Monday, January 24, 2011

Learning to go with the flow

Well, what a shameful night was had in Tonsai! I completely enjoyed myself, but made a woeful mess of myself. You know when you see something that you've not encountered before and you think "gee, that might be a good idea...", well it turns out that your Phi Phi Island "Bucket" is really not. Ever. For the uninitiated, the bucket consists of the following: Take three scoops of ice, one small bottle of Thai Whiskey, one Thai Red Bull (apparently the equivalent of 4 Australian cans), one can of Coke. Chuck all into the bucket, throw in four straws, and wobble on home 90mins after purchase looking like walking sludge. Before the wobbling part though, I did front up to the Slinky Bar where I got to "ooh" and "aah" at a fire show. Highly recommended.

My day in Tonsai was a little more subdued. Because I had made the random decision to stay on in town, I bought a change of Thai Fisherman's pants (yep, 5 pairs now and counting), a singlet top, some knickers and some toiletries, then did some further exploring. The food in at Tonsai is just amazing, and the vibe is something else. Did I mention that the locals were just wonderful? So I ended up having a great day.

The next morning, strongly resembling a light-sensitive vampire, I went and got myself some brecky then caught a long-tail boat back here to Laem Thong. Turned out that following my whining of the previous day, the peace and serenity of Laem Thong was exactly what I needed. Yesterday was spent taking it fairly easy. I swam a lot in some of the most beautiful turquoise blue waters on the face of the earth, I ate an amazing vegetarian pad thai, and I chilled.

One of the things I have been whining about on Facebook is naked Germans. I tend to mainly go out of my way to not be a proud Aussie, but it appears that I have definitely embraced our national prudish approach to nudity. On my first night, I was confronted firstly by naked woman walking out on to her balcony, then 30 mins later, her naked husband did the exact same thing. When I got back from Tonsai, naked couple had moved on, and I breathed a sight of relief. That was until I discovered that they had been replaced by another exhibitionistic couple whilst I was innocently reading my book a few hours later. Hmm. It seems to be all over the beach, and it's a tad sad that I am so whiny about it, but I have noticed that a lot of the local people seem to react quite similarly and therefore just avoid pockets of the beach where they know people are baking, so at least I'm glad that it's not just me!

But all that aside, last night I cashed in my complimentary Thai massage (this would be massage #3), and had my own moment of partial public nudity whilst this older Thai lady, with quite possibly the sweetest face I had ever seen rubbed aloe vera all over my sunburn, then subjected me to part relaxation - part extreme workout, all in an open air bungalow looking out to the sea. The sizzle went out of my skin, and the sunburn is not even sore today, so she is clearly a miracle worker.

This morning, following a chat with some keen snorkelers from South Africa yesterday, I hired myself a pair of flippers and a snorkel and went down to the pier exploring. I hopped down onto the rocks, slipped, and cut my foot in four places. So endeth my snorkeling days. My foot is absolutely killing me, and with my grand plans of ocean exploration followed by dinner in Tonsai dashed, I had to find some more low-key alternatives. Laem Thong has quite a strong sea gypsy population, and it's their little restaurant here where I have been scoffing green curries on a daily basis. One of the first things I noticed here was that "Tuk Tuk?" had been replaced with "Boat boat?" as they own a lot of the Long tail boats; appropriate really, considering that your long tail boat really is the Tuk Tuk of the Sea! So when one of their old uncles saw me limping and approached me to chat, telling me that I needed to go to hospital to get some antibiotics and suggesting that a long tail boat ride might be a good, low impact activity for me to do, I obliged. For four hours, I saw some amazing coastline (including that place where that really shit movie "The Beach" was filmed), got splashed by the waves, and chilled out. Just wonderful. My guide, Yuom, was a vibrant man who answered all of my stupid questions and helped me with my Thai words. Definitely a great way to spend an injured day.

So tonight, I will be chilling out, possibly scoffing some more green curry, then packing so I am ready to meet my ferry to Ao Nang tomorrow. Only five more days until I am back :(

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The wrong of Patong, and the crazy things we do

Coming to you live from Phi Phi Island at the moment, where the weather is fine, and I am friggin' sunburnt. Blackfella genes, my moom! Here for four nights, and at the moment, I'm figuring out how best to spend them. But before I get into that, I'd better do a slight rewind.

