Tpyos

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Please padron m y typing. im’ paying for internet so i just type type type and post. i’ll proofread when i write to publish.

!!!

Hello Sir! Shoppiiiiing! Shoppiiiiing!

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Stage 1: Listen to what the street vendors have to say to you..answer their questions and even look at their merchandise.

Stage 2: Acknowledge the vendor’s inquiries and politely say “No, thank you” repeatedlty until they get the point.

Stage 3: Politely say “No, thank you” and keep walking.

Stage 4: Just shake your head, making brief eye contact, and keep walking.

Stage5: Completely ignore the street vendor’s audible and visual existence. Act is if you don’t know they are there. Do not make eye contact or change facial exressions.

Stage 6: Continue Stage 5, but when in the mood for a laugh, use the street vendor as the axis of your humor.

EXAMPLES:

  1. If they say “Watch for you“, take the watch saying “Thanks” and keep walking.
  2. If they ask you a question, simply repeat the question back to them…stare into their eyes and play the copycat game until they give up.
  3. If they ask you where you are from (typical gem scam and fashion suit scam intro), tell them New York City and ask them if they know where you can get a deal on any Gems or High Fashion Suits. When their eyes light up, pretend to follow them…then once they’re not looking book-it in the opposite direction.

Stage 7: Punch them in the face. We haven’t reached this stage…but I can’t say I’d be surprised if it happened.

Ladies, Boys & Lady-Boys

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Ok first let me say a lt has changed over the years and i’m totally comfortable with people’s sexuality, whatever it is. But until now, I had never met a “Thai Lady-Boy”. These people are transvestite homosexuals who are maliciously out to trick unsuspecting straight men into hooking up with them. Some of these lady-boys even get their shit cute off!

So the newest flaw I’ve learned about myself, is that I’m easily fooled by lady-boys! It began last night at a bar with Tristan, Ben and Eric. We were talking to the excess of waitresses and bartenders at the bar we were at,…When I saw what I thought was a (gulp) hot girl walk by. I said to Tristan…” Hey…Look left!” He did and he responded “That’s a bloody bloke! He’s got a @%*?!” And that’s where the jokes began. At that point I thought it was an honest mix up…Just because I wasn’t relay paying attention. Hmmm…I wish that was true. The place we were at was like a food court at a mall, but all the eaters were different bars. There were enough tables for maybe 20 at each place…And there were about as many girls working as customers. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this or not, but every place of employment in Thailand has way more employees than home. Every store and restaurant has workers just standing around doing nothing. I guess it’s a result of the cheap cost of labor. SO these bars were wierd enough that the girls basally grabbed us and dragged us there to drink with them. Yes, the bar staff sits with you and drinks too. But there was also a staged Muay Thai boxing ring in the middle and a bunch of kids and stray dogs walking around. When i say kids, i mean 5 year olds trying to sell roses and necklaces. It was freaking 10 o’clock at night and there were 5 year old Thai boys and girls poking me and trying to sell me things! Wierd. We left that bar and went to a club called Bubbles. I managed to fend off all but a few of the REAL ladies looking for an American to whisk them away. All i’ll say is that now i know how a girl must feel when she goes to a club in the US. I didn’t think it would bother me…but damn.
Ok..so we’re walking back to the hotel after we leave the club and we head through a small park. I spot two (gulp) hot girls hanging out near their motorcycles. I walk towards them and yell to my friends to come with me, but they just keep walking. I say “Hey give us a ride to our place!” My friends keep walking and yell “come on john, lets go”. Almost at once the girl looks at me and says “only one”. As soon as I realize the voice is too deep to be a girl, Tristan yells “Look left”. The wheels turn in my brain as (S)he reaches for my arm. Everything clicks and I turn and run…sprint…as fast as i can. Past my friends and straight through the chaing mai gates…out of the town, past the mote and towards our hotel. No lie. I think the reason i was so freaked out is that i was tricked. I’ve been hit on by gay guys before and it doesn’t bother me. I think it was the fact that i thought it was a girl. In any case…i’m over it and my eyes are a lot wider when we go out now.

We’re off to get some food with Tristan and Ben. Tomorrow they head to Australia and we head to Phuket.

Trekking & Hill Tribes

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We’re back from two nights and three days trekking in the northern mountains of Thailand. There were a few disappointments, but overall the experience was awesome and well worth the relatively small amount of money it cost us.

