Sunday, March 29, 2009

Something New

Breaking Rank. A member of the Thai Army breaks rank to look at the big white guy with a big camera.
So here is some stuff that I have been working on while I have been kicking it in Thailand... I would really like to know what everyone thinks. Am I wasting my time or shall I continue on this venture?

My travel writing have taken on a disjointed sort as of late. Such is the way of the unorganized journalist. Flying into Bangkok after a stay in Hong Kong, I was at the airport with nary a clue about where to stay or how to get there. Fortuitous as it was, Danielle has mentioned of a road where here and Brian had stayed on their own travels some years back. Rembuttri Road.

Armed with this knowledge, I headed for a bank machine and the taxi queue. Soon I was on my way, bags in tow, about to arrive in what would seem like the most vile and depraved of street parties that this quiet and reserved traveler has ever witnessed.

After departing the safety and comfort of my taxi, I was deposited on the travelers mecca of Khao San Road, starting period for many a tourists downward spiral. Determined to avoid a fate similar to Dante's, I made a detour to what was imparted upon me to the "off the beaten path". I soon found lodging at a small and quaint bed and breakfast. After paying fees for two nights keep and squaring away two weeks of laundry with the concierge, it was time to set about the town to survey the city which attracts souls eager to explore the darker side of human psyche.

The people who inhabit the streets of Rembuttri and Khao San Road are as varied as the insects of the Amazon. You will find every race, every social class and every age of traveller. I settled into a lounge chair at an eatery not far from my abode and instantly noticed the most animated of fellows. He, by looks was a true Rastafarian.

With a tall and slender build, he towered above the locals by a good 12 to 18 inches. His hair, the darkest earthly shade of a farmers most prized top-soil, was thick of rasta dreadlocks, thick as snakes, ending at the nape of his clay colored neck. Dressed in loose fitting beach-wear, he was adorned in the most ironic looking Hawaiian shirt when worn by most would come off looking comical, yet on this man of the tropics, was the only shirt one could imagine on him.

The staple of most in these climates, he wore standard issue khaki shorts, cut at the knee, fastened at the waist by the simplest of canvas utility belts. Adorning his feet were simple yet functional flip-flops.

The scene was a mild confrontation. The Rastafarian was at lengths debating his eviction of a spot at the same establishment where I currently awaited a cold liquid relief from the humidity that enveloped the city like a wet, warm blanket. The young waiter, of an age not yet reaching twenty, was by looks growing both in frustration and despair. In a final volley, he called upon the assistance of three large men, who up to now had been busying within the shop, conducting renovations. Sensing a mounting defeat, the rosta beat a none-to-hasty retreat, making a last stand across the street, leaning against a taxi-cab. His consolation, a sole beer that did not leave his hand for the remainder of my time observing him.

For the next hour as I sat in the shade of a potted tree, drinking but the coldest of beers, I watched the rasta-man. Though he was alone, he carried on a most animated dialog with no less that three phantoms, all the while ranting and shouting curiosities not only to his invisible entourage, but at any hapless soul who thought it wise to partake his company. And so it went for the duration. Two beers and sixty minutes past hence, all the while, the rasta-man professed.

I must confess that the combination of my recent flights, libations and the ghastly weather was too much to endure. I promptly paid my tab and retired to my accommodations, where upon laying my head, the sweet blackness of slumber was quick to invade my body. For the next two hours it was so. I slept a sleep of the likes reserved for the deceased.

Upon arousing at the seventh hour past the mid-day sun, I was greeted to the sounds of thousands of revelers, sucking in both the sounds and smells that this new society had to offer the intrepid travelers. Realizing that it had been some time since I had dined, and reminded by the none-to-faint pangs of hunger, I decided that an exploratory mission was in order to experience the cuisine that this new world would afford me. It didn't take long for an opportunity of nourishment to present itself. Not but two doors away, a patio offered both cheap beer and what smelled like treasures untold. It was also upon this place where I met the Hungarian.

The rest is to be continued as I find time. Probably on my train to Laos tomorrow...

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Clay and Amie are gone, alone I travel on.