Anyone who caught my status updates a couple of days ago knows that I found Patong Beach (Phuket) to be a bit of a trial. Everyone knows that it's a party destination, and everyone knows that it is also a sex tourism destination. Having this knowledge though does not make it less confronting when you get there (at least, it didn't in my case). But for mine, it's wasn't the constant stream of gorgeous Thai Princesses showing a bit of rack (or the pouty princes) and luring you into the bars with a flutter of their eyelashes. No, it was the pervy, viagra set that were floating about, just freely groping these women and men as if they had a right, then pretty much falling over. I just wanted to belt them all, and when I asked one of the girls working at the bar why they just don't kick these drunken pigs out, she just said "because of the money". Patong Beach: probably not the ideal place for a hard-core feminist to visit. I was also about 10 seconds away from telling a bloke trying to sell me a ping pong show ticket that perhaps he should try shooting a ping pong out of his own bits and see if he can sell tickets to that... But Patong was not all bad. For one, I ended up having a wonderful night out when I fronted to a random bar and spent a couple of hours playing pool with the gals working there (I got my arse more than kicked). I also thought the town itself was picture postcard stuff, and whilst there I decided to treat myself to a deluxe pamper package which was just brilliant. So despite it all, I left Patong feeling amazing, and now that I have been, I know it's just not my 80 baht Smirnoff...

Caught the ferry over to Phi Phi yesterday, and it is here where I realised I had made an error of judgment. When I got to the hotel, I worked out that it was a 2hour walk away from the main area of Phi Phi, and not only that, the clientele where mainly older couples and honeymooners. Blech. I just was not in the mood for watching Loved-up types slobber all over eachother, and so after spending an incredibly boring night in (although I had discovered the best green curry ever in a little place out there), I caught the shuttle service this morning to Ton Sai, found myself a fleebagger, and checked in for the night so I can at least get some of the pulse here. Hell, I might just decide to make it two nights! So effectively, the "crazy" part is that I have paid for two hotel rooms, and my suitcase is sleeping in one of them because I cannot be bothered going back at this point and checking out of the room (plus, to get a long tail boat there and back would cost me more than the room I have just paid for anyway). I'm here for the next three nights, so I will just play it all by ear and see how I'm feeling after a complete lack of sleep tonight. Fire-twirling by the beach it is!

So today, I have bought stuff, I climbed to the viewpoints and I saw the Tsunami path of 2004. Also, I forgot to mention that yesterday, I walked to Phi Phi Village where I saw the Woodridge School (and was given cheek from some kids there through the fence!), the Tsunami warning tower, and some extraordinary destruction that had not yet been rectified post-Tsunami. Phi Phi is absolute paradise, but it is also incredibly poverty-stricken, and I would recommend that anyone who does visit here makes the time to go out and see the village. It had a real effect on me.

Ciao for niao

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

BKK #2

Hiya folks!

I'm currently sitting at the airport waiting for my flight out to Phuket, and I have about an hour to kill, so naturally, I hopped on the internet. Ever notice that when I am not responsible for my own transportation out to the airport, I arrive with plenty of time?

So, since I last wrote, I have had many excellent adventures. On Monday, I had another day of "flying by the seat of my pants" and after finding myself a decent pair of runners in the Siam Center (boy, did my poor leg muscles thank me for that! Any sensible person would have had some sturdy walking shoes with them from the beginning, but the more courses I do, the less I seem able to spell my own name...), I jumped back on the Express Boat and headed out to Wat Pho Temple. It was really serene out there, and as I scaled up the extraordinarily steep stairs, I encountered one of the best views of BKK available. Whilst there, I also encountered my first squat loo (some Scottish woman was kind enough to warn me prior to entering), which I reckon would be an experience for anyone who has only ever encountered pedestal porcelain before... They had a market at Wat Pho, and I bought this handmade wire Harley Davison model, which I probably wouldn't have bought if the bloke selling them hadn't have grabbed the minature handbars of it and started saying "VROOOM VROOOM". Very very cool though.

Ferried back to the other side of the river, then caught another boat for the hell of it. I ended up at Khao San Road purely by accident, and was just in my element. It just had a great atmosphere, and there were more market stalls for me to look at and more Thai Fisherman's Pants for me to buy (currently up to 4 pairs. Whoops!). Grabbed a banana pancake, then went back to the hotel to get ready for my night out.

