wanderlust


:10/1---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
it was a divine day here in the big a. my boss-friend was gone which always makes for a much more relaxing workplace. had a nice chat with 'x' (in ko samet thailand) on IM and didn't say any of the mean things i felt like saying. obsessively checked my favorite message boards for about an hour. then my cute coworker joe came over and tapped me on the shoulder and said he was leaving to see the white stripes for free in union square. unfortunately i didn't have my camera with me so i stole the picture to the left. but i am happy to report i wasted no time in flaunting all responsibilities and chased him down the hall like a madwoman. thus i spent my lunch hour in the sunny bliss that is unabashed starfucker worship and danced my hiney off with lots of other cute people in their 20s. went back to work and revamped a site. and that was it! i feel good.

okay, now i am bored, but good. 'x' always got on my case for not going out to bars by myself. well i do and have done it and still can't find a good reason to do it very often (and i am taking a solo rtw trip?). i don't like drinking ( = i get too drunk), get hit on by the biggest loser in the bar within 5 seconds, and feel conspicuous staring ahead at the rack of bottles trying to figure out where to put my hands. i should do it more often though. i admit i have had a couple of good conversations that were unexpected. tonight is not a bar night i suppose. i would rather go roller skating or to a nude drawing class or listen to jazz on somebody's yacht... my realistic options given my laziness? probably the tuesday night lineup on t.v. and food from my fridge before it rots. ah the joys of routine...or something.

it occured to me earlier how silly i feel doing an online journal. if anyone is actually reading this i hope you know you could be saving starving children or something.
:10/2---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
today is just a day. after writing 'x' i have not much left to say. things i liked about today.... listening to my music on the subway with no fewer than 3 people pressing against me at all times (a good thing on the L train). walking through the dog park to get to work. watching the morning mist slowly creep back from the buildings. the quiet that you always feel in new york despite the constant din. i hopped on the 6 train uptown to the thai consulate to get my visa. the thai boy at the counter was typically dim but cute and complemented me on my new ring as he took my $15 for a tourist visa. i get to go back tomorrow to get it. it's hot tonight and i am listening to the cure while i smoke leftover hash and revel in my health and happiness. it's nice to like where you are. oh, also read rob brezny who never fails to inspire.
:10/3---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

after a week or more of debilitating depression (yeah, i forgot to mention that) you finally decide enough is enough and it becomes a whole new world. i have cast off my mental demons spawned of the master demon 'x' and i now feel alive and well again. i find that krispy kreme donuts help tremendously :). along with the local video store whom i thank profusely for their donations of noir such as mulholland drive and hormone fests such as amores perros (mmm, gael garcia....slurp), which i spent many a recent day watching on the couch in my underwear with blinds closed.

i have still been frequenting the club luxx in williamsburg, which anyone who pays attention will know is the "it" club of the moment, and the center of the electroclash scene in nyc (and is conveniently right around the corner from me). i still say it's pretty mediocre, and the hipsters in my 'hood need to spend a little less time being in love with themselves and more time doing something real. but it's still the best "new" thing around these days. the kids dress up in farrah fawcett do's and legwarmers and there is the requisite black clad peripheral mopey contigent as well. the music is not half bad though it's sort of rewarmed 80s synth pop if you ask me. all in all, after a year of scouring the papers and flyers for anything resembling entertainment along the lines of san francisco's, i must say new york's nightlife leaves much to be desired. still, i am not beyond downing the occasional mojito, shaking my booty, and flirting with mysterious strangers.

speaking of which, it is sort of exciting to be single again. and being bisexual means that i have 50% more of a selection available to me than the average joe. this will come in handy on my impending trip!

in other news, i have been doing a fair bit of yoga around the house thanks to my subletter's extensive new age book collection, as well as learning how to medicate various ailments with natural medicine. my medicine of choice will always be good old mary jane, as it definitely seems to cure whatever ails me.

i was happy as well to find out recently that i am AIDS-free! (phew!) and urge all of my friends and family to get tested.

>>>here's me waiting to travel.

