I’m sat in the departure lounge of heathrow airport and reminded of Douglas Adams, “it is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase appear ‘as pretty as an airport.” Despite having always liked airports they aren’t attractive places. Even if Frank Gehry took on the design of one, the struggle of logistics and organization would slowly dissolve away the soul of he building and erode any feng shui that may be seen from outside. Instead, the main experience we have of these places is from where I am sat now, in the departure lounge next to duty free shops, sparkling with impersonality. Its the people of airports that I really love, the full spectrum of emotion flood throughout the place. Boredom in the eyes of the woman about to take the red eye to New York, prodding her tired looking leather bag repeatedly with the toe of her boot. Nostalgia in the eyes of the old Chinese lady sitting in front of me, smiling in weary silence.
I’m on my way to Thailand. Bit of a spur of the moment trip to be honest, mostly organized by email on whilst driving around North Wales. I’m going to Khao Chong National Botanic Gardens, where the Smithsonian Institute has a research station to work on a project aimed at assessing the extent of insect biodiversity in the forest. I don’t have all the details about my job, so expect as my past fieldwork experience has shown me, that its going to be about being adaptable and figuring it out when I get there. I’m going to be collecting insects from the forest and taking their legs off, so that they can be shipped off to China for DNA barcoding. The fieldsite sounds rough, and the botanic garden is not so much a garden as a massive hunk of pristine rainforest in southern Thailand, I think I’m most excited to hear the chirp of insect as I go to sleep.
My friend Benita is working at the project at the moment, on a longer term study of insect biodiversity. She described to me the beauty and accessibility of the forest and earthy conditions of the camp. So I decided to go.
I finished things up more or less on the project I was working on as a field
assistant with the university of Bristol, on the ecology of saltmarsh islands along the coast of England, and although I still have a chunk of spreadsheet work to do for the project, I should be able to do it on the hoof.
I’ve also taken my drone with me. I’m planning to pursue research into the use of drone for monitoring forests, so I’ve packed it, and bracing myself for the questions sure to come in customs. Its a small quadcopter with a go pro camera. I’m going to fly it over the botanic gardens and take photos to map the area, hopefully generating some good data on tree species, and without crashing it into the forest.
This summer has been a colourful and at moments painful experience, starting in June after the most stressful experience of my life (I know how petty that sounds- but its true!) exams. Afterward my degree was over and there’s no other way to put it, I felt completely fucked. Everything was oddly painful and although the terrible panic that sizzled into being after my life was supposed to ‘begin’, I can’t deny that a huge thirst for change was a big driving force behind this trip.
I was spurred into movement again when weird emotions rocked around when at work in the biology building at bristol I saw friends from my year come back for their master’s degree. It felt odd to be there without actually being a student, like that awkward older kid from high school that graduated two years ago but would always hang out by the basketball courts.
So anyway I’m leaving for about six weeks, going somewhere I’ve never ever been before: Asia. I’m starting a blog because I haven’t made one before and if you like, you can check up on how I’m doing. I have no idea how its going to be and I’m excited by the sheer amount I don’t know. So goodbye Katy, goodbye friends, I’ll see you soon.