Sunday, February 27, 2011

A childish day out again

I'm 25 years old and I love zoos, alright? There's nothing strange or creepy about a single, childless man enjoying hanging around zoos by himself. Besides, whoever heard of a paedophile visiting Thailand anyway?... Okay, bad example.

As well as laughing at chimps, cringing at performing seals and picking out species for my inevitable turtle farm, going to the zoo in a country not renowned for its fair treatment of animals after visiting prim and proper Taipei Zoo in December made for some interesting comparisons.

Bangkok's zookeepers also don't seem to care which species they bundle together in the same habitat, as if they're planning some violent sitcom or grisly reality show and just thinking of the ratings.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A great British day out

Michael Legge saying funny things with his mouth

After spending 10 weeks in relatively tourism-unsullied Taiwan, Bangkok's reliance on the industry is all the more obvious - even if I don't have the benefit of having seen this cultural deterioration over time, like some of the more experienced travellers I've met.

In fact, even with the heat, the language barrier and the terrifying prostitutes of Thailand's capital, it's now possible to forget you're in a foreign country altogether - as I discovered today when I accidentally had a great British day out in Bangkok.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

There's a Rattanakosin, what am I gonna do?

Bangkok is a sprawling, bustling metropolis... probably. Fortunately, I've managed to avoid getting stressed out and even more confused than the heat is achieving already by limiting my horizons to Rattanakosin Island (รัตนโกสินทร์), where all the old, interesting stuff is.

Come on then, I haven't got all day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning Thai

This post was proving too popular. The sexy teacher had to go

A new land, a new language to learn for three days before I give into fatigue and laziness and decide that 'hello,' 'sorry' and a couple of swear words will get me by. I'm not dead yet am I? Unless this blog is my hell.

So, because - contrary to sense - I do actually find these helpful for forming neural connections and remembering the order of foreign numbers, I've committed my mental mental image of Thai numbers 0 to 9 to paper. Or more accurately, to Paint.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

First impressions of Thailand

Unusually for my overwritten blogs, there's no throughline, contrived argument or pseudo-philosophising here - I just thought I'd get some of my first impressions of Thailand down so I can laugh at my ignorance further down the line, when I'm having a great time jumping off cliffs into clear water or whatever people do here.

And also because I'm too hot to think.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Well, that about wraps it up for Taiwan

It took me two years to get Edinghbored in Scotland, but after two months I was already getting Taiwangst. I have the attention span of a - hey look, a bunny!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


What the hell am I looking at? (Taipei Main Station)

A final anthology of more unusual/daft things I've witnessed with my eyes in Taiwan.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why are all the Americans I meet from Michigan?

I'm not one to make sweeping generalisations (generally speaking), and exaggeration is the last thing I'd ever do, but from my detailed study into the backgrounds of travelling Americans (i.e. asking attractive yank girls I meet where they come from), an unlikely proportion hail from Michigan.

From these findings, I can only conclude that the Wolverine State is either an inspiring and influential place that instils its youth with a longing for international travel, or that it's just a really, really rubbish place that people can't escape soon enough.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Writing again

If you followed my tedious writing adventure back in November, when I wrote a 50,022 word novel in four weeks, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I would never do anything so ridiculously time-consuming and unrewarding again. But that would be to underestimate my masochistic streak, as I've recently started writing for fun again. Imagine!

That's right - not content with filling the internet with corporate crap, or writing cathartic tirades against my countryfolk, I've decided to spend even more time sat at the computer writing about pretend things. This mostly takes place in parks, to get me outside and away from the distracting internet.

And unlike the novel I wrote for National Novel Writing Month, it actually is fiction this time, as opposed to just mostly writing about my own thoughts and experiences since leaving the UK and then changing my name to 'Simon' so no one would notice (not that I'd ever allow human eyes to see it).

This new thing

Art by Paul Lasaine

I'm excited about this new thing, and it'll hopefully consume a lot of my remaining time here in Taiwan before I head to (probably) Thailand for new Asian antics next month. I say 'hopefully,' because without the pointless deadline of NaNoWriMo, it's likely I'll fall back on old habits, like taking extremely extended walks to get through audiobooks, or writing blogs about writing instead of actually doing the writing. Oh dear.

Alright, I'll stop procrastinating and crack on then. Because this one won't contain scandalous caricatures of people I know, and could even be surprisingly good, I might even let you read it this time. In the meantime, here's some juvenilia - a story I wrote when I was arguably at my creative peak, aged six, starring what I imagined to be myself. And my magic wardrobe, of course. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why can't I be a bit more like Marco Polo?

Ha ha ha, look at this somewhat wrong but in other ways remarkably accurate world map.
It's as if they didn't even have satellite imaging capability, the 15th century idiots!

Alright, I don't really have any desire to spend my finite existence failing to spread a lying religious message across Asia - the cheery Mormon missionary I met yesterday is already doing a fine job of that (the failing part in particular; he was rubbish). But at least these historical guys had some sort of satisfying objective dictating their foolhardy, inspirational travels across the East, whereas I'm entirely lacking any kind of direction in my 'travels' (if we can call them that? I guess I am physically moving between locations).

This desire for rules is a bit of a contradiction for me, as in every other respect I have a pathological, knee-jerk aversion to any kind of boundaries imposed from above - whether it's a contract for a job, a phone or a flat, or a relationship lasting longer than a week (yeah, there definitely aren't other problems to address there). I have a fantastic job that lets me go anywhere I like (within reason, and sometimes without), but sometimes the burden of choice is so great that it would be easier to have a gentle nudge.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why can't everyone be a bit more like me?

Taiwan is a very peaceful country. There's no hassle for tourists, no drunks on the streets and no cacophonous prayer calls bellowing five times a day. Even when they're forced to make a sound, the Taiwanese like to use pleasing musical jingles to brighten things up - like the Beethoven bin men, the Family Mart door chime and replacing the dialling tone with classical music.

It's just the people who visit Taiwan who can be inconsiderate dicks.

When you're sleeping in hostel dorms, you're all in the same boat (not usually literally, unless you're in some kind of wacky novelty accommodation in a harbour). I haven't seen or experienced any theft or other forms of foul play, but that doesn't mean people don't routinely piss me off.

If only everyone could be a bit more like me, but without the social anxiety and lack of direction, as then we wouldn't get anything done. Here's the new constitution.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Taroko: Regorged

I don't like going backwards. When I was in Egypt, returning to Cairo for a single night to catch a flight was enough to give me recurring nightmares about accidentally finding myself back in that crazy city, and I've had even worse dreams about realising I'm back in the UK.

But this week, faced with the choice of heading back up north on the efficient high-speed railways of Taiwan's industrialised, little-explored west coast or trundling my way back through the familiar mountains of the east, I gave myself permission to retrace my steps.

I've got four more weeks to kill after all, and one day at Taroko Gorge really wasn't enough.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011