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Thailand

Loha Prasat in Bangkok

Phuket

July 16, 2012
Beaches & Marketing

After a long flight, like 24 hours long I made it into Bangkok yesterday and today got on a plane to Phuket. A person I ran into on the plane said Thailand is the United States of Southeast Asia and I can't argue after seeing the food options in Bangkok's domestic terminal: Burger King, McDonald's, Dunkin' Doughnuts, a coffee shop, pizza shop, and a bar... I see no similarities to the United States.

After arriving to the airport on the massive island I made my way to Kamala Beach. The island isn't as impressive as it's marketed to be, but I learned here that Phuket is all about marketing as the island heavily pushes their island to tourists although the most beautiful islands are elsewhere, fortunately some of which are just off Phuket's coast.

After a long beach walk and some Pad Thai on the beach I booked a trip to Phi Phi Island for tomorrow.

July 17, 2012
Phi Phi Island

Apparently I bought a ticket on the world's seemingly most unorganized tour. They were selling bread and swimming fins along with showing pictures of what sea urchin stings look like. They then put wristbands on everyone and placed us on boats as our tour began after an hour of sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing.

Our boat, along with about two dozen others made it to Phi Phi Ley's beach to enjoy the scenery. The beach and water are beautiful as the sun lit the water up so it became quite easy to see the water's floor.

Our trip continued on around the Phi Phi islands, including one snorkeling stop, which coincided with the sun breaking out from the clouds. At lunch I ate with a Danish couple who told me that everyone was charged different amounts for this trip; I paid 1400 Baht, but others paid as much as 3500 Baht! Someone out there is a getting a great commission.

After the lunch the weather worsened and our boat fought through a rain storm and waves that swelled as high as 9-10 feet. During this stretch a British man and I gave everyone else on the boat odds to see who would throw up. Oddly the man we pegged at 20:1 was the first to go, but others also got sick and one woman spent most of the trip just yelling "Phuket," an attempt to get us to skip our last stop and just head back to our port. No luck though; fortunately the weather calmed down for the last stretch of our trip.

July 18, 2012
Leaving Phuket

I shared a ride with an Austrian to the airport this morning, which was fortunate, since I just overheard him talking about his trip to the airport and offered to share the taxi. What was somewhat disturbing though was that the woman who runs my hotel was trying to convince me to leave for the airport only an hour and fifteen minutes prior to my departure, but the airport is 45 minutes away! I found out from the timing that she was trying to get her friend to drive me and he wouldn't have returned from the airport until that time. This is a common scam in Thailand and elsewhere as she gets a kick back from her friend. What is sad is that she was willing to let me miss my flight to get a few dollars as the check-in for flights closes 45 minutes prior to departure and I wouldn't have made my flight had I listened to her. It's sad when your hotel is trying to take advantage of you.

Bangkok

July 18, 2012
Ping Pong with the Locals

I had half a day in Bangkok, arriving from Phuket this morning and flying out to Yangon, Myanmar tomorrow morning. In complete contrast to my hotel in Phuket, my hotel in Bangkok told me about scams and transportation, how to avoid or find each and soon I was on a boat running along a canal to downtown Bangkok.

My trip began early as I got off at the wrong boat station. Despite this, I got to see a bit of the city I otherwise would not have. It also encouraged me to aimlessly wonder around, just following every sign I found in English directing me to a monastery or temple. This led me to Golden Mountain then to a temple called Wat Ratchabophit. Here I found numerous school children playing ping pong and after asking a couple to take their picture, they invited me to play ping pong with them. Although they had a lot of spin, none had any true speed and soon I was taking one out after another... despite the huge age gap, which I think favors the 12 year-olds. Soon their fathers were picking up the kids though and they began playing me. Although I held my own and won about half the games, other games were not as successful.

After making it back the hotel for the evening I stopped at a few street stands to pick up dinner. I got some grilled chicken, pineapple, and a dish of rice with chicken and egg. None were spicy and together they made for a pretty good meal... and one that didn't make me sick!

Tomorrow I'm off to Myanmar and tonight there is no one in the hotel but me so I should have plenty of peace and quiet to make my early flight.

Continue the above trip to: Myanmar

July 26, 2012
Back to Bangkok

I made it back from Cambodia today, a trip that took nearly the entire day. There is little to write other than that it is much easier to go from Cambodia to Thailand than the other way around and there are a lot of "ladyboys" in Thailand. Ladyboys are men dressed as girls, a phenomenon that is fairly well accepted in Thailand.

July 27, 2012
Grand Palace, Wat Pho, & Wat Arun

After making it into Bangkok from Cambodia yesterday through the rain I settled into my hotel early and today am off to see all the city's major sights. This trip again started on the boat to the city as it seems to be the cheapest and perhaps the quickest path downtown.

I began at the Grand Palace, which was oddly in the opposite direction all the tuk-tuk (or auto-rickshaw) drivers told me it was; they were kind enough to offer me a ride to the Grand Palace though, offers I turned down. The Grand Palace was already swamped, despite the fact that I arrived only 10 minutes after it opened. There were dozens of tour buses dropping off group after group. I rushed in and soon was ahead of the tour groups. My rush also helped as it was sunny when I arrived, but by the time I left a couple hours later it was pouring. Despite this, the palace is incredibly impressive.

My next stop was Wat Pho, famed for the huge reclining Buddha. Despite this very impressive statue, the rest of the complex was essentially empty. Despite the crowds in the building with the Buddha, I still took my time and got coins to place in each of the bowls that stand along the building's one wall.

After Wat Pho I headed across the river to get the views from Wat Arun then headed to Siam, the modern downtown district. After a long day I headed back to my hotel to grab dinner and got ready for my early flight tomorrow.

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