Adults briefly interrupt what they are doing and give the passing train an acknowledging glance, no more. The world over however, children stop in their tracks, their faces light up as if it was their birthday, and they wave enthusiastically. This appears to be a universal truth and makes train travel an eternal pleasure for me. Sitting in my air-conditioned carriage I pass a luscious green, monsoon soaked landscape, that seems to be pleased to receive the regular distraction of the trains visit.
The rainy season has started. The world looks greener, more luminous in Thailand at this time of the year. It even sounds different. I wake up to the chanting of the monks, acknowledging the passing of the moon and feel that I have slowed down. Time is still out of my reach but I have managed to stay in the moment, a little longer and more intensely than before. There were times when I felt truly happy and being in touch with myself; a rare moment, but one that I know exists.
The train keeps moving, sounding its whistle as regularly as a clock. Looking through the window I see a tropical dream. I love these moments, and I keep telling myself, you are here now. But the train has already moved on.
I am on my way to Bangkok on board the ‘sprinter’ from Chaing Mai. The last week at ComPeung has had a distinctive Japanese feel to it, with the arrival of eight university student and their professor and his family from the Hosei University in Tokyo. Having my my projects wrapped up, I relished the opportunity to participate with the students in their workshops, which formed part of their inter-cultural studies. It also presented the privilege to work with some of the monks from Wat Doi Saket. Ever the opportunist, I completed a series of portraits of the monks.
Back on the train, it’s hot and humid outside, a fact that I am reminded of every time the train doors opens and interrupts the air-conditioned comfort with a blast of tropical reality. The landscapes has become a blur of rice fields, train stations and giant images of the Queen, who’ll celebrate her 80th birthday on the weekend. She farewells me with an authoritarian glance, in every town that we pass through.
One of the best experiences in participating in an artist in resident program, is the friendships that I make, and Thailand was no exception. With a smile on my face, I boarded the plane back to Australia.