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A couple of natural springs today - lucky to be in a country where we can chance upon these gems - and the first is a cacophony of people. The carpark, a big bare patch, full of cars and their hot hoods, the parking assistant claiming that they weren’t even near capacity. Kids in rubber floaties, tinny music, styrofoam packets of grilled chicken and sticky rice. Someone has almost definitely brought their own krok (wooden pestle and mortar) to make som tam - papaya salad. We wandered, weaving through families crowded on woven mats, through sturdy bamboo-framed stalls selling boiled eggs, grilled with shells intact, the hailing of overzealous shopkeepers. One of the stalls, a hot summer flurry of activity, had a beautiful piece of driftwood racked in the front so that you’d see it when passing in one direction. It looked uncannily like a dragon’s head. Someone, not content to leave anything to the imagination, had drawn an eye on the dragon in red marker.

Some of the Thai countryside is pleasant in a way that makes you a bit sad. There are places that do that. They’ve managed to keep their own character, pretty and tree-filled, the terrain a dip and rise, cassava and rice plantations dotted with banana trees, which are actually a kind of grass, did you know. People love beauty here. It can be touching - they go out of their way to make their houses, their food neat and sweet. Frustrating too, at times - rubbish burned, stashed covertly in hidden places. But it’s charming in a way that holds its own. Among a world that swallows you whole, consumed into an ever-expanding beast. I think it’s again the feeling of sayang. It can be this way, slow and full of old ladies who make brooms by hand and sell too-sweet soda drinks under the shade. For now, at least.

Hui Ran
22/11/20

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I barely made any images today. Even through a day of scything wild grasses, foraging off forest vines, one beestung lip, two cars - well, one car and one excavator - stuck in an unforgiving muddy road, and a vintage tamago pan and backpack from a Japanese second-hand store…! There is only this one, a first-thing slice of the town center morning, still dark, that I leave you with.

- Hui Ran
20/11/20

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In the mornings, I check on my garden. Perhaps expecting - hoping - or expecting? to be overjoyed at something come alive, for the relief of leaves speckled with dew, the collective deep breath of Everything, plants drinking the morning’s spillings. I feel especially delighted when I find that a seed has just germinated. Putting out cotyledon spears, bashful, “no, I’m not ready to face the sun!”, five more minutes Mom, just five more minutes.

Growing things is asking the Earth a question and waiting for an answer. There are no bad questions, just that only some manage to catch the light. Do you see that? A gentle angling, the convergence of invisible, inexplicable, atmospheric allies. And the bashful poking-out, brash bursting-forth of something soft.

We have 100 rai (23 hectares) that we’re trying to turn into a forest. You’ve probably heard this before. Some days (like today), that’s the garden I check on in the morning. All growth follows the same equation. Water, sun. A bit of care, a bit of neglect. A lot of wonder.

(this was yesterday’s, but I fell asleep mid-writing. I’ll still count it. Have decided to try different writing styles with this experiment. This one is airier, inspired by Taylor Swift’s folklore and the work of e.e.cummings.)

Hui Ran
19/11

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