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balance (2): October 2004

Saturday, October 30, 2004

hectic

in bangkok, totally unsure of what to do next because by now i have essentially seen every part of thailand.... and unable to afford going anywhere else... i am cranky. i should not be in the city. too many people to deal with. mark- a very good looking but very drug-dependent australian guy whom i should NOT be hanging out with at all; mr. kool, a roving-hands type who accosts me anytime i walk past with pleading to let him "open my emotions" through tantric sex; ot, whom i finally called in hopes that we could hang out platonically which turned out to be a grave error (though it is nice to see him again); and 'p', a friend visiting from NY who has a tendency to want to hang out every minute i have free, and is the epitome of the type of person in NY i came here to escape. argh! where did my peace and quiet go?



i will be here for the halloween party tomorrow night on khao san road and then i think i will slip away in the night and leave all these people to their own respective messes. the problem is where to go.....

sleaze

took ‘p’ (from NY) to patpong, to show him the nightlife. his energy makes me nervous- he talks too fast and has the judgemental pettiness of new yorkers which is hard to shrug off. he also seems to have no interest in learning about thai culture, which annoys me, as it offends otto constantly (who has joined us). sighing, i lead him into the pink panther bar, where he scours the crowd of listlessly dancing girls for someone to pick up. i give him the rundown on bar fines, feeling sort of guilty.

we head later through the night market for one of the king’s castle bars’ upstairs shows. it was a pleasant surprise, not being as seedy or full of “pigs in lipstick” (as one sexpat i know refers to them as), which is rare for patpong. there was a candle show, a smoking show, a dart show, a lesbian show.... ot and i slumped, bored, in our seats while ‘p’ made crude comments about the girls. one girl slinked over and seductively manipulated herself into patrick’s lap, rubbing his hard on. she took her top off and simulated giving him head. he was embarrassed, but immediately decided to bar fine her, to ot’s and my amusement. she was actually a rather decent girl. but ‘p’ wouldn’t talk to her personally, and decided he would go back to the first bar and pick up a second girl as well, which ot reluctantly translated to her. she agreed, but i felt bad for the girl, as i have seen american boys with thai girls for the first time before and they have no concept of how to treat them as human. ot and i shrugged as patrick left and we headed somberly back to banglamphu for the evening, leaving him to his fun.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

back to reality

i did nothing today but recover from my day yesterday, and i bought a plane ticket to go to bangkok, not wanting a repeat of the bus trip to the south. i am not a big fan of phuket, and now that i accomplished my goal of taking the sea canoe trip i am out of here.

it looks like i am leaving right in time! phuket is closing down in protest of the government's strict new laws regarding closing times starting tonight. they lose lots of money with the new laws. so none of the bars are open, i could only find one restaurant that was open, and just a few shops are out doing their thing. quite boring. i am not sure what exactly they accomplish by closing (other than losing even more money), but i hope it works. p.m. taksin and his idealistic laws are ridiculous.


ARGH not sure why my server won't display some pics, sorry....

speaking of the ridiculous prime minister, apparently last night there was a peaceful protest in south thailand (about an hour from phuket) of some muslims who wanted six of their detained friends released. the village people gathered around to protest, and were met with tear gas and armed military police. six people ended up shot on site, and the p.m. praised them for a job well done. well it turns out the police crammed all 1300 protesters into just a few pickup trucks, killing 83 of them (who apparently were crushed to death). taksin lazily promises an investigation. this is thai style everybody. to the government, if you don't think and act like they want you to, you are disposable. it's disgusting and i hope to buddha that the p.m. resigns or at least is not stupidly re-elected, but most likely it will blow over quickly, as usual.

anyhoo i jumped into a taxi to the phuket airport tonight and took nok air to bangkok for 1600 baht. no idea what i will be doing there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

sea kayaking

today i spent way more money than i intended to, to go sea kayaking with john gray's company, which is well known for it's ecologically friendly tours.



