Donate Button



Donate today BECAUSE Logan will probably use the money to fund his upcoming RPG. More entertainment for YOU!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

CHAING MAI

NARRATIVE

So, after getting robbed (see last blogs exciting episode) it was time to board a plane to Chaing Mai. Literally, the next day. It was kind of sad that I didn't get to hear the expats sit around and say 'well, that sucks' but I never have anyone slip me a hundred dollar bill and say "There you go buddy". Nobody I know has the cash to do that. Hell, if they did it would still take an amazing amount of people to break even on the deal.

So, I got onto Air Asia.

Now, something that I knew is when you have flooding it tends to knock out overland traffic. This leaves either air traffic or the burrow under the earth in giant drill like machines traffic. Since we haven't developed giant drills (so far as I know...) it's pretty much just air traffic. People who think that because there are areas of flooding you can take a boat cross country are widely regarded as being exceptionally dim and ignored.

Hence, just air traffic.

If you have only one way to travel, logic says that way will rapidly fill up.

It is amazing how many people don't bother to think about this and then whine they've been sitting around the airport for days waiting on a plane.

I did think about this and got my ticket a couple weeks in advance. I dislike being pinned down to a schedule but Tonto thought I'd like Chaing Mai and so I bought a ticket.

Good things and bad things about Air Asia. It seems much cheaper when you look at the basic cost of the ticket but then they hit you for all of the extras they can. Would you like to reserve a seat? More money for that. Would you like to check a piece of luggage? More money for that. Would you like a drink on the flight? Yet more money. Anything they can get more money out of you for they do. The plane ticket becomes only moderately cheaper than the other airlines. Be forewarned says I.

On the cramped plane, the passengers were amused because all of the vents that normally gave just the refill of air were sprouting more steam and fog than I've seen fog machines kick out. It was pretty cool, actually. When I say 'cramped' I mean that my knees were literally resting on the seat in front of me. Given how tall I've seen Asians getting these days (I attribute that to their eating American fast food with hormones in the meat) they may have to think about re-sizing their seats in fifty to one hundred years when they finally replace the planes they are using.)

Naturally, we had on the plane the one set of parents who brought on a fussy, crying baby. It made me wonder 'if there was a flight or series of flights you could book that ensured that nobody under age 15 or so was on it, would you pay an extra $20? Some people wouldn't, others would be outraged by the implications but I suspect that a lot of people would be happy to fork over the extra cash not to have to listen to some other kid wail the whole flight.

Although it was only an hour and a half flight, I couldn't help but notice that the first class seating was completely filled. I spent a fair bit of time wondering what kind of idiot shells out a lot of extra money for a first class ticket for so brief of flight. I mean, I can understand it if you are going to be crossing the Atlantic or something and you're stuck on the flight for eight or more hours but for an hour and a half? Kind of strange. I will stick it in either my 'desperate to get on a flight and all of the other seats were full' or the 'more money than sense' bucket.

The flight itself was without incident though upon claiming my baggage from the conveyor belt, it appeared mentally handicapped monkeys had attempted to break into it. This made me wonder whether the baggage handlers had decided a poor backpackers luggage might be worth a go or if the TSA had forgotten their equipment to open the TSA authorized locks I used on the baggage. Either way, it didn't seem they penetrated in far. Well, about as far as the large bag of foul, dirty clothing I'd conveniently left on top. I consider it a test for 'how bad do you want to search this bag?' The answer was clearly 'not that bad you foul person'.

When arriving at a new destination, I find it wise to stick to three simple rules:

1. Write down the names and addresses of some hostels/hotels from Hostelworld.com (or a similar website). These are useful for those odd times when you are completely fucked and can't find a place to stay.

2. Don't arrive drunk or tipsy. In fact, I don't recommend drinking at all until you've been in the new place (new town, city or country) long enough to get a feel for the place. I've always been baffled at the people who get quietly hammered before going somewhere and arrive completely out of it. Are they attempting to increase their difficulty and personal risk?

3. Never, ever arrive at night. Whether you are going to a new country/city/NERO camp ground, whatever, don't arrive after sundown. Things tend to look different and it always increases your personal risk. Some less ethical places may also wish to raise their room rates (or bargain harder) if you look really worn out and just need a quiet night of sleep.

And when I arrived at Chaing Mai, I broke all three of those rules.

The plane landed probably an hour or less before sundown. Considering I had awoke at 9AM and was lucky enough to have Tonto break with tradition (and the Vampire Code) and go out during the daytime to give me a lift via his motorcycle to the bus station, I'm thinking I could not have reasonably started any earlier. So, I was stuck arriving just before sundown.

