Trip Start Feb 25, 2010
16Trip End Apr 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
I've been back home for a few days now and have had a chance to reflect on my trip.
Overwhelmingly, I consider it to have been a success. I was able to spend nearly six weeks for the most part missing the heat and political turmoil of Thailand. (I say for the most part because for a few days at the beginning and at the end of the trip, while I was in the coastal lowlands, the heat of Sri Lanka was as unavoidable and intense as in Thailand.) That was main intention of the trip, and with that I succeeded. I also managed to completely finish reading a rather ambitious stack of books during the trip. That was a real pleasure. And finally, I got to see a new country and culture and to experience some gorgeous landscapes and, for the most part, lovely people (the touts and a variety of small time scammers being the exception) - all in just a 3 hour flight from my home in Bangkok.
But there were also some failures on this trip: Most notably, I didn't manage to fulfill my ambition of seeing a naked Sri Lankan woman. This I will attribute to the fact that I spent most of my time in small, conservative towns and villages at higher elevations - which were cooler - and therefore less likely to induce the women to show their skin. The closest I came to achieving this was in Galle, where I saw some topless local women sunbathing on the beach there. And by topless, I mean without hats, of course.
Meanwhile, back in Thailand, while I was able to miss a lot of the recent political protests, I was not able to miss it all - as it is still ongoing - even getting worse by the day. Yesterday I tried to go to my favorite shopping mall for lunch - and it was closed - along with all the other shops and streets in the area - blocked by protesters. And last night there was a grenade attack at one of the major Skytrain (elevated rail transport) stations that killed at least one person and injured 80 others, including a few foreigners.
I don't know how all of this is going to end, but I think we are on the verge of a revolution at best, and a civil war at worst. In the meantime I am feeling a bit tired and depressed due to the uncertainty - and the fact that I don't really have anywhere else to go - at least not at short notice. I've been in Thailand for 15 years and I'm quite settled in, so it's not so easy to just pull up and leave, although that's what I feel like doing at the moment. Over the coming weeks and months I'll explore my other options.
And finally, I don't know if you remember, but at the beginning of this trip, shortly after I arrived in Sri Lanka, I tried to find an ATM from which to withdraw Sri Lankan rupees. The first three machines that I tried failed, and the one at which I had tried to withdraw the largest sum (about $300) didn't give me any money - but gave me a receipt for the withdrawal - giving the appearance that the "system" thought that I had received the money. When I got home, I checked my account - and sure enough, the amount had been deducted from my balance. Then, a little bit down the page, on the last day of the month, the same amount was credited back to my account. In the end I was quite reassured that this happened automatically because I would not have been able to prove that I didn't get the money. And it's nice to know that the international reconciliation system was able to detect that things didn't add up. So, in the end, except for a little stress, no real harm was done.
Well, that wraps up another trip. And with the current political turmoil in Thailand, I just might have to make another one soon. Stay tuned . . .