Last month I returned to my home of birth Melbourne, on Tuesday I went to my actual home, Singapore, not to leave it at that I now return to my spiritual home, Aonang in Thailand. The place I proposed to my wife, we’ve been here many times together. My home of origin – my parents and extended family are from there – is Germany. I’ve been there many times and lived and worked there for a year. I am global these days with the ease of travel despite the global warming effects of flying. As I’ve said many times on this blog Ao Nang is a truly amazing place, the people seem friendlier in Thailand than those in Australia who are always immersed in judgement, eg the boat people and immigration. Australia is a bad place for boat people, I’ve always loved boats all over the world. Globally I found that people of other countries can be less judgemental, there are so many untouchables in India always with a friendly smile on their face. And in Ao Nang the people here seem more aware of life often with an understanding look in their eyes. As is said ‘home is where the heart is’, I’m always home with my wife. Indeed our notions of home are a concept, perhaps a feeling rather than a location.
I always post when traveling for memory, so again I do, I’ve been in Melbourne for a bit now and staying a month to stimulate recollection, it is working a little I think. I can remember recent visits here walking along certain roads, but not really the distant past. I have a new life today, one I’m very pleased with. I actually like Singapore more than Melbourne, one just needs to know where to go to appreciate both cities. There’s more to see and do at home I think, it’s more multicultural in Singapore, and I always thought Melbourne took the cake for multiculturalism. Little Collins near Spring street remains good, the restaurant Barlingha a good place for dinner with friends. Also the Laneway for a drink in the pic very near. And I was told an old favourite had finished, Myers Place but it’s still open, soon to close but at least I got in one last visit.
Congratulations to the people of France, they didn’t turn their backs on the world in a time of globalization. Indeed the world has been changed through ships, planes and now technology which is making it a smaller place. The EU is a profound thing which prevents the us versus them mentality of nations which has caused many wars. Shame about the English and BREXIT… Soon enough when we start to live on other planets the world will be regarded as one place. La Pen would have been a backward step. Given ISIS today it’s a good thing to care of all human beings in the world, especially those trying to survive by fleeing their homeland. Quite a thing to choose to leave your home for survival.
We are traveling a little more, not very far, we came to Jonker Walk, Melaka, Malaysia. As I’ve said many times it’s a fantastic place, one of my favorite destinations to travel nearby home. Seriously, I only use that term for my wife’s benefit as it’s part of her regular vocabulary, whatever, don’t be like that, I’m very busy… Jonker is the old world with Peranakan charm, it feels great. I was at an old favorite haunt opposite the Geographer for a cider. These posts are very useful for memory, I often use this blog to recall, so now I won’t forget our travels as I’ve forgotten before coma. That’s often my excuse I know, but a valid one, it’s easy to forget for everyone I suspect. I’m understanding memory to be a trying thing for all people, not just coma victims…
To provide an update after getting home, I don’t think we’ll go there for a very long time. It took 8 hours to drive home because of traffic jams on the expressway, 6 to get there, and now costs around $150 a night for a decent room. Previously it took 3 hours to drive there including customs and cost $45 for an excellent room. Ah well, such a nice place which has now become overrun by tourists like all my favorite destinations…
Arriving home from Ho Chi Minh I have less than 2 weeks to wait for my next trip overseas. We again go to one of my favourite places in Asia, Jonker Walk, Melaka, Malaysia. Ho Chi Minh was good for 4 days but Jonker is better in my mind. To consider which is my favourite destination in Asia is hard but 3 of them immediately come to mind, Hoi An, Luang Prabang, and Jonker. Before coma my absolute favourite was definitely Luang Prabang but I haven’t been there since I came out. I know I always loved Hoi An and have been there about 3 times since, but Jonker being only a 3 hour drive from home and such a historic place steeped in Peranakan culture is probably the best destination I’ve been since coma. Can’t wait to go back, and i’ve caught it again, the travel bug. My wife loves the place too and also has the bug, one of the many reasons we’re together.
I feel I should post for important events in my life so that I remember, I am traveling again, in Ho Chi Minh city Vietnam right now. It’s been a while since we’ve been here, about a year, one of my many favorite destinations of Asia. My memory is so terrible that I had forgotten Australians need a visa to come here, Singaporeans don’t. My wife thought these things were in train but enquired about it the night before flying. I tried to arrange a visa online at 3 in the morning, just 8 hours before our flight. After repeatedly calling and emailing the visa provider we finally spoke to someone about an hour before our gate closed at the airport. I then received a required document via email about 15 mins before the gate closed, it was necessary to have this document of visa approval to board the plane. Amazingly we are here now in Ho Chi Minh about to go to an old favourite haunt, the Continental Hotel for a Vietnamese coffee. We are staying across the road at another good hotel, the Caravelle.