We woke up Monday morning to a terrential downpour. The kind you only see once in awhile, where there is so much rain that things flood in a matter of minutes. It was a good thing we each bought a raincoat for 200 Baht the night before. There were two English guys at our hotel going on the trek as well, so we met them in the lobby at 9:30am. Our ride showed up on time. It was a pickup truck with two seats bolted the long way in the back and a cap on top. We loaded 5 more people in making a group of 9. Me, Eric, the two English, a Canadian guy, an Isralie couple, a Japanese girl and really wierd japanese guy who kept his headphones on and eyes shut the whole one hour ride to the elephants.

The elephants were the first thing we did and the first disappointment. We had been shown elephants trekking people through rivers and it appearded as part of the trek, but we were taken to an elephant petting zoo of sorts. We did get to ride the Elephants (in the pouring rain), but we did a loop through the woods where the elephants were kept. The ride was pretty cool. The elephants were very mild, but they are so huge…if they decided they didn’t want to do something…they didn’t have to. We rode the elephant in pairs and evryone had a guide on the elephant too…except me and eric. For some reason they just tied a rope to our elephant’s ear and hooked it on the elephant in front of us. About half way through…while going up a 10 foot almost vertical cliff, our elephant decided to stop moving. The line went taught and i though his ear was going to rip off. He roared and the 1/4 nylon line snapped. Nothing was happening yet, but all of a sudden me and eric were sitting on a pissed off elephant with no guide. Luckily the elephant listened to the yells from the other guide and stayed while he retied the line. When he was yelling at the elephant in Thai (wuk Yuk Baaa naaahhh tah gaiii blahh blaahhhh), i had no idea what he was saying and i relaised that neither did the elephant. But i could tell from his emotion and his hand movements what he wanted the elephant to do…and probably so could the elephant. The rest of the ride went without a hitch and as soon as it was over, the rain stopped.

Next we were driven an hour into the hills. They call them hills, but where I come from…they’re mountains. We set out on the first day’s trek with little directions or expecations except that we were goign to hike, swim in waterfalls and stay with hill tribe people. The first waterfall was about an hour into the hike. It was a pretty awesome jungle like setting. The heat was pretty intense and the hike was a lot more difficult that we expected. That wasn’t a bad thing, we were just surprised. After the swim we hiked a couple more hours. On the way our guide eddy showed us a plant whose stem you can break and blow bubbles with. He also showed us another plant that if you rub the leaves in your fingers, a red dye comes out. The tribes used those leaves to paint their faces. The last 30 minutes of the hike on Monday was the hardest. It was a steep climb andthe mid afternoon heat was making it almost impossible. It seemed like we were stopping every 5 minutes for water and rest. We had hiked miles as we came over the hill into the first village. The place was so picturesque. Like the places i’ve only seen on TV and in National Geographic. People wearing donated or hand made clothing, houses and fences made of bamboo, open trenches carrying water and sewage, small gardens and farm animals everywhere. We were shown where we were goign to have dinner in a couple hours and then set free. We wern’t introduced to the tribe people at alland it was a bit uncomfortable at first. It was immediately obvious they didn’t like our cameras, however it was also obvious that the trekking tours are somewhat a part of their life now. Some of the females immediately brought out jewelery and fabric they had for sale. I ended up buying some bright colored fabric for 200 Baht so i could take this ladies picture. It wasn’t a deal we struck in advance…i just asked her after i bought it. As the night went on, things became a bit more comfiortable.

I took my first shower in a third world environment. It was a pipe with an unknown water source just continuously pouring out of it…day and night. It was set about 4 feet from the pig pen…when was on stilts and set above a pool of water that collected the pigs crap and piss. I was sure that if i was going to get sick…this was the time. Even though the shower was cold, as far from private as you can get, and probably left me with more bacteria on me then when i started…it was still refreshing.

Dinner was a plentiful heaping of chicken curry and rice. I ate a couple servings. We had to pay for drinks, but at 20 Baht per, it wasn’t much of a bother. After dinner the group sat aroudn and played cards. I was somewhat disappointed there wasn’t more intereaction between us and the tribe. We just sort of arrived there, they tried to sell us stuff, then they cooked us food and cleaned up. They didn’t eat with us and pretty much kept to themselves.

