Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok’

Randoms in Bangkok

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

It’s my last day in “Asia” and it’s raining in Bangkok – hard. The weather is changing in Koh Tao too. The wind is up, the water temperature is down. Monsoon shouldn’t arrive until November but it’s not as nice as it was two months ago. Seems like a good time to move on. Actually it seemed like a good time to move on about two seconds after arriving here last night, getting mobbed by taxi drivers and hotel touts before even getting off the bus.

Why are the Bangkok taxi drivers so useless? Around Sukhumvit Soi 38 last night I stopped two and asked to go to Khao San Road (about 11 miles and 30-60 minutes). It was raining hard last night too. “Ooooh, too far” said one, “Long way” said the other. “And you get paid for it” replied I. “No, raining, too far”. Useless muppets. Third time lucky.

Why don’t they understand maps? And why if they don’t know where somewhere is do they say they do? An extension of that Asian face-saving refusing to admit you don’t know something mentality, I guess.

It’s an internet/admin day. I don’t know how often I’ll get internet access in China or how reliable it will be. I’ll be moving around a lot and often on overnight trains. I’m couchsurfing in Beijing but I’ll make sure I have a plan B. I was supposed to be sleeping on a friend’s couch last night and that didn’t work out as planned! At least Bangkok is slightly familiar now; Beijing will be a complete unknown. I’m looking forward to it.

One of my couchsurfing hosts in Beijing is a dancer, although not a tanguera. There’s a possibility of a milonga on Tuesday night. Hurrah!

If you’re considering buying an Android smart phone don’t buy a Star A9000. The dual-SIM feature works well. Everything else about the phone is crap. Probably the result of an underpowered processor. Mine is in bits after flying across the room and hitting the wall at high speed. More collateral damage/expense associated with dive master training. Well, the alarm had just failed to go off on the first day I was supposed to be leading customers. Luckily I still got to the boat (just) in time. Not having a mobile phone is a pain. I’ll see what they’ve got in the duty free shops at Bangkok and Hong Kong airports tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll skip the dual-SIM capability this time. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good Android phone?

Five weeks later

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

 

Five and a half weeks later to be precise. Since my last post I’ve done little except diving. Pretty much every day. My tango friend from Istanbul visited for a couple of weeks and we spent two days doing non-diving things. She went home almost convinced to quit work, buy a round the world ticket and go travelling. But otherwise it has been diving, diving and more diving, and some study/academic stuff. In the next few days I will complete the dive master (strictly speaking Dive Control Specialist) course. It has been lots of fun, but also hard work, and I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

I’ve been debating internally the merits of being a perpetual DMT (Dive Master trainee – generic term applied to anyone on the Dive Master or Dive Control Specialist courses). We get up to five “free” dives every day and have almost no responsibilities. It would be easy to stay here but would be a waste of the money I spent on the round the world ticket. So I will be leaving Koh Tao on August 27 and continuing my journey back to Buenos Aires. I will tango in the milongas again. Beijing will be my next stop after a night or two in Bangkok.

Today I made my one hundredth dive. Tradition has it the century dive is made in the nude. Poor visibility and warm water were very welcome.

This isn’t China

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Five months ago, even two weeks ago I expected to be in China, somewhere around Chengdu today. Instead I’m back in Koh Tao and starting a dive master course today.

In the last 5 days I’ve been back to Bangkok to collect the stuff I thought I wouldn’t need for just a week on Koh Tao, made a visa run to Laos and returned to Koh Tao. Expensive and time consuming running around. Last night I arranged some “long term” accommodation, paid a month in advance. This afternoon I’ll shell out at least the deposit for the dive master course. Probably within a couple of days I’ll buy a dive computer. Add in the diving I’ve already done and that’s almost two months budget spent in two weeks. Ouch. On the bright side, I won’t have to spend much on food for the next two months so when I head for China at the end of August I won’t be very much over budget.

I have stolen two months out of the rest of my trip. Two months that I was going to spend dancing tango in Buenos Aires. I figure the potential to earn money from the dive master qualification in the future (perhaps in Cambodia?) is worth delaying my return to the milongas for.

I’m not planning to return to the UK next year when my round-the-world ticket runs out. When I bought it I thought I would stay in Buenos Aires when it ran out. Now I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll stay in Buenos Aires, possibly elsewhere in South America or perhaps in Asia. In the last few years I had quite a lot of freedom to do what I wanted (outside of work) and what I wanted to do was walk, or dance, or fly. Through travelling I’m expanding the palette of things I might want to do and where I might want to do them. I would still like to stay in Buenos Aires and dance tango but there might be something I want to do more. I owe it to myself to find out and I’m having fun doing so.

I haven’t stolen time out of the rest of my trip after all; just reassigned it. That running around may have been time consuming and expensive but it was also enabling.

Nowadays I encourage everyone I meet to reject the conventions of getting a job and settling down. Instead I urge them to find a way to travel, to find and to do the things they truly enjoy. Shift the work/life balance firmly to the life end of the scale. I meet lots of people who have gone travelling. They fall into four main groups:

  1. The ex-pats who have done their travelling and settled into a new routine in a new part of the world.
  2. The (mostly) mid-lifers like me who have quit jobs, sold up and  gone travelling. Some on round-the-world tickets, some on a more casual basis. Most have no real idea of when their journey will end, or where, or what they’ll do when it does.
  3. The late twenty-something/early thirty-somethings on an extended trip who are definitely going home. Maybe to the same job they left, maybe to something new. Perhaps they’ll be starting a family but they’ll almost certainly be settling down.
  4. The gap year brigade. Already at or planning to start university. Few know what they’ll do afterwards.

Curiously I’ve met almost no two week holiday tourists. Perhaps because it’s the wrong time of year for them? To those in the third and fourth groups I say it’s not too late. Go home if you must, but don’t settle down. Reject convention, defy expectations. Explore, make real your dreams.

That was a bit of a ramble. I’m not sorry.