:10/4---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
it was a nice rainy day, perfect for hanging out at my old loft building one last time with my friend and former neighbor cathy. she has the most envious view of the city from her windows and it was especially picturesque with the fog hanging around the harbor. cathy is one of the nicest, most sincere people i know. when i first met her i didn't pay much attention to her beyond saying hi now and then at parties we'd have on our rooftop. now that i am leaving i regret not having hung out with her more. she is really a generous, good, happy person. there should be more people like her in the world. anyway that said, i have been trying to corrupt her for months now with my pot smoking ways and she always denied me saying she had to go get a physical and drug test done for her company (she's an environmental engineer). so thursday she went in for her appointment and found out that all this time she hasn't even been required to take a stupid old drug test! ack! so we celebrated by hanging out on her couch and smoking a bowl and a joint with her (cute) roommate luigi. luigi passed out immediately and i always get a little weird in the company of others when i am high so i must commend cathy for keeping it together, especially for not having smoked in so long. we ordered mexican takeout and watched amelie. it was a good relaxing night.
:10/5---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
weekends in williamsburg are glorious. i have a nice little routine going here- i wake up and check my email, maybe chat a little bit with 'x' on IM. take a long shower and head over to bedford ave for a bit of people watching, a yummy breakfast burrito and cappucino at the L cafe, and a quick peek into the few kitschy little shops i go to to see if they have ordered any new sugar shoes or bettie page rings ;). i do my laundry at this hyped up flourescent lit washmat extravanga on metropolitan ave. they have a pool table, old school video games like ms. pacman, and spanish soap operas on tv. it's sort of a meat market- people actually dress up to do their laundry, in what is becoming notorious true hipster style. after washing my clothes i usually take a jaunt on the L to the city and wander around to people watch in the sun. (it's been hard lately not being able to shop! i know anything i buy has to fit in my backpack and at this point that just isn't happening!) today i went in later- around 7p, to meet up with my boss-friend ted for a last night of friendly fun before i go. union square was packed with skater kids and jazz bands and random artists as usual, and i met ted by the "horse statue", where we often used to sit and chat in the old days. ted is another one of those people i really value having in my life, and he has probably been my best friend in NYC while i have been here. it has been a little weird between us at times being that he is my boss, and we have both been going through some icky/rough times of late in our personal lives so we haven't hung out as much as we used to. so it was really nice to spend a calm, drug/alcohol free, sane night with him. we went out to eat in the east village. our meal came to about $50 and i insisted on paying. ted also insisted on paying which became sort of a dilemma, and he ended up taking my $50 and giving it to this old european couple at the next table! i was a little shocked at that but when we left i decided to just let them have a spontaneously free meal on us as well, and i have to admit it was fun to give money to random people like that. perhaps it's good karma. the couple couldn't stop laughing and smiling and we had to run away quickly to avoid them stuffing the 50 down our shirts. anyway we proceeded to hoboken (jersey) to watch blade II at ted's hotel-like apartment. it surprisingly enough did not suck. we spent the rest of the (platonic) night just laying around talking and rediscovering our friendship, and i am glad i can leave on a happy note with him.
:10/6---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
have i ever mentioned that my favorite tv show is the young ones? heh heh, 'x' is groaning right now, as are probably my friends from boulder who many a night were forced to watch this ridiculous british sitcom with me. :) today i got home fairly late in the afternoon and decided to shirk all responsibilities (including showering, which i never do!) and lay around watching old episodes on video. i feel slightly guilty as it's a beautiful day and probably one of my last in NY. but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. poor lonely joe is waiting for me to call him to see a movie but i am afraid it's an all about me kinda sunday.
:10/7---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
arrgh. my mp3 player already broke (the clasp fell off so i found a big rubber band to keep it closed), and my laptop's mouse trackball is moving around of it's own accord like it's possessed! why at the beginning of my trip?!?! :( .....also cold days are here in nyc. brrrr rabbit.
:10/8---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

hey 'x' look! a juxtapoz art show we are both missing! eeep! oh well. we'll find our own art in the world. maybe someday we'll open a gallery(!!!) or fill one.... also i got this cute ring that reminded me of you my pet.

everyone is talking about the serial killer in washington d.c. -the "sniper" as he's called. killing his victims with one accurate shot in the head from afar and then hiding. victims representing everybody. it is sort of fascinating. i think people are fascinated by serial killers because it's just so extreme. the difference between the average human who has mean deathwish thoughts about other people and the serial killer with the same is basically impulse control. serial killers are interesting because they are usually intelligent, they blend in, yet they have this incredibly convincing mask of normalcy. they are primitive only in their slavery to their own lusts. such a thin line that it's easy to question your own distance from that circumstance.... or is it just me? well it reiterates to me that moderation and balance are good in life.

i feel so much pressure to be doing last minute things that i am all fluttery & nervous tonight, writing lists that will never get accomplished by this time next week (i tell myself). it's very exciting to be this terrified of my encroaching future.

