wanderlust


:4/30--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

national museum, nepal



hindu art



street scene

still sick today. made myself get out of my cozy nest and buy a book on nepal so at least i can learn about the country i am in if not see much of it yet. went back and cuddled with it. it's a great book actually, just called 'nepal handbook' but it tells a lot about the history, customs, and quirks of the country. it's a very superstitious place with intricate and fascinating rituals and beliefs- they still believe in witches and black magic which apparently sometimes gets out of hand (witch hunts), still sacrifice animals to the gods (and according to the papers, sometimes children as well), the hindu-dominated country in general is very misogynistic (married hindu women must wash their husband's feet every night, making sure to drink some of the resulting dirty water, and they can only eat the husband's leftovers), extremely poor (one of the ninth poorest countries in the world, with an average yearly income of less than $170 us), and with some of the worst water and air pollution on earth (one main river in kathmandu was found to be 90% sewage). i promptly bought some iodine to treat my bottled water when i read that it is taken from streams with bacteria counts several times higher than the WHO limits. could be why i have been writhing and moaning all day. ick!

i caught a cab later to the national museum, which is a 40 minute drive from thamel so i was able to see different parts of the city. the people are endlessly hypnotic and colorful. different areas have different vibes of course, from the industrialized and polluted "business" section with it's large moto dealerships, bustling markets, and men wearing pointed hats sitting behind sewing machines in the oddest of places... to the smaller cobbled alleyways with scuffed crooked buildings, laundry flapping from lines overhead and dirty but smiling people sitting on corners with baskets of fruit and spices, surrounded by animals and shopkeepers and dwarfed by hindu murals... to a university district with an expansive green park, grubby kids playing with old tires in the street, and uniformed schoolgirls flirting with hipster-ish boys on bikes. it's a very polluted city but with the himalayan backdrop and the friendly, harmonius energy it remains beautiful nonetheless.

the museum was the highlight of my day. it's situated behind the most famous temple in the area (which will have to be another trip), up on a mountain, and is a set of gorgeous old buildings full of dusty relics. as soon as i entered a group of comfy nepali people invited me to sit and chat with them and i ended up spending most of the day with them. two motherly old hindu ladies sat winding wool into wicks for incense while a third made me endless cups of sweet tea. a beautiful girl wearing a punjabi grilled me with impeccable english and a sense of wonderment on new york and taught me some nepali. and one man offered to take me around the city on the back of his 'bike when he got off work, giving me his pager number to call later (i never called, for which i feel very guilty and sort of regretful, but i could sense his wanting an american girlfriend). he did guide me around the different buildings in the museum and explained all the idols and mythologies to me. when i left they all lined up to wave goodbye. they were very sweet and welcoming- i must say i love nepali people so far.

back in thamel i had a great dinner listening to old jazz music overlooking the busy alleys below, and later walked through the dark streets sipping ginger tea and just letting the calm buzz of energy seep into my bones. bought a dvd and went back to my room to curl up under my warm blankets and watch it.

 

:4/29--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

my comfy room



thamel district, kathmandu



more kathmandu

hrm. violently ill last night and since i had not yet eaten in nepal i knew it had to be from indian food (maybe on the plane). sheesh. never have i been so glad to leave a place... anyway i wandered to a little juice joint to get some vitamin c before i headed to bed and ran into yair, the israeli guy i met and spent some time with in ko chang. (it's so weird how that happens.) he's the only israeli guy i have ever been attracted to or liked much at all. we talked for about three hours during which time i realized he was pleasantly stoned (got to get me some of that). he is a super (discomfitingly so) laid back guy in general, and he manages to always be able to point things out to me from an odd and rather opposite perspective, which is interesting. he made me feel really guilty for leaving india with his stories of ashrams, flaming ghats, and crazy parties on deserted beaches, but the regret was shortlived as i noticed his barefoot hippie friends. i walked with him to a convenience store to get munchies and lost him somewhere in a crowd of beggar children that he had been tickling and laughing with. as he is leaving to trek near pokhara soon i may never see him again but who knows.

this morning i realized i have some sort of parasitic infestation or something, as i had been up in the bathroom all night. i can feel wormies multiplying and yanking impatiently on my intestines for their daily nutrition. i managed to keep down a really good breakfast of fruit granola, a croissant, and fresh mint tea, but afterwards had to run to the pharmacy to get medicine. the motherly lady there sold me cipro which she said should cure my stomach problem as well as my still raging lung infection (apparently amoxicillin resistant). i also have another bad head cold. yessiree thus i spent almost all day sleeping in my room. my room is marvelous (prince guesthouse, thamel). the only thing it lacks is a tv, but i can do without a soul sucker for now. it has wall to wall carpet which reminds me of lazy days in my childhood bedrooms, and it has big thick blankets and a clean hot water shower. it rained most of the day so i left my windows open and curled up under my comforter and dreamt nice sleepy dreams of old friends and family.

woke up still feeling schitey but ventured out into the refreshingly cold and overcast day. the streets of kathmandu are teeming with scam artists and beggars, like india, but everyone still manages to be in a pleasant mood. i feel a little awkward walking by myself here but i suppose once they start to recognize me and remember previous rejection they will leave me alone a bit more (i hope). i did buy one dirty little boy a box of biscuits in exchange for a drawing he had made of nepal. i wandered into a huge bookstore filled with wonderful things to buy (nag champa perfume oil, astrology charts, trekking guides etc.) but had to run back to my room quickly to be sick. later i went out again and had some really good italian food in an upstairs cafe overlooking the busiest corner. i noticed everyone had piled up on the street below and was looking down an alleyway, and all the sudden they all scattered at once, screaming. this big huge nepali man came out covered completely in blood and carrying a huge hammer and wrench. he was yelling and hitting the hammer against everything in sight. suddenly he stopped and looked down the street and threw the wrench as hard as he could right into the fleeing crowd. it was totally bizarre. i have no idea what was happening but the police came shortly thereafter and made the crowd disappear completely, including myself.

the strike going on here is against the government for high petrol prices and such, and because of it 75% of the town has been closed since i got here. i am not sure how it works but when the police come by every shop that is open struggles as quickly as possible to look closed. the police themselves are piled into big pickup trucks, wearing riot gear and carrying big rifles, just roaming around looking ominous. it's all sort of confusing and weird. i hope it's better by tomorrow.

:4/28--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

kathmandu from the plane

i must say that when i need to meet a specific person in my life that person inevitably and punctually appears. i decided to wander around colaba (in bombay) last night until i found a decent place to eat and ended up in a pretty cool place with gorgeous murals and good music, drinking imported heineken. a man was seated alone next to me, in his fifties or so, and he invited me to sit with him. normally i would have balked at the thought but to the amusement of the indian staff (who think all american girls are easy to begin with) i plopped down next to him. after 2 plates of fairly decent spaghetti (for india), i don't even know how many heinekens, and a couple hours of conversation, i realized what a complete and utter novice i am at travelling and how totally sophomoric my approach is. this guy (american, surprisingly) had been to 85% of the world already. he made me realize that my crush on thailand was silly, that there is so much more of the world to be seen and i shouldn't relegate myself to parts that are safe and comfortable, and that (to my relief) my escape from india was justified, in that sometimes a place is just not right for you at a certain point in your life and so you simply move on to the next. i am so excited to go to nepal. and from there- who knows? the choices are unlimited. it was nice to hear stories of adventure and chaos and be inspired again to really take what i want from life and not let it lead me... phew. and to think i almost gave in and bought a ticket straight back to bangkok. i am such a wimp.

anyway this morning at 3:30a i awoke and caught a ripoff cab to the bombay airport for my reserved flight to kathmandu which left at 7a. got to the airport which is stupidly organized so that you can't enter the building without a ticket. i explained i needed to pay for and pick up my ticket at the royal nepal airlines counter. the mean policeman with the huge rifle explained that there was no flight to kathmandu via delhi at 7a and that i had probably been lied to. sure enough, i called the airlines and found out that the scummy indian man i had spoken to had given me a fake name and a bogus reference number, probably because he was too lazy to do his job. ack. i had to take another ripoff cab to the domestic airport where i bought a ticket from the nice indian airlines man. he said i would have to pick up and pay for my ticket for the portion from delhi to kathmandu at the international airport in delhi. ugh. flew to delhi, landed, had to take a bus from that (domestic) airport to the international one, which was set up the same way (no ticket no entrance). a security guard pointed me towards the dark indian airlines office which wouldn't be open for another hour. i walked dejectedly towards it to wait and was immediately approached by a man who said he worked for the indian airlines office and that if i hadn't bought my ticket yet i couldn't do it from there, so i needed to take a 400r cab ride with him to their office in downtown delhi. my bullshit detector started screeching in my head, but he took me into the back room of the airline office and the other employees there agreed with him. i almost left with him until at the last minute i decided no fucking way was i getting scammed again today and told him to go away (loudly) and he vanished. i waited the hour (being mercilessly harrassed and taunted by delhi men the whole time), walked in to the office, and had a ticket in hand in ten minutes. the bastards. they were in cahoots with this sleazy cab driver the whole time. he didn't even work for them. i saw him on my way back out and screamed "liar" at him at the top of my lungs, waved my ticket in his face, and finally went in to get on the plane.

indian airlines is nicer than air india but the food was crap. my plane was nearly empty which was nice. kathmandu is a valley in the himalayas and looks gorgeous from above. thankfully it remains so when you hit the ground. the people were immediately very friendly and laid back; though the cab drivers still hassled me a bit they did so very good naturedly. the entire town is on strike for some reason so i had to pay double for an unmarked cab to take me nearly to but not directly to my destination. he left me on the edge of the thamel district, which as i walked through i saw is absolutely wonderful (if overtouristed). the streets are narrow and cozy and winding, beautiful rickshaws, lovely people, tons of amazing things to buy, and great places to eat and sleep. i paid a poor rickshaw man triple the usual amount to pull me uphill when i inevitably got lost. he dropped me at prince guesthouse where i obtained a wonderful room for 300r. ahhhhh. nepal is going to work for me i think. good riddance india.

