Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dive! Dive! Dive!

So I went on the 3 dives around Ko Tao. Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacle, and Southwest Pinnacle.

My dive buddy was an English girl named Lara. She has been traveling for quite a long time already doing the working holiday thing that many UK people seem to enjoy doing. She has been living in Japan for a year teaching English if I remember correctly. Very cool girl and sweet as well. She was also getting her Advanced Open Water certification so it worked out well that we were paired up together. She needed to do 1 more dive than I did so she did a single dive the day before as well.

There were a LOT of fish in the Thailand waters. To be honest I was very surprised at the conditions. The visibility was better that the Great Barrier Reef as well on that day. I'd estimate 20 meters or so in most places except near the bottom where the sand kicks up and around. I wouldn't say the variety was better than the GBR but definitely the number of fish in the diving area was fantastic. They were everywhere you looked, like an overcrowded fishtank.

The corals were nice but left something to be desired. I could see some damage where people had hit it accidentally and there certainly wasn't as much in volume. These dive sites are just small landmarks in the sea and not huge reefs, and so they have a far higher potential for damage/ruin from divers.

Sail Rock was a big rock formation that juts out of the water that has a ton of fish around it. I did my navigation dive here in the morning, so while I did see quite a lot of fish, most of the time I was trying to follow what my instructor was telling me in with her hand signals than to look around at the wildlife. I had to learn to use an underwater compass and find my way around on this dive (as did Lara). We did drop to 29m just to prove that we could deep dive. That was no problem.

I noticed on this day I had an easier time equalizing my ears than I did in Australia. I think my body is getting used to diving conditions.

At Chumpon Pinnacle, I had a fun dive while Lara was doing one of her required dives. We went down to 28m here to look for whale sharks but didn't end up seeing any. Another group of divers saw a couple though so they were there, we just had bad luck.

As you go down deeper in the ocean, visibility and color goes down, so it's not as easy to spot things. The water in Thailand right now is 30 deg celsius and so to see sharks you need to dive below the warm water. (Most if not all sharks live in cold water) At about 20m deep I noticed the water temp drop about 10 deg suddenly. Sounds cold but it actually felt kind of nice because it gets pretty warm swimming around in a wetsuit with 30 deg water (that's like 85 F).

For my 3rd dive at Southwest, I completed my naturalist dive. I had to identify living organisms on a plastic card with my instructor while swimming with her. That was fun. It felt like 2nd grade all over again. I saw a moray eel on this dive. It was awesome.

Although I was in Thailand, I made sure to pick a diving company that had a western staff so that it would be safer. I was told to do this by my instructors when I was in Australia. All of our instructors knew English well and most were westerners.

The gear that I used had no issues but the boat was rough. It was probably 20 meters long or so but man it rocked like a cradle, even when moored while we were diving. I tried putting in my contacts while the boat wasn't moving (without a mirror) and got nauseas. I ended up walking over to the bathroom and gagging like I was going to puke but didn't. Considering I never get sick anymore it was pretty severe for me. Once I jumped in the water I felt better though. After that dive I took one of the motion sickness pills just in case. Someone really needs to buy that boat a bigger keel or a stabilizer or something for the love of god or buddha or somebody of equal importance.

I bought the dive package from a place in Haad Rin called Backpackers Information and Lotus Diving. It's run by a UK person named Bambi. A big white guy with tattoos, certainly fits the name and was very nice and seemed honest enough to trust. That's also the place where we bought our boat/bus tickets back to Bangkok as well.

So I'm now advanced open water, so that means once I get enough dives I can do my rescue diver cert. That's the one I want pretty badly. I feel more comfortable diving knowing about that kind of stuff. And I've always loved the feeling of helping people so that's good too. My next dives on this trip will probably be in Egypt in the Red Sea, so it will be in about 3 months time.

Flying out tonight

I'm waiting at the Cathay Pacific airlines office in downtown Bangkok for the AA office to open so that I can go in and request that they reissue me a new paper ticket because of my flight changes.

Cathay opened at 8:30 and AA opens at 9am. I would do it at Cathay but they would charge me $50 to rewrite the ticket (service charge) so I'm waiting for AA.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I fit in

Apparently you must have a beer belly to use a urinal here.

I cut the cord for a while

Just to see what it would feel like. Since I was staying at a semi remote quiet place and not doing very much everyday, I figured why not go for it.

It was interesting. In one way it was nice not to have to think about real life at all. Other times I wanted to write something I was thinking about on my blog but didn't or couldn't. It was also nice not to have to carry around my camera and my phone everywhere I went. I went swimming in the ocean at a different beach almost everyday so having to carry or worry about electronics while I was swimming/snorkeling would have been a bit of a pain.

After about 3-4 days I really wanted to write on my blog again and wanted to do something other than veg though. I think that's a healthy sign. Maybe I'm not such a lardass after all. Hehe
I'm back

Headed to Bangkok

I'm headed to Bangkok today, a couple days before I get on a plane to Seoul. The reason being because I changed my flights, and because my plane tickets are paper, I need to head to the Japan airlines desk at Bangkok airport to ask them to rewrite my ticket for me.

The ticket takes a day or 2 to complete by hand, so I have to go tomorrow and ask them to start it and then pick it up before my flight on the 1st.

The reason why I head to Japan airlines is because it's the partner of AA that serves this area.

Today's travel was $35 and included a 3.5 hour trip on a passenger ferry to Chumphon pier and then an 8.5 hour double decker bus ride to Bangkok.

I'm traveling with a friend I met at Cookie's bungalow (where I stayed for the last 12 days)

Little known fact

Did you guys know that they drive on the left side of the road in Thailand as well? I didn't until I arrived here.

After 3 months of left side driving, I'm almost to the point that I don't prefer one over the other. I can do both quite easily now.

I've gotten quite used to looking right before left before crossing the street now as well. It's saving my life everytime so this is vital.

I imagine if I had really gone with Japan before Korea that would have been another 3 weeks of driving on the left side and it may have tipped the scales for me.

I was just thinking about how I miss my subaru and was trying to picture driving in the streets of LA when I realized I couldn't easily remember which side of the road to picture myself riding on, which is why I had this thought.

Livin' la vida loca

Oh I forgot to mention I flipped my Brazil-Argentina order as well so that I could be in Brazil for Carnival. I assume everyone knows what Carnival is. It's the Mardi Gras-like party that happens in late February.

By the way, the plane ticket change cost me $125 for everything.

