Category Archives: Whispers from The Rice Fields

Hanging Ten

Bangkok, Thailand. On the leading shoulder of the monsoon season where temperatures are blissfully cool after the searing, humidity-drenched weeks surrounding the New Year festivities of Songkran. Last night, around 8pm, the city was slammed by a tropical storm. The weather men had said it was going to rain and they were not wrong. Endless, heavy, steady rain fell through the night and on into the morning from a bulbous sky bruised grey and purple. No break, not even for the span of a breath. Obscurity welcomed me throughout the day when I turned my ever-hopeful gaze to my sky-high ... [ Read More ]

Menu Magic

Skydancing at 10.7 kilometres above sea level on the way to Bali… A little earlier I was sitting in a coffee place at Changi Airport in Singapore disturbing the peace with my laughter. I was comfortably ensconced in a deep, lush, red velvet armchair sipping, or should I say slurping a mango smoothie and feeling rather replete having eaten dhal and rice and aloo and the like at the Indian restaurant upstairs – newly renovated and now obscenely expensive…well expensive for Singapore. The owners of the coffee shop very thoughtfully provide magazines for their customers and I decided to take ... [ Read More ]

Travels With Jack

Nong Chit, Northeast Thailand. A very small farming village in the midst of rice fields. Wooden houses on stilts. Rainwater not running water. Sporadic electricity blinking from bare light bulbs. Chickens scratching in the dirt. Ducks marching around – quacking, staking their claim to their territory. Ever-present dogs scavenging for their right to stay alive. Everyone related to everyone else. No secrets. We arrived late one Friday afternoon, Jack and I. The beginning of the dry season: searing heat blazing down from an unshadowed sun. One hour in a taxi, seven hours on two buses and a bit of a ... [ Read More ]

You Go Which Way?

Singapore, in the heart of the monsoon season. Incredibly hot. Never-endingly wet. Enervating humidity. On this particular Thursday afternoon the rain had yet to arrive but the threat of it hung heavy in the air. Towering black clouds were building menacingly to the west, occasionally under-lit by streaks of fluorescent-white lightening. In the far distance thunder rumbled. I was on my way to Holland Village to meet friends for lunch. Luckily a taxi pulled up outside my apartment building just as I stepped into the lobby from the elevator. Its passenger climbed out. A tiny Indian lady swathed in a ... [ Read More ]

Tea Money

There is something about me and taxis in Bangkok. Seems like I can’t get in one without having an adventure. And a pleasant Sunday afternoon one September was no exception. It all started very normally, as adventures often do. Completely unplanned, as adventures often are. When I climbed into the taxi in the porte cochere of a 5 star hotel in Bangkok I did not have the slightest idea how fast I was going to get back to my friend’s house. A journey that would normally take about forty minutes on a Sunday took just twenty. And it was all ... [ Read More ]

To Talk or Not To Talk

Sky dancing. Singapore to Bali. Early one Sunday evening. On board a plane much fuller than in recent times. A welcome change. There are three Indians sitting behind me, to the right. A couple. Tiny. Wizened. Wrinkled like walnuts and much the same colour. Old in years but looking young at heart and carrying the wisdom of many lives in their auras. Their eyes are the colour of charcoal and they sparkle like diamonds in the noonday sun. The lady’s hair is thickly oiled and braided through with a fragrant strand of jasmine. Next to them is their new friend. ... [ Read More ]

Desperately Seeking Tranquility

East Coast, Singapore in the midst of monsoon season. Hot, humid, stormy and no mistaking the fact it was Monday. In the deep darkness before dawn the haunting call of the Koels stirred me from my slumber. I listened awhile from that place somewhere between sleep and wakefulness before drifting slowly back into dreamtime. Not for long. Before the sun had painted the sky with the colours of daybreak the traffic was already roaring along the road outside. It is my alarm clock six days a week. Early last year, shortly after I moved into my apartment, I would lie ... [ Read More ]

Seeing Eyes

Ten long, yet short, years ago I met a man. I have no idea what his name is. I know him only as Seeing Eyes. I met him under a tree on a local island in Shaviyaani Atoll in the far north of the Republic of Maldives. It was a breathlessly hot day. Blindingly bright. The heat and light reflecting off the white coral walls of the houses and the rough crushed coral that covered the paths. No movement in the air. The sun had sent the wind to sleep. The wind and most of the inhabitants of the island. ... [ Read More ]

Gone Fishing

Ranthambore National Park. Rajasthan, India. In the heart of winter. Warm sunny days, cool starlit nights. In search of the endangered Bengal tiger. Travelling with no time frame, I was able to stay until I fulfilled a childhood dream. Day ten arrived in a blaze of glory. The sun rising into a flame-coloured sky, lighting the bush with a shimmering rosy-gold glow. After a restful sleep I was sitting on the balcony of my old, battered bungalow sipping hot, spiced tea, immersed in the harmony of the dawn chorus. A warm breeze danced softly across my skin, whispering through the ... [ Read More ]

Monkey Business

Ubud. In the depths of the Monkey Forest. Narrow shafts of silvery sunlight reaching tentatively down through the canopy of branches above my head. Brightening the eerie shadows cast by the trees. Remnants of the rain lying in irregular puddles on ground. Catching the light. The eyes of the monkeys encircling me searching my body for something tasty to steal. Leaving me feeling more than a little uncomfortable as memories of a trip to Thailand fifteen years earlier surged through my nerve endings… …a short trip with a friend to the province of Kanchanaburi and a boathouse high up the ... [ Read More ]