I went and saw the Calypso show that night, and was just amazed. It was part cabaret, part comedy, and incredibly well put together. Personal highlights include seeing some Japanese people in the audience killing themselves with laughter because one of the acts involved an extraordinarily exaggerated performance of a Japanese pop song, and having the opportunity to pose for a couple of pics with the gals. They put on two shows per night, and I have no idea how they find the energy.

Yesterday, I went out to Kachanaburi on a tour to the River Kwai, as well as some elephant riding, death rail train riding and some bamboo rafting. I started the day at 6am, and didn't get back until about 7pm that night, so was definitely stuffed by the end of it. It was great to get out to the countryside and see a bit of the land. Tour was good, and got some great pics, so hopefully I will get to uploading them soon (if not, you'll just have to wait until I get home!). When I got back to the hotel again, I tarted myself up a bit and headed out to dinner, again down Khao San road way. The market was buzzing, and every time I turned around some woman was trying to sell me a croaking frog toy, or some Tuk Tuk driver was trying to offer me a lift. Music was pumping all the way along, and it was just amazing to me that I could walk down the middle of the street, buying stuff with a Smirnoff in my hand, and the beat going. I am going to really miss these markets when I get back to Australia (if I come back... :D). Finally, I decided the sensible thing to do would be to get back to the hotel before I drank another Smirnoff and bought more stuff, so caught a Tuk Tuk back. They overcharge somewhat, but it's an experience I reckon everyone has to have at least once.

That's the short of it for now. Next stop is Phuket for two nights, then I am on to Phi Phi and Ao Nang. Hope you're all well, and catch ya soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two nights in Bangkok

It's taken me a bit to finally get to a computer; understandably so I reckon! The short of it is all is well, I arrived safely (albeit utterly fragged) and have been getting on with the holidaying and touristy side of things!

I arrived in BKK at about 9pm local time, which was 1am Melbs time. I think I was beyond wrecked, and every muscle in my body ached from the trip. I have to say though, the mob at Thai Airways look after you a treat. Service was brilliant, food was pretty damn fine. Choice of movies were Hollywood shyte, but you simply can't have everything! On arrival at the airport, I was being picked up by a driver and taken to my accommodation, and so begineth my first experience of BKK driving. Despite the fact that he drove at warp speed and changed lanes like a bank robber in an action film, I felt pretty safe as everyone else was doing much the same. Got to my swank accommodation in one piece, ordered room service, then promptly flaked.

Yesterday was a nomad day. I tried to get my bearings, as well as get a feel for the place. Initially, I found the noise and the traffic quite intimidating, but I randomly found myself in a skytrain station, and hopped on board to the Chatuchak Markets. Got myself a few bargains; pretty pleased with the $8 sandals I am wearing at the moment, for example. From there, I came back into Siam Square, where I checked out Paragon Centre, Siam Centre, and a few of the shops on the square. I then walked down to Silom, where quite a few of my "new Thai best friends" tried to get me into their various pubs and clubs. More little market stalls and food carts (I'm yet to get used to that smell), and after walking myself into agony, I jumped back on the Skytrain for happy hour back at the hotel and a sadly early night.

Today was a bit more planned. First I visited the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). This was via the ferries which were wonderfully bumpy, and jam-packed, but a brilliant way to take in a few sites. Then I went on to Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) where I took in the brilliant architecture and the collection of iconography, and then treated myself to a Traditional Thai Massage. Following that experience, I feel somewhat bendier...

This is just a short-but-sweet and hopefully I will get myself organised enough to post some pics next time. But just to let you all know: all is well, I am enjoying myself, and have the aching muscles to prove it. My next move (should I get myself moving quickly) is to visit the Calypso Cabaret and catch a show. Will more than likely be more sites tomorrow, and thinking of booking in a tour on Tues to the River Kwai. Hope you're all well!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bored Brainless at the Airport

Folks, I have 40mins before I'm supposed to board, and so, like any clearly deficient individual, I've decided now is as good a time as any to update the blog. Anyone who knows me knows how utterly out of character it is for me to arrive at the airport in plenty of time (or arrive anywhere for that matter), but for some reason when I fly international I panic a bit and allow hefty minutes.

