Blowing West is the record of saxophonist, Paradon Ponamnuai's, journey overland from Chiang Mai, Thailand, through China, and across Mongolia and Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway to Europe to play at a music festival in Paris in July 2009. Translated from the original Thai by Paul Sugars.
*Payments through Paypal secure servers. You can use credit/debit cards.
Once, as the train passed a hillside with a small stream meandering through moss coloured rocks below, far out at the distant cliffs I saw an old man standing majestically on top of the cliff with a big white dog. He was looking quietly down at the open fields full of livestock, and when the train passed closest to him, for a fraction of a second it seemed like we made eye contact and I felt spell-bound by those ancient eyes... as though he’d been standing on that cliff for untold ages waiting for me to travel from a far distant place just to meet his solitary gaze.
Alexey was 15 years old and from Irkutsk. He was travelling to another city for a boxing fight. I asked him if the old man he was travelling with was his father. He said the man was his coach... He didn’t have a father, only his mother. I noticed several scars on his body and asked him how he’d gotten them. He told me that the scar over his eye was from a fight and the scars on his hands were from a skipping rope. After saying this he smiled and told me to put the scars in the portrait.
And as the music started I felt my hair stand on end at the reverberating sound, which was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, as if something was hidden in the sound. Even though it was only music in a kitchen, I could feel his intensity and sincerity, and the
atmosphere put a spell on me, affecting all my senses and banishing the image of a kitchen or of any other place on earth, leaving only the sound waves streaming from his instrument.
In the silence of that fraction of a second, which seemed like a day, my heart pounded so hard it almost burst out of my chest. Suddenly his wife opened the door of the truck, got out and started to sob, exhausted... Life hangs by a thread. This must be the meaning of it. Forget the rest of the trip, on only the first morning ‘I almost died!’
“My plan is, tomorrow morning I’m gonna get up early and pray that I don’t chicken out and abandon the trip... After that I’m going to go and stand on the highway outside of the city and hitchhike from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai, cross the border into Laos, head north towards China, and so on until I get to Beijing. After that, find out how to get on the Siberian railway... The train will take me to Moscow where I’ll catch another train to get to the European Union through Latvia, via Poland, Germany, Belgium, until I get to Paris... Along the way there’ll be the adventure of meeting people, seeing great natural beauty, and in the end I’ll fall in love with a beautiful girl... Happy ending!”