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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Asian Reflections

So I wrote this blog once before but it all got erased so I am giving it another go. I just wanted to write about my time in Asia. I really loved it there more than I ever thought I would. My original plan was to spend a little bit of time in Thailand,Laos,Cambodia and Vietnam splitting my time equally between all of the countries. What actually ended up happening was I spent almost all of my time in Thailand, a week in Laos and a week in Cambodia with no time in Vietnam ( that will be for next time) I love being able to just change my plans whenever and where I need too.

Thailand: Thailand really amazed me on so many levels that was by far my favourite country and the only country (besides Australia) I have visited that I can honestly say I could live in. Not forever of course but for a while. At first it was just such a culture shock to me because they do everything SO different in Asia. I saw alot of stuff that would give occupational health and safety guys a heart attack! They aren't purposely unsafe over there I just think that is how its always been. They just dont know any better. I took some scary journeys along the way with some dodgy transport but I managed to leave Asia without a scratch. So it can be done :)

My favourite city in Thailand was up north, in Chang Mai. I loved the beautiful jungle being so close and the people were so chilled out and relaxed it was great there. I had a love hate relationship with Bangkok some stuff I loved about it but I really didn't enjoy people trying to use you like an ATM because you were a tourist or the pollution or the loud noises but even Bangkok holds its charms.

Down south in the islands it was beautiful there. It was quite expensive just due to it being the high tourist season but, I loved just relaxing on the islands chilling out and as you have seen from my pictures I was lucky enough to work on my tan. So I really traveled Thailand pretty much north to south and I loved it all. I had such a great time there I may accept a job there to teach English for a year. But I will for sure be going back.

Laos: I spent a week in Laos, I crossed over the border from Thailand into Laos. The border crossing took a bit and it cost 35 American Dollars but once I made it into Laos it was worth it! It was like a "break" from Thailand. As much as I loved Thailand sometimes it just got a little crazy there. Laos was so beautiful and so relaxed. I went down south to the 4,000 islands and literally did nothing and loved it. They didn't even really have consistent electricity but it was so cheap there and you could just sit on the beach and relax and at night you could watch the stars. I saw freshwater dolphins and alot of amazing things and no one hassled you in Laos. You wouldn't know it but, on a sad note... Laos is the most heavily mined country in the world and its neighbour Cambodia is number 2 due to the Vietnam war and other wars there is land mines everywhere and there is a ton of amputee victims due to land mine explosions. I stayed on clearly marked paths and came out of there with all my fingers and all my toes.

Cambodia: For me personally I just didn't enjoy Cambodia and wont be returning. It was loud,extremely filthy like they didn't even make any kind of an effort to clean up their own country,it was poor and there was beggars EVERYWHERE! Now I can understand up to a point why people beg for money over there because in the Asian countries there is absolutely no social safety net and if you are poor then you just work until you die. But there is actually a real "beggar fatigue" issue over there. You just get hit up for money so much by so many people it just makes you crazy!

I did go to S21 and The Killing Fields which is where Pol Pot and his insane political group tried to "purify" the country of Cambodia in 4 years between 1975-1979. In that time I total of 3-4 million Cambodians died of various causes but just at S21 alone they murdered 17,000 people with only 7 surviving. I have blogged previously about my experiences there. It was good to see that Cambodia is not denying what happened but it was just extremely hard for me to go thru. I dont regret it I just wouldn't do it again. Really the only thing I honestly enjoyed about Cambodia was getting my massage by Nika who was totally blind but gave an amazing massage! Best one I have ever had and going to Angkor Wat. Not all of Cambodia is a bad place and many people love it, it just wasn't for me. I am still glad I went though.

So all in all I really did love Asia and actually when I got back to Australia the first night even though I hadn't been in Asia THAT long it was SO strange coming back to the western world. It really honestly felt alien to me. I felt as if I didn't belong and everything was different. I kinda went into a depression like state for a day or 2 and I couldn't sleep well. I asked my other friends about this who have been to Asia and they report the same. Its just so different coming back to the civilized world.

What I dont miss is the stupid "frog ladies" of Bangkok (those of you who have been know what I am talking about) it is these ladies who walk around and make this insane strumming frog noise over and over trying to attract your attention. It makes me crazy! I dont miss loud tuk tuk drivers trying to get your business ( Where you go?!) I dont miss multiple people a day trying to offer me a suit I dont need or want for a "special price" and I dont miss little kids who want to sell me flowers or thumb wrestle or play pool  with me for money because they ALWAYS win and when you fork your money over to them they dont even get to keep it. Children selling books or flowers or anything are just basically forced into a form of slavery for their greedy or sometimes poor parents who keep the money. They should be in school like normal kids but they aren't. I even saw a girl who was FOUR years old selling stuff. It really is a shame there is no social safety net for people in Thailand.

Well I guess thats it for now. Hopefully my blog actually saves and publishes this time. I dont want to write all this again. -Tyler

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