Leaving Asia

Trip Start Nov 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 21, 2006

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, April 29, 2006

Well, there's not too much to report on what I've been up to since my last posting. Koh Pha Ngan is what it is. My pace did slow down, but only slightly. I did however find my social second wind about halfway through my time there and returned to my old form of just talking to anybody. It also helped to carry around the lighter someone randomly ditched on my bungalow. Made tons of friends that way. I'll also miss the total flip-flop graveyard that is Koh Pha Ngan. It's almost comical how they're just strewn across town. At any turn there could just be a stray sandal on the ground. I did my part once I finally replaced the ones that I was clearly never going to get back. I bought a pair and my first night out they were nicked on the beach, so I just nabbed someone else's. They were a total upgrade, but on my next night out I stepped in a small ditch and lost one and said screw it and kicked off the other one. Three days, three pairs of flip-flops. It was the proper Koh Pha Ngan experience. After finally escaping the place (and easier said than done, people spend months there, because, honestly, why take the initiative to book a ticket and leave when you can just as easily not do anything and sidle up to the pool with a drink in your hand) I had one last day in Bangkok. I wound up bumping into Amber, a Canadian girl who had also been staying in Coral, so I didn't even have to worry about seeking out new friends for my last night out. We were planning on having a night out in the backpacker haven of Khao San Rd, but we wound up sharing a table and a few beers with a Canadian couple Chris and Tara who after hearing about Patpong (Red Light District) they were insistent that we go. Quick note on Chris -- he had the MOST Canadian accent you will ever hear. He sounded like a McKenzie brother, eh. I enjoyed it every time he opened his mouth. Patpong certainly delivered on the insanity scale. With the parents reading this and all, I can't really go into detail, but I'll put it this way, I never thought certain body parts could perform certain tasks until last night. Dear God.

And since that's really all there is to report on, a little reflection on my time in Asia.

I'll absolutely miss the backpackers I met along the way. I think the bond that forms when you're sharing an overnight bus or just simply forced to go up to people in bars or restaurants is stronger than the one forged when you just met at a hostel. Most of the best friends I've met in five months of traveling were the ones I met in six weeks here.

I absolutely won't miss, though, how much you have to force yourself to be social here. Hostels are so much easier. I also won't miss those damn overnight buses. They do make for some good stories though.

I'll miss the people of Southeast Asia. Absolutely the friendliest in the world. Whether it's the women in Thailand who gave me rides on their motorbikes or the school-aged girls who stop to talk to you just to improve their English, they are beautiful people. I'll miss the Laotians who don't speak a word of English but will still greet you with a warm, genuine, "Sa-ba-dii!" when you walk by or the Vietnamese street vendors who want to teach the foreigner the proper way to eat their dish.

I won't miss the people of Southeast Asia who are after your money. Let me walk the streets in peace, I don't want a tuk-tuk ride or a moto ride. Let me read the menu in peace, let me decide for myself if I want to buy your t-shirt. Those people have soured plenty of tourists holidays, and it's such a shame that it distracts foreigners from the generosity of the rest of the people. I will miss taking the piss out of those people though, especially the night in Saigon when I was sitting out in front of the hotel impersonating them, offering every foreigner "Moto ride? Marijuana? Ex? Heroine? Massage? Love you long time?"

I will miss the food. Not only is it delicious, but it's never more than $3 for a meal. It's only fantastic to not once have to cook for yourself in 6 weeks.

I won't miss the fact that the next dodgy stomach is only a bite or a sip away.

I'll miss the tuk-tuk rides, flying down city streets on three-wheeled cars, motorbikes and all that other good stuff. I'll never forget trying to balance myself on the back of a motorbike while carrying my 35 pound rucksack on my back. I'll always enjoy giving the tuk-tuk drivers license to be as mental as they like.

I won't miss (as I alluded to before) telling them I don't want a ride. That got old fast.

I'll miss treating myself nicely -- eating out all the time, having a room to myself, going out as I please -- and hardly ever spending more than $15 a day. The money goes such a long way out here.

I won't miss dealing with the absurd numbers in the currency. Try dividing, for example 238,00 by 16,000 in your head. Quick.

And that's that for my time in Asia, it went way too fast. Now I'm on to Greece, via Dubai, where I'm probably staring at a night in the airport square in the face. I've been there before, I know how much fun it can be.
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