[Fiction] Waking up in VetAsia

By Frankey

Extract from VetAsia, a novel based on travel experiences.

“I indeed baptise you in water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptise you in the Holy Spirit and in fire.”[1]


Igne natura renovatur integra.[2]


It’s f**king hot.[3]

I can barely breathe, but eventually it’s a different kind of breathing.[4]

The first small step on VetAsian soil is one of boiling tension, and evanescent desires to bathe myself in liquid nitrogen waterfalls come and go. Simmering refractions surround me in confronting waves and illusions of acid-trips and concoctions of tetrahydrocannabinol in unruly parts per million. I’m not ready. I need the bathroom as a pavlovian response to getting off a plane. My feet melt into the curling linoleum, irrevocably ruining my Adeedas.[5]

Two footmen guard an officious gateway through to somewhere unchartered, armed with immediate jail-time-level automatic machinery pointed in parallel lines to ten past eight, expressionless but not emotionless, staring into a concocted horizon, contemplating the necessities of clockwork life and perhaps what’s for dinner, in order to get through the drudgery of it all. People stare, and it’s not just me. They’re fashioned in military-grade outerwear, oppressive yet stylish enough to feature ironically on the cover of a limited autumn edition of Men’s Vogue, or even androgynously for Vogue itself as a kind of feature piece from Saint Laurent. The sheen of their overly phallic tools confront. A fleeting dart of the eyes from the one on the left serves as an ephemeral reminder of their humanity, but fundamentally as characters in a show. I NEED the bathroom.

This is nothing like any of the wild gamut of experiences I’ve had landing in the vast array of countries stitched throughout Europunzel in a granny square afghan of territorial potpourri or pretty much anywhere else in the world. Characterised by perhaps a lot more than its eau, but too subtle to firmly grasp in complete depth, this place is as much a developing country as North Kongorea is a democracy, however I am certainly cognisant of the north and south divide that continues to plague this great nation.

Although, speaking of Europunzel, that place does appear to be all that everyone seems to be doing these days, if it is indeed something to be done, like a deer panting for streams of water,[6] and unless I’ve instagrammed at the foot of the Eiffellize Tower, or tweeted my feelings about how goddamned small the Monalogalisa is in less than 140 characters, then I haven’t really travelled or been anywhere exciting.[7]

No, VetAsia appears to linger somewhere beyond the event horizon. It wanders through the pages of amalgamated fairytale, bildungsromans, and almanacs. It vacillates in juxtaposing quantum states extraneous to binary switches and exists dead or alive in a box. It apparates on closings of extended draw distances in shock and awe behaviours, like assumptions of Higgs Bosons and obscure particles. Tell em, Neil.[8]

An odorous air unmaskable by even the most liberally applied teenage deodorants[9] whispers through my nostrils in ghosted sways; I taste the corruption along my lingual papillae with every second breath I take, every move I make.[10] People gawk and squawk at me like cackles of toolies at schoolies. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the characteristic disregard for personal hygiene noticeable so very clearly by the comfort and ease in which my customs officer picks her nose and rubs her fingers all over my passport and then perhaps seems to eat one of her boogers. *Flick* !! Or maybe it’s just the beauty and movie-magic of VetAsia guised in the semblance of a troll looking for his toll into a boy’s soul,[11] for the Nightman cometh.[12] Laboured breathing normalises into elevated average heart rates and blurred lines separate reality from rumour to fiction.

Welcome to Area 51, because there’s nothing to see here. Nothing stands out like something that would garner anything more than a handful of likes on a 13-year old girl’s Facebook timeline/Insta feed, bar some witty commentary about how agonisingly or uniquely long the queue is today or how tired everyone must be after that predictably long flight[13] — but who gives a fuck about that?[14] These are the backdrops of banal prosaicness, redundant tautology, palpable boredom, personified ennui, scenes of rejected postcards circa 1984, conversations on par with answers to ‘How was your weekend?’ on a Tuesday, and the realities of mundane lassitude manifest in the flesh.[15] All around me are unfamiliar faces,[16] signs in languages I’ll never speak, ignorant tourists who are so much more worse than I am, with their cargo shorts and heart-diseased waistlines, and faces studied into nowhere. I am suffocating without all of the desired elements of erotic asphyxiation. Hold me.

One thing’s for sure: I’m out of place, displaced even,[17] and I’ve abandoned all hope of ever returning to my comfort zone.  


[1] Emphasis added. Matthew 3:11, King James version 1611 of the Bible. See also Dante’s Purgatory 27:10-15.

[2] Through fire, nature is reborn whole.

[3] Fucking.

[4] See perfluorocarbon. See further, foetal umbilical breathing in the womb like a kind of rebirthing process, yet separate to the idea of the “born-again” movements.

[5] See further, My Adidas by Run DMC.

[6] See Psalms 42:1.

[7] P.S. How small is the Mona Lisa!? 77 cm × 53 cm. Furthermore, I must admit that I have yet to do that whole 2 years in Londominium gig that everyone’s doing these days. Does that make me any less of a man?

[8] See interchangeably, either deGrasse Tyson or Armstrong. Although, recent sentiments have been unfavourable to the former.

[9] e.g. Lynx/Axe.

[10] See in particular the Puff Daddy variant in the form of I’ll be missing you, as opposed to the arguably more creepier original Every Breath You Take by The Police. In the latter, the lyrics are instead “every breath you take, every move you make… I’ll be watching you.”

[11] Or boy’s hole.

[12] See in particular, the relevant satirical musical from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Not to be confused with Eugene O’Neill’s existential 1939 play, The Iceman Cometh.

[13] Because it’s all right there on the itinerary.

[14] Probably best to send a 3 second Snapchat, instead.

[15] See further 1 Timothy 3:16, English Standard Version of the Bible.

[16] See contra, Mad World by R.E.M.

[17] Not to be confused with adaptation displacement, in which a derivative work overshadows the original work, e.g. Jaws the movie, which is not commonly known to be based on the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley.

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