they picked me up from my hotel around noon and we headed for northern phuket, where we crossed a rickety pier to a large fishing boat filled with large inflatable kayaks. the group was larger than usual because john had just lost his boat to another company who would pay more to rent it, but it was still comfortable. i made friends with an australian couple, and a korean couple that spoke no english seemed to pity me for being alone and took me under their wing, giving me sweets, covering me with blankets, and smiling solicitously at me all day. the staff was made up of about 8 thai boys, and john gray the owner is a big scruffy american man with a beard and ponytail. they were all very friendly. we were served a huge healthy lunch of fruit, noodles, fried vegetables, and sodas as we headed out towards the islands. unfortunately it was stormy, so the water was not so blue and it was pretty chilly, not to mention that being in lifejacketless boats in storms absolutely terrifies me, but the thai boys were all happy to comfort me.



we were to explore "hong"s, which is the thai word for "room". the hongs are the spaces created between large outcroppings of limestone, sort of private lagoons, and to get there you have to go through caves. and to go through the caves you have to time the tides very carefully. we were all assigned a guide, and me being solo got personal treatment with my very own guide, pong. he was the one to paddle the kayak through the caves and hongs, and he did an excellent job of explaining to me in english the natural history of the places we were boating through.



the most exciting thing i saw on this trip was 4 separate water monitor lizards! they are sleek, creepy looking lizards the size of a five year old child. they live in the cracks and crevices of the caves and rocks we glided through. of course whenever i saw one i did not have my camera, but they were quite shy anyway.

we boated peacefully through at least 4 separate caves/lagoons/hongs, including a large smelly bat cave. pong told me a bit about his family and muslim life- he was so laid back and polite that we got along instantly, and i had a really good day with him despite the rain and the cold.

later over dinner (two types of fresh fish, lots of fresh veggies, brown rice, etc.) all of the thai boys started flirting, as is expected. thai people instantly assume that a girl travelling on her own is looking for a boy. it can be rather annoying. they were pretty friendly though, once i dug through all the bullshit. they all helped me make a 'kratong', or a small boat made of banana leaves, flowers, incense and candles. it's thai tradition to put one of these in the water, say a little apology for your sins, and let it float them away, bringing you fresh good luck. it's extraordinarily beautiful. we went to a particularly large cave for this. the waves by this time were huge and scary, and john gray jumped into my kayak unceremoniously, making me terrified he would flip us over. but all was well, and we lit our candles and incense and let them free. in the dark there is bio-luminescent plankton... so when you run your hands through the waves it looks like fireflies or stars.... the combination was really beautiful.

i spoke with john about his business and he seemed rather discouraged with it, though he has been in thailand for fifteen years. thai people are ruthless competitors, and they are always refusing to promote his tour in their agencies or telling people he is stealing from thais. he started this industry here so it's quite sad- especially since his competition has little regard for the environment. he said it's all about the backhanders... another person who makes me feel like my goal of starting a business here might be a tad unrealistic.

anyway scraggly and soaking wet, but nevertheless serene, i finally left my group of thai boys with my phone number and a fond goodbye, and went home to collapse in a hot tub. i thoroughly recommend the john gray tour to anyone who comes to south thailand.




Sunday, October 24, 2004

nightlife

last night was rather strange for me. the phuket of yore has changed quite a bit- none of the entertainment venues or restaurants i once patronized here exist any longer. i felt a bit disoriented and a little jumpy at the buzz of a (relatively) big city again. the first thing i did was run for the rasta bar, thinking that the people there at least would likely be mellow. to get there you have to walk down a whole soi (sidestreet) of go go bars and open air bars filled with girls in hot pants and high heels who accost you. not to mention several ladyboys, who are not known for their reticence. i made it successfully past all the "oooh, come sit sexy lady"s to the far corner. there was a young thai girl and her older sister at the rasta bar, and they both looked thoroughly uninterested in me. i sat at the bamboo bar (painted with flourescent paint) and ordered a singha beer. quickly realized neither of them spoke the least bit of english. sat very very uncomfortably for at least half an hour in silence as we all three stared at each other, before i finally whipped out some thai words. they brightened up considerably then. the older sister dragged out a notebook of scribbled english phrases that she was trying to learn, and i spent the next hour or so teaching them english and playing sporadic games of jenga.



