Hello all! This post is inspired by a question that once popped into my head. I was just sitting around, minding my own business when suddenly out of the blue I began to wonder what children around the world do with their loose baby teeth. Do they all put their teeth under their pillow like I grew up with? Does everyone have their own version of the tooth fairy? Is there a global tooth economy?
If it’d been a western movie a tumbleweed would have bounced through the scene. The sun was trying its best to beat the heat into the ground. The difference between light and shade was so strong we two foes seemed to be enclosed in a hallway of dark tones. I eyed the border control officer through the small window. He looked up from his seated position, his gaze unmoving and unfazed. I twitched.
Then I clawed for my wallet and slapped 1,800 baht on the counter. A hand slipped out, swept up the money and the small window quietly, unhurriedly rolled close.
I started grumbling at the sky.
It was like the first gust of air that strikes you when you watch a thunderstorm creeping up across the prairies. The moment when the air is sucked away and the world goes mute as the distant clouds display spats of brilliance. Then, as you watch, the wheat at the horizon kneels as everything bows to the shrieking force in the distance. Settled on a small green embankment your fingers grasp at the grass by your legs. Gulping down a breath as you clutch the protective blanket of stillness around you, the gust finally hits and yanks it from your presence.
We had just left the Kuantan Firefly Park and driven up the road surrounded by mangrove trees. When we came up to the main road a brightly lit building shining across the road caught our attention. It stood out like a New York theatre on Broadway in the darkness.
“Wait, what is that?!” I asked my friend as I pointed through the windshield.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…. Our voices melded into a rhythmic trot. With each stomp we made our way past bystanders and left a trail of numbers. 50, 51, 52, 53, 54… The sunlight was beating down on our backs. The heat penetrated our clothes and gathered on our skin. The numbers began to catch in our mouths as our climb slowed to ensure each number was included. 123, 124, 125… “I want a picture,” I gasped balancing on a step to catch a shot of the scene ahead of us. “Ok.” 234, 235,235-236… “Oh wait, we are out of sync.” 234, 235, 236… Seeing the stairs cut away just ahead our legs pumped as we threw ourselves up the last few steps. 269,270,271 aannnddd 272…
“Please don’t use flash photography,” said the man who’d offered his hand to help me get into the boat. The moonlight bouncing off the water seemed to cling to his teeth as he grinned heartily and waved our little boat off into the dark water.
“Of course!” I replied, easily smiling back as I casually twisted my camera’s settings into No Flash mode.
Scooting to the edge of the bench I looked off to the far side of the river so I wouldn’t have to peer between the couple sitting in front of me. We’d been organized into four people per boat with one oarsman standing at the back, tugging the oars to his chest as he propelled us around.
I’d hoped to nab the front seat, but all was forgiven as I earnestly peered into the low trees hugging the river’s sides.
As we drifted closer what I’d see next wasn’t at all what I’d expected.
When we arrived in the Cameron Highlands it was dark. The dashboard clock of my friend’s little red car flashed 11 p.m. As a driver my eyes had been fixed on the curving, swirling, serpentine road. Now demoted to passenger I was free to admire the slashes of light in the distance. What were they anyway?
Before I left for Thailand I asked Google how do I avoid buying souvenirs?
It’s a question as foolish to ask as how do I avoid getting pregnant? because there are so many choices and Google shares some pretty hazardous answers.