Monday, November 28, 2011

Missing pieces

I'm almost done with South East Asia now. I'll almost definitely come back to this fantastically cheap part of the world at some point in the future, but my clinical, bridge-burning approach to life means it's time to move on before I get too bored - as reluctant as I am to start spending real money again. My next destination is the more expensive South Korea, followed by the even less frugal Japan - still, I'm looking forward to experiencing a cold winter and actual weather again.

But before I leave, I wanted to tie up a few loose ends that I didn't get around to earlier, for whatever reason. Usually this reason was Thailand's unfair immigration policy that meant I had to pack everything into just 30 days in February and March (extended by another 14 days with a desperate visa run).

If Thailand had allowed me to stay for a less picky 90 days I certainly would have taken them up on it, like I did in Malaysia and Taiwan where there wasn't even as much to see. But I decided to leave Thailand when my second visa ran out, to see what the rest of South East Asia had to offer. Do you know what? It wasn't quite as good.

You didn't see the last of me, Thailand

For viewers in Britain, that's just over £1 for some tasty pad thai and spring rolls (which are obviously one of the most excellent foods ever). They probably won't even give you diarrhoea

My stubborn, contrarian personality has a little trouble admitting that the most popular and most tourism-spoiled country in this part of the world actually turns out to be the best. I thought that my less enthusiastic response to Malaysia and Indonesia might have been because it was largely more of the same after Thailand (there are different reasons I was disappointed by the Philippines), but now I've returned to Thailand I don't think that was the case after all.

Even as this country tries its best to piss me off with impassable streets, hassle from taxi drivers, rudeness from hotel staff and bloody English people everywhere you look, it does have some special quality that makes me feel happy and at peace. When I get the hell out of Bangkok, anyway.

Nice to see monitor lizards have their own equivalent of lollipop ladies (Bangkok)

I'm surprised at how much I did on my first Thailand visit, when I blogged about some day trip I went on or activity I did pretty much every day. But back then I was only doing about a sixth of the work I do now, so don't expect my next 30 days to be as jam-packed with excitement. You might have noticed these blogs are usually written in advance and post-dated these days, to give me time to work and actually live - needless to say, there was no NaNoWriMo this year.

All I know is I want to visit Kanchanaburi and Sukhothai, see more of Northern Thailand and more of Cambodia than just the border station, and that I have to get to Kuala Lumpur by 10 December to leave this Eden-like paradise behind. I'm not referring to Kuala Lumpur specifically there: Kuala Lumpur is rubbish.

There are still places around here that I haven't been to yet, like Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, but I don't have to cover the entire land area before I 'm allowed to move on. I'm not bloody Pacman.

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