Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fading away, slightly

Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

I've now been back in the UK for three months since my year of travelling about ended - and back at work for two months. I still think about it every day, though. I've got a fairly good memory, but some of the details are starting to fray at the edges. On the bus to work this morning I was trying to remember the number of the bus I used to catch from the QVB to North Ryde in Sydney, but couldn't. Odd things, memories. I can picture exactly what the driver looked like (almost always the same bloke each day), the whirring sound the ticket machine made whilst it was reading my pass, the point at the start of the Harbour Bridge where we'd come out of the shadows of the CBD and the sun would make me squint - but I forget the bus number. I suppose eventually those recollections will be harder and harder to retrieve.

Increasingly, smaller things I never really paid much attention to keep coming back to me. When I was in Monkey Mia, Western Australia, I met up with an Aboriginal bushman (who's name I've forgotten). He showed me round a patch of red desert and taught me a huge amount about how they interact with the natural world, and maintain a balance with the plants and animals that live there. Anyway, I was in Tescos the other day standing at the poultry section - thinking uninteresting thoughts about what to cook - when it suddenly popped into my mind what the Aboriginal guide said to me about how they cook emu (they throw the entire bird, feathered and all, onto a massive fire and then eat what's left when the fire goes out). It just appeared in my mind - causing me to get some funny looks as I was stood there holding a pack of chicken breasts with a quizzical expression on my face. Tescos don't sell emu, incidentally.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say here, other than I keep forgetting parts of my travels, but other bits keep coming back to me when I don't expect them. It's good, I suppose, as thinking about it brings it all back. Also every time I read something in the paper, or online, or see something on the TV I get instantly transported back to when I was there. The other night I watched a programme about a British writer on a light-hearted attempt to become a samurai. He visited Kyoto and the Golden Pavilion, and as soon as I saw it I had a daft grin on my face, imagining again the stillness of the lake, the eagerness of the pushing schoolkids, and the stunning golden building. That, surely, is the best thing about travelling.