:10/9---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

wednesday. hump day but no humping for me. :) 'sokay. i have my digital camera to play with. i bought halloween tattoos at the drug store when i realized that i am missing all the fun holidays this year. i intended to save them for real halloween in...? wherever i'll be but like a little kid i couldn't wait and pasted them immediately on my stomach. and took pictures.

i am trying to make this site easy to update from the road but that takes a lot of time sitting on my ass and turning into (something fried). yick. i don't like that. so anyway you all might get the welfare version of my site. but hopefully something interesting will happen soon at least and i can report it. for now bon soi.

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

well, 9 days into this journal i have decided i can't take my laptop with me on my trip. i feel miserable about this but there is no way- not only can i not carry it on top of everything else but it won't fit in my bag!!! so.... i hope that doesn't affect this site. i am trying to get my admin tool done before i leave so i can update it from afar.

it's weird to leave a place at a time where i don't feel i have to escape (for once)... the last couple times i left places the circumstances were dire-- i had to escape the one-room weirdness between 'x' and i so i ran from san francisco to boulder. i almost got subpoenaed as a witness in my "dad"'s death penalty trial but i escaped back to san fran and then a week or so later to new orleans. new orleans was sublime and comfortable but i was slipping into poverty so i escaped to portland. from portland to new york for better jobs, more money, and some fun! ( a couple trips to amsterdam and thailand in there and you've got my past 3 years).

anyway new york is so homey to me. everybody in new york can be exactly what or who they want to be. it such an anonymous place but at the same time sort of familiar and village-like. i see the same people on the L train... working in the delis near my building, walking their dogs in union square. you can sort of pick the kind of life you want to have here and as long as you are willing to work hard for it you have a ton of options to get it (in the various neighborhoods alone). i love waking up in the morning and seeing all the grafitti murals on the old industrial buildings on the way to work. i love the bridges and the black rivers. i love the musicians in the subway stations (i have crushes on a lot of them). i love the weird people with funny accents and conspicuous habits on the subways. i love the pretentiousness, the fact that people take care of themselves, the motivated energy, the variety of art and inspiration. i love the dramatic way people relate to each other here. most of all it's opportunity and the feeling that we're all in this together (especially since the trade center thing).

yeah yeah. off to sleep.

:10/11--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

it's an october-ish night. rainy and gray and full of things to avoid. i didn't feel like going back into the city tonight so i am home wondering what to do. i have concluded it's night for going by my lonesome to luxx, to stalk a black-dressed cutie i see there often. that's really always been my favorite thing to do, since i was a wee lass in boulder, where i would steal my mom's car after she went to sleep, pick my best friend up, and go to the infamous club ground zero. they played goth and 80's music to the harder underage element. lots of experimentation- sex, drugs, fashion- i always had at least one person to stare at and obsess over on the dance floor. in case you didn't know it before kids i am a huge voyeur. it's true. 'x' and i once had a pair of binoculars. we lived on what was called affectionately "vaseline alley"- right across the street from this totally hardcore gay hustler bar with 24/7 porn and dancers. right beneath us was this old corrupt seafood house where the rich seedy men would go (and a couple families). on the other corner was a roach hotel full of people too drunk to make it home or couples cheating on their spouses. 'x' and i watched people do it all from across the street. it was sort of surreal.

back to now though. i have decided i don't have any real friends in new york. there are the people i really like such as cathy above and my friend katie. but they have a lot of other friends too with more history and i just keep to myself too much all around. still, i usually am not in a place this long by myself where i'd be doing a site alone on my last weekend in the US for awhile. am i pathetic? it's my own fault because i pass up opportunities, but lately i have just been disgusted by guys who scramble to fuck me last minute and girls who wave their hands and say -oh, we should hang out... but don't really plan. i guess this is a big reason i don't stay in one place- i get along better with other travelers anyway.

enough analyzation happy friday.

 

:10/12--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
i am not even going to justify this day with a picture.

what a bad day. didn't feel like hanging with anyone and wanted to hang with everyone at the same time. going through jekyll and hyde confusion about my trip. i of course know i am doing the right thing for me- 100%. but that doesn't make it less terrifying. i feel like i have so much to do that i am running in place. my friend ted ditched me tonight which really kind of hurt my feelings but i saw a movie with joe and a flask of jager and went home early to sleep it off so it ended up being an ok night.

