Tag Archives: Thailand

Kanchanaburi Photos

I’ve got a lot going on and a few new and exciting things up my sleeve but I wanted to post a quick note that I just published a few new photos from my Thailand trip back in April to Flickr.

A lot more are on the way. Sorry about the delays. Thanks for your patience. The best part of working part time is the ability to get through your backlog of stuff you’ve always wanted to do.

Here is the link: Kanchanaburi – April ’10 on Flickr

First Batch of Thailand Photos!

Bangkok on Flickr

Alright, so it’s finally happening, this is quite the week!

In addition to launching my new ChicagoNow blog: Focal Points. I’m getting started on my Thailand photos! I was able to get through 26 photos from my first day in Bangkok.

Hopefully I’ll be posting more daily until I’ve cranked them all out. Thailand, and my Tokyo blog entry are my #1 priorities for this blog in the next few weeks. I’m planning on going back and retroactively adding photos to the existing entries, like so. After that I’ve got a host of other things I cannot wait to share with you folks as well!

Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy.

Bangkok Part 1 on Flickr

4 Hours in Malaysia / 26 Hours in Tokyo – Part 1

After leaving Bangkok I landed in Kuala Lumpur for a 4 hour layover. Just long enough to get bored to tears in an airport but not long enough to leave said airport.

I wandered around they duty free shops for a bit and decided to get a bite to eat at the Malaysian noodle place called Nööödles. I got the “beef balls and herbs soup” and a coke for what equated to around $7, not half bad. After that I stumbled onto the airport Starbucks which had a free open WiFi connection… Sweet! Only problem though? No way to charge my devices.. Kuala Lumpur is the only stop on my trip that doesn’t use the standard US two prong wall socket and I didn’t bring my adaptor kit with me. Luckily enough there was an electronics store right below where I was able to pick up one of those little adaptor switch boxes for around $10.

I did have a momentary nerd out moment in there however. They had TONS of Japanese video games for sale and all sorts of bizarre bootleg devices. This was the kind of stuff that 10 year old me dreamed of. I got really really excited at the idea of buying something to bring home and play… Then I remembered that this isn’t the days of old where you could get a cartridge adaptor for your NES and just play Japanese games, the whole industry has switched to optical media which simply won’t play without modding your systems, which thanks to the DMCA is illegal in the USA and with companies like Microsoft blocks you from getting online. Damn. Stupid regions. Stupid DMCA. Stupid Microsoft.

After I got over my heartbreak on this I went back to Starbucks, plugged in and I was off and running! (Note: the iPad’s battery would have no doubt made it fine through my flight to Tokyo, but I knew I was going to use it heavily in the next day so I wanted to start off with a fresh full charge.

I arrived at the Narita airport and wandered around a bit, taking a moment to use the bathroom, clean myself up and change into jeans. It’s 84 degrees here, a huge break compared to the sweltering heat and humidity of Thailand, I’m excited to be wearing jeans again.

I took a bus to the downtown Tokyo Train station which took about an hour but I figured would be a good starting point. From there I began to wander some more, I immediately was able to figure out which direction I was walking from the placement of the sun and when I noticed that I laughed out loud. The boy scouts would be proud. I’m extremely grateful for my iPhone right now as none of the streets are obviously labeled, that said I think I’d be doing okay as there are a lot of maps placed throughout the city which denote where you are. Navigation is all based on neighborhoods and landmarks, and it’s surprisingly clear for someone who doesn’t read a word of Japanese.

First thing on my agenda: find the Apple store. I accomplished this very quickly. Now I know you probably laughed at that and might have even muttered “nerd” but there is a method to my madness. Apple is very selective in the placement of their stores, they are usually in upscale, popular/trendy areas so they can immediately give you an idea of a good place to check out, on top of that they offer free wifi, accessible power outlets, clean bathrooms and friendly multi-lingual staff.

That choice paid off big time immediately I was able to find a guy who had moved here from Estonia who was able to give me a brief run-through of Tokyo basics. First thing he told me, enjoy the free WiFi because I won’t find much of it elsewhere. Not even Starbucks offers it apparently and McDonald’s does but only to Nintendo DS users… great. I also found out the post office here doesn’t sell stamps… weird. I’ve yet to mail out my postcards so that is priority #2.

Christine’s father was able to get me a great hotel rate for tonight so I’ll be staying at the Sheraton, this goes against my usual traveling rules, but I could use a clean bed and shower. Unfortunately I can’t check in until 2 so it I’ve got some time to kill.

I’ve heard a few suggestions / requests of things to do for tonight which I’m excited to start tackling as soon as I’ve put my bags down. I’m still open for more though so hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. More later!

Always an Adventure – Thailand Part 9

Yesterday was relatively low key, Christine had some errands to run and I was desperately crazing cheese and gross American foods so we split up. I wound up hanging out at Pizza Hut eating mediocre pizza and drinking unlimited free refills of Pepsi and Christine wound up meeting me there. Word of Saturday’s violence in Bangkok started to trickle in and people started to be a bit concerned. The prime minister was on TV issuing a statement but people’s opinions are mixed. The situation actually seems to get more tense by the day, both sides want something without a compromise, it would appear the only way it’s going to end is with further bloodshed. Thankfully in Nakhon Sawan it was of little local concern.

