Sawa deep khap (I’m absolutely positive I spelled this wrong – but it means hello and is about the only Thai phrase I currently know.)
Not a heck of a lot to report on since I only got into Bangkok 10 hours ago. The flight, which was a cool 22 hours from NYC, came and went like a mild case of the SARS - a bit irritating, but definitely over-hyped. Upon arrival I found my crazy creek chair/sleeping mat missing from my bag and an email stating that the hotel I booked earlier that day was oversold. So with little else to do I threw myself at the mercy of a random Thai man standing around pimping taxis. I negotiated a deal where I would pay 1400 bhat for a room and a ride. Still not sure how much that is, but I assume the exhange rate is around 40 to 1. At least that was the rate 6 years ago when I visited.
This morning I loaded up my 80lb pack and headed off to the International Youth and Eco Conference in Bangkok. Yes I did say 80 pounds! I’m a freakin’ idiot for carrying all this stuff. A lot of the weight has to do with this giant camera I’m carrying. The nice aspect of carrying a large camera is that people either believe you’re important or a good target for kidnapping. I’m fine with either. So anyway right now I’m typing at a computer in the pressroom of the conference at my own desk. If anyone wants to send me a fax here is your chance. As soon as I jump off this machine I’m going to go upstairs and shoot some video. There are about 10,000 people in this building checking out all that Thailand has to offer for the eco/youth traveler. It’s quite the production as Thailand positions itself to be the main hub of all travel in East Asia. It is already one of the most touristed countries with over 20 million visitors every year. The reason why is basically because the people are wonderful, food is delicious, accommodations are cheap and there is no limit on the number of sites and activities you can wrap yourself around. On the downside the circuit is a well traveled so you tend to get an over abundance of touristy crap. In real terms I believe this is only true for a few major locations like Chaing Mai, Phuket and Ko Samui and if you go just off the beaten path you will find yourself miles from anywhere you have ever been.
If I can find a ticket I’m going to head off to Chaing Mai tonight via a night train. A wonderful woman by the name of Esther is putting me up although she is in Germany. She wrote me and said her neighbor would let me in and her dogs don’t bite unless they are beaten. Unbelievable considering I have never met this woman. She also arranged a person from a hilltribe to accompany me up the highest peak in Thailand. Doi Inthanon Mountain. After a few days in Chaing Mai I plan on floating down the Mekong river to Laos. I heard it takes about 3 days. Then I’ll enter back into Thailand for a rocket festival in the north east. In order to enter Cambodia it is necessary to come in via Thailand verses Laos. Something political I’m sure to learn more about. From there I’ll go down to Angkor and then to the Islands in the South of Cambodia. If possible I’ll island hop over to Thailand island of Ko Chang (where hopefully I’ll have my scuba equipment sent – part of the reason my bag weighs 80 lbs). From there I’ll just keep hopping until I’m finally back to Bangkok for my departure flight on May 30th. I haven’t verified any of this trip with my travel companion (trekshare member scharke) because I just came up with it yesterday. I’m sure aspects will change, but you need a plan if you hope to get visas and national park passes.
I’m off to find my friend Paul. He arrives from Ko Samui today and frankly I have no clue how I’m going to locate him at the conference. Wish me the best. Post messages on my trektalk board!
Love you all,