jump to navigation

China, Thailand, Malaysia: July 13th – August 19th

Note: our/we/us generally refers to Shahin and me unless otherwise specified. We were together at almost all times until his departure.

So it begins – My mouth gets me in trouble

After wading through lines at LAX and taking off my shoes, I see a small sign on a security podium with a small sign on it that I think would make a good picture. Pulling my camera out, I take 2 pictures and as I turn to move on, I’m stopped by two security guards. One says something to the effect of, “What did you just do? No pictures.” I say, “Ok but there’s nothing here that says no cameras.” Well, that’s what I start to say. As soon as I don’t comply fully they raise their arms and yell SUPERVISOR. A guy comes out and I explain that I am a photographer and saw something that worked well with the background. He ok’s me and as I go, a guard says, “No pictures.” Again I insist that that would be no problem if there was a sign or something. Why shouldn’t I if there’s nothing telling me not too? “I’m telling you”, she said. “Ok ok”, I say, not wanting to press my luck any further by explaining their insanity to them.

Halfway through the flight, my 2nd cup of hot tea is spilled, by me, directly into my lap. Despite what feels like a searing spear being shoved into my lower belly, I don’t make any noise. I raise my arm and try to get the attention of a steward. My neighbors can tell something is wrong but can’t tell what exactly. As it becomes evident I’m in pain despite my silence, the stewards get me some ice and some brown gooey Chinese burn medicine. I use the ice to cease the sea of nuclear fire that is my lap. I take my shirt off and assess the damage: 1st and a half degree burns on my stomach; painful, not worth crying about. I rub brown medicine on it, expecting it to do nothing but hoping otherwise (In fact the next day the burn is gone. Yay magic Chinese medicine).

“A 12 hour flight later, our First day in China” or “Shanghaied in Beijing”

China: The world’s largest Communist nation. While I appreciated the general atheism of the nation, I didn’t enjoy the information censorship and propaganda warfare that went on. The internet was difficult to use there, as they had cut off a lot of sites. China uses the RMB or Yuen as currency; approx 8 Renminbi/Yuen to the dollar.

July 14, Beijing: a sprawling traffic ridden city. Hot under a blanket of smog. Development is seen in the hundreds of cranes that are perched across the city. Construction must be finished by the end of 2006 by law in preparation for the Olympics. Despite the pollution, Beijing houses some amazing beauty in the form of Palaces, temples and squares. But beware! In these same places lurk ugly people: conwomen, bag snatchers and other thieves.

I learned in Thailand not to take non-metered cabs, especially out of the airport, but Shah had this guy already so we took had him take us to a hostel recommended by the Lonely Planet.

Let me take a minute to talk about the Lonely Planet (LP). The LP was used by 99% of the travelers we saw. The only time I saw any other guide used was once in Malaysia. Because Everyone uses the LP, its word is law, and it has A LOT of power. It also gives the businesses listed inside a ton of business.

So the driver took us to what looked like an ancient football stadium and told us this was our hostel (cue confusion on our faces). After driving around the damn thing we find the hostel to be out of business. The LP needs to be updated more frequently. The 2nd hostel we came to was fine. The driver charged us 400 Yuen then tried to finagle another 50 or so from us. But feeling stupid for not having learned my metered taxi lesson, I refused him… successfully.

The hostel was decent. We stayed in a dorm room with about 6 people max. Some room mates were good, some were less than pleasant. Some were Chinese visiting Beijing to get their passports for America or Italy. Others were westerners traveling. There was one particular instance during our stay in Beijing, I don’t know which night, when I was woken up at 3am by the sound of click click click clicking. Looking around I see one of our mates text messaging at 3 @#$%ing am. I say, loud enough to wake Shahin up, “Whoever is text messaging needs to stop.” Now I’m the jerk because I woke Shah up. Regardless, the guy Doesn’t stop until I ask for him to stop again, later…. Moving on.

In search of lunch, we happened upon a small shau lom bau shop. My small amount of mandarin came into play and caused the usual laughter amongst the people. Idk if it’s my poor accent or that I know some mandarin, but I almost always get some laughter from natives. I knew shau lom bau from Taiwan, and Shahin also loved the stuff. Shau lom bau is a small steamed bun with, generally, pork and vegetables inside. Damn good, anyway…

We hit the forbidden palace first. It was ok but sadly a lot of it, including the main building, was under construction in expectation of a deluge of Olympic tourism. This was something we continued to experience through Beijing. It would be interesting to be in Beijing for the ‘08 Olympics. Anyway, the palace went on forever. It was huge and thus Shah dubbed it the God Forbidden palace. (Remember, if the words are underlined you can CLICK ON THEM!)

After the hours long walk, we saw Tiananmen Square. I had short socks on, and all the walking had left me with blistered, bloody ankles. Sitting for a bit we were approached by a pretty Chinese women. We talked and flirted, and after a few minutes she had completely played me; I trusted her (like an idiot). Honestly I didn’t expect con-people in China. I don’t know WHY I didn’t expect it, but that was the case. Saying she was a tourist visiting Beijing from some other city, she walked with us. We talked for an hour or so before she said she wanted to have a tea ceremony. It sounded fine to us so off we went. After all, the roast duck dinner we planned on going to wouldn’t be open for another hour.

A nice little tea ceremony ensued, with a 1200 Yuen bill at the end for the three of us. Brazenly the woman even asked me to pay for her, saying that we were gentlemen. She exclaimed that oh it was pricey and she didn’t know it would be that expensive. Well I told her no, and I paid for Shah and myself. I didn’t know we were being scammed till later. Shah says he knew from the beginning (so why didn’t ya’ tell me?!?!). Also we were in communist china and still a bit fearful.

