Archive for August, 2005
Well, I’m back from Thailand but only for 3 days. I don’t really have time to write much of an update at the moment as I’m off to Peru tomorrow. So instead, to keep both my readers happy, I’ll write a quick guide to what I learnt in Thailand and chuck in a couple of pretty pictures I took.
The next update will be in September when I get back from Peru.
Y’all come back now ya hear!
1 – My sister is nowhere near as nasty as I remember.
Being the youngest child, with two working parents, my early days were filled with torments. My two sisters would lock me out of the house, tease me, beat me up and, in extreme cases, try to give me anthrax. So, it was with some trepidation that I embarked upon a holiday with one of them.
Strangely, everything went smoothly and there were very few fights. Of course there’s still the possibility that she sewed some heroin into the lining of my luggage as a joke.
2- “Tokyo International Airport” is a total misnomer.
For those of you who have never been to Japan, Narita Airport, sometimes called New Tokyo International Airport, is possibly the least convenient transport terminal in existence.
Not only is it not in Tokyo, it’s not even in the same prefecture as Tokyo.
For the weary traveller coming to Japan and hoping to sleep in rice fields it is perfectly situated. However, if you actually want a hotel, or, heaven forbid, to go to Tokyo, prepare for more travel.
Fortunately, government plans to bury the airport and surround it with mines to make it more inaccessible were thwarted at the last minute.
3 – Thailand immigration is looking for some serious payback
I’m originally from Australia, a country which has a long history of detaining refugees from Asia and putting them in detention camps, rather than allowing them citizenship. Well, apparently someone in Thailand has taken exception to this and decided to implement their own policy of detention; the immigration queue.
Arriving at the same time as three other planes, I stood to the back or rather a long queue. It didn’t move. 15 minutes later, it still hadn’t moved.
47 years later, the line was actually moved; backwards, as several people in the front rows gave birth for something to do while waiting. I was worried that by the time I got through customs, my passport may have expired.
In reality, it took me a little over two hours to clear immigration. It only took me 5 minutes on the way out. Perhaps they were glad to get rid of me.
3 – Everything is beatiful when compared to India
This is the second time I’ve been to Thailand. Landing in the airport, Thailand seemed liked any other South East Asian city. The immigration was long and bureaucratic, the air was dirty, the traffic was crowded, the people tried to rip you off and the water was dark brown.
The previous time I had been to Thailand was on the return from India. Contrastingly, at that time, everything seemed clean, bright, friendly, cheap and wonderful. 2 weeks in India can make anything seem that way.
4 – Massages parlours in nightclub areas may offer more than you bargained for
Yes, well… the less said about this one the better.
5 – People mix with anyone when they travel
We took a hiking tour to a small village in the mountains near Chiang Mai. Out tour group included two lap dancers from Newcastle, England and a pair of upper class Oxford University students.
Now under normal circumstances you wouldn’t expect two groups like this to meet; at least certainly not without money changing hands.
However, they were extremely friendly throughout the trip and actually met up with each other afterwards. It was certainly fascinating to watch.
6 – I’m a tight-arse
The number of times I found myself arguing over the equivalent of about 10 cents was staggering. I managed to rationalise it by saying “It’s not the money, it’s the principle.” My close friends know that I have no principles and that it actually was the money.
7 – My sister can justify buying anything with “price”
On a visit to the Chiang Mai market, my sister came back with about 57 bags full of the most useless crap you’ve ever seen. When she started feeling guilty about her purchases, she would rationalise it by telling herself how much it cost at home.
I lost count of the number of times I heard her say something like “well, it was so cheap”, or “A plastic inflatable Buddha playing water polo would cost 12 times this much at home”.
8 – “Soft sell” is better than “hard sell”
And not just because they sang “tainted love” (sorry, 80s joke). Visiting the hill tribes, we were besieged by native women in costumes trying to sell us stuff. The implication was, if we wanted to take a picture we would have to buy someting. We took the photos and bought 10 baht bracelets (about 25 cents US).
Later we visited the famous “long necked” Karen tribe. They were perfectly happy to pose for photographs for free. Consequently, we felt so guilty that we bought about 1000 baht worth of scarves from them.
9 – Tuk Tuks actually cost 7 times as much as a metered taxi
At least that’s what all our drivers would have us believe.
10 – Elephant snot is funny or awful depending on your point of view
Taking an elephant ride through a forest, our guide decided to stop off to smoke some opium. Trying to stop our elephant from wandering off we hit him on the head. He took that as a sign to wipe his trunk on my sister, who was less than appreciative about being used as a handkerchief.
I thought it was great!
11 – “One Night in Bangkok” is actually a pretty clever song
Seriously, go to Bangkok and then listen to the song again. It’s very well done.
12 – Booking two consecutive holidays is a very bad idea
And that is what’s weighing on my mind as I write this and try to work up the energy to pack for my second trip.
See you in September,
The Cynical Traveller
Just to let you know, there won’t be any updates ’til Tuesday next week, as I’m enjoying a holiday in Thailand right now.
But don’t worry, I’ll be thinking of you all as I lie by the pool getting a 30 cent massage. (Actually, in reality I spent yesterday hiking through mud and sleeping on a straw matress)
See you next week,