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Monday, October 31, 2011

JOURNEY TO CHAING REI

THEFT FOLLOWUP

I checked with Dave of Canterbury Tales and he assured me the police had indeed not been there. I can't help but feel they are trying to send me a message. [TJ if you don't get this one you'll kick yourself.]



TRIVIA

For those who have read about the flooding in Bangkok (and noted that yeah, I'm in Thailand) here are two interesting trivia points for you. First, it is now the beginning of the 'dry season'. Who'd have guessed? Second, in Thailand, the sewage and the drainage ditches are *the same open things*. This is why you get such 'remarkable' smells. So when you see people waving in the camera in the floods, you know what they are actually standing in.



NARRATIVE

I reached the bus station to get a ticket to Chaing Mei at about nine in the morning. Lines of solider ants of people waited to get their tickets confronted me. I queued up and did the slow relentless march toward the ticket window with the rest. For extremely slow zombies, the ticket givers had their pace about right in service speed. Because they felt I'd made my way through the line rather too quickly, I wasn't permitted to board a bus until I had served my time in the gulag of an additional two hours of waiting. The other buses had miraculously filled - or if they weren't they bloody were now. Being bed ridden for the last three days I rather felt as put upon as Lazarus who - after being resurrected was told "Right - back into the fields and get toiling. You've been laying around for the last three days anyway so it's time to make it up you lazy shit." That's possibly why people don't come back from the dead more often. I'd have been happy to stay in Chaing Mei for another few days but there was a rather loud music place not far from where I was staying. The volume was loud enough that those fortunate enough to have been entombed would be yelling 'cut the bloody ruckus!' Rather than just change lodging, I decided to change cities altogether. [Note that Chaing Mei and Chaing Rei are pretty darned similar and neither IMO is that much niftier or worse than the other. Over all, if you've seen one, you've seen the other. I suppose that's why their names are so close.]

The road between Chaing Mei and Chaing Rei is a lovely smooth, well made and maintained road. The only place you can routinely find roads like this are car commercials for high end sports cars with excellent maneuverability. The problem with actual roads as opposed to the ones 'as seen on TV' is invariably that you have to share them with other drivers. The roads passed through a series of hills - perhaps steep by Thai standards but not that steep when compared to places like the Rocky Mountains. Buses (like the one I was on) would slow to my walking pace when going up some of the hills and semis would inexplicably lose control and wreck when going down the hills. We passed the carcass of one with humans dotted on top of it like ants climbing a large turd. We passed some lovely rain forest and such on the way. I was delighted to be in a somewhat air conditioned bus to observe it rather than rubbing my arm and fresh blisters on my machete hand and bitching about the insects crossing through it.

The bus itself was from the decades before smoking was banned in the buses. Screw holes sat accusingly looking at us like eye sockets where the ashtrays had been unceremoniously removed. Well, perhaps there was a short ceremony.

As we traveled, I began to wonder what sort of vendetta the driver of the bus had against his vehicle. I had never heard the gears ground so savagely. Later, at a stop, I noticed he wore a small badge that read 'trainee'. This caused a bit of panic on my part as there was literally nobody I had seen who was the 'trainer'.

We had one stop an hour into the three and a half hour trip. The older Thai who was sitting next to me noticed that I was the only one standing in the direct sunlight at the stop - others had taken refuge beneath the awnings of the shops. "Aren't you hot?" he inquired. "I am a fat farang (foreigner). Of course I am hot." I replied. "The trick is to not mind that you are hot." I smiled at him, baffling him. In my thoughts were all of those poor bastards who were going to be digging their way out of snow and whining incessantly about the cold now and for months to come. [If you whine about either the cold or heat, move. If you whine about both, stop being such a baby.]

So, I made it to Chaing Rei. It looks suspiciously like Chaing Mei but without the moat. I discovered they have rooms for rent within walking distance to the bus station - though I will have to try to figure out where I left the bus station. This will make exfiltration easier when it is time to move on.

According to expats I accosted while scouting for a guest house, the bulk of them are close to a temple (Wat) known as "Jed Yod".

The only good thing about being sick for three or four days is that during that time, I ate very fucking little. I noticed that it caused my stomach to shrink a little more to where I couldn't even eat a small Thai meal in it's entirety. I suppose that's a positive thing. My physique tells me I've eaten enough complete meals.

My thoughts on Chaing Rei - meh, it's another place pretty much exactly like Chaing Mei. Apparently, there is suppose to be a lot of 'good hiking' and such around it. You know what? There is NO 'good hiking' - not for Logan. Walking around in the town for hours is more my speed. Nature and shit is fine but from a distance. I'm not a woodsman and have no delusions otherwise. Yes, I do know four or five different ways to start a fire - more with a cigarette lighter. Sure, I can build a temporary shelter, signal fire and all of that stuff. But I am not in good physical condition and don't really enjoy that stuff. So, although I am convinced of my ability to survive one or even two hours in 'the wilderness', I'm not really fascinated by trying it. I like people and they tend to live in herds we call cities or towns.