Angry and upset, we left. Earlier I had mentioned wanting a massage, so the girl said she knew a parlor. We walked to the parlor but when we got there, I declined preferring to sit and stew about just having spent (read: wasted) so much money on my first real day here. The girl offered to pay 20 of the 120 Yuen it would cost (I’m sure she got a cut of what we spent) but even so, I was really pissed. So Shah and the girl went up, but 10 minutes later, Shah came downstairs. We began to leave without the girl. We had to back though because shah left his Weatherman (a multi tool) up there. So Shah quickly heads up the stairs, and I stay in the lobby.

Suddenly a voice came over the radio, blaring in Chinese a confused and angry question. I could tell it had something to do with shah. Two minutes later he comes downstairs and he explains what happened. His Weatherman was at the end of a series of rooms. As he went to get it, Chinese guys kept popping out of doorways to stop him. He would go around them, juke them, or stiff arm them. Lol…

Tired and upset, we hit our bunks and Shah took a nap. I met a friend of a friend; a woman named Lovin who would be traveling with us over the next few days.

The next morning – Crazy Room Mate Guy

July 15

That morning I woke up to the loud voice of a new roommate who seemed overly excited. After listening to him talk for about 3 minutes, I wondered if he was on drugs. Maybe a mixture of cocaine and acid? (Later I found out he had been up Really late drinking, so apparently he was still drunk) Shah and I dress, shower, more boring details ensue, and we are off in the Crowded Beijing subway to meet Lovin. We spend the day visiting the Llama temple, Confucian school, a hutong (small alley filled with shops) named Yandaixie Street and Houhai Lake. It was a beautiful, peaceful, relaxing, Not-getting-conned day.

That evening, as I tried to use a power supply I’d brought with me to power my appliances, I inadvertently blew the fuses in the hostel. It took them 30 minutes to find the breaker and throw it… no big deal, but for a minute, when they couldn’t find the right breaker, I thought I had Really done some damage.

We had some drinks with Lovin and a friend after that, and called it a night.

“Our poor little feet” or “Lovin Never stops!”

July 16

This day we had planned to go to the Great Wall. In the lobby we meet three British guys who got screwed on a Great Wall tour. We have breakfast with them (Shau lom bau for the THIRD time!) and during breakfast we talk about the Tea Ceremony scam. They tell us that They had been scammed too, the day before. It felt good to know we weren’t the only stupids.

After breakfast, we go to book a mini tour bus for about 120 Yuen each, a fine deal. After waiting 30 minutes in the hotel for the bus, the guy tells us there isn’t one available. The three Brits rent a car together. Pissed, because we’ve wasted valuable time, Shah and I head out.

We meet up with Lovin and go to the Beijing Museum, which Shah pre-hates. Then we headed to the Temple of Heaven. This was the Emperors get away when he was bored of the God Forbidden palace.

Keep in mind here that we’ve been walking all day, every day for the past 3 days. Lovin doesn’t stop walking. She’s a machine, which is good, because it keeps us moving. But Shah starts pissing and moaning about his feet.

We spend a whole day doing this. Tons of pictures and it takes the whole day. Before bed, I book a Great Wall trip for the next day. It cost more than it should’ve but it’s guaranteed.

The Really Really Good Wall

July 17

We hop on a van and head off towards the Ming Tomb on the way to the Great Wall. Well, along the way we also stop at a Jade market, where we are able to buy jade if we so wish. We also stop at a traditional Chinese Medicine place where blah blah blah. Basically the tour guide took us to places to buy stupid things, and thus wasted our time. We were angry about it. Eventually we got to the Ming Tombs which were underwhelming. Though ONE funny thing Did happen.

Finally, we arrive at Badaling, the most popular section of the Great Wall of China. There are So many people there, we can hardly move at some points. But still, the place is gorgeous and majestic. A homeless guy had Planted himself in the middle of the great wall, destroying traffic. Awful place to beg. We saw black bears and a camel. A TON of people and a long wall… a really Really long wall. Was it great? Yeah, but they could have gotten away with calling it the really, really Good wall.

As a side note, we find out that Crazy Roommate Guy got Tea Ceremony scammed too. When Shah told him about he said, “That was a scam?” HA!

Off to Shanghai

July 18 – 25, Shanghai: A clean, beautiful city on the exterior, filled with tourists and, thus, beggars. The Architecture here is Beautiful. The shopping is world renown. The Bund, a famous riverside road, wraps the city. It has a fabulous skyline including the tallest building in China.

Arriving in Shanghai, we use the LP to recommend another Hostel. Its location is Perfect; Directly on the Bund. But there were… other problems. Because this place was listed in the LP, it got a TON of business. It was very busy, and because of that, they couldn’t care less about the individual customer. If you didn’t like them, find, leave. Another would replace you instantly. (This is one of the bad things about people Only using the LP) One night, Shah called down to the desk and asked a question. In response he heard, “La la la, da da da” and then was hung up on… ooook!

Also, their staff was Quite rude. Shahin referred to the two girls as being “filled with hate.” They would throw change at us and grab plates… In addition, their internet fees were retardedly high. And, the prices in their bar up stairs were too high.

Well one day, Shah was tired of these things. So he wrote a letter about where to go to get cheap internet access. He also recommended that you buy cheap beer downstairs and take it upstairs.

He placed this letter on the public bulletin board for others to read. They had a similar one in our Beijing hostel, where I posted about the Tea Ceremony scam, to warn other suckers. Two days later, Shah’s letter was gone. So he rewrote the thing. Lol, the next day it was gone too, at which point he gave up.

The first few days in Shanghai were pretty uneventful. The first day there, we met a Canadian guy that we had met in Beijing. So with him and this new American guy we met, we headed off to the French Quarter. Dinner was fun. They drank and the American started telling us stories. He told us about Laos and how he and his friend had stopped in an opium den and stayed for about an hour, only to leave and find they’d been in there smoking opium for 8 days. Fun story until we realized he was full of shit later that week. He had toooo many crazy science fiction/fantasy stories. Still, a fun time.