later on i was feeling a little tipsy, and just wandered around patong beach. it is crammed with shops, stalls, restaurants, bars, and go gos from one end to the other. there are a lot of the stereotypical fat older white men here trying to pick up their young girls for the night. there are also several young couples and groups of college guys roaming for presumably the same reason. i was not on the hunt for a girl however i did end up at a combination go go/ beer bar, simply because the bartender at least was male and there was a tv overhead. i ordered another singha and settled back to pretend i had some interest in the football game overhead (which i did not). all around me were very young girls dancing in very short plaid skirts and very high heeled boots. one by one they came over to suss out what i was there for. one of the older girls decided i was a lesbian and tried sitting in my lap.... i quickly dissuaded her. she must have lost face because i saw little of her for the rest of the evening. later on a girl came running over and asked if she could hide behind me because she did not want to go home with some older guy who was trying to snag her. i smiled and bought her a drink. we ended up talking for the next 6 hours. her name is may and she's from isaan. she has several concurrent boyfriends running at any given time, all of whom think that in their absence she is being a good girl at home taking care of the buffalo. two of the men send her money regularly every month- she makes about 35,000 baht from them combined which keeps her living well, so she mostly works for fun. she had just aborted her first baby 2 weeks ago... she is not ready for the responsibility... and this is partly why she did not want to go with a man this night, though her boss expected her to work as normal. she doesn't like to lie but she works for money and thinks the men are stupid for believing otherwise. she could not be happy at home on a farm, in a quiet village. she tried to quit for 5 months but ended up missing the fast pace, the music, dancing, lights, drinks, and fun with friends. she doesn't particularly like sex, but does prefer older and fatter men than the younger ones. she says the younger ones will only "butterfly"
(which means they pick different girls every night) whereas an older man might actually become interested in her and would be a far less selfish lover. she worries about how she looks, has fierce competitions with other girls in the bar, but makes quite good money and is fairly good natured overall. sometimes western men are too big for her or too aggressive, and she will either just "smoke" them or she will outright leave, but she is a tough girl and is capable of setting her limits......in other words, she is a very typical thai bar girl. she had a faint vulnerability about her though, almost like this whole thing was a facade and she really just wanted to find someone nice to take care of her. she really wanted me to stick around and be her friend. she invited me to come stay at her house and she would take me around etc. she was very sweet. but i left when the bar closed at 1 am to go sleep and i am sure i will never see her again.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

bliss

sometime last night i finally got a grip, and i realized (with the help of a friend) that i always have a hard time chilling out at first in thailand.... i mean the switch from the rat race energy of new york to the lovely slow pace of thailand is a rather difficult one. anyway, forced solitude for a couple of weeks has actually done wonders for me, despite my aversion to it. travelling alone is so good for me! i feel so peaceful, just going with the flow, not much in the way of plans, able to smile and really feel blissful behind it. and i really ended up loving ko lanta, once i moved to the right area (lanta paradise resort on hat klong nin). last night i went out for the first time and had a classic beach night- cheap cocktails over good conversation with people from various parts of the globe. a fire show, my kitten to play with (i really wanted to steal him). sigh...... thailand is so so unbearably, heartbreakingly lovely once you get into the groove.

anyway it must have scared me a bit to start liking it so much, because this morning i awoke with the feeling that i had to leave for phuket immediately! no idea why, but i did. i fed my kitten and waved a fond goodbye to the pool on my way to the pier, where i was surrounded by so many thai friends i didn't even realize i had made in such a short time, who all wished me goodbye and good luck. my opinion of southern thais was formed prematurely of course. they aren't especially approachable, it's true, but they are thai, after all, and i really feel like i will miss them, which is just short of ridiculous but so nice!

   

so, 2 ferries later and here i am, back in the crazy energy of a thai city (sort of missing the placid beauty of a thai island but this has great benefits too). i took a bath in my nice hotel and sloughed off a week's worth of peeling sunburn, and headed straight for rock hard cafe.... which no longer exists! x and i visited here about 4 or 5 years ago and spent every night at this place, so i was sad to see it is gone (there is still a smaller version of the go go upstairs, but the cafe is now a much more ritzy and expensive restaurant). i plan now to get very drunk and go watch some muay thai boxing, if it still exists, and then head for the sleazy sois with the go gos and beer bars. yippee!