:4/27--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

steffi graff, bill clinton, & george bush

i was awakened this morning by someone sitting on my feet, followed immediately by the thought that "crap i'm still in india". my head felt like an overripe mango (or was that the smell in the car?) and i tried fervently to fall back to sleep and continue my blissful dreams of escape (and guiltily enough, spicy papaya salad). had a coughing fit which made the entire train eye me suspiciously over their newspapers (proclaiming the further spread of SARS in this area). finally got up just in time to catch a chai vendor passing. 4 rupees for a nice steaming cup of lovely chai, looking out the window on the wasteland suburbs of bombay. one man told me that over 5 million people in this city live in slums. it was evident from the train, which passed absolutely desolate fields where people had strung holey plastic tarps from fences and were laying underneath with barely any clothing on top of mounds and mounds of trash. many places were smokey and apparently some fires had gotten out of control and burned down one whole slum "complex", which was creepy as we rode through the black haze. children squatted over concrete ditches to take their morning dumps, and scruffy men sat scratching their heads and looking lost, wearing tattered clothing remnants and dirty bare feet.

no sooner did the train stop than my feet hit the ground running for a cab to colaba and out of the madness of the central station. managed soon thereafter to get the very best room at the bentley's hotel for only 700r. took a shower and ran again, dodging pesky hawkers and touchy-feely beggars, to the internet cafe to research fares out of here.

now i have to make some decisions, most importantly, what kind of traveller am i? what am i looking for? for instance, between vietnam and india i am thoroughly over third world countries full of gruff hassling people and decrepit living conditions. i know they are supposed to be enlightening and challenging and they are to a big extent. but there's a time for that type of travel and for me it is not now. now i prefer to enjoy my travels as much as possible. & i am not really much of a lonely planet type budget traveller. there is a lot of pressure amongst travellers to be the most "hardcore". meaning staying in communal places (you do meet more people that way) and travelling on lower class trains and local buses through smaller less touristed towns. i do agree those are important to an extent, depending where you are and what you hope to gain. and i do try to get off the trail as much as i can.

but overall i am sort of a posh traveller like 'x'. i need a clean room- not five stars but not just any old rathole- and i prefer my own bathroom. usually those are the only kinds of places that have electrical outlets for my laptop anyway... that narrows things down a lot in terms of where i can go, and i wonder guiltily why i put those limits on myself and should i try to be more open? ...but i know me, and not to say i don't love the occasional hammock strung on deserted island type of thing (in fact i am dying to get back to thailand and do just that), but the rest of the time i like to travel in relative comfort. especially when i am alone. i am not much of a trekker (lazy) or an organized tour-ist (antisocial). and i do like a bit of nightlife (party girl) and the occasional cute boy (rabid sex fiend-oops, did i say that?). longer term? i feel like i get more out of my travels when i go off the beaten path and meet the locals, and am able to spend a lot of time with them and their families seeing how they live. but that doesn't happen as often as you might think. usually on the traveller's circuit you stay somewhere for a week at the most, based on recommendations for tourists by tourists in guidebooks or on the trail and you end up having your own western experience totally unrelated to the actual country you are in. you have to make the effort to find local food, local places, and meet local people, and even then it's hit or miss (especially if you're shy). and it takes a long time to make the switch from "rich foreigner" to "friend". more and more i do like travelling alone though, and i find those situations present themselves more often when i do so.

so anyway my point is i need to proceed with a plan that makes me happy, since that is the goal of this trip more than anything else. i just wish i knew what that was. i will probably go to nepal next (though i have heard stories that it's really similar to india) but if i am not going to do any hardcore trekking (should i suck it up and do one?) is it worth it to go? i want to go work in tokyo sometime soon to replenish my moola supply but as i have no local connections i would end up spending more money than i make, entirely defeating the purpose (if anyone is there and wants to help me get set up email me!!!).... and of course i would love to go back to thailand because it is the happiest place on earth for me, but that would mean giving up (or at least postponing) my whole "see the world" dream and resigning myself to becoming an expat (though of course like i've said before i will never cease to be a traveller). in thailand's case i'd have to do something with myself there. which would be very different from being a tourist there. and maybe i should go somewhere new that i might enjoy as much as thailand and meet new families and friends to stay with and learn from.

ack. i don't know. i am off to moan and writhe about it and hopefully decide by tonight so i can get a plane to some-freaking-where tomorrow morning.

stay tuned chilluns.

:4/26--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

room/closet- margao, goa

you might think that i did not give india enough time to grow on me, as i have been here for a week.... but in my opinion, i did give it a week, fulfilled my obligation to myself to at least try it, and found it utterly lacking in anything i am interested in being immersed in at this time. thus i have made the decision to leave, with a minute possibility in the future that i might return in a better season to catch the parts i really wanted to see (rajastan, varanasi, dharamsala) and missed. indians absolutely revolt me, i find this country to be an utter rathole in general, and i simply do not want to waste any more time here right now.

today i caught the local bus from gokarna to margao station in goa, which was interesting. it was a long trip through very rural areas, which reminded me more of pictures and clips i had seen of africa than of india. it was very tribal- i actually saw a skinny old man wearing only a loincloth, more than one old woman with sagging breasts barely hidden behind a scarf tied around the neck, people carrying baskets and bundles of wood on their heads, men driving oxen carts and smoking pipes, dirty children working with scythes in fields. one ancient birdy lady with the typical red-stained, gummy mouth sat practically on my lap, smelling of rotten mangos and pushing her beaky nose in my face. she had no shoes and was filthy from top to bottom, and she managed to avoid the ticket collector by hunkering down in front of me. luckily she was on only for a short while and was replaced at a stop down the road by an enormously fat woman with her skinny whiny kid, whose only saving grace was she had a lovely smelling flower pinned to her hair which made the bus ride a bit more enjoyable. we passed many deserted beaches and desolate, empty landscapes. many dusty dried animal corpses on the road.

in margao i waited in line for almost two hours for a ticket to mumbai, while every third indian man who walked in the room stepped in front of the line of people and pretended to have been there all along, until after an hour the line i was in had actually become quite a bit longer in front of me. i did finally get a ticket though (thank 'god' for the tourist quota), and in the meantime took the requisite ripoff rickshaw to a hotel that my guidebook had said was "clean, spacious, with private baths for 100r". it turned out to be filthy, squalid, musty and with one common bath downstairs with a mud floor. sigh. no matter, i was only staying for the 4 hours until my train departed and it was a whole 95 rupees (seasonal discount). i tried to explore the town but it ended up being a typical hellhole (at least the district i was in), and i ended up fending off beggars and tripping over sleeping streetpeople rather than finding anything of note to see. ordered a thali at an air conditioned restaurant (i didn't know what a thali was, it just sounded good), and was brought a huge tray of all different types of food (enough for a family). i sat feeling guilty and a little embarassed in the corner with my feast and barely made a dent in it before i threw some change at my surly waiter and ran out.

the train to mumbai was delayed for 3 hours. i sat and read on the platform and fended off leering stares and leperous dogs in the heat. one couple from delhi sitting in front of me listened to my coughing and kept giving me cough drops and hard candies. they were newlyweds but the man was obviously already on the prowl for his next girl, and the wifey seemed bitter. he invited me to come stay at their home in delhi while she made every excuse up under the sun to get away from me. i politely excused myself when the train came, but not before the man could stuff his card in my pocket and the rest of the candy in my mouth.

on the train i sat in the wrong seat for about 2 hours before i realized it, and then had to excuse myself shamefacedly in front of the nice family i had been talking to. i do like upper class indians, they seem educated and amiable. though they are very opinionated and like to tell me how much money they make, what a nice huge house they have, and all about their children's ambitious educational plans. they love to hear my travel stories in return though. when i reached my own seat i found another family, but they were of a lower class and it showed. there were 6 sleazy men and three children. the father introduced the children as bill clinton, george bush, and steffi graff. i am not kidding, those were their real names (the poor poor saps). they were eerily quiet the entire trip and sat unmoving in one spot, which made me feel like they were abuse victims or something, and with their male relatives staring from their top bunks down at me all night and asking me about my (completely fabricated) "boyfriend", i felt very uncomfortable sleeping there as a girl alone. i did manage to cough and sneeze myself into a sleepy delirium though, and remained unmolested all night.

:4/25--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

indian fisherpeople



om beach, gokarna



um, cow

i really need to get out of south india, if not india period. it's so unbelieveably hot here, and since air conditioning hasn't made it's way this far south yet apparently, the electricity goes out every 20 minutes or so (meaning so do the fans), there is no breeze, and the cold shower comes out very hot, there is no respite at all whatsoever. that must be why i am apparently the only tourist here right now. yikes. of course, if i had come 4 months ago when i originally intended to... but never mind. :)

i found amoxicillin for my lung infection today though, let's hope it's real.

today i managed to find a decent breakfast down the street and decided to wander through town to the beach. the town, like i said, is very beautiful and mystical and the people actually smile and say hello without hinting towards your pocketbook. the town beach is not so interesting and full of trash, and when i reached it i found myself being followed by two young indian boys who wanted to know my entire life story and perhaps do a photo essay on me as they were snapping pictures left and right. i escaped them and ran up onto the hill overlooking the beach, where the temple with the holy bath was. it was basically a moldy grimy pit in the ground that i couldn't believe anyone would ever set foot in, but there were several young men soaping themselves up in it and whistling happily to themselves, with a few amiable cows lowing at them from above.

