International Writers Magazine: Adventure Travel
Tabytha Towe in Thailand Part
I left off (on
Part #2) describing some of my observations on the Thai livleihood
and culture, for example their work ethic and almost too-relaxed-laying-in-the-shade
attitude, except of course when it comes to farang, foreigner, whom
they can make money off of with tourism and gimmicks. Much of which
is actually quite mercenary and cruel (ie: elephant trekking), but
what they have to do as a price for survival in a third world country,
especially without having being better educated. Take their commonly,
world renound sex trade for instance.
Of course I ended
up spending most of my dough on cheap beers, taxis and bottled waters
so I am just as guilty.
If you didn't know any better or have enough common sense -like many
travelers I met whilst there- it is easy to get ripped off. No deal
is a special deal and no route is a faster one. Always be confident
in what you want, pronunciate exactly where your destination is and
negotiate a price beforehand. You'll find that the people of old historic
Siam can indeed be very friendly, if they aren't trying to persuade
you into buying something or yelling at you for not. They will sell
you anything they can, especially in Bangkok, from cheap clothing to
the most ridiculous extravagances possible.
On the infamous, backpackers soiree 'Kao Sahn Road' you will find old
ladys stroking wooden frogs that make calming, croaking noises for you
to buy, kids will wager you a thumb war you to sell you roses and of
course they make sure they win every time, no matter how big or skilled
the opponent. Young guys will interupt you at the bar to show off their
stupid fake, tattoo sleeves or push their gigantic, burn-your-face-off
lighters. You name it, on Kao Sahn, they have it, and you can too!
To there own they sell a lot of amulets which are a prized obsession,
even have an Amulet magazine(?!) and sell many symbolic flowers as gifts
to their Gods. I even saw street stalls selling plastic teeth!
Most food off the street stands is ready to eat and tasty, maybe not
the most hygeinic, but your immune system can handle it. The only thing
that fucked me off was that there was so much waste of leftover food
at the end of the day and that they used so many plastic bags. Every
drink was served with a straw. Even the damned plastic bags holding
the meal had a plastic bag!?
Oh and the poor animals, there is nothing you can do for sick and starved
street cats and dogs or even the cows and roosters that flop around
on the side of the road, except hope their final fate is quick and painless.
Some are not as severe, but the unlucky ones can be deseased since they
don't get vaccinations or treatment. Witnessed puppies with a terrible
ithching condition that basically drives them to scratch themselves
to death. It tore my heart apart seeing puppies crying from the torment
of pain. Even considered putting some out of their misery, but it was
not my role. There is always going to be animals running around undomesticated
as there is no such thing as neutering homeless ones.
The admiration for their King still fathoms me, as I mentioned previously.
I went to the cinema and prior to every film viewed there is a mandatory
stand up tribute to him that lasts four minutes. There are guards behind
the audience keeping an eye out on those who do not pay their respects,
for you can get arrested for it. One day I wasn't able to cross the
street for 10 minutes as the King was to drive past at any moment. It
stopped traffic and after several black cars leading him through safely,
I was allowed my right of passage as a pedestrian.
People actually make a living by selling posters of their adored Royal.
A man got sent to jail for a year just for drawing a moustache on one
of his hundreds of statues.
Coming back from seaside Hat Huin (geared towards a richer, middle aged
crowd to this resort-like town wth a massive mall ) I was on the train
back to the hustle and blitz of Bangkok with my friends when I decided
I needed some quiet time to myself and so chose a random stop to get
off at for the next day or two. It ended up being a quiet, traditional
town with plenty of sights for me to venture, so it was absoultely perfect.
That night I found a sweet and decrepit backpackers place to crash in,
which I later found my window was non exsistent and therefore had a
million mosquito bites in the morning. (I never would have thought I'd
ever have ankles
untill they swelled so much form those bastards!)
