Stemming the flow and off I go...

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Flag of Thailand  , Chon Buri,
Saturday, December 10, 2011

Well apologies to anyone following my blog for the absense. The thing is there was nothing fascinating happening unless you're strangely interested in a man venting intestinal worms into a hotel toilet. So finally the bugs caught up with me. I’m not sure from where so it would be wrong to point the finger of blame at India but if it’s so wrong then why does it feel so right? It hit like a slap to the face and suddenly I went from feeling ok to feeling nothing below the neck. Over the next few days I fought an uphill battle as I taught myself to feel pain again. I was still in the same hotel in Sukhumvit and stayed on there for a few extra days as I was in no shape to do anything else. It was expensive though and once I got myself some pills I felt better and moved it along. I found a far cheaper place down the road so went there and crashed out in th vague hope that with sufficient time and rest I would feel better.

Now they say you get what you pay for and in this case it’s absolutely true. The hotel was clean but basic. To avoid wear and tear on the mattress they bought ones made from concrete and left them shrink-wrapped in plastic. Nothing on earth was going to stop me sleeping though.

Unfortunately the area was rubbish, there was nothing there except a 7-11. It was rubbish in every sense, I don’t know if the floods were responsible but the place was crawling in rats. 5 times outside rats just ran out of gutters and legged it off down the pavement. As it turned out the hotel was owned in part by a Nepalese guy and a Pakistani and they did room service. I ate there a couple of times and the food was actually top notch if a little expensive. It was nice to finally have food inside me again, proper food. To avoid more infections I stuck to foil-wrapped junk food which was nutritionally disastrous but much safer from the perspective of my damaged innards. There is only so much processed bread you can eat. The Thais love selling bread with nasty things soaked or injected in and I really have had a gutful of that.

So after a few days I figured it was time to move on. I’m not a huge fan of Bangkok, it’s a city like any other. It’s cold and lonely, people don’t want to talk, they just want your money and they want you to move along with the minimum of fuss. I could be in London or Berlin or my girlfriend’s living room (just kidding, I don’t think she reads this anyway). Against the odds I actually did wash the bike somewhere in my bug-addled state. I didn’t do a very good job of it though but it’s cleaner than she was and i’ve probably saved a few kilos in weight too. The chain I gave a good blast with the lube and now most of the crap has gone. That should stand her in better stead than being caked in sand and grease. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no fixing it but a little tlc should stretch a few extra miles out of it until I can get a new one. So this morning I headed out to pastures new. Well not new, exactly but pastures cheaper. Pattaya is a far better bet, it’s got better weather, better food and it’s half the price. Also people talk to you, ex-pats actually say "hello" here.

So I have no functional GPS and no maps, only a rough idea where I’m meant to be heading. Luckily, and by a lot more luck than anything else I did actually find the right turnoff and went directly to Pattaya without incident. I was dead proud. I felt like a local!

The trip was fairly uneventful but it was very nice to be back on the road, even briefly. The only thing was my seat was incredibly uncomfortable. I’m beginning to think that guy was right, it is the heat, it makes the gel too stiff and it’s like sitting on a solid brick (as opposed to what kind of brick?) The traffic suddenly went heavy at one point. I wasn’t overly bothered, I had all day to get there so I filtered carefully to the front. Now Asian people have a reputation as bad drivers and for the most part they largely deserve it. They’re bad in the sense they can’t cope with any changes. They’re fine in a straight line but if anything happens to challenge that they get a bit lost It’s like driving along on a main road knowing everyone else around you is drunk. This is why the traffic was running slow. I got to the front to find 4 cars had all crashed into one another. Nothing terribly serious, just a few dented front and rears and some damaged pride. I wondered what had caused it and then a few yards up I found out. Another 5 cars had plowed into each other, nothing life threatening but pretty serious damage this time. So my guess is the first two crashed, nobody changed direction and that caused the other three to go into them. The slowing down caused another pile-up down the road. So I rode a bit more defensively and kept a wider distance between myself and the other road users...

Eventually I got into Pattaya, it’s all very familiar, I know my way around the place well enough. I headed back to the place we stayed at last time where the staff were friendly ,we got a discount, laundry and breakfast is free and it’s clean with decent internet. I was parking up a Swedish guy came up to chat, this never happens in Bangkok but within seconds of stepping off the bike someone came up to have a random conversation. Unfortunately there were no vacancies so I tried down the street and got a place even cheaper in less than 10 minutes. It’s not great and has virtually no internet signal but it’s cheap and beggars can’t be choosers. Tomorrow I will switch to a better place with internet, I need that to help me source a chain but at least it gives me time to think and do some writing which is really all I’m looking for.

