My Thailand friends will know this place well. It's a quiet beach retreat - a very special place where you can temporarily forget about the rest of the world. This little bit of writing was inspired by my first visit there and completed on my return to Thailand after spending Christmas in the UK.
After the bustle of the bus in the stifling heat, a lonely motorbike taxi escorts you along quieter, less trammelled paths. It winds and meanders, skilfully avoiding the numerous gashes in the asphalt until one last turn introduces the sea – enticing and rapturous – and the city is only a memory.
Joe, a man probably much older than he looks, acknowledges you with a nod. He is a man who respects economy in words and generosity in deed, and his eyes - his bright, keen eyes that could have seen centuries – now see you and silently bid you welcome.
The drinks flow with the effervescence of the tide and music plays, adding rhythmic asides to the dancing of the waves.
New people become old friends. Old friends with new conversations and old ideas – perhaps the oldest ideas – as happens when wandering souls convene across the world and find themselves part of a shared story.
An old man with skin that hangs from his sun-bent bones like snakes draped on a cane chair sits apart, emoting into his silent and uncomprehending beer. Vaguely aware of the counterpoint of conversation around him – a chattering of nations and ages – he adds his own kazoo crash interjections from his barside pulpit.
“SIR DONALD TRUMP – HE LIKES TO TAKE IT UP THE RUMP!”
It’s a new theme, but it fails to disrupt the ensemble to his satisfaction.
So, with the indiscriminate generosity of a drunk, he dispenses his own fetid brew of divisive dichotomy and compels us all to take a swig: Republican vs Democrat, young vs old, Thai vs farang. C’mon everyone! Let’s have an argument, ya bastards! Give me a fight!
He longs to feel the sting of a fist just to remind him he still exists.
But nobody rises, and, invalidated, he evaporates into the darkness with the ghost friends of his whisky fumes.
Jambay is not the everyday clamour of politics and polemic. Such things are washed away into the white noise of sea spray and what remains is an eternal present, a pocket of time beyond the tyranny of news cycles, Facebook feeds, and ticking clocks. It’s a temporal enclave, this cycle of sun and sea. The beat goes on, but, this night, the counterpoint gradually thins as the instruments retreat to bed in groups and pairs and single swaying footsteps to dream their thousand dreams, leaving you – breathing alone with nothing but the soft water beyond.
Heeding its siren call you venture to the edge and stand in awe because, silently, and concealed by the music and merriment, Nature was busy preparing the stage for her own show, and now the house-lights are dimmed she can pull back the curtain and reveal her grand finale: a sky peppered with billions of blinking lights and iridescent hues. Infinitely dense, it draws you onward along the shore, further into the blackness, further into the effortless fractalicious complexity. You pause only to notice the cool waves lapping at your naked toes and as you look down, you see more lights: a blanket of bio-luminescence reflecting the canopy above, shining like gems in the abyss.
And then you realise: you are the only one here and this show, on this particular night, is just for you – your own personal introduction to The Universe. She beckons you closer, as if wishing to impart a confidence, and, for the first time, you feel that eternal present. It compels you to abandon caution and resist thought - to accept, to succumb.
And you do.
Clothed only by the night you embrace the ocean and surrender yourself to the stars.