 

:10/13--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




my house for a year

it's a weeeeiiirrrdd night. (sunday). i put my stuff in storage, took cathy back her errant pipe and talked with her and her roommates about india from whence they just returned. they were interesting. they said to wear local dress and avoid being the only female in the group wherever you are. good advice but it is in my nature to do just the opposite of both. i walked my last walk from kent to bedford ave. now i am sort of at a loss of what to do. i feel crazY! i don't know why- just this creepy insidious animal nervous energy that i didn't think i'd have before i left. probably contributed to by gray weather and mean friends.

my friend brian just informed me on IM that amsterdam is not all that. haha. i thoroughly disagree but i guess he is more of a big dark electronic city guy. he likes berlin. i have to say that i think any first impression that most people get of any place is probably superficial at best. americans especially don't really get to know places because we are only "allowed" 2 measly weeks of vacation a year if we are lucky. I am going to stay in a place until I really feel I know it before moving on. get to know people that maybe I can return to visit and all that. get my local pub in line.... two more days of work. probably a little overtime but I will happily trade that for a year off. I HAVE decided to take my laptop after all even though I have nothing to protect it (I would be lost without it!) so even though my bag is busting at the seams it goes.

I wonder if I close my eyes and hold my breath long enough it will be the morning of the 16th and I can step on the plane with my stephen king book (light reading) and eat bimibap (korean). yippee!

next month i think i will order my entries from newest to oldest. if you guys notice errors on here just remember that where i am going is somewhat technologically primitive. i can't be as careful & prolific as i'd like. .....off to try to snag a last bit of decadence out of this weekend.

 

:10/14--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


nervous/happy

i bought a backpack with a laptop sleeve for $100 i shouldn't have spent. stupid capitalist me. who in their right mind takes their laptop on a round the world trip i ask ya? that would be me. getting a little nervous with talk of terrorists in bali and the like. it's insane that someone would kill me for being american as i am so atypical. oh well, if i die i guess i won't be around to know how much the lack of life sucks. :(

off to have my last meal of pasta and wine for awhile.

 

:10/15--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

this post is hereby dedicated to my beautiful girlie friend katie, whom sadly i have missed this evening (somewhat predictably). katie is a huge inspiration to me because she is braver and more open than i am, and a more hardcore traveller. i don't think there is a place on earth she has not been, by herself as a very conspicuous, quirky blond with blue eyes. and she somehow managed to come back sane and almost surreally happy! she is very laid back and i think just about everyone loves her. katie i love you too! :) i hope i don't miss you forever!!!

sigh, NY. i don't think i have ever left a place with more mixed emotions, in all my leaving. i both adore and despise it- i had the loneliest but most comfortable existence i have ever had here. my relationships here have been very weird and very satisfactory at the same time. it's a very double edged kind of place. when you leave a place you see it in a whole different light. ted asked me what the difference is. he said you either live the way you want all the time or you don't. i think people fall into sleepy wormhole routines and they can't see them for what they are until they finally squirm out of them. i appreciate things like the fifteen year old kid i saw on the way home in union square playing the best horn i have heard since new orleans. or the nice woman with the hairlip who sells churros in the L station. things taken for granted. kinda trite i know but sort of beautiful. it's a good thing to stop and assess every aspect of your life now and then, even if it is a bit forced. so in leaving relationships seem so awkward and undeveloped, my job seems like an umbilical cord that is being cut, leaving me to fend for myself. etc. never noticed these things before.

i was not-so-abnormally nervous and anxious after i cleaned my desk out and left. ted walked me down from the elevator and i kidnapped him to this bar we used to go to and get free drinks. we only stayed for 10 minutes and like everything else today it was weird but i got a fair buzz on. i wandered stupidly around looking at everything. finally made myself walk home when i caught myself taking pictures of stuff like my local cab stand. :). and here i am, keeping you informed and about to pack myself up.

yes peeps. i'm off. i will hold my breath until i get safely to terrorist free khao san road. goodbye and good luck to you and me..

 

:10/16--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

goodbye ny. it's rainy and cold. thank god i am leaving in time for winter.
:10/17--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

korean sunset


korean "bimibap" & seaweed soup
26+ hours of travel time. a blur of pretty wide-faced stewardesses, a xanax haze, bad movies, scraggly seatmates with bad breath, long layovers in airports with duty free shops galore but no food, counting down.
:10/18--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

north thailand countryside
first day in bangkok. bangkok is always hit or miss as far as my mood is concerned. today i felt not into it at all. i was jet lagged in a guesthouse room with a fan that brought the temperature from about 2000 down to 1500 degrees. i had pad thai on khao san road and a mai tai with a guy i met from hong kong. boring. i decided to blow this joint and jumped on a sleeper train to chiang mai (northern thailand) immediately. plenty of time for bangkok later. the train was supposed to be 12 hours... ended up being 16. it was horrifically hot. i had a lower berth bed with an open window so i could at least see the countryside. i was awoken every hour by the loud and very rude israeli kids next to me. what seemed like 3 years later we arrived at last in chiang mai. time to crash- 3 days full of hardcore travel does not a happy elocin make. still, it's glorious to be free.
:10/19--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
i will need to take more pictures of chiang mai. so far in my very disoriented haze i have gathered that it's a nice little town, if not a pit stop for people travelling to other points north. it is surrounded by ruins of what once was a huge fortress wall, as well as gorgeous moats. the people in northern thailand are very smiley and friendly, and don't seem to see me as a walking ATM like those in the south do. in fact the difference between the north and south would be comparable to say, miami vs. maine in the usa. it's still vary definitely thai up here, just not so decadent, seedy, or ostentatious. very laid back and sincere.