After pizza Christine took me out to the park on her motorcycle. We relaxed for a bit and she taught me how to drive it, I found it to be surprisingly simple and very fun. I’m definitely going to look into it further when I return to the states. After that we went and relaxed by the pond, we bought a bag of rice balls and fed the GIANT fish who live in the pond, watching and laughing as the jumped and splashed over each other for each piece.

After that we went to a small bar simply named “Cups” to meet her friends Jon and Tom. It was Jon’s last night in town for a while so we kicked back and had a few beers. A few locals that the group knew joined us and we discussed the political situation in more depth and the general consensus seemed to be that both sides of the argument have a ton of merit but are equally wrong in their actions. Unfortunately there isn’t a third active side, the average Thai citizen would rather just ignore it and live their lives. Jon and Christine pumped me for information about the recently passed American health care reform bill, they both are deeply concerned that they may be expected to purchase American health care while living abroad or face steep fines. I admitted that I honestly don’t know how it will affect them if at all.

After hearing about my first drive of a cycle Jon offered to let me try out his. While Christine has a cute little Honda Wave, Jon has something a little more akin to a Harley. Christine had a good laugh when Jon made me get off the cycle when I asked what a “clutch” was and he refused to let me try again. Apparently I’m a freak because I never learned to drive a manual transmission car. How was I to know?

Anyway from there we called it an early night so I could wake early in the morning for Bangkok to fly to Kuala Lumpur and then Tokyo.

We got up the next morning, I showered, packed up and Christine gave me directions to get back to Bangkok, what to say to Taxi drivers etc. News reports on BBC International seemed to convey even more tension in Bangkok, making me glad I was heading down to the city early for my 4pm flight.

We said our goodbyes and soon from there I caught a motorbike to a bus station, only problem… Wrong one. The language barrier soon became unsurmountable as I tried over and over to explain to my driver where we were supposed to go, eventually I was forced to give up and call for Christine’s assistance, she came and met me at the station as she also had to head south, we luckily found one bus that was going to hit both of our stops and caught it together. It was a 3 hour ride down to Rangsit and traffic was heavy, as we got closer to Bangkok you could see military road blocks where they were randomly pulling people out of cars for interrogation. Not a pleasant sight. Christine got out at Ahuttaya to pick up her Kindle which she had left in the hostel a few days before and I had another 30 min until I arrived at Rangsit. From there I caught a Taxi and head back to Bangkok airport completely avoiding the downtown area and boarding my flight out of the country.

I had a great stay in Thailand but now I’m on to my next adventure: 27 hours in Tokyo! Dear readers my agenda is pretty open. Ever been to Tokyo? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what I should do.

Buddha, Buddha, Buddha, Buddha, Rockin' Everywhere – Thailand Part 8

Yet another full day.

After sleeping off the night before and waking up around 2 Christine and I head out yesterday and got a boat tour through the Ayutthaya river. The boat ride was excellent and it was a lot of fun to ride past people swimming in the river who then turned to wave at us. The boat made three stops, the first of which was to a Buddhist temple that houses the largest Buddha statue in Thailand. The thing was massive! There were also monks leading holy blessings and the whole thing kinda felt like a Buddhist version of an evangelist Church as a man walked around with a microphone and got people to shout in it, kinda bizarre, but the statue was pretty cool.

I’m not quite sure what the second stop was, there definitely were some monks wandering around as well as some interesting buildings and statues but I’m pretty sure I didn’t go to the spots I was supposed to. When I got back to the boat however everyone was there except Christine. I wandered around looking for her to no avail. Since I had no other way to find her I was forced to call her on my iPhone, for which did not purchase a calling plan for, so the call definitely cost around $6 for a grand total of 2 minutes… Awesome. After that I managed to somehow pocket dial Jenn at 4:30 am in her time zone which she was thrilled about and cost me at least another $6. Doubly awesome!

From there we went to our third stop, which seemed to be ruins of a Buddhist temple, however since everything was in Thai and no one spoke English I had no idea what exactly I was looking at, however I do feel like I’ve seen photos of this place before so once the pictures are online maybe someone can identify it.

After that we caught the bus to Nakhon Sawan where Christine has an apartment. We dropped off our stuff and grabbed her motor bike and then met two friends of hers for dinner, drinks and karaoke till 3:30 am. It was a pretty good time with laughs all around. Today is my last full day here, tomorrow I have to take a bus back to Bangkok and then a flight to Tokyo at 4pm. I’m really excited for Tokyo and I’ll be glad to get out of the sweltering heat but I’m definitely going to miss this place and Christine.

In a little bit we’re going to head out and she’s going to attempt to teach me to drive the motor bike and show me some of her favorite places around town. I’m hoping to make it an early night and a slower day so I’m rested for all the traveling tomorrow but we’ll see.

Cheers!