Isaan: What You Do When You Don’t Do Anything

For the ones secretly hoping that my writings will one day turn into a proper travelblog  – please use our beloved Wikipedia or Wikitravel and see for yourselves what Isaan is. For me, it is a region in Thailand a 12-hour bus ride away from Chiang Mai, and a place where I recently went to visit a college friend.

How much of that region did I manage to see in a single weekend? Hmmm.

How much fun did I have? Oh man.

Dancing with older Thai men in a party at a local school, playing cards (ah, what a forgotten pleasure!), chatting with old and new friends about literally everything over some Thai whiskey till an early morning, and – to finish this eclectic weekend  bingo – going through topics like zombie apocalypse and K-pop in a sweetly decorated ice-cream shop.

Zombie apocalypse and K-pop, when I think about it now, aren’t that unrelated after all: the global dominance of the second one seems like a symptom of the first one.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget some proper karaoke, where the word “proper” implies neither the quality of the songs nor our singing skills.

Yet let me give more depth to this blog entry by saying that there is in fact a point I’d like to make. A moral, once again. This time I doubt it would be something completely new for you but…hey, no-one is forcing you to read this anyway (ah, the authoritarian side of me wishes the opposite was true).

So. I am, or at least have been for a long time, the kind of person who before going to sleep lies in bed summarising the day. How much was done, discovered, learnt, read, and so on. It seems only something absolutely appropriate for a reasonable person to do.

But then, if I stop summarising individual days and start summarising something more important, I notice the best days of my life have undoubtedly been the ones when I would go to bed too tired (and oftentimes intoxicated) to even start thinking about how cool that day has been.

That is to say, the utilitarian approach (which I’ve truly loved so much) to evaluate my days simply cannot digest some of the moments that make those days so sweet. “How much have I learnt today? Well, hmmm, that drinking soda water with whiskey seems to do miracles in the morning…”

Was it worth to spend 24 hours on a bus in one weekend just to play with some puppies and make fun of my friend’s rapidly deteriorating voice (apparently, singing Unbreak My Heart repeatedly can break someone’s voice)? Surely, it will unlikely contribute to my future career. But if had to go through that weekend in my mind and check points on an imaginary list, there would be a single task on it, ticked:

to have a great time.

Certainly, not all days spent doing nothing are that great. Sometimes, while lying in bed and like some TV newscaster trying to squeeze all the news of the day into one minute, I realise that the list of things done becomes simply (1) having googled an extremely good-looking Ozzie comedian and (2) having bookmarked some articles I would like to read in the future but felt too lazy to read right away. I’m by no means claiming these days are the best in your life. In fact, they could be absolutely boring and horrible!

All I am saying is that it is a great skill to have: to enjoy your day instead of summarising it.

And that is the end of my summary.

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