i slept most of the day and at night found myself in a blues bar on the waterfront. the band was made up of thai kids who did covers of american songs from the vietnam war era in addition to blues. i find it fairly amusing as most of the time the words come out half thai half english and fairly off key. i drank sangsom and coke, my favorite. wandered around the night market which has brilliant wares for sale that sadly i can not buy for lack of backpack space. afterwards i went to a dance club called bubble. lots of "ladyboys", cute thai pop, more drinks. bed. sleep.
:10/20--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
i met up with a very tanned and zen 'x' and we spent the day chilling by the pool. i invariably contract an eye infection upon entrance to thailand and as my eyes were so swollen and quasimodo-like, i could not wear my contacts today. therefore i was certifiably blind all day. i decided to do not much of anything and "watched" a lot of asian cable in my room. it's nice not to be tied to any obligations. i think it will be a couple more days before i fully recover from my travelling. then i will go explore the north (hill tribes, villages, mountainous terrain) with 'x' on a motorbike. my site should become more interesting then. ;) also on november 1st i can start updating more regularly from internet cafes. until then it will be hard because i did not set up my admin tool to work for october. sorry if ya'll feel deserted. check back then.
:10/21--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

chiang mai is a city but a small one so daily entertainment consists of hanging out by the pool, motorbike rides around to the markets, and drinks on the waterfront. i am very happy to see 'x' though we at first do the strange shy reacquaintance dance that we've done so often. i have to restrain myself from jumping on him, showering him with kisses, and not letting go until he promises to never leave me again (he'd never do that). i had promised myself that i would remain cool and try to be "just friends" with him, but with 'x' there has always been this undeniable undercurrent of understanding that totally bonds and whips any previous intentions into a squealing puling pulp... sigh. i am a weak sappy girl after all i guess.

today 'x' and i rode up the hillside to first see the tribal museum (we figured we would learn a thing or two about the hill tribes before we went to see them so if nothing else we could avoid offending them). it was fairly interesting. the tribes in thailand are into animism. they believe everything is controlled by good and bad spirits. they have multiple gods. there are all sorts of strange rituals and icons. the one i am most interested in is (i think) the karen tribe, in which the girls wear multiple rings around their necks to elongate them. supposedly rival tribes would in the past steal their women so they decided to make the women as unappealing as possible. i think it's quite the opposite. anyway i hope to see some of these women soon on my trip north.

after the museum we rode up to a buddhist temple (wat) on the hill overlooking chiang mai. it was very beautiful. buddhists are pretty devout, which is sort of weird to me since they do not have a "god" so to speak to worship. it's more a way of life. it's extraordinarily peaceful and the statues and gardens are beautiful. near the wat was a hill tribe village. it had a huge waterfall with a natural pool at the bottom. it was surrounded by poppy fields (the tribes can legally smoke opium here) and gorgeous lush gardens. 'x' played in the pool with some thai boys who were fascinated by his (nipple & nose) piercings, while i stumbled upon a weird shack that happened to be full of jars of various oddities such as pig embryos, snakes, and even a newborn but dead baby monkey. it was a bit of random creepiness that i escaped as quickly as possible.

:10/22--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

pai waterfall slide


heffalumps
chiang mai was getting boring so 'x' and i packed up and headed into the mountains on the 4 hour ride to pai. pai is a valley in the middle of nowhere that is unlike anyplace i have ever been. it is unearthly gorgeous- lots of terraced manicured rice fields and lush tropical forests. you can't help but feel balanced and happy here. the drive up was amazing- especially after a year and a half in nature-less new york. the first thing (after an incredible stir fry dinner) we did was head for another waterfall in the middle of a lisu hill tribe village. to our surprise we were accosted by the tribespeople who all wanted us to buy heroin, opium, and "ganja", as well as their wares (silver jewelry, textiles, etc.) i guess in this area they are more "domesticated"...? i mean i have always expected to find tribes wearing penis sheaths and carrying baskets on their heads (naive american alert)...finally we agreed to buy from one lady who ran off and pulled a huge bag out of the bushes filled with weed. we bought a small bag for the equivalent of $2 and i hid it in my sock.