Equipment condition

I bet REI would like to know/see the condition of my gear at the end of trip... the stuff that actually survives, that is.

My large backpack from MEI is still doing great. My small pack that I bought in Australia is closing in on death. I will have to buy a new one in Korea soon.

I have been wearing my KEEN sandals almost everyday in Thailand and they were doing alright until just the other day when the back tag line fell off because of an open stitch. I found out they fix almost everything in Thailand so I found a shoe repair person for me in a small town called Thong Sala on Ko Phangan and had him redo that sew and reglue the bottom liner on for $1.50. Very inexpensive even though he probably charged me more than usual because I am Falang (foreigner in Thai).

My $15 sunglasses that I bought in Airlie Beach, Aus have lost a nosepiece and even I had that repaired, the glasses are so cheap it lost another nosepiece, so I am going to look for another pair soon as well. Maybe something in the $20-$35 range.

My clothes are doing great, still no rips or broken seams or holed up crotches. The spandexy travel underwear I bought at REI is doing well. I had my clothes washed by other people while I was in Thailand and so far everything is still ok.

I've lost the soft pads that go on the earbuds of my headset. I can find those somewhere. My blackberry screen looks like it's been through quite a lot but still very easy to read so no problems there.

My camera looks like it's been through World War 3 but it's still working well and I'm still taking nice pictures on it.


I've been putting a local Thai mosquito repellent on the exposed parts of my body every night at around 6pm. That's around the time they start biting.

It does not contain any DEET, I heard that it's some kind of natural formula but who knows. It's what the locals put on their skin here. It works very well.

The itching from mosquito bites isn't much of an issue because my bites disappear in a couple hours. I'm just a bit worried about catching Dengue Fever or Malaria, that's it.

Some people get bites that turn red and stay there for multiple weeks. I'm not sure what makes them so susceptible to long term effects.

Chinese Visa

I will need to get a Visa to get into China while I'm in Korea. This means that I will have to visit the Chinese Embassy in Seoul and also hand over my passport for a certain number of days, which probably also means that I won't be able to take domestic plane flights inside Korea. I guess we will see what happens there.

I've always wanted to ride a bullet train. I am going to look into riding the one in Korea that goes to Busan.

I've been told by a friend I met in Thailand that getting a Visa to China is very tough because of the post Olympics rush but I hope that isn't actually true. I hope that those protesting Americans that got arrested didn't ruin it for me.

If China doesn't work out my idea is to go check out Vietnam or possibly Mongolia or Russia.

Japan and Korea

I changed my schedule of countries a couple of days ago.

I'm now flying to Korea on 9/1 and staying in Korea until 10/1. Then I'm headed to Japan after that. (See updated schedule of countries on right column)

The reason why I flipped the 2 countries is because during September, the thanksgiving-like (choosuk) holiday passes by Korea and also my grandfather's memorial is also sometime around the 2nd week. I wanted to be in Korea with family during these 2 events.

I don't think I've ever been in Korea during the time of choosuk and therefore this will be a special day for me.

I will still be in Japan the same amount of time as before (20 days). This schedule change also will give me more time to determine if I should buy a JR railpass before I enter Japan. I have a feeling I will get one at some point.

Coconut pudding

It's coconut pudding in some kind of leaf. Didn't taste very sweet so I did like it. I think it did have some sweet milk cream in it or something though.

One thing I really like in thailand is that if you order a product made from a fruit you actually get the fruit itself and not some artificial extract that supplants it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I just got mistaken for someone who works at the restaurant that I'm eating at

Hottttttt! My tan is helping me become Thai.


My butt hurts from riding a motorbike for a couple hours again.

Mango Lassi

Mmmmmm so good.

It usually has mango, sugar, lemon, and yogurt but I told him to hold the sugar and add ice. I had 2 of them just now. Really good in the heat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Full moon party

Here's the timeline of what happened on the 16th-17th:

10am: woke up
10:30am: swam in hotel pool
11:30am: showered
12pm: I can't believe I'm going to the full moon party tonight. Should I take the hotel's transport or find my own?
5pm: wow is it really the full moon party tonight?
6pm: still not sure how I'm going to get there but I better eat something so I had a tom yum soup
8pm: I decided to get the hotel transport and if I really want to stay past 7am I can find my own return boat later. Sunrise is at 6am though so if I stay til 7am I should be able to see everything.
8:30pm: I met some girls going to party at same time, and decided to take a short nap to prepare myself for an all nighter
10:00pm: woke up, put on just my shorts, tank top, and sandals. Took cash, camera, and insect repellent only and walked out to front area of hotel.
10:03pm: talked to the girls who were also waiting for the taxi bus
10:15pm: taxi bus came, we got in and it headed for the boat departure point. We *thought* it was headed for the pier

10:25pm: bus stopped on random st. They told us to get out and walk toward the water. At the end of the street we saw a table for check in and then behind it there were about 300 people waiting to get on a boat. At this point I thought "oh the boat must be massive for this many people to go at once" but then I walked down toward the water and figured out that there's no pier there, so the boat can't be that big. *ominous music starts playing in the background*

10:55pm: first boat arrived. It was a 35 person motorboat. Seriously. And there were only 4 of them. So only 140ish people got to go that round out of 400 probably that were there at that time. I then realized why there were 400 people standing there for the "11pm boat". It was because they were the leftovers from the "8pm boat" and "9pm boat" and "10pm boat." It takes 20 minutes one way for these speedboats + loading + unloading time. People going both directions because some people were already leaving the party. So basically the 140 that got on are the ones that have been waiting for the longest time and were willing to walk into the water to get to the motorboats first. Some people were swimming to the boats just to get on. I wasn't going to do that because I didn't want salt water on my skin all night and I had my camera on me as well.

11:05pm: boats left with 140 people. 260 people were left behind annoyed and disappointed. I decided to get a Heineken while I wait. I was not mad because that's what I expect from Thailand. If there isn't a scam happening at all times there's something wrong. Basically the company just wanted money so they completely over booked every hour of the boat without any regard as to when people would get on.

11:15pm: I got bored so I started jibber jabbering with other people also waiting on the beach.
11:45pm: I finished my first beer so I grabbed another one. A large one this time.
11:55pm: I felt buzzed and great. I was sitting down enjoying my new beer when the boats arrived again.

