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So-Much-Makes-Sense-Once-We-Get-the-Connections3

Updated on May 22, 2020
Beata Stasak profile image

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

Leaving Perth and Swan River behind

Rowing on the Swan River, ready to explore on a foreign vessel, my son spotted a pirate ship from Thailand. We just love sailing.
Rowing on the Swan River, ready to explore on a foreign vessel, my son spotted a pirate ship from Thailand. We just love sailing.
"Is there any better place in the world than here?” But it's time to go. Time to tow our little dinghy back to shore.
"Is there any better place in the world than here?” But it's time to go. Time to tow our little dinghy back to shore.
It's hard to leave a place that you are familiar with, for a new one. It's time to say goodbye to our holiday on Rottnest island too.
It's hard to leave a place that you are familiar with, for a new one. It's time to say goodbye to our holiday on Rottnest island too.
“See you pelicans. I'll come back,” my five year old son waved to them.
“See you pelicans. I'll come back,” my five year old son waved to them.
“What is waiting for us on our travels?” Time to fly away to a foreign land.
“What is waiting for us on our travels?” Time to fly away to a foreign land.
Mr Nine took our picture from the hotel balcony in Bangkok. In 1782, Bang Makok or 'Place of Olives' became Thailand's capital.
Mr Nine took our picture from the hotel balcony in Bangkok. In 1782, Bang Makok or 'Place of Olives' became Thailand's capital.
Bangkok before the monsoon rain, from our hotel window. 'Place of Olives' or Bang Makok, later Bangkok, had been a trading post since the mid-16th century
Bangkok before the monsoon rain, from our hotel window. 'Place of Olives' or Bang Makok, later Bangkok, had been a trading post since the mid-16th century
The view of the city from the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok. The population of Bangkok is 9 million but most people live in extended family groups because of the chronic shortage of real estate.
The view of the city from the Royal Grand Palace in Bangkok. The population of Bangkok is 9 million but most people live in extended family groups because of the chronic shortage of real estate.
On the stairs to the temple in Bangkok. Around 92% of residents are Buddhists.
On the stairs to the temple in Bangkok. Around 92% of residents are Buddhists.
The old and the new in Bangkok. Almost all Thai men ordain as Budhist monks at some point. Monks are treated with universal respect. After all, most Thai men have been there themselves.
The old and the new in Bangkok. Almost all Thai men ordain as Budhist monks at some point. Monks are treated with universal respect. After all, most Thai men have been there themselves.
In the public park in Bangkok. Avoiding confrontation is a core element of Buddhist philosophy.
In the public park in Bangkok. Avoiding confrontation is a core element of Buddhist philosophy.
The numerous parks with massage parlours offering Indian medicine and Chinese acupuncture, help to restore the balance between body and mind, and to restore peace and calmness.
The numerous parks with massage parlours offering Indian medicine and Chinese acupuncture, help to restore the balance between body and mind, and to restore peace and calmness.
You feel overcrowding and pollution  made by the 9 million of people living here among the chronic poverty that is unknown to my son living in Australia.
You feel overcrowding and pollution made by the 9 million of people living here among the chronic poverty that is unknown to my son living in Australia.
The golden Buddha in Bangkok. There are 250,000 Chinese, 100,000 Indians, 45,000 Europeans and 30,000 Japanese. Most of them are very respectful of Buddhism.
The golden Buddha in Bangkok. There are 250,000 Chinese, 100,000 Indians, 45,000 Europeans and 30,000 Japanese. Most of them are very respectful of Buddhism.
Sitting before the massage parlour in Bangkok. The city is slowly sinking into the floodplain. Engineers face a daily battle to keep the river out of Bangkok's basement.
Sitting before the massage parlour in Bangkok. The city is slowly sinking into the floodplain. Engineers face a daily battle to keep the river out of Bangkok's basement.
On the banks of the Phraya River in Bangkok on our last day. Very humid and crowded but safe.
On the banks of the Phraya River in Bangkok on our last day. Very humid and crowded but safe.
Back to our peaceful life on the Swan River. We are back from our holiday, safe and sound - a little bit wiser but sadder, and enriched by new experiences.
Back to our peaceful life on the Swan River. We are back from our holiday, safe and sound - a little bit wiser but sadder, and enriched by new experiences.
Our yacht is waiting for us, bobbing sadly on the mooring covered in seagull poo. My five year old son is rapidly approaching his teenage years.
Our yacht is waiting for us, bobbing sadly on the mooring covered in seagull poo. My five year old son is rapidly approaching his teenage years.
But he still remembers Mr Nine and his pirate flag which doesn't fail to catch the wind on every sailing trip.
But he still remembers Mr Nine and his pirate flag which doesn't fail to catch the wind on every sailing trip.
He loved reading 'Mao's Last Dancer', the autobiography by Li Cunxin, on our last sailing trip. The Bangkok trip encouraged him to learn more about different cultures.
He loved reading 'Mao's Last Dancer', the autobiography by Li Cunxin, on our last sailing trip. The Bangkok trip encouraged him to learn more about different cultures.
Back sailing on the Swan River, the water is shimmering in the afternoon sun. We have found our peace and contentment. Maybe this river is for us, what the beautiful parks with massage parlours are for the Thai people.
Back sailing on the Swan River, the water is shimmering in the afternoon sun. We have found our peace and contentment. Maybe this river is for us, what the beautiful parks with massage parlours are for the Thai people.
Instead of one old boat, we now have two new ones. You were right Mr Nine. We are all slaves to crazy consumerism.
Instead of one old boat, we now have two new ones. You were right Mr Nine. We are all slaves to crazy consumerism.
Mr Nine's pirate flag always flies cheerfully above my son's head. "Where are you Mr Nine? We hope that you're happy in your city of angels - doing what you like most - painting ancient Chinese pictures with a fine brush.
Mr Nine's pirate flag always flies cheerfully above my son's head. "Where are you Mr Nine? We hope that you're happy in your city of angels - doing what you like most - painting ancient Chinese pictures with a fine brush.