It’s not the same on my own. I’m not the kind of guy who enjoys doing things alone, a like to have my friends about me. My mood is radically different to the last time I was here with Marcin. I’ve made a fair few friends on this trip but what’s more interesting is the ones I’ve lost.

After the first few days contact with various people I’ve known for years died away to nothing. In fact several people stopped contacting me altogether before I left. I made two visits to one person who has my number, was unable to catch him so I emailed and texted and still no reply, now for nearly two months. It’s amazing how quickly you’re forgotten by some people. I know some of my acquaintances are slightly jealous that I’ve done this and there will always be an element of that, I guess when anyone steps outside of the norm. I really do feel like I’ve lost touch with a good many friends, I’ve mailed and simply had no replies. I have however kept in close touch with a few people and those particular people have impressed me greatly. I didn’t think staying in touch with a mate is that impressive but when it ends up with less than 10% bothering it suddenly becomes that way.

I have actually lost touch with Marcin! He’s not updated his blog again in several days but I’m sure it’s just a lack of Wifi. The thing about going forwards is you never know what you’re going to find. He may even be loaded on a ferry for all I know. I know I’ll never lose touch with Marcin even if I wanted to. He’s got too much to say to ever lose touch with someone who listens to him and buys him beer.

So well done to the real friends I have. The others, friends and family were never worth worrying about in any case, I guess. What’s annoying is it took me far too long to realise who was who.
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cimek on

Drinking beer on Bali, alone, have the same thoughts. I wish you are here.
Cheer up!

cimek on

Were here, od course. F.....g grama.

jtw000 on

English is not your strong suite. Sounds like you've having a rough time with the weather, dude. It's hot here, really nice but not fun when you're on your own and promised your girlfriend you'd behave. Miss you, man!

Coal on

Out of sight, out of mind innit. Wouldn't read too much into it to be honest. You're off the radar.

If you want your friends to disappoint you though, wait until you're next back in the UK for a stint, and see how many fucks anybody gives about anything you have to say. I mean, they'll happily prattle on for hours about what some unruly customer said to them the other day, or that new bloke your neighbour's daughter's seeing, but as soon as you open your mouth to say anything about your life, you can actually see their eyes glaze over. Bonus points if you're answering a direct question, like "so what are you doing with yourself these days?" "I'm living in Thailand…" is about as far as they're going to listen.

jtw000 on

I hope you're wrong but I know you speak from experience. Was I ever such a dick when you came over? I was always really interested in your travels but maybe I was just like that. I don't know. Well Ade has been quite the opposite, he mails almost every day which is brilliant. I log in every morning to check so we're always in touch. Marcin is staying in touch but obviously his internet is sketchy and obviously I speak to Fai on MSN every day and we email regualrly. Otherwise I really don't hear from a lot of people and I think you're right, when I go back it will be a brief chat and then all forgotten again.

Coal on

As I recall, you were one of the more interested people, but I was already well aware of the phenomena from many many other people I knew (it's a major contributor to reverse culture shock) so I suspect I was holding back a bit—a lot of the things that mattered to me on a daily basis or I found interesting the first few years required a lot of societal context to make any sense of. Now I just get on with it of course, so day to day stuff is that much easier to understand, but even when it isn't I'm used to framing it in a way that people can get their heads around ("it's a local thing..."), embellishing further if they ask.

People aren't doing it to be dicks though. When you start talking about alien stuff that they'd never really thought about, they just can't (be bothered to try and) get their heads round it. They have full an exciting lives of their own, which they carried on with after you left, and they also forget that you aren't following what they're up to either.

Norm on

What you've done is pretty epic, nost people won't get their heads around the problems, lack of beer etc.
When you've got no real problems in life apart from missing the bus to get to work on time, that's suddenly a big problem. We don't realise how easy life is for most of us, even those with not much money.
Your perspective has change because you've made an effort, lots of us don't do that to the scale you have, we're too scared to step out of the box. So lots of people can't appreciate you're mindset.
They don't mean to be ignorant or have lack of interest.

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