not much else to see so i hired a rickshaw to take me to om beach, which is the most famous beach in this area and is where the party scene from goa has presumeably moved to since goa is so heavily touristed and policed. i was told it was an easy two km hike by my hotel clerk, but in fact it was a 9 km hellish ride on a terrible dusty cliffside road in the back of a rickety rickshaw. we drove through an absolute wasteland to get there, and it occurred to me that out in the middle of nowhere, my driver could pretty much do whatever he wanted to me.... he seemed to be thinking the same thing as he winked at me in the rearview mirror and asked me if i liked to have fun with sexy men. (ick, what is that supposed to mean?) we did pass one remote suburb of sorts where the indian people were making bricks out of clay by hand and building a line of depressing and identical shacks. a filthy old lady and her two grandsons flagged us down about here and jumped in my lap, breathing their haggard breath in my face and smiling at me with red betel nut smiles. finally we crested the top of the mountain and i looked down to see some absolutely breathtaking views. india is really gorgeous, not in the same way as thailand is but i still must give it credit. om beach is completely deserted. it does have a cafe and internet shop for the raver kids (when they are there), but otherwise not a thing. if you are looking for deserted, paradise beaches head for gokarna. i sat at the cafe and asked the only two other girls there how they had gotten there and they just gave me a hipper-(or is it hippier-?) than-thou look which seems to be the trend amongst the very sparse foreign population here. everyone is out to be the most authentic traveller or something, and they didn't want to let me in on any of their secrets. i did finally manage to wring out of them that i could have taken a boat taxi from the main beach for cheaper.

at any other time of year, i would have loved to stay in a little hut on om beach and just while away some time. however now is a very bad time, as like i said it's pretty deserted and stiflingly hot. i jumped back in my rickshaw and rode straight back to my hotel to plan my way out of india (or at least to the cooler north). i am going to have to rethink my whole trip at this point.

i wish i had more pictures to show but somehow my camera is never ready at the most opportune moments. there is also much more to tell about india in general but where would i begin? it's a constant inundation. to try to reach into that flow and pluck out any meaningful representative observations would be sort of futile, because unless you see the entire picture i just really can't do it justice here. suffice it to say it's a very alien and weird place to find oneself.

:4/24--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

corner market, gokarna



gokarna street



colorful spices

i had a nice morning wandering on the beach but i decided before noon that i'd already had enough of goa and escaped to the train station asap. the thing with india is that it's impossible to get correct information on anything from anyone, including both your lonely planet and the local tourist offices. they are either way off base with whatever they tell you or too lazy to give you a real answer (instead just saying "yes" to every question you ask). so i find myself having to wing it in doing anything- hoping i get to my destination, if not, having to backtrack and wing it again. it can be frustrating as this usually happens in the middle of nowhere where everyone speaks hindi. anyway my book said there was an express train to gokarna at 2:10p today but in fact there was not. so i waited 2 very hot hours in the sun for the train that actually came around 3:45p. then another very hot hour and a half squished in amongst hundreds of drooling oogling indians (i tried wearing long sleeves here until i realized it really doesn't matter what you wear, you're going to get stared at, so i threw all caution to the wind and now wear tank tops and cotton pants. i don't mind staring as long as it doesn't lead to touching). people were overflowing the cars, and i tried to remain standing in a corner even though my bag was trying just as hard to break my back. nevertheless i made it to gokarna. bedraggled and bitter though i was. (it's fucking hot here).

gokarna is visually stunning. it's a very small town with no trace of tourist influence at all with the exception of one or two hotels. it's made up of rows of low dark wood buildings housing little bakeries, barber shops, fruit stands, and drugstores. there are a couple of hindu temples here to which pilgrims migrate to bathe in the holy waters. old toothless hindu men wander wearing almost nothing, the women dress beautifully in silks of every color, and the wares for sale range from gorgeous silver urns to swaths of fabric to hindu amulets. the traffic is deadly and the many cows have the right of way (people aren't so lucky). overall it's a very peaceful, colorful town to stay in. extremely foreign, more so than anywhere i have ever been. much better than anything else i've seen so far in india.

i stepped in to the only visible restaurant (some vegetarian place) and explained that i really knew nothing about indian food so could they just order me something good. they then explained to me in hindi that they knew nothing about english and they could not. they had no menu but i eventually noticed some colored pictures on the back wall and i pointed out a couple of food items. a minute later i was eating something, though i really couldn't tell you what it was. not so filling or tasty but i wasn't going to try to make them understand me again. as there aren't any convenience stores to sneak snacks from, i really might starve in this country due to my ignorance and the lack of communication.

my hotel (gokarna international, 200r) is nice, all marble with balconies, private bath, and tv. though unfortunately i realized later, it also has bedbugs. ack. i slept sitting up in a chair for the last half of the night, scratching like a soi dog.

:4/23--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

palolem beach, goa



starfish



more palolem beach

sick, probably thanks to the hag on the plane to bombay who kept coughing generous sprays of sputum in my face- i have a wicked cold that is moving slowly from my head to my chest. today was so hot i thought i would shrivel up and cease to exist as elocin.

i had a really nice breakfast on the beach of honey banana porridge, boiled eggs, coffee, and orange juice (all for less than $2). i decided to explore a bit so i walked to the end of the beach towards a little lagoon which joins palolem beach to an island inhabited by black-faced monkeys at low tide. i didn't see any monkeys (to my disappointment) but it was very pretty. lots of crabs, starfish, beautiful shells, wild dogs and strange musical birds. i had the area completely to myself. climbed up on some flat black rocks to look to the next beach. chased fish in the tidepools. laid in the shade at the fringe of a palm forest. relaxed. got a bit of sunburn. stopped at a little beachside bar and had a limca soda (sort of lemony) and watched people frolic in the water and some indian boys play what i suppose was cricket.

i walked into the "town" which is really quaint but uncomfortable as every stall owner stares and begs you to stop and have a look as you try as hard as possible to look inconspicuous as you pass. there is one indian man whom i was pretty rude to when i first arrived haggard and disoriented, and he takes his vengeance upon me every time i walk past by sniggering and pointing with his friends and then harrassing me as loudly as possible. i ignore him admirably if i do say so myself. there are a ton of beautiful things to buy- gorgeous colored silks, silver jewelry, hindu idols, elaborate lanterns and handwoven hammock chairs. i bought nothing. (when i get home from my world trip i will have no evidence of my travels other than this website, as i am simply not materialistic enough to sift through shops). wandered down the dirt road through the nearby village, which was really beautiful and rustic. women carrying baskets on their heads, men with bundles of wood on their backs, children playing with a ball and a stick, cows and goats wandering, colorful fruit and flower trees, hindu music humming in the background, bright colored laundry drying in the sun outside of spanish style homes.

escaped into an air conditioned internet shop to screw around for about 2 hours ($1). then, with no other alternative, i went to sleep for the rest of the afternoon in my stifling hot room. i had a bit of fever which made it sort of a surreal hell. swallowed some cold medicine that an indian girl sold to me in lieu of a nonexistent pharmacy and which did not a damn thing. i woke up to pour a bottle of water over myself and lay directly under the fan, which apathetically moves the air around but does nothing in the way of cooling. woke up later sweating profusely and coughing. stumbled to another beachside cafe packed with people and ate a salad and an amazing banana split alone in the corner, fed some stray kittens, finished my book, and went to flop back into bed.

one thing i can say about travelling is that i've realized that different places project different energies. this is totally arbitrary- a place that is seemingly benign can strike you with a horrific restless dark undercurrent, and supposedly bad places can project quite the opposite. i don't know if this is based on the individual person's sensitivities or what. india has a generally calm feeling for me so far despite it's reputation for being otherwise. it doesn't stress me out at all on the day to day surface. despite the hassles (of which there are many), i don't really get too worked up, as opposed to say vietnam, where every little thing would get to me and make me fairly high strung. but there is sort of a restrained terror bubbling underneath the surface here. this became obvious tonight when the electricity went out (for the 3rd time today) at about 11:30p. i was half asleep, but the fan turned off suddenly along with my bathroom light. the room became pitch black. sometimes in the dark your eyes adjust and it becomes not quite so dark, but after 5 minutes it was still black as black can be. so i felt around for the door to the outside and opened it, hoping that there was a little bit of light out there. none. no moon, no stars, nothing but pure and absolute darkness on the beachfront. it freaked me out. all of the dogs were howling on the sand, there was an occasional rumble of what i assume was thunder, the sea pounded ominously against the shore, and the wind creeped in and out of the palm trees with eery whispering sounds. i was completely alone, no neighbors even. suddenly i realized that i am pretty far in the middle of nowhere and have a lot to get through (at least 24 hours) before i could ever get back to any semblance of real civilization. i dug my flashlight out of my bag and sat on my porch feeling very insecure and imagining all sorts of desperate situations i could find myself in here, until finally my fan whirred back to life a half hour later. back to a rather fitful sleep.

:4/22--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

palolem main street



shopkeepers' family photo



palolem beach

the train trip from bombay to goa was a standard affair. the sleeper car was comfortable, the a/c was cold. my car had 150 indian people headed to a wedding in it- they insisted on trading seats immediately so their group could stay together and they were loud but otherwise friendly. 3 of them (typically horny but polite college guys) stayed in my 6-bunk compartment, along with an annoyingly ready to please indian man from LA (who kept saying "the sights, the smells, the sounds, it's all so overwhelming!" which i didn't relate to in the least) and a not-so-talkative black man from london (with some gross goiter type thing on his foot that i couldn't help staring at and which gave me nightmares). a pretty young indian girl was at the end of our aisle. everyone spoke good english. the indian boys shared their 'paan' (betel nut seeds to chew as a digestive) with us foreigners and invited us to drop by the wedding. in the morning i awoke to a "breakfast" of some sort of spiced potato patty and a couple of pieces of smashed soggy bread. the coffee was great though. the indian countryside was nice (though nothing when comparing it to thailand, which i still can't help doing). lots of portugese influence in this area which means colorful clay houses with tile roofs and dirt yards. still a lot of trash everywhere.

once in goa (margao station) it was kind of hard to figure out how to get to the beach i was looking to go to. i asked the only foreigner i could see, a rather stoned hippie boy, what to do as he seemed to have been there for awhile, but he was apparently too busy contemplating my aura to answer the question. after wandering around for ten minutes i finally paid one of the nagging motorcycle taxis to balance my bags and i on the back of his steed and drop me off at the "bus station" (a corner of an otherwise undistinguished dirt road in town). one of the indian men waiting there directed me which bus to get on for palolem (turned out to be the wrong one but it was close enough). the ride was an hour listening to indian music (better than thai as they use acoustic instruments and sound more like world music, but still sort of screechy) in a crazily driven bus plastered with hindu symbology. crammed with smelly dirty indians. the countryside was nice though.

palolem is a really small town, just a street really. it is supposed to be the most beautiful beach in goa but i find it to be rather touristy and average. the sand is brown instead of white like thailand's. like everywhere else there is a lot of trash. i rented the first room i came across, which is a bit overpriced (350r) but comfortable, at a resort-y place on the beach with lavish landscaped grounds dotted with gaudy plastic animals (fish, rabbits) and a small playground. walked down the cute main street but was accosted by every shopowner in sight, many of them begging me not only to look at their shop but take pictures of their extended families with the camera i was carrying. they were friendly overall though, unlike the staff of the beachfront restaurant where i sat to have a kingfisher beer and some aloo mutter/garlic nan, being stared at by sleazy indian men.

later i searched for nightlife but none was to be had. there is actually a pretty cool bar with lots of art, a pool table, good music and a tv, but it was mysteriously deserted every time i walked hopefully past. i decided to head for bed as i was reeking of garlic and couldn't think of anything else to do. i may have to head somewhere a little more populated soon in order to avoid stagnant boredom.

