a half years ago, I traveled through Southeast Asia with my then-boyfriend, Tattoo Mike. My camera was stolen at the airport and never made it to our travel destinations: Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

(This was just one of many ridiculous travel woes on that trip. Shortly after my camera was stolen, I had to rebook my flight because I didn’t know I needed a visa just to be in a Chinese airport for a layover. I had to stay in L.A. for another three days to fix it. Later, I snuck into Vietnam on a bad visa. Someone in the state department had fucked it up right before the week-long celebration of Tet, during which time all government offices were closed. We had two options: try to get into the country and hope we didn’t get caught and arrested, or wait another week for the offices to open, another three weeks for the visa to come back to us, and cut our trip to Vietnam short by 20 days. I’m glad we risked it, but I was sweating bullets at customs. Vietnamese airport security guards were military and had semi-automatics, which was disturbing back then.)

Instead, I got a little point-and-shoot and took about 15 rolls of film. After we got back from Asia, Tattoo Mike turned into Psycho Mike and, fearing for my physical safety, I had to flee our apartment in the middle of the afternoon with the help of my boss. Needless to say, I left a lot of stuff behind when I moved back to Iowa, and even more stuff behind when I moved from Iowa to NYC. I’d never thought much about all that missing film until the other day when I was starting to dig out the apartment to make space for my new roommate, the lovely Brad. In the back of a closet I haven’t used since 2001, I found a whole bag of undeveloped film. I got back the first two rolls today.

I had pretty well committed the trip to memory, resigned myself to the fact that I would never have a visual record of it. But now I do. I wonder if everything will look different than I remember? I wonder how it will feel to look at my life before Psycho Mike, before grad school, before 9/11 and the war in Iraq and all the strange, heavy, inevitable stuff that has given me wrinkles and gray hair and made me into a reluctant adult. Weird.

I’ll post the best pictures from each roll here and tell a little story about them. Here’s the first:

We went on a dayboat tour of the Mekong river delta. We went up and down different tributaries in this boat and eventually parked and took a tour of a local rice winery and coconut candy factory. The word “factory” made me think it was going to be like Necco or something, but really it was just a little brick hut in the jungle that popped out a few hundred candies a day to sell at the local floating market, which is a bunch of boats tied together, like spring break in the Ozarks.

I don’t want to get into too many details here, but that day I experienced some unexpected lady problems. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that one thing about trekking around the deltas and jungles of third world countries is there’s no convenience stores. It was then I began to realize that traveling is harder for girls. This would continue to be a quiet motif throughout my travels, culminating in my experience of being publicly groped in Cambodia.

Pre-psycho looking kind and happy. Beware, future self, beware!


Blogger The Count Del Monte said...

Yea for Susan updates. What fun. !

6:49 AM  

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