Shah spent a day resting his legs. I met Cathy, the friend who introduced us to Lovin, and took a LOT of pictures around the Bund. Knowing Shah would be bored at the museum, Cathy and I went; it was basically the same as the Beijing Museum. Cathy and I went to Old Town. Shah went shopping during this time.

On the 22 Shah, Cathy and I went to a Great restaurant named M on the Bund. The food looked and tasted Great. The restaurant overlooked the Bund and if anyone is going to Shanghai, I recommend this restaurant. It’s a bit expensive, but worth the experience.

Evil Beggar Army

July 21

Most of the day is spent doing nothing, preparing for a fun Saturday night. We head to a club that people told us about and I play pool. Shah dances. We both drink. I lose to this pool shark by one ball. I was happy with my game but Shah says I’m a disgrace to my homeland (shakes his head) ;) . But the club is loud, boring, so we go to a smaller bar down the street which is basically a whore house. We sit, drink, talk to whores and I watch old men come in and interact with whores. Most of them are young and cute. But this one poor prostitute… she’s older and pretty ugly. No one is paying attention to her… quite sad.

There were beggar children outside that Shah and I talked to and played with. When it came time to go, there were so many we couldn’t. Shah had a good plan. I went to the window and distracted them. They came over to pester me, at which point Shah ran out. They followed him, at which point I ran out. It was a good plan, but one problem. As Shah ran, he dropped his Damn Weatherman… One of the beggar girls picked it up and brought it back to Shah. Impressed with her action, I reach into my bag to give her my change; to reward her for not stealing it. As Soon as the tinkle of change was heard, I was swarmed by about 8 beggar children and two old ladies. They began pulling, scratching and grabbing at my hands, clothes, pockets and bag. The old ladies ripped my hands open with preternatural strength. Laughing, I saw their faces shift skeletal (if you’ve ever seen Devil’s Advocate, you know what I mean) and they ripped my hand open, stealing the small amount of change I had left. Swinging my body wildly to keep them off me, I was able to get one, ONE, Yuen to the girls before two prostitutes hauled me into their bar to “safety.”


July 22

The next day was similarly uneventful. We slept in late because we’d stayed up so late. That night we went for Tepanyaki. That’s where you pay a flat rate for all you can drink, all you can eat. It’s a barbeque style restaurant where you cook your own food. It was great. We walked out of the restaurant with beer bottles in our hand. As a side note: In every other country besides America, you can walk with a beer in your hand. I enjoy the freedom of this, so when I Do drink I almost always walk around with it.

As we left the bar a beggar woman asked me for money. I refused her so she holds a cup up and asks for beer, which is AWESOME. So I fill her cup, toast a drink with her, and walk/talk with Shah. We get in a cab to go to this Posh, must attend bar in Shanghai. As we head into the bar, Shah says, “Dude, I don’t have my wallet.” I respond, “Oh no problem, I’ll buy for you.” Thinking he’ll just pay me back later.

“Except” he says, “for the fact that I DON’T HAVE MY WALLET!” It hits me and we rush out. We try to think wherewhenwherehow #%@# damn… We call the restaurant in the hopes that it had been dropped there. The phone gets handed off to an English speaking customer who says that one of the workers might have stolen a wallet. We rush over there. When we arrive, the lady that told us someone might have stolen it is not there. I call the number and a man, the owner, answers. He INSISTS that the lady was wrong, and that we aren’t in his restaurant. Finally it turns out there are two floors to this restaurant, and he comes downstairs. Basically there is no wallet there. If there was, it’s gone. If Shah lost it in the cab, it’s gone; His money, credit cards and, worst of all, a priceless old picture of his mom.

At this point, Shah is hating life and, sadly, China. These next two days are cloudy and rainy.

The next couple days are spent getting an earlier flight out of Shanghai and trying to get in touch with Shah’s family. We are emailing, texting, etc, to No avail. We move into a cheaper dorm room, since from here on in, I am paying for Shah. We meet two Finnish girls and have dinner with them at the Hyatt. Nice dinner. Nice view.

“Bangkok Baby” or “No Please I Don’t WANNA’ Leave!”

Thailand in general has some unusual idiosyncrasies. They enjoy saying things twice. When they speak in English you will often hear this double speak. I like it actually, sounds cool. But more interestingly is the Thai Monarchy-mania. They are… what are the words… religiously devoted to their monarchy to a strange degree. When you see a movie in Thailand, there is an Honor the King preview before every film during which time All must rise. If you refuse, you are ejected from the theatre (or so I hear. I always stood. When in Rome!).

There is a bill folding trick that can be done with most currencies. If you crease from the corner of the left mouth to the center of the left eye, and the same on the right, and fold, you can make the face on the bill appear to smile and frown as you tilt it up and down. I did this with several Thai friends, but the face on their currency is their Kings! I got a similar reaction from all of them. “You shouldn’t do that!” “Why not? I’m making him smile.” “Yes, but you are also making him frown!” K Shah and I went to lengths to try and determine specifically what this King has done to warrant such love. Shah learned that he had the number nine in his title, which is a lucky number, so some of the respect due him is from sheer superstition. In my research I find him to be a great humanitarian who Has done Many good things for his people, particularly the poor. But the people themselves seem to be unable to tell us this. Their love is more learned than earned, I think.

Also, Thailand, as any nation, has political turmoil, some involving the Crown Prince. When I brought this topic up with a couple different groups to discuss it more, they became visibly agitated and made it clear we weren’t to talk about such things. Quite interesting.

Thailand uses the Baht as currency: About 38 to the dollar.

July 25, Bangkok: Traffic and prostitutes. The air pollution here is killer. If you look western, you are Constantly assaulted by people trying to sell you things. The traffic is one of the worst in the world. We literally hopped in a taxi, sat there for ten minutes, paid the guy, got out and walked… While not ALL Thai women are prostitutes, there are so many in the tourist spots that it’s hard to tell.