12:05am: 2 boats left again with 70 people fighting like ants to get on them. The scene reminded me of what it would probably feel like to be an illegal immigrant trying to get smuggled into another country. I had a good chuckle at the thought that maybe these Thai were trying to teach these 1st world people a history lesson. The other 2 boats needed "refueling." They parked onto the beach near the gas hose and people who are getting pissed tried to get on from the sides but the boat crew held them off by pushing them back down. At this point, the 12pm people had now started arriving on busses, so there were about 300+ people on the beach again.

12:30am: 2 other boats left with 70 people. Again it was like watching drowning ants trying to get on a leaf floating down the river beside them.
1am: 2 boats came back and took 70 more people. I'm still sitting on beach enjoying my time looking at the stars and chitchatting with other people who don't care what time we got there
1:30am: 2 more boats came, still didn't get on. I start yawning because it's nearly 2am already and I'm just sitting there

2am: 2 more boats came and some people got pissed and left so I got on one of these without having to fight anyone for position. The thai guys on the boat gave me a life jacket and told me to sit down somewhere. It struck me as funny that they gave us life jackets. Like they needed to follow the safety rules or something after all the bs they put us through earlier. There's probably some kind of legal law that says that if one of us drowns because we weren't given life jackets then the government will lop their balls off.

2:15am: during our cruise over to Koh Phangan I was thinking to myself how much I feel like I'm being smuggled because I'm sitting in a seat where I can't even see any scenery. I tried to stand up and look but one of the workers told me to sit down, probably for my safety. The boat sped along at 70km/ hour or so and it was dark with no lights. I got the feeling that maybe they were taking us to the middle of the ocean and then planning to make us drown one by one.

2:30am: the boat made it to Haad Rin. Sighs of relief are breathed by 35 strangers who barely know each other.

2:40am: I've disembarked the boat and nobody has told me where to go so I started following the crowd to wherever it was headed. It could have been lemmings falling off a cliff, I had no idea what was going on. I was just following people through the streets. Apparently I had landed on the west beach and needed to make it to the east beach but I didn't know that at the time. There were people trying to get on the boats heading back because they were done partying and wanted to go home. (The party had officially started at 8pm)

2:48am: I stopped at a felafel place to eat something. I was super hungry.

3am: I made it to the east beach area! People were totally wasted. There were people straddling each other and making out on the beach. Girls in bikinis tricked out on buckets of alcohol on vacation, seriously do I need to say more? It looked like a cheap adult magazine. People ordering alcohol. People dancing to different music in different areas. People passed out on the sand sleeping until morning. Most people were in their swimsuits. The beach was unofficially divided into sections based on which of these activities were predominantly going on. I walked around for about an hour trying to get an idea of how things were working and then decided it was time to get a drink.

4am: I walked up to a booth and ordered a Smirnoff bucket. If you recall, in the states smirnoff is like the worst vodka you can buy. In Thailand it's usually the best you'll find at a bar. I paid $10 for a small plastic bucket of a 350ml of vodka, a can of diet coke, some ice, and a thai red bull. The reason I say thai red bull is because this was no ordinary red bull. I've heard it's somewhere between 10 to 50 times as strong as our red bull. I yawned as I ordered my bucket. That was my last yawn until 8:30am.

4:30am: I felt this overwhelming urge to dance like there's no tomorrow, so I did. I started busting it up in the middle of the crowds, bucket in hand. I tried to finish that thing as fast as possible because it was getting annoying to hold and it was cramping my style. (It was annoying to hold)

5:30: I found an area where they let anyone come up and juggle fire batons or swing fireballs on chains. Nothing like watching drunk people burn themselves trying to show off for the crowd.
6am: sun started coming up. The beach became brighter and the full results of what had happened that night we're becoming visible. The bodies on the sand were an interesting sight. People passed out while dancing or drinking. I got a couple pictures of the damage. I limited myself to 1 bucket that night because I was alone and didn't want to possibly wake up dead or with my camera missing. I was afraid to pass out on the sand as well. Who knows what would happen?
6:30am: people were starting to leave and file out so I headed toward the boats again to wait in line.
7am: I boarded one of my boats and headed back across the water. It was interesting to still be awake after the sun has come up, yet still be in the belly of a boat that is driven by people you don't know nor speak to and they just keep telling you to sit down everytime you stand up to make sure you're still in Thailand.
7:30am: arrived back in Koh Samui and got off the boat. Walked up to the street to see which taxi bus I get to ride to get back to my hotel.
7:45am: I ask somebody to take a picture of my glorious moment of standing in a random Thai street with my previous day's clothes on and having been awake all night. In the process of taking that picture I met 2 english girls who were part of the scenery when one of them asks me, "did you just take a picture with my butt?" and of course I responded with "yes" like any normal person would.

7:50am: I was just about getting into conversation with these girls when one of ladies who works on the boat staff drove up in her car and told me she would take me home herself because the bus was taking too long, so eagerly I hopped on. Looking back at it now I regret not staying long enough to get the contact info of the 2 english girls. They were fun to talk to but I was a bit out of it and really had to go to the bathroom. All I remember is that one of them is a 3rd year at Manchester U.

8am: we arrived at our hotel. I had the bright idea that I was going to swim in the pool before showering (apparently still under the influence of the redbull)
8:10am: I jumped into the pool and immediately had the thought of "this is boring. I'm going to shower and go to bed. Why am I in a pool right now?"
8:30am: after showering I finally yawned and fell into bed.
1:30pm: I woke up and decided to do my motorcycle tour around Koh Samui, feeling very awake even though I'd only slept 5 hours

Aow Plailaem

I'm sitting in a hammock in front of my bungalow on a small beach on Koh Phangan. This is more of the style of what I was looking for in Thailand. This place is much quieter. I hear some voices but there's a loud overture of bug noises in the background.

The beach is small, very shallow, calm, and so peaceful. The sand isn't white though so it's not like a paradise island for myself. We'll see if I can find something like that later.

Eww nasty. Because it's dark outside, bugs are attracted to the light on the screen of this blackberry and I just had to squash one on the screen so that I could continue writing.

I decided this morning that I wanted to get away from the busy Haad Rin. That's why I ended up here. I went into the backpackers office and asked them where I could find a secluded nice beach with nothing to do but wade in the water and this is where they sent me.

I'm just going to relax here for tomorrow. I'm sort of trying to let the cut on my foot heal a bit as well.

On Thursday I will be getting on a boat for a 1 day dive trip to the north around Koh Tao island. I booked that today. 3 dives including 2 for my advanced certification, breakfast, and lunch for about $210. Pretty good price.

