Sunday, June 15, 2008

Home is where...

It's already been almost a week since I left, and I only stayed four days but I already miss my bungalow on Hat Yao. And most of it was the brilliant bungalow I scored. Southern Thailand is a bit pricier than the north, but you can still find reasonable deals. I ended up at a place called Silver Beach where there was a bit of construction going on (since it's low season), some nice new bungalows, and the tiny building I stayed in. As soon as I got there, I used the last of my iPod charge, put on some loud music and unpacked everything I had in my bag. I really felt like I was setting up house. The bed took up most of the main room, but there were shelves on either side and that's where I put my stuff. I big clean mosquito net hung from the ceiling, and there were windows on each of three sides. The front porch had no railing but served as a good place for reading. The bathroom was amazing. The shower was, as per usual for that level of accomodation, not separate from the rest of the room. The toilet was a stand-up on a ledge, that I flushed using water I scooped from a cistern next to it. The sink had no actual drain pipe running from it to anywhere. Rather, any water that went into the sink splashed on my toes. I just looked at it as cleaning my feet, I guess. My door mat was in the shape of a dog bone. There was an amazing palm tree of foam on my front door, and two fish kissing on my bathroom mirror. Photos tk. I've moved on to bigger and better things. Met up with my dad. Stayed in a cool place in Bangkok with crazy lighting and a rooftop pool, then an overnight train to Nonkai which was straight out of the fifties or something, then a really amazing little guest house in Nonkai right on the Mekong, and now on the other side in Laos, at a pretty, modest place, full of antiques and things. I am happy and excited for all that lies ahead (two more weeks away from happy U.S. of A) but still yearn for my bungalow.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Did you know?

That after Israelis serve their mandatory military service (for meager pay, of course) they are offered some lump sum of money if they agree to remain reservists in their nation's army. And they are known to take the money and make temporary escape to the hippest backpacker destinations all over the globe and party their asses off. And this is why, the other day when I was walking around Hat Rin--Koh Phangan's most developed beach, known for its full moon parties--I was given a flier in Hebrew advertising something. (I mean of course English is everywhere, but you know, that's because the USA is a superpower and all that colonialist domination stuff.)


1) When wandering the many lanes and back alleys of the Trinket Market in Bangkok the other day, confronted by stall upon stall of tiny Buddhas carved in stone and piled in cases, I stopped at one where propped on top of the Buddhas were figurines with enlarged genitals, penises erect and taller than their heads and figurines of couples attached at the genitals, missionary and otherwise. A tourist draw, I'm sure.
2) On the tiny (touristy but not overdeveloped) island of Koh Phangan (off Thailand's southern peninsula, east side) it is debatable whether or not it is necessary to use a mosquito net. In the middle of my first night at the first bungalow operation I stayed at, I pulled the provided net down from the low rafters above me and along with the net a condom fell on me. It was thankfully in its wrapper, the English pharmacy brand "Boots" emblazoned across it. Left by some well-meaning British traveler is my guess.
3) Wandering a lonely stretch of road in Koh Phangan, I came across a regular Thai home that in the garden showcased rows and boxes of random junk of the left-behind weather-beaten variety--like cosmetics bottles half used with the labels worn by hands and the sun and old books protected from the humidity by slips of plastic and bunches of sad-looking snorkel masks and cases of flowered clothing and old shoes piled in cement blocks. All of it for sale. And a sign in front that read in painted green letters: "Before you leave this island PLEASE put everything (also broken) that you not use in this big box. I will try to recicle." (sic) And a French translation below. And a small addendum on another sign above that read: "Food is also wellllcome thanks included microbiotic food" (sic). On one of the outermost shelves, next to some dusty handheld fans in colored plastic, I spotted three dildos. Two were the hard kind and just sitting out exposed to the elements. The third was wrapped in dingy plastic and labeled so: "Soft, good for beginners." (I've since been told that this is something of a goldmine since dildos (and pornography, etc) are not legally sold in this country.

List of a fraction of the things i saw the other day from the back of a motorscooter transversing Koh Phangan

*an elephant in a clearing in the jungle wearing some kind of outfit
*several large trucks crowded in back with sad-looking people wearing green (or orange?) uniforms standing
*the place in the center of the island where the paved parts of the road that bisects it don't quite meet yet (bumpy!)
*a decrepit half-sunken houseboat
*very many dogs (from mangy to cute) running out into the road
*some tourists in 4-wheelers
*so many palm trees
*3 or 4 glittering Buddhist temples in the middle of the jungle
*many signs (in English, obviously) for parties, resorts, restaurants, bars, bungalows, beauty shops, etc
*many Thais whizzing by us on their own bikes, most notably a kid that must have been 7 years old
*the gorgeous sky, like outerspace and clouds, like aliens

Monday, June 2, 2008

food log

Due to the fact that I haven't posted in ages, I feel guilty. Also, a certain someone keeps complaining to me how the first thing you see when I go to my blog is a disturbing image from Lebanon. Supposedly it's all a big party there now, so I am misrepresenting. So now, with my 15 minutes remaining on my web timer at the hostel I'm staying at in Bangkok, I am going to attempt a quick post. I'm going to be here in Southeast Asia for about a month. Arrived about 36 hours ago now. Mostly been wandering around the city center, and taking an overnight bus to an island far south tomorrow. Due to some stomach issues I've been having, as well as the amazingness of the food selection here, I've decided to keep a food log. Here is Day 1:

(1 US dollar equals roughly 30 Thai baht)

*vanilla bun -- Hualampang train station -- warm, sweet but not too sweet -- 10b
*pineapple chunks w/chili salt -- Siam Square shopping mall food court -- 10b
*minced pork and kale w/white rice and bottle of pepsi -- spicey! -- canal-side stand w/tables north of Siam Square -- 40b
*small bottle of singha -- western-style bar on soi 11 in Sukumvit -- escaping the sudden rain -- 90b
*mango -- tasty white flesh -- from a tiny storefront around the corner from my hostel -- 5b
*pad thai w/shrimp and split a large singha with a really nice lady from my hostel dorm room headed back to Canada -- noodles delicious and beer refreshing -- tiny restaurant near Hualampang -- 100b
*small box of pomegranate green tea -- very sweet -- 7/11 between Hualampang and my hostel -- 10b

day one total: 270b (not quite $10)