So we are leaving shanghai. The first days were lovely but, sadly, shah’s lost wallet and poor weather made for not so great memories… Well, for the time being. I’m sure when I look back at the pics I will feel differently. Shah has a negative outlook to China now which is disappointing. (EDIT: At the time we were pissed but when I look back even now, I had Such a great time! Thanx Lovin and Cathy!)

We arrive in Bangkok at night. We walk out of the airport past all the scammer taxis to a row of taxis and inSist on a Metered taxi; eventually we get one. We go to Kao San road, a famous tourist place. We find a room and crash.

The next day we go walking around, and all these natives approach us. Being highly paranoid now we don’t trust any of them. They keep telling us it’s a Buddhist holiday. By the time the 4th one says it, I’m starting to believe them. Shah refuses. I look in the LP and there IS a matching Buddhist holiday. But Shah is right. It’s Still half scam. The deal is that the TukTuk drivers driver you for dirt cheap to all the major Temples. They Also take you to some place to buy stuff. If you spend 10 minutes in there, they get a gas coupon. So we help our TukTuk driver out, he drives us around. I get a bunch of pictures, and Shah hates temples now.

TukTuks, btw, are open air taxis. The problem is that the air quality is so poor, and the TukTuk itself spews CO2 into the cabin… so the trip is a harsh one. Still, one TukTuk ride is required if you go to Thailand.

Now since Shah has no money, is depressed over his wallet, and his feet hurt, I head off by myself around the city to take pictures. Over the next few days there I visit the National Palace and their most famous Temples. The National Palace was amazing. First of all it is large and has beautiful architecture. Secondly, I paid 500 for a 250 Baht Ticket and walked away. On the way out, remembering I forgot my change, I asked the ticket box and they gave me my change. That was cool.

Shah and I head to a Muay Thai match at Lumpini stadium. Having my camera with me, I am allowed to get right up on the mat and take pictures. Laying on the mat, watching the fight… it was really cool. They rub the fighters down with Tiger balm or something that has really strong menthol in it. They would sweat the balm off and into the mat. As I lay there taking pictures, my body starts to Burn as the balm seeps into my shirt and onto my skin.

Now during the nights on Kao San road there are Tons of westerners and bars. So Shah and I walk around, meet people, etc. Nothing really special. Then we sit down one night with two Thai girls and a Kuwaiti guy. We talk and it’s apparent the Thai girl likes me. I ask the three of them how long they’ve known each other. The Kuwaiti guy says, “She’s my chick.” …. Umm ok… soo…. How long have you known each other? “Do you understand me? I said she’s my Chick.” OK… SO? HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN EACH OTHER? As if your possession of her in any way answers my question, guy! Anyway, he says, “4 days.” The funny thing is that the Thai girl speaks little English, so she doesn’t quite understand why I keep repeating the same question louder. When I pose it to her she tells me they just met that day… it was strange…

By this time Shah has been told by his brother that his father is pissed and won’t send him any money. This effectively means Shah has to go back stateside. One problem: China Eastern can’t get him a seat. He explains that it’s an emergency, etc, to no avail.

On the 28th he decides to just go to the airport and get a seat somehow. I agree. The only way he’s gonna’ get a seat is if he’s in their face. Well he leaves and later that day I go for my passport… and it’s GONE… I search frantically for 20 minutes, finding Nothing. I realize at this point that Shah Must have it. I go to call the airport when randomly, in walks Shah. They had no seats, put him on a waiting list and he was to call in the morning. Also, the @#$%er had my passport. Cold bloodedly he says, “Yeah man, I opened up my passport and it was yours. If they had a seat on the plane I would’ve been like, ‘Well, guess Evan’s out of luck.’” Bastard…

On the 31st I headed to the Black Eyed Peas concert which was awesome. There was a group of girls behind me who would sing all the songs so loudly and badly… I’m not sure if it was awesome or annoying. There was this one moment where the lights were turned off and Will.I.Am had everyone hold their cell phones up in support of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Democratically elected leader of Burma that’s been under house arrest by the military Juntas. It was a Very cool effect. It practically lit the stadium up.

Beaches and Prostitutes are like Peaches and Cream

Koh means island in Thai. So when I say Koh Phi Phi, that simply means Phi Phi island. The islands of Thailand are being Rapidly overdeveloped, to the detriment of everyone except the loggers and real estate agents who are illegally raping the Thai people of their heritage. Koh Samui is in the process of being claimed a national forest, but the previously thought 34, thousand acres of forest has been found reduced to 26,000 acres due to illegal development. Coconut palms once lined the beach

August 1st, Phuket: A nice beach resort area Filled with “massage” parlors. Walking down the street I am constantly assaulted with calls of “Masssaaaage?” and “TukTuk TukTuk?”

I fly off to Phuket in the morning, leaving Shah at the airport with some money. The only way he’s going to convince them he’s having an emergency is to give Them an emergency… And it works! The next day he gets a flight home.

I get to Phuket and take a taxi. Well, there is a 100 baht surcharge. I say I won’t pay it, and the guy says meter only. I’m also told that the ride will be about 240. Well 304 baht later, the driver claims the surcharge. We argue and he grabs my bag to take me back to the airport. I say ok, but quickly realize that the ride was over an hour long! So I open the door offering him 50; a concession. He refuses, and says, “Police police.” I say, “Ok, police.” So off we go. The cops back the driver (of course), so I pay him and try to get him to understand what a shmuck he is, but he doesn’t speak English well enough, part of why this problem occurred in the first place. As we head out he tells me that if I want him to drop me back at the hotel he’ll start the meter again. I walk back a bit and then take a motorbike taxi.

