Posts tagged ‘bangkok’

bye bye ราชอาณาจักรไทย

My flight to Tokyo is at 5am tomorrow, which means i should be there by 4… which means i might as well “sleep” in the airport. The last tourist bus to the airport leaves around 11pm.

For some reason, i never feel like partying in Bangkok. I love to stay out late and dance (in Ko Tao and elsewhere i went to sleep with the sunrise) but in BKK i always feel so languid and bored. Maybe it’s because i’m alone most of the time in BKK. I come here on my way elsewhere… so i come knowing no one. The hundreds of tourists flailing around just don’t appeal to my senses. Once or twice i’ll see one i’d like to get to know but then the crowd eats him.

Funny coincidence. I’m reading a funny surrealistic story by Malamud called Pictures of Fidelman which takes place in Italy. The book i read before had a few lines in Italian. And in Ko Tao i spent some time with Italians…

Here i go… 5 hours left to say goodbye to Thailand (for the time being!)

I’ve been pining for Cambodia lately.

June 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm 1 comment

per l’amaro e il dolce…

Hong Kong felt a lot like New York minus all my friends and familiarities.

The sky scrapers, condominiums, smartly dressed men and women, the Chanels and Diors, traffic, massive trollops of people, and general claustrophobia is one aspect of Hong Kong; the other is a green place, an archipelago of islands on which stand hundreds of lush mountains.

Unfortunately my sickness and the wicked heat of the islands induced me to spend most of my time passively.

a friend and me stand on Victoria Peak overlooking central Hong Kong

a friend and me stand on Victoria Peak overlooking central Hong Kong

Stanley beach in HK

Stanley beach in HK

Yesterday: Almost missed my flight to Bangkok and hurt my legs running through the airport with my backpack; I read and finished a book on the 2+ hour flight (a simple one, Mitch Albom’s Five people you meet in heaven); shared a taxi with a guy from the UK to Khoasan Rd and found a room (the worst one i’ve stayed in yet perhaps) for the night.

The circus on Khoasan Rd...

The circus on Khoasan Rd...

Hong Kong felt a lot like New York minus all my friends and familiarities. Despite t

June 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm 2 comments

Ko Chang

We had some trouble hitchhiking on the way to Ko Chang – the total distance was about 300km but we started out late and by sunset we were still a long ways from it. Worse still, no one wanted to pick us up. We had already accepted that we wouldn’t make it to Ko Chang today because the ferry that takes you onto the island makes its last run at 7. Than a driver stopped, a long haired hippy looking Thai and offered us a place in his home by the sea not far away. We accepted and slept well. The next morning we got lucky when the driver who stopped turned out to be going to Ko Chang also. We finally arrived at our destination – Lonely Beach – by sunset. It was a magnificent one, full of oranges and reds against the darkening bluish sky. Although Ko Chang suffers from no lack of pretty sunsets, this one was the most grandiose.

We settled into a bamboo cabin for 150 baht a night (approx. $5) It was the sort of cabin one of the pigs from the 3 little pig’s story could have built… and then the wolf came and blew it away leaving the little piglet to scurry elsewhere. But we had no such problem. Throughout its 9 days of occupation it sustained all the thunderstorms and lightnings and when I left it was still standing cheerfully upon the bank of a stream waiting for the next human life to enter it.

Ko Chang is located in Trat province (which is only 1 hours drive away from Ko Kong in Cambodia). Its the biggest one of an archipelago of islands most of which are covered in lush rugged rainforest. Ko Chang is also extremely mountainous.

kochangforest

The ferry from the mainland takes about 15 minutes and drops you off at the tip of the island from which you need to take a share taxi (or hitchhike) to your destination on the island. Walking is unreasonable because the distances from beach to beach are grand. Lonely Beach, where we stayed, is in the middle of the island and considered the backpacker hub. It was probably the cheapest and most fun place to live on the island.

sunset

There is also a beach called Long Beach, also popular with backpackers for its beauty and seclusion. But the road to Long Beach requires expert navigation and gets very little traffic, so visiting it just for a day was unrealistic and I never got around to packing my bags and going to stay there. I did visit some of the other islands, the most beautiful of which was Ko Wai because of its warm transparent waters and golden sand. It would have been really nice to set up camp on this island, hammocks and mosquito net somewhere amidst its forest. We could go snorkeling every day (it has really good snorkeling sites).

