Thursday, November 25, 2004

Angkor, what?

Oh, New Zealand. I feel you have been cheated. Some day, when I am not running to catch a plane in the bloodless world of airports, I will lustily sing your praises: I will sing of torrents of rainwater cascading down the cliffs of Fjordland; I will sing of cheeky keas vandalising tourists' rental cars; I will sing of hills covered with astonishingly yellow and despised gorse; I will sing of monumental black sand beaches on the coast west of Auckland; I will sing of icy crevasses and crashing waves and verdant gardens and giant extinct birds; I will sing of Olaf, glad and big... no, wait, that's...

Right now I am in Bangkok, but only for a few more hours. In Cambodia I had some of the most sublimely beautiful, deeply awe-inspiring, and gorgeously spooky experiences of my trip and my life. I bicycled around the vast ancient cities of Angkor and climbed the stone megaliths; when the sun went down I got lost in Ta Prohm by moonlight where the walls were covered in the enormous roots of ficus and banyan trees. I'm writing about it at length, and I'll post it here eventually.

For the moment, though, before I go to the airport, I have a couple of important announcements, in case anyone is still reading this. I'm heading home, to various homes, over the next month or so, starting with Montreal, where I plan to stay from the 1st of December until around the 12th. The launch for my second book will happen on the 5th at Casa Del Popolo. I'm coming from Thailand to be there; surely you can come from Clark Street or wherever it is you live now. Details of that will follow by email. I'm also looking for an apartment to rent or sublet for those two weeks, so if anyone knows of a place, email me:

Until London.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Eight possums in every pot.

Due to jet-lag, malarone anti-malaria tablets, the fatigue of a long day at the temple, and humidity which seems to make my eyelids sticky, I'm not at my optimum level of mental function right now. Nevertheless, I am shoehorning my headspace into the Qwerty interface because I'm way off the more-or-less weekly pace I thought I'd set for myself, and furthermore this worldwide fluctuation is getting set to attentuate itself within a mere fortnight.

There's a lot of exposition to be exposited: I spent more than five weeks in the Land of the Long White Cloud (New Zealand, exlanations on request), much of it in cold and Celtic Dunedin, but also I drove in a car with an excellent kiwi (who doesn't want me to mention her in this blog, it seems) to see the truly stupendous landscapes and waterscapes of Fjordland and Central Otago, where I saw views the likes of which I'd never seen since last year's theatrical release of The Return of the King. I oohed and aahed at these landscapes, and I camped in some of them. I also did readings in Dunedin and in Auckland, where the good Auckward people showed me great hospitality and a memorable send-off. Since then I have been back in Australia (so briefly), then in Thailand (less briefly, but still very briefly), and now in Cambodia (briefly too, but spectacularly, since it also feels like I've been in the ancient Khmer Empire.) So this is a hodge-podge of an entry. I know I promised that I would define all those strange words from last time, too, but I'm not going to do that. I will add another one though: quincunx. I also want to say a few words about the future.

A paragraph about New Zealand. (I'm sorry, New Zealanders: you deserve more.) It may be one of my favourite places in the world. The sense of familiarity I got from Wellington was reproduced in Dunedin, and later in Auckland; it is a bit like a southern-hemisphere Canada, much more than Australia even. There are only 4 million people there, and 15 million or so sheep, so the saying goes. Sometimes the saying says there are even more sheep; sometimes it says there are 12 (or whatever) sheep for every single person in New Zealand - it's like the 10-rats-for-every-person-in-New-York saying, but more cute. "Where are my 12 sheep?" my Wellington host Rob wanted to know. "I think they should be right here in the kitchen." I was in New Zealand in lambing season (there were signs on the hiking tracks warning this, as if unsuspecting hikers might get accidentally lambed) and some of those little sheeps had serious gamboling problems. Therefore I made myself a target of justifiable ridicule by actually stopping the car on more than one occasion just to watch or even take pictures of sheep. In addition, the country also contains about 30 million possums, which are not at all liked by the human inhabitants, because they aren't native, they came from overseas (like all the humans, interestingly, especially the pakeha or white people). But the possums, which look harmless enough, eat the native trees to the point of species endangerment, and they make scary noises, so they are reviled. It's even possible for tourists to go possum-hunting, certainly a unique attraction.

I'm in an internet shop in Siem Reap in Cambodia which has no AC even though it says it does on the door, and now I'm getting kicked out. So this is T.B.C.