My plans for a great travelogue, I do believe, are a little past their prime. With our long back packing trips behind us and a new addition to our family, I think this may just turn into the whatever blog. And that’s fine. I’ve been crazy busy but the winter usually brings a couple extra hours per day of forcible confinement, so, I’m hoping to catch up a bit soon.
One of the greatest parts about backpacking is when it’s over. Not the whole experience, but some of sum that makes up the whole. When we left Koh Samui we bought a joint ticket to Koh Phi Phi. That means we didn’t have to organize and try to find our own way to the different terminals. We just got on the bus to port, the boat to the mainland, the bus to the other port and then another boat to the next island. You pay a little bit extra for these tickets than you would just showing up at each place and buying the seperate tickets but we deemed it worth it.
The guy I gave my money to handed me one slip of paper I couldn’t read and said “wait here, I go get other half ticket. You go on internet.” He jumped on his scooter and roared away, leaving me, seemingly in charge, of his empty internet cafe. A few people came by and asked me about this and that, as I was obviously the one in charge, so I helped them out where I could. He returned about 30 minutes later with the other half of my ticket and said he’ll pick us up at the top of the road at 8pm. I asked him why 8pm when the boat doesn’t leave until 9:30. “The boat is a long way away.”
We got our bags together and Kristi continued up the hill while I snuck off for quick pee. I got to the waiting spot to find her standing there, unknowingly, next to our porter. We couldn’t see a van or truck anywhere. I reckognized him because of his t-shirt. He grabbed our bags and set them on top of his scooter’s side car. Now this was a home made side car, fabricated from material I can only assume he found in the ditch, something I might trust to haul around hay or garden pots at home. Instead, we jumped in on top of our bags and set off down the pitch black hi way. You could feel it wanted to dump us off the back end as it laboured, with the weight of two grown men, one pregnant woman and their luggage, up the tiniest of hills. It wasn’t so bad.
We got to the port and saw a sea of people standing around. Where are all these people going, we asked, his reply; “same same”. Of course. We look at this rickety old wooden boat that has a hand painted warning on it’s bearth “125 passengers only”. The boat looked as though it should transport 75 seated people, maximum. After all, this was the overnight ferry and everyone got a mattress and a pillow so they could sleep through the night. We looked at the sea of people and then again at our tickets. Okay, there are assigned seat numbers, we don’t need to worry about fighting over space. After the customary hour or so of waiting, we board the vessel. The floor is completely covered in sleeping mats, the isle is covered in sleeping mats and the walls have our “seat numbers” just above our plastic pillows. Crouching down, because there was only about four feet of standing room, we surveyed and found our spots. Near the back of the boat, far away from putrid smelling toilets that are standard on any mode of transport. We noticed that the engineers of this grand design must have made some sort of mathematic error when dividing up the space for their desired passenger load. About a third of the way through the stenciled numbers they must have realized they wouldn’t have enough room. They switched to hand painted numbers and our allocated 15 square feet, per person, dwindled to about 9 or 10.
Note; I never finished this entry and to try to recreate the experience months later would be an injustice. Kristi wrote a post about the same experience here http://chad-kristi.blogspot.ca/2012/03/from-ko-tao-to-ko-phi-phi.html
We’re still here in Bangkok, in large part because of our inability to stay awake. Timing is everything when you’re travelling. We strolled into town cool as can be. It honestly felt like we hadn’t missed a beat. Like our time at home was basically long enough to grab some clean underwear and grab a new toothbrush. But I guess a lot more has happened than that. Most notably, Kristi’s got a human growing inside of her. We made it! So, that’s changed quite a few things and altered the way we might have done things otherwise. ie; visiting little nooks and crannies of countries where the risk of malaria is higher. This trip is shorter than our last one so we’re not as careful with the penny-pinching as we probably should be.
Soon after arriving in Bangkok we quickly formulated one of the best plans we’ve actually ever made, as far as travel plans go. We’re the worst decision makers ever. We were to rest up that night, wake up, do a little wandering around, a little shopping, a lot of eating, get measured up to have a suit made, check out a muay thai match at one of the legendary boxing stadiums, wake up the next day, check out some more stuff and then head south for Koh Phangan, just in time for the world-famous full moon party.
Now, what actually happened was a lot less choreographed and the reason I’m writing this from the same guesthouse we arrived at a few days ago. Napping. Napping turns me into a miserable human being, at best. But for some strange reason when you’re backpacking it becomes necessary, especially when plowing through different time zones. We got back to the guesthouse at around three or so and then researched the best place to check out some muay thai. We ended up falling asleep and waking up at like 9:30. This set off a chain of horrific events. We were too late to catch the match, too late to book tickets outta here and getting measured for a suit would now set us back an entire extra day. They need a day with measurements and then fit you with a mock-up the next day and build it while you are away. This also left us with just one day before the full moon party. It take from 6pm until 11am to get down there by bus and boat. It also left us smack in the middle of All Saint’s Day. That means no liquor sales. This would not have been a problem on the bus ride but I’m wondering around Bangkok in the heat and humidity with no hope of touching a lager to my lips for 24 hours. It’s uncalled for.