Besides the guesthouses and restaurants, Ko Chang is full of dive centers (offering PADI certification and more) and tattoo shops. Actually all the areas where foreigners conjugate in Thai cities are full of tattoo shops (Khousan Rd in Bangkok, Pai, Ton Sai)

mebook

In Ko Chang, I spent most of the day time on the beach, swimming and reading. I completed 4 books, a strange Japanese novel called Sputnik Sweetheart, 2 books in a series about a lady detective in Botswana (highly recommended for its simplicity, elegance and abundance of interesting ideas and questions), and Hesse’s Narcicuss and Goldmund. Dmitry left on the 3rd day. At this time he’s somewhere in China hitchhiking his way home to Moscow. I stayed by myself another 6 days. I wasn’t ever really alone though. One of my new friends shaved my head:

He shaved lines in my head.... Reminds me of rice rows.

Reminds me of rice rows

I left Ko Chang on a Friday. Hitchhiked my way to the ferry and then to the center of Trat. I spent the night in Trat, visiting its lively market and food stalls. I bought myself lots of fruit – mango, dragon fruit, mangosteens, durian. Thai markets are one of my favorite attractions in Thailand, I love the activity and people and the overabundance of cheap tasty food of all kinds, from fruit to desserts to buffets to fried things…

I only paid $1 for one of these...

25 baht per kilo ... I paid only $1 for one of these...

I decided to hitchhike to Bangkok from Trat. By 11, I was on the main road, prepared with my list of cities I needed to ask the drivers about, and all the enthusiasm I needed to hitchhike such a long distance by myself for the first time! But no one stopped. And I stood there in the sun, my hand painfully heavy from waving it, perplexed. Was it my strange haircut, my clothes, my glasses? Was the area I selected not good enough and did I need to walk another kilometer away from the city? No I was just unlucky.

The man who stopped first was a sales man of some sort. He was on the way to Chanthanaburi and gave me a ride the 60+ km there. His English was fair and we chatted briskly along the way. It was pouring rain as we approached Chanthanaburi and I worried about hitching in this storm. Who’d want to pick up a soaking wet girl with a soaking wet bag? Fortunately, we were out of the reach of these stormy clouds by the time I left his car. My next ride arrived a minute later. It was a lorry with two non-English speaking Thai men inside – they were going to Bangkok. And so I rode with them the rest of the way. They were kind and fed me green mango. In Bangkok they left me in some section I’d never been to, 20 km away from the part of the city I wanted to go to they said, so I decided to take a public bus there which took 50 minutes and delivered me expertly. I couldn’t have ridden better had I taken a taxi; in fact, I would have been deprived of the chat-mate I acquired on the bus. And so for only 22 baht (about 65 cents) I traveled from Trat to my destination in Bangkok.

On the way we passed a lot of cars transporting durians and other fruit. It's harvest time!

On the way we passed a lot of cars transporting durians and other fruit. It's harvest time!

In Bangkok I met Asya, my friend from New York, the only childhood/school friend I have who also likes to travel. I looked at her passport – like mine she’s had pages added – it is almost completely full, there are only 3 empty sheets left.

Tomorrow I’m going to China. I’ll arrive in Guanzhou late at night and will go to my host’s (from couchsurfing) place. Today I need to take my things out of storage here in Bangkok – I’ve decided to mail the things I no longer need but want home. The cheapest way to mail is by sea – so mother, expect a big box of crap in 3 months.

May 18, 2009 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

Bangkok xxx

When i returned to Bangkok 5 days ago i found a place to stay in the most touristy area: Khousan Rd, a collection of streets and alleys saturated with guesthouses, restaurants with western menus and shops selling overpriced low quality clothes. Besides these there are numerous fruit and pad thai (Thai fried noodles very popular among backpackers in the area) stands.

There are also taxi drivers who try to seduce tourists to visit a “ping pong” show. I went to one on my second night in Bangkok (back in August) and it was a lot of fun because i see what these girls do as creative exercise. I saw girls shoot darts into baloons to the music and open beer bottles… Apparently their skills-set are growing… according to the list of possibilities taxi drivers like to show, the girls can now write letters and eat bananas too!

This morning Dmitry and i transplanted ourselves to a place away from the human zoo on Khousan to a 6 story hippy joint recommended by a friend where we can squat for free on the roof. So we hung up a mosquito net, put a mat on the floor, threw our backpacks inside… home :)

These are some pictures of the more local aspects of Bangkok.

img_0146

Chinatown

A Thai policeman (many policemen drive motorbikes)

Many policemen drive motorbikes

A very large jackfruit.

A very large jackfruit

img_0164

At a flee market...

May 3, 2009 at 11:28 pm 2 comments

Phnom Penh – Ko Kong – Bangkok

On Tuesday we left Phnom Penh. We took a tuk-tuk to the highway, about 14 kilometers from the center of the city (a kilometer or 2 past the airport). We began to attract a crowd as soon as we got off. Our “no” to the usual question “bus?” resulted in much perplexity among the moto taxi drivers who crowded around us. They may have been trying to help us but their presence was not conducive to hitching.