:4/21--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

typical bombay slums






andheri street scene

i set out to buy train tickets today so i could head to goa asap. i'm not feeling the mumbai vibe. i had heard getting train tickets in india was a huge hassle but it was easy enough for me. a cab ride to the central station (a gorgeous british-style building), first in line at the ticket counter where the old man informed me he needed to see my passport, a cab back to my hotel to sheepishly retrieve my passport, back to the station and within 5 minutes i had a 3-tier a/c sleeper ticket in hand (796r). no problem. while i was there i decided to hop on a suburban train to andheri, which someone had suggested to me online. i found the ladies' car (a relief) and seeing no ticket stand, asked the conductor if i should buy tickets on the train or what. he kept wobbling his head at me, and i thought he was saying no at first but then i remembered that indians affirm something the same way we shake our head no. kind of silly. anyway i ended up getting the round trip for free since no one ever came to collect my ticket, which i later realized would have cost me 112r. the ride was not really nice so much as illuminating. and horrifically smelly (indians don't use deodorant and the air is just polluted period). we crossed mumbai down the center, which i soon realized is mostly slums. horrific slums. unfortunately the train moved too fast for me to get good pictures but suffice it to stay this is the dirtiest, nastiest country i have seen so far. they don't seem to be as poor as say, cambodians, but people live in absolute hovels. bathe in the most polluted, smelliest rivers i have ever seen. throw their trash in heaps wherever they feel like it. seem to have no pride in their living conditions whatsoever. did i say mumbai was beautiful? yick.

reached andheri which was a relatively pleasant, colorful little college town with lots of street stalls. i wanted to try some indian snacks but couldn't figure out how to order anything (all the signs were in hindi and the stall owners unhelpful), so i headed guiltily towards mcdonalds, where i was amused to find that the menu does not in the least resemble that of american mcdonalds. my choices included a mccurry plate, a mcaloo tikki, and a mctandoori sandwich. i settled for the latter, seated next to what (barely) passed for hip college kids in the air conditioning. watched people pass on the dirt road outside. india is really colorful. not really much out of the ordinary to see though.

back to colaba where i packed for my trip to goa tonight. planning to head for chowpatty beach and marine drive before i leave- along the lines of a coney island from what i have heard. my only impressions of india were gotten from salman rushdie, and were centered around these areas, so i would like to see them before i leave mumbai, hopefully forever.

:4/20--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

bombay (mumbai) street





my room at the bentley's hotel (bombay, 700r) has about a hundred cable tv stations. granted, most of them are bollywood classics, but they also have discovery channel, mtv, and a few american movie channels. i was tempted to stay in today and watch them (afraid of what i might be getting myself into by leaving my room) but after my "breakfast" of stale bread and butter and instant coffee i thought better of that & took a jaunt down to the street to sample the supposed madness of bombay. hrmmph. i must say people blew this place way out of proportion to me. it seems reasonable and friendly enough. indians seem ridiculously polite (it's contrived of course, as just like the rest of asia i am a walking atm to them). the streets really aren't so dirty and crowded, any more than bangkok for instance. (in fact i think bangkok is worse). it is really gorgeous in it's way, which i didn't expect. the buildings are dilapidated and crumbling but european in style. black crows perch on corners. dark people in bright colored silk and sparkly jewels roam about peacefully. quaint old british gangster cars honk in the streets. vendors kneel benignly on stools in front of stalls, throwing out an occasional "just a look, miss". cows wander stupidly with flowered necklaces, dropping the occasional wet patty on the street. it has it's charm. unfortunately i don't think i can help comparing it constantly to thailand, and it falls short. nothing "cool" to see, no conveniences (it took me an hour to find a bottle of water), no cute boys (quite the opposite, indians are not an attractive race)... hrmmm. i suppose i can grow to love those things too. (but i already miss thailand horribly).

i had planned to go to the train station to buy tickets to leave for goa tomorrow and in the meantime take a tour on one of the intra-urban trains. but it's sunday and most everything is closed, including the ticket counter. instead i wandered to the harbor to look at the boats lined up near the famous 'gateway to india' (just another arch along the lines of famous arches everywhere). it's a pretty area but infested with merciless touts. i learned to be pretty good at ignoring them in vietnam but i still fell victim today to a hindu man in a beautiful costume who came up to me, gave me a handful of spiky white candies ("festival today madame, you must join"), put his hand on my head and spouted a prayer for luck, tied a brightly colored swath of material around my wrist, painted a colorful dot on my forehead, and demanded 200 rupees for the service. from what i've read indians make less than 30 rupees a month (don't quote me on that) on average so 200 is absolutely outrageous(!), especially for a blessing i didn't even ask for. normally this would piss me off but the guy was so irresistably gentle and smiley that i gave him the entire contents of my pocket (about 50 rupees). he failed to disguise his shock and pleasure at actually scoring cash, and i felt a little bit good about it after all, leaving him bowing and thanking me profusely.

a young girl who witnessed the incident of course became my new best friend. she was dressed neatly in a sari and bindi and latched herself to my side as i walked down the waterfront, chattering away in impeccable english. i told her i knew why she was following me and it wasn't going to work so she might as well run along, but she just smiled innocently and said "it is not money i am wanting madame". i ignored her and she continued to walk next to me as i took some pictures and other scammers scrambled to catch my attention and failed. finally i turned a corner towards a market and left her behind, desperately pleading "but can you not help me madame with a bit of milled rice?" seconds later i noticed another young girl headed towards me with her sales pitch primed on her lips, and ran into a group of them squirming for attention at the next corner. thankfully blatantly ignoring them seems to work like a charm, and i spent the rest of the day molestation-free.

after a falooda (some kind of weird lychee milkshake) at a sidewalk cafe, i decided i was bored with colaba and resolved to expand my horizons. my guidebook recommended a bar/club called 'the ghetto' in an area called breach candy. i went back to my room to change into more club-like apparel. this is not easy in a country where the women are covered head to toe. on the way in from the airport last night i had seen some indian girls dressed for clubbing and it was the standard tight pants, high heels, lace up tank top type of thing. and after seeing one or two european girls on the street today wearing tank tops, i figured a tank top and jeans would be okay.

i was wrong. ack.

i headed (looking fairly normal and not in the least tarted up like i would be in the west) down the street towards regal cinema where i had seen a restaurant earlier that had been recommended to me online. subject to whistles, kissing noises, "hello beautiful"s, and various men brushing up against me in passing i knew i had been mistaken. i practically ran to 'nosh'. it was manned by about 12 spiffily dressed indian lads who more or less carried me through the front door.... to a completely empty dining area. it was very modern and artsy and expensive, and once i was in i couldn't find a way to excuse myself as they had already brought me a bottle of water and were waiting expectantly with pen and paper to take my order. sigh... i ordered a glass of chardonnay and lit a cigarette (i only smoke when i am drunk or nervous alone). ended up eating a hastily ordered feta salad while twelve indian boys stared at me, vying for my attention from across the deadly silent room and anticipating my every move so they could be the one to provide me with the best service. one started a conversation that went nowhere due to my clipped, embarrassed responses, but once i told him i was american and was travelling alone they all descended (i did say i was meeting friends in goa tomorrow as some sort of half-assed safeguard). when i finally had choked down my salad another guy (saresh) came up and started talking and just wouldn't stop! i ordered another glass of wine to help me cope and nodded politely, inching slowly toward the door. he ended up giving me his card and telling me to stop by tomorrow so he could take me sari shopping, hinting that i would blend in a little more. (i'm sorry okay!?) it was kind of fun to get so much attention though- they all of course assumed i was some sort of rich jet set traveller (my $20 salad and wine bill didn't help) and they all seemed to think i was hot, but shakily i dug a long sleeved shirt out of my bag and threw it on, running out the door as quickly as possible past the street dwellers to go back to my safe unobtrusive hotel, where i felt like me and not like some rabid slut out for a shag.