Originally if you recall, I wanted to actually stay on Koh Tao but I was recommended against it today because it's so packed there from the post-full mooners, so I decided that I would skip it and head to Krabi on Friday. That's a city on the west coast of Thailand. I booked that today too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The mouse and the motorcycle

I rented the motorbike and did a tour around Koh Samui yesterday. It was really fun. I felt very free on my bike and I also think that I'm naturally skilled at riding motorcycles.

Maybe I should be a motorcycle racer when I come back. Or a moped racer. That sounds hot. I bet the girls would dig that.

I saw a couple waterfalls on my 50km ride. It only took 4 hours or so even though I ate lunch and sat around for a bit and took a bunch of detours.

I used a helmet in the day but in the evening I went out to an area called Chaweng to hit a couple of bars and didn't use a helmet. Now I know why people don't use helmets. It's a totally different feeling.

I visited a massive Walmart-esque store called Tesco (sounds English) and purchased another tank top. Tank tops are nice, let me tell you.

I now have 3 tank tops that I probably will have a hard time fitting in my bag but that's ok. I'll do my best. I bought the first 2 the day before. They were 3 dollars each and I think they're not half bad.

Yesterday night was the first time I ventured into a bar where there's like 10 thai girls walking around and hitting on the guys. Even the ones with girlfriends. They basically get you to buy them drinks if you like them and I think they also make commission off the drinks you buy for yourself while they are talking to you and keeping you there.

They were boring. They speak some english but mostly if you're gonna like them you have to like them on a physical-only level and that gets old.

I played some connect 4 with one and then I gave the rest of them the evil eye so they wouldn't approach me so I didn't have to buy anyone a drink. Smart move Jim Song.

A girl that came up to me got the following: "I don't like you so you might as well talk to somebody else" she shrugged and walked over to the next victim. That was fun.

Headed to Koh Phangan

I'm on a boat finally from big buddha pier to Haad rin. That's on the island of Koh Phangan which is where the full moon party was. I am going to stay there for a couple days and then go check out Koh Tao, another island nearby.

I walked about 4 miles to get here today from where I was staying in Mae Nam. It would have been pretty easy normally but I cut the bottom of my foot while I was swimming at Mae Nam beach the other day and it seems to be pretty deep.

I stayed at a place called Harry's Bungalows in Mae Nam the last couple of nights. It would have been nice to stay on Koh Phangan for the full moon party but I didn't make reservations early enough because I didn't know which places were good. Well that's not true. I tried to make online reservation at a place called Baan Pan Buri Village early on but never received a reply from them so that was that.

Harry's was an ok place. The place looked nice but it was expensive and I always felt like the people who worked there were very polite but trying to scam me as much as possible.

For example, I rented a motorbike from them, and they told me it was 250 thb per day. I asked if I could pay with credit because that's how I paid for my room. She said no, because it was through some other company. So then I said ok I'll pay them. She said no I have to pay her cash. Sound like a scam to you? It did to me. But since 250 thb is 9 dollars I just paid her. I couldn't bother walking out to the road several times just to save 2 bucks.

I took their shampoo bottle because it made me feel better. Then I threw it in the trash because I don't want to carry it.

Tom yum soup at the hotel was 280 thb so I walked out to the street and paid 90. Woohoo

I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone else. Something's just not right.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm alive

No worries. Just not enough time to update my blog yet.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Update on my daypack

The thin wall between the outer pocket and middle pocket has ripped out and so I really only have 2 pockets now. Also, the handle on top of the bag used to pick it up has ripped off.

I give this bag a max of 30 more days. What a cheap piece of Australian crap. At least it's better than the Rick Steves pack though.

Looks like I will be buying my 3rd daypack this trip while I'm in Japan.

7 eleven is #1

7 eleven is my favorite store in Thailand. There's one every couple of blocks in Thailand. I'm not sure how this store got so popular in this country but I could make a guess.

Here are the reasons why this is my most comforting local establishment:
1. They always have cold water (you'd be surprised how many times I've had to grab a warm bottle from inside a fridge in this country)
2. They always have cold air conditioning (it's colder than other stores)
3. Their merchandise (water and ice cream) is no more expensive than mom and pop shops

7 eleven is like a haven oasis in the middle of a desert. It's great just to go inside and soak in the air con.

Why is 7 eleven named that way again? I don't remember although I know I looked it up 10 years ago.

What's LA?

If a local Thai asks me where I'm from, I tell her/him I'm from Hollywood. Most of them don't know where LA or Los Angeles is and I don't like saying USA because it's too broad. I haven't met someone who doesn't recognize hollywood yet though.

I used Disneyland once and it worked too.

I drank 6 water bottles today

I decided to try walking north to bo phut today. There's a fisherman village here with some good food but I didn't quite make it because of the heat (realfeel is at 46 deg today). I jumped on a motorbike taxi after about 7 miles.

Every taxi that went by before that honked at me asking me if I needed a ride while I shook my head or my hand. I'm sure they thought I was nuts. Even the locals rent motorbikes for 5 bucks a day.

I just ate at an Australian restaurant called Billabong and had a bacon cheeseburger. It tasted nice. And at 10 dollars it was expensive for Thailand but it was the best Australian food I've had on this trip. Haha so sad.

I'm sitting on the bar in the restaurant that faces the ocean. Tough life I know.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Definition: blackberry tan

You're on the beach lying on your back for so long that you get the outline of a blackberry phone on your face.

I don't have one. I just thought of the words!

P.s. I always make sure the shadow is not on my face

Went swimming today

The water here feels like it's about 28 degrees Celsius. I could kind of float there for a couple of hours because it was so warm. Too bad there are no waves, I would have loved to try surfing some more.

Lamai Beach

It's a bit lonely being alone here. Everybody here is with a partner. I'm going to probably move tomorrow.

Plane landed safely

So I made it to Koh Samui. It's an island on the east coast of Thailand. My flight was this morning.

I checked into a place called Utopia on Lamai beach. I heard about this place from the roommates in Sydney who helped me out.

It's a bunch of bungalows right on the beach. Really really awesome. If the water was a little bit clearer and there were waves and less people (and about 100 gorgeous women in bikinis walking around), I would call it paradise.

J/k on the women, or am I?

So far I'm only here til tomorrow. I'm thinking about moving to a smaller island tomorrow, Koh Phanang.

