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Thursday, January 26, 2012

FIVE DAYS LEFT IN BANGKOK

RAIN IN BANGKOK FALLS MAINLY ON THE LOGAN

Today I was out doing my normal 'bit of a wander' as Pete would put it. For me, this means a two to six hour stomp around. Unfortunately, it was called by rain. I got lucky and found a bus that was headed back to Ko San Road. It was bucketing down rain so I was grateful to be on it. After I got dropped off and managed to find the street I was staying on, I wandered back to my guesthouse. Although it had only been raining pretty good for an hour or so, the water was nearly knee deep to me. [Julie Jones - you are short. I'd suggest flotation devices. Just kidding.] This goes to show just how poor the drainage is within Bangkok. Despite the massive flooding experienced just a few months ago nothing has changed nor do I see any signs that it will be changing. Next rainy season should be fun for them but fortunately I will be somewhere the hell else. I'd suggest in Thailand try not to get ground floor accommodations.



COMPARE CONTRAST

Cambodia vs Thailand. For living in, I think the key is to get out of the capitals. In Thailand, I'd get up to one of the Chang's (I think Chaing Rei but I'd have to review my notes to be sure) and in Cambodia I'd get to Siam Reap. Comparing those places:

In Thailand, you'd have better tasting food and a cooler climate. The big downside - entertainment costs more and it's more difficult to stay here long term than Cambodia.

In Cambodia, the beer is half price and I liked the town a bit better. The big downside, I got sick on the food more often until about a month passed and I could build up some resistance to it.

Pluses and minuses everywhere. Between the two, I'd rather go back to Siam Reap. Laos and Vietnam at this point aren't even in the competition. Laos is pretty dead and Vietnam was on the other end of the scale.



SMOKING IN THAILAND

For smokers, bring cigarettes with you when you come into Thailand. Cambodia is a good place to buy them. In Thailand, cigarettes are more expensive than in the rest of SE Asia ($1 to $3 per pack) and the selection is very limited everywhere you go.

This is probably why people smuggle smokes in from Cambodia...



INDIA PONDERINGS

Someone on Facebook suggested I hit Rishikesh. Reading up on it, Rishikesh is a holy city. Only vegitarian meals are allowed - alcohol is not other than in expensive hotels I wouldn't be staying at. So...I guess beer and a steak is out?

It does look interesting but I don't know if I'd want to be there for long.

The huge irony is that it fits so many of the research-able criteria I am looking for. It is only approximately three hours from Delhi. It is in the correct direction, toward Nepal. The population is about the right size with 75,000 people plus ass loads of tourists. The problems are that so many things I like seem to be banned there. Hell, they've even outlawed plastic bags from shops. WTF. I love me some plastic bags.

Now mind you, I am planing on visiting all of the other places that I've been told about. I have plenty of time to spend in India. I am currently just looking for a 'run the fuck away' place just in case I get overwhelmed in Delhi. It's a backup plan. I like me some backup plans. And plastic bags. And steak. And alcohol.



TRAVELER'S LORE

I was talking to a nice couple (Rabchel and Chet-cho - sorry I can't spell your names correctly) from Spain about Myanmar today and they gave me a lot of interesting information. In no particular order, here it is:

It's expensive for lodging. For two people it was $50 though there may be some $20 guesthouses. Also, the government prohibits home stays.

There are no ATM's, no banks tourists may use nor traveler's checks allowed there.

Simple meals are $4-$5 each.

There are no signs in English.

No land crossings (as I described in earlier blogs from my research).

They limit which internet sites you can use and the internet there is horrible.

There aren't any uniformed police around. They rely heavily on 'secret police'. If you are talking to someone about something they don't like (being critical of the government, etc) you get deported and the local goes off to prison. Hence, be careful what you say.

In April they are having their local elections. There is no doubt that these are being held in time to commemorate the start of my trip. Very kind of them. Things may (or not) change when the elections are completed.

They have a temple place like Cambodia's Angkor Wat called 'Bagan'. It is a big area and has 2500 temples. You can get around in there via bike, taxi or horse cart. People apparently argue which is better - Bagan or Angkor Wat. From the wiki, Bagan looks pretty nifty.

It's looking like Burma (such a better name than Myanmar) is still pretty rough. The tourists are only allowed in the tourist areas. Fighting and rebellion may be going on in other parts of the country.

The thing the couple stressed the most is that the natives were super friendly. Because they haven't seen a lot of tourists, they are still in the 'excited to meet you' phase. It sounds like an interesting place and Bagan is looking pretty nifty. I don't know if it's yet time to visit it but for extreme vacationers - yes, get in there.

A big thanks to that kind couple for taking the time to share their experiences with me. I'm guessing they may put the correct spelling of their names in the comment section below.


On a slightly different topic, I met a delightful couple from Chile who depressed me by letting me know that South America is nearly as expensive as the USA. It will be a 'save my ass off before going' continent.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Avoid travel agents, period.

Once you spend money in SE Asia, it's gone. Trying to get any sort of refund, customer service, etc is not in the local mentality. It simply won't happen.



VIDEOS

River Taxi 1

River Taxi 2

Huge Fucking Birds

Alley to Royal Barge Museum

Playground of Doom

Royal Barge Museum

Thai Market

Giant Swing

Denial

Bangkok Tour

Fuck Jim Thompson

Ladies Help Your Dog

Don't Kill Yourself



COSTS

Shitty spaghetti, 140 TBH
Pepsi Max from restaurant with shitty spaghetti, 35 TBH (the drink was fine)

Don't forget if you eat at a decent restaurant, they'll tack on 10% just because hey - they want your money.

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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 | Portugal: Faro

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