The view from the window at the head of my bed
I can tell by the hue of the light coming into the room that it's past dawn, but it's not all that far past it when I'm awakened by the chirping of a bird perched on the ledge outside of the window just over my head, behind my pillow. I don't recognize the bird's song, but it's bright and melodic and I turn onto my back to stretch and listen to the sounds of the Thai countryside. There are other birds in the distance, and the chic-chic-chic of a gecko; perhaps up in the corner of the room behind the curtains, perhaps just outside under the eaves.
It took a moment for it to register where I was: in one of 10 bungalows along a river at a small resort in the Thai countryside, a couple of hours by car from the outskirts of Bangkok - a place where nobody other than myself knew much English and the only readable signage spoke of Pepsi and Coke.
It was so peaceful just lying there that I'd started to drift off to sleep again when I heard footsteps approaching my front door, creaking softly on the walkway, elevated - with no great confidence from me - on stilts above the river water below. My friend's gentle knocking brought me fully awake again as he announced "We need to go soon if you want to make merit to the boat monks." "OK," I replied "I'll go shower and meet you out front in 10 minutes for breakfast." I reached for my watch and saw that it was just 06:00.
The footsteps retreated along the walkway as I turned over, lifting the corner of the curtains and pushed open the window at the head of my bed. Other than the occasional bird flying over and the constant flow of foliage and water hyacinth moving lazily along with the flow of the Amphawa river all was completely still outside; the cool, green smell of the tropics drifted into the room as I rested my chin on the windowsill, gazing out over the mirrored surface of the river. "Magnificent," I murmured to no one. "This could be heaven."
A lone monk emerged from the dormitory of the wat across the river, but only one - the others all undoubtedly out collecting the morning's alms, he remaining behind to perform other duties. As he disappeared into the temple area I turned and sat up, stretching again before rising and heading into the hong nam to shower, thinking of the prawn and rice soup that would be waiting for me, and the simple pleasures of another day in Thailand.