Dec 29th, 2014
Yes! I finally arrived in Four Thousand Islands! 😀 The sun was about to set, I could not resist the temptation of taking a walk to enjoy the views and take some photos. “You know, I am Chinese. I have to take photos to fulfill the stereotype, otherwise other people will get disappointed!” 😀 That’s what I always say! 😉
Oh man! Wasn’t it beautiful?! The special thing about the scenery there was, as the name suggested, those myriad islands, big and small, scattering in the wide river. Under the slanting sun rays, I saw those quiet islands fringed with a golden layer, and this fringe changed to yellow, to orange, to red and also to so many colours in between. Occasionally one or two boats passed the water, disturbing the reflections of the islands, shaking them into waves and eventually shattering them into countless pieces of light spots, resembling scales of fish. The green colour of the vegetation covering these islands made me feel peaceful, feel warm and feel drawn. It seemed that these islands were not just dots on a wide river anymore. They had gained lives! The clouds afar were shrouding the reddish sun, in the colour of fire. The only spoiler of this agreeable view the cow shits which basically were lying everywhere confidently, enjoying the warm sunshine. They radiated such unpleasant smell, which had the power of destroying one’s appetite immediately. I sincerely and strongly suggest all the owners of local restaurants working together to ban this “shitting everywhere” crime of the cows and build some cow toilets.
On my way I saw an old man and his wife sitting outside a hotel. I asked the man if he could take a photo for me, which he gladly accepted. It’s so easy to recognize his accent that I directly asked them “Waar in Nederland komen jullie vandaan?” (“Where in the Netherlands do you come from” in Dutch). They were pleasantly surprised and all our communication was thence done in Dutch. They were from Amsterdam. When they heard that I hitchhiked in Iran alone, they asked me about the safety there. They told me that the Dutch government suggested tourists to not go out of Tehran because other cities could be dangerous …… Of course that’s not true! I assured them that it’s generally safe to travel in the whole Iran. I promote Iran whenever I have the chance. Western media is not doing this country and its lovely people justice. The day before they visited Wat Pho — the temple I wanted to visit after Four Thousand Islands. They said that it didn’t have much to see and it’s basically impossible to escape the ticket, so I dropped the plan of visiting it before going to Thailand.
Only on the east side of this island one could see the river. In the west side the view was blocked by a hill and thick jungles. The east side was also where all the restaurants and hotels were. At the end of this “tourist quarter”, there was a monastery. Some novices were laughing and playing soccer in the yard. I walked past the monastery and headed to the west of the island, soon no trace of the touristic area anymore. There were only simple houses and local people. Most of them looked quite poor. The houses were only a bit better than those in the mountains of Northern Laos. I walked into the fields beside some villages. At the end of the fields, tall dark trees formed a loose line. These solemn trees made a play of the lithe light and outlined various shapes, which would ignite the imagination of every passer-by. One looked like a dramatic oriental dancer with his crazy hairstyle and big loose sleeves. Another looked like a big mushroom, perhaps serving as an umbrella for the fairies resting below it. When I walked nearer, the tribal dancer became a huge animal, an elephant without its long nose but with a rider. Between two trees I saw the sun itself, whose downy rays set the sky on fire. Above the trees and the sun, the clouds were revealing its most magnificient magic — countless shapes in countless colors, all blending in like a fiercely swirling sea, but so soft and noiseless.
Before it got totally dark I found a kindergarten where I could sleep on the mats in the corridor. It was on a side road, just about 5 meter from the river. It was totally dark and quiet there in the evening. Near this kindergarten, I noticed a house along the main road of the island with the lights outside it still on and there were stone stools and table just below the light. It was too early to sleep, so I left my luggage in the corridor of the kindergarten and went there to read a book I brought — Arabian Nights. The house was actually an office of some organization and it was already closed but they kept the light outside it on. There was even free tap water beside the house! At about midnight, I brushed my teeth there and went back to the kindergarten. The streets were filled by silence but suddenly I heard a bell, ding-dunging slowly and relaxedly, then I saw a gang of ten cows, mostly white, roaming on the main road, eating crops, knocking on people’s doors, sniffing garbages and shitting all the way. They were the bosses at night! I noticed a wooden shed about 1 meter away from the river and 10 meter from the kindergarten. It’s a simple roof supported by some logs and under the roof there was even a bed! “Perfect! Tomorrow I will wake up with the sunrise! WOWO” I thought, so I moved my backpack and slept in this divine place.
I had a sweet sleep and the next morning I woke up with a burning red sun rising above the river, painting everything under it red or golden. Along the river, the morning air was fresh, cool and full of the smell of vegetation. I got up and started to pack my things. A woman from a house beside the river came to fetch water from the river. She saw me, laughed. I first thought that’s because my protruding hair and half-closed eyes must have looked very funny, but later I realized that she laughed because the bed where I slept was her stall to sell things. 😀 I went to catch the sunrise views. The islands in the river looked harmonious and gentle at sunset, and now they looked refreshed and eager for a new day. The light of the rising sun soon became silver, burning silver and made such a bright reflection on the fluctuant water! On the bank there were several boats parking there. A woman came into one of them and started the engine. That was the only noise I could hear in this quiet early morning. It did not sound irritating at all, instead it was tranquilising. It made me realize how quiet it was in this vast space. I went more to the center of the island. When some kids saw me with a big camera, they laughed and ran away to their school. I followed them to their school, where hundreds of little kids were swarming, some greeting me, some laughing.
I went back to the kindergarten to pick up my backpack. I first thought it would be closed because of the New Year, but no, it was open and a little little girl was sitting next to my backpack and was quite scared when i suddenly appeared.
I asked if I could refill my bottles there. The headmaster, a very well-dressed woman, especially in comparison with other workers there, nodded without any expression on her face. I could tell that she was a bit arrogant and bossy. She opened the door of his office and let me refill my bottles.
Before the sunshine got too scary, with my waving hand and satisfied smile, I stood on the road again.
Dec 29th, 2014