Sunday, February 10, 2013

Back in Bangkok

Ashley left on Friday and I've been amusing myself until it's time to head to Burma. Amusing myself mainly consists of reading, finding things to eat and taking lots of showers. It's hot, no, it's languid. My room has no aircon. I have lots of bumps on my hands and feet, heat rash, but I prefer to call it prickly heat since it sounds like something a fair-skinned colonist would've had back in the day (Thailand is the only country in SE Asia that was never actually a colony).

Somewhat relatedly, I was mistaken for an 'English girl' because of my fair skin by a German Floridian (do Germans get to claim, "I'm from Florida?" Really?). He was a shill for a guru.  He told me I could "find my inner piece that's actually been there the whole time." He approached me in the hotel bar just as I finished the final pages of Anna Karenina, which are all about the protagonist's Christian epiphany. Maybe I had that "seeker" look.

After Chiang Mai, Ashley and I made for the islands. In Phuket, we were flanked by Russians. Always. I guess we picked the European beach. Thailand gets 14 million tourists a year and this is high season, so everywhere was a bit of a zoo. The smaller island of Ko Phi Phi (where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed The Beach) was much nicer, though still crowded.

Supposedly Burma only gets 300,000 tourists a year, but I bet that number will shoot up again this year. So while I don't expect the Disneyland-feel there is here in Thailand (some places feel like the only Thais are the ones employed in tourism), I am a little anxious because it's still high season and everyone says the tourism infrastructure is at capacity at the moment. Everyone also says book ahead for hotels, but not that many hotels (in my price range) are online and the ones that are are booked. I'm pretty sure I have a dorm bed lined up for my first few nights, but it's hard to tell from the emails I've been exchanging with the staff, "Every day people booking, no show up, email again day before you come."

The highlight of Thailand was definitely our elephant riding day. Second best was a boat ride with snorkeling on Phi Phi Ley. There's a couple elephant photos below, but I'll share more in a separate blog since there are so many I want to post.

Elephants cleaning up after lunch

Playful baby elephant
The view from our place on Koh Phi Phi

On the way to Phi Phi Ley

Phi Phi Ley. I had a lot of boat envy.

delightful view from my Bangkok hotel room

A lot of my meals look like this

My hotel is in Chinatown, perfect for Chinese New Year!

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