Southeast Asia – Week 1
March 13, 2011
We are now at the end of week 1 in Thailand, and it already feels like we’ve been here for forever. We’re sitting in our hostel in Patong, Phuket (Bodega Hostel) waiting for a bus to come in what might be our first downtime so far. What better time then now to look back on what’s happened.
Everything went smoothly through check-in and customs, though Chris was pulled aside for a random security check (after seeing his passport photo, I don’t think there is any doubts this wasn’t a “random” check). We boarded our flight on time, and were then asked to de-board half an hour later. Our plane wasn’t taking off. Bad luck? Of COURSE not. Our original flight was booked with United Air which is about as low budget as North American air travel can come. We were upgraded to an Air Canada flight which meant personal TVs at our seats and all the luxuries they have to provide. But would that mean that we would be arriving in Bangkok later then expected? HELL no. We got in at the exact same time as originally scheduled. I don’t know what I did in a past life to get this good karma. My guess; either Gandhi or Mother Theresa.
In a stroke of genius and to save ourselves 200 BAHT (roughly $6 CAD) I didn’t book us a first night in our Bangkok Hostel (Nap Park Hostel, I’d highly recommend it) since we were getting in so late. We dropped our bags in the lobby and headed to the hostel bar to pull an all nighter. We shared beers with a bunch of fellow travelers and everyone thought we were idiots for deciding to stay up all night. My response: “don’t even WORRY about it”.
Still buzzing from beer and insomnia, as the sun rose Chris and I prepared to tackle the town with a new friend who was brave enough to stay awake with us. We headed to a temple and took a lot of pictures but started to walk around like zombies. We must have looked like walking dollar signs because a Thai man working at the temple asked us if we wanted to take part in a “good luck ceremony”, which we accepted through glazed eyes. He led us into a back area of the temple and into a monks house. Made all the more magical by the fact that the place was filled to the brim with junk, we walked in on the monk watching X-factor … which he never turned off for the entire ceremony. As he spoke in Thai waved his hand around most likely chanting “I can’t believe their buying into this” we were eventually asked to pay 800 BAHT for cheap bracelets at the end, and we politely refused and made 100 BAHT donations to the temple.
Still convinced we weren’t tired, we went back to the hostel and met up with a couple other people from our hostel we’d spent the night before with.
We jumped in a cab and headed out for our first Thai massage. As my masseuse started kneading my shoulders it sounded similar to someone crushing a bag of potato chips. This is definitely not a relaxing form of massage, it’s more like a stretch than anything else, but the after affects are amazing.
The food (if some can be so defined as that)
After that we all decided to head out somewhere to eat. This is where I decided never to eat from street vendors again. One of the things you will find frequently in Bangkok are street vendors who sell sea food. They do something with the fish that make it look like beef jerky and smell like seafood that has been sun baking all day in a street vendor car. Now, mix that with the smell of exhaust, and you now have probably only the third meal in my life I couldn’t finish.
The meals we’ve had range across the board from the one mentioned above to the awesome cooking of the lady who runs the restaurant at our Bankok Hostel. I seriously considered asking her to marry me so I could enjoy delicious Thai food for the rest of my days. The nice thing about the exchange rate is we can eat pretty fantastic meals for cheap while in Thailand. Best meal so far was last night in Phuket. Best Green Curry I’ve ever had.
When Sleep Deprivation Becomes a Problem …
We headed out to a sky bar (basically, a bar on the top floor of a hotel) and got some drinks. The trek there wasn’t easy. Our group was now up to 8 people in total which means getting around is probably more relatable to herding cattle then coordinating sentient human beings. We lost 3 brave souls along the way, but we DID eventually get to the bar. This is when Chris and I hit our limit. Note to self: Johnny Walker is NOT a staying awake drink. I fell asleep 3 times in the bar before finally admitting that it was time to go home. I don’t remember the cab ride, but I woke up in my own bed the next day, so I’m assuming that I got there without incident.
Spa’s, Fish and Foot Fetishes
The next few days in Bangkok were much more vivid. We spent that morning going to a foot spa. They have this huge tank on the ground filled with Chinese Algae Easters which are like tiny Pecos (the fish in tanks that sucker onto the walls) and you put your feet in. The fish then sucker onto your feet, in the penultimate foot fetish fantasy. I spent the first 5 minutes laughing uncontrollably (my feet are insanely ticklish) until I finally calmed down enough to sit and enjoy it. One of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever had, but something I’d do again and recommend to anyone to try it at least once.
After another full day of seeing Bangkok, Chris and I decided it was time to see a Thai boxing match. We got to the stadium with another huge group of people (though this time, we were a lot more callous and just jumped in a cab with as many people who wanted to come as space allowed) and got to the door. We bartered for the front row seats for 1600 BAHT, and were told we’d get a picture with a Thai boxer. Sold.
Lady Boys first Sighted
Aside from being an undoubted tourist trap, Patong is the home to a thriving lady boy culture. The best part for me is that they seem to have taken a liking to Chris, who doesn’t seem to get smiling and politely refusing isn’t enough to drive them off. He did get a picture with a bunch at a bar the night before. He told as many people as possible about it the next morning and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so excited about anything in my life. Latent homosexual tendencies surfacing? Without a doubt.
Enjoying the Beach
The next day we checked out of our hostel, saw a bit more of the city via longboat this time and headed back to relax (pass out) for an hour before we had to go to the airport for our flight to Phuket. We’re staying in Patong City in Phuket, and it has been a lot more relaxed by comparison. We had our first day at the beach yesterday which was really nice. I was overly cautious about sun exposure so I didn’t tan much, but haven’t yet felt the sour sting of the suns cancerous rays, or suntans evil cousin, the sunburn. Chris said he’s never actually seen me relax and it was freaking him out. Touche.
For now we’re setup for the next few weeks in hostels. Our temporary itinerary is:
March 14 – 16 Koh Phi Phi
March 16 – 17 Phuket City
Mach 17 – 20 Koh Pha Nga
March 21 – ?? Bangkok (to catch a 9 day tour, which I have once again forgot when it starts).
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