Traveler’s Chant

One of these days,I’m going to go back to Cambodia.I’m going to buy scarfs I don’t need and resume my bohemian phase.I will drink my face off in one of the open bars in Siam Reap.I’ll look at my travel companion under those blurred out streetlights,feel the burn on my skin from the alcohol as if I have butterfly rash.I’ll walk the small dodgy red lanes and sit on the steps of Angkor Wat and feel satisfied because I didn’t exaggerate Cambodia in my memory.Cambodia indeed is,was and always will be wonderful.

I’m going to go back to Egypt after things calm down abit there.I will go with someone who won’t  get on my nerves.I will look for the guy who conned us in Luxor and buy a few more paintings from him.I’ll walk the streets of Cairo and shisha by the Mediterranean Sea.I will go on the cruise I went for the last time I went Egypt.The ship was called “Jamila”.Jamila means beautiful in Egyptian.One of the few things I remember from the excursion.I also remember Ramses the Great had 8 wives.I’ll make my way up to the deck every night and stare into the pitch black darkness till I fall asleep to strangers talking and drinking.

I’ll go to New York and stay there for two months.I will pack carefully beforehand,write down a list meticulously so I won’t leave anything behind because going to New York has always been the dream.I’m going to watch Jersey Boys and Phantom Of the Opera if they have it.I’ll sing to Sherry and cry at the scene when the Phantom was tormented.I’ll pack everything I need in one bag and travel around with it so there’s no such thing as  not being able to get back where I need to because as long as I’m in New York and as long as I can get a cab back to JFK airport,everything will be better than fine.I won’t carry a map,I will get lost.If I have enough dough,I’m going to go Yasuda.I’ll take so many goddamn pictures of goddamn buildings,it’ll be absurd.I’ll recall what Anthony Bordain said about New York and try to go to every place he recommended if my memory doesn’t fail.

I’ll go to Rome and I’ll finally understand how the Romans feel about living amongst the world’s greatest history leftovers.In this world where everything is modernized and built and rebuilt again,Rome feels like home.A woman once said the greatest secret in Rome is to wake up at dawn,that moment when the light of the sun seeps between the cracks of your windows.You wake up,you walk downstairs and walk the alley ways,listen to children getting ready for school,listening to women cook and clean.And you’ll feel happy forever because you have found out the secret of happiness in Rome.When in Rome,time will never be a factor because I’m going to explore it in a slow motion manner.

Then finally,I’ll go back to the place that’s oddly familiar yet tremendously foreign – Singapore.The thing about Singapore is that you think you know it through and through just because you go there often.For the past year,I went to Singapore three times.What I can honestly say about the trip is that it feels more foreign than the last.When I pass cars and look inside the cars,I’ll think to myself what they are thinking.We are the same,yet so different.So what is it exactly that they are thinking.What are they going to do tonight,or tomorrow.Singapore build buildings like how Octo mum pops babies.There’s something new everyday.The other day,I was walking around Esplanade and the amount of buildings built in the past year is ridiculous.I’m going to cook my own food in Singapore because it’s the kind of country where they put sausages in a perfectly cooked Indian curry.I’m going to bring a book with me and read it every night before I go to bed,so it gives me the comfort that even though everything around me is changing,I have something constant-my book.

When I reach home,I’ll learn to love where I came from and I’ll settle down and plant my roots into where I belong.For me,the thing about traveling is that,no matter how “at home” I feel about a certain place,I’ll always feel this sentimental loneliness.I’ll always remember the fact that even if I have really good friends there,I’ll never belong there.I’m a guest,an outsider.I’m merely there to see,to listen,to learn.I’ll always go back to where I belong – Malaysia.No matter how much I want to live in New York and learn to speak inductor’s language in the subway,no matter how much I want to watch the stars in Egypt,I always go back to where I belong.But at least,after traveling,I won’t be looking for an escape anymore,and I’ll learn that all this while,I didn’t need to escape.


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