A young woman on a moto showed up and asked us if we needed help in good English. No we explained but could you ask this crowd of men to disperse? Her reaction to hitchhiking in Cambodia was typical. A friendly but negative “You can do it in your country but people don’t do that here, it won’t work, people won’t understand.” One foreigner said to us when he heard that we were going to hitchhike: “You’re just being rude. Khmers pay for everything, even the poorest ones.” Afterward he admitted that he too had tried to hitchhike in Cambodia whilst unsuccessfully because only the mini-van taxis stopped for him.

Hitchhiking from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham and to Phnom Penh from Sihanoukville with 4 people was not really a problem. Dmitry has hitchhiked all the way from Moscow and has been relying on this method since the beginning. Our Ukrainian friends are hitchhiking back to Ukraine. And so we decided that rather than wake up very early in the mornign and catch the bus to Ko Kong – we’d rather wake up later, eat breakfast calmly (we’ve been buying fresh bread, butter and fruit and taking plates and utensils from the guesthouse) and have time to say goodbye to my friends. By noon we were ready to go.

The trip to Ko Kong takes about 6 hours by bus. And 6 hours is how long it took us to get there by hitchhiking. (The busses travel at a slower speed than cars do) Beyond freeing ourselves from the contraints of the bus schedule, hitchhiking also frees my ass from the confines of the bus seat and the cold stale dirty air. One of my favorite things (if experience can be classified as such) is the feeling of wind pushing against my bod. This is why i love motorcycles so much and loathe tuk-tuks. If i ever own a car of my choice, it will be a convertible.

Most of the cars that pick us up are small trucks or vans with space in the back or on the roof. If it’s not too dusty, these are the best seats in car.

img_8958

img_8976

I think Ko Kong is the most beautiful province in Cambodia…

img_8978

At noon on Wednsday we checked out of Cambodia. Between the Khmer and Thai borders there is a space of about 50 meters where there is just beach. We dropped our bags on the sand and went swimming. Dmitry joked that we were going to be shot. But no one cared =)

img_8992

We made it to Bangkok by the end of the day. We caught our last ride in Chanthaburi. It was a professional Thai man on his way to Bangkok and we had a lively conversation on the way about politics, economy and travel. In Bangkok we ate together before he left us.

No we are staying on Kousann Rd, the most touristic place in Bangkok. I’ve never stayed here before because last time i was here i couchsurfed. There are 3 vegetarian restaurants within 100 meters of my guesthouse and i am drinking the best banana shake in the world as i write this…

We gave our passports to the Burmese embassy today but we still need to buy our flight tickets. We still don’t know if we can return to Thailand by land through Mae Sai or if we can skip Thailand all together and go to China through this route. I avoided asking these questions at the embassy, fearing that they’d refuse me a visa if i was too entusiastic about non-touristy routes. There is so little information avialable on travel in Burma!

March 26, 2009 at 8:45 pm 2 comments

Bangkok

I forgot how stressful first days can be.

Before i fell asleep in the airport (after my brother dropped me off) i was becoming overwhelmed with thoughts about why and how and i’m going to travel. Thoughts that i hadn’t paid attention to before, became really vocal and assuming. I started to feel almost sick with worry. The reality that i was leaving my safe environment and going into one that was unfamiliar and where i knew nothing was finally being perceived. But i was so tired that i fell asleep and with the predicament that came with waking up they were almost forgotten. That is until i got to Bangkok. The heaviness of my backpack and the heat would continuously rock my stability. But not for long. As soon as i would stop and put some cold water on my face and take off my heavy backpack the anxiety would cease and i’d feel stronger and more calm. I’m thankful to my CS host for easing some of the initial stress by offering me advice and company.

Sometimes i compare Bangkok to Delhi. Compared to Bangkok, Delhi was dirtier, poorer, and the pushers more aggressive. In Delhi, the rickshaw (tuk tuk) drivers were (generally) so poor that they slept in their rickshaws at night when they didn’t work. Seeing people groom and sleep outside wasn’t unusual. Being harassed for being a female and walking without male company was the worst of Delhi’s qualities… But i think the source of my comparisons is that i miss India.

I’m leaving Bangkok today to go to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand. Whenever i’ve mentioned this city to Thais, they always respond with an air of reverence towards it. Today is also Monday, and it is custom to where yellow shirts on Mondays to honor the king, who was born on a Monday.

August 25, 2008 at 8:53 am 1 comment


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 12 other followers

Archives