After getting settled in my hotel and calming about being ripped off by yet aNother cab driver, I went walking around. The beach was nice, but dirty. I always try to go off the path when I take pictures, so I start to walk along a small river village where I’m guessing most tourists don’t go. The natives express some interest in me, waving and saying hi, or just watching me, wondering what I’m doing. The road deteriorates from sand to thick mud. I took a step at one point and sank to my ankle.

Ah, this is a good time to talk about my shoes. I brought one pair of shoes with me, and a pair of sandals. The shoes are great because they have holes along the sides to vent heat, sweat and stench. But sadly these same vents also let in sand, water and mud L . One woman in the village had a miniature poodle, a cocker spaniel and a German shepherd. That was a surprise.

I headed back out to the beach and down to the main roads which are filled with shops, tourists and TukTuks. I saw some shirts that said “NO MONEY NO MONEY” and “I don’t want your damn TukTuk, a massage or anything else!” Shah and I had talked about making shirts like this; I guess someone else was as pissed about the constant, unwarranted solicitation as we were. Three of the shop owners were deaf, but didn’t really know ASL, so I couldn’t really communicate with them. I had met three deaf women in Bangkok, two Americans, and one Thai. One of them went to CSUN :D !

August 2nd

The next morning I walked about 8 kilos, taking pictures and walking to a distant beach. I saw a gorgeous blue bird fly away into a tree, but it was too far for me to capture. It was at this point that I decided I needed a telephoto lens. I got to Paradise Beach and swam around. Just a lazy day. Thailand has a great English newspaper, the Bangkok Post. Besides having well written articles it also contains a daily sudoku and a word puzzle that I enjoyed.

I hate butterflies. The Reason I hate them is that they evolved specifically to drive photographers insane. They are beautiful, but they don’t sit still long enough to make it easy to capture them well. There were a lot of butterflies in Phuket.

That night I go to the one famous Road in Patong, the area of Phuket I’m in. It is basically filled with bars and brothels. Having nothing better to do, I go and play pool. Some of the pros there were Really good at pool L

August 3rd

I rented a scooter so I could go to some other areas in Phuket. While I was renting it, the lady conned me into going to a cooking class the next morning at 8am… well, I told her I would go if they could wake me up; no guarantees. The girl had a scar on her elbow. I asked her where she got it and she told me the Tsunami. I didn’t really realize until that moment that I was standing in a place that had been devastated by the Tsunami.

I head over the hill to Phuket Town where they have a very modern mall filled with all the American brands we are used to. They have a movie theatre so I buy a ticket to See How They Run, a Thai movie with English subs. It was a Really funny story about a ghost boy that’s haunting a town. Sadly at the end was a blatant anti-abortion message, but a good film none the less.

A note on scootering: Scootering can Not be good for the eyes. Some helmets have a face screen, but mine didn’t, and so much dust flew into my eyes, there Had to have been damage.

Anyway, my night was boring, I played more pool…

August 4th

I Woke up to go to this cooking thing. Expecting a possible scam, I brought nothing. No wallet, no camera. Imagine my surprise when we arrived at a Beautiful beach side property that would have made for Great pictures. DAMN.

Not only wasn’t it a scam, it was one of my best days there. We cooked three courses, had dessert on a beautiful beach where I spent the day wishing I had my camera. I drove with three people from the UAE, Dubai specifically. Mohammed, Garag and Maria. I was happy to find them secular Muslims. We discussed Dubai and the world, Sunni and Shia, etc. Mohammed told me a funny story about an area in Dubai that is filled with Chinese immigrants.

The area had a mall built and the security for the place was provided by an Indian company, which means all the guards were Indian. One day, the guard disappears. They can’t find him, and thinking he just ran off, hire another guard. Several days later, This guard goes missing. A third guard is hired and the police watch him. He disappears but they track him down to this one Chinese guy’s house, who had Eaten the guards!!! He swears it’s true, and the same thing’s happened here so I believe him.

When I was in Singapore, I met a Thai girl named Palm. We met briefly in Bangkok when I was there, but she had a friend in Phuket, named Bo, that she hooked me up with. Later that day Bo and I met, had dinner. She told me about a surf competition that was going to take place where we were eating the next day. I thought that would make for some good pics. After dinner we went to a night market in Phuket town, where I realized I had left my chopsticks at the restaurant. But, I thought, no worries since I’ll be there tomorrow for the surf competition…

August 5th

I went to the surf competition after grabbing a ticket to Koh Phi Phi. The surf competition really sucked, lol. Bo told me the beach was called little Hawaii because it had nice waves… yeah… they should rename it Really Really REALLY little Hawaii…. Oh well. I met 2 Malaysians and talked cameras and travel with them. Apparently photography is big in Malaysia (and it IS! I was quite surprised how much so when I got to KL).

At this point I noticed some beach kids with plastic bottles filled with sand. They each had sticks and were jamming the sticks in and out of the sand. Looking more closely I noticed one girl was USING MY CHOPSTICK! Running to her, I asked where she found it, but she had No idea what I was saying. The chopstick was so damaged, it didn’t matter anyway. Luckily Lovin had bought me a pair of chopsticks, so I used those J

I rented a scooter to go meet Bo and it began to rain… Torrentially. The water was numbing my skin. It got to the point where it hurt to ride but it was fun. I had to bike carefully because the road was so slick… my point is that I’m a good motorbike rider. Or at least, not bad. (I’m just prepping you for later)

Bo and I watched this mediocre Thai film about a woman engaged to a man her friends think is gay. So they go about trying to prove it by validating old, conservative and entirely untrue ideas, such as: gay people often have many older sisters. Gay people often have domineering mothers and henpecked fathers. These things just aren’t true.

August 6th

A two hour boat ride and I arrive at Koh Phi Phi, where the effects of the Tsunami a year ago can still be vividly seen. The sun was so strong on the way over; I had a tank tan by the time I got off the boat. So damn hot there. Everything was more expensive on Phi Phi, from bananas to newspapers. But it had Big beautiful beaches… With rocks and broken coral… Which cut the hell out of my feet :( I climbed of a bajillion stairs to get some great sunset shots. I was happy when I ran up easily past these Europeans, but then I saw this Thai guy fly past me… lol. I had a good fish dinner and went to sleep at 11 to wake up early to take sun rise pics.