:4/19--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

goodbye to thailand



bangkok night view from baiyoke tower

otto of course called last night and i met him to go to baiyoke tower, which has a revolving rooftop with an incredible view of bangkok. we took some silly pictures at the tourist photo booths and went afterwards to a place near the victory monument to eat/have drinks. he slept over for the last time and upon awakening this morning i sympathetically gave him his last delicious "american breakfast". he was especially sensual and sweet. he insisted on going with me to the airport, so i said a fond goodbye to khao san road and we hopped in a cab. he couldn't stop touching me, looking at me... he seems to really have feelings for me, which makes me feel even worse. i tried to be unemotional about the whole thing but i realized we have spent a lot of time together of late and i will actually miss him a bit. which made it a weird goodbye. i told him to take care of himself while i am gone (which he won't) and after a couple of lingering hugs and kisses in front of blushing airport porters i ran off without a backward glance toward customs and check in. i felt a horrid lump in my throat as my plane took off and left homey thailand behind.

the plane to india was an 8-hour or so trip with one stop in delhi on the way to mumbai (bombay). the stewardesses wore beautiful saris. air india is totally basic otherwise, not even an in-flight magazine or a printed itinerary to let me know, for instance, that we stopped in delhi. no matter, i really wasn't in a hurry to get to bombay... half of the plane was in surgical masks which made me a wee bit paranoid. the couple next to me was in their fifties and obviously very wealthy, indian. the man was incredibly polite to me while his wife (a potential SARS victim with a hacking cough and fever!!!) refused to look at or talk to me beyond an initial jealous sneer. i watched a bollywood film (my, they are cheesy aren't they) on the overhead screen, having to crane my head around several turbaned heads in front of me to see the subtitles. thankfully didn't have to listen to the music since i didn't have headphones. ate the abundant weird (but tasty) indian slop brought to me, including a strange dessert made of wormlike nodules soaked in some kind of pudding. the time changed by an hour and a half which makes no sense to me at all! (it's an hour and a half behind bangkok). when the plane changed occupants i sat next to a cute young indian girl and her horrifically unappealing, turbaned hubby (who was jolly at least, and friendly to me in a lecherous sort of way). i got the requisite "what is your place of nationality, madame? and your goodname please?" and buried my nose in my book quickly. bombay is brightly lit with circus fair patterns of lights from the dark sky. looks tame enough.

getting through the airport was a breeze, picking up rupees was a breeze, getting a taxi was a breeze. by about 1am i had set out in a rickety tin can with wheels and a shifty driver towards the colaba district of bombay. it was sort of a surreal ride as, for one thing, my cab had no headlights at all (neither did 50% of the taxis we passed). which led to several near misses in the disorganized traffic, my driver giggling maniacally and judging my (well masked) reactions from the rearview mirror. bombay has the worst slums in the world (according to my lonely planet), and it was obvious along the sides of the highway, where "houses" were stacked on top of each other and crammed into overflowing alleyways, all looking as though they were made of quilted cereal box cuttings and dingy towels. the people were filthy, ribs sticking out, washing themselves with dirty water from tin cans in the street, gnawing on bones (of what?) over makeshift fires, and absolutely littering every available space with their sleeping bodies. it appears that about 60% of this city is homeless and poverty stricken and disabled. also, there is a huge problem here with stray dogs, same as thailand. they mangily weaved in and out, apparently suicidal, on the highway. along with their human counterparts.

we finally reached the colaba district and my cab driver just stopped the cab, turned off the engine, and said "get out". that was the extent of his english so he didn't understand a bit when i explained to him that i had no idea where the hell i was at 2am and i needed him to take me to my hotel. i proceeded to protest thusly to this apparent brick wall for 10 minutes until finally a friendly guy on a motorcycle came over, asked me politely where i needed to go, called my hotel on his cellphone to get directions, and proceeded to lead us there. i was amazed. so far so good here. my hotel was (to give the driver credit) mis-named and disguised as an apartment complex, and not so easy to find. i actually was scared they were leading me into some other place to rape or kill me, as the man who finally escorted me to my room took me through a maze of dingy hallways, stepping over groups of sleeping people on the floor, and to a door hidden behind a closet in what appeared to be a storeroom. it did turn out to be a fairly nice room though. two single beds pressed together to make a double, a huge fan, and an impressively clean bathroom. and a phone to call my own private "room boy" to bring me breakfast in the morning.

:4/18--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

elvis spotted in patpong

today is a bright sparkly day which leaves colorful trails everywhere i look, probably caused by burnt out retinas from the blinding bangkok sun. i am feeling nostalgic apprehension and premature separation anxiety towards my impending leaving(!) of thailand, my happy little s.e. asian home, tomorrow. somewhere along the line my spirit of adventure was muffled, about the same time i fell off the traveller's circuit. but i have no fear it will return as i bravely hop back on, and secretly i need the change.

this morning i cut otto's hair and made him shave and then kicked him out the door looking pretty damned cute and not a little sad puppydog-ish, to hopefully go do something useful with himself. i myself have lots of last minute errands to run on my final day in bangkok. including this update, which i admit was another rather hastily backtracked production. i am wondering if there is really much of a point to keeping up this site any longer as i don't think too many people read or care, but i admit it keeps me focused. my friend katie added to my inferiority complex today by sending me the link to her lovely whimsically written travel weblog. she is in the process of hitchhiking from alaska to argentina.

:4/17--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

chilling at the park

the cockroaches have come out in full force in bangkok- the water in the songkran festival washed out their hovels and set them adrift like creepy little pirates hijacking streetside stalls and cafes. it's like a horror movie.... people run screaming from their tables, refusing to pay when 3 or 4 vermin the size of their thumb slither and twitch up their pantlegs. the police have become involved since no one wants to take financial responsibility for all the uneaten food (the cockroaches secretly plan to remedy the leftovers problem at least)... lots of drama. i happen to hate cockroaches more than anything on earth so i have been doing a lot of cowardly squealing and hiding. cockroaches in thailand are creepy and big as frankenstein kittens.

otto has been calling me every two hours or so, showing up at my hotel- he never could take no for an answer. i can't take his simpering addiction to my sadistic rejection, but rather than make it a big issue i figured i am here for two more days and i can be cool for that long (i wish i could have waited until leaving to be over him but my mind works in mysterious ways). i have no hard feelings toward the boy, it's just that his cute little physique and sickly sweetness can only hold my interest for so long. i need more (ie. some intellectual mystique). or nothing at all. i went with him to the park to laze with the hippie kids and when it became unbearably hot, to get thai massages in an air conditioned joint. had (many) (many) drinks with his brother (a 750 baht tab on me of course), and was manipulated into letting him sleep in my room tonight when he followed me to d&d and flatly refused to leave. yikes- i fear i need to learn to be more adamant about what i do and do not want if i am going to make it alone in india.

:4/16--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

white streets

the streets of bangkok have been scrubbed clean and gleam white with powder like basketball court driveways in polite suburbs. not many farangs about- they seem to still be in hiding from the songkran madness. the sun is relentlessly bright and hot and the heavy air feels somewhat apologetic and resigned to it's return to reality. i wandered around in a daze this morning, feeling not quite sure to be back in civilization. flipped apathetically throught the bangkok post (politics, war, gossip, rubbish) with my capuccino and orange juice at my normal seat in my normal cafe where the normal waitresses giggle and attempt to catch my familiar eye- a farang friend is a valuable friend of course. i read 'x''s recent update and felt rather shiftless over all, as i am not nor ever will i be as prolific or eloquent as he is. it's not a competition, but i keep learning things from him which surprise me and make me feel rather small in comparison. sometimes i think that with his life of shameless decadence and his natural creative tendencies he has opened himself up to the world more than i... i used to think he didn't see much of anything, now i almost believe he sees much more than i do and i am the blind child. i feel pressure to do more, see more, be more, as i always do in any relations with him.

(i doubt he thinks about me at all).

i do feel good but rather like an empty vessel waiting to be filled again, as i always do when flushing out the old and embarking upon a new life. 27 years old and twice as many lives lived. each one completely different from the last. i can't be pinpointed and i don't allow myself to get bored for long. constantly evolving like sleepy seasons. this is what i love, how i live, but sometimes i wonder if maybe there are pieces to a bigger puzzle that i overlook in the leaving behind, the sloughing. things unsaid, undone, unrealized. i suppose the only thing to do is go with the flow and hope that whatever is chasing you eventually catches up, if that is what is supposed to happen. no point in living in any time but the present. my now is very unaffiliated with any other now i have ever experienced. i am alone again, cut off all ties and am once again jumping blindly into the tiger pit with a maniacal grin and my fingers crossed. carpe diem as usual.

:4/15--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'bye isaan



songkran water fight



me after the battle on khao san

i left isaan this morning with a mixture of relief and panicked regret that i didn't put more of myself into it. like maybe there was something more i was supposed to have found and overlooked by being selfish and moody. not sure why i have this feeling. i stood for a long time in the cold shower with the spiders staring from the rafters overhead trying to get the vibe of the place, make room for it in my head, remember it honestly. i don't think i will ever be back here again and it's such a mystical, alien reality in the thick green thai wonderland that i don't want to let it go to waste in the forgotten past. bowed goodbye to otto's aunts and uncles who barely grunted and looked at me with knowing accusatory stares from their seats on the floor, knowing that a goodbye to them included a goodbye to their loving nephew. jumped into the back of a stifling station wagon with otto and his 3 cousins, headed to bangkok 6 hours away. i tried to make myself invisible in the corner but they prodded and poked at me the entire ride.... laughing about me in thai and turning around to look at me with big grins, expecting what? trying to coaxe a yim out of yimless yim. i closed my eyes and faked sleep and twitched out of otto's handhold and felt like a freaky ungrateful american psycho for not attempting to make polite conversation at the least, but really i just wanted it to be over, i just wanted out and back into my quasi-safe lonely real life. unfair of me, sure. otto was a black frizzy mess of confusion and sadness hovering over my shoulder, trying to make eye contact and failing as he hit continuously against my noncommital, concrete stare.

hit bangkok and songkran hit us. lines of pickups cruising back and forth filled with painted and costumed kids with big buckets of water and powder mixed into a cold slime. crowds like hoardes of ants covering every walkable surface. it's a special honor to douse a farang, and even from inside the car i was attacked left and right while we moved at a tortoise's pace through the alleys. finally reached cousin fern's apartment, where i awkwardly grabbed my bags, nodded a quick "sawasdee ka" and tried to avoid more accusing stares, and excused myself to try and find a cab. otto chased me and insisted on coming along... silent cab ride with palpable nervous tension... and later, when the cab driver got as close to the banglamphu district as he was willing to and forced me out, ot finally asked with a touch of a sob in his voice when he would see me again. i refused to look at him and said "i have your number and email, we'll see". (why do i do this? i am never so cold.) i left him looking dejected on a street corner and shrugged off.