After checking around the airport (and snagging a free map of the town) I discovered there seemed to be no regular buses between the airport and Chaing Mai. The taxi drivers had a pretty sweet deal and had set themselves up to get 125 BHT for people wanting to go into town.

As those who have read this blog before (or traveled before) know if you wander away from airports and railway stations, the price of taxis and such falls quite a bit. You pay a premium for convenience. After being cramped into any vehicle for any length of time, I am usually quite happy to walk for awhile, even if it means dragging my pack along.

So, I started walking.

Since I had heard from the airport staff that it was a twenty minute ride into Chaing Mai, I was keeping a lookout for other vehicles that could take me there. As I was following the signs that pointed to Chaing Mai, I spotted a 'baht bus' driver who motioned me over. I was wary of talking to the driver because usually those who drive the baht buses have even worse English than the taxi drivers (read as none) and they usually attempt to get large sums of money out of you.

I showed him on the map I'd gotten from the airport where I wanted to go. Chaing Mai, like many other cities, has an 'old district'. In Chaing Mai, it is clearly marked by the moat which is set out in a big square around it. I figured that was pretty much the old town border and made it clear in a series of gunts and pointing to the map that I wanted to go there. The driver kept saying something that was probably a place. As it is often useful in dealing with people who don't speak English fluently, I developed a sudden case of deafness and incomprehension about that place but instead kept vaguely gesturing at the map. A price of 30 BHT was agreed upon and off we went. The driver even stopped to pick up someone else on the way which I regarded as a good sign. You see, in the back of every baht bus are several push buttons. These all go to a bell in the driver's cabin.

As we were driving along, I carefully dug out the 30 BHT from my cash and put that into a separate pocket. It is always important to keep your money you are to pay a driver ready and away from the large tempting wad. Best for them not to get any bright ideas.

The trick a lot of people don't know about baht buses is that when you get off you need to pay the driver then rapidly walk the direction from which you just came while going completely deaf. Mind you, I don't think it is a good idea to cheat the driver but if they get it into their heads to try to cheat you, your actions have narrowed down to 'abandon vehicle to chase down the foreigner to get another fifty cents' or whatever notion has entered their heads. Usually, they will just yell either in Thai or English that is so bad as to be incomprehensible. Should you stop or hesitate or go back then you will have a problem. Walk until you go around a corner. If one wants to get out of the vehicle and chase me down to demand more money, we can have a negotiation then to see how much more he will get paid - but I have not yet had any that have gone beyond the half-hearted yelling stage.

So, I pushed the button to ring the bell in the cabin. The driver pulled over, not knowing who had pushed the bell. I grabbed my pack, put it on while getting out paid him his 30 BHT and walked quickly away. His face clearly said "Well, shit".

I had run the bell when we first went past the moat reasoning that I was now in the town center and could manage for myself. I wasn't interested in going to whatever hotel/night club/massage parlor he had dreamed up to take me to and get a kickback from. He had driven me less far than agreed and been paid in full. He didn't have a lot of opportunity to object. And he still had another passenger. And I was gone.

My guess is that he went on.

As I was wandering around - after nightfall - looking for a place to stay while lugging the pack around and I got into a conversation with an elderly expat named Mike who said "I know the place, get on." So, he gave me a lift to a street that had about ten places. Most were too expensive for me (500 BHT), one was cheap but had huge holes in the floor boards and was very scary (200 BHT) but eventually I found one for 250 BHT that was a bit grim.

I dropped my pack then went to the bar Mike hangs out at to visit with him.

After a couple large beers that gave me a mild buzz as I hadn't eaten for awhile, it was time to go out to find food.

So I was wandering with a mild buzz through the streets at night. Finding the canals along which they were selling food was no problem but finding my way back proved to be impossible. I ended up wandering around till I found a group of Thais. One got me on the back of his scooter and eventually dropping me off at where I was staying. Very kind of him!

That is my heroic tale of how I stupidly violated all three rules yet lived to tell about it.

My thoughts on Chaing Mai are thus- unlike Pattaya where all of the foreigners (well most of them) were there for a bit of the ole in and out here you've got the couples in (shudder) matching colored clothing and such. The people are a bit friendlier here than in a town where the only reason foreigners show up is to fuck their women. It's a more relaxed attitude here. Whereas in Pattaya you can find stuff starting to close at 3AM, here things start to close at 10AM.

The pricing here is as advertised - pretty close with some things a bit cheaper.



PURCHASING A NEW COMPUTER

I decided to write about this because it's not the kind of thing many people will ever get an opportunity to do here.

After shopping around to get what I figured would be the best deal for my money (ie looking for the cheapest workable computer) I eventually found one I decided upon. In the US, when you want a computer they simply have you ring it up, try to sell you the additional warranties and so forth. This is not how it works here.