August 7th

It wasn’t meant to be. I woke up early all right, to a twisting stomach. I ran to the bathroom and called dinosaurs. I guess the fish was bad. The food poisoning ruined the whole day. I was tired, cranky, headachy, etc. I texted Bo and she said, ”Oh I should’ve told u the food on Phi Phi is dirty. The fish there eat corpses!!!” Corpses? When I asked what corpses, she said the corpses from the Tsunami!!! But she was kidding… at least, it was a rumor that had been going around.

I felt better by afternoon and decided to go kayaking. I paid for two hours and hauled off. At first it was fine. There were three kayaks ahead of me, and competition always drives me to pull, push, kick, etc, harder. But then the head wind got Really crazy. The grandfather alone in one of the kayaks had to turn back. I pushed forward, up to the other kayaks who each had two people in them. At one point one of the kayaks was Really close to these rocks. I thought they might be in trouble but they got out and over to Monkey Beach. The wind had calmed a bit, so I went farther. Ten minutes later the Waves start to attack me and the wind picks back up. I’m pretty far out, by myself and starting to get tired, so I head back in.

With nothing else to do, I headed back up the bajillion stairs for more pictures. I played hackey sack with some of the natives, who used a large woven fiber ball about a quarter foot in diameter. That night there was a fire dance which was really amazing. These little kids weren’t just playing with fire; they were controlling it. The darkness and the flame let me really experiment with my exposure settings. I gained a photography level that night.

August 8th, Koh Pangan: Famous for its moon festivals, Koh Pangan is a famous tourist island in the Thai Gulf. The moon festivals started small, but now attract up to 10,000 tourists or more. The Full moon parties spread to cover Half moon and New moon parties. The parties themselves are simple raves: loud music, drinks and drugs. Nothing special really.

The whole day was spent traveling to Koh Pangan. The boat ride was nauseatingly wavy. The bus ride was long, with a ridiculous delay to catch a 2nd bus, which dropped me at aNother pier to take a longer, though much more stable, boat to Pangan.

When I arrived at Koh Pangan, having no room, I got in a taxi and hoped. You’re supposed to book hotels a week before a full moon party or more! The taxi driver fit about 9 of us in the taxi and our bags on the roof. He drove off and 3 minutes later picked up some more people, then 3 minutes later some more, then more, then more, then more. Now consider that by the 3rd stop people were hanging onto the back, and by the 4th, people were sitting on the roof. Then realize that four Thai lady boys hopped inside. Well at this point we were full even by the driver’s standards, and so he was off, and How! He was driving sooo fast on roads that had no barriers; a steep cliff was waiting for any mistake by the driver! Large circular turns at high speed with a taxi that had exceeded its safe load == recipe for disaster. Luckily it didn’t happen that time. But it did give me this Great pic!

I searched for hotels to no avail. This one restaurant owner was nice enough to let me sleep in her hammock out front for free. It was the first time I’d ever slept in a hammock. It was dirty, and there were bugs… My neck in the morning felt like a piece of bamboo. My bags I had sort of tied to the hammock, covered poorly by pillows. A water bottle sat on top: a low tech alarm in case any really stupid burglars came along. A local dog was around and I pet him, and then couldn’t stop because he wouldn’t let me. I was petting him at night, in the dark, while I was tired, so I couldn’t see the dog. In the morning I saw that he was really nasty.

August 9th

I procured a room for that night first thing. It was a really dilapidated bungalow, but it was near the main beach, so I was willing to pay the cheap, but still overpriced, 400 baht for it. Little did I know!

My day is spent exploring, mostly just waiting for the Full Moon party. I sit down for some sunset pictures on the beach near a tree with some rope swings tied to it. A group of Japanese tourists start swinging off of it. I grab a hold of it and climb as high up as I can, which was pretty high! At the bottom of the rope, there are large knots you can use as footholds. As I slide down, I get to the bottom and sort of let go… the large knots proceed to hit me right in the crotch, boom boom boom… that really hurt… But hey, the Japanese guys tried to beat my height, and they couldn’t, so that was cool.

The sun set, the moon rose, the party began. There was great Fire Dancing by really skilled individuals. Most people were dancing, drinking, laughing. By the time 1:30 came around, I was done. I’d seen this thing before, and since I don’t do drugs and rarely drink, I wasn’t as involved as most of these other people were. So I slept at one, but I heard the music continue all night. In the morning, when I awoke, the drums were Still beating.

August 10th

I wish I Hadn’t slept. I wake up COVERED IN BUG BITES 1 2 3 4 5 6 (each of those is a different picture. Please look at them all). So it wasn’t the best morning. It must have been fleas or bed bugs… so dirty. I caught a ferry to Koh Samui at noon. The ferry was packed with a post full moon exodus of westerners. Because the full moon parties are so popular, many people simply take a ferry over from Samui rather than pay high hotel rates there (or sleep in shabby flea farm bungalows L )

Upon arriving I angrily ignored all the taxi drivers that approached me. A combination of the bug bites and constantly getting ripped off by taxis drove me to just walk to a hotel. I got some cream from a pharmacist on the way for my bites, and they recommended a place not too far. When I arrived at the hotel I told them I wanted their best room. It was a nice room, very clean. I felt very secure in the lack of bugs in the bed.

I liked Samui better than Pangan upon simply arriving there. It was more developed, less infested with Westerners (well, where I was at the time) and just nicer overall. Palm had family there so I stopped by Big Buddha and said hi to them.

I slept early that night.

