Human skulls perch, jawless, on a ledge by an ossuary window; cobwebs building gossamer bridges between them.
It's easy to imagine them mocking you. It must be my morbid sense of humor, but I didn't feel disturbed or sad in the Sedlec Ossuary. Surrounded by the bones of over 40,000 people - strung up into chandeliers and bedazzling the windowsills with femurs and fibulas - I am ashamed to admit that the first thing that popped into my head was a scene from The Last Unicorn, one of the cornerstones in my personal childhood film canon.
Somewhere between Newfoundland and Greenland, sometime between
midnight and 3AM, I was awoken by zombie sounds. The wet gurgles and snorts,
the asthmatic wheezing of ludicrously long and shallow breathing… it was spot
on, sound effect worthy. This person must have been possessed, or infected, or
something. Their snoring was so loud, so jarring, so creepy, that I couldn’t
possibly go back to sleep, and I was so dumbfounded that anyone else was
managing to sleep at all, that I was offended at the concept.
Smell can trigger a memory so strongly, so distinctly, so
quickly. I remember right before my brother was born, my mother gave me a scented
My Little Pony that smelled like a
bubble bath. It was peptobismol pink with cotton candy blue hair. Whenever I
smell bubble bath now, 23 years later, I have an instant flashback to holding
that pink and blue pony in my chubby little, 3 year old hands - I am overcome with
that mix of excitement and jealousy that precedes a sibling.
We were back in Japan for a 12 hour rendezvous in the wild, wonderful, bombastic metropolis of Tokyo. While we passed through quickly on a train on our first day in Asia, dumbstruck by all of the stereotypical school girls with Hello Kitty backpacks and pigtails, we were going to dive down the rabbit hole this time - getting lost in the streets of Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku. Tokyo is everything I ever imagined and more - music seems to echo down the streets providing a soundtrack to the larger than life cartoon characters and competing signs, sights and sounds at every angle, inch, and scale of the buildings.
I have never seen water as clear as the water I saw surrounding the islands of Koh Samui and Koh Tao Thailand. Well, maybe in a glass of water... but not only is the water clear, it is ridiculously vibrant. In the day, below the wakes of the ferry boats, you can see the reefs overflowing with zebra striped fish. At night, while eating bad beef bolognese on the beach with toes dug deep into the cool sand, chinese lanterns float farther into the sky - the soft glow illuminating the frantic silhouettes of bats diving for mosquitos.
The air conditioning on the overnight train south is not exactly up to arctic levels. Knowing that heat rises, and that we were in Thailand in the summer (a place where you could conceivably grill chicken on the sidewalk at midnight), I probably should have chosen the bottom bunk.
What are those bright orange balls suspended in equally vibrant liquid you may ask? I may never know.
The first thing I see when I ride into Bangkok are the slums, enclosing Bangkok like a moat - thatched walls, wavy tin roofs, and peeling paint stacked, slapped, criss-crossed, and splayed over, under, and within each other like an Escherian labyrinth of compressed walkways and living spaces. Within poles reach of the train tracks a man in a hammock watches sports from a t.v. propped on an egg crate, the light flickering onto the teal tin wall - the only solid wall separating him from his neighbors.
After a few days in the wilderness, it is no surprise that Ryan and I needed time to relax our badly blistered toes. With a morning to spare before our night train to Bangkok, we decided to go to the most obvious place for a relaxing afternoon: a spa run by the women's prison.