Friday, October 22, 2004

sun

more lounging by the pool today- my tan is starting to peel. i rented a motorbike around noon and drove around the island a bit (trying to avoid the particularly bad roads). stopped in at a couple of places to look around and tried to make conversation with the tenants. i hate to keep harping on this issue, but the difference between northern thailand and southern is almost like being in another country. i find the muslim thais to be extremely indifferent to any kind of friendly overtures i might display to them. in fact they are outright rude. i really wish they would open up a bit because i would love to learn about their culture.... i talked to mike, the british guy at my place, and he says they are very serious people. they don’t like strangers and they don’t like anything happy or celebratory. they seem to look at everything with disdain. (otto told me once that northern thais believe southern thais were born without hearts and i see why). the north is it for me- i like the food better, the people are much happier and friendlier (for the most part), and the islands are more beautiful. but, i am still glad to have seen this part of the south, as i can now say i have been to just about every major place in thailand.



i keep getting recommendations from people to go to a smaller island (ko jum) nearby, but the last thing i want right now is more solitude. i will spend another day or so relaxing and then i will be blowing this joint and heading back north.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

naive

deciding the sanctuary was not for me, i wandered out to have breakfast in a quiet french bakery this morning and then announced to assam that i wanted to move to another beach. he scowled and rang up my bill, and gruffly pushed me towards a guy name jo, who would drive me. i sheepily grabbed my bags and hopped into the pickup with jo. jo was the first thai person i have met in the southern part of thailand who was the slightest bit friendly, and he spoke very good english. we talked amiably on the long ride south. i was headed for hat klong nin, to ‘lanta paradise resort’, which i had read somewhere was very friendly. it was a good choice. the bungalows, though concrete, are very spacious and private and clean. a british guy named mike works at the reception, and is friendly. there is a nice pool, some patios with pillows, and a long stretch of clean beach. not many people in sight, but mike informed me it is still technically low season, so not only would there be few people, but all of the bars are still closed for the season. i sighed and went to unpack and lay by the pool.



while i was swimming, i looked up to see a tiny kitten running towards me, and he did not hesitate to jump right in the pool with me. i ended up having to save his life, as the poor thing must have been newborn and could hardly walk let alone swim. he’s about the size of my index finger, and he is my new best friend. i learned later he has a little brother too, who is even smaller. they live under a bungalow two rows over.



later in the evening i went next door to the miami cocktail bar to have a drink for the first time in over a week, and realized i was at the resort of the kid i had met on the boat- mi. it was a pleasant surprise, as he brought all his thai friends over to meet me. i sat and drank and joked around with them in thai until fairly late. one boy said something to me that i thought peculiar, but is very true; he said if you have a thai boyfriend, you must be pretty stupid. it’s a simple statement, but it makes a lot of sense. thai people will never be genuine to a foreigner. if you fall for their act, you are naive.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

ko lanta

i woke early, reluctant to move due to my illness, but feeling it was time to move on. i caught the ferry from ko phi phi to the nearby ko lanta, which i was told would be more my style. on the ferry i met a nice young thai boy named mi. he was trying to convince me to come to his bungalow, but i decided instead to follow the advice of the same belgian boy and go stay at a place called ‘the sanctuary’ instead. upon my arrival at the pier, i was led towards the back of a pickup truck which would taxi me to my room. in it were a dutchman who was a regular to the island and two british boys who were not. they were unfriendly as could be to me, going so far as to talk over any questions i had for them and pretending i did not exist. i shrugged, as winning over europeans on this trip is not high on my list of goals...& hoped things would look up once we arrived at the sanctuary. ko lanta is a large island, geographically very like ko chang, however the roads are only intermittently paved and the rest of the time are pothole-ridden deathtraps. lanta must be the least developed of the larger thai islands. there was an initial town composed of two main streets lined with shops, and an occasional semblance of civilization evident by scattered internet shops and mini marts, but overall there is not much to this place. the beaches are long, with dark sand, lots of shells, and rampant driftwood. the water is not especially clear or pretty. there were few people to be seen.



