Friday, May 21, 2010

Let's start unpacking this trip now

while it's still fresh in my mind. Also I have an evening with nothing to do, and really, typing up some things about this trip sounds like a fun thing.

(I'm really quite rubbish at having fun. I always feel like there's someone over my shoulder saying "you're not having enough fun!" or "you're not having the right kind of fun!" So that's kind of annoying. But the thing is, the voice is usually right. Often it gets me to do things that I wouldn't otherwise have done, and I'm usually glad when I do things. How to benefit from this go-get-em voice while not going crazy? Good question.)

Enough about me! Some thoughts about Thailand:

- Thailand at first seems like India. It's hot and there are elephants. Everything is cheap. A lot of people are poor. But Thailand is at least kind of reasonable. You shouldn't drink the water from the tap, but you can trust a glass of water in a restaurant. You should haggle a little, but most people aren't trying to rip you off hardcore. Buses and trucks are overfull, but like "dog carrying two bags" full, not like "hamster carrying a credenza" overfull. And yeah, it's not a super rich country, but there's not so much suffering all over the place.

- That said, the government is a mess right now. I guess there's an uneasy peace where the main protesting in Bangkok has stopped. But still, the internet cafe where I'm typing this (in Chiang Mai) will close in 1/2 hour (2 1/2 hours early) because there's a curfew in effect. Whoa! From what I understand, the country has a case of urban-vs-rural, where Bangkok has the money and power and everyone else is not too pleased. Plus they want democracy or something, and they see that "their man" Thaksin Shinawatra got ousted from power a few years ago and they want him back. I guess? But also, Thaksin is super corrupt. Good idealism! Bad particular choice of hero.
But what do I know, I'm just a kid. Wikipedia knows more, as it always does, although the neutrality of this article is disputed.

- Geez oh man, don't come to Thailand in May! What are you thinking?! It's about a trillion degrees. Note that "35" means "95", and "40" means "104". Plus it's humid.

- Memo to my future self, if I am ninety years old or living in a city where biking is infeasible: get a Vespa! Oh yeah, Mom and Dad stop reading now. I rented a little scooter over the last couple of days and had a really splendid time zipping along the hills and valleys of northern Thailand. You get a lot of the benefits of a bike (wind in your face, easy to park, fun to ride) and some partial benefits of a bike (doesn't use a ton of gas, is relatively cheap) and a couple other ones (you can go long distances, even if it's suffocatingly hot and humid out; you can carry a passenger). What a good deal! Mom and Dad you can start reading again now. It was totally safe, the roads here are great and pretty empty, the bike went like 35mph, I had a super helmet, and did I mention how totally safe I am?
(plus how it was totally the greatest for serious?)

- Prices of things, in case you're considering a trip:
a guest house room with A/C in Chiang Mai: $12
overnight sleeper train with A/C: $28
daytime train for a few hours, 3rd class: like a dollar
meal at a night markety stall which is guaranteed delicious: also like a dollar
meal at a restaurant: $2-3
coffee (this is getting popular, especially up north. that is cool.): $1-2
the best fruit ever, in a bag: under $1
1hr massage: maybe $6
cross-town taxi in Bangkok: $5
you get the idea, things are super cheap. Which does change your life: certain things become non-decisions. I didn't have to decide whether I really wanted to rent a bicycle for a day, because it cost $1.50. I used it for a couple hours and returned it. This sort of non-decision is nice.

Okay, so about that curfew. Shop's closing up. More juicy details later.

2 comments:

Jim B said...

Hi Dan

Fine report, there. I am sure you are having a blast. A figurative blast, just to clarify.

In case I miss it, or you are in transit, Happy Birthday!

I will be in Singapore and Kuching the last two weeks in June. Would have been awesome to meet you along the way.

Best wishes,
Uncle Jim

Dan Tasse said...

Ooh, exciting! (looks up Kuching)

Thanks. Yeah, it was a neat trip to a cool part of the world. (y'know, that southeast asia part.) Hope yours is too!