In the evening I went for a stroll to discover the place and desperately
craved a cold beer for the walk. Blessed 7/ 11 (a Thai Haven apparently)
I got my beer for the equivalent of 75 cents and realised that I wasn't
able to drink it in public after all because it was yet another Voting
day. Don't want to vote for the wrong party whilst intoxicated I suppose,
doesn't make much sense to me. By the time I wandered back to my hostel,
as not a lot of excitment happens at night in sweet Phetchuburi, I drank
my by-then warm beer and befriended some German bikers.
The sunrise promised a great idea of renting a bike for the day and
checking out an old Wat, ancient caves and an abandoned Palace (all
but the monkeys that have taken over.) The Wat was beautiful but also
typical, after Ayuthaya and a dozen other temples it becomes monotamous
so I was eager to find these damned caves. An hour later in the scorching
heat I was sweating buckets and out of breath riding up this steep hill
when I came across an army of monkeys. These ones were cautious of me
but I had never seen so many wild animals before. Eventually they let
me pass and families of elders picking ticks out of each other while
babies clung to their mothers bosoms and watched me carry on. It was
an extremely endearing. The caves were derelict, ancient and exceptionally
dark. All I could hear were the sqeals of bats above my head and see
the shimmers of sunlight through the cracks of the roof painting bright
fairy dust on the withered monuments and Buddhist stautes. The stairs
were a nice work out on the thigh muscles, but the fee to pay the Monks
were far steeper.
that I was blazing downhill to find the Palace belonging to a Rama
from nearly a century ago -but don't quote me on that. It again
had an invasion of monkeys, but this time instead of being the cute
and humble kind that moved out of your way, they hissed and threatened
you. They were clearly not afraid of humans. I watched one drinking
a Nescafé coffee for christs sakes, showing that they were
theives and dominant. A viscious, fat and greedy one bore his fangs
at me and swiped the loot of treats I had in my hand as an offering,
sneering away proudly.
The Palace was a
huge and grand space, a maze of little roads to each little building.
There were some strange shrines through bizaree tunnels that consisted
of golden bricks lodged into the walls. I had no idea what their significance
was. It was a massive, abandoned property and so when I had enough wandering
about this famous endurance I went to where I had parked the bike and
those bloody monkeys knocked itover and stole my water bottle! I was
parched, dehydrated and furious. My adventures for the day were done
and all I wanted was a cold shower, a cold drink and anti-itching cream
for my horrid bites.
I packed my bag and headed off back on the train.
I hung around Bangkok another week or so and had many a great, long
nights and dire hot days, then took off with a friend to Kanchanburi.
It wasn't a very long journey considering how much I hate buses, and
when I arrived I was relieved it was well worth it. Again it was a quaint
town, bigger and more touristy than Phetchuburi, but with forests instead
of jungles (Phetchuburi has amazing jungle hiking and camping, only
you need to gear up and be able to afford a 3-7 days adventure.) Coincidently
my friend and I bumped into a wacky character we knew from our beloved
nude Wreck beach in Vancouver, and inevitably it became a big, mixed
bag of culture from around the globe to party with for the next few
moonlights. During the daylight we went exploring, deciding not to see
the tigers at the temple after all due to the cruelty of them being
sedated for the tour (which would have been amazing to see these sacred
animals in retrospect), but we chose other options. I had to drive the
scooter with passenger, which made me nervous as the last attempt I
made at riding I crashed into a pole (and I say I want to be a rebel
motorbiker!) But I had a friggin' blast after I got used to it and the
wobblys eased down a bit. I loved racing around town with the wind blowing
in my hair. There are basically no road rules or helmet requirements,
but somehow it works without being an utter catastrophe. We went to
the Death Bridge that the POWs (prisoners of war) built and died at,
and of course I had to go for a swim underneath it, but then creeped
myself out wondeing how many dead bodies were lying at my feet. We visited
another cave that was a low maze and rather eerie, as we found out a
drug addicted Monk had gone crazed and killed a traveler in there, trapping
her where the old POWs were kept and tortured. Later in the trip we
went to Erawan Waterfalls which I highly reccommend. It's a two hour
bus ride and you can rent tents on the spot and take a refreshing hike
through forestry with absolutely gorgeous clear water to dip in, except
for the koi fish that bite your toes, though they feel like sharp kisses.