While we playing cards, our guide eddy did a magic trick for everyone. SO obviously i had to do a few of mine. I think i got 2 out of 3 of them off ok. As the card games got tiring, people started going to bed. Eventually it was just me and Eddie and i showed him some more magic. Then one of the tribal people sat down…his name was Mai. The tribe people have their own language, but they also speak Thai…so Eddy was able to translate. Eddie ended up leaving to, so i Sat with Mai and we tried to comunicate. He new a small bit of english, probably from all the toursits coming through. He asked me about my family and their ages. I asked him as well. He was 42, had a son and daughter. His son showed up soon thereafter. I showed them some magic. I’m not sure if they know what cards are or not…they stared blankly at one of my tricks and then smiled. They liked the one where i made the card appear out of nowhere. They liked learning english, teaching me their language….

There is mush more to write about…and i will. But for now i’ve got to eat and hang in chiang mai with our new friends from the trek.

Chiang Mai – Day 1

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Last night we took the “sleeper train” from Bangkok to Chaing Mai. It’s about a 12 hour ride overnight and after they serve you dinner they turn your seats into bunk beds. Eric and i both ended up with top bunks. Between the swaying, the noise, the intermittent braking and accelerating, and the bright flourescent lights that were on all night…we did manage to get a 3 or 4 hours of sleep.

I’ve been on old trains before, but this one was really old. The toilet was a hole to the earth so your stuff just splatters all over the tracks. Eric couldn’t muster the courage to go #2, so he held it in all night. We got up early and went to the “dinner car”. Passing from one car to the next was a little intimidating since the two cars were moving so much. Stepping into the dinner car was like stepping back in time. All the windows in the car were completely down…big enough to fall right out of. The tables were old..like in a 50’s diner. The train crew wore unifroms that reminded me of military uniforms worn by the vietnamese officers during the war. One old Thai guy was smoking a cigarette…jsut watching the scenery. The kitchen was open into the car…and the cooking was loud and messy. It was awesome. We stayed there until we reached Chiang Mai and took about a million pictures. I don’t have any way to upload the images until i get back…so you’ll have to be patient.

Chiang Mai is pretty awesome. A lot slower paced than Bangkok, but still a major city. Eric and I agree that that much of Thailand is “2nd World” …if that even exists. Not quite 1st world, but not quite 3rd world either. The sewage smells isn’t as bad here…but it’s definitely not missing. It will be nice to be out in the woods tomorrow night. Today we basically walked and Tuk Tuk’d around the city and checked it out. We got to see cheap labor in action…the insides of a jewelery factory and an umbrella factory. There are countless street vendors selling everything from mini buddah statues to fried chicken.

I read in the LP guide that Chaing Mai started as a place where bordering counries imported things into China through Thailand. All the street markets and handicrafts made and sold here are the remnants of those days. We are heading out into the night bazar now to check out what’s for sale. Before i take off though…here’s a few things we’ve noticed during our first few days in Thailand.

  • People smile a lot more.
  • Personal space is much less (when driving or walking).
  • Hot water is a commodity and not found in most places, however…the cold water isnt cold..it’s luke warm. Probably because the earth is boiling hot from the sun everyday.
  • Nobody honks their horn unless to warn of danger. Even if they get cut off. Nobody gets mad…they all just drive crazy like it’s some kind of fun race.
  • 95% of Thai people are thin. I’m convinced it’s their diet. They don’t eat cheeese and milk like Americans do. Lots of rice, fruits, vegetables and lean meats.
  • Many wives allow their husbands to be with other woman, because they work 12 horus days 6 days per week. However, if the woman have had children, they aren’t allowed to be with other men.

Eric’s got a weblog now too. Check out his version, which probably contains much more detail, since I forget half of what happens by the end of the day.

Bangkok – Day 3

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The weather was a bit different yesterday then on wednesday and thursday. It was 94 degrees instead of 93. The humidity and the sun were the same though. For some reason i wore the same shirt two days in a row. By the time i took it off last night it had turned from white to brown, it had bird shit on it from sitting under a tree, it had blood on it and a hole in it from the cut i got while climbing a tree with nails in it (more about that later), and the neck was stretched from pulling on it i an attempt to cool myself out. It was pretty funny.

The locals really are friendly here…even in the city. Thursday when we were checking out a temple a random Thai guy came up to us and started chatting. His name was Pong. He was a tall slim man with arms like pencils..he had dark skin and a big smile. Pong sells insurance and drives a honda. He and his wife had the day off yesterday because it was Buddah Day. She was busy meditating when we met her husband. Pong’s wife is great, but she likes to follow him around…so sometimes he has to lie about what he’s up to. Pong’s got two kids…10 and 11. We know all this because Pong ended up being our friend for the day. After chatting with him at the temple and looking at our map with him, he gave us his number and told us to call him at 4pm. We did and he picked us up in the honda. He took us to the travel center. He said because he was Thai we would not get overcharged. We were skeptical, having been scammed so many times already…but it turned out Pong wanted nothing but some new friends. He is saving money to visit America one day with his family, so he was excited to make some friends from there.

