Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yeah, yeah...

I know, I'm taking forever getting my Thailand trip written up. Well, in a couple days it'll be old news, and you won't want to read about it anyway, so then I can forget it. Or something like that. In the meantime, please entertain yourself with this math problem:

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I'm alive, just lazy

So you all know, I am actually still alive, but I've been unable to use the internet for a while, what with taking night trains, trekking, then back to Bangkok. Hopefully the last few days here will allow me to catch up on it. But not now. It's hot and I need a siesta.

Update: I've posted photos on my flickr site. You can view them here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Last Day in Bangkok

Today was our last day in Bangkok, at least for a while. We made the decision to hit the weekend market in Chatpatchuck. Colin and Yusuke had gone the day before, but it wasn't as big on Friday as it gets on the weekend. Hence the name. We headed there with a big group from the hotel, but the only ones who stayed with us in the market were Sarah, an Irishwoman who always seemed a bit manic but fun nonetheless, and Dave, an Aussie finishing up a round-the-world tour who seemed to know an inordinate amount about sewing, stitching, and buying clothes.

We meandered that market, which had everything from rattan furniture to pets to fruit shakes. It was giant, too. We saw but a small fraction of it. By that time, we were exhausted and dripping with sweat from walking through the tiny, stuffy pathways. We had to be in Khao Sarn Road for the 8pm bus, so we headed back early. We stopped at a great restaurant that was completely deserted, manned by a confused older woman, with several Thai staff pretty much standing around. We had a girl specifically to pour more beer and cola for us. The interior was beautiful, marble flooring and columns, furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and five tourists in ratty clothes, sweaty and grimy from walking the streets. Talk about incongruous. The atmosphere of the restaurant made us think of a high quality place that had lost its importance.

We got back to our hostel, showered, said our goodbyes, then Colin, Yusuke and I set out to catch the night bus to Koh Tao.

Friday, August 04, 2006

"It Buddhist holiday. (insert attraction here) closed today. You go see Big Buddha, then visit tailor shop."

We ogt off to a late start today, everyone was disorganized and we were trying to figure out what to do. I headed out with Boukje and Matt to see the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Along the way, people kept stopping us and trying an old scam. They'd ask us where we were headed, then say that that place was closed, or the hours were different. But if we wanted, he could hail a tuktuk nearby to take us to some OTHER attractions that were open. All that was required was for us to visit a tailor's afterwards and have a look around. We got burned on that yesterday, so I was determined not to let it happen again.

After running the gauntlet, we made it to the Grand Palace, miraculously still open. The grounds of the palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) were quite impressive. The spires and brightly colored statues were quite amazing. The Emerald Buddha itself, to be honest, wasn't. IT was very small, set far away from view, and packed with tourists and worshippers. Although the inside was covered in beautiful paintings, it didn't feel worth the trouble of wading through the crowds.

Afterwards, I bade my two companions farewell and met up with Colin and Yusuke to find a ticket to Koh Tao tomorrow night.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Making Friends in Bangkok

I met up with the Dutch girl (still don't know how to spell her name) in the morning. She'd stayed in a small dorm in the same hostel, and her bunkmates seemed like pretty cool guys. There was Colin, a tall Missourian who'd come here to teach English; Matt, a New Zealander on a few days stopover en route to London; Yusuke, a Japanese student in the US on holiday; and Andrew, a Vietnamese-American who'd been travelling Southeast Asia for several months.

We went to the old district with the famous temples and Grand Palace. One the way, we took the Sky Train, an elevated train that crosses high above th city. The view is spectacular, but you do catch the occasional glimpse of mounds of trash and homeless people under the freeways that remind you there are still some problems here.

From the end of the Sky Train, we caught a boat bus up the river to the old district. We saw Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Wat Pho (where the Reclining Buddha is), as well as the "Big Buddha," a 32-meter standing statue. It was all interesting, but I wish I'd had something to read so I could understand it better.

Last up, we hit Khao San Road, the infamous backpacker's street. Loads of stalls selling all manner of goods, along with bars and cheap flophouses catering to "farang." A good, but long, day overall.

PS - had Japanese for dinner. Yum!

First Day in Bangkok

(Note: The date has been changed to reflect when the events took place, not when it was written. Enjoy.)

I've arrived in Bangkok and caught a train to my hostel. The guesthouse seems to do a brisk business, with a bar and restaurant on the first floor. The room's pretty tiny, compared to what I got in Vietnam. It's on the second floor, right next to an extension of the restaurant/lounge. There are a couple of Dutch or Germans making plans, as well as a couple of Asians attached to their laptops.

I met a nice girl while checking in, a Dutchwoman named Boukje, or something like that. She's pleasant enough, we had a good conversation and decided to go sightseeing together tomorrow. I have a feeling this country is going to bleed me dry, things aren't terribly cheaper than Japan or the USA, especially given that everyone's purpose is to get your money. We'll see what happens, but I'm betting I run my credit card up again, like I did last year.

Anyways, tomorrow's going to be spent doing basic sightseeing here, then the next day will be for Ayuthaya in the north, then off to the islands for some diving. I hope.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

This just in: Bangkok's hot in summer

I got to my hostel last night around 7 or 7:30pm. I was rather surprised, I thought it would take longer. The flight was only 6 hours, and Thailand is two hours earlier. Not bad, overall. The taxi ride was a bit frantic at times, between the driver's crazy maneuverings and the worrying fact that he kept glancing at the address I'd given him like he didn' know it. Sure enough, I had to use his phone to call the place and get directions. Not too difficult.

There was a nice girl at the check-in desk, a Dutch girl who'd arrived just before me. We're both flying solo, so we'll split the taxis and do the basic sights today. Maybe look at some tours up north briefly, before getting down to the islands down south.

The brief cool spell in Japan must've wrecked my heat acclimatization (is that a word), because it's stifling hot here. Even the nights are oppressive. Let's hear it for A/C. The big downside to being here is that people were noisy until almost 2am, while I was trying to get some shuteye. So I'm running on about 3 hours sleep. Yay.