As I Pass by Weightlessly

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Photograph: Kiat

I have always been more than lazy to pack my luggage. Even if I am to travel to a faraway place, my slow motion in arranging luggage is exactly what Cantonese idiom described as ‘the rat pulling the tortoise’.

More often that not, I am procrastinating my packing of stuff until the night before my flight. Since AirAsia taps into a bigger share in the budget segment of the global aviation industry, lazy pals like me are quite happy indeed, for we can even save up to more than 100 ringgit for baggage surcharge.

Some social media users came up with easy-to-comprehend PowerPoint slides to explain a bigger picture of a bigger issue, say, Ukraine crisis or Ebola disease. Netizens named those slides as ‘lazy fella’s package’.

Well, I think that’s a good term for my backpack. All I need to do is roll several T-shirts, short pants and jacket. Not forgetting a small toothpaste and shower shampoo. As I am always putting on thin autumn jacket while catching a flight, it too becomes my blanket when I sleep on the plane. One move, two gains.

Some travellers are going extra miles than what I did. I heard of their stories about tying the end of a straw, insert shower shampoo, and the tie up the other end.

Everytime you shower, you use one straw of shampoo. And you throw away the straw after shower.

They say this saves their backpack some space because they don’t keep small bottle shampoo. But hey, isn’t that a waste of time? Do you spend half an hour just to fill up seven straws for a seven-day trip? For me that’s not worthwhile so I just wouldn’t do that.

And yup, I always go abroad with a backpack, a tiny hand-carry pack for a camera and a book. Several years ago I went back to Taipei for a nostalgic trip and Wubai & China Blue’s Concert. And I met my friends near our alma mater National Taiwan Normal University.

“Uh huh! So you return to Taiwan with just one bag? You’ve just arrived from Kaohsiung or what?” my friends asked me as they witnessed my seemingly easiness. “As I pass by weightlessly,” I said.

If my memory serves me right, my Taiwanese friends who are closer with me don’t really admire early 20th-century writer Hsu Chih-mo – several of them are Eileen Chang’s literary experts, though. Nevertheless, when I uttered the Hsu-style trademark poetic expression such as ‘as I pass by weightlessly’, it still gave us a good laugh.

Wherever I go, I know I can always wash and dry my clothes using a coin-operated washing machine. It takes only an hour or two to get it all done, so it is of no worries at all. Some friends of mine love to travel to Thailand with an empty luggage bag, wherever they go they would just buy clothes and shoes – rather relaxingly – for they are really cheap. What an impromptu and cosy style of travelling and shopping – which explains why foreigners love Thailand.

It isn’t news that backpackers from the world over love Thailand. Word is that western travellers adopt Laos as their new darling, for it is cheaper than Thailand.

In Laos, while enjoying your beer you can sit into a tyre floating along the river and enjoy the scenery. If you wanna visit any seemingly interesting restaurant or pub at the riverside, wave to the waiters and they will throw a rope to pull you up.

No plan, no fussy, they play by ear the whole trip. This is the genuine version of ‘as I pass by weightlessly’ – which prompts my half-baked version to concede defeat.

As a matter of fact, my version of ‘as I pass by weightlessly’ is only limited to backpacking. I feel guilty if I spend more than five days travelling, and I would have a strong desire to get back to my normal routine to work during daytime and write lyrics at night. I too feel guilty if I watch movie for too long. Prolonged trips make me feel sick, for I have a strong sense to work or write something everyday.

Perhaps such habit which my friends describe as workaholic is good in another way. When I am ready to write a novel, I may want to emulate Haruki Murakami’s lifestyle to spend half year in overseas, the other half in my home country. Writers can work anywhere, the only criteria are concentration and Internet connection.

Perhaps I could travel to the corner of the world – say, Punta Arenas, a Chilean town near to Antarctica – I would sit next to the traveller lounge’s window writing my novel and occasionally staring at the sea which connects Antarctica.