After Ko Chang I desperatly wanted to go to another island as it was
indeed my highlight, so I saved the last leg of my trip for my birthday
and new years to spend with my friend. Christmas was a dud and for that
I am grateful I didn't have to buy into the commercialised holiday and
instead had a nice, nothing to worry about sunny day like any other.
It's different when there's no family or turkey anyhow.
I spent my 25th not as I had hoped, but what did I really expect? Turning
a quarter of a century is a pretty big fucking deal to a girl, I mean,
shit, a woman. It's as if you are no longer in the cute nor as fun category
anymore, that now you have to re-think your career options, your expiring
womb and what are you doing with your life? I know I'm still very young,
but it gets scary when all you have figured out is maybe commiting to
another course or two somewhere down the line when you get home. After
you make some more money, after you've got enough travelling under your
belt to be satisfied for another year, before you're too old or too
pregnant to leave the country in the first place! Anyway, just a typical,
quarter life crisis, cry me a river!
So my birthday sucked ass for my pure loathing of long bus rides (14
hours with peircing air-conditioning and discomfort) and then a three
hour wait for the boat, (which actually became fun by 4am when I met
these Potuguese guys and persuaded them to play a dare drinking game
with me) then after two hours on the boat at last I found my friend
on the island!
Ko Phang Nang is notorious for it's full moon parties, and as I arrived
there just on time for the eve of 2008 without sleep and a restless
journey, I was ready to get messy and dance under the stars over the
waves with the sand between my toes. It turned out to be a pleasant
spectacle and ran into some friends there whom I met earlier on. There
was a lot of pacing back and forth on the beach and a lot of Thai Red
bull which is so strong that after three you felt like you're high.
My partner in crime was perfect and made up for my poor me - I'm 25-
boo fuckin' hoo- mood, and we made for an awesome New Years Eve! She
and I slept outside at this resort and partied again almost right away
after a few hours shut eye. We got to bed at 7am and were ready that
evening to go to this amazing bar on top of a mountian where we were
convinced to have a gloroius buffet of colorful beverages and some wicked
Shakes (Mushroom shakes, in other words.)
What a beautiful view and a perfect night with a great group of strangers
and new friends for the next few days on the island, melting together
beneath the galaxy. Except for when we were leaving I was leading the
way down the dark, long and quiet pathway minding my business when the
guard dogs scared the living shit out of me and chased me back up the
hill with their salvating, wild growls while I screamed bloody murder!
These ones were ferocious! I was paranoid I had been bit and had rabies,
but then I relaxed when I realised I still had cold beers in my hands
and saw no teeth marks.
The shakes probably made the situaton far more intense. Now there are
massive chunks of either private or personal matters pertaining to why
I didn't get to go to Chiang Mai, Loas or Cambodia as originaly planned,
I had not the time nor funds this trip. Neiher did I go to a Muay Thai
boxing fight, get a Thai massage, go to a yoga retreat; but unfortunately
in this case certain details cannot be explained as why I didn't make
it all, but nor can I complain. My time there was unforgettable and
precious and I do intend on going back to visiting this wonderous and
surreal part of Asia soon again and finishing what I started....just
like this aricle!
Do yourself a favor and start planning your next trip!
Thanks to Azaria, Rad, Bryan, Johnny, the 2 Jonnos, Andrew, Peyman,
Marco, the Portuguese, the crazy Brits, Darell, Eak, Chad, Simon, the
Scots, Sunanda, Laura, Ty, Buddah and everyone else who made this Thailand
experience unbelivable. Cup coon ca!
Towe April 2008
tabythat at hotmail.com
Alone in Macau
How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home,
like a complete unknown....
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Sleeping Dogs Thai
Every dog you see here are either lying on the ground dehydrated and
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Don't whatever you do, drink and drive...
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How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home,
like a complete unknown....
-The Rolling Stones
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