i had to hike 3 kilometers with both stuffed backpacks hanging heavily off my aching frame, dodging groups of squealing waterbearers. i was terribly paranoid about my laptop, and whenever anyone approached me with a bucket i screamed "no, no! computer" and pointed to the bag on my back. they would nod understanding and proceed to pour the bucket right over my laptop bag. nearly crying with frustration, i huffed and puffed and slipped and slid all the way to khao san road, where it took me an hour to push my way through the ululating, flagellating masses of white faced party people, and finally threw myself in front of the reception desk at d&d, looking rather like a train wreck. luckily they had a room, and i crawled into bed with my (surprisingly okay) laptop and tried to stop feeling and start thinking.

two hours later ot knocked at my door (setting himself up for certain failure as usual, you have to give the kid credit for stubborn determination). i attempted to pretend i wasn't there but he wouldn't leave so i let him in. he sat on my bed and said nothing so i stared at the t.v. and willed him away. finally he got up and took a shower. came back in a towel and said "how are you?" i didn't know what to say. somehow i got around to telling him that things were over for us, that i had had a really good time with him and appreciated his generosity but our relationship had been a mutual utilization of each other and we had nothing more to gain... some placatory bullshit along those lines anyway. the truth is i know deep down that i will never be in love with the poor kid and i guess this is my way of letting him know that if and when i do come back to thailand it won't be for him. he had no reaction whatsoever as usual, so i sighed and told him if he had nowhere else to stay the night he could sleep over, and turned to the wall and closed my eyes. he stuttered something about going to get some food and coming right back, but he never showed up again. and that was that. goodbye sweet thai lover.

:4/14--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

engagement party




kids' corner with "ma noi"




more party

i anticipated much bored tension today which was probably the wrong attitude to have but i can't get this evil dark energy out of my head. something about isaan makes my brain crazy. i am not unhappy, quite the opposite... i am really enjoying all the novelty and weirdness. but i am completely unable to project that externally. i think it has something to do with otto. i am subconsciously beginning to cut the cord between us before i leave for india.

ot's cousin kek was to be engaged to mr. free this morning. i spent most of the morning playing with an enthusiastic puppy (ma noi) in the corner and avoiding the "farang! farang!" whispers from relatives. the engagees are oh so young (25) and don't seem so much in love (though they have known each other for ten years and are comfortable) but their parents were aware that they had spent a few nights together in bangkok and that is as good as a marriage proposal to thai people. mr. free had to by tradition pay a large dowry to kek's parents (100,000 baht), present her with a gold necklace, bracelet, and wedding ring, and then follow it up with a water pouring ceremony for good luck. this entails taking a silver urn full of water with rose petals around to the older people and pouring it over their hands. the theory behind it is that by generously drenching the elders in good luck it comes back to you twofold- very buddhist. the old aunts tied white strings and amulets around my wrists and chanted good luck prayers to ot and i (presumeably hoping we were next to be engaged). the ceremony in whole lasted about ten minutes and seemed rather anticlimactic. everyone left fairly quickly to get back to nursing bottles of lao lao.

after the typical huge communal lunch (of which i again ate sticky rice and papaya salad only), a group of mr. free's friends sailed by in their pickup truck to kidnap me and take me around to "play water". i was reluctant at first and insisted on sitting in the cab of the truck with otto (the thought of drunk driving in an area where i had heard of 5 accidents in the last couple of hours alone was not so tempting). we set off with a huge tank of water, a truckload of drunk screaming shirtless painted thai boys, and a couple quarts of beer chang. otto provided the soundtrack with kek from the backseat. "miss leo" danced in the back of the pickup in a little midriff top and flowered boxer shorts. it was actually a lot of fun. everyone was soaked and singing and completely smashed by the time we returned home. the driver of the truck was boi from last night at the temple, and i had a hard time avoiding the obvious chemistry between us. i had to force myself to stop making eye contact because every time i looked at him there was this "ping!" of crazy intense energy that he could visibly feel as well... last thing i need. i was invited to his house afterwards but instead headed with ot to see some of his other friends. whatever will be will be.

things between otto and i are coming to a head. we don't have sex any longer (weird for us), aren't affectionate, barely listen to and tolerate each other.... i think on his part he is just distracted by friends and family- he only notices i am around when he needs money or wants to show off his farang girl to a friend. on my part i have just realized a lot of things about him, and know now that he is not in the least what i am looking for- he's spineless, shiftless, and not in the least independent. i suppose once i feel that my head turns off.... why keep something in motion that you don't really want in the long run? unfortunately i can be rather frigid as a result and though i keep my mouth shut i am sure he can sense things have changed.

:4/13--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

party at ung's




baby




beauty contest

today is songkran, which is the thai new year. on the buddhist calendar it is the first day of the year 2547. nobody seems to care about that, it's not like they make resolutions, it's just an excuse for a big party, which actually lasts 5 days. everyone drives around the village piled in the back of pickup trucks with huge tanks of water to throw on people and colored talcum powder to rub on their heads for luck. the entire village is horrifically drunk (88 accidents so far) and there is thai music blasting everywhere.

sick today (probably from drinking tap water which is the only water available) so to the disappointment of the locals the virgin farang missed out on most of the festivities. slept late, sweating in a corner upstairs until 1p, feeling typically reclusive, magnified by the laughing carousing thai people visiting beneath the window. i tried really hard to relax and go with the flow, & when i returned from eating noodle soup otto dragged me off to a party with his friend ung and things looked up. parties consist of a mat on the floor of someone's dirt yard, fruit trees hovering overhead and occasionally pelting you with their wares, buckets and buckets of alcohol, thirsty mosquitoes, tons of magically appearing food, traditional music screeching in the background, chickens running around, and a rotating crowd of various villagers. after the requisite oohing and awwing over the farang girl and my explaining that i unfortunately don't understand a word of whatever whoever was saying for the last 30 minutes, i end up in the corner quietly drinking while well lubricated men dance around, fight, and zoom off wobbling on their motorcycles, and jealous thai women eye me suspiciously from the window with baby on hip and hungry cats circling their feet. it's all beautiful and surreal.

ung seems like a really good guy and we ended up at his house later on for another party. there is something so earthy about thai people... they way they live seems primitive to us in the west with our wall to wall carpet, flush toilets, and air conditioners, but thai people wouldn't have those things even if they were given to them. they are content with dirt floors, unpainted concrete walls, and simple mats on the ground. we sat on a makeshift bench getting progressively drunker as i bounced ung's baby girl on my lap and tickled her bigger sister (i think i could actually see myself having a thai baby). the many thai boys who showed up solemnly dumped talcum powder over my head, splashed water in my face, and handed me sangsom and coke for drinking contests. a local village lady stopped by and gave me an impromptu massage. i was really drunk really quick. otto started playing his guitar and mr. free joined in with a drum and the little girl grabbed my hand and pulled me up to dance with her in the yard. it felt sort of tribal with the crickets chirping, dogs howling, and the dark moon hanging overhead.

i met a friend of a friend of ot's named boi. (my favorite name for a boy). he was quiet and aloof but he had piercing, knowing eyes, and he never took them off of me. i felt a sort of nervous thrill when i looked at him... he made me clumsy and short of breath. i became instantly shy. we made conversation and realized we were exactly alike. i was sort of spooked and ran off with no excuse.

later on there was a festival at the temple. by this time we were all smashed beyond belief, which is not a state i particularly enjoy. but i did manage to keep things together around ot's family. we bought weird snacks from the bright stalls, made the rounds to say hello to friends (all fighting to be seen with the farang girl), and got ready to watch kek give her miss songkran crown away to a new winner in the local beauty contest. secretly i was bored so as usual i ditched the women and went to hang out with the boys. i met a hilarious ladyboy named "miss" leo who showed me her moves for the aerobic dance competition and gossiped about the cute boys. we danced crazily with ot's friends while the thai audience stared and gasped and took pictures of me from across the lawn. a particularly enthusiastic (mao) friend of otto's kept grabbing my ass, time after time after time, progressively harder and more blatant. i felt sort of helpless but he put his arm around me and i managed to throw him off with a growl. i finally told otto who completely ignored it, so mr. free pushed the guy away and led me to the other side of the stage. i found out later the guy had just gotten out of prison for murdering 2 people with a hammer and raping a girl. eep...another of ot's friends had a daughter in the beauty contest. she was number 2, whom i mentioned was my favorite, so the father became my new best friend. he begged me to go buy balloons for her (the girl with the most balloons wins) so i did. he begged me to buy more so i did. he begged me to buy more and i told him to fuck off, feeling used. everybody was mad at the rich farang for not sharing the wealth, and started harrassing me. told ot who ignored the situation. tripped over drunk puking boys who shook my hand and slobbered hello. got progressively drunker. number 2 won the contest after all and everyone was happy with me again. when the night was over ot and mr. free drunkenly wove with me on their motorbike through the crowded streets to a dark convenience store, where they knocked loudly and woke up the family to make us noodles. and finally, bed (well, table). annoyed with otto for neglecting to help me all night, i slept quickly without saying a word.

