Southern Thailand

Bangkok Protests

January 13, 2014

Bangkok Protests are I’m FULL swing today. No SkyTrain I was told to get to the airport bc the protestors shut it down. A Taxi is my best option, if they can get through the crowds. I may not even be able to get to the airport for my flight and if that’s the case, so be it, I’ll just hang around and join in in the protests. Corruption sucks and it’s nice to see everyone coming together. History in the making. I’m about to venture down to the crowd now and see it for my own eyes. Been told it’s safe so no need to worry!

Bangkok, Round 3!

January 12, 2014

Bangkok! This city has a pulse unlike no other, its so alive. Unlike any other big city I have ever visited and I am getting quite accustomed to it as its my third time here. I have had so much fun (too much?, nah) these past two days/nights. There is no place like Bangkok, really, and after you get over the overwhelming size of the city you discover that it has something to offer anyone. A lot of people dislike Bangkok and I think its because of Khao San Road, but once you get out of that section and into the city you start to notice all the little things waiting to be discovered. It started two nights ago when I arrived late at night and I decided to take a motorbike taxi opposed to a car taxi. I white-knuckled it as he ran through red lights, weaving in and out of traffic and squeezing so close between cars and buses that my life passed in front of my eyes a handful of times. I kept wishing I had a helmet but then realized we were cutting in front of moving vehicles and a helmet probably wouldn’t do much anyways. In Ho Chi Minh City the motorbikes were an experience too but in Vietnam there are not too many cars, trucks, buses to worry about making Bangkok a whole new animal. Sorry, I am sure I am giving my mother a heart attack.. but OK besides the motorbike adventures it’s been two productive days of getting visas and taking the skytrain and subway around the city I have a lot to accomplished before I head out to Myanmar on Monday. I really hope I can make it to the airport because in Bangkok now there is an #occupy movement going right now protesting against the government. Everything is calm at the moment but they made an announcement come Monday all hell is suppose to break loose. They did state that they are not going to protest at the airport for the sake of the tourists since tourism is so large here in Thailand.. but we will see. If I miss the flight I’ll just go join the protest lol whoever is protecting against the corruption, I’ll just join their side. Last night I met some people attending University here and late at night I found myself in their car heading back to the University? I never know how I get myself into these situations but it was a fun night to say the least. Their friends were inviting and it was interesting to be in a “college setting” over in Bangkok. I just slept there and they gave me a ride back in the morning. So I paid for a hostel and didn’t even stay there! Today I went to JJ Weekend Market for a few hours getting lost wondering and when I wanted to leave it took me roughly 15 minutes to figure out how to exit the maze of shops. I did find a cool Radiohead shirt.. so success? I recently sent loads of stuff home and went from 16 kilos down to 10 so I dont want to buy much since I have to carry it. My bag is almost cut in half and it feels great. Thailand has been wonderful this second go around. The South is beautiful. It felt like a vacation from backpacking to be honest. I was really excited to get back to Thailand because I love the culture in the North but unfortunately, the Southern islands are so overrun by tourism that many of the places I went has lost their authenticity. It is so filled with Europeans and North/South Americans that everything is catered to them. It didn’t really feel like the Thai culture. On the beaches you would walk up to the bar for a drink and behind the counter was a Westerner not a Thai woman/man. Westerners stand outside of restaurants and bars trying to drive in traffic. A bit of a let down form a cultural standpoint but the scenery is well worth it. Its paradise. Absolute paradise. I was able to make it to a list of islands: Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, Koh Yao Noi, Phuket, Koh Phanyan and Koh Tao. Koh Kradan and Koh Ngai are virtually unheard of and there were few people on these islands and the beaches were deserted. It was picturesque, pricey, but wonderful. Koh Phi Phi and Koh Phanyan were the party islands full of drunken filled chaos which is fun when you are drinking yet annoying when sober. You know how that goes. I did not feel like I was in Thailand at all on these two islands (besides the wonderful limestone formations on the horizon, but from a interpersonal cultural standpoint, I could have been in Cancun or Ibiza or Key West). Krabi was the most beautiful place I visited. We stayed in a little less touristy beach