Posts tagged ‘thailand’

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.

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June 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm 1 comment

Ko Tao

A tourist bus is a large privately-owned bus with soft reclining seats utilized only by tourists. I took such a bus for the first time last week. The passengers were separated into five or six groups according to destination and confined to a section of the bus.

It was almost 3am, I’d finally found a comfortable place for my feet when the light went on and a bus-man began prodding us to wake up. I ignored him. He’s just crazy I decided dreamily.

But I was forced off the bus anyway. Ten of us waited on the street until a minibus came and took us to another station where someone jammed on a guitar and someone sang until 7am. Then another bus came and took us to the pier where we boarded a boat for Ko Tao. Three hours later, sea-sick and sleepy, I cheerfully left stepped on Ko Tao.

...on to the boat

...on to the boat

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...that's Ko Tao ahead (after 3 hours)

...that's Ko Tao ahead (after 3 hours)

(more…)

June 26, 2009 at 9:55 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.

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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)

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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.

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Chinatown

A Thai policeman (many policemen drive motorbikes)

Many policemen drive motorbikes

A very large jackfruit.

A very large jackfruit

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At a flee market...

May 3, 2009 at 11:28 pm 2 comments

Mountain climbing drop out

Ton Sai is a really beautiful place. The water of the Andaman sea isn’t as warm as the Gulf of Thailand (in Sihanoukville) but it’s just as blue and clear. The aura is different too. There are more families with small kids, mostly Scandinavians, and fewer peddlers trying to sell you fruits, massages, and other things. And there are the mountain peaks..

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I tried mountain climbing for the first time yesterday. I lasted for about 5 minutes on the mountain. One of my worst fears is that my hands wont have enough strength to support my weight, this is why i rarely do the zip line thing (the rope thing that slides you into the water before you jump from 3-10 meters into it, really common in Vang Vieng). I got a whole meter off the ground before i chickened out again =(

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March 31, 2009 at 1:11 pm 2 comments

Ton Sai

It took us 2 days to get to Ton Sai, a peninsula near Krabi, famous for it’s mountain climbing.

We left Bangkok sometime after noon and made it to Hua Hin, a resort city some 200 kilometers away, via hitchhiking by sunset just in time to see the grand concoction of clouds and the sun’s fading luminosity as it filtered through them.

Here are pictures of the west, north, and east glimpses of the sky…

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Reasoning that hitching in the dark wouldn’t be as fun and easy, we caught a bus to Prachuap Khiri Khan, an hour away, and spent the night in a guest house there. The next morning we hitched all the way to Aonang from where we caught the 15 minute boat to Ton Sai.

March 29, 2009 at 5:34 pm 1 comment

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