the waterfall had a natural rock slide and 'x' being the waterbaby that he is he spent some time playing while i explored the area. i almost walked into a huge spiderweb and freaked the f*** out when i looked up to see a spider as big as my hand- black and yellow with huge glowing fangs. there is abundant life everywhere here. later we headed to this hot springs "camp", where they tap into the ground, collect the water in stone pools surrounded by gardens, and infuse it with herbs for people to soak in. they also give hour long massages in a huge airy teak room next door. cost? not even a dollar. it was a full moon and it hung low over the mountains which we sat overlooking and feeling like we had died and gone to heaven. unfortunately again i did not have my camera. which always happens when the perfect photo presents itself.

afterwards we went home to sample our pot and realized it was fake. i found that hilarious after other tourists had told us how "high" they got. what we had was the same stuff you get from high times- i think it is sativa? not marijuana in any case. we had spent the entire afternoon paranoid about getting caught for no reason! we eventually settled for sangsom and coke as our stimulant of the evening. mmm. no complaints here.
:10/23--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
ack. rain. rain rain rain. and more rain. it's still monsoon season here and unfortunately there is not much to do in the rain. luckily it matches my mood however. 'x' and i needed a bit of space while being cooped up so i moved to my own guesthouse and spent the day alone. i had breakfast with a little thai boy who kept shooting me with his fake gun and i watched the thai version of "the weakest link". the rest of the day was spent reading in my shack and watching it pour.
:10/24--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

green pool

still in pai, somewhat routine but very like paradise. it's very small, so you run into the same people all the time. in the morning we awake to the sound of the roosters crowing-- it's one thing to hear one rooster in the morning when the sun rises, but here there are so many roosters that starting at about 6am they start to sound off in a weird sort of chanting call all around the 10-mile radius or so. it sounds like they are being murdered & to be honest, i want to break me the necks of a few roosters, but i suppose it's better than brooklyn street noise. it's weird to me to be around so much nature and wildlife- almost a bit unnerving. there are frogs hopping around, geckos running up and down walls, spiders that bite my hand and leave fang marks for me to neuroticize about, goats, pigs, cows, elephants, monkeys, puppies, birds, chickens... you name it it's here in abundance.

there is not usually hot water in thailand, but mr. jan who owns our guesthouse has tapped into the hot springs. the whole place is surrounded by an herb garden as well, which he infuses into the hot water. every morning i trudge through the lushness to a little outhouse, where i pour the hot herbal water into a big bucket and take a very primitive but nice bath. he also makes his own lemongrass tea which he serves for free to guests.

tonight we went to the top of the mountain to the wat, where at sunset the monks gather in this open air chapel and chant, sounding more tribal than the local tribes to me. it pretty much epitomizes the thai experience. buddhist wats are so peaceful and safe and clean. we fell asleep on the steps listening to them and were awoken by puppies licking our hands. we rode back down into the village and had drinks at a bar owned by an effusively nice thai man named pong, who convinced us to drink his homemade herbal whiskey. he has about ten different kinds, which cure everything from backaches to impotence. 'x' pretended to drink the elephant one which supposedly gives you energy, but secretly he passed it over to me to down quickly. he's chickenshit that way. :) it was like warm cough syrup, and in actuality this energy elixir put 'x' and i right to sleep.
:10/25--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

hot springs
'x' taught me to ride the motorbike so that when we split up in a few weeks i can still get around and have adventures. i drove up to the pool and we spent a few hours there. afterwards we went up to the natural hot springs and watched thai people wade in and boil eggs in the water. it's all very beautiful but smells like sulfur. good for your skin. we went and had massages and soaked in the hot springs ourselves for awhile at the thapai hot springs resort. they have pet myna birds which taught us to say "sawadee jou", which means "hello" in the northern thai dialect. afterwards we had indian food (cooked by a thai woman and tasting suspiciously thai) on mats by candlelight at a nice little place. we eavesdropped on the hippie travelers next to us, who had been just about everywhere. previously when we've travelled, we've always felt sad because everyone else had 6 or 8 places for the same amount of months on their agendas while we had only a measly 2 weeks to see a measly slice of whatever country we were in. now we have at least a year to stretch our legs in! if we spend as little as we are spending now we could go for almost 3 years on the money we have saved. i spend here an average of 500 baht a day, or about $11 US.
:10/26--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
last night in pai though we don't know it yet. we eat at the french cafe and watch live bands at bebop cafe. something changes in the air and you know it's time to leave a place.
:10/27--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