With Pong’s help, we ended up booking some stuff for the rest of our trip. We’re taking a sleeper train to Chaing Mai tonight, and then on Monday we are heading into the mountains for a three day trek on foot, by bamboo raft and on elephant backs. We’re supposed to stay with the Hill Tribes…the ones you’ve probably seen in National Geographic where the ladies have the metal rings around their necks. After that we fly south the Phuket to check out the amazing beaches, do some diving and maybe some rock climbing. In Phuket we’re staying at a pretty high class hotel. Supposedly they don’t have hostels on the islands..but it’s still onbelievably cheap. We fly from Phuket to Bangkok the same night we fly home. All this stuff…flights, train, trek, 8 nights of hotels, and some meals…cost us $19,500 Baht each…which is about US$500! Cheap travel is so awesome.

So after booking our trip, Pong took us to a fancy restuarant in the nice part of town. We ate some great food, learned some great Thai and taught Pong how to say all the things you can’t find in an english dictionary. The heat and jet lag had taken a toll on us, so after dinner we went back to the hotel and got some sleep. That was Thursday night. My Bangkok – Day 2 post was made on Friday morning.

Friday was a great day. It started early. We couldn’t sleep late since the time here is flipped upside down, so we just showered and headed out. We got breakfast (chicken curry and soup) at a Thai bakery, the headed for the east par of the city. Until then we had only seen the old part of Bangkok…near the river where we were staying. That’s where most of the history and culture is. The east side of the city is more like Boston. Big buildings and clean streets. We hung out all afternoon in Siam Square. I don’t wanna say it…but it’s Bangkok’s version of Time’sSquare is the best way to describe it. Big tv’s on the outsides of buildings, music blaring in the streets, lights everywhere, and the whole scene is very fashion oriented. We saw a particularly large group of girls dressed to impress and when we saw them later we ended up being models doing a photo shoot. The photographer looked at me and i pointed to the girls then my camera. He nodded and smiled, so I got in there and took a few shots of the group of Thai girls dressed in trendy indie slash techno gear.

After Siam Square we went back to see our travel agent Nikon. He says “my name is Nikon, like the walk and carry camera, but you can call me Nicki!” We had to pay him for the rest of our flights and what not. This guy is funny. He’s a retired Thai boxer, probably mid 30’s. He showed us his shins by banging a glass ashtray on them. Now he wears a tie, makes toursits laugh and sells them trips into the more Thai parts of Thailand. Nicki sold us tickets to the Championship Muay Thai Boxking match taking place last night. We left Nicki’s place and headed to Lumphini Stadium. As the Tuk Tuk pulled up, we could feel the roar of the crowd, it was so loud. Nikci had placed Muay Thai stickers on our shirts. We thought they were souveniers, but evidently he marked us as special guests. As soon as we stepped onto the sidewalk, a girl in a Muay Thai Official jacket instantly wisked away into the stadium. We walked past the guards, through the crowds, onto the floor and were seated in the front row behind the judges in a packed stadium. Fight 2 of 7 had just begun. If you’ve never seen Muay Thai before, just imagine boxing with much smaller gloves, add elbows, knees and feet and allow one extra strike when your opponent falls to the ground. The fights were fierce as was the crowd. With each strike, the crowd chants a quick and loud grunt for whoever they’re rooting for. It added to the intensity. In the 4th fight one guy got hit so hard he fell like a brick. He tried to stand up but his legs wouldn’t work. He fell again. The fight was over and out came the stretcher. Luckily he lived and took the wheel chair out of the stadium instead. Seeing that bare shin strikes to the head are allowed…they losers don’t always live.

The stadium was not air conditioned, so the heat and the jet lag were taking their toll again. I was falling asleep on the ride home every 10 seconds. Eric had to keep yelling at me to wake up, so I wouldn’t fall out of the Tuk Tuk.

Last night was the first night we got a full night’s sleep. Today we did some shopping before leaving the west side of Bangkok for good. We dropped off our bags at Nicki’s office and he had his driver bring us to a great place to get lunch. Both Eric and I just had our best Thai meal yet. His was chicken and rice, mine was chicken pad thai. After eating, the owner of the restuarant brought us next door to his treny and hip internet cafe slash hair salon. That’s where we are now. Another good biz idea I haven’t seen in the US yet.

