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Pop Culture Travels

It’s A Party in The USA – Thailand Part 7

Yesterday we arrived in Ayutthaya and set up camp in a hostel called Tony’s Place. While there are some minor flaws (zero water pressure in the shower), this is hands down the coolest place I have ever stayed at while abroad. The whole front of the building is a giant deck/restaurant that is swarming with a mix of traveling folk, and it’s directly across the street from Christine’s favorite bar, Chang House.

There is WiFi and decent food on the terrace, as well as a tourist information desk. It very much blurs the line between hotel and hostel. Everyone here is super friendly, and I’m typing this while eating a delicious BLT breakfast (I got a little tired of chicken and rice.)

Our room has cable TV, so we settled in and relaxed for a bit and flipped through stations before settling on MTV Africa (an odd thing to broadcast since Thailand is not in Africa). I haven’t watched MTV in years. In fact, I’ve been pretty actively boycotting it since around 1997, so whenever I do catch it for a while, I’m always blown away by what I see. 8 videos in a row and 7 of them (including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus) clearly used and overused auto-tune. I’m sickened, is there any musical talent required anymore? Geez. Anyway, this frightened me worse when I realized I was watching MTV Africa, not MTV US, these pop stars and the ads for Jersey Shore represent America to many people, and they look up to it. That is frightening.

After that, we went to Chang House and hung out with Christine’s friend Earth. Awesome guy, we split a bottle of “Blend” whiskey (Distilled by Red Bull, cheap and not half bad, considering) and attempted to overcome language barriers and had a good laugh doing so. From there, we went to another bar where Earth’s band was playing and found some French guys and Christine’s coworker, Dan, from the UK. We had a great time talking about cultural differences, and I wound up telling the one gentleman from Paris my trick to getting a Parisian to speak English. He had a hearty laugh and admitted he had no doubt it would work.

From there we went to a nightclub where there was a Thai rock band playing. I was exhausted, but it was a lot of fun. It seems a lot of Thai rock is set on a reggae beat, so it’s very, very similar to the ska-punk I grew up with on Long Island, which is very strange but very comforting. Eventually, the band busted into a Thai Punk cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance,’ which was surprisingly good.

Thai covers of American music are actually really huge over here in the touristy areas. Still, they are quite amusing to those who natively speak English. I’ve been told that most (but not all) of the singers don’t understand the words to what they’re singing. It strikes me as believable as if you listen closely, many of the singers will butcher the lyrics but hit the notes, tones, and timing near perfectly. It’s an amazing phenomenon and very entertaining nonetheless. From there, it was time for bed. As a whole, the day turned out to be really enlightening and fun.

Today we’re catching a boat tour around the city and checking outcome old ruins. I can’t wait to take pictures and share them with y’all. Cheers!

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Travels

Arrival/Night 1 – Thailand Part 2

I managed to get a WiFi connection in Hong Kong briefly, which is how I was able to post the first entry. So far, I haven’t been able to get any service on a Thai network with data using my iPhone. (Edit: It turns out if I turn off 3G, it works fine.)

Anyway, enough of the Internet woes. I landed around 10:30 am and wandered around the airport for a while before finding Christine. We then caught a bus and went to Khao San in Bangkok to find a hostel for the day.

I am thrilled not to be on a plane right now. The travel here was a combined over 20 hours and 5 different airplane meals. I never want to eat something with a tinfoil lid ever again.

I made pretty good use of the time though: I did a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and rewatched most of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ season 1. It’s crazy, but I have very quickly fallen head over heels in love with my iPad. The battery life is incredible.

Christine suggested we check out the market, but apparently it’s only open on the weekends. So we took a Tuk-tuk to the Skytrain in an attempt to check out a photo gallery. After a good hour of wandering, we discovered that the gallery was also closed, so we decided to settle down at a bar outside and throw back a couple of beers. I made a point to try all three of the major national beers; Singha, Chang, and Leo. All three are pretty basic lagers, nothing especially great about any of them. I prefer Chang, Christine prefers Singha.

Our Tuk-tuk driver made us stop off at a tailor; he apparently gets a commission, so we agreed to humor him and spend a few minutes in there. Well, it turned out I got talked into buying some custom-fitted shirts. The fact of the matter is though, it was really a steal. I basically paid $200 for three fitted shirts of my own custom styling and fitting and a superb pair of slacks. I really do need good dress clothes, and the price and quality were beyond reasonable. They had them cut, fitted, and delivered to our hostel in just a few hours. That’s pretty unbeatable service.

We are now hanging out in Khao San in a bar with an excellent cover band made up of Thai nationals that do frighteningly good versions of American and British pop songs. The place is swarming with Britons who go crazy at every Oasis song, but I can’t really blame them either; I totally nerded out for the Nirvana covers myself, so who am I to judge?