'x' & i got up early and flipped a coin which decided for us that it was time to move on (though we were both sort of relieved). the two hour drive north to the lisu village was mindblowing. thailand has to be the most breathtakingly gorgeous country on earth. we arrived in early afternoon. the lisu tribe is very prolific when it comes to weaving. the children followed us up the (harrowing) mud road carrying baskets of bright colored things saying "me have no money, you like?" which is about the extent of their english. it can get annoying but when you see their living conditions it's understandable. (somehow though, even the dirtiest, shabbiest hut seems to have a t.v.) our guesthouse was run by a lisu woman and her german husband, and it is literally out in the middle of nowhere. there is not a snack or a convenience to be had for about 25k in any direction. our hut was an a-frame, more or less like camping, with mats on the floor and a mosquito net. the bathroom was down a stone path through some flower bushes. there was a pet monkey in a cage (one of a family of three who had tried attacking the villagers, but were caught. the largest one was eaten and the other 2 kept as pets). besides one american family who left about an hour after we arrived, we were the only guests.

late in the afternoon we rode over to the next village to hike a cave. it was 3 caves actually, one after another. i have never seen a cave like this. it was huge, pitch black, and terrifying. we hired a little old thai lady as a guide, and she carried a gas lantern. we took a bamboo raft down the river which flowed into the cave. it was filled with big black fish which with the right amount of paranoia could be mistaken for sharks. there were tons of bats overhead. at some points our guide took us off the raft and we climbed deeper into the recesses of the cave on steep makeshift batshit-covered staircases. there were coffins that are apparently over 2000 years old in the deepest corners. not especially comforting to one who is already imagining dark things around every corner and crevasse (that would be 'x'). after seeing the caves it was time to return, and 'x' and i were astonished to discover that our guide had to walk in the fishwater chest deep and pull us with a rope upstream to where we started. it was one of the first times i have ever felt like i was exploiting the locals. we paid her 300 baht for the whole 2-hour tour, of which she got to keep about the equivalent of $2. very sad. thai people work very hard.

we returned to our hut and ame and rudj (the owners) invited us to a lisu village dinner. it was sort of awkward and we both felt shy, but when we realized they felt just as weird we all relaxed. ame had made 3 or 4 different thai dishes which we shared amongst us all. it was delicious and when we were finished she brought out some pot and rolled a joint for us! so we sat and smoked and felt completely isolated and weird, but ame was very friendly and told us about the surrounding hill tribes. a big huge bug the size of my hand kept flying into my hair (especially freaky when you are stoned) & at about 6:30 it got completely dark (no streetlights, no street noise). 'x' and i said goodnight and made our way to the bathroom where we could have filmed an entire nature show. there was every kind of big spider, green hoppy things, crawly creepies, and flying whatevers that i could ever have hoped to see. we washed up quickly and ran to the bungalow, crawling under our mosquito net and staring out into the dark. after new york city it is sort of disconcerting to be so one with nature.
:10/28--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

goodbye spider


goodbye monkey
we woke up this morning (to the rooster insanity) with horrible colds, and on top of that it was overcast and rainy. we had planned to hike up and see some of the even more deserted hill tribes but it was not to be. after a couple of hours of indecision we decided that the lisu village was a one night only deal and we moved on. the nearest village was sappong (25k) and the nearest "city" was mae hong son (about 76k). it was completely pouring by the time we got to sappong, but wanting the comfort of a real bed and hot shower we stupidly decided to go for mae hong son. it is normally a 2 hour ride- it took us almost 4. this is on a narrow winding road in the mountains, on a small motorbike, wearing rain ponchos. adventure, right?!? we thought we were going to die at least 50 times on the way. 'x' couldn't see where he was going throught the rain, dark, fog, and flying insects. we were both completely soaked. but in a way, it was fun and we both surprisingly enough had good attitudes about the whole thing. we made it to mae hong son at about 7:30p. ah, glorious luxuries of hot water and a warm bed. things spoiled americans take so much for granted! that bliss made the whole experience worth it.