next to Railey called Tonsai Beach. There were hippies and rock climbers. A funny mix but both coexisted quite well and both are also interchangeable sometimes. I think this was my favorite place. I will upload photos of Tonsai Beach, Krabi tomorrow. Phuket was too quick for me to have an opinion and there we went to James Bond island. There were thousands of people trying to see one rock formation and it was just too much but I met some wonderful Americans who are moving to Boulder. Koh Yao Noi was the spot we rented a house for on Christmas and this was the best time I had maybe since Cambodia a couple months ago. We were with great company and staying in a house like I’ve never stayed in before. It was a mansion. And the previous night I was sleeping in a tent so it was a nice balance of scales. I had so much fun with this group of people and it was a Christmas I will never forget. Koh Tao was also a highlight. I got my scuba certificate and was planning on leaving but after switching hostels made a new group of friends and just couldn’t leave them. Some Americans and two from Sweden. We had a lot of fun and went to the Ladyboy Cabernet mentioned in the previous post. So although South Thailand didn’t hit the cultural note, it sure did make up for it with landscapes and the people I met. I met some of the best backpackers here in the South of Thailand. The conversations we had were impactful and enlightening. So I’m sorry, not much insight on this post, it’s more of a summary. I am really excited to head to Myanmar on Monday as this will definitely fill the culture aspect that was lacking this past month. I have a good, good feeling about this country. It’s been described as a step back in time. The locals have not gotten down the whole tourism bit yet so I hear many are so curious about you they just stare at you in awe which is then your clue to interact. Interaction with the locals is always my biggest driver and I cant wait to go there and play with the kids on the street and try my best to communicate with everyone I meet. Its going to be awesome. I went to the mall today to try to buy a portable printer so I could print out photo I take of the people to give to them. A friend recently came back and stated how when they saw her camera they all wanted to take a photo with her and looked in awe when they were able to see themselves on her camera screen afterwards. I really, really wanted to be able be able to give them a printed photo of their families as this may be the first photo they have had access to. Unfortunately, the printer was way to bulky for my bag and was roughly $100USD. So I had to pass which was disappointing. Myanmar has gone through much suffering and governmental oppression for ages and just recently opened their borders as safe for tourists. The people haven’t had access to modern things like the Internet, ATMs or in this case, photographs of themselves. She also urged me to bring candy to give out to all the children who gaze at you, the foreign visitor in their country. Some backpackers get “weirded out” when locals stare at them but for me its a perfect invitation for interaction. They are only staring because they are curious and uncertain of who you are. So therefore, I feel its necessary to go up, extend you hand and greet them with a warm smile. This typically eases their uncertainty and opens a window for great interaction. This is why I enjoyed Laos so much. The woman I was speaking to said that once she just plastered a smile on her face the locals returned their curious stares with a warm smile. Luckily that isn’t a problem on my end. Their clothing too, I have been told, is not yet Westernized and they have their own style and most men and women have a certain type of makeup worn across their face. OK OK OK, enough of me going on and on about a country I haven’t even seen yet on a first hand basis. I’ll wait until I am there to confirm for myself.. Can you tell I am excited?! I just cant wait to immerse myself in Myanmar. Alright ladies and gents, its near 2am and I am running on fumes, it was suppose to be an early night for me. Fail. Tomorrow is time to tie up all loose ends and get my planning done because Monday is the big show.. no India is the big show, this is just the precursor. I Love Y’all! Goodnight

Ladyboy Madness

January 10, 2014

In Thailand there are three socially recognized genders.. male, female and ladyboy. I have been to multiple restaurants/bars where there are three labeled bathrooms. All three genders are equally integrated in society and coexist with harmony. Wanting to understand this concept a little more before I leave, our group decided to attend a nightly Ladyboy Cabaret show held down the street in Koh Tao. The ladies lip sung popular songs whiled dancing around in elaborate clothing as the crowd roared, cheering them along. It was a fun experience as experiences are exactly what I am chasing. The ladies were great.. or as they prefer, “fabulous”.

01102014