we arrived at the sanctuary, which had burnt completely down and been rebuilt completely back up within the last six months. it was a small plot of land covered with grass sod and lined at the perimeter by several very close together particle board bungalows. i acquired one from the polite muslim owner, assam, who was wrapped in a sarong and squinted at me underneath silvery eyebrows. the room was very nice, and the bathroom was outdoors, with a rock floor and a large bamboo branch that served as a natural showerhead. a brown toad greeted me by hopping over my feet as i surveyed his territory. the porch had a hammock and wood slat benches. there was a pet monkey tied to a stick, and a small beach.

i wandered out to the restaurant to eat something, where the staff treated me very indifferently and insisted upon speaking english though i was hopefully practicing my thai. i had been told that this place had great food, but i was served the worst meal i had had since arriving in the country. my nam prik was a biteful of fish, some soggy rice, and some similarly soggy cooked vegetables. i have eaten nam prik several times before and it has never been this bad... the vegetables are supposed to be raw, for one thing. i sighed, ordered a pot of tea, and went to sit in my hammock to read my book (‘the wind-up bird chronicles’ by haruki murakami, highly recommended).

soon, loads of british people started to trickle in, two at a time, until the entire place was full of them. most of them were regulars who were returning after a long absence. they took over the place and soon were drinking and laughing loudly (nothing against the british in general, but i can’t stand them in packs). my room opened up straight onto the restaurant, and i felt very conspicuous in my lack of privacy. i shuffled out to the street to have a look around but there was not much to see- several groups of muslim women wrapped in head scarves stared me down. groups of dirty construction workers paused to stare as well. dust from the road obscured my vision and made me cough. i went into the 7-11 and bought some throat drops and a juice, and went back to my room for a nap, feeling very unwell.

my nap turned into my sleep for the night, but it was tortured by the sounds of the british people laughing, kids screaming, and no less than five places blasting very loud, very bad music far into the night.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

x

i received a surprise, calloused email from x today stating how much happier he was now that i was gone, and that he expected me to find my own place upon my return and leave him alone. hence i have no choice but to give up on him. i have wasted most of my 20’s loving him as much as possible and being treated by him like an annoyance. if i were able to be a chameleon girl who could turn into a different sex object every night he might retain some real interest in me, but other than that he has no use for me, apparently even as a friend. i am, after all, a “white girl”. well, it’s a time of cutting off people who don’t accept me for who i am (ie. otto), so back x goes on to my list of people who are detrimental to my happiness and take me for granted, at long last. his loss. my profound sadness. people (and my constant disappointment in them) are the bane of my existence.

the cold-turned-severe-bronchitis that i always seem to get in thailand is in full force, and i spent most of the day choking and feeling miserable. i also got a horrible sunburn, and can barely move. other than that though, it’s not too bad here. i have virtually no human contact, and have resigned myself to enjoying the peace. i am reading a good book, watching movies on my laptop, and relaxing by the pool. i haven’t gone out drinking once and am eating healthily. i did try to snorkel today, but was able to see nothing much more than a few rare specimens of farang trash.

Monday, October 18, 2004

more.....

woke up feeling very sick and still sore this morning. it’s also cloudy and raining intermittently. therefore not the least bit interested in exploring this island; i anticipate it’s being a long day. after another cold breakfast over which the thai waiter informed me that “NY no good!” (as if he knew), i shrugged and went back to my room. i don’t think i will stay here another day... this island just irritates me.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

need to chill...

the rain woke me up this morning and i found i couldn’t move... my legs were so stiff and sore i decided it would be a day of little excitement. after a horrible ice cold breakfast i managed to lumber into town to check email and buy some throat drops for my very sore throat. it’s very uncomfortable to walk alone here- the thai people all line up and stare and talk about me in thai as i pass. i appear to be the only solo traveller on this island, and it seems to astound them. so far the tourists here are made up of fat white girls in string bikinis with their loud, shaven headed boyfriends. there is the occasional family frolicking in the water. i stand out, but i don’t really mind. at least i don’t have to feel self conscious like i would on a beach full of skinny scandinavian girls and muscled boys. i can wear what i want, do what i want, and aside from the staring i am left alone.