Scattered Images in my mind 3

Five years ago,

I took my youngest son

to meet his Grandparents in Europe

for the first time.


Five years ago,
he opened 'his diary',
looked at our aeroplane
and scribbled in it: THAI.


I bought a new book
at Perth airport -
like always on long flights -
to kill time.
'MAO'S LAST DANCER'
was the title.

The true story of an Australian,

born in Communist China who
found freedom in America ...

"Mum, I'm bored. When do we fly?"


I stopped reading and looked at my son.
Saturday 4-9-2004.
I ate my breakfast
on the Thai aeroplane,
flying to Bangkok from Perth.
We stop in Phuket.
My son has written in his diary.


When I'm reading it now,
I imagine all the greenery
that we saw when we landed.
Phuket disappeared the
following Christmas Day
under a big tidal wave.


4.24 pm and back on the plane.
I watch Garfield and Harry Potter -
the Prisoner of Azbakan.
My Mum's looking for my passport.
She cries. She's lost it.
It's nowhere to be found.


My son has written in his diary.
When I'm reading it now,
I remember a long night
in the Bangkok airport,
listening to the foreign sound
of the suspicious transit officers
telling me that my son cannot fly.


I hugged my son tightly
as he started to cry. A young Chinese man
sat next to us and said simply:
"Just call me Mr Nine."


He took us to the Hotel Samui
at midnight, Bangkok time.
While unpacking our luggage,
my book, 'Mao's Last Dancer'
caught his eye.


While my son slept soundly,
he ordered a green curry
and a bottle of Singha beer and
finally calmed me down.


He was born in Communist China.
A son, number nine.
His parents left for Thailand
when he was only five.


We discussed creative freedom
and a quest for self-expression.
That was what 'Mao's Last Dancer'
was looking for, but he paid a painful price.
He managed to free himself
of communist ideology.


Mr Nine was an artist too.
He was not scared of China.
But he was Thai and with his minimal wage

of five dollars a day,

he knew, and I knew,

that it was taxi driving and other odd jobs

that would help him too survive, and not his fine painting.

Three whole days we stayed there,

while my son's new passport was arranged.

With our taxi driver Mr Nine, we crisscrossed Aka Krung Thep,

the City of Angels, Venice of the East.
Chaos everywhere.


The Phraya River which snakes through it, divides the historic old city
with it's temples and palaces.

The districts of Dusit, Banglamphu,

Ko Rattanokosin and Chinatown are full of Buddhist wats,
street markets and public parks.


On the other side is a futuristic new city with skycrapers,

elevated highways, karaoke banquet halls

and gigantic shopping malls.
Ancient tuk-tuks and urban trains

and sleek skytrains run through it all.


While my son wandered through the grand corridors

made of gold, touching the biggest golden Buddha on his toe,

Mr Nine looked sadly from the Royal palace window

at the city below us, where the old meets the new.

Where the Eastern slow contemplative tradition

is swallowed up by fast crazy western consumerism.