Yo yo yo

Guess who's kicking it on the beach?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cooking class

I took a thai cooking class yesterday. It was really fun!

I learned how to make pad thai, green curry, chicken with yellow curry, sticky rice with mango, and tom yum soup. The basics and ingredients were prepared by the company, so it was easy. They also did the dishes for us as well.

Our teacher's name was Meow. She had a college degree.

Before we got to the kitchen area, she showed us around a local farmer's market where I saw some interesting things like chickens with their heads and feet still intact, and a woman carving and gutting a fish while it was still alive.

I had 1 day to spend doing something yesterday before my flight to koh samui today. It was either cooking or elephants and you know how much I like to eat/cook.

I met 2 cool chicks during the class. Judith (switzerland) and Michelle (san fran). We met up in the evening and checked out this rooftop bar nearby that was a popular place for foreigners. It was a bit funky. The place had tons of xmas lights and a sliding roof and lots of psychadelic decorations with black lights but no dance floor and no drugs allowed anywhere, so it just seemed a bit inconsistent. I forgot to get a picture with them but I got their contact info. I may be able to see Michelle again while I'm in Thailand if we're lucky, you never know.

A common situation for me

I find a street vendor selling food, unlabeled and unpriced.

Vendor: hellooooooo!!! Sa wat dee khrap (hello in thai)
Me: hello! how much for this? (Point at sticky rice wrap)
Vendor: 135 baht
Me: what? (135 baht is like 4 dollars)
Vendor: 135 baht!
Me: no bud. 25 baht
Vendor: no 135 baht!
Me: um ok bye (walk away)
Vendor: ok ok! 30 baht!
Me: ok sure (pay 30 baht for sticky wrap)


P.s. The wrap was good.


I've noticed that ever since I started diving that when I get on planes my ears don't have any issues equalizing anymore when the plane rises and falls.

It's just an automatic gentle process that happens without me even realizing it. Before Australia, I had to either blow air out my ears or swallow multiple times to get my ears to equalize.

Stray dogs everywhere

There are so many dogs wandering around on the streets everywhere in Thailand. I don't they belong to anyone either. They're just on their own eating whatever they can.

Even when we were going on our trek from Pai, a dog followed us the entire first day from Pai to the hilltribe village, even though we didn't feed him anything. The guide told us that that dog just liked to follow her on treks many times.

In Pai, Cole, Michael, and I were having a beer in a bar one evening and saw a couple dogs growl at eachother. In a matter of 20 seconds about 10 more dogs came to the area and gathered around together. It was wacky.


Where you can go #2 and shower at the same time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


While we were walking through the jungle, we were attacked by leeches as we crossed the streams. They basically wait for meat (my leg) to walk by and then latch on and suck blood out. This is a small one. I found one earlier in the day that had been sucking on my leg for a while. It was fat and red. :)

The most interesting thing is that they use some kind of chemical to prevent the blood from clotting, so after you remove them from your wound, the blood doesn't clot and keeps bleeding out like a river.

Malaria pill nausea

The malaria pills made me nauseous the first day I took them because I took it without eating and then read on the directions to take it with a meal. Ever since then I've been trying to make sure I take one right after I eat something.

The Trek

Our hike started in Pai at the guide's office in the north part of town. We hopped into a van and headed north toward Mae Hong San for about an hour before getting off at a neighborhood village and heading into the forest. We were given a bag of Pad Thai (lunch) and 2 liters of water each to put in our bags when we started.

We walked hours through lush green forest on both days. The scenery was beautiful, though the weather was very hot and humid, and that made it tough to look up and view the scenery as we were walking through it.

There were several times when the person in front had to cut down some bush just so we could walk through relatively easy. The guide had brought a knife that had about a 9" blade on it that we used for multiple purposes, including making chopsticks from bamboo so that we could eat our noodles.

The guide's name was "Maam". That's not her real name but that's what she wanted us to call her. She was very good at English and that made it really comfortable for everyone because it was easy to ask questions.

The group was 9 people. 1 woman and 8 guys. A variety from Germany, Italy, Australia, England, and the USA. 2 of the guys were Cole (USA) and Michael (Italy), whom I had met 2 days before in Chiang Mai and were traveling together with them for a couple of days.

4 of the people on the trip got sick (upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting). We're not really sure what the problem really was, but we think it was something that was in the food. All the food was prepared for us by either Maam or the porter that came with us brought it. We had dinner the first night in a nearby hilltribe village.

We played a couple of card games that evening because there wasn't a lot to really do in the evening. We played this game called "blow" where you place a deck of cards on top of a bottle and then try to not be the person who blows off the last card. We named another game we played "hilltribe". It was like Indian poker + 20 questions combined. Whoever guessed the card on their forehead first by asking questions won the game.

The hilltribe village people were very nice to us. They helped Maam prepare dinner and helped with getting water. They also put out their wares on their blankets to try to sell us some of their goods. I know that they were getting paid for us to be there, but I felt bad like we were invading their private space. Out of guilt I purchased a little something from them. It came out to be like 3 dollars.

I got a really good glimpse at their flushless toilet systems here while in the village. Basically it's a ceramic hole in the ground with a bit of water showing. Basically you keep pouring water into the hole after you're done to make the water go down and take the waste with it. You just keep on pouring water into it until it's gone. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it's fast depending on your luck. The water level always stays the same. It's actually a bit weird and I'm not sure how the engineering works exactly.

On the 2nd day, as we were walking back we had to cross through a stream about 20 times. Our shoes got totally wet and since it was raining a bit, everything was very muddy and going uphill was very tiring. Going downhill was dangerous. We were slipping and sliding all over the place. I got a couple of good videos of the guys walking through the forest that I will have to show people later on.

I actually had more fun the 2nd day because everything was so messy that I finally gave up on trying to stay clean. I also knew that when the day was over I'd get to shower, so that was a good feeling as well. After I just didn't care anymore, everything was much less stressful because there was no thinking to be done. I just walked through everything like I didn't care anymore.

National Pride

The other day when I was at Bangkok's Railway station preparing to board the train for Chiang Mai, I was walking around indoors just checking out the little shops and food areas. At exactly 6pm, there was a loud siren noise in the station. I assumed it was just part of the daily happenings at a train station so I largely ignored it.

All of a sudden, loud music starts playing throughout the station, everybody in the entire area stands up and stares quietly into the distance (everybody who was moving around stops in place) while the song plays and then when it's over, the siren sounds again and everybody goes on with their business.

