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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TRIP TO THAILAND

HOW TO USE 'SQUAT' TOILETS

For those not in the know, a squat toilet is simply a hole in the floor that may or may not have places for your feet to go. People in the lands these exist consider them more sanitary than 'sit down' toilets because no part of their bodies come into contact with the actual toilet. For Americans and other nationalities who are unused to such things, these can present several problems - such as accidentally taking a dump into your own pants. Or for women peeing into their own pants. For men, urination is not a difficult at all hence that shall not be covered in this brief guide. As I have not had (nor intend to - not even in Bangkok - a sex change operation, I do not know about the unique problems of women hence I shall leave them to their own devices on this. In order to defecate for men, I suggest the following steps. a) go into the toilet. Locking the door behind you is an option but given the subsequent steps, leaving it unlocked might increase the humor. b) remove your pants and underwear. Hold them in one hand, preferably stretched out at arms length from you. c) Defecate while making a loud noise. For preference, attempt to mimic several cats fighting or your favorite super heroes battle cry or make the sound you'd make if you were being beaten to death. This may cause the unwary to rush into your stall to save you so making this noise before actually defecating to save it for when they burst in may be amusing. This is doubly fun if the unusual food or water has given you explosive diarrhea. d) Clean yourself the best you can. Being that many of these places have not heard of toilet paper, this may involve your hands and a nearby sink or perhaps the leg of your pants. Hopefully, you did not wear shorts on this particular day. e) Exit the building with as much dignity as you can manage. I hope that this simple guide has helped prepare you for the colorful and interesting things you can do while traveling. [For those who don't read my blog, this could give you more of a reason not to read it as this is the kind of crap that sometimes gets discussed.]



WHITE WEDDING

In a piece of unusual news I picked up from locals in Cairo it seems that a car was driving with the usual reckless abandon and lack of skill I've seen many cars use. It left the road and sailed off of the overpass it was on. The car then fell approximately ten meters - onto the bride who had just gotten married. No shit. Apparently, this caused heavy dismay within the marriage party. I don't know about you, but I'd hope that if I was the driver, I'd have died instantly. I'd kind of be surprised if he wasn't taken out of the car and beaten to death - but it is Egypt. They are pretty nice people there and probably wouldn't have done that.



TRIP TO THAILAND

Check out time from the hostel was at noon. I needed to be at the Thai embassy in Cairo at three PM. Given cab drivers inability to find the place I want, Cairo traffic and not wanting to miss the appointment time (hence my flight) I decided to leave a little after eleven for the embassy.

The traffic through Cairo went at a steady crawl but within 45 minutes (and stopping to ask three different people directions. And I had to walk half a kilometer with the bag on because he still got it wrong. Aside from that, I'm gold.

So, I get to the embassy. I had my pack on but my kindle in a separate carry bag. Figured I'd read while I awaited the convenience of the Thai government. One of the Thai people working at the embassy asked me what I needed. Following advice from my native guide, I kept my voice happy and non threatening and didn't make prolonged eye contact. I told him that I had arrived several hours early from the time I was expected and that I was just going to hang out until the time for my three PM appointment. To my surprise, the guy got my receipt from me (which I didn't know I had), dug through a pile and presented me with my passport. "Because you are so nice, we do it now." He said. Thank you, native guide! Note, that when you give an embassy paper work, you do NOT get it back. Fortunately, the paperwork I had given them was... Well, lets say 'special' and so I didn't need it back.

So, now I had to figure out what to do. I really didn't want to go sit at the airport for ten hours but eventually came to the conclusion 'fuck it' and caught a taxi to the airport.

Those that have hung out with me a lot know that nothing irritates me more than listening to music - other than TV. It's not that I dislike music, I just dislike whatever you're playing. I don't want to hear it. That is why God invented headphones - so Logan wouldn't be tortured with whatever shit you think is great and that makes me want to kill you and firebomb the band.

Normally, I don't make a huge deal of it as wanting to hear the other person instead of some pre-recorded bowl of shit can be seen as anti-social but when I am paying for a cab ride, I figure I can request. The cab driver may of course refuse my request - but then I do have the right to find a different cab if it offends me enough. Yes, a lot of people will see this as 'dickish' behavior. Fuck off. In this case, getting a new cab wasn't something I needed to do. The cab driver was playing news or some such and I asked if we could turn off the radio so that I could 'listen to the city'.

He did it - but I had no idea how it would prey on his mind. First, he began to hum. Then sing. Then compulsively clean his car. Whistle. Tap his fingers. Scream at the other drivers. I was delighted. Watching his mental deterioration due to having to think was much better than listening to Arabic radio. It kept me amused for the entire two hour taxi ride to the airport.