Since I have made a habit of posting when traveling, it’s good for my memory, my wife and I went to Melaka in Malaysia again this weekend. To one of my favourite places there, Jonker walk. Quite old world it is, the buildings, even the hotel in the middle of the dilapidated town, everything about the place. I often compare Jonker to one of my other favourite destinations, Hoi An in Vietnam. In both places it feels like you are in another time period, maybe 100 years ago, except for the cars. Apparently developed by the Chinese and Portuguese, Melaka is a city derived from the harbour many years ago, circa 15th century. I reckon everyone would love Jonker walk, not just romantics like me.
Parts of Kyoto are the old Japan, a must visit. Walking around the temples yesterday my mind tried to imagine the people of the past here, 500 years ago, among others Samurai and Geisha. I discovered today that there is a free shuttle bus every 15 minutes to JR Osaka station from our hotel. My Wife told me about it and so we caught a super express train from JR Osaka Station to Kyoto. It was good to see Japan out of a train window. In Kyoto, first stop was the Kiyomizudera temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in 780AD. We had to walk through a very old village, traditional old Kyoto in the Higashiyama district, to get to the temple. We walked across the slope of a hilly area where the temple was atop. Then down to Gion and into the most well known Geisha street, the Hanamikoji for dinner.Today was the journey to Fukuoka, to stay near the airport for one night to catch a flight home tomorrow. A last ride on the fast train, the Shinkansen. Really Japan is very modern, the trains and the stops, everything. I suspect this is the future way to travel because of global warming, although there are still many cars here. Once solar energy is well established and there are magnetic trains we can be cleaner in respect to our carbon emissions. Train departed 13:42 arrived 16:11 travelling 611km with about 6 stops.
Like most tourists to Osaka I visited the castle today. My walking was terrible however, probably about 1km / hr. Nothing for it fellow coma victims, just time for the brain to rebuild. Japan is a most excellent country, the people appear quite friendly, if only I could understand them. First stop was Hiroshima, a nice place too especially when one considers the atomic bomb. My word you wouldn’t know now what happened there. Centrally the city has been rebuilt, there are places however that remember the past, the peace memorial for one. The first hotel in Osaka was appalling and I had to change. I’m now at the Imperial hotel which is great compared to the first. Sashimi dinner here last night was absolutely fantastic, amazing. I have always thought Japanese food the best in the world, along with French, both cuisines are so focussed on flavour and presentation, artistry. Travelers often say that the best way to experience a culture is through the food. I’ve always been interested in trying local delicacies when traveling and love the food here. Sashimi is one of my favourites dishes in the world. Last nights perhaps the best I’ve ever had, can’t wait for tonights dinner. Same again I suspect, but I also had a French inspired dish last night, foi gras, I love that dish too.
The following day I went to Dotonbori, another great place, a little like a Chinatown in many cities, alleyways with street level shops, my walking only slightly improved from the castle. It always goes up and down my walking, after 5 years I still can’t relate to my right leg although the downs seem to be becoming less severe, the ups more frequent.
Back at one of my favourite places in this world, the airport, next stop Bangkok. A great opportunity to test my memory again having been there about 20 times starting 30 years ago. It was one of my first international destinations after Germany when a child. I will definitely return to Khao San road having been there many times. Just a couple of days in Bangkok now for my wife’s work. I feel traveling and observing other cultures is one the most important things we can do.
A most excellent day yesterday when we went to old favourite places in Thailand, Railay and Phra Nang beaches. I first went to these places about 30 years ago, indeed they have been taken over by tourists now but still have a natural beauty, no wonder I liked them so much all those years ago but in former times they were more desolate, now more like Orchard rd in Singapore.
I thought to write another post about my fascination with airports on this trip but thought better of it and not to bother any readers with my diatribe. So I write from the plane instead. We’re returning to one of my favorite places to celebrate Christmas / New Year, Ao Nang, Thailand. We have been there the last 3 Christmases I think, and met an old friend there for New Years eve a couple ago. Anyway the main point of this post is to wish other coma victims a merry Christmas and happy new year, we’ve made it to another Christmas. I can’t really remember the one before my accident but know it was at my sisters place in Eltham Australia, now Ao Nang in Thailand.
