This morning's train ride, a seeming unimportant event, marks the beginning of my return to Thailand. As of now, I'm retracing my steps and, though I have another month in Los Angeles, it already feels like I'm heading home again.
Not an uneventful trip, I was ordered off the train with all my bags at the US border. Apparently I should have a letter from the monastery where I'm teaching and/or an R1 missionary visa. In their words: "it's what you, as a Canadian, can do to Americans." Images of peaceful Americans flash to mind, I nod and apologise, and they let me go "this time". I drag my luggage back to the train, take some pictures at the border and sit down.
It was nice to visit everywhere I've been, to be sure; but I certainly feel the otherness of this trip, as though I'm en vacance for the first time in a very long time. It's a good test to see how well I can keep my peace, but the longing for a wooden hut in the forest reminds me of the Buddha's words on the elephant:
Dhanapalo nama kuñjaro,
Baddho kaba.la.m na bhuñjati,
sumarati nagavanassa kuñjaro.
The elephant Dhanapala,
goes into rut and is difficult to restrain.
Bound, he does not eat at all;
the elephant longs for the elephant's forest.
-- The Buddha (Dhp. 324)