I was in shock when it happened because I thought it was some kind of social hoax on me, but later on I found out from somebody that every night at 6pm and in the morning at 8am in every public area of the country and all radio and tv, they play the national anthem and everyone stops what they are doing to stand up and show reverance to their country.

That was amazing to see. It made me feel like Thailand was a better country than the USA right at that moment. Not that it actually is or isn't, but that's how much difference I felt when I saw that.


So far on my trip these are the different ways I've heard people refer to our country:

The states
United States
The US
US of A
England's bitch
Canada's department of defense
Country of dumb blondes, ignorant monkeys, and world police wannabes + Hollywood

If I think of more I'll mention them later.

Return to Chiang Mai

I am on my way to Chiang Mai again to catch a plane down to Koh Samui, an island on the southwest coast. It's located in the Gulf of Thailand and so the water is supposed to be warm.

Koh Samui is the biggest of 3 islands in the same area. The other 2 islands are Koh Tao and Koh Phanang (pronounced as Panyang).

Koh Tao is known for it's diving possibilities and pretty beaches. Koh Phanang is where I will attend the full moon party that happens once a month. It's on the 16th so in just a couple days.

I have a day tomorrow in Chiang Mai so I think I'm going to take a Thai cooking class. The next morning, the 14th is my flight.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Finished my trek

We're on our way back to Pai. I'm sitting in the back of a pickup truck. It doesn't feel safe but what can you do?

I keep thinking about my friend Erin's car accident in Cameroon.

More about the trek will come later.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Malaria pills

I just realized I haven't been taking my malaria medication. I think I'm supposed to be because I'm sort of in the rural forests of thailand.

I'm currently on a bus from Chiang Mai to Pai. Pai (pronounced as Bai) is a bohemian village for travelers in the northern area of Thailand. It might be like Byron Bay was in Australia. I'll let you know more once I see it.

I'm going to do my trekking from there. I'm a little worried about booking trekking tomorrow because I'm not sure if I'm going to be sore from my bike ride yesterday. I'll make a command decision in a couple hours

This bus ride is 150 thb or about $5. It's really an air conditioned van.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Alright who's the wiseguy that decided I should go up to Wat Phra Doi Suthep on bike? Oh yeah it was me.

I made it too. I did walk about 3km of it because I felt like my legs would break off. 700m elevation gain and 14 km uphill in 2 hours. I will probably be unable to walk in 2-3 days but tonight I feel great.

It's a famous temple in Chiang Mai that has a nice view of the city from where it stands.

I did all this to see monks chanting at 6pm in the temple. Haha

Just for reference, everybody else does this by car or motorbike.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Smoker's lung

Check out this warning by the Thai surgeon general. Instead of words they actually put a picture of a nasty smoker's lung on the box. It's pretty gross.

This box of smokes is from the Chinese girl (Lei) sitting across from me in the train seat. She said she had to think about it for a minute at the counter before she could buy the box of cigarettes because the picture was so disgusting.

It sounds like this warning might work better than "smoking kills".

Thailand > Australia

Look what I found!! My favorite lotion in MBK yesterday. MBK is a huge mall that has an entire floor of hong kong style mobile phone booths selling all kinds of second hand stuff.

One of the floors had a supermarket and I found it there.

I bought an 8gb micro sd card also for 40 bucks also because I'm running out picture space because I can't upload my videos yet.

Dead time thoughts

They're setting up some kind of stage here at the train station. The backdrop is a white wall and because it got dirty while in transit or in storage, there was a guy painting the backdrop with white paint and a roller as they were setting it up. That made me chuckle.

There's a 20ft or so television screen playing tv and music throughout the hall and the bands that we see look just like american pop music did about 5 years ago and korean pop music about 3 years ago. I guess that's the way pop culture spreads.

I saw a thai singer yesterday in a music video that looked so much like Mariah Carey I actually thought it was her until I realized she was speaking Thai and walked up to my tv closer just to double check.

I'm not sure how the Thai natives afford to eat here in this part of Bangkok. They must all be people who profit off the tourists because the prices are exorbitant if you're really Thai. 881 thb for a train ticket has got to be a lot of money for them. Maybe there's like a secret handshake that they do at the ticket purchase window that allows them to get a phat discount off the price.

35 thb for a good soup meal like tom yum goong. That's only 1 dollar to us but unless you're profiting off the tourist industry that's probably an hours worth of work here in Bangkok.

Train to Chiang Mai

I got to the train station a couple hours early and I'm now waiting for my train to pull in so that we can start boarding. It's 16:30 right now. The train boards at 18:30 for a 19:30 departure. I will be arriving in Chiang Mai at about 9:45 tomorrow.

Because it's a 14 hour ride I booked a 2nd class sleeper seat lower bunk in the air conditioned compartment. It cost about 881 thb or $25.

Nice thing about the train vs. airplane is that I get to see the train, see outside in the morning, and not have to pay for a night of hotel. Also the train is a little less than half price of the plane ride.

The 2nd class seats are in the open area facing eachother in the middle. It is not private cabins. Those are first class.

The seats fold down in the evening and become upper and lower bunks and that's where you sleep. You supposedly get some curtains for some privacy. I'll be sure to get some pictures.

I'm not sure what to expect in Chiang Mai. I know it will be more rural than Bangkok and less busy. I know that there's an elephant nature reserve there so I'm going to go see that. I think there's some hiking and kayaking as well.

I plan to stay at a place called Julie's Guesthouse. It was recommended to me by 2 girls I met in Sydney. I didn't book a room because I didn't see a way to do so online. I hope they have room for 1 tomorrow.

My goal is to finish up north in time to fly down to Koh Samui island around the 13th to visit Koh Samui, Koh Phanang, and Koh Tao. The full moon party is on the 16th and is supposed to be great fun.

Corn in a cup

I'm eating corn in a cup, which I bought at the train station for 20 thb or 60 cents. It's pretty good. I think it's sweetened though with sugar. The lady asked me if I wanted whipped cream on it. I declined.