For the last couple days I wandered around for four to eight hours a day on foot looking for medicines as the package Bert sent never arrived and seems that it may never arrive. Disappointing.

After spending about five minutes doing some research into Chiang Khong, it seems that the most interesting thing there is - preparing for getting into Laos. I'm going to do some more research but as of now, my thought is that the two day river ride along the Mekong into Laos seems like an interesting way to get there. In Laos, they have an extremely low amount of money you can pull out of an ATM at one time. Since I get charged a fairly high amount of money to use the ATM by my evil bank, I try to limit the withdraws I do. Hence, I will need to pull out the money I will be spending in Laos before I cross the border to save on fees. I'm disliking carrying that much cash but I don't really see a way around it. I probably won't spend more than a month there (I believe their visa is only for a month anyway) before going into Vietnam. While in Laos, I will see if I can volunteer to help out teaching to see if I like it or if it makes me want to slit my wrists.



MOVIE REVIEW

Thor. 5/10. Interesting mixture of science and superstition. Plus, there were a couple of actually funny scenes dealing with Thor's big arrival onto Earth. It would have gotten higher but it had way too much drama. Favorite quote: (Bad guy while grinning maniacally) "Is it madness? Is it? Is it? Is it? Is it?" [My response would have been along the lines of "You kind of answered your own question there, bub."]


Green Lantern. 6/10. Sometimes, one movie can really mess up another for you. The jet scene at the beginning was bringing back Topper Harley's PCS (parental conflict syndrome or whatever it was called) from the movie Hot Shots. The two movies were almost playing side by side in my head with Richard Nixon saying things like "I am not a crook!" in my ear. The first part with Ryan in it was 'meh'. I did like the aliens mucking about prior to that though. Eventually, though, the movie picked up. I'd call it a decent superhero movie with some loose threads for a sequel.



DEATH OF MYPODCAST.COM

From an e-mail I received: "We must regretfully inform you that effective December 1, 2011, MyPodcast.com will cease all operations. Due to the current business climate, our current revenues can no longer cover the operational costs associated with hosting and serving the large amount of podcasts avialable on the site...."

Gosh, I am glad that I discontinued using this site after the first time it went tits up and trashed most of my data. It now appears to be quietly dying due to their inability to figure out how to make money off of the internet. Along with most other people.



LOGAN HEALTH

I haven't been doing anything on purpose to try to get healthier (as my documented frequent bouts of drinking will attest - but it is an homage to Papa) yet have still lost some weight. Eating better quality of food and walking for hours does seem to have an effect.

Anyway, I'm down to 120 KG. That's about 88% of what I'd started at.

Nifty. If it affects my height and my gut remains proportional, I will be sad but grow a long beard, carry a battle axe and call myself a dwarf.

As to my other health problems, yes, still there but not expected to go away through exercise. No, I don't want to talk about them. Yes, I know I am in your prayers. I can feel you trying to use your God-Powers on my like small angry whips.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

On your Thai bus ticket is the number of the bus. There is also a large, easy to spot number on the side of every bus. Sadly, the number on the side of the bus is not always what the 'bus number' currently is. Sometimes, they put an A4 sized piece of paper in the window with the new 'bus number' on it. Why, because it is Thailand! Obviously, changing the number in the computer to match the actual bus would be too tricky.

If your name is not Pete H. and you need to find your room again but have forgotten where it is, having it close to some sort of named landmark or temple is a handy way to find it. If your name is Pete H., you simply remember where it is and can find it easily.



COSTS

Tuk-Tuk to the bus station, 80 BHT. (Note, this was a really high price but it was door to door service.)

Bus from Chaing Mei to Chaing Rei, 125 BHT.

Ice cream, single scoop at bus stop, 10 BHT.

Bathroom at bus stop, 3 BHT (though I just slapped down a 5 BHT coin because I felt like being a 'big spender').

Soda, at bus stop, 17 BHT.

Laundry service, ranges between 25 BHT and 40 BHT per kilo. This is washed, dried and folded.

Chaing Mei room with fan (as opposed to AC), 250 BHT - for AC, 350 BHT. Decent room, two single beds. (Note that I have absconded with various other furniture to get myself a chair and writing desk.) I did find fan rooms for 200 BHT as well, but they looked less secure and a bit more grim.

Banana smoothie, 25 BHT - good enough that you'll want two.

Sweet and sour chicken, decent - 50 or 60 BHT.

Hamburger with cheese on it and fries (not great) - 100 BHT.



PHILOSOPHY

For all of the people in Occupy Wall Street (etc), remember the quote of the famous philosopher Seymour Skinner: "There is no justice like angry mob justice!"



VIDEOS 4 U
[Warning: These videos may cause you to urinate onto your pants or worse, onto someone else's pants.]

Thai Safety

Can They?

Rain Man

New Product Review (this one may be endorsed by TJ - stay tuned...)

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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 | England: Slough - Lancaster

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

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