Sunday, January 30, 2005

Koh san road

First off thanks to my bro for hooking me up with this blog site, since I put it on my wish list last email. Moving on....Christine and I awoke before the sun had peeked out over the mountains of Hong Kong and headed for the airport to be whisked away to Bangkok, where we hoped the true debauchery would ensue. After enjoying the worst airplane food (that's saying something) I have ever tasted we landed in Bangkok. My first sight of Bangkok was a golf course that had been built right between the runways. The golfers even have to cross the runway twice to get to the back nine. Swaying palm trees, sunny skies, and small Asians in funny postdated clothing...I love this place already. After Customs, which was faster than a supermarket checkout line we boarded our bus to the infamous koh san road(the backpacker Mecca of SE Asia). The koh san road is not very long (3 blocks), but crammed into those blocks are more drunken sunned burned euros than hasselhauf summer festival, with all the sights and smells of Chinatown after a fresh rain.
We were tired from the travel, so we checked into the first place on the koh san strip which was the koh san palace. The name should say it all, we barely had any bugs and the water was almost luke warm, but the location was right in the middle of koh san hell. We were so jet lagged, and but managed to rally for some angrily drinks with the mobs of tourists at the local bars. The bars of koh san are a bit of a sad sight. Upon entry there are hundreds of local Thai girls guarding the door trying to "meet" nice foreign gentleman to buy them a drink. Luckily I had Christine to protect me from their onslaught. As you penetrate the front lines you are treated to watching people dance, who obviously don't dance that much back home, try to woo their new Asian friends with provocative euro dances, such as the arm-pump, off beat stager, or my favorite the hip thrust slam into the back of their victim. After a few beers, and the realization that we were not going to enter in to any stimulations conversation, we headed home.
The next day we treated ourselves top some local delicacies, of pathway for Christine and curry for me, that would later become every meal for us in our never ending quest for the best Thai food in Thailand. Peanut sauce would come into play later, but to a lesser degree. After some serious convincing of Christine, we left our passports in the hands of some koh san travel agents for our visas and purchased aflame ticket to koh samui, which is an island on the non-tsunami side of Thailand (Indian ocean). We than began to hit the streets in a series of non-essential purchases, which we were helplessly trapped into because of the cheap prices of linen and novelty tee-shirts. Koh san is not a wonderful place. Everyone is trying to encourage you to part ways with your currency. I even had a tuk-tuk driver stalk me for 3 days trying to give me a tour of the city. I wish I were joking, but the man literally met me at our hotel entrance every morning and would put his stinky arm around me. I would have to contort my body to get away, and than have him stare at me through our entire breakfast everyday waving and smiling. Out of thousands of tourists, I was the one he decided would like to go on his tug-tuk tour. A tuk-tuk, by the way is a death trap of a motorcycle converted into an el-Camino style vehicle. We had to vary our eating patterns to lose the man, and had to pay close attention the pirated movies that every cafe plays. Every cafe has a listing of pirated movies playing that day, and that's how you decide were on is going to eat. They have every new release rental and current movie theatre selection playing at all hours of the day.
We tried to take in some culture at the grand palace, which used to house the king of Thailand. The king is no little deal over here. People have been shot for insulting him, he is a living god to the people here. He is also the longest reigning living monarch in the world. After an unsuccessful trip to the US embassy (closed for Martin Luther Link B-Day) we went to the palace to see the one thing in Bangkok not to be missed, but upon arrival realized we were not dressed appropriately. Everyone must wre close toed shoes, long sleeve shirts and pants in the holy sites. After further fruitless negotiation, the authorities decided that my assless chaps and arm tassels would not be approbate in the holiest area. Its funny to think how different our cultures are. In retrospect Koh San Road is not the backpackers Mecca we were told it to be. It was filled with dirty foreign men both young and old escorting around too young Asian prostitutes, drunken capri wearing euro trash, and ragged smelly hippies. In all honesty I can't wait to come back....

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

First Email!

Well here we go again....

I have not been as diligent as promised about keeping my emails posted about my trip, but I will try to bring it up to speed. First off, for those that are unaware Im taking a bit of a hiatus in se asia, australia, new zealand, and Fiji ( I know but someone has to do it). First off, I miss everyone at home and hope all are well. Please email me while Im gone, so I know that your all in doing splendid.

