One of my journal entries from Feb. 2004 from Thailand:
Well, I’ve been here a month now and here’s a recap of what’s been happening.
1st of all, I’ve got to say I had the most enjoyable flight ever coming over here. The United Air flight from NYC was only about ½ full and I had 3 seats to myself.
We left at noon and headed northwest which took us up through Canada and over the Hudson bay, then eventually over northern Alaska. Well, being the end of January I never would’ve expected to see anything but dark over these cold places. But when I opened my window shade, I discovered that it was light out all the way!
In fact, it was noon everywhere as we took off from NYC at 11:30 AM and landed in Tokyo at 1:30 PM so we basically followed the sun all the way. Well this lead to some of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen from an aircraft. From 35,000 feet I was looking down on these huge crevasses in the Hudson Bay that must’ve been miles across and seeing blue ice way down inside them.
Hours and hours I watched the landscape unfold and it was apparent when we hit Alaska as he mountain range there was huge and again we flew over these mountains for hours and hours and only for about 30 minutes did I see some signs of manmade roads there. I shot some video through the dirty double Plexiglas window but it doesn’t compare to seeing what I saw on this flight. White, wilderness with no sign of man for hours and hours.
I watched fascinated while the other passengers where content to sleep or watch the 5 or 6 movies that were showing on this long flight. You could almost see the Arctic circle as we came back over water that wasn’t frozen ice south of Alaska and heading down to Tokyo.
After a 3 hour layover in Japan, I boarded a 7 hour flight to Bangkok and arrived in the long awaited heat of 80 degrees F around midnight.
My stomach was starting to get butterflies as I was getting close to my home of last year and my beautiful girlfriend waiting for me in Phuket. (only a 12 hour bus ride away) I tried to sleep in Bangkok that night but really didn’t get much sleep as my body thought it was noon.
I boarded the night bus to Phuket to arrive at 6AM in familiar surroundings of Phuket town where I spent 5 ½ months last year and was among friends again. But most of all it was Thum, my girlfriend who I was coming to see:
I arrived in Phuket on Superbowl Sunday and watched the game at 6 AM and was surprised to see a football game with absolutely no commercials! We saw a lot of shots of the fans and players on the bench, but nothing was cut, not even the exposed boob at the halftime show.
The PS2 where I stay has a great pool and I took full advantage to get used to the heat after the cold days treading through snow getting ready to go back in Schuylkill Haven.
Thum and I spent the next few days riding around the island of Phuket on my Honda 125 CC motorbike that I always rent there. These jungle roads winding through the mountains and hills of Thailand are perfect for bikeriding although it’s important to always remember that they drive on the left.
We left southern Thailand a week later to meet up with my friend Rainman from Vt. who arrived on his flight from Boston.
We spent a few days again in Bangkok before heading out to Ko Chang, the 2nd biggest island in Thailand next to Phuket. We got bungalows on the beach about 40 metres from the water for about $5.00 a night. These are basic bungalows but plenty of comforts for us, a bunch of long distance hikers happy in the shelters on the Appalacian Trail as well as our tents in the Sierras of California. Here we had beds, showers, bathrooms with a beautiful view of the Bay of Thailand near the Cambodian border.
After enjoying the bars, food, and views on the topless beaches on Ko Chang, it was time for Thum and I to leave Rainman in the tropical paradise and head north to finally meet her family in the northeast part of Thailand near the Laos border.
We took another 12 hour night bus ride to Chaiyaphum district and the world suddenly changed again. Instead of Taxi’s, we now dealt with 3 wheeled motorbikes called Tuk Tuks driven by maniacs in these sometimes seemingly ancient vehicles held together with baling wire and high hopes.
Now if you happen the read the news in Thailand, one quickly was aware of the headlines every day of the dreaded chicken flu that was sweeping southeast asia and killing not just chickens but people too. And the papers were saying not to worry, that almost all the chickens in the infected areas had been killed. Well, I don’t believe that these people were even aware of this problem as there were chickens everywhere and they didn’t look very young or sick.
When we finally got to Thum’s mothers home, I quickly found out that there were about 40 chickens living in and around the house. These people are too poor to be killing one of their main sources of food and no one ever mentioned the chicken flu here.
Thum had to interpret everything as I had been studying my Thai language books knowing that not many people spoke English up here, but now I discovered that they speak Lao and don’t understand Thai very much at all. The school kids as always would like to try their words out on me, saying hello, goodbye and nice to meet you. But that’s about it.
I spent a week up in Chaiyaphum partying, swimming, singing, playing music, drinking and making many new and great friends.
It was tough to leave but we had plans and had to head back down and rescue Rainman from his life on the beach back in Ko Chang.