Mon petit Oliver et Camille,
In March 2013, I will bring your grandfather out on a trip. A hiking-up-a-mountain trip!
It's not that I am sponsoring the trip, sadly to say, at this ripe old age I am still lacking of the funds necessary to sponsor someone beloved, to travel together with me. The reason could be that I am not very good with money, as I have been, my whole life. And there are still so many far flung places that I would like to visit before I embark on the monotony of daily life. Your father has always been good in planning for the future, and that is why now we have a castle, a lake, a stable of horses and a large garden... Okay... ...you know we only have a small but cosy home, but it's true that we have endured many hardships together and your father has made many sacrifices for us to be together. I hope love is easy for you. I have always loved your father, and no other man could ever compare to him. I hope that we will grow old together and still keep each other warm during bitterly biting days, when we are both silver-haired. I am glad he bothered to take an interest in me, to know me inside out, to steal away a part of my soul with his antics. He warms my soul with a thousand blazes that can only stir more love, more desire for each other, and that is how we have been living together thus far.
Grandpapa is not too old yet, he can still hike faster than me on the easy hiking trails in Singapore, wearing his white hat, carrying a red Ferrari brand sling bag and his favorite accessory, a china-brand walking stick. (Only $10.) We will be hiking during the school holiday weekend in March, and staying in his friend's house, an elderly German who lives on Kuta beach, one of the biggest and most well-known beaches of Bali, a favorite island paradise of many over the world, located in Indonesia.
It will only be a weekend trip, because I only have 14 days of leave for a year, this is one of my pet peeves about working in Singapore. Yes, this sounds unimaginable in places where you get 2 months off, but it is the reality for many workers in many countries. I really enjoy a culture where the vacation time is treated as almost a ritual to be observed in summertime; then again it is summer here all year round, except in monsoon season where the rainy days from end November to early March threaten to spoil every plan with ugly blackened skies.
Just yesterday, the sky turned into that ominous color and during my usual evening walk home from the train station after work; the sky threw small leaves and grime onto my feet, my open toed slip-ons getting increasingly soaked as the rain pelted torrents. I wonder if you will ever see the monsoon rains of SouthEast Asia.
I have a bit of regret now that we have not done this trip earlier, when Grandpapa was younger; he would have enjoyed this trip more then, than now; carrying with him a prior knee injury, and recently, suffering from the kind of asthma that I used to have in my childhood (that's why I never enjoyed exercise in my youth); except that his kind of asthma starts at the twilight of life. Last year, I described to him my vacation in the South of France, I lavished praises on seeing the unbelievable white rocks that form a sort of fjord known as a 'calanque' in the Marseilleveyre range, together with the tiny alpine plants that were only permitted to grow to a puny height because of the harsh surrounds of salty sea spray and dry air with little moisture. I had a fun time trying to collect the seeds and berries of the mediterranean fauna throughout the jardins I visited, for the family's gardener hobbyist to plant. In Singapore, Grandpapa planted these seeds, but the sleeping seeds did not awaken. In the end they were carried off by the garden ants; off to their little anthouses to be eaten, a delicieux french meal, I imagine!
Grandpapa had the sort of wanderlust in his eyes when he listened to my spiel about Marseille, we are the only two in our family that share the love of traveling (and now hiking)- to destinations that are usually hard to get to, and not favored by the usual crowd. I am glad that when I was young he has brought the whole family to several roadtrips and also had the liberal thinking, very unlike typical Asian parents; to allow me to travel, solo, in my late teens, to neighboring 3rd world countries. Alhough being the scaredy cat I was, I did not venture far.
I still have not ventured that far, I think! And right now, I have no idea what my reaction will be if you inform me that you will be traveling the world at 18!
It has been a dream lodged in the back of my subconcious, to live in a place where there are mountains and seas. Perhaps that is why I started traveling. To find my place in life. In more ways than one. Singapore is a totally flat place with few hilly terrains, although now that we have built basements upon basements of train stations, there is a chance to exercise your legs on the long staircases.
When I went to Chiangmai I was in the old city, wandering around like someone who loves the city, photographing animals and street signs. But when I went to dinner with your Uncle Sergio (who is now a famous physiotherapist in Spain) - every evening beyond the city walls, I saw the mountains in the distance, ahead of us, and the scent of the sweet, fresh, mountain air as dusk arose and day turned to night. As I walked out of the city walls into the sight of the mountains, my soul whispered that the people here are so blessed to be able to see mountains everyday. Perhaps that was what inspired me to take these journeys this year. A part of me is still surprised at myself, always overestimating the energy and physical strength I have for such a journey I take to get on top of such mountains, and always having a range of emotions (some really negative), until I reach that destination. Maybe I am seeking to find something more than a short term romance with these high places.
I hope that one day you will find it possible to be able to live in a place with mountains and seas. I hope that we will go on many expeditions together. When I see the many young children being pushed in prams in freezing shopping malls here, I think to myself, that I was so lucky that it was different, during my time. We used to explore the reservoirs and the beaches, the suburban streets and wet markets. I'm not sure yet, if I want to do these, and of course, the weather here can be blisteringly hot to endure a day out in the sun. But anyway, I'm sure we will have some small adventures. I think if I was born in another period in time, I would embrace being a gypsy. If not for our wealthy city's government protocols, I would have never studied, nor done well, nor gotten a good job. So I am thankful that a person such as I was born here and never am I able to be proud of such achievements. If I look back, what I want to be known for is to have loved deeply, and to have traveled, deeply too, in the sense of being exploratory.
Digital photo taken by Seth Weisel.
Analogue photos taken by me.
France, Indonesia, Singapore.