With a gross amount of sleep under our belts and wide awake at the wee hours of the morning and no real interest in wandering around the city, we tried to sleep our way seamlessly into the next day. With such a good wi-fi connection, this is a rarity to us in our travels, and this handy-dandy little spanish laptop, I killed most of the night researching tailors. I read for hours and hours the pros and cons and ins and outs of getting a suit made in Bangkok. After realizing how much crap goes into making a suit and all the decisions you have to make I wasn’t sure I even wanted one anymore. People talked about suits as though they were pieces of space equipment that could one day save our planet. All I wanted was a nice suit at a decent price and to not be ripped off and have the thing fall apart as soon as I got it back home. It seemed in order for me to get this, I’d have to spend a little more than the $150 every odd person was quoting me for a cashmere two piece suit with two shirts and two ties.
I went back to sleep more frustrated than ever. We woke up in the morning with a decision to make. Stay, yet another, night in Bangkok so I could have a suit made or pack up and head south in time for the full moon party and whisky buckets. Kristi didn’t care either way. She’s a little touchy about not being able to booze it up with me, especially in this heat. I decided I wouldn’t just toss out my hours and hours of research and the chance to have a custom tailored suit at a ridiculously low price, just so I could go get covered in body paint and drown myself in said whisky buckets. Fuck I’m getting old.
I made my final decision on the tailor and we hopped in a cab. Thirty five minutes later I was standing in down town Bangkok in my underwear with an older Thai gentleman’s fingers fluttering ever so eloquently around my man parts. Forty five minutes after that we were off again. Kristi was feeling light-headed from the heat so we ducked into one of the thousands of air conditioned 7/11’s to cool off. We hopped into two or three different taxi’s and were quickly told to exit. The traffic was too bad where we were going they told us. With a bride of an extra 95 bahts, we were on our way again. It took us just as long to get out of the down town as it would have to drive from one side of Edmonton to the other. The downtown is massive. Edmonton or Calgary’s downtown could be plunked neatly into one tiny corner of Bangkok’s up and coming neighbourhoods. The size of the billboards are as big as the buildings we have at home.
But the food. My god, the food! I should have been born Asian. The only thing about this heat is that it takes away my ability to shovel food down my gullet. Curry and stirfrys and soups and fruits and things on sticks. I could simply sit around all day eating and drinking. It sort of feels as though that’s all we’ve done anyway.
I’ll be glad to get out of Bangkok. Eight or 9 million people, or whatever it is, is too many.
My first attempt at a proper blog.
I’ve been meaning to start a blog for years. I’ve started a couple short-lived ones that were about specific things and then forgot all about them. This one will be different. In a way, I guess, it’s like anything you want to get into. The idea sounds great and you like how others are doing it in their own way but the more you look into it, you find there is a bunch more to it than meets the eye. You see, I have a problem with over analyzing just about everything that I do in my life, to the point where I don’t do anything because I get too worked up about the mundane details.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I’ve always secretly wanted to be some sort of writer, I just never knew which kind. I tried it out for a very short time and decided, quite quickly, it wasn’t for me. I think, for me at least, writing is one of the most personal things you can do and is genuinely satisfying when done on your own terms.
I’ve always thought that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to write. This isn’t an inferiority complex by any means, nor is it an emotional, poor me bit, but something I thought was pretty logical. I guess my thinking is somewhat along the lines of how an apprentice becomes a master of his craft. He has to watch his mentor, for years, picking up on the details, learning different ways to handle things. As a lover of the written word I believe I can appreciate good writing and what goes into it. I just thought it was silly to throw my two cents into the already congested body of work that exists.
In starting this, I’m doing so for my own personal reasons. I like to document things. I like looking back.
I’ve been reading blogs for years. Browsing the web and checking out a few of the billion blogs that are in existence and decided I could probably do it too. In my mind I’ve always entertained the thought of writing a book but thought I’d have to do it when I was a lot older. When I had more life experience. Something to tell the world. This hesitation may also have something to do with the fact that I don’t read a pile of fiction. I like reading non fiction. Real stuff. Something that I can apply to my life, whether it’s philosophical or a simple how to book. I sometimes feel there is not enough time in my life to be reading mystical or fantasy stuff. That being said, some of my favourite authors are fiction writers and I do love to devour a well constructed novel when I have the time to devote to it.
I’m sitting on the side of mountain on an island in Thailand right now. A trip I’ve been looking forward to for a while. But not for the usual backpacker reasons. This year is a big turning point in my life. I just turned 30, we just got back from an extended backpacking trip through Central and South America, and Kristi is 6 months pregnant with our first little human. It sounds nerdy and middle-aged but I kind of really wanted this time to slow down and reflect on what I’ve done, what I’m doing and where I want to go in my life.
I’ve got big plans for myself in the next year. Plans that I hope this blog will remind me of when I get too busy with the day-to-day stuff that can easily consume a person. And since this blog will be a published work, it is also my way of inviting you along to share my journey. I encourage participation.