when we had showered and blissed out for awhile we decided to venture out and check out mae hong son. it is called the "switzerland of north thailand" of which we were skeptical but in actuality is fairly apt. it's very beautiful. we walked down the main street and realized we had caught the tail end of a festival. there were all kinds of stalls set up and the hill tribes had come down from the surrounding mountains to sell jewelry, clothes, etc. all very nice but unfortunately i still can't shop. 'x' did break down and buy me a gorgeous handwoven wrap skirt. in the US it would be very pricey but here it was the thrift store bargain of about $5. we walked on and came upon a sort of town hall with a stage, and each of the hill tribes were doing a performance in turn. it was really cool to see. my favorite tribe is the karen tribe- one sect is the longnecks and another is the big ears. meaning they deform themselves in their respective ways in the name of traditional beauty. they are very cool. unfortunately i as usual did not have my camera with me so i didn't get good pictures, but i plan on going to see them in their own village soon.
:10/29--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

mae hong son, north thailand

civilization here is sort of the sticks in the states, but what can you do. at least we have hot water and cable even though every channel is in thai. we relax today, appreciative of our intact lives after a week in the middle of nowhere. i sat out on my (gorgeous) front porch and played with a happy gray cat who fell asleep snoring loudly as i read the bangkok post to see if america has been blown up yet (it hasn't but there are several warnings about muslims in thailand). a little thai boy came up to me and i talked to him for a bit in rudimentary thai. his name was kim, he lived here with his mama, etc. then out of nowhere he asked "you give me 100 baht?" with outstretched hand. ack(!!!!). it's impossible to get to know thai people when they are all so out for your money. when i said no of course not he shrugged and ran off.

the best part about travelling is stumbling upon something totally unexpected. later this evening we wandered into town again just in time to catch a huge parade. all the thai people were drunk and raucous and they had made intricate floats and costumes. i am not sure what they were celebrating (end of rainy season? a bit premature?) but their designs were all vaguely phallic. they lit candles all over the lake. the locals look at us white folk strangely in general but i ran into 3 muslim men tonight who looked at me with especially piercing evil looks (not my imagination) that i could do without. they were the first muslims i've seen in thailand so far. eeep!

our dinner tonight was fondue at the "swiss chalet"- the first real food i've had in awhile. i get sick(!!!) of having to depend on other people for sustenance, having to order, wait for, and pay for my food, which for the most part is barely edible. i suppose thai people shouldn't be expected to cater to western tastes in the least, but if this is an indication of how my culinary experiences will be for the rest of my trip i might starve! one more bad curry or gristly shish kebab or (eww, ick) slimy "american" breakfast might put me over the line.
:10/30--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"longneck" karen tribe woman


"big ear" karen tribe girl
i expected the hill tribes to somehow be less civilized. preconceptions can kill an experience. i mean i wish i could have watched them perform some primal ritual dance dedicated to the blossoming of manhood or the like but in reality they are conditioned to sit pretty and take photos for the tourists. sort of like a human zoo. the tribe i visited today was the karen tribe (my favorite), and it was no small feat in getting there- we crossed no fewer than 5 streams, ran into a few elephants, and got lost in what we thought might be right over the border of burma as on the way to the village we passed through a couple of military checkpoints with heavily armed soldiers standing around (they smiled and waved at us). at the end of the road there were makeshift bunkers and foxholes, and the villagers eyed us suspiciously with machetes in hand. this area is very close to the border of burma (myanmar) in fact and is the main artery of the drug trade from burma into thailand. in fact, the karen tribes are actually refugees from burma. they have no rights at all in thailand and are currently being persecuted (thailand wants to kick them out). they make their money solely off of tourism. the village was nice and "quaint". the tribe's men look like your average bangkok tuk tuk driver. it's the women who get all the attention, do all the work, and hence apparently make all the money. the rings around their necks create an optical illusion- their necks don't really stretch out, it just pushes down their rib cage. 'x' is infatuated with them and insists he wants a longneck baby. i wasn't overall especially impressed.
:10/31--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

treacherous roads


happy halloween

some days nothing seems to work right. but it is halloween after all. we set out this morning to see a waterfall and ended up taking a wrong turn and teetering on this hellish road at the top of a mountain. it took us most of the day to get up it (both of us thinking the waterfall must be just around the next bend), and the rest of the day to sheepishly ease back down (with white knuckled terror) when a smiling thai man pointed out to us we were on the wrong track. i don't know where thailand got the reputation for being an easy country to travel in, but i think that must be if you stick to the tourist trail. 'x' and i have found ourselves in a few pickles to say the least by going off road. we did finally find the right path to the waterfall but it was almost as hard to traverse and as creepy as the mountain road. 'x' insisted on hiking with a huge "stick" that was almost as heavy as he is, to ward off big bad animals.

there is no halloween in mae hong son. we joked that we should get rice farmer hats and bamboo sticks and be thai for halloween. as it was, the only evidence that it was even a holiday was a small, slightly wilted jack-o-lantern (squash) sitting on a shelf in the only good bar in the town. we resigned ourselves to a couple of games of foosball ('x' calls it babyfoot which i have never heard before), a couple mai tais, and an early night.



 

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