August 11th

An uneventful day spent uploading pictures and sorting out flight info. It wasn’t until about 8pm when I sped past a big truck into a tight right turn, the gravel and dirt underneath me sliding my tires out from under me. I quickly got up and pulled my motorbike off the road, out of the way of the large truck I was so keen on passing. Spectators started popping their heads out of windows and trees. I ran across the road to assess my body and get some cleaning materials. The nice bar women (read: pros) got me water and a rag so I could do some preliminary cleaning. Hopping back on the bike, I headed to 7/11. On the way I noticed my left side view mirror was damaged. At 7/11 I got a 70% alcohol solution and some cotton pads. Sitting outside I began to clean as 4 kids came by. “Motorbike?” they asked. “Yes.” I began cleaning, and it hurt. Deep breathing came into play. I’m not sure, but sometimes I think my pain threshold is pretty high. I wonder if there’s a way to test that. The kids watched as I cleaned and one girl asked if I wanted a doctor. I asked if she was a doctor, and one of the kids, who was fat, said, “I’m a doctor”, and motioned as if he was cutting off his flesh and adding it to where I was missing some. The burning subsides and I hit a pharmacy for antibacterial and a wrap.

Now I’m sitting at ark bar writing this, thinking A) I’m an idiot. B) this is a good lesson. Just because I’m on a motorbike doesn’t mean I’m Billy &*%!ing Badass. Oh, did I mention they don’t give a helmet to us here? Yeah… So C) be smart; I’m not invincible: I shouldn’t need to be constantly reminded of that… The best part is that Samui is Famous for westerners getting in motorbike accidents. It’s because of the bad roads, I swear. If the road had been fine, I’d be fine… Excuses excuses.

So now I’m covered in bug bites (though they are beginning to heal from bright red to pink) and now road rash on the left side of my body. There should be a nice bruise on my left hip and my left forearm might have a cool scar (I can hope). I wonder what tomorrow holds. (Besides embarrassment in paying for the accident to the motorbike owner)

On a side note, my phone is indestructible. The damn thing will survive the cockroaches. Ten nuclear explosions and a motorbike accident couldn’t stop it

August 12th

I spent the morning fixing my motorbike, and trying not to show my arm to the hotel people. Luckily the mirror was such an easy fix, the guy didn’t even charge me. In terms of the scratches the other side of my bike was already scratched, and other bikes I see at my hotel are scratched so…. I must make sure to always park near a scratched bike, so I can point it out as an example if they accuse me of anything.

The rest of the day was uneventful. At 8 I headed to ark bar and met a cute girl who turned out to be a prostitute. Even though she didn’t want 2 charge me, I declined. Oh as a side note, I haven’t bitten my nails in about… 3 weeks. I nip every 4 days or so, but I generally stop myself before I do any real damage. Shah and I both agreed to quit smoking and biting, respectively, though I believe shah is smoking as I write this.

Ark bar is a Really cool bar. It sits right on the beach with the waves lapping up at the tables as you lay around. The tables are social and I did a fair bit of chatting with various people while I was on Samui. It was here that I learned of the anti-Muslim sentiment amongst many Thai. Few know about it, but there is a war being fought in Southern Thailand. People are dying there every day from Muslim secessionists. Thus the sentiment.

A Real city with smog and everything!

Malaysia uses the Ringit as currency, about 3.8 to the dollar. A Muslim nation, calls to prayer can be hear during the day. Despite being a Muslim nation it is not strict and women are allowed to wear what they will. Divided into two halves, Malaysia has a Prime minister and a King, though the King is more of a figurehead. Interestingly, the Kingship is rotated every five years amongst the Kings of the 13 states that make up Malaysia.

August 13th, Kuala Lumpur: The city is quite diverse. It reminds me of a more relaxed Singapore. Kuala Lumpur, or KL, is the Capital and had such a Great amount of camera shops. Home to the 2nd and 3rd tallest buildings in the world, KL seeks to be a truly modern city.

A boring day spent flying and at airports. I accidentally went into the woman’s restroom… :\ I watched a Tel Aviv airlines gate for a bit. Very interesting. The Craziest security checks I’ve seen, but only for the non-Israelies: extreme belt checks, extra metal detection, etc. I even saw the guard smell some item he didn’t recognize. However twice I saw the Israelis told they couldn’t leave their area, which was odd.

I got to Kuala Lumpur in the evening. I spent 80 ringit on a taxi which is about 20 bucks. The airport is Quite far from the main city, so I’m not sure if that’s a fair price or not. I doubt it. Upon reaching my hostel, I am offered prostitutes within seconds of walking around. The city looks nice. I stayed in a dorm with 10 other people but no one was text messaging at 3am.

I woke up early and saw the Petronas Towers. I picked up a cheap telephoto lens. Walked through Chinatown. Basically just spent the day exploring and taking pics, as usual. I learned that day that I wouldn’t be working for World Passport in Taiwan (which is for the best actually) but decided to go to Taiwan anyway and stay longer in Malaysia. I had dinner with a woman named Sharon and discussed, their interesting politics. I talked with two German women that are traveling for a year. One point of interest in our discussion; they told me that they had never seen guns until they arrived in Malaysia, when there were armed guards at the airport. Prior to this we had talked about me hating Bush, etc, but I told them that when it came to gun rights, I firmly believed that people should be able to have guns if they wish. “Why?” they asked. Because we will inevitably need to fight our governments, and if we don’t have the proper weapons, this task would be impossible. The interesting point is that the one German woman said, “Fight our governments? Maybe in the past but not anymore.”

Yeah, because governments have transitioned into trustworthy entities in the modern era. Pssssh…

August 15th

I woke up at 630am, with only a few hours sleep, to see the Petronas Towers. The tickets are free, but they sell out so quickly you have to go early. I waited in line for over an hour, talking to two Sri Lankan men that I could barely understand (such thick accents). Got up to the sky bridge and was sort of under whelmed. A hazy, smoggy sky contributed to a rather dismal sky line. So then I hit up the KL tower which sadly had the same problems. A hazy look about the city.