The tops of houses in Yangshuo China. Taken from Monkey Janes Hostel.
A traditional calligrapher in one of Hong Kong's many night markets.
Statues of Terracotta warriors in Xian.
Monkey Jane gets her fortune told.
Hong Kong Skyline taken from Victoria Peak.
Ducks getting ready for dinner in a back alley Peking Duck restaurant.
Monkey Jane's Grandpa gambling in the park.
Just a plate of food that rocked my taste buds.
Clay wanted cake, Clay got cake.

I won't say too much other than my trip companions are now on their way back to Canada and my trip has officially gone solo now.

We had some killer times on the way. We ate many different foods, we climbed the Great Wall, we played in caves filled with mud, we swam in places that we probably shouldn't have, we drank lots of beer, we biked on a city wall.

We took all forms of transport from Trains, planes to sleeper buses (as much as Clay will vouch for them, they suck ass for 6'3" people) We met cool people who helped us out big time (Sleepy Inn, Monkey Jane)

From here on in I go into unknown territory. China was a breeze, I've spent enough time here, Hong Kong I've been to before. Now comes uncharted territory for me... Wish me luck, and check out The StarPhoenix for my pictures.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Monkey Jane, Local Food and Fun

Clay, Amie and I are currently sitting on a roof-top bar at our hostel, Monkey Jane's in Yangshuo. We had Beijing Duck in Beijing, spent some killer time at Sleepy Inn where the girls were fantastic. They booked tickets for us, were waiting for me as I flew in from Hong Kong and made sure that everything went smooth.One of them shot film with a range finder camera so I gave her the rest of my film that would have gotten pooched when flying.

After that we hit up the night train to Xi'an and rocked out at the Bell Tower hostel. Good times there. The people were great there as well. Biked around the wall.

Next up was a flight to Guilin. I hate this town. Not going to get into it.

Then a bus to Yangshuo. Monkey Janes. Great place. Jane, the owner, took us out for noodles after a night of drinking. The other girls have bent over backwards to help us as well. One walked with us to get a bus and made sure we went to the right place. We went Mud Caving. Swimming in the sketchiest pool, saw crazy vistas and have had a majestic time.

After the Hong Kong incident, the trip is starting to come together...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Well my trip has begun. It has also begun on a strange note. My visa was expired. What does that mean? Well after one day with Clay and Amy, I had to send them off to Beijing yesterday while I made an emergency Visa run to Hong Kong via Shenzhen China. If all goes well, I'll get my visa tomorrow by 2 pm and be on a plane by 4 or 5 pm to meet them in Beijing by 10. With luck, it won't take that long even. This has been a bit of a nightmare of a start but at least things really can only get better.

On a plus side, I am in my favorite city in the world. Hong Kong just has a vibe about it that I love. No other city has had the same feeling to it. Shanghai comes close sometimes, but it just isn't Hong Kong. This place screams trend setting city.

Also, The Star Phoenix will be running updates of my trip on their website. Look for it under the blog section on the site. I'll post a link once I find out what it is.

Addition...I went to buy a 50mm lens to replace my long-defunct one and while testing it at the store, it became stuck on my camera. The shop owner was truly sorry, but since it was unclear whether it was the lens or the camera he was unwilling to do anything more than give it to me for cost. He said that he could send it to Canon service in Hong Kong, but as I am leaving for Beijing I said that I would take care of it myself. I get back to my hotel and realize that Canon service is in the building next to my hotel. The plan, drop it off in the morning and pick it up in two weeks when I am back.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Last Days

Christopher and Emily and I went out for Korean food. That stuff is really good!

All of those lights in the sky are lanterns. There were thousands of them.

Street vendor near the train overpass during Lantern festival.

This was People Square in Linping during the Lantern Festival.
So my final days in Linping are fast approaching. I've been wrapping up loose ends, cleaning and deciding where to go and what to do. I've said most of my goodbyes, gotten rid of a bunch of stuff and transferred my cash to my Canadian account. In a week, I'll be hanging out with Clay and Amy in Hangzhou. No responsibilities. Just friends and good times ahead.

The country list looks like this...

China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, India, Jordan, Israel, England and Canada.

Labels: , , , , ,