Unfortunately, arriving nine hours to the airport entails certain difficulties. You can't get into the airport proper (where the food courts and such are) until about three hours before your flight. They've never heard of arriving that early. As a result, I had to eat at the only restaurant available - Burger King. It made me feel physically sick afterward. I am happy to have been weaned off of fast food.

Eventually, farting as I went (fast food does bad things to me now) I was admitted to the main concourse. They had something I really wanted. Duty free Kaluah for only $21 a bottle. I actually stood and stared at it long enough that the store security was brought in to figure out if I'd become a problem or not. In the end, I decided not to buy it despite really, really wanting White Russians. There were two reasons I decided not to get it. First, I had already checked the 'big bag' and I didn't want to lug that shit half way around the world - and risk forgetting it on the plane. Second, I'm not sure if the milk in Thailand is pasteurized and such. I'm sure it is, but I just wasn't sure. I am confident I can, of course, get vodka. Sadly, it would be something 'Absolute' vodka rather than the much better Ukrainian vodkas such as my beloved 'whore-tits-ah'.

I had gotten all of my remaining Egyptian Pounds converted into Euros. I reasoned that in Thailand, the Egyptian Pounds would be of less use than a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory. The small coins I tossed into the 'Red Crescent' box. I always get odd looks for donating to them, but I figure they can use the coins and it is probably a good organization.

So, I bought a cup of shitty coffee for five Euros.

It is a huge price to pay for a cup of coffee, especially in Egypt but if you are spending Euros, you feel like the number is small, hence not as bad. The prices in the airport are totally out of touch with reality. You will pay eight times or more unnecessary mark up as a part of the 'fleece the tourists' movement. Given all of the clothing shops that are in the Cairo airport, there are a lot of stupid and rich tourists that come through there and actually buy shit - or logic says the stores should have closed due to needing to pay rent, right? Who knows.

Looking back on the Egyptian airport thing, I think it would have been better to keep 100 EGP (about $20/person) for a meal and miscellaneous drinks.

It is worth noting that in Egyptian airports, they don't play the silly games Western European airports play with their smoking areas - such as 'you must buy a drink to use our smoking area'. In Egypt, it is either a room or suspended outdoor covered cage (a brilliant place to have a smoking area) that anyone can go into.

Eventually, I managed to board the plane and rocket toward Thailand at ten kilometers up and just under mach one.

As I often do, when I leave a country, I reflect back upon it.



REFLECTIONS ON EGYPT

You can do a lot of very diverse vacations within Egypt. If you want the 'sand and sun', the Sinai. If you want to see old shit (monument/tomb/temple) and get hounded by people trying to sell you shit day and night, Luxor. But for me, this time, Cairo was my favorite city. This is odd - usually, I'm not a big fan of big cities. But, in Cairo, there is a lot to explore.

Overall, Egypt is in decay. The place is literally falling apart. In a society where having things like 'elevator rest periods' which replace regular (or any) maintenance causes you to wonder 'what the fuck are these people thinking'.

Overall, the people of Egypt seem optimistic about their futures. They hope the new government will fix things. [I think it's a fairly common thread - someone else will fix our problems - new government, return of tourists, etc.] Maybe it will but there will have to be a few changes in the thinking of the 'man on the street' before a lot of needed changes can take place. Three that come to mind are the aforementioned 'someone else will fix my problems', 'lack of maintenance' (on everything) and of course littering. On the good side of the coin, we have optimism, general friendliness and hospitality in the Egyptian people's favor. The elections are suppose to be held this November (though people are a bit fuzzy on exactly when) and we'll see what 2012 has in store for the country. It should be interesting.



BANGKOK

Their airport is ultra modern. It is clean and filled with friendly people. I breezed through customs and baggage claim. I did remember to show my special sixty day tourist visa to the guy at customs so that he didn't just stick me with the standard thirty day one (well - I hope he didn't). Looking at my passport, I think I might need to find out where the American embassy is and see about getting an extension for it. [Side note, seems to be 10 KM away - taxi.]

Outside of the airport, they have special 'smoker zones' the way they did in the Netherlands.

I was worried that finding the train into the city from the airport would be difficult. This turned out not to be the case. It might have been the case for the guy who got onto a moving walkway that was going the wrong way until his wife irritably got him to stop being an idiot and get off of it. This guy was in his sixties. This proves you are never too old to be stupid. Despite any alleged stupidity I may have, I found the direct express to the area I wanted easily enough.

From what I've read, taking a taxi into the city would be about 500 BHT, I spent 90 BHT. When I got off of the train, I found a guy who said he was a security guard. No gun, no ID but he seemed friendly enough. He told me I should go check out the Tourist Information place. He helped me negotiate a tuk-tuk for 20 BHT that took me there and dropped me off.