I head off to the Batu caves from a bus stop that no one can give me directions to. I walked in a spaghetti shape for 20 minutes, but finally found it and took a nice hour nap.

The Batu caves were cool, mostly because of the monkeys. Everyone loves monkeys. But the caves themselves would have been better if they hadn’t installed 2 giant lamp towers in the center the damn thing, ruining the best shot there!!! On the way out was the dark cave. The guy said, “Go in and have a look.” I went in and saw a sign that said No entry without permission, but thought I had it. So I continued. It was dark, living up to its name. I could hear bats, and then I saw a cave dog, which led me to believe there might be cave men further down (ok, maybe that’s not funny) but then I heard a voice. “Hello hello?”

“Hello,” I answered. The guy beckoned and when I went back he said, “Didn’t you read the sign?”

I tried to explain that the sign should say No Entry, because I thought I had permission when he said to have a look. He told me not to get smart, started to argue, so I left. A bus ride back and I hit the national monument. I was about 2 go to the butterfly park, aviary and orchid park when I realized I was tired, and the last thing I wanted to do was go to these places, particularly the orchid garden (since I took a ridiculous amount of orchid shots in Singapore).

I went to my room and got caught in the 2nd season of Desperate Housewives someone bought (not a bad show) on my way to Chinatown for dinner I saw someone sign and met a few deaf guys. We chatted for at least an hour, as one of them knew ASL (American Sign Language). Every time I think learning ASL was a waste, I meet some deaf people in a country, or hearing people that just know ASL, and I love it. So I got to practice my ASL and had a good time.

Cameron Highlands: Tea fields of disappointment

August 16th – 17th

I woke up early and headed to the Cameron Highlands. It was cold and rainy on the way up, which worried me since I had only brought one change of clothes for this small trip and all I had were shorts. At this point in time I expected to go to the Highlands, hike and leave in the morning, but sadly I found out the next day that I couldn’t get my tickets extended L I quickly realize how lucky I am that I Didn’t work for World Passport, as I would have either had to cancel them or risk being stuck in Asia. Well, I keep fighting for the extension, but the American chapter of the airline needs to call, and with the time difference, things don’t look good. Oh wait, lol, I almost forgot. I didn’t bring my tickets with me to the Highlands, but I did have enough forethought to take a picture of them, so I had all the numbers they needed. The problem was they needed to FAX a copy. So I hopped over to a cyber café, ULed the ticket pictures to flickr and emailed them the link, which they then printed and faxed… wow wow wow!

So I stayed the extra day here, toured around the highlands, hiked for hours… Now I wait for word from the airlines tomorrow morning. I met three Korean girls and got to practice my Korean. They were the 2nd group of Koreans I’d met so far. The owner of the hotel I stayed in was Tamil, and we had a long talk.

He asked me why the American government keeps helping the Sri Lankan government (if you don’t know what this refers to, Google Tamil Tigers). Now, this is interesting because just the other day I was speaking with those two Sri Lankan men (Although I can understand this guy). Anyway, even though he posed a question, he really was just blaming Americans for killing his people. I told him that most Euros and Americans, or at least Americans, don’t even know what a Sri Lanka is. There was a Hollander there, and she said she had heard something about it recently, but that’s it. I’m proud to say that I’ve been following the Sri Lankan problems in the news since the fighting flared back up 2 weeks ago (the Bangkok Post was all over the battles). But I asked the Tamil if he knew what Darfur was, and he didn’t. So I told him that his people aren’t the only ones dying, not that this was of any solace. But because those 17 NGO workers that were murdered by what looks to be government forces, maybe the international Sri Lankan support will be reduced.

August 18th

I spent a 4 hour bus ride back to KL lamenting my trip back home. I tried, in vain, to extend my ticket. I spent the day relaxing, packing, watching movies, on the net; A good way to spend the day before a major trip.

I arrived at the airport quite early, and thought of fighting for an extension, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to get back to the real world and start studying for the GREs, try to get some psychological activity going and deal with real life, so it’s ok anyway… Though I did really want to stop by Taiwan…

Well this is the end of my trip. I had a great 5 weeks. The hard times were the best parts. The pictures, memories and friends I’ll have forever. I can’t wait to go back to these Countries and explore the areas I didn’t have a chance to. I do feel a bit robbed. The countries are expanding, developing, changing so fast that original culture is being lost.


1. http://liveactionbaccarat.com - September 18, 2016

Wonderful post ƅut I was wondering iif yоu coukd wгite а litgte more on tɦis
topic? I’d bee vdry thankful if yоu cοuld elaborate a little bit furtһer.
Ꭺppreciate іt!

2. redirected here - September 27, 2016

Some genuinely good posts on this site, thank you ffor contribution.

3. Napoleon - October 16, 2016

You’ve made some good points there. I looked on the net for additional information about the issue
and found most individuals will go along with your views on this webb site.

4. seo - October 19, 2016

Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at. Seo Plugin

5. wayne gretzky jersey - October 24, 2016

Make days gone by behind, learn how to forgive and inquire pertaining to forgiveness, do stop having faith in one, continually try an additional the second probability because i will be simply humans all of us aren’t going to be great, not everybody is just right nowadays. Allow individual’s blunder, boost the comfort with one another, admit failures and also dreads, or maybe a basic “I are pitiful. You should Forgive people, You’re Forgiven and that i Really like You” are usually enough already to have a robust marriage and also always relative one more. Fall Lagoon Erie Perched Record

6. Arnold91 - October 29, 2016

Reading your site is big pleasure for me, it deserves to go viral, you need some initial traffic only.
If you want to know how to get it search for: blackhatworren’s strategies

7. learn this here now - October 29, 2016

I just want to say I am all new to weblog and definitely liked you’re blog. Very likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You surely have amazing articles. Bless you for sharing with us your web-site.