All the blog entries that I've managed to scratch down, while travelling around the world.
You can view these blog entries in reverse chronological order (below), or you can browse them in a monthly archive. You may find the monthly archive more convenient for catching up on older entries, or for finding specific entries or ranges of entries.
It was about 4pm this afternoon, and I was trying to get back to Khao San Road, after my shopping spree in Pantip Plaza and nearby Pratunam Market. I managed to get a metered cab in the morning — and this was good, since as far as taxis in Bangkok go, meter is cheaper. For getting back, however, it seemed that competition was a bit more fierce: the majority of taxis around Pantip were full; and of those that were empty and that I did manage to hail, they all refused to use their meter, and instead quoted me their outrageous farang special flat fees, which I rejected. In the end, I was forced (reluctantly) to take a tuk-tuk. And when the driver said: "velly cheap, but make some stops on the way", I knew that what I'd managed to heretofore avoid in Bangkok was now inevitable — I was going to take the famous "Bangkok Scenic Route".
Apart from the classic entertainment stock-up, Bangkok is also a great place to expand the ol' wardrobe for a bargain. This afternoon, I wandered over to Pratunam Market, where I came across the wholesale outlet of "Nobody Jeans". Their stock is a bit pricey (by Thai standards), and their policy of "no trying on" is absurd (even after you've bought it — I tried changing clothes in the shop after I'd paid them, and they threatened to hand my money back!); but they do sell very nice jeans. Since my traveller jeans are threatening to vaporise into thin air, if worn for too much longer, I figured it was time to invest in a new pair. Luckily, the new jeans do fit (despite the complications in trying them on).
Getting a haircut in Bangkok may be cheap, but you really do get what you pay for. I figured I should get some hair chopped off before I head home — it's a bargain here, plus I never get round to it when I'm in Sydney. I asked the lady: "number one on the sides, and nice and short on top — but don't shave the top." And what does she do? She says: "OK, no ploblem" — and then proceeds to brandish her shaver, and... vrooomp! There goes my hair. All but completely shaved off. "You say number one on side and short on top", she explained (this was just before I strangled her to death with a hair-dryer cord, you understand). "So I do number two on top." Arrgghhh! Hence, when you see me back in Sydney and I look like a gawdaym US Marine, you'll appreciate why and how this came to be. Next time, I think I'll get my hair cut by someone who speaks just a little more English.
Upon the advice of my cousins — who are seasoned veterans in the field — today I headed over to Bangkok's Pantip Plaza shopping centre, and perused the extensive movie, music and computer-related wares on offer there. Three hours and several thousand Baht later, I was satiated. I've been waiting a looong time for this opportunity, and there's no way I was going to let it pass by un-seized. Should be enough DVDs to fill up every sleepy Sydney night and boring long weekend for the next year or so. Plus, enough music to make a year's worth of never-ending bus commutes and long queues fly right by. Attention all friends back in Sydney: you know I owe you, so please grab and burn at will when I return. Amazing how they keep the prices so low here in Thailand, and yet manage to sell nothing but 100% genuine, legitimate MPAA-endorsed goods :P.
Fuckfuckfuck FUCK FUCK. Fuckity fucked-up fuuuck.
All year, I've made a big effort at keeping this blog clean, and at beeping out rude words that might offend people. Well, I'm fucking sick of it — I'm nearly home, and it's time to say FUCK THAT SHIT!!! Censorship is FUCKED. Fuck you, Google: rank me the fuck down for this if you want, I couldn't give a ladyboy's willy about it. Fuck you, Office of Film and Literature Classification: rate me MA15+, warn against strong coarse language and adult themes — do whatever the fuck you want, you cocksuckers — everyone knows you're fucked anyway (and guess what, Bittorrent doesn't ask for ID, so go fuck yourselves). And fuck you, profanity filtering software: you're discriminating against people with [cuntlicker shagfag pimpdiddy asshole titties motherfucker pieceofshit sonofabitch wankmeister turdface dirtyassho sissypoofta stingyjew stupidnigga hijodeputa] Tourette's!.
I'm saying it loudly, and proudly: FUCK YOU!!!
During my far-and-wide travels the past year, I've been (like my ancestors long before me) "a stranger in a strange land", and I've been dwelling amongst all manner of strange and foreign people (many of whom were also far from home). It's no secret that I'm an Aussie; and naturally, "where you from?" is one of the first questions that gets asked and answered, when meeting new people while on the road. But until this trip, I never before realised just how strong and widely-known the stereotypical Aussie image is, or how much of a preconceived view this could implant in people, before they've even spoken two words to me. I've never really considered myself to be anything remotely close to the "quintessential Aussie bloke"; and having now been an ambassador of my country in the big wide world, I feel that I've done a dismal job of representing patriotically. Unfortunately, I've discovered a sad but undeniable truth about introductions: it's not who you are, it's what you are.
It's been a sun-soaked, adventure-packed, super-chilled three weeks I've had here in southern Thailand: first in Ko Tao, and then in Ton Sai. But now, unfortunately, the time has come to say farewell. In just four days' time, I'll be flying home to Sydney; and as such, it's time that I made my way back up to Bangkok. This morning, I said adieu to Ton Sai beach, hopped on a long-tail boat around to Ao Nang, and then caught a sawng thaew (pickup slash shared-taxi) back to Krabi. From there, I was lucky enough to purchase the last ticket on a bus back to Bangkok (via Surat Thani) this evening (my last dodgy Thai "tourist bus"). And after only a few hours of waiting during the day, I was soon on my way, and the return to Bangkok was happening. When I woke up the next morning, familiar (and still overwhelming) Khao San Road was there to greet me.
Karen and Nick are a super-chilled Canadian couple: Nick's been here on Ton Sai for a few weeks already; and Karen just rocked up today (not sure if they're together, or just friends, or what-have-you). Nick is apparently "extremely short on cash": as such, he's sleeping in a tent instead of renting a bungalow (can't afford $7/night — ouch). I met the two of them while having dinner this evening, and I later went out and had a few drinks with them, at the Chill Out bar on the beach. Saw plenty of other folks at the beach bars tonight as well — great, pleasant way to end my time in Ton Sai.
Today was the third and final instalment in my three-day climbing course, and it was one hell of a daunting conclusion. The main topic of the day was multipitching: that is, learning to ascend walls that are too high to climb with a single rope (such walls are more than 50m), and/or that consist of multiple sections, each of which has a different "pitch" or angle. Multipitch climbing is an extremely complex procedure, as it involves a pair of partners taking turns at belaying each other up and down (multiple times, depending on the number of sections that the wall has), switching yourself between various ropes, securing ropes in such a way that they can be switched, and learning a whole heap of new knots and rope configurations. It is, in my opinion, far too complicated to learn in one day; and it's also quite unnecessary to learn, unless you're already a strong and experienced enough climber to actually tackle multi-pitch walls. I barely remembered a quarter of the details of what I was taught today; but nevertheless, it was worthwhile being exposed to some of the more advanced techniques in rock-climbing, and it was interesting to learn how the pros do it.
Yu's an interesting guy: his heritage is 100% Thai, but he's been living in Canada for the past few years, and he's planning to go back there, in the hope of obtaining residency. As such, he speaks much better English than most do most Thais (it's quite rare for Thai locals to have travelled internationally). As my buddy Let was away today, and as Yu just arrived back in Ton Sai (and in Thailand!) this morning, he was my instructor for the final stint of my climbing course today. He's strict and extremely thorough, but he's a great guy and an excellent climber.