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Asian Tour 2000


BangkokHanoi | Xian | Qingdao | Seoul

After finishing my first contract for Hess I had the opportunity to tdo a bit of travelling around and then go home for a couple of weeks . It turned out that it wasn't as easy as that thought. Here in these pages I've put together photos from my trip and the original reports  I sent back form the countries I visited.

Tuesday, June 13th 2000 

It's now about one in the morning (Taipei time) and by the end of the day I'll be wandering the streets of Bangkok checking out a place to rest my head. After having been given only a week to stow my furniture etc.. here in Taipei between Dave's, Ben's and the Hess head office in Zhonghe (pron Junghur)(thanks to Clare Chiu for helping me out iwth that) I picked up my visa for Viet Nam and my flight ticket to BKK earlier today. It's been siling down with rain for the past two days so I'm looking forward to getting away for a while. I found out last night that some other teachers from Hess will be travellingto Viet Nam later this week so we exchanged e-mail addresses and hopefully we can hook up on the way.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to spend in Viet Nam as I have a short space of time to travel in. It's imperative I get back to Korea before 30th June - but as for the rest, I'm just going to make it up as I go along. Should I have the chance to update you as I go then I'll do so by filling in the text underneath. This should save me heaps of time. Take care and I'll definitely be updating things after a couple of things.

Tina, Anne and I at BKK airport

Wednesday, June14th 2000 

So here I am in an internet cafe in Kaoh San Road, Bangkok. Flight was uneventful (apart from meeting Tina and Anni - who both work for Hess) just before boarding the same flight. and meeting up with them in Bangkok Airport where we spent all night playing cards and chatting. They flew to Kohsa mui this morning while I took the 5 Baht bus into Bangkok and found a room. (Just for your info that bus is the no. 59 boardable from outside the airport which is a big saving on the 200 Baht limousine bus (don't know how long the limo takes but this bus took 1 1/2 hours. Ouch!)) Found a simple room for the night for B120 off Kaoh San road. Next I have to figure out my next move: fly to Hanoi or take the bus overland through Laos.Thinking , thinking, thinking.
While setting out on this trip I started to jot down what's going on in my life, down in my sketchbook - You can see the result here.

Same day - different internet cafe - several hours later. So just after I wrote the above , I walked out of Kaoh San Road with the intention of getting out of the ex-pat's usual scene. And that I did. No longer did I sit down for a minute or two to look at the map, then a thirty-something Thai chap came by and asked me where I was heading. I thought I'd go check out some of the markets and I told him this. He, in turn, told me of a Buddhist festival being held at Wat Noi. He told me how to get there My guide in Bangkokand invited me to join him but as I'm very wary in unfamiliar surroundings I declined. It was only a minute after he left that I thought I might have a look-see at Wat Noi. I crossed the road only to find that he too was waiting for that bus. So what the heck, I went along. He took me to an old temple that was in need of some repair and renovation. He told me about the reason some Buddhas stand, some sit, some recline, why some smile and some don't. He's a history teacher from Phuket and he told me he felt some affinity seeing as I was also a teacher. After looking at a couple of older temples he took me to a cafe and then suggested we go to a 'student's' singing room. As it was just about to start teh afternoon monsoon, he decided it 'd be better if we took taxi bikes. This was a bit novel to actually pay someone to 'ride' you to your destination, but when in Rome... Paying passage

The singing room's a strange setup, as I first understood. Students sing and the public pays to listen to them. You can then imagine my disappointment when some of the singers are awarded with a small neck-chain of flowers - to which money is attatched. This, as I learned, was to invite the singer to join the donater at his table - to talk - or whatever.

basically the set-up is a way of prostituting young girls to pay for college. I felt sickened to learn this and although my host told me 'they need the money' and the clients were helping them by giving them money. "Yeah, of course! These guys are only visiting this room to help out needy students - nothing to do with having sex with young girls." He couldn't justify his position when I asked him how he'd feel if he came in one day and found his sister singing on the stage. Why do people feel the need to exploit each other?

As you could well imagine, this course of conversation put a bit of a downer on the evening so we decided to call it a night. I took a long walk back to the Kaoh San area and found a cheaper internet cafe - only 40Baht an hour. And next, so to bed.

or so I thought.
I got back to Kaoh San Rd. and went for a movie in one of the many bars. The one I wanted to see was 'Stir of Echoes' and I got there just a little after it had started (apparently but how would I know?) I quaffed a cola and then chatted with other customers during the film. After that film I went over to another bar which was playing 'Deuce Bigalow', a most excellent comedy (if you haven't already seen it.) As anyone will know me knows I guffawed my way through it and after met a couple of other travellers in the bar and quaffed a few (beers) and before I knew it we'd moved onto another bar and soon enough it was 7:00. How on earth did that happen?
Larking in the pub
It's not a great picture, granted, but do you recognise the three brits here? Dang! I hate it that I forget names so easily. The two girls I think are Caroline and Tara and are from London and I can't quite remember where the guy's from. I met the girls while watching 'Stir of Echoes' and then met the other guy while watching 'Deuce Bigalow'. As you can observe by the picture this shot was taken after consuming a fair amount of alcohol.

Thursday, June 15th 2000

Out walking and taking in a few Wats, came across Tyson Benton from down London way (as I remember). I totally forget for the moment what his story is but I do remember that he's a photographer, or that he's studying photography and that he's been travelling around too. He was on his way to Bali where he was meeting up with a friend. I guess we both had the same Tyson and Kim on board!idea of getting out of Kaoh San Rd. and taking some photos before we had to leave Thailand. We headed north of Kaoh San and toward the river. We thought about hiring a boat to take in a cruse of the river but the price that the boat owner was asking was a little out of our price range. We were still in the area when I saw an asian tourist asking the boat owner how much it was so I asked the guy, Kim, from Seoul, if he'd like to split the cost three ways and the deal was struck.

Why bother buying snacks...

... when you can pick your own fish!

Sometimes it's hard to know what wat is what.

'It's got a good view.'

Tradition and modernism

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