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balance (2): goin' south

Thursday, October 14, 2004

goin' south

three days in bangkok, though very nice, is long enough for me. i woke up slightly hungover from a beer-soaked rendevous with a nice guy from chile, who had taken me dancing the night before. i reluctantly watched the presidential debates on tv from bed- despite being on vacation- which happened to be boring and unenlightening. still leaning towards kerry, but since i can’t vote i suppose i really don’t care. i went out into banglamphu and ate my usual kway tio at the noodle stand, said hi to my temple puppy, and perused the bookshops. decided finally it was time to take action and bought a bus ticket to the south.



the bus trip was supposed to be 14 hours (overnight in reclining seats), however once again there were many delays and my trip to ko phi phi ended up being a full 24 hours long. though it was made up mostly of exhausting waiting at waystations, it was helped slightly by the fact that i was seated next to a very interesting old hippie man from switzerland. he was sprightly and happy, and i thought he couldn’t be more than 40, though he told me he was actually 60. unable to handle working in an office any longer, he had left his life 6 years ago and never looked back. he spends his time wandering amongst the thai islands, northern india, and an occasional side trip to one of the neighboring countries. he does this on about 500 baht ($12) a day, sleeping mostly in hammocks with mosquito nets and eating local food. he was so positive about life and had such a great energy that i was halfway decided to ditch everything and go wandering in a similar fashion—but i wouldn’t get very far without my laptop, my iPod, my camera.... i suppose i am more materialistic than i think.
he (never did get his name) did tell me that last year he had met a thai girl in bangkok, a professed student, who invited him with her to see a jazz show at the saxophone club and proceeded to drug his drink when he went to the toilet. he woke up 3 ½ days later, on the floor of his hotel room, stripped of everything he had (moneywise). somehow she had even coaxed his pin number out of him in his daze and had gone 4 days in a row to withdraw the maximum amount. he dragged himself to a doctor who told him he was lucky he wasn’t dead, and he had to fly home on an emergency flight to switzerland and get his affairs back in order. he sweat chemicals and stank of ammonia for 3 weeks. i suppose that’s a lesson to anyone who thinks thai people are all sweet and non-manipulative.



krabi province out the bus window


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