my hotel is comfortable and i decided that even though it is not somewhere i would normally want to stay (it’s a gaudy resort), it is nice to have a swimming pool and clean sheets. i laid at the pool for three hours today, burning to a crisp in spite of the sunscreen i had slathered on.



later on, in pain from my sore muscles, burnt skin, aching throat and head i went to slurp some healing tom yam at a restaurant over my book. by that time i felt too sleepy to do anything else and went to bed by 7p.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

peepee island

finally arrived via ferry to ko phi phi this morning, which i decided based on a recommendation from a belgian boy who reads my site. after a full day of no real food and bedraggled exhaustion, i was irritated to notice the rampant development and resulting ugliness of ko phi phi (which by the way is the island featured in the film “the beach”). inundated by screaming touts as i hopped off, i fought my way through the crowd to the longtail boats docked at the beach and asked them to take me to ‘ma prao’, the bungalows that my friend had recommended. the boatmen all shook their heads, saying the tide was too low, but they would take me to the next beach and i could walk from there, so i agreed and hopped ungracefully into the boat with my bags. they dropped me off in the water at long beach and i hauled my bags across the sand, following a thai guy who kindly grabbed my big bag and volunteered to show me the way. i balked when i realized he was steering me towards a brambly path going up a high, mud-covered hill, but followed nevertheless, sliding backwards every 3rd step and hitting my head on low hanging branches. finally arrived, beet red and huffing and puffing, at ma prao, which was a set of unimpressive but quiet bungalows on a rocky beach. i wasn’t especially excited about staying there but i waited around for someone to check me in. no one showed for over an hour. a lounging european boy told me that the rooms were very overpriced and not the best quality at 1000 baht, so finally i shrugged and headed back down the hill, hauling my bags myself this time.

having fallen at least three times, been covered in mud and sand, and still being very hungry and tired, i felt like screaming as i dragged my bags back towards the longtail boats and away from the very uninteresting long beach. travelling can be a pain in the ass sometimes. i managed to catch a boat back to tonsai bay that was just leaving, with some european girls and a farang man with his gay (thai) boy toy. i sat grumpily at the front of the boat, feeling utterly disgusting. when we reached the main beach i knew it would not be easy to find a place to stay that was less than $30/night (according to the other travellers) and headed by myself past the annoying touts towards the main street. the gay gays followed me, grabbed my heavy bags, and said “come with us sweetie”. they took me through the (cute though very touristy) town all the way to the far side, where they helped me snag a bungalow at the resort they were staying at for 1100 baht. it was way more than i would usually pay, but there were few if any other options and at this point i needed a shower so badly i wanted to cry. my place is ok... no frills, just a fan and a small bathroom with cold shower, but it does have a pool, a nice big bed, and lots of roaming kittens outside the door. i finally took my shower and rested a bit.



headed out later on for an initial look at the island. it is not really the type of place i would normally voluntarily go, in fact upon first impression i would have to say it is my least favorite island in thailand... it doesn’t have the remote beauty, easiness, and bohemian way about it that my favorite place on ko chang for instance did. the looming limestone karsts are pretty but the water is polluted and the beaches, though very white, are crowded and lined with a hideous concrete wall. the town is very busy, with just one main (cobbled) street with a couple of small sidestreets, lined with shops and bars. the people ride bikes instead of motorbikes, and are predominantly muslim (though very relaxed and unthreatening muslims). they aren’t especially friendly, which in my past experience i have noticed about southern thais... still... it’s not NY. i ended up having dinner at a place overlooking the beach called ‘hippies’ (which was anything but). i had barracuda shish kebabs, a baked potato, and a mai tai in a coconut for an astounding 500 baht. i perused the crowd, which was made up mostly of upper class european couples and families, and yawned to myself until a couple of guys asked me to join their table. one was british and one was israeli. me being american and our three countries being quite possibly the most controversial on earth right now, politics inevitably came up and we talked over beers, with a moby album as the soundtrack. they were very friendly, and invited me to go drink buckets with them, but i left them early to go flop into bed... and that was that.


