Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's so hot, hot.

Day 1 continued/Day 2

On my first day in Bangkok I decided to check out the tourist information desk to see what my best options were. Looking through the laminated pages of various tourist sites I finally determined my choice. I paid around 1500 baht for a full day tour which included: a trip to the war bridge, coconut sugar making farm, floating market, and the tiger temple. Can you take a guess as to which one I was the most interested in? Roar.

While I was at the desk I managed to meet a guy around my age from Scotland who had been traveling around for about 7 months and was on the last part of his adventure. He decided to join the tiger temple tour as well. A trip to the tiger temple meant another trip to Khaosan Road. Bright colors shouldn't be worn when visiting the tiger temple and the majority of my clothing were of that nature. A trip to the tiger temple also meant that there wasn't enough time to see the Grand Palace or the most famous temple in Bangkok. I'll save that for the next trip.

I rise bright and early to get ready for the trip and find my new scottish "friend" and his girlfriend waiting outside of the hotel (Hotel de Moc) along with another couple. Their names are Rachel and Michael, both of whom are friendly and I enjoy being around them. The shuttle bus continues to pick up all of it's eager tourists until it is full. Then we head out of Bangkok to our first destination, the coconut sugar making farm. This was a very quick stop but I managed to get a taste of the coconut sugar and a few pictures. I didn't care for the sugar that much, but then again, I don't care for coconuts.

Our next stop is the floating market. Six people (this including the Thai woman rowing) managed to get in the tiny boat. There were so many things for your eyes to see and your ears to hear. Early on the ride I purchased some fresh mango that tasted sweet and warm. Rachel and Michael were the first to purchase something from one of the vendors and it was fun just watch them haggle with the tannned Thai woman. Next, it was my turn...which was just as fun. As I put the item back on the wooden plank floor and said, "No. Let's move on." She (of course) gave in and accepted my price. The Korean couple in front of me and the "Scots" helped me out as well.

At times the boats would get in a "traffic-jam" causing all of the boats to wiggle and shake. It was fun to watch the faces of other tourists in their quick moments of panic to a relieved laughter.

Eventually, the group gathers together at the meeting point to head torward the next destination (the highlight of the trip). The drive was long and hard. My thirst, exhaustion, and hunger were growing at a rapid pace. After an unknown amount of time we arrived at an eating area where most of the tourist companies bring their customers. I quickly refreshed myself, but my hunger had left me. I ate the Thai veggies, chicken, and rice just because of necessity. The smell of the spices and the food just caused my stomach to revolt and didnt' want to have much to do with it. I thought that was strange. My desire for a tasty and juicy hamburger is growing by now.

The group arrives at the tiger temple and we all purchase our tickets. Walking onto the site it looks barren. There are a few trees, rocks, and pigs scattered about freely. I continue walking and turn into the "tiger's den" where I see a big area of large pretty rocks and a waterfall in the background. There I stand in line, waiting for my turn to pet and take a picutre with the large and powerful animals, and hear the staff advertising how you can spend four hours with the tigers cleaning, feeding, and playing with them the next morning. Unfortunately, this is something that I can not partake in because of the poor planning on my part. I had to leave the next day to Koh Samui.

It is finally my turn and the male guide grabs my hand then with his other hand brings a finger to his lips, as to motion to be quiet. I take my picture with the first tiger and can't help but smile in and out. Wow! The fur isn't soft like a calico or a long haired dog. Rather it is more rough, like a bulldog or a short haired canine. When I arrive at the second tiger I realize that the tigers are chained (this is a blonde moment for me). Seeing the chains take away the slight "thrill" of thinking they could roam freely and do as they please. By the time I am finished, I have taken photographs with all of the tigers and am smitten as a...kitten. The woman taking the pictures took plenty and was very pleased with the experience.