Anyway, a few observations at this juncture:

  • Duty Free shopping at this end is utter shyte and is not the purchasing utopia those evil capos paint it to be. I haven't even bothered buying anything bar one novel (which I probably could have bought in Thailand anyway for a fraction of the price), and considering the tumbleweeds currently blowing through Duty Free, it is safe to say that no one else is buying either

  • The walkway to the departure lounges from customs is approximately 427km long, and paved with plasterboard. It doesn't get more uninspiring than that

  • I changed my AUDs to Baht, and now feel "deadly rich"! I cannot currently close my wallet

  • There's a couple of Cafes around and they are relatively uninspiring. One of them serves macaroons though that are Brunetti's quality, and there is a bubblegum flavoured one so I had to scoff it

  • The irony of the souvenir shops always gets me. I am currently sitting across from some boomerangs and some "dodgeridoos", painted lavishly in colours that would not be out of place at a rave. My guess: there's a "Made in Indonesia" sticker on the back of them

  • Because I was early, and because I am going to be trapped in a metal capsule hundreds-thousands of metres above the ground, I am wanting to know if there is a smoking lounge somewhere around here. If anyone knows, can they point me.

It pleases me somewhat to be getting away from this poxy, rainy weather, but I am thinking about all stuck in the worst of it at this point. Stay safe, and take care of eachother.

I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM ACTUALLY "ON HOLIDAYS"!!! I am so very very excited, and am so glad I just took the plunge and went for it. Have fun all, and hopefully some adventure stories and pics will make their way on to here (if they don't, I may be having too much fun...)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


In a serendipitous turn of events, only days before I fly into Thailand, massive rallies against a corrupt government have been hitting the streets with promises of more. Frankly, I cannot believe my luck, because whilst I have a penchant for protesting, it will be thoroughly educational to see how this sort of assembly occurs in another country. Anyone who likes a bit of political activism cannot help but feel inspired when they hear that the French have shut down the entire country again because their government wants to raise the age of retirement. Or the Greeks have been rioting against governmental austerity measures. In my time, I remember being a part of a couple of big rallies; the first at 10 years old marching against the bicentennial celebrations at the opening of the new Parliament House in Canberra (actually, maybe that wasn't as big as I remember, as a lot of people were there to witness the unveiling of the "coat-hanger on the hill". But Dad let me say "Bicentennial Bullshit!" whilst marching, so all was good!). The others of course being the anti-war protests following JWH's cuddling up to GWB, and, for a brief time, the S11 anti-globalisation rallies. Generally, whilst the will is good at protests, Australian actions tend to get me down because it just seems that, on the whole, Australia is an apathetic nation who assumes that the government will fix stuff, and who also believe that none of this action makes a difference. Why don't more take a stand? What is it about Australia in this day and age? Anyway, I hope to get the chance to see some of this.

Enough about how CL plans to change the world, and now to CL travelling the world. I CANNOT WAIT!! I am not packed, I have not booked a single tour, and I only just organised my travel insurance at 2am this morning. But I am pumped! Indi is booked into a kennel as apparently my Blue Heeler is a flippin' nuisance, so she's getting herself a holiday as well. The itinerary is thus: 6 nights in Bangkok, 2 nights in Phuket, 4 nights in Phi Phi and 4 nights in Ao Nang. Originally, I was looking at Koh Samui, but flights etc were cheaper this way, and besides, I've never even been to Thailand, so going anywhere there will be an adventure. There is a fair bit of R+R scheduled in there, but, of course, I need to find some cultural stuff to immerse myself in, so if you have any suggestions, let me know. Nightlife-wise; thanks to having a bunch of party animal mates, I am pretty much covered, but always looking for unique experiences. Oh, and if I don't see at least 5 shows, get 3 massages, and gain about 5 kilos, I will be shocked at myself!

There will be a couple of ferries between the islands, and I hope that whilst I am away, I get to update this thing with a few tales and photos. Haven't decided whether I am taking the computer or not, actually; could be a nuisance to lug around. Plus, everyone keeps warning me about thieves (is it a huge problem there?).

Stay well all, and hopefully I will update you from BKK!

P.S Got all my uni work in, and have passed everything. Flogged Politics, funnily enough... :D

P.P.S If you write me a comment on this thing, I will love you forever. I promise!