For other coma victims with walking problems the first place to start is heel / toe. I walked at the gym on the treadmill using my heel first recently, afterwards I got a familiar sensation in my leg, physical but one of confidence I thought. The very first time I have had that sensation after 5 years. I’ve been focussing on heel first for the past two years and have noticed very gradual improvement. I’m trying always to make the bad side function like the good one. The good foot turns up quite sharply when I take steps walking, if my right foot can do that naturally I will almost be walking normally I suspect. On the plane I needed to fill in my arrival card but was determined to try and do it myself rather than have my wife complete it for me as she usually does. I also often try to lift my good leg knee and balance on my bad one while holding a rail or wall with my right hand. I would sometimes fall over while trying to balance on my right leg in this way but not anymore after doing it for about a year. It’s slowly getting better. I have many such games that I play with myself to try and improve my balance, walking and the right side of my body after coma. Although the worst thing now is that my brain is remembering Menier’s disease. Just anticipating an episode of tinnitus like I had before my accident where I couldn’t walk at all. I did get tinnitus once 3 years ago, about a week of difficulty but it stopped. So many things my brain and body are telling me but I don’t know how to answer.
More interesting though are my other two common topics on this blog, evolution and global warming. Through the human creation of AI we are evolving. Also I suspect the prospects of human survival are diminishing as the planet warms. They have taken a bad turn with Trump giving important environmental posts to people who don’t believe in climate change despite the scientific communities measurements and the fact the poles are disappearing. Even Trump himself doesn’t believe in climate change. Perhaps it is time for human extinction after all. The earth will become a rock without vegetation after warming. Flying here cruising at 36,000 feet there was a fog, I remember flying at 20,000 feet there was always blue sky as you were flying above the clouds. Indeed global warming is having an impact now.
Well we’re back in Jonker Walk, a rustic and old world place in Malacca, Malaysia, perhaps the Singapore of 100 years ago which is also Peranakan, my wife often gets picked for one. Peranakan is the fusion of Malay and Chinese I am told from when the Chinese first came to this region. One of my favourite Peranakan restaurants is here, I will have one of my favourite dishes tonight, Chap Chye. Recently it was also mother in law’s birthday and brother in law’s wedding. The wedding was an excellent occasion of the public union between two individuals, now a dual. For them to declare their love for each other before everyone they know and care for. To say their relationship is permanent. I think weddings can be profound events. The venue made it entertainment rather than merely observing this union. I call them wedding farms, churn them through. But it was a beautiful and historic venue surrounded by gardens, quite unusual for Singapore, like a journey back in time. A truly fantastic occasion.
My wife and I visited St Patrick’s cathedral on my second last day in Melbourne. I think it is the best church in Melbourne, possibly Australia. Churches are quite impressive considering that religion has preoccupied humans since we could think, we have always tried to understand existence. Saint Patrick’s cathedral has breathtaking architecture with great music playing, organ and voice. The belief systems humanity has created all point towards spirituality, they have deep commonality in their presumption of the spirit domain. Certainly people are always considering life beyond this mortal coil.
Discussing anthropological cross cultural analysis about religion with my wife we talked about the many belief traditions of humans including Allah, Buddha, Hinduism, Sufism, Christianity, and there are many more including tribal type belief systems. I can’t help but bring this question back to the scientific rationalist perspective. Science suggests we will soon invent time travel. It also says that there are perhaps infinite dimensions in the universe. Perhaps we always exist given that we have once existed, and human spirits exist in another dimension trying to communicate with us, but we are limited to the third dimension and so cannot perceive. I think the non-material world is every bit as real as the material world. Perhaps God and Jesus exist because they are in the minds of so many people, a powerful action belief. I think these human beliefs are actually the expression of the other world we are aware of, we feel it. Perhaps the human organ that can perceive other dimensions is not yet developed. We use our eyes for sight, our brain for thinking, maybe it has no physical representation the organ that can perceives other dimensions, it might exist in that dimension.
Anyway the long and the short of this post is it felt profound being in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral with my wife, it always feels a tad profound for me when I’m with her. This post is an attempted reconciliation between religion and science, both are human concepts. Science claims to be derived from reality, observation, but still limited to human third dimensional observation. Yes atoms are atoms but how do they interact? Science and religion were mutually exclusive but not anymore I suspect when the great scientist himself Albert Einstein referred to ‘entanglement theory’ as “spooky action at a distance”. Indeed entanglement theory scientifically reveals an unknown, a different mode of communication between particles. I think science too is discovering empirical evidence for the other world.