The fellow behind me, who was part of the same tour I was on, was also very thrilled. He was also an independent traveller who was on the last part of his year long adventure through the Southeast part of the globe. (HOW DO THESE PEOPLE MANAGE TO FIND THE TIME AND MONEY TO TRAVEL SO LONG!) Peter (who is from Holland) and I walked on to the baby tigers where we could play some more. When it was my turn with the baby tiger, without thinking, I started to pet it's head. Oops, the tiger turned to play with my hands and the staff quickly told me to not touch that area. I could lose a finger or hand. :)

Until next time. Peace.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cheap, cheap! You buy?

Night 1/Day 1

My flight left Seoul a little later than planned but I arrived safely in Bangkok around 10:45 p.m. I get picked up in the shuttle bus to the airport and find myself in a van full of people speaking foreign languages. I have not met a single American on this trip yet. I love the diversity of people and the different accents I can hear daily.

Sitting beside me on the airplane to Bangkok were some young Korean guys (Andrew and Jimmy) who were headed to London. They were amusing and fun. By the time I got to the hotel I was very tired. I relaxed in the big tub filled with bubbles and read for a bit. Overall, I was impressed by the general decor of the Novotel Hotel. Although the room was rather plain for the price paid. The breakfast buffet was enjoyable but a little too fancy for my taste. I like things nice and simple.

Throughout the trip I have had to control myself from saying "Thank You" in Korean. Strange that I find myself wanting to say certain things in another language than my native one. I suppose it is out of habit.

My cab driver, Somsak, took me to the Khaosan Road area to check-in at my second place of lodging. The Hotel de Moc. He was friendly and wanted me to call him if I needed to go anywhere. I did not.

My first impression of the hotel was not a very good one...but for a mid-budget hotel I can't complain. It had a tuk-tuk that took people to Khaosan Road and back, free of charge, which I used a few times. Khaosan Road was fine. There was plenty of shopping to do. There were even strange phallic and sexual position statues for sale. I laughed out loud a number of times.

Walking along the road I heard a remake of a country song by Kenny Chesney. This too I found amusing. The heat didn't immediately hit me, but when it did it didn't go away. There was a woman wearing a very heavy looking white sweater with a hoodie while I was waiting to exchange some money. She must have been taking some kind of medicine that made her body temperature low. It was WAY too hot for a sweater.

My first impression of Bangkok: run down and dirty. Although I did have a fine time. I didn't like the tuk-tuk guys hollering at me though. One guy, who was rather large and balding, even started to follow me and put his hand on my shoulder. I continued to ignore him and walked faster in to a local shop. The smells: sweat, spices, and sweetness in the air. Nothing too horrible that I couldn't stomach. Which reminds me, I haven't been able to get rid of this nausea. The entire trip I have had it. I hesitate everytime I eat afraid I might not be able to keep it down.

Enough for today. More next time: tigers, snakes, etc.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What happened to the spice?

For me, life has slowed down just a little. There isn't much to update on. Perhaps I should get out of this routine that I am in again.

Here's a typical weekday for me: I wake up late, go to work, go to the gym to work out for a few hours and shake off all of the day's stresses, eat dinner from the local kimbap place, read or play on the internet, and go to bed late. Insert the occasional dinner with friends or a date. The banal process repeats...but at least I'm in a different country experiencing a new culture. Right?

I've planned out all of my accommodation in Thailand. I'm very excited and can't wait to be in Bangkok in seven days! This trip should provide the excitement, adventure, and cure to my boredom that I have been looking for.

It's vacation time which means report card time. This coming Thursday is the last day of spring semester at E*spirit (it's a little sad to see the little kiddies go) and for fun, the students get to participate in an auction that sells little toys and snacks (pictures and info to come later). Friday is a full day of preparation and planning for the summer session during August, followed by a company dinner.

My lunch is ready (Ramen) so until next time, peace.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Running Away

Well it's official.
I bought my ticket. So in a few weeks it's goodbye Korea, hello Thailand. I'm doing the trip solo, but it should interesting and exciting.

I definitely need this break.

Oh and Happy Independence Day.