:4/12--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

morose me



piggies



happy guitar playing otto

thai men are lazy drunk bastards is the picture i am getting. we were woken up at 6am by the sun and by otto's very loud uncle who came turning on the t.v. and radio just feet from our head, & then was joined by about five thai friends who showed up with lao lao whisky in hand. they were all smashed by about 8am, otto included. meanwhile the poor mother (otto's aunt) was in back alone making dish after dish to feed the anticipated crowd all day, doing the laundry and dishes, feeding the pigs, etc. etc. everywhere you go the men are lazing and drinking loudly while the women work meekly in the background. luckily as usual i fit in with the men and am not expected to work (i am lazy too) :) ....

we had a huge breakfast that i ate little of as it consisted of about 4 different types of meat (intestines, gizzards, even chewy pig ears & all) cooked in about 7 different ways with the traditional decomposed fish sauce. i stick to sticky rice and water mostly. managed to sneak away later and down some noodle soup. otto's family is friendly but speaks no english at all and i think for the first (maybe 2nd) time in my life i am experiencing real culture shock. not to say it's not comfortable here over all, but i am really in the middle of freaking nowhere in a completely foreign place...it's a weird energy.... not an english speaking person in sight, no convenience stores or internet shops, no place to escape from otto or the constant deluge of new strange people....also the thai way of life is so communal (everybody in the village shares everything- houses, cars, food), traditional (little polite rituals that must be followed, things you can't talk about or do- totally against my nature), somewhat primitive in some ways (cold water showers with buckets in a concrete stall, sleeping outside on a table!), and just plain weird and spontaneous that i feel totally powerless and really tired.

i tried to explain to otto that if i couldn't have a little time and space to myself during the day i was going to go insane. he ignored me as usual and i frustratedly asked him how i could get back to bangkok. ignored me again, instead setting off on his typical "i love you yim yim yim, i will die without you" spiel to me in baby talk (i really hate that- he gets right up in my face with a stupid smile) until i finally snapped "well i don't love you okay" and immediately felt horribly guilty. note to self: leave island romances to the islands. he pouted himself to sleep on the mat we were chilling on at the pond and i read my book ('the electric kool-aid acid test', somehow not appropriate for the situation) and cautiously enjoyed the first breathing room i have had in days. i have been anxious as fuck to tell the truth. fairly touchy.

more parties later on.... most notably one with ot's crazy pothead uncle (nicknamed "the professional") who got us very drunk and then grilled me in thai (with otto translating) about our sex life, until his baby-carrying wife smacked him and sent us off.

:4/11--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

karaoke party #1



ot's home in khong koon

we were headed back to nong bua daeng & ot's parents' home again but ran into his hippie bandmates coming out of their hotel in chaiyapum. his jovial friend mr. foo offered to take us instead with him to khong koon, a more rural part of isaan where otto's uncle (and closest family) lives. we were headed there soon anyhow, so after a few drinks with the band (all of whom begged me to bring over a farang friend for them, if anyone's interested) we hopped in mr. foo's prelude and drove (maniacally as only thais can drive, with me clutching the seat belt and holding my breath as the two buddhists in the car automatically raised their hands in a prayer gesture before rounding each corner at 150k an hour) to khong koon, about 80k away.

i was hoping to get to the family's house and have a shower and relaxation but instead we had to stop 3 or 4 places along the way to say "sawasdee ka" and wai (otto makes me do this, a prayer-like gesture of respect to people you meet) to various people. the final stop was at a very nice house of i think it was the mayor. a mayor with a huge bong and a lot of extremely drunk people as friends. he had a really nice bamboo bar/karaoke setup in his beautifully landscaped yard and people were drifting in and out by the dozens. we bought some sangsom and coke and beer from a very nice old lady at a corner stand (who would later be struck by a drunk motorcyclist and almost killed) and settled in for what would become hours of drunk thai karaoke (in other words more or less torture) with thai men who kept trying and failing to speak english to me, getting frustrated that i didn't understand, and pouring water over my head. i sipped my beer with ice and kept my cool.

finally made it to the uncle's house, where after a few quick introductions to his mystified family (farang! farang!), ot dragged me around his village to various parties. the village is gorgeous- super rural, not a convenience in sight for about 10 kilometers. cows, pigs, and chickens in peoples' expansive yards but very big, clean, and modern houses and vehicles. otto grew up here and knows absolutely everyone, so we can't walk 3 feet without having to stop and chat. it's very tiring and boring (since i don't speak enough thai to really chat) and though i am trying to be cool about it i really just want to run away (recluse alert). there was a bit of drama when someone from an earlier party tried to steal his drum, but other than that it was a lot of forced smiling and wai-ing. everyone was very friendly though and there are a lot of cool people my age that are home from bangkok.

returned late at night to the uncle's house to find a "bed" made up for us on a table outdoors, covered with a mosquito net. hrmmm. bit of camping never killed anyone.

:4/10--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

dinner thai style
ditto yesterday- except that we had to leave nong bua daeng to go back to chaiyapum (an hour and a half away) in the late afternoon, because ot's band is playing there for the start of the songkran festivities... haven't seen much of that yet except for a couple of adorable little naked twin girls with long black pigtails who threw buckets of water at passersby from their bathtub at the side of the road... we stopped at the market first to buy mr. zu (ot's famous bandleader) some ant larvae (ick), fried insects (ick ick), and weird vegetables indigenous to this area as a gift. the bus was actually a pickup truck with a hood and i endured shameless lecherous stares by toothless wrinkled thai men the entire way. it was very windy so i put a bandanna and sunglasses on and they thankfully became bored. we bought sweet sticky rice in bamboo from a lady at the side of the road. zoomed crazily around the mountain curves. got to chaiyapum and snagged a fan room (which i would later regret as it's so hot here) in our old guesthouse. i refused to go to ot's show (feeling guilty but relieved when he shrugged it off) and instead spent 2 hours at the internet cafe, eating noodles, and dodging farang gawkers as i wandered around the town. having some personal space does wonders for my mood. feeling somewhat murderous towards the ever present ot otherwise. (reminiscent of my travels with robin a few months back).
:4/09--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ot's (typical thai) family house

feeling sort of frustrated today but am forcing myself to smile until my cheeks hurt and be positive about the fact that i am somewhere i don't really want to be. it's not so bad really- despite the concrete floor that is my bed, the cold bucket showers, horrific food, and otto's 24/7 puppy dog presence, nong bua daeng is a nice little one-horse town to stay in. not much to it, just a market, a couple of convenience stores, an internet place with laughably out of date and useless computers, and lots of open space. otto's home is big and overall pretty comfortable by thai standards. there are ceiling fans, a tv, and a motorbike to get around. cute family pictures hung up next to a buddhist altar and the requisite calendar of the king. grass and fruit trees around the cozy porch. cicadas chirping, frogs hopping around, sad dogs sniffing for scraps (which i give them, so they have all congregated and are fighting and snarling outside the door). little old ladies trudge by with their ice cream carts, and i have given more than one person whiplash as they pass me on motorbikes on the dusty road. every time i walk out the front door i hear at least one person gasp "farang!" i wish i knew how to say "take me to your leader" in thai, heh heh. i expect to be signing autographs any time now.

we laid on the floor under the fan most of the excruciatingly hot day, drinking cold water by the bucketload (ot informed me later it was rainwater collected outside in a big clay pot, which made me slightly nervous). he fed me coconuts and mangos from his yard, and later at the market we bought entirely too much (weird) food from the stalls, to the horror of the poor thai people there. watched a funny tv show where a group of judges totally humiliate shy hopeful contestants in a talent show while we munched on mats. slept early with sangsom in our bellies.

:4/08--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

isaan, northeastern thailand


i was supposed to go with otto to stay at his mom & dad's home today (they are gone so we will have the whole place to ourselves), which meant that we had to meet up with his dad somewhere in chaiyapum and get the key. we ended up going back to ot's grandmother's house to wait for him. of course it was supposed to be an hour and that turned into almost four. four hours of absolute torture in fact...( i just want to go back to bangkok. i though about packing my bags and just leaving a note but i suppose that would be cruel.)

i hate(!) family gatherings, which i have realized this next week will be full of. had i known that i would have just gone to india. even in the US you won't find me at one voluntarily. it's an excuse to be judged half to death by people who know nothing about you (why do you travel? nice girls stay at home and help their mothers. why don't you help your mother, are you lazy? why do you wear short sleeve shirts, you know that is impolite, right? why do you use your fork to eat instead of your spoon? why does your country want everyone to be like them?). it's time like these when my cultural sensitivity starts to falter. thai people are greedily hung up on money, image, and traditional rituals. they are not open-minded, they are passive aggressive, and they have a general lack of common sense and in their fear of losing face they end up losing backbone. i find myself wanting to educate them at the least, in the extreme sometimes with my fists. :) but of course i smile politely, wai to them when expected, eat all the gross food they bring me (it's not unusual to find a chicken foot or something equally nasty floating in your bowl in isaan), and attempt not to offend them as much as they totally offend me.

otto's aunt tami is the worst, she has every one of ot's most annoying habits but without the charming qualities to balance them out. staring stupidly at me with a big ghastly lipstick smile while she feels out my financial situation via ot, saying passive aggressive things to offend me without looking like she's offending me, pinching my cheeks, pulling my nose, speaking at me in babytalk (come on i'm 27!), talking to me in thai and ludicrously enough expecting me to respond, trying to invite herself back to america with me.... ugh ugh ugh. never again. i finally begged off as sick and fell asleep in the sweaty corner until his dad arrived. then otto sprung the news that i had to go with them all to a funeral. though normally i would have found a buddhist funeral interesting, that added another hellishly hot three hours to my day of fun (really just a blur) until at long last we squeezed into the cab of one of his uncles' pickup and headed off to nong bua daeng (ot's family's home town). luckily his parents' house is big and comfortable and after a quick picnic with his stern silent father, we were left alone to crash.

:4/07--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

khmer pagoda in isaan

nothing to do and chaiyapum is fucking HOT! 2 minutes after my shower i was completely soaked again. otto took me to the local shopping mall to try to catch a movie but predictably they were all in thai with no english subtitles. it was air conditioned though so we hung around and played video games for a couple of hours. you can rent a playstation booth for 20 baht (50 cents) an hour and play any game you want. i got blisters on my thumbs playing a cool fighting game with sexy goth chick characters.

ate noodle soup 3 times today. there is a huge market but as i am attempting to avoid piles of meat for dinner (they are a little more carnivorous up here), and am not in a position to cook myself, there is really not much else to eat.

we went in the afternoon to visit otto's grandmother. she didn't seem to care that he existed and wasn't so friendly, but i realized soon after we arrived there it's because otto is pretty much the bum out of his family. he is the only one who didn't go to college, doesn't have a house, car, (functioning) mobile phone, nice clothes, (....or a real job for that matter), and of course there is the long hair. musicians are notoriously underachievers i suppose. his two aunts were there and they chatted us up a bit (cooing over me with saccharine baby talk until i wanted to vomit in fact) and made us dinner. we had some sort of coconut milk ice cream with red beans and colored noodles for dessert- aroy!. their home is comfortable and clean. they speak a reasonable amount of english. we borrowed their motorbike for a bit and went sightseeing around chaiyapum.... which consisted of a rather pathetic khmer pagoda and a temple on the lake. i have had migraine-type headaches for 2 days so i just wanted to go home and sleep. we escaped his family and did just that. so far kind of boring.

