The hotel was easy to find, I’ve stayed there before. Good air conditioning and a roof-top swimming pool to wash away the day. The hotel seemed very quiet and they were happy to see me, or more importantly, they were happy to see my money. They didn’t like where I’d parked the Honda and I was in no mood to argue. I took the key and went up to my room while the Honda stayed exactly where I’d left it. The room smelt of better days, the air conditioning sounded like the little Honda on full throttle and the swimming pool was a deep shade of green. Either my mood on previous visits had prevented me from noticing these things, or perhaps Khon Kaen just beginning to lose it’s gloss for me?
The air conditioning might well have been loud, but it was certainly effective. I woke up at sunrise on top of the bed, freezing cold but drenched in sweat. I found the little Honda exactly where I’d parked it and before Khon Kaen had even thought about rising, I was heading North on Highway 2. Lying 40 Km outside of Khon Kaen, Ubonrat is one of my three very special places. It’s not as beautiful as Lake Dahl in Kashmir and not as tranquil as Lake Baikal in Siberia, but on the plus side, it’s a hell of a lot easier to reach.
Aside from a few mobile food vendors claiming their pitches early, and the odd wild dog, the place was totally deserted. I walked across the dam and climbed the steep rock steps towards the small shrine on the west side of the reservoir. As I climbed, I passed the small rock pile that I’d built with Tassaneeya a year earlier and the sticks that we’d placed beneath rocks on the side of the hill. I was surprised to see that they were still there and wondered if they'd still be here if I were ever to return in the future.
At the small shrine, I lit a single candle and three incense sticks before offering a prayer for Tassaneeya's future well being and happiness. It wasn't a long prayer, but I said everything that needed to be said before offering my final three 'Waai' and shuffling respectfully backwards on my knees. Looking back across the reservoir towards the imposing statue of Buddha, I reflected on what was and on what might have been. The many happy times that we’d shared and then the fateful conversation that I’d had with her late Grandfather in the Village without a name, a conversation later repeated with a 'well meaning' Aunt at Phu Pha Man. "Cultural differences" had forced us apart, or as Tassaneeya would say, "It was our Destiny". It was time to move on, time to leave the past and a pink flowered Spada crash helmet, exactly where they belonged ........ mai pen rai