Bangkok would have to be the absolute least suitable place in the world to go running. Unfortunately, however, that's exactly what I was compelled to do this evening — when I was being led on foot to my next tourist bus, and I suddenly realised that I'd left my small bag on the side of the street near Khao San Road, I had no choice but to sprint back for it. The city's searing heat — and, far more pertinent, its horrendous air pollution — left my lungs feeling somewhere in between a wheezing petrol pump and a burning car tyre. And that was after a mere five minutes.
I didn't have long to spend in Frankfurt — just tonight — and I made it a quiet one. I did a little bit of shopping in the area around Frankfurt Hbf (central station): it's a seedy and unattractive red-light area; but it's also packed with numerous indistinguishable cheap variety stores, where I was able to finish off some of the things that I still hadn't replaced since losing them (e.g. new headlamp, new combination padlocks). The free pasta dinner at Stay and Learn was good: and I met an interesting Brazilian guy over dinner, as well as a big group of Italian students (mainly girls), with whom I had a nice shmooze. Other than that, it was just a bit of online time — I met a random Peruvian girl at the cafe down the road — and then off to bed, in preparation for tomorrow's early start.
Today I finished my quick tour of tiny Belgium, by popping into the nation's capital, Brussels. I was originally planning to spend last night in Brussels, but I instead ended up staying in Liège with Christian. This morning, I got the train from Liège to Brussels, bright 'n' early with Christian, who's going there today anyway (for a training seminar). We caught the 6:45am train, and it was only an hour to the big city: when I got there, it was still dark (and stayed so until about 9am — dreary European winter). Too dark to begin exploring: so I checked my e-mail, and found a café for hanging out and having some coffee and waffle, before commencing my tour of the city. By 2pm, I was done with Brussels, and on my way to Amsterdam.
In a continuing battle with the forces of incompetence, I finally received and managed to pick up my new ATM card today. at 10:30am, I went online from my hostel in Freiburg, checked DHL's tracking service, and saw that my package was in Zürich, and was "with courier vehicle" (i.e. actually in the van, about to be delivered to Mark and Susi's surgery). So I grabbed the tram to Freiburg train station, just managed to catch the 11am train back to Zürich; and by 1:45pm, I too had arrived back in Zürich, and had caught the tram over to the surgery. And what did I see, quite literally just as I walked in? I saw the DHL guy walking out of the building, having only just delivered the package — took him all day just to drop it off there; how bloody pathetic!
Before buggering off out of the place, this morning I took a little stroll around the charming city of Freiburg — the first place I've ever visited in Germany — and explored its historic centre. My buddy Killes had already shown me a fair bit of the town last night: but it was too dark and rainy last night to see anything properly; so today, I re-discovered it again in better conditions. I stuck mainly to the area of the cathedral and the daily morning market (home to plenty of different foods), as well as the central shopping area. Sadly, all I had was about an hour to complete the tour, before I needed to leave: a bit rushed, but better than nothing.
Tara, Dan, Alan, and myself got a colectivo back from Palenque ruins. Since Alan and I were planning to go straight into town and find some transport to San Cristóbal, and since Tara and Dan also needed to go into town, we convinced the colectivo driver to stop in El Panchán, and to wait for us for 1 minute. However, I hadn't already packed up, so I needed to do so in a hurry!