Monday, October 03, 2011

Bon mot for the week

"I'm not much of a one for beach holidays. If you've got the ocean on one side and the jungle on the other, why would you stay on the beach?"


(Possibly yet another of the reasons why I find it so hard to find or keep a girlfriend...)


JES said...

Yes, what is it with beach people, anyhow?

It's a conversation in which The Missus and I often indulge our wishful thinking. We believe we'd like to have at least two homes to retire to: one in the forested mountains, one at the Atlantic coast. (We'd also like to have a roomy solar-powered RV in which to travel in leisurely way between the two.) Guess which of us is pushing for which destination.

She says: At the beach you can just stay indoors and read. True enough. And not a bad way to spend, say, a long weekend.

But I can do that in the mountains, too, and wouldn't. Even for a couple days. Why? Because even I don't want to stay indoors all the time -- even to read.

On the other hand, the jungle's on neither of our radars.

As a gift a few years ago, she got me a book called 1000 Places to See Before You Die. You could go through with a black marker and redact any place in the jungle -- and, given our ages, lose none of the inherent cruelty of the title.

Froog said...

Ah, yes, I've browsed that book a few times myself. I console/protect myself by cultivating a jadedness about the 'big destinations'. China's terracotta warriors, for example, are a big disappointment. And I suspect even the pyramids would fail to live up to the childish wonderment I felt about them when falling asleep every night looking at my brother's Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon poster on our bedroom wall.

The problem for me is that, these, days, almost all of them are completely overrun with tourists - and I HATE crowds, practically to the point of phobia. Even quite mundane natural views can evoke that sense of wonder - if you're experiencing them in near solitude. So, I tend to prefer to hike off to remote wild places that haven't been puffed in any guidebook.

Jungle is just humid forest. I could do without the humidity, but the enfolding green gloom is beguiling; and it generates that sense of solitude, even if "civilization" is just 100 yards or so away.

JES said...

Oh, the exquisite irony -- that someone with such antipathy for crowds would be living in Beijing!

I do know what you mean, though, about encountering them on journeys taken for pleasure. (I mean, not counting urban destinations like NYC; it's not difficult to disengage from the mobs when whatever's in the foreground is so damned interesting.) A nephew whom I will be seeing in a few weeks just returned from a two- or three-month trip across country, visiting as many US national parks as he could; I'm looking forward, with trepidation, to tales of their despoliation by the plague of commerce and tourism.

Froog said...

Oddly enough, Beijing rarely seems all that crowded to me. Yes, the roads are often gridlocked and public transport systems are often overloaded and people live in tiny amounts of personal space (I still find it shocking - even after all these years - to so often find people sleeping on camp-beds behind the counters of their tiny shops, for exammple), but... in the parks, on the sidewalks you don't often find all that many people. They're not big walkers here. They just hang out in their own neighbourhoods, or they hop on a bike, but they don't walk anywhere. So, the sidewalks, while not deserted, are seldom anywhere near as busy as you'd find in most European or North American cities (or even some other parts of China; Hong Kong has a lot more pedestrian bustle about it; so does Shanghai).

This week is an exception; there's a seven-day holiday for the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic, and it's rather like the Zombie Apocalypse - millions of people with no money to spend and no real idea what to do with themselves just dawdling up and down the street gawking at stuff. It is hell on earth. I can't wait for it to be over for another year.