It’s about 3;30 here now and we’re going to head for Siam Square again now. Our train leaves at 7:30 tonight. If I don’t post tomorrow, then you won’t hear from us until the middle or end of next week, since we’ll be out on the trek.

Until then… keep it real America.

Bangkok – Day 2

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Yesterday we saw about 342 of the 8 million temples in Bangkok. The death rides on the TukTuk’s aren’t even scary anymore, however i’ve lost track of how many times scams have been attempted on us. First off we paid 650 Baht for a taxi from the airport and last night we fuond out it should of cost about 100 Baht. The TukTuk drivers try overcharging all the time…but we’ve toughened up. I jumped out the window of one after we were already in…and the guy finally lowered his price so i would get back in. It’s freaking annoying how much the tourists get harrased here. I read about it, but thought…ehh….the people have to make a living. It’s unreal though. The personal space thing and culture is so different. The drivers get right up in your face and saying NO THANK YOU even in thai, won’t get them to leave. These dudes get off their TukTuk, come talk to us and follow us, then run back to the TukTuk, drive ahead of where we’re walking, park, get offf and come talk to us again. At first we were giving in, but we quickly caught on that this is why they are so persistant. It works. It’s only been 3 days but we’ve become pretty street smart already. Oh and these drivers are also in some organized crome ring with jewelery and fashion store owners. They get you on the TukTuk and tell you they’ll take you to ALL the Temples for 40 Baht ($1), which they will…but not without stopping at the jewelery shop and suit store. The store pays for the Tuk Tuk drivers gas and in return they get a flow of confused customers to push into buying 3 Thai silk neck ties for 900 Baht, when they don’t even wear ties that often. Shit!
Oh yeah…the temples are amazing. Yesterday was a holiday here. Buddah Day. So there were lots of things going on at all the temples. People hanging out in front of the Buddah’s letting birds free, dipping flowers in water and then dripping it on their heads, lighting candles and bowing to the statues. Basically a bunch of your run-of-the-mill, wierd, religous ritualism and symbolism. I’m interested in the teachings of Buddhism though. We might take a meditation course at a temple on Saturday.
Oh there is more to tell about yesterday…but we’ve gotta get going!

Bangkok

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It’s freakin hot here. 94 degrees, the sun is blazing and and the air is massively heavy. This is a nice medium for which Bangkok’s sweet sewage smell can use to permeate the air.
On the up side…this place is insane. People drive their cars, motorcycles and Tuk-Tuk’s (motorcycle with a backseat) so recklesly…but somehow i haven’t seen a crash yet. The 40 Baht ride around the city last night was the highlight so far. Coco, our driver , tried to get us into a ping pong show….but we wern’t gonna pay 800 Baht to see that!
The flight was long…i was ready for it to be over about 8 hours into the 17.5 hours in the air. Luckily we had person screens so i watched a couple movies and played super mario brothers. I can’t believe I remembered where all the hidden mushroms were…it’s been like 15 years!
The Thai language is tough…but we’re trying. Thai’s seem to respond well when we make an effort.
Oh the hotel we got last night was 560 Baht. That’s about US$7 each! We have our own room, a private bath and air conditioning. We’re staying there again tonight. It’s call Nana Inn and it’s on this crazy street with bars and markets that are open until 1am. It’s a HUGE backpackers spot. As soon as we walk out the building we’re bombarded with people trying to sell us stuff…young Thai guy’s trying to take us away on their Tuk-Tuk’s to see the “ladies make love show” and the Thai girls talking to us and smilng at us. One girl even grabbed my arm while i was walking down the street! Blam!
We got up at 5am this morning. Still on East Coast time. Ok…we’re off to finish out walking tour of the old city….see some temples. Tonight is the Thai Boxing match.

Thailand

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On Tuesday morning Eric and I are leaving for Thailand. I will be making posts as often as possible, which could end up being daily or never…depending on where we end up. We have no plans and we’re packing light. One pair of shorts, some t-shirts, hiking gear, meds, our camera’s and our iPod’s.

It’s the rainy season in Thailand. Check out Bangkok’s 10-Day Forecast. However the word is that the rain is on and off and a refresher from the blazing heat.

The time in Thailand is 12 hours ahead of Eastern US time, but they don’t use daylight savings time, so right now they are 11 hours ahead. If the sun blows up, I’ll know before you.

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