"We need a massage," Mr Nine winked at us.

We followed him, not having a clue.

In the park under a sweet smelling tree, a young

Thai girl gently spread Indian and Chinese oils on our bare arms and legs.

"Your energy will now flow around your body freely."


Mr Nine sighed with relief. "Your body and your mind will be one."

"And what about Thai pirates?" my son jumped up impatiently,

brushing his oily cheek: "You promised me some..."

Mr Nine sighed again: "Oh. I see.

You westerners and your speed. It is time for you to learn 'jai yen'."


"What does it mean?" my son squirmed in his seat,

as the taxi honked, stopping on the crowded street.

I watched passing tourists shouting at tuk-tuk drivers

while drying their sweaty foreheads in the sticky heat.


Mr Nine waved to a group of locals on the other side of the road,

who sat waiting on their motorcycles in the traffic jam.

They waved back at him with broad smiles.

"What is 'jai yen, Mr Nine? " my son asked again: "Are we there yet?

And can you please put on more air-condition? I'm hot now."

We stopped near the river, watching the thin boats sail.


Mr Nine told us a story from the old days

about pirates who ravaged the Thai coast.

They came from Europe, India and the Persian Gulf

at the start of the monsoon.

They returned home rich, with their boats full of gold

and stolen Asian beauties wrapped in shimmering silk.


With his last words, Mr Nine smiled.

With a twinkle in his eye, he gave my son

a black and white pirate flag.

He told him that to become a Thai pirate,

he needed 'jai yen' - a cool heart.


To me, he gave a gentle water colour picture
painted with thin Chinese strokes.

A line of empty dark brown rickshaws was painted on the side.

"It is called 'A journey from poverty'",
he said, with a frown.

On our last day, when we said goodbye at the airport,


I handed him 'Mao's Last Dancer',
with a thank you note inside.

"I can speak English, but I need to read more,"
he said with a sheepish smile.

"I plan to go to Beijing to study Chinese Art.

I will write to you."


We visited Europe.
My son got to see his grandparents
before they died.
We returned to Western Australia
to sail on the Swan River.
To live, to remember, to laugh and cry.


Mr Nine sent only one letter.
After his Beijing studies,
he wanted to learn more about art
than communists.
He felt foreign and lost.
In the overcrowded city,
he met his Chinese family
living near the Yellow River.


On the vast plain around

the flat land, the city goes on forever.

New buildings appear overnight.
Roads are jammed with the latest cars.
Streets are full of fashionable people
with mobile phones clamped to their ears.
Business and money
are what everyone wheels and deals
in multimillions.
People live and die in vast shopping malls,
fighting for exclusive foreign brands,
while answering their mobile phones.


The ancient capital of Mongols,

the Ming and Qing Emperors is lost.
Communist ideology destroyed it's culture.
Western consumerism destroyed its identity.
Beijing is one gigantic shopping mall.
It's environment is dying, paying a living cost.
It's not a place for an ancient Chinese artist.


Mr Nine left.
I hope that Bangkok is still his home..
Five years have passed.
The Li Cunxin autobiography was made into a movie,


Mao's Last Dancer.
We watched it on a big screen, my son and I.

Licking our ice-creams,
we cried at his suffering in a gruelling

classical dancing class in communist Beijing.
We cheered on his fight
to dance free and be famous in America.
Then to fall in love
with an Australian
and to retire happy here.


Finally, he knows what it means to be free.
We went to sail on the Swan River,
my son and I.
His black and white pirate flag flying high,
from Mr Nine.

Comments

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    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you, dear NanaMarie for taking my outstretched hand and for following me on my journey...the journey comes alive with every new response I get:)

    • ThussaysNanaMarie profile image

      ThussaysNanaMarie 

      9 years ago from In my oyster

      What an opportunity and to share it with your son- priceless! You did make the connection.

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      It is a special story, my dear suzzycue, the one I share with my son, who is growing up so fast and yet the black and white flag of Mr Nine is still fying high above his head, I hope it will never cease to inspire him...

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This hub is beyond any beautiful words I could type . What a fantastic trip. Thanks for following me so I had the opportunity to see this!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      9 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      so, i had a whole month off, and not as much time as I thought I would. such is life, eh?

