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.
For my absolute final entry on this blog (I swear, this is it!), I would like to take a few moments and a few kilobytes to thank everyone that was part of this trip, or that made it possible, in any and every shape and form. The previous entry was really the last page; so think of this as the epilogue, or simply as the credits. If there's one thing I've learned on this trip, it's that it's not where you go, it's who you meet; and that it's not places, but people, that make a big trip (and life in general, really) such an amazing experience. I hope I've remembered everyone of import here; but if I've missed you out, then I deeply apologise — and feel free to post a scathing comment, in which you make yourself and your significance known for all eternity. We do ask that you remain seated, and that you leave your mobile phones switched off, until the blog has come to a complete stop in front of the terminal building. Once again, thank you for flying with Jaza's World Trip, and we hope you enjoyed the flight.
It's over! Finito. Es todo. Sayonara. As I write this, it's now two weeks to the day since I landed back home in Sydney (this is the first entry in a while that's actually dated when it was written — been playing catch-up for a while). And I still can't believe that I'm actually home again, and that I'm not jumping on a long-distance bus tomorrow, and carting myself and my oversized rucksack to yet another new and exotic city. I'm back, and — for now, at least — I'm here to stay. And while on the one hand I still feel like I'm in backpacker mode, on the other hand the entire trip is already starting to feel like a wild and concocted dream. It seems impossible that anything that fun and marvellous ever could have happened at all, now that I'm firmly re-established in the daily grind of my old life. But it did happen — after all, I have this blog and all my photos (and videos) to prove it, to myself if to nobody else.
I thought that the adventure in this trip was all over, Red Rover, and that on this final day of my year overseas, the time for surprises was long behind. Well, I thought wrong. Although I was originally meant to fly my final leg home (Bangkok to Sydney) with Qantas — as I have a Qantas / BA round-the-world ticket — I ended up conceding to a ticket with the budget carrier Jetstar. This was because, when I finalised my ticket bookings back in October, they were already sold out of seats on Qantas flights. Anyway, when I rocked up at Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi Int'l Airport last night, the check-in staff informed me that I was flying via Melbourne. WTF?!
Thailand's No. 1 catch-phrase sums up the country perfectly. Same same... but different. To be honest, I thought (for some strange reason) that I already knew pretty much what to expect before I arrived, and that Thailand would hold no great surprises for me. Boy, was I wrong! Thailand is in many ways the "same same" as what I imagine other parts of Asia are like (not that I know — I haven't been anywhere else in Asia): it has similar cuisine; similar government and economic problems; similar mass-produced goods and shopping opportunities (thanks to similar illegal sweatshops); similar amusing (but still impressive) command of the English language; and a similar attitude towards Westerners (i.e. "we think you're weird, but you and your money are welcome nonetheless"). And yet, in so many other ways, it's completely unique from all of its neighbours, and its status as the world's top tourist destination is more than deserved. Thailand has been the perfect end to an incredible and epic trip — I'm very glad I stopped by; and I don't regret shirking on the rest of Asia, because doing otherwise would only have robbed me of precious Thai time.
By the way, did you know that unlike in East Asia, chopsticks are generally not used in Thailand, or in the rest of South-East Asia? Until I arrived here, I wasn't aware of this; but after having now spent a month in Thailand, and having barely used a pair of chopsticks, I'm pretty clear about it. Apparently, chopsticks are the traditional eating utensil only in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. In Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, Tibet and Nepal, chopsticks are used in a limited context, and even that is merely as a result of Chinese influence. In Thailand, a spoon and fork is the preferred utensil set when eating all kinds of foods; except in the case of noodles, when chopsticks may be used. So if you're chopstick-challenged (which, incidentally, I'm not), then don't worry: it's not a required skill when visiting Thailand.
It's been a while since I blogged about a country's music — and when I did it previously, I had mainly good things to say. Unfortunately, the verdict is not so rosy for Thailand. This country has many great and captivating qualities, but I'm afraid that its music simply isn't one of them. The main local music around here — in the urban centres I've visited, at least — is Thai pop. Put simply, Thai pop is about as bad as music gets. Pop music in general is widely recognised as rubbish; Asian pop is known to be particularly rubbish; and Thai pop is without doubt at the bottom of the heap. It's super-soppy, it's super-boppy, and it's super-lacking in talent. And as if it wasn't bad enough, the locals insist on singing along to the cheesy pop tracks, in one of their favourite pastimes — karaoke. Thank heavens I've been sticking mainly to farang hangouts, and that I've as such largely avoided the pop scene — because, hell, even Bob is better than that poison.
When asked why you'd want to go to Thailand (instead of to Bonnie Doon), Con replied: "it's the culture, Mr. Kerrigan." And he's right: Thailand does have an amazing culture. And that's exactly why I had to purchase a few souvenirs of that culture, to bring back to my loudly and proudly uncultured homeland. An absolutely essential purchase was the elephant — so essential was it, in fact, that I decided to take two — because as we all know: "When an elephant's trunk is up it means good luck(?). And this one's trunk was up(?)." Also scored a little mantlepiece plate, and a Kung Fu dude picking his ear. These are all such precious, adorable souvenirs, that there can be only one possible home for them: "these are going straight to the pool room."
Cute little fella, innee? He's got little velcro dots sewn into his hands, so that you can wrap his arms around your neck, and let him "hold on" and dangle there for a while. He also makes a horrible screeching monkey noise, if you squeeze him hard enough — this will be sure to induce plenty of headaches upon all who hear it. Picked the monkey up in Khao San Road today, although there is (naturally) nothing Thai about him — but a quick snip of the 'ol label, and nobody ever need know his humble "made in China" origins. As well as being a cuddly teddy, I believe this monkey would also serve well as a long-hanging wall decoration.
Khao San Road is absolutely chock-full of little stalls selling cheesy t-shirts. And since this is my last full day in Thailand, I couldn't resist picking up a few of them as souvenirs. As their brand name suggests, they are all pretty much "same same... but different". I especially like the "iPood" one, which is a not-at-all-subtle satire on that overpriced fashion accessory which I've avoided owning for so many years. Also good is the one with the picture of cave man evolving into upright man, and then ultimately devolving into man hunched over a computer screen, with the inscription: "something somewhere went terrible wrong." Geek power! The tuk-tuk one is cute, too. It was tough to pick out a mere three, since they're all so funny and so wearable — but sadly, I can't take the entire contents of Khao San Road back home with me.