I'm really not sure why but they don't preload windows or any operating system onto the computer. I understand that some people might want different operating systems but if you always kept a percentage of your stock preloaded, that would expedite things greatly. That thought may have never crossed their minds.

Along with a couple other customers we got to sit around for the two hours it takes to load an operating system. After about ten minutes I told the guy "I want to go wander around for awhile. I'll leave you 1000 BHT deposit so you know I'll come back." He agreed that worked for him so I went off and came back when it was done.

The operating system and such seems to have been loaded professionally. Maybe they didn't get rid of all of the extras and tweak it nicely as Bert would have done but I simply can't afford to fly Bert out to look at my computer and the Thai mail system has shown me that 'never' is a frequent option in when you'll get your package.

Within Thailand, there appear to exist no legal copies of the software. Hence, you have to turn your notifications for useful stuff like anti-virus from Microsoft off. Bit distressing. But, if I ever need my OS reloaded, they said it would cost 100 BHT from any place I went - aside from where I bought it who would be happy to do it for free.



SAMSUNG FIGHT TO THE DEATH

One of the things the thieves (the recent batch) had stolen was my cord that connects my old Samsung MP3 player to the PC. I did some wandering around to try to find a new one. Eventually, I was told there was a Samsung store. And a huge one at that. Excellent. They should have it...

Right.

So I went there and took a number while I waited for other people to get served. Eventually, my number was up and the lady they assigned me to apparently spoke the best English out of all of her co-workers.

I could not understand what the hell she was trying to say, nor could she understand me.

Thailand has an amazingly huge problem with English.

No problem. Unless I am dealing with someone excessively stupid, I am excellent at getting my ideas across through charades.

She didn't get that I wanted a cord.

Really.

I showed her another cord which I had bought to show her what a cord looks like. She immediately wanted to take it so that she could examine it and tell me they did not carry it. I declined and returned it to my bag.

She tried to tell me they had no cords. I showed her the logo on the back of the MP3 player and showed her how it matched the much larger logo behind her on the wall.

She attempted to get people on the phone who claimed to speak English well.

They did not.

Although it was a serious loss of face thing, I returned the phone to her and said "They not speak English."

Eventually, thoughts of the last half hour of conversation seemed to think into her head. I could see a light bulb go on.

"Data cable?" she said.

"Wait - you don't know 'cord' but you know 'data cable'? Seriously?"

She then called up a picture of it on the computer and showed it to me. Surprise! Samsung stocks Samsung parts.

I assured her it is indeed what I wanted, could she fetch one from the back room? No, must get it from Bangkok. Two weeks.

Two weeks?

Flooding, she explained.

I bid her good day and left. I don't know what country I'll be in within two weeks much less if I'll still be here.

Fucking 'data cable'.

In a bit of irony, the cord I had bought earlier from a third party ended up working though we couldn't make it work at the shop on his computer. Weird.



WHAT IS LOGAN DOING NOW?

Due to trying to save a dollar (actually a bit less) at the wrong time, Logan badly fucked up and is sitting at his hotel room. I've been sick for the last 30 or so hours with stomach pains and explosive diarrhea. Fortunately, I went to a Thai pharmacist who spoke zero English but I got to understand what I wanted (I bet she could figure out a fucking cord) and got something to take care of the Hershey squirts. So now I'm just sitting around with a painful stomach. When a fat man's stomach is in pain, you must remember that is a significant percentage of the fat man - hence, most of him is in pain. So I am sitting and waiting. Fortunately, I am in enough pain that I am not hungry so I'm saving a few dollars on food. Yippie.



LAO THOUGHTS

A lot of people I've spoken with have said that Lao is more expensive than Thailand. I will have to make plans to move quickly through there should this actually be the case.

From where I am currently (Chaing Mai) it is about 2-3 hours to the Lao border.



VIETNAM THOUGHTS

In addition to being able to make a wonderful documentary detailing the private anguished life of someone being haunted by Vietnam flashbacks who isn't old enough to have ever been in that particular war, I've heard that English teachers there can make $1200 per month. To me, that is an exciting amount of money and more than enough to live comfortably there. I will be looking into it when I get there to see if it is indeed possible.

I'm going to have to do more research on Vietnam visas. There seems to be some disagreement among the old timers whether I need one before I arrive or not.



PHILOSOPHY

I was just talking about the secret of writing with a nice lady named Sally from Oz. I'm going to put my thoughts down because it may be of interest to someone else.

Disclaimer: If I was a world class author, chances are you'd be reading this out of a book you paid twenty dollars (US) for. So, be happy I'm not there. I'm not going to claim all of this stuff is 100% right - but I've heard it from plenty of published authors, read about it in tons of 'how to write shit' books and experienced it on my own. I have yet to encounter someone with a contrary philosophy that has written anything and had it published.