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      That's great news 'karaoke guy'...have a great holiday, live your life to the full and stop by any time...looking forward to hear from you soon:)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      9 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Beata, I will. I'm done with school for a month so I'll have more time to stop by now!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      Every story is worth recording....I just keep my eyes and ears open once I hit the road and there are stories 'waiting behind every corner'...just waiting to be told and shared:)

      I am just a mere recorder of life around me:)....thank you Carcro for stopping by and start recording...I will stop by too...to read your next travel story:)

    • carcro profile image

      Paul Cronin 

      9 years ago from Winnipeg

      Cool story, I have to remember to keep a diary of my travels though I doubt it would be nearly as interesting as yours. Thanks so much for sharing! Voted Up and Interesting!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you so much for follow Teresa, always happy to meet new and interesting hubbers...back to my story, life sometimes puts many obstacles in our journey and only later on we find out that the obstacles become our miracles:)...

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Beautiful poetry Beata! Thanks for following me as I have now found another beautiful writer to follow as well. What beautiful memories for you and your son and such a fantastic learning experience. I am so glad your son was able to meet his grandparents even if it was only that one occasion!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      So true, my fellow hubber, so true...happy you stopped by and hope you come back again for more:)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      9 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      That's the joy of writing! Like photographs, they can remind us things forgotten. It can even job our memories as we're writing!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      So happy my dear fellow hubber, that you have found the time to stop by on my hubs...and even happier that your time was well spent:)....don't know what happened to Mr Nina, but my son still remembers him as if it happened yesterday:)...I think some people will leave lasting impressions on us doesn't matter if we meet them only for a day...unfortunately we lost contact with him but hopefully he is safe and sound, he was one of those people who are prepared for 'everything':)

    • MobyWho profile image

      MobyWho 

      9 years ago from Burlington VT

      Oh, Beata - that is lyrical. Your poem flowed like the rivers it followed. I will read your others as my form of relaxation...and add my concerns for Mr. Nine and his art pursuit. Happy writing!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      It happened such a long time ago:)...how the time flies, now my son is finishing the High School and we have lost contact with Mr Nine but miraculously I am reading again the story of the Mao's Last Dancer and that brought me back to the time of our ' stop over' in Bangkok and realised that although we lost the passport at that time we gained so much from that experience:)....thank you for stopping by and reminding me of that great time...all the best to you my friend:)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      9 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      excellent prose poem. Sounds like a fun little trip!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      11 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you Shalini for popping in, happy to share my memories with you....hopefully the situation will settle again and we will have more peaceful memories of Thailand...

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      11 years ago from India

      A wonderful description of a wonderful journey! Thank you Beata! You bring back such warm memories of Bangkok for me - the wats, the tuktuks - and the wonderful flavour of Singha beer!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      11 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you dear Ethel for visiting my hub and connecting with me through my words...

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      What a fabulous journey. The photos are all the better for being personal. Thanks

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      11 years ago from Western Australia

      Thanks MickS for visiting me and leaving a nice comment behind...all the best to you and your writing...Beata

    • MickS profile image

      MickS 

      11 years ago from March, Cambridgeshire, England

      Watcha Beata,

      well written piece, must find a home in, probably, a woman's mag somewhere.

      best

      Mick

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      11 years ago from Western Australia

      Thanks Carolina, I am happy you like it, I hope you come back again. All the best from Beata

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      11 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      wow.. what a cool travelling poem it is!!!

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      11 years ago from Western Australia

      I try to look for 'humanity' everywhere, it is strange but

      it's look like less money you have and less luxury you enjoy, more time you have for other people...

      Thank you for reading my 'travelling poem'.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 

      11 years ago from London, UK

      Lovely Hub with Gorgeous Pics. You must have lots of lovely memories and the people from that part of the world are so humble and friendly. Thanks again for sharing with us. :)

    • Beata Stasak profile imageAUTHOR

      Beata Stasak 

      11 years ago from Western Australia

      Thank you so much for your encouragement, I have just finished writing a comment on your fun club as I enjoyed your hubs so much. Thank you also for answering my question. I feel that I have a new soulmate.

    • bayareagreatthing profile image

      bayareagreatthing 

      11 years ago from Bay Area California

      I enjoyed reading this. Your style of writing is engaging and the description of your journey was full of emotion. What a beautiful journey you painted for all of us to read! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      11 years ago

      Thank you Imamartin for another warm words of encouragement.

      I will keep trying, I was asked to loose my Eastern European accent many times, but it does not bother me anymore, it is who I am.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 

      11 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      A wonderful description of a fascinating trip. You express yourself well, and your writing has just that trace of East Europe accent about it. The photographs are very interesting, particularly to one who has never travelled in Asia. (Asia and Australia are the only continents I haven't visited.) So this peek into affairs there was greatly appreciated. Keep on writing.

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