Friday, October 15, 2004

goin' south

three days in bangkok, though very nice, is long enough for me. i woke up slightly hungover from a beer-soaked rendevous with a nice guy from chile, who had taken me dancing the night before. i reluctantly watched the presidential debates on tv from bed- despite being on vacation- which happened to be boring and unenlightening. still leaning towards kerry, but since i can’t vote i suppose i really don’t care. i went out into banglamphu and ate my usual kway tio at the noodle stand, said hi to my temple puppy, and perused the bookshops. decided finally it was time to take action and bought a bus ticket to the south.



the bus trip was supposed to be 14 hours (overnight in reclining seats), however once again there were many delays and my trip to ko phi phi ended up being a full 24 hours long. though it was made up mostly of exhausting waiting at waystations, it was helped slightly by the fact that i was seated next to a very interesting old hippie man from switzerland. he was sprightly and happy, and i thought he couldn’t be more than 40, though he told me he was actually 60. unable to handle working in an office any longer, he had left his life 6 years ago and never looked back. he spends his time wandering amongst the thai islands, northern india, and an occasional side trip to one of the neighboring countries. he does this on about 500 baht ($12) a day, sleeping mostly in hammocks with mosquito nets and eating local food. he was so positive about life and had such a great energy that i was halfway decided to ditch everything and go wandering in a similar fashion—but i wouldn’t get very far without my laptop, my iPod, my camera.... i suppose i am more materialistic than i think.
he (never did get his name) did tell me that last year he had met a thai girl in bangkok, a professed student, who invited him with her to see a jazz show at the saxophone club and proceeded to drug his drink when he went to the toilet. he woke up 3 ½ days later, on the floor of his hotel room, stripped of everything he had (moneywise). somehow she had even coaxed his pin number out of him in his daze and had gone 4 days in a row to withdraw the maximum amount. he dragged himself to a doctor who told him he was lucky he wasn’t dead, and he had to fly home on an emergency flight to switzerland and get his affairs back in order. he sweat chemicals and stank of ammonia for 3 weeks. i suppose that’s a lesson to anyone who thinks thai people are all sweet and non-manipulative.



krabi province out the bus window


Thursday, October 14, 2004

sublime

i have managed to avoid otto thus far, which is actually quite surprising, since i have now run into several of his friends. i am beginning to think he has committed suicide, as no one seems to have seen him for a long while. i am secretly glad not to have bumped into him though, it takes a lot of the pressure off of me. in the last year (with the help of a puling creep i dated in NY) i have realized i am quite finished with playing mommy to any guy. and my freedom isn't being impeded... though being without him has its drawbacks too, as he is such a big part of thai life to me. i'll see how long i can keep this independent streak up.

this morning after a quiet breakfast surrounded by kittens i walked (limped actually, in blister covered feet) to the express boat. i listened to music and watched families wash in the river on the way to saphan taksin, where i caught the skytrain to ploenchit station. i was headed towards an orphanage i had read about online. i arrived, feeling quite stupid and shy actually, and saw lots of little toddlers toddling around, with a few older farangs hovering over them. one scottish man took me under his wing and gave me the lowdown. there were about 30 kids, most of whom were dumped off by university students who didn't want them. they had one big room full of cribs where they all slept- ranging from 16 days old to about 2 years old. i had come at playtime so the more mobile ones were allowed out in the yard, where they are desperate for individual attention. i only had a little over an hour but got to know a few of the babies, who were all diaper clad and carrying plastic bottles (their toys), which they used to hit each other over their heads. i admit i had selfish motives, as i probably need attention as much as they do right now, but i am glad we could share it for a short time. i would love to go more aften but it's over an hour trip from where i stay. the scottish man was a regular and said i should at least come in a month or so when there is some turn over and there would be all new babies to meet. apparently most of them end up being adopted out to europeans, so their plight is not so sad after all.