What I learned in Australia

1. The food here is about half as good as what it would be for the same price in the US. Example: if you want a $50 steak, pay $100 aud
2. Along with food, almost everything that is a common need item is about double the price because the minimum wage is $13.50 an hour
3. You can say "no worries" or "sweet as" as many times as required to annoy foreigners as often as possible
4. American health care is expensive and slow
5. The minimum wage law was first created in Australia
6. There are a bunch of famous movies that are considered Australian that I didn't know about. Example: Priscilla Queen of the Desert
7. Australia is the size of the United States
8. If you had to generalize, I would say that Australians are easy going people in general that like to joke around and have fun
9. The train is actually slower than traveling by Greyhound bus
10. I can't remember any food considered "australian" other than vegemite or aussie bbq, which I believe is the same as any bbq. This is probably because I didn't have enough time to get into old Australia or aborigine culture while I was there
11. You need at least 3 or 4 months to really explore all of Australia at a good pace. I didn't even get to visit everything I wanted on the east coast in 1 month.
12. Australia really reveres Steve Irwin and his family for who they are and what they've done for the country in terms of publicity and ecology conservation.

Tailgating = skill

The drivers here are crazy. I'm on my way to hua lamphong train station in a taxi and it's just crazy. They should make a bangkok simulation in gran turismo 5. It would be the hardest track in the game.

I haven't seen or heard any accidents though. Pretty amazing. I bet Seoul drivers could give these guys a run for their money though.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

It's an American block party

Well I walked outside after taking a nap to see what's going on out there. The street vendors have put most of their stands away. Some of them are still selling t-shirts. The lights on all the signs have been turned on.

Every 50 meters is a drink stand selling "strong" cocktails and "buckets" which are basically thai whiskey + thai red bull. Basically meant to keep you drunk and active all night. The cocktails are 80 thb ($2.50) and the buckets are 200 thb ($6.50).

The stands are surrounded by lots of tourists getting their drink on, and most of them are american. Now we know why there weren't any americans in Australia and NZ. :)

It's just a huge party scene. I don't feel like getting out of control by myself so I'm not drinking today. I don't trust anything that moves here so far. The entire place is just full of scammers as far as I'm concerned. I won't even let anyone hold my camera long enough to take my own picture, so I'm not in any of the pictures I took today.

I'm actually half expecting to walk into my room at some point and find everything gone. Heh

There are men outside on the street asking me if I want to see pretty girls when I walk by. It's a bit creepy.

The Grand Palace

Thank god for air conditioning. I've had at least a half gallon of liquids today but have not yet had to pee.

Outside is hot and humid. Very tough to get around for too long because of the weather. It's a good thing everything is cheap, otherwise I'd be broke from all the drinks I had to buy to stay sane.

Food is great so far. Still not sick yet.

I just got back from visiting the palace of the emerald buddha (wat phra kaew) and the grand palace. It was just a walk away so I just trotted over using google maps as my guide.

I took some pictures of the largest reclined buddha in the world while I was there. It's kind of funny, but after years of looking at seated buddhas, this one looks kind of lazy :)

There's no such thing as jaywalking or crosswalks in bangkok. You run for it from wherever when you think you're ready and you either live or die depending on your skills. Think the game of frogger, except there's no reset button.

Monday, August 4, 2008

In case you're curious

Here's a picture of my room.

Update on my organized chaos

Well so far I've managed to check into a hotel called saswadee bangkok on khao san road. This area is a very busy tourist zone so the prices are about even with Australia. I am in the process of trying to find a way to get to Chang Mai up north.

I booked 2 nights here just to help myself settle in. I've been busy trying to learn some speaking thai from my book. I haven't made a single acquaintance yet. I took a nap for 2 hours when I got into my room. I showered using the hose in the bathroom. It took me a couple minutes to figure out that I have to use the little hose on the wall instead of toilet paper.

I found a pharmacy here that had expensive lotion, but I need the lotion so it's fine for now.

I had some pad thai as well, for lunch. That was stellar.

I'm sort of expecting myself to get sick from the water as well. Who knows when that will happen.

In thailand

I'm having a great time trying to figure out how to get into the city (th khao san). So far it's either bus or taxi but bus doesn't leave for 40 min so I am going to have some breakfast at the airport. Taxi sounds like they might rip me off so I'm going to try the bus this time.

Breakfast is rice soup with prawns. Hope I don't get sick.

Ready for some eye candy?

I thought I would point some specific pictures that I took with my $150 camera. :)

Here are a couple from Cape Byron when I took my walk around with Renee:

And here are few from back on Noosa Beach. If you remember I took one picture with my phone and put it up here immediately. Here are a couple using my camera with the wide angle setting.

This next one is from the top of a lookout on Magnetic Island during sunset.

And this one is of Whitehaven Beach on the Whitsunday Islands.

This is the public swimming area in Cairns.

This is a rock area near a waterfall in the rainforest around Cairns.

This was my crab friend in Cape Tribulation.

This one is the prettiest of them all, for obvious reasons.

Bondi Beach (2nd time)

Here's more proof that I can hang out with pairs of girls at the same time:

I'm kidding on this one. On the left is Gillian (Canada) that I met in Byron Bay, and on the right is Leona (Ireland), that Irish Chinese girl I met on the Whitsundays boat. We met up in Sydney again and took pictures on Bondi Beach on a day that was fabulously sunny.

Then soon after that we met up with Gearoid and I was able to take this picture for them.

Family Time

For my last full day in Sydney & Australia I visited my cousin and got to play with her 2 kids in the apartment. They are very cute kids, and very energetic as well. Here are some of the pictures:

My cousin's husband was hard at work on a Sunday and therefore he wasn't able to be in the picture.

Aircraft delayed

I asked one of the Qantas reps and found out my flight actually *was* scheduled for 5pm, but there was an aircraft change and maintenance issues, and that's why it was changed to 8:30pm.

I just heard the announcement over the PA that they're still having aircraft issues and so my flight is delayed another hour and a half to 9:45pm. This means that I will be landing in Bangkok around 4:30am. haha

I guess I didn't need a room tonight after all. Good thing I didn't make a reservation.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

hell yeah!

The business class lounge has free internet terminals! Gogo internet for the next 5 hours. I thought my flight was at 5pm, but it's actually at 8pm. argh I sort of love being the only person in here with a normal t-shirt on.


I've decided that if I get tired of the rain in Thailand, I'm going to just reschedule my flight and go directly to Japan early. This probably won't happen though, because I'm crazy and I like putting myself through some natural hardship caused by weather.

I talked to the front desk at my hostel this morning and he said that it's probably just going to be raining in the afternoons though. I guess we'll see when I get there.

Preparing for Thailand

I met some roommates here in my Sydney hostel (Wake Up). The hostel is pretty darn nice, even though it feels like a hospital in that it's really large and clean and not real social. I found several cool roommates yesterday though and 2 of them have given me some tips on Thailand since I'm heading there this evening.