When I got there, I discussed places to stay with the lady as I had with the security guard. She verified what he said in that the hostels I'd looked up were in the 'modern city of steel and glass' part of Bangkok - and that probably wasn't what I was here to stay. She even said I could have stayed home and seen those. I agreed on that point. She said that if I wanted to get an air conditioned taxi over to the old town, it would be by the meter and would probably come out to 150 BHT. She also had a special deal where I could get a hotel room for only 600 BHT that was 800 BHT if you went and booked it directly. Like the man, she said that the price was the price - non-negotiable. This is not the case. I successfully negotiated with other places after leaving her and passing on her 'generous' offer. So, I wandered into about six different places with the bag. Most of the rooms I saw were cheap but not quite what I was looking for. I eventually got the one I am at for 400 BHT. It's got it's own bathroom and air conditioning. Note, the lady at the 'tourist information' place had told me that if I was to get air conditioning, the minimum price would be 600 BHT. Never, ever believe what people at 'tourist information' centers say. Ever. Fortunately, I am a bit seasoned to believe them. Note that I was also amazingly vague with the lady who was trying to figure out what I cam to Bangkok to see - eventually, I just told her that I couldn't think clearly and needed some rest before doing any planning. Why? Because I have the mutherfucking internet and it will be a cold day in hell before I pay her extra money to tell me what I can look up easily.



LOGAN PAMPERING

After checking into my hotel room, I decided to wander around. For some reason, a couple neurons in my skull hit each other in just the wrong way and I decided to pamper myself.

I got myself a foot massage (100 BHT). I don't know what they're doing differently in movies and such but it was rather boring. I've never had one before so I am glad I did. Perhaps if I was a professional dancer or some shit it would mean more. As it was, I don't think I will need another.

The fish that eat dead skin off your feet then began to fascinate me. It could have been the torrential downpour of rain going on outside. For 200 BHT, you can have them do this eating for 20 minutes. Well worth it as it was perhaps the most unusual sensation I've ever had. I'm not sure if they actually took off any dead skin. I'm guessing people do it more for the generalized 'pampering' and sensation - possibly like mud masks - than any other tangible benefits. It is quite a good thing to get done once in your life. Chris tells me that in the states, it costs $40. Here, under $7.

After that, I paid 80 BHT for an extremely painful straight razor cut by a woman who liked to straddle my leg in a somewhat suggestive way while doing it. Believe me, I don't mind pretty girls straddling my leg but I felt that the experience was somewhat blunted by the sharp metal being inexpertly wielded at my face and throat.

And, that was pretty much my first night in Bangkok.

Yes, I may get a manicure and pedicure at some point. Never had either before so why not.



PHILOSOPHY

I was thinking about all of the people who are 'working to give their children a better life (than they had). Since the kids are stuck working in a job just as the parents did, it seems to be failing. Go enjoy your life instead.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Never, ever believe what people at 'tourist information' centers say. Ever. Their objective is to book a room for you. In this way, they get commission. Go look for yourself.



COSTS

Two small cans of 'cold coffee' (chilled and meant to be so) at a 7-11 at the airport where they apparently haven't caught on to the severe price gouging yet, 15 BHT ea. Can of soda I saw at the same place, 17 BHT.

Windowless small room, double bed, AC, shower, bathroom in room, 400 BHT + 500 BHT key deposit.

Two bowls of soup stuff and two soft drinks (I bought lunch for a guy who gave his work as 'poet' though he wasn't making any money at it, 107 BHT.



VIDEOS


Cairo:

Bowling in Cairo

Fire Escape

Personality

Bangkok:

Bangkok Tuktuk

TJ's special feature, 'View from my window'

Fish Feet - without a doubt, the oddest thing I've ever felt.

6 comments:

  1. I you are avoiding the drinking water (which for most tourists in Thailand is the sensible thing to do), don't forget to ask for your drinks without ice. - Unless you know the ice has been made from bottled water.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree. As an American, resisting ice is difficult for us but I assume that the ice is never made from bottled water. I even avoid drinking from the glass instead cleaning off the can/bottle (twist off bottle better for this). The plate I've not yet found a way to avoid. But yes, ice is a good tip.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Got to wonder what getting a full body "bath" of feeding fish would be like...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I recommend trying the shortest time they offer. It is a whole new sensation. Forty or fifty dollars is arguably worth it. After you try the feet, use your imagination on what the whole body would be like.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Work on the tips and advices on the after effects of a cheap flight to Thailand, given above and spend a perfect holiday tour to Thailand.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm not sure if the link you gave me is the one you wanted me to look at. Nor am I sure I fully understand what you are saying I should do. If you could elaborate Eva - or rephrase - I'd appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

For videos with a Loganesque slant, be sure to visit here. You can also Facebook Logan.

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