Dear readers, our oriental adventure is drawing to its conclusion.
What contrasting experiences we've had. Except for Malaysia, all our 'ports of call' have been Buddhist-majority countries. When events haven't gone to plan or have met with disappointment I remind Will of an aphorism attributed to the great Buddha....not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of good fortune!
What a contrast our two weeks in Sri Lanka were: the first was 'on the road' visiting a variety of cities and monuments and the second was spent relaxing at a commodious walled villa (with staff) at the seaside resort of Unawatuna. My question is: how many reclining Buddhas does one have to view to achieve enlightenment? Now lazing beachside isn't my idea of a good time either. Thankfully we had the pleasure of a 'Bawa Fest', visiting three more of Geoffrey's fab hotels at Galle, Bentota and Negombo, as well as the country retreats of both Geoffrey and celebrity brother Bevis (our own Donald Friend was houseguest for five years).
Fascinating men and lives; both gay, "they belonged to a class so coddled and deracinated it seemed to float above Colonial Ceylonese society in a cloud of Chanel-scented idleness". I so adored that description by writer Richard Simons I couldn't resist including it! I sent Will on fieldwork but he didn't find anything 'beachside gay'. Perhaps his gaydar's faulty? There was a possibility one Friday night at a local bar. Will returned, hopefully, on Saturday to find it full of straight tourists. As the great Buddha says....sometimes you only get one chance......Carpe diem!
Our week in Bangkok flew. We've dubbed it 'Manhattan of the Orient'; its skyline's ever aspiring! And talk about 'shop 'til you drop': glam shopping pavilions; street stalls and markets seemingly at every turn; and food, food, food! We were treated to top-end accommodation at a swank new Sukhumvit hotel. Sometimes we just didn't want to leave its gorgeousness! I insisted Will visit several 'boy bars' (same old same young) and of course Babylon sauna which he maintains remains the finest in the world!
Our three-day jaunt to Siem Reap/ 'Angkor World' has been a treat. Last visit Will hurtled about in noonday sun on bicycle. This time it's air-conditioned, chauffeur-driven comfort - much more my style! Myriad temples in their park-like and jungle settings are enchanting. We've noted quite a few gay visitors and seemingly a growth of gay-friendly accommodation, our charming boutique hotel Viroth's being one. The town now boasts two gay saunas and the "only gay exclusive hotel in Cambodia"!
Dear readers in my next column I'll compare and contrast the four countries on our itinerary from a gay perspective.