Writing is all about two things - desire and discipline.

Desire: Everything you've wanted with every breath in your body you usually have gotten. If you haven't, you either didn't want it bad enough or just plain suck. In general, when someone wants something to the point of single minded focus, they get it. Most people don't desire anything that much and have what they actually desire. Sadly, in many cases that would be 'not much'.

Discipline: I've talked to plenty of 'wannabe authors' and they said they 'write when the mood hits them'. None of them have yet to make any contribution to the literary world that I've seen. It is the people who shut off everything - and I mean everything (even your cell phone that you keep on 'just for emergencies') for two or more hours a day to write that get things made. It is the people who have nothing at all going on in their brain but start writing anyway for hours that have the best chances of getting something usable out there. The people who say "I just don't know what to write about" should be forced to wear t-shirts that say "Whiny and undisciplined' till they start writing regularly. Writing isn't something that you pass like dump but a writer is something you become over time. Not everyone will like what you write. Yes, it is amazing but there are people out there who do not read this blog fanatically. But if you write all of the time, you are a writer. You may be a poor writer - as I am - but I can still say "Yes, I'm a writer" because I do it every day, seven days a week. Poorly, some would say, but I am still doing it.



DIFFERENT VEHICLES

I was trying to remember all of the different vehicles I've traveled on. Admittedly, some are basically the same vehicle with different names (marshrutka and mini bus) but often they have a different feel so I'm writing them down separately.

Marshrutka
Ocean freight carrier
Motorcycle
Scooter
Bus
Minibus
Jeep
Truck
Jet
Dolmush
Baht bus
Tuk-Tuk

Hum. What else?



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Assume that someone will come into your room and try to take your backpack and any valuables they can. I'm thinking that unless you have a very sturdy safe, hiding stuff may be better. The problem is that in a room there are only limited places to hide things unless you've brought along duct tape and such. Unfortunately, the places things are hidden must be weighed against accessibility. If you can't get to them easily, you'll get lazy with hiding them.

People who say 'well, you should just carry all of your money on you' obviously have never been mugged or pick pocketed. In hot climates, wearing the money belt will be very uncomfortable and it will quickly smell worse than ass.


Buy extra security pouches. I haven't seen them while traveling though I'm sure I could find some in Western Europe.


If you are ever wanting to come to Thailand to stay for a long time - or if you think there is a possibility you may stay for a long time - fight like hell to get the triple entry visa. They have them. They are not that much more expensive (so I hear) than the single entry ones. Having this will allow you to extend your visa three times (at one month each) as opposed to less. As I'm personally fairly ambivalent on Thailand, I won't be working to extend my visa.


Always get a business card - preferably one in English and one in the language of the country - of the place you are staying. This will be invaluable at answering the question 'where the fuck is my hotel?'


In my limited experience with thieves, they don't seem much interested in flash/thumb drives. My guess is that they have a low resale value. Back up your stuff onto them and keep some in your bag! Also, have some large empty ones handy in case you find someone who has some stuff you'd like to copy. Remember, if an empty thumb drive is sitting back in your room it is doing you no good!



PRICES

Small locks to replace the one TSA approved lock that was destroyed by Air Asia's clumsy attempts to break into my luggage to inspect it, 120 BHT each.

New netbook, 8453 BHT. Fucking ouch. Despite this being new, you can't get legal copies of the software.

6 comments:

  1. Something to consider Logan. If you can not turn on the firewall, antivirus or mallware programs built into the windows version you have...be prepared for anything you enter into that computer to be accessible by other people. Passwords, bank accounts, etc. I would think it highly likely that a non-legal version of windows that a dealer was happy to put on your laptop would include data-miners and key-stroke recorders that report back all your private info whenever you connect to the internet. Just a thought my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good thoughts Bert. What programs would you suggest I get on my computer to protect it? (I forgot the two you'd put on it before).

    ReplyDelete
  3. AVG anti virus is a good one
    and I'd reccomend using VLC for videos

    just IMO = )

    ReplyDelete
  4. Good to hear you got a new computer. I use Online Armor + AVG for one computer, and Online Armor + Avira Antivirus on another. (Just ended up with different combinations.) Can keep to freeware versions.

    BTW, people in first class on short trips = company pays for them.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Logan, been checking out your blog. Great stuff. It was a pleasure meeting you in Chang Mai.
    Enjoy your journey.
    Sally

    ReplyDelete
  6. Glad to meet you, feel free to Facebook me Sally. I am happy you are enjoying the blog!

    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

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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

If you enjoy this blog, please donate! Help Logan keep on traveling.