I’m back! After a long week vacation from blogging and taking photos, I’ve returned. There is something about Thailand that makes me want to put the camera away and stop writing. Maybe it’s that there is just always something going on somewhere or it is easy to become lazy!
I spent a full week on the island of Phuket but pretty much stayed at Patong Beach. I spent the first few nights alone waiting on 3 friends to show up. They arrived and we spent 3 days partying it up the way you’re supposed to in Phuket. Beer, massages, Andaman Sea sunsets, lots of good food and of course the infamous Go Go bars of Bangla Rd. Flirting with bar girls is an unavoidable tourist trap anytime you find yourself engulfed in one of the many neon paradises of most Thai cities. It is what it is!
I never fully recovered from whatever bug I got when I was in Penang. It would go away for a day but then come back even worse. It really wasn’t till today, when I’m writing this, that I can say I feel close to 100%. Being sick and having a debilitating cough didn’t keep me from having a good time but it would have been nice to have felt better in Phuket.
On the afternoon that Shawn, Mike and Kelly left, and while nursing a Patong hangover, I switched on the news to Al Jazeera English. The news hadn’t broken yet and the discussion was about Libya. There was a break about 5 minutes after the quake hit off the coast of Japan and for the next 4-5 hours I sat glued to my television watching the events unfold live. I would switch back and forth between BBC World, Al Jazeera and Fox News. I can state with confidence that Al Jazeera is by far the best news source of the 3 with BBC World and Fox News quite a ways behind. While tuned into BBC World the 2 anchors were debating back and forth about whether or not this quake would cause a tsunami, meanwhile in the background on a live video feed the tsunami was obviously hitting. It took a good 5 minutes before they acknowledged it. I switched back to Al Jazeera and continued to stare at the screen watching farmland and homes get inundated with water.
Very early on in the afternoon after the news of the tsunami made its way to Phuket, there was a bit of tension. My hotel owner said that Phuket was very briefly on alert but as an overly cautious measure as Phuket is on the opposite side of Thailand from the Pacific. You can’t blame Phuket for being a bit on edge after a quake as it was effected severely during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated much of the region. I had a few people show concern on Facebook for my whereabouts but I checked in my location and let them know that my Thai officials declared the entire country safe from this tsunami.
Headed to Bangkok
After a week in Phuket I booked a bus ticket to Bangkok. I was originally going to stay south a little bit longer but at this point I was still feeling a bit ill so I decided to go straight to Bangkok. It is starting to get close to school time and I want to be in the area of my school in the coming weeks leading up to when my TEFL course begins. The bus ride was supposed to be a VIP express bus straight to Bangkok. The only stop was supposed to be a 30 minute food break half way through. It turns out we stopped in almost every town to pick up and drop off passengers. The entire journey took 15+ hours. I was miserable arriving in Bangkok and didn’t have accommodation picked out. I have a friend in Bangkok who let me rest at her place for a couple of hours before searching for a guest house.
Avoiding Khao San Rd. At All Costs
Those familiar with backpacking know about Khao San Rd whether or not they’ve been to Thailand. It’s the bottleneck of South East Asia with cheap accommodation, cheap food, and was romanticized by Hollywood as Leonardo Di’Caprio’s first stop in Bangkok where he drinks snake blood in a dark room in a back alley of Khao San Rd in the movie The Beach. I spent a couple of nights here my first time in Bangkok and vowed to never take up residence there again. Maybe I’m getting a little older and that scene doesn’t interest me but I made my way towards Sukhumvit Rd where the expats and older tourists tend to stay. I find it to be far more relaxing and it is more likely an area of Bangkok that I would end up living if I decided to work here.
Crime & Punishment
As far as tourism goes, I haven’t done much lately. I haven’t seen a museum or looked at ruins or even taken a photograph of a temple. Some might consider it a crime. I spent 2 weeks in Bangkok 4 years ago and didn’t see one sight. One of my Thai friends mentioned that if I haven’t seen the Emerald Temple then I haven’t seen Thailand. I took what she said to heart and decided it’s time. Since I’m having a hard time motivating myself to get up and go sightseeing I decided I need to punish myself with a guided tour. I booked it for tomorrow. I will be in a minibus driven around Bangkok and taken on a tour of the Royal Palace and Emerald Temple. I normally would never book a tour like this and go exploring on myself but this is the punishment I deserve! In all seriousness though, it’s probably best as the palace complex is large and it will be nice to be guided through so I actually learn something. The tour starts at 1pm tomorrow afternoon.
As usual my next step is unclear but like I said earlier the TEFL course is getting closer so I want to be close to my school. I will probably spend St Patrick’s Day in Bangkok and go to one of the many Irish pubs and then head to Pattaya for a couple of days as a base for exploring some of the eastern islands.