I'm sitting at another Global Gossip internet cafe near my hostel right now. This place is just terrible. The internet connection is terribly choppy. If I worked here I would be embarrassed. The nice thing about Global Gossips though, is that their computers are set up pretty well. They flash themselves between every user, so once I log off, it reimages the drive and nobody after me can see what I was doing or any personal information that I typed into this computer workstation. So security wise it's pretty good, but the internet connection speeds are pretty dodgy sometimes.

Since I have some free time this afternoon before my flight, I've been busily reading through the Thailand LonelyPlanet book that I have with me. I don't think I mentioned it before, but when I was in Cairns, I met a couple guys briefly in my hostel room that had just come from Thailand. I told them I was going there next and had literally a 2 minute chat with them before I left the room because I had to go to my diving class. Well I came back from my class that day and on my pillow was this book on Thailand that I totally didn't expect, and they had written a note for me:

Seriously, this was 2 guys that did this. Very nice people. I don't even know their names to be able to thank them. Because of their random gift to me, when I was in Magnetic Island I gave my New Zealand LonelyPlanet book to a girl that I had just met that said she was heading to New Zealand afterwards. She seemed pretty pleased about that. I felt good.

If you remember, I also bought the Lonelyplant Thai phrasebook while I was in Cairns. I need to read through that one a bit too. One of the issues that I see is that I don't know how to yet match between pronunciation and the way it's written on paper. So even though I'm reading Thai words on paper, I can't quite figure out how it's pronounced yet. I'm gonna need some help from somebody once I get into town I think to figure that part out. Maybe I'll meet some hot girl on the plane to Bangkok that will tour me around Thailand for 3 weeks. haha fat chance.

I decided on not booking a hostel for tonight. I'm going to get into Bangkok and figure out a way to get to Kho San Rd, which is kind of the center of Bangkok and look for a place to stay. I heard there's a lot of places there, and booking a place at this point is about the same as showing up at the door anyway. The roommates this morning recommended a place there that is right next to the hotel that Renee recommendcd to me, so out of those 2 I should be just fine.

I'm a little anxious to find out how I'm going to get into town. I've heard lots of stories of people getting ripped by fishy taxi drivers and stuff, so I can't wait to see what happens. Even if I get ripped off though, it's only gonna be like $1 so you guys don't need to worry about me losing everything, hehe.

Most of the hostels that I see on hostelworld seem to be around $12 a night. That will be a nice change. Lonelyplanet says I should be able to live comfortably with $30 a day. That sounds lovely to me after being in Australia.

Oh boy

I just looked up weather in Thailand and it's going to be rainy and 95 degrees every single day I'm there. Haha.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

100 mile races

Tyson, the guy from Utah I told you guys about. I forgot to mention that he's planning to run a 100 mile race in Utah in about a month. Crazy huh? I thought he was kidding when he first told me but he's not. He hasn't even been really training either, although he did say he ran 60 miles before. His goal is to do 100 in 36 hours. That's 4 marathons in 1 go.

It kind of makes the Seattle to Portland bike ride look like kindergarten tricycle games.

He told me that long distance running is more about diet than stamina. That's something I haven't heard before so it got me thinking. Actually, hanging out with him just got me thinking about the long term effects about the food we eat, not the short term stuff of weight gain or loss. He's very careful about what he's putting in his body.

I think I need to be more careful as well.

Something cool

I just noticed that sitting in a moving train and watching the train on the track next to you moving at the same speed and heading start turning away slowly in the other direction looks pretty cool.


Over here in Australia and in NZ they have different names for coffee. Long black, short black, flat white. I still don't know what those terms mean. But they also have lattes and cappuccinos as well.

Since I just like black coffees I've just been ordering the cheapest, short blacks. Not sure if there's anything special about them. They taste like how black coffee would taste

Filet o Fish

Check out the size of the $6.50 Filet o Fish from the Mcdonald's here. You can see why I think it's a bit expensive here. I asked around and most people think it's because the minimum wage here is really high, somewhere around $13.50 an hour.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Surfing results

After 2 days of group lessons, I am able to stand up on the board on almost every wave I catch. I think I'm doing very well. I can ride most of them to the sand as well.

The hardest part that I've discovered so far is paddling fast enough to catch the wave when it's behind you. I think this is mainly because I'm still surfing on miniature waves (because I'm a beginner). The reason I say this is because I accidentally caught a freak wave that was kinda large and came out of nowhere and it was almost no effort at all.

So I think as soon as I get a little bit better it will really all come together for me. I can't wait to practice some more. Hopefully I will get more surf time in the coming months while I'm still traveling so that I don't have to wait until I get home again.

I have some cool pictures of myself that were taken while I was on the waves. Here's one of them:

I know I look like a spaz. :)

Gillian and Tyson

I had that good old empty feeling again a couple nights ago when I had to say bye to Andrea and Renee. They are the 2 dutch girls I met on Fraser that are super cool and then hung out with them again in Byron Bay. I thought the feeling was tough last time, it was harder this time. I'm really going to miss Renee.

Fortunately to help ease the pain, yesterday I was able to hang out with a new friend I met at my hostel, a girl named Gillian from Montreal. It was funny how we met, we both haphazardly were waiting for a random hike to start at our hippie hostel. It's run by the same guy who performs comedy and music acts on the hostel stage.

He was planning to show us how to spear things and make sunblock from plants and other survival stuff like that but not enough people came to the hike, so he showed us how to start fires using the wood on wood method. I got a little bored with that, so then we joined a couple of german people playing beach volleyball. As you guys already know, I have a tough time passing up volleyball games if I'm offered, so I had to join them, and Gillian joined up soon after.

Gillian is just in Australia for a month before she heads to law school. She was really fun to talk to. Very talkative and lively. It's hard to get bored talking to people when you're traveling because everyone is so different and has a completely different past to talk about with you.

At the same time I met up with Gillian, I met a guy from Utah named Tyson. I spent most of today hanging out with him. He's actually in Australia because he works staff for a summer camp for rich kids that is in a different location around the world every year. After his sessions ended he is just finishing up visiting more of the country before he heads back home. We were planning to practice some surfing but the low tide was at 12:40pm, so we decided to just head to the beach to hang out and play some frisbee and wait to surf until later in the day.

We did play frisbee. Tyson is an excellent player. It felt nice to throw it around with somebody better than me, we really made each other run around all over the place. