Monday, May 7, 2012

Saga of the Burning Palace: Le palais est mort, vive le palais!

Bamboo Palace: 10:10PM, 6 May 2012
Stunning spectacle of a Burning Palace, seconds later...
Within 10 minutes, only the skeleton remains... then the gas cylinder erupts into flames!
The sad aftermath...
Completely demolished by fire
Amerpal photographing the remains of his luggage (the sink survived!)
The Bamboo Palace in its heyday (December 2009?)
Last portrait of the Bamboo Palace: 11 April 2012 (photo: Dorota Nierzwicka)

The Bamboo Palace began in flames and, exactly seven years later, ended in flames.

In January 2005, I accidentally started a bush fire behind my house. As the flames swept up the overgrown slope I rushed over with a bucket of water in a futile attempt to douse the conflagration. Then I heard the voice of the fire deva: "Hey, stop it... we're only trying to help you clear the site for your future guesthouse!" I was concerned that the fire would destroy my neighbor's wooden shed - it was where Anoora's uncle Utat slept when he got too feeble to live in his own shanty 40 minutes' walk from the village. The fire deva reassured me "Don't worry, we know what we're doing. We'll clear just enough space for you to start building!"

May 2005: The Bamboo Palace up and running
So I immediately sat down with a few sheets of A4 paper and began sketching the basic plan for a thatch-roofed guesthouse with bamboo walls and floors. It would have two large bedrooms and a spacious veranda overlooking the misty hills in the distance. A couple of fishing net hammocks, a few mats and assorted cushions.... what else? Oh, one day after the Bamboo Palace was completed, I was given a free 25" TV set plus a DVD player (courtesy of Makro, after I wrote a letter of complaint to the managing director). A year later I got my broadband connection and so another dream came true - I could offer my guests internet access from their hammocks.

Norah Jones serenades Anoora while she has an afternoon siesta
The ultimate in jungle luxury
Ahau loved napping at the Bamboo Palace
View from the hammock
The full moon of 6 May 2012 was at perigee, meaning it was as close to the Earth as it could get. We bought dinner in town and returned around 9:15. Nobody was in the Palace but the veranda light was on (a young couple had been chilling out all day but they had gone to town for a bite). About an hour later I was distracted by a bright orange glow at my study window - for an instant I fancied a UFO was hovering overhead - but when I opened the window I felt a blast of hot air and saw the roof of the Bamboo Palace was ablaze.

I rushed out to see what I could do, and remembered to grab my camera to document this dramatic turn of events. Glad I did, because it was all over within 20 minutes. Burnt right down to the ground. A few scary moments when the gas cylinder erupted in a spectacular fireball but didn't explode. I had thought of rushing into the kitchen, disconnecting the gas and kicking the cylinder away from the burning structure - but as I reached the top step flaming attap began raining down and I decided to turn back and observe from a safe distance.

It's a complete mystery how the fire began. My neighbor later reported seeing a lit candle on the veranda - but my guests were adamant that they weren't using any candles. Whatever caused the fire, it did its job so thoroughly there's absolutely nothing left to salvage (except possibly the kitchen sink).

This morning I received Solara's Surf Report for May 2012 and these words jumped right out at me:

Since the 'A Mu'a began, it has felt as if a huge bonfire has burned away much of what was there before. We are beginning to see and feel the monumental in-depth changes that are now taking place both within us and within our outer lives. During the 'A Mu'a Ceremony, we didn't just seed the New Moon with the 'A Mu'a energies of Going Forward, but we seeded ourselves and our True Lives with 'A Mu'a. We have now entered a phase when a series of powerful tsunamis will sweep into our lives. These 'A Mu'a Tsunamis are bringing us massive, unprecedented, core level change, transformation, deepened love and forward movement so we can finally live True Lives as True Ones. 

The Bamboo Palace has given shelter and succor to hundreds in the seven years of its existence. Friends and strangers have twice donated to keeping its roof intact - but after the last repair job, leaks began appearing everywhere, and it seemed like time to move on from building with natural materials. 

It's obvious now that the Bamboo Palace was a firetrap - good thing it didn't happen in the middle of the night with half-a-dozen sleeping bodies to worry about. I was beginning to feel a wee bit fatigued from having to contend with an almost non-stop flow of visitors (some of whom abused my hospitality by leaving behind a mess). 

What next? Who knows! The same can be said about reality across the spectrum - whether we're talking about our own lives, our countries, our beloved planet, or the entire galaxy...

A tribute to the Bamboo Palace @ Magick River by Núria Tolós


Brad Blackstone said...

Poetic eulogy for another magical spot....

Thanks, brother :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Ant!!!! Such fond memories of the Bamboo Palace...although I must say this was a fine way for her to go out in style.

<3 K8

Donplaypuks® said...

Sad to hear it happened before I and my family could visit.

So, what's Plan B? Life must and will go on.

we are all of 1 Race, the Human Race

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about that Antares. Melissa and I had such a lovely time there and eventually I was able to return the favour and show her the beautiful countryside of England. Great memories, hope you can rebuild.

Big Love


SFGEMS said...

And that my dear is the start of another chapter in your life...

Virginia said...

Oh I am so sorry to hear that news ... the photos are as heartwrenching as they are amazing though ...the fire spectacular ... but yet so sad .. I cant even imagine what it was like to witness ...and to think you were able to photograph it especially when it was all over in such a short time !! W O W !!!
I have watched you blog and post pictures about the bamboo palace and it is a great regret in life of mine that I never got there to see it and stay there ....Your post about the fire, was so heartfelt and yet there is some strange acceptance if it was some strange divine intervention ... like it was her time to go ... weird !!! Anyway I am still very sorry about the loss of your most special and magical guesthouse ... and am grateful no-one was hurt at least Virg xxii

Starmandala said...

How comforting to read all the comments so far, thank you. The few who regarded the Bamboo Palace as their home for several months - Pierrick from France, Lenny from Denmark, Dorota from Poland, and Raja Azman from KL - I think they will miss the palace the most. As for me, I have only slept there a total of maybe 5 nights in 7 years... I guess I already had 7 years living in bamboo huts (1992-1999) and was happy to enjoy the middle-class comforts of a brick house.

@DPP - I don't believe in Plan B's. In fact, I find myself unable to make plans at all these days. Many decades ago I planned on witnessing the end of Mahathir and Mahathirism's deathgrip on Malaysia; but back then mine seemed to be a minority opinion. It now appears that 30+ years later it's fast becoming everybody's profoundest desire :-)

Anonymous said...

Dearest Antares, Of course, you would be the one to experience the super 'A Mu'a Bonfire in its most literal form.

With Deepest 'A Mu'a Love, Solara

Hujan said...

i wish we could've salvaged that portrait of you on the center wall, dated '87. but i suppose we (the collective beneficiaries of le palais) already each carry a different part it within us. and remember! a little more than 24 hours before the fire, we (you) spoke of rebuilding/renewing. if that's on your mind, i'm with you.

Starmandala said...

@Solara - How do you do it, sweetheart? Just one word from you and my entire being melts into pure mush! AN WE GO!

@Hujan - So you found the Magick River blog :-) Well, you're welcome in my humble hologram anytime. At least I can say the demolition of the palace was preceded and followed by rain: first the figurative Rain enjoyed a wet, rivery dream; then, a couple of hours after the bonfire, the really wet version.

Y.K. Goon said...

Sorry to see this. Make this an opportunity to do something refreshing.

Deep said...

A glorious end to a glorious home

Ariel Ky said...

Dear Antares,I'm glad that Solara's message came at a time when it helped you put the burning of the Bamboo Palace in perspective. It does seem a bit harsh that it happened just when I was planning a visit.

I've been in the same situation where a seemingly endless flow of guests became rather disruptive to my life, especially when people left a mess or helped themselves.

So with the end of this era, perhaps a new one will begin with the flow coming in instead of going out. I think you'll know what I mean by that.

masterymistery said...

I missed this post when it first came out.

my initial reaction was shock and horror and thankfulness no-one was hurt.

the Palace was a wonderful, magical place, and lives on in memories and images, in various ways and dimensions...

Thomas (Germany) said...

I'm eminently impressed with how much calmness Antares is writing just the day after. Wow, really.

By myself I don't find words loosing the physical presence of this highly charged space even with much more distance.