Tuesday, October 12, 2004

sigh....

thailand is so unbearably lovely. the roosters awoke me this morning early, and i left my hotel before the neighborhood was up. there is the hot, lush smell of the streets- fires from the food stalls, exhaust from motorbikes, and something i can never put my finger on in the air which will always evoke bangkok for me- the smell of life. i moved to a better room that was ironically cheaper. wandered out for a somtam and fish breakfast with coffee over the bangkok post. thai people are so friendly, i forget! the also have monstrous memories... people i never remember meeting in my life come up to me all day saying "where have you been? i no see you for long time!" i am a virtual celebrity- i am told i am beautiful at every corner. i am followed by children, small animals, and tuk tuk drivers alike...... i wandered throught the temple yard where the monks were being handed meals for the day. immediately (as is always the case in temples) i was attacked by a dog. it was a little one so i was unafraid this time, but had to walk from one side of the yard to the other with a puppy hanging off my pantleg by his teeth- to the vast amusement of the monks.

meandered most of the day between khao san road (smaller, more crowded, and redecorated walking-street style) and siam center downtown, where i bought a sim card and phone minutes for about $15 (what's with america anyway?) and had a nice chat with my taxi driver in thai. stocked up on all the medications i need for the next year for under $100. watched thai soap operas in my cool room. had a lovely hour and a half massage at my usual place for about $5. later on i had my traditional mai tai at sawasdee house, where a gorgeous young lad tried to pick me up. he sent over a rose, a free drink and a love note, and we smiled at each other across the room all night. he must have been about 20.... :)

the one thing that irritated me is the stupid new laws regarding venue closing times... it used to be that bangkok was a 24 hour party place- now bars, clubs, etc. can only be open from 6p to 1a.... except that most places start closing down around 11:30p so they look closed by 12a. how stupid. the prime minister is being unusually consistent in his efforts to freeze out foreigners. :( i was in bed by 12:30 tonight.


the word of the day is "argh"



i was prepared for a 27 hour trip but not for the 34 hour trip it ended up being. first a 3 hour flight delay, then a suprise 2 hour layover in alaska, then another long delay in taipei. i felt scraggly and static-y and greasy and nauseous from the constant stream of crap airplane food. china airlines is nice though, they give you video games and movies on demand in your seat. i played a lot of solitaire and sat zombified and cramped through at least 5 movies.



finally arrived in bangkok to find the line for the taxi was around the block....and ended up being dumped at some horrific place that i had reserved online, sight unseen. i have bad luck with choosing accomodation. oh well, just gotta pass out. i went and had some 'bami' (noodle soup with red pork), chased mido of the muscles down the street when he passed (and missed him, sadly), and crawled under the covers by 10p.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

leavin', on a jet plane, don't know when i'll be back again

leaving again, this time from an old life to another old life. katie tells me that 28 is a magic year in astrology... the revisitation of saturn or something (maybe uranus?)... it’s when you have reached the end of the first cycle of your life and everything thenceforth is a repeat of something you have already experienced. i don’t know about all that, but am entirely apathetic about the whole trip thing... except the leaving of x. we are used to the leaving but it doesn’t make it easier, having to forget him for awhile and become reacquainted sometime in the strange future; it’s awkward and sad. no matter what the actual nature of it, he is the love of my life and i hate to not have him in it. we cleaned our house together, bought flowers and a t.v. to leave in my spit-shined room for the girl who is subletting in my absence, and then mused on the future in a basement bar... some last minute drunkenness before my wistful departure.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

i'm a little tea pot

spinning through my routine like a bird on a stick. boredly excited about pending change. change is always terrifying though somewhere along the line it's always fun.

x is being nice to me, at home. he pinches my cheeks and tickles me til i cry, like a big brother. he is hoping whoever sublets my room is hot. he admonishes me for even thinking of re-hooking up with thai ot. (i secretly agree).

i am unemployed, after a period of questionable employment (where i worked from home most of the time). get to sleep in. watch movies late. eat whatever's in my fridge all day. peer out at sunny 2nd avenue and occasionally slink out into the sweltering crowd to satiate an urge or two.

had a 2nd interview today for monster.com... which is funny because they are the last place i would expect to find a job- tee hee. they like me. but they won't tell me when or if to start. so i have one foot in new york through boring holidays and bitter cold (not to mention said unemployment), and one in thailand for an amusement filled winter in the sun (hopefully doing some writing). hrmmmm. considering i looked up how to get to burma all day you can guess which one i am leaning towards.



...if anyone wants to come to burma with me write me right now! it is one place i think i'd enjoy a travel partner.

lazily packing up my room. talking to friends online. waiting. waiting. waiting.

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