That way, I guess the novel I have been longing for would have an atmosphere of the corner of the world. Whether it sounds ‘as I pass by weightlessly’ or not, that is certainly beyond my prediction at the moment.

正如我輕輕的來

從來我都很懶惰收拾行李,我出遠門就連行李也想省卻,偏偏我連收拾背包也是老鼠拉龜,常常都是拖到班機前一晚才甘願整理東西。自從亞航風靡全球之後,我這種懶人大概是蠻開心的,因為連一百多塊錢馬幣的行李託運費也可以省下來。

網路上那些將複雜資訊縮成圖文並茂的短文稱為懶人包,我想我的背包也可以稱為懶人包吧。反正我就是將幾件T恤、短褲跟夾克捲起來,牙刷還有小支裝牙膏和沐浴乳,大概就七七八八了。秋裝外套穿上身上,在飛機上睡覺可以當被蓋,一舉數得。

有些人出遠門比我更絕,聽說他們將水草的一端綁死,注入很小量的沐浴乳,填滿水草之後再將另一端封死,每次洗澡用一支水草劑量就夠了。用過之後水草即丟,為的就是免得小支裝沐浴乳佔了背包空間。但是準備過程又是一個麻煩,出門七天難道要準備七支水草?裝來裝去豈不是耗上大半小時,也太不划算了吧?還是算了吧。

就這樣一個背包一個小袋子裝相機和一本書,我就可以出門了。幾年前趁著伍佰 & China Blue 演唱會,我回到台北重溫舊夢,跟朋友約在母校師大附近碰面。友人見我一身輕鬆,都會問我:「你沒有行李箱?就這樣一個背包就回來台灣?你是剛剛從高雄回來的吧?」我聽了笑一笑,說一聲「正如我輕輕的來」。如果我沒記錯的話,跟我熟絡的台灣同學之中好像沒有幾個徐志摩書迷,張愛玲專家倒是有幾個,我沒有崇拜徐志摩,但是將這句徐式招牌詩句端出來,大家都還是會心一笑的。

反正去到哪裏,衣服帶不夠大不了就是找個投幣式洗衣機和烘乾機,晚上花個一兩個小時那些髒衣服就乾淨了,根本無須操心。有些朋友最愛去泰國,每次就是帶一兩個空蕩蕩的背包過去,走在街上喜歡哪一件衣服就隨便買隨便穿,反正泰國消費便宜,衫褲鞋襪買個夠才回國也不會怎麼樣。實在即興得可以,難怪那麼多外國人在泰國流連忘返。

泰國旅遊業吸引全球背包客,早已不是新聞。聽說西方流浪漢現在喜歡跑寮國,消費比泰國便宜,半坐半躺在大輪胎上隨著河流到處飄,一邊喝啤酒一邊看風景,看到河畔有哪一家酒家餐館好像不錯的樣子,跟服務生打個招呼,他們把繩子丟給你再把你拉上岸。飄到哪裏算哪裏,這才是真正的「正如我輕輕的來」。真的要寫個服字給他們。

其實我只是準備背包方面做得到「正如我輕輕的來」而已,我出門旅行超過五天就會有罪惡感,好想趕快又回去白天工作、晚上寫歌的生活。看電視覺得愧疚,出遠門太久又想著工作,每天總想要做一些事情或者寫一些東西。

或許這是好事。哪一天我準備好要寫小說了,我也可以學村上春樹半年在國外、半年在國內,反正我們這些寫字的人去到哪裏都可以完成工作,唯一條件就是網路和專心。

也許可以去到世界的角落,例如很靠近南極的智利城市 Punta Arenas,一邊坐在旅館窗邊寫小說,一邊眺望銜接南極的海洋,大概我心目中那部小說也會很有世界邊緣的感覺吧,到底還會不會有「正如我輕輕的來」的感覺,我就無法預知了。