“Nonsense is senseless or meaningless talk, language, or ideas; an untrue statement; or behaviour that is foolish or not straightforward.”
Two weeks have passed since my last post. It has been an eventful two weeks, so I am having a hard time to fit everything in a neat blog post. Thus, in advance, excuse me if this post seems nonsensical to you. (Then again, it might not be the first post that you find nonsensical around here.) Let me break it up in chapters, so the nonsense that follows it at least easier to consume.
Chapter 1: Behaviour that is foolish or not straightforward
My behaviour was not straightforward indeed. If it was foolish I don’t know. I let others be the judge of that. It turns out that my last post was more truthful than I had imagined. I was indeed running in circles, visiting Tonsai again as well as Koh Phi Phi.
It was strange returning to a place that was practically my home for more than a month. Many things have changed, although some familiar faces were still there. Heraclitus said it perfectly two and a half thousand years ago: “Everything changes and nothing stands still.” I wonder how this place will look like in a few months. I wonder if it is even recognisable anymore. I wonder if it was a good idea to go back.
“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”
Admiral Grace Hopper
I don’t regret going back. After all I was able to spend a few precious days with some wonderful people, in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Tonsai Bay Resort.
Alien landscape created by the crabs of Railay.
The last sunset at Tonsai Beach.
One last dinner at Sao’s Legacy.
Back in Koh Phi Phi.
Artists in Koh Phi Phi. (That reminds me that I was lucky enough to meet an artist in Koh Phi Phi the first time I’ve been there.)
The last temple I’ve visited in Thailand (White Temple, Chiang Rai).
Chapter 2: Senseless ideas
“If you want to have good ideas you must have many ideas. Most of them will be wrong, and what you have to learn is which ones to throw away.”
Green lights illuminate the Gulf of Thailand every night. As soon as the sun sets below the horizon a myriad of fishing boats switches on their light bulbs and black turns into green. Some years ago I’ve learned that these green lights are used to attract squid. Turn on the lights and the squid will come. Oh how ingenious we humans are! Catching them by the tons is suddenly an easy task.
Green lights illuminate the horizon.
“Anglers have a way of romanticizing their battles with fish and of forgetting that the fish has a hook in his mouth, his gullet, or his belly and that his gameness is really an extreme of panic in which he runs, leaps, and pulls to get away until he dies. It would seem to be enough advantage to the angler that the fish has the hook in his mouth rather than the angler.”
It wasn’t until I took a plane from Krabi to Chiang Mai that the scale of these squid fishing operations became clear to me. I knew that overfishing is a problem we face worldwide, but seeing the squid fishing fleets with my own eyes was something else. A sea of green lights as far as the eye can see – to the horizon and beyond. It is almost impossible to imagine, since when you are on shore you only see a handful boats, a dozen at most. Several thousand feet above sea level it looks very different.
Hundreds of green dots (you might have to view this one fullscreen and turn up your brightness, since it was almost impossible to capture the faint lights with my camera).
Bangkok for scale.
Seeing these fleets made me think – about fishing, about the oceans, about consumerism, about the way we currently do things and why we do those things in the way we do them. Don’t get me wrong, I think about those things quite often. This time, however, I was not only lamenting the current state of affairs. I amused myself with ideas of how we could do things differently. I’m certainly not the first person to have ideas like these; those ideas are not my ideas to begin with. I have picked up bits and pieces reading stuff or listening to podcasts and whatnot here and there.
“A good idea is something that does not solve just one single problem, but rather can solve multiple problems at once.”
So what are those ideas? I can only try to type out some of them that stormed through my brain that flight: reducing the consumption of meat and fish; diversifying our diet (e.g. eating insects, some of which are extremely efficient in terms of converting grass to meat – especially in comparison to cows); switching to in vitro meat; re-evaluating the status quo of which animals are ok to eat and which are not (why do we eat cows, pigs and chickens, and not hamsters, cats and dogs?); and so on and so forth. I now recognise that most of these ideas require a change in human society, possibly in human nature. The pessimist in me whispers that these ideas might be meaningless after all. Note, however, that I tend to be optimistic most of the time.
“It’s important not to overstate the benefits of ideas. Quite frankly, I know it’s kind of a romantic notion that you’re just going to have this one brilliant idea and then everything is going to be great. But the fact is that coming up with an idea is the least important part of creating something great. It has to be the right idea and have good taste, but the execution and delivery are what’s key.”
After a while I drifted off to related topics, such as: How long will we still have until antibiotic resistance becomes a reality due to our excessive use of antibiotics in farming? Luckily the flight was a short one so I was able to avoid the small existential crisis that usually follows such thoughts.
Chapter 3: Meaningless talk
Be assured that I mean ‘meaningless’ in the best possible way. Merry, innocent, meaningless talk after having the most amazing dinner with friends. Friends I’ve met in Tonsai over the last weeks. Friends I’ve met again in Chiang Mai.
I have shot many pictures of this small reunion. I will not re-upload them here. There are just too many pictures. You can view the album on Facebook, if you like. The following pictures are my favourites, which I decided to upload here as well.
Driving off into the night.
Chapter 4: Senseless language
Yesterday I left Thailand after being there for two months. My first impression of Laos is a good one, although I find myself once more in a country where the language doesn’t make any sense to me. Not that Thai made a lot of sense to me, but at least I could communicate in a most primitive way – something I yet have to learn in Lao.
Language is the expression of ideas, and if the people of one country cannot preserve an identity of ideas they cannot retain an identity of language.
I decided to take the slow boat into Laos, which turned out to be a good decision. The boat ride was very scenic and not as uncomfortable as accounts of previous travellers made me to believe it would be. I welcomed the many hours on the boat. Reading, listening to music and podcasts, followed by more reading. I am currently finishing The Mind’s I, which I can highly recommend to
anyone who is interested in philosophy, computer science, identity, consciousness, artificial intelligence… anyone.
Let me conclude this nonsensical post by sharing my first impressions of Laos with you. Enjoy!
Slow boats on the Mekong river.
Mekong river sundown.
Unloading the boats.
Breakfast with the locals.
Transportation, Laos style.
Night market, Luang Prabang.
Addendum: Since it is so fitting, I’ll let Wittgenstein have the last word here.
“My aim is: to teach you to pass from a piece of disguised nonsense to something that is patent nonsense.”