Moving On...After a raucous send off weekend in NYC, that included giving me a mohawk for tsanami charity, Christine (my girlfriend) and I bored our plane for JFK to hong kong for a liesurley 17 hr flight. Christine and have decided to go together on this trip to add a whole new element of challenge and adventure, because anyone can see the world, but only the truly bold can do that while travelling with there girlfreind. The flight wasn't firstclass this time, but liqour is free on all international flights, so jack (actually scotch) and cokes will have to replace the bubbley this time. The flight was what you would expect a 17hr flight to be with no sleep. I won't go into it but 17hrs later we ended up in hong kong. Hong kong is a fabulous city that is alot like giant metroplis bought out by disney. There are monorails, pastel colors, and chartoon animals on everything. After trying to help a german woman with having a seasuire in the airport, I tried to obtain some local currency to pay people for their services, and people say we're so different. Anyway,I chose the bank of china atm in the subway station, which promptly eat my card and didn't give me any money. It then dawned on my that mabey that mabey the bank of china wasn't the best descion, based on how the chines government conducts business with there people. I had an informative conversation with a woman who spoke no english about getting my card back, which in her words "card take long time". Chrisitne took some money out and we went on to the hotel, which I booked on line the night before, and didn't know what to expect. When we pulled up to the giant complex ontop of a mountain over looking the city, I only counted four water falls and only three pools. I was only slightly comforted when we figured out that there was indeed anther roman bath pool, and a karaoke complex in the compond. Needless to say I was finally in my element, sure I was slighty startled when the tolit seat was heated and there was a pressure senesitive beday, but Im first class all the way.

The next day we went to kalhown or the penisala that leads to hong kong island. We took in a few musems (honestly Im not putting this in for my mom) and headed out to the markets for some shopping, and sweet jesus there is alot of shopping in hong kong. I don't know if anyone in hong kong actually works in anything other than retail, because we walked for hours and there was nothing but shops. The have entire blocks decated to such important items as goldfish, birdcages, jade and everyother useless item imaginable. You can not turn a corner with out seeing knockoff clothing as far as the eye can see. After literally fighting through the market streets agaist the most persistant, aggressive, worsest hygenic shop keepers. We tryed toi find dinner. We were expecting our tried and tested beloved favorites, like moo su or general tso's chicken, but these are just exports. In hong kong its a whole another animal (insert favorite cat, dog ect with chinese food joke here). After an intresting local delicasey we were off to take in the culture. We saw countless asian coverbands preforeing in front of expats, and finally ended up getting drunk with two brits who live in australia, whowe hope to visit.

I know this is bit longwinded so I'll keep to the highlites. After a late jump, due to jetlag, we had high tea at the penisula, which is just as pretensious as it sounds string quartet serinadeing and all, then saw the sights on the main island. Victoria peak (great view), parks (make central park, and boston comon look like baron lot next to a crack house), and some arcitecture. Most notibly of the countless sky scapers, the bank of china building, which I had the pleasure of storming in an attempt to liberate my card and install a more capitalistic sense of business into them. Chrisitne made me promise not to freak out and get arrested, which took some reworking of my plan but triuph was mine none the less. I contacted the bank of america in hong kong, which has no affilation with bank of america in the USA, but worth a shot. The person on the phone actually negotiated the release of my card two days ahead of the date the y had given me. Appon arrival at the bank I was ready for infite freedom style warfare, but after getting my card tried to hug the man responsible, which is not really a chinese custom, and made him a little uncomfortable (all that communistic repression). With my old plastic pal back in my pocket, we went out for margiritas at a bar that hostes more tequilla chooses than I have ever seen, and all despensed by an all nepenese team of bartenders. Odd to say the least but lovely none the less.

I know Im leaving out many details some forgotten after all much has happened in the last two weeks, some ommited by choose, and will be recounted on an individual basis, but moving on.
That sums up the hong kong part of the trip, but there is much more about thailand I will spare you on this email, because it is long enough already. Once again if you have read all of this, I applaud you, and wish you the best. Please write me, my travels do leave me missing the mother land and all who I have left behind. If you don't want to keep receiveing these overly long emails, no problem just don't reply to the first,I realize now I should have set up a blog, but too late now. We have many pictures which will are cooming soon. Anyway miss you all and hope your all doing well.

Love,

Ian

P.S. If you have any Jets comments keep them to yourself...thanks for understanding