:4/06--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

road to chaiyapum



food

bus to chaiyapum in isaan, north thailand... thusly i begin my 10-day "authentic thai experience". 6 very hot hours with ot asleep on my shoulder to start. my impression of isaan from what i have read is that it's very very poor, rural, and any farang that might be found in the area is immediately latched on to by greedy relatives with fake smiles who see in you the potential of a new cow, whisky rounds for the entire village, and possibly marriage within the family (thus a large dowry)... families sleeping in one room, drinking and showering from the lake, etc. etc. i expected to be dropped of at something resembling a refugee camp.

well most of isaan remains to be seen but instead of grass huts and naked kids, chaiyapum is just a typical suburb. depressingly typical actually. there is not a thing to set it apart from the other concrete wastelands that cover much of the earth. it does have 7-11s and an internet shop, but no nightlife other than a karaoke joint, & no charm whatsoever. our guesthouse has a/c, tv, and even hot water. samlors roam the streets painted with bright colors and driven by gawking, mustachioed thai men. women carry baskets and wear shawls, scarfs on their heads, long sleeves and long pants despite the stifling heat. again, this being deep north thailand and not farang territory, i am treated like i just landed from mars. i always do something stupid like trip over a curb, which provides endless entertainment to the groups of staring thai people, who make no attempt to cover up their giggles and whispers of "farang! farang!". tonight we drank some sangsom, had korean barbecue at the karaoke place served to us by an adorable young ladyboy in training, and trudged to bed humming popular thai songs.

:4/05--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ot playing jambe drum



...& being cute in his chuck taylors


ot and i slept until about 1 today and then stupidly decided to go to chatuchak market in the heat of midday. we trudged all over looking for shoes for him (his band leader reprimanded him for being too much of a hippie to wear shoes on stage) and finally ended up with a pair of black and white chuck taylors after about 3 hours of searching. it's fun to take ot shopping. i dress him up and he feeds me. whenever we eat he orders enough food to feed an entire family. i thought at first this was because most farangs are fat pigs and he just assumed i was one too (with lucky genes that keep me slim) but i have since realized that thai people can not sit down to a meal with less than three dishes to choose amongst. either way it's usually delish.

later ot left to go to khao yai to play at his concert, which i backed out of at the last minute. i didn't want to play the part of his shadow another night (me sitting timidly in the corner while a huge group of people speak incomprehensible thai around me for hours- boring). not to mention the fact that i really hate thai music despite my efforts to like it (though his band isn't bad considering....). he wasn't too happy but i was :), and i raced home to work on my site for a bit. got a new guestbook if you hadn't noticed, since so many idiots kept grafitti-ing the old one. i must say by the way (in defense) that i have NO STDs and contrary to whatever people may believe i do not sleep in my room for 19 hours of the day. but even if i did what's it to you. i travel however i want to, like i have said before. oh, one more thing for the ignorant spammers amongst you- if 'x' is a pedophile then he is sane/smart enough not to act upon the impulses, i guarantee it. believe me, i would not have stayed with him so long otherwise.

people are super paranoid about the SARS virus, more so even than the war right now. it's normal to wear a surgical mask in bangkok because of the pollution but even more people are wearing them now because they are afraid to get sick. i think it's all rather silly. there haven't been that many cases in the first place, let alone many that were fatal. (the conspiracy theorist in my head wonders if perhaps this was a manufactured virus that escaped or was let loose)...but little sidewalk stands are popping up everywhere now with colored, glittery, cartoon-covered masks being sold by the truckload. as far as the war goes, i am still ignoring it as much as possible but i did finally watch the 9-11 documentary produced on the spot by two french brothers, and it brought the nightmare back to me pretty vividly. i have to say that if the current action in the middle east prevents more freaky situations like that one, then this war is totally justified.

:4/04--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

buddha

plugged in my laptop this morning to a blank screen once more and thus had to trudge once again to pantip plaza (this time i was smart enough to take the local bus for 7 baht instead of a taxi for 120). of course once i reached the store and tried to reproduce the situation it turned right on with no problem. argh. this machine likes to embarrass me. the people at the desk made up their minds it had something to do with the power and no amount of protestation on my part would convince them otherwise. their solution was "hold the power button down until the screen comes on". as if i were too stupid to think of that myself. but try explaining technical problems to someone whose entire english repertoire is made up of "___ baht please". i guess i'll have to settle for the fact that my computer will only actually work intermittently- a waste of 60k baht but that's what i get for buying something of value in bangkok, where most likely the people who put it together were bumpkin factory girls who can't read or write let alone be trusted to be halfway competent in the assembly process. when i got home i tried again and it snapped right on (?!?!). i excitedly tried to load the software i bought a few days ago (also from pantip) to find that none of it worked (drivers and registration codes that were required were not included in the 100 baht bargain price). argh. that's thailand for you, sneaky bastards. it's fairly frustrating!!!!

bangkok's air is very hot and has a very low percentage of actual oxygen in it (leaving you feeling half conscious and rather melty) so ot and i lounged somewhat guiltily in my a/c & cable-having room, alternately making out and napping. the deskclerks give me horrible dirty looks when he follows me into my room, and i realized that most of the places on khao san road don't allow thai men inside (which must be rather touchy)... not sure why but i think it's because most thai men are bums. for the first time i feel like half of a "mixed couple", which never occurred to me before, but really makes no difference whatsoever. people are too damned judgemental.

watched ot's band play at a bangkok bar tonight & tomorrow we head to kai yao (or is it khao yai? don't even ask where it is) where ot is playing at a woodstock-type music festival and apparently i have to camp (hrmmph), and afterwards it's off to the trepidacious northern isaan where i have no idea what i will find accomodation-, entertainment-, and sanity-wise.

:4/03--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

sculptor at silpakorn university



fair

ran all over bangkok today like chickens with our heads cut off. starting with a fruitless trip to pantip plaza (for about the fourth time this past week), where i tried to get my new computer fixed or exchanged since i turn it on to a completely blank screen... don't even want to talk about that since it makes me so grumpy.... then off to piaklorn center to see a movie, to find that only crap movies we wouldn't be caught dead seeing were playing. had the brilliant idea to have thai massages at the wat po international massage school, to walk the very hot 5k there and find that they had just closed.... though we did wander through a very amazing amulet market behind the temple on the way, which sort of made up for it (lots of black market ivory, phallic symbols, gorgeous handcarved beads and of course buddhist symbology). we ate some thai food in a literal hole in the wall and took a little sidetrip to the silpakorn university of art, where we caught a fairly cool exhibition (with the very original theme of rice) and watched some sculptors at work. on the way back to my room we bought a few dvds (about $3 each) and watched one of them ('bangkok dangerous', thumbs up) in our undies while we scarfed down various snacks in the dark chillness. later visited one of ot's friends. stopped by a cheesy street festival where we ate at least 3 different varieties of meat on a stick (thai people not only do not understand the need to bring out the natural flavor in foods, i.e. not drown it in chilis and garlic, but they also mix fish with pork, chicken with beef, sometimes eating 3 or 4 meats in one meal... i find this disgusting) and sipped singhas while watching beauty contestants lip sync on stage. finally dropped exhausted into chairs in the corner of a blues bar where we lazily drank and smoked ourselves to into incoherence and flagged down a tuk tuk to bed.

it's nice to see my affectionate little boyfriend again. i feel weird calling him that since we've known each other only a couple months and my last relationship was 5 years long, but i suppose i have to give the boy some credit. we click. it's definitely different to be with him in a city as opposed to on an island (not as cute with all his clothes on), but he is actually a city boy- he knows all the secret passageways, hole in the wall places, dive bars, and he has an endless parade of local friends in bangkok. he never fails to show me something new. it's fun. i have also never in my life been so consistently and ...ahem... voraciously physically attracted to someone. it's unusual for me to be the one begging for sex at 4am but let me tell you it is nice for a change. :)

:4/02--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ot's back

finally met ot this afternoon and we went to have a drink with his bandmate num somewhere in the samsen district. one drink turned into several (on me) and we ended up pretty drunk. i was all over ot which embarrassed him a little as thai people are as a rule not publicly affectionate, but i was happy to see him. :) i think num might have been a bit jealous. thai people are not hesitant in the least to say whatever they think about you, ie. it is not unheard of for them to greet a friend by saying "wow, you've gotten fat" or the like. thus though he was otherwise friendly most of the night, num offended me fairly immediately by assessing me as "not up to date" (i am sure he meant innocent or something) and by berating americans (it's not me over there invading iraq okay people?!), so i made ot take me back to the room as soon as possible. we made mad passionate love in my tiny twin bed and fell asleep intertwined.
:4/01--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

anti-american sentiment abounds

i don't like bangkok this time around and am antsy for ot to get here and rescue me soon. did nothing again today other than read my old book and start a new one. sort of emotional today, to the point where watching a commercial for laundry detergent could make me bawl. i have high anxiety, to the point where i shake, my heart speeds up, i feel like i can't breathe, and my thoughts race fiendishly in my head. dratted brain chemistry imbalance (thanks for that mom). anyway in the past my drug-pushing doctors put me on various prescription mood stabilizers and anti-depressants, and nothing worked for me at all, in fact they all pretty much made things worse. i only feel better when i smoke weed, and that is a fact! it occurred to me that i haven't smoked pot for at least a week and that's why my brain is being weird. i need my medicine! damn the drug laws, this sucks!

i'll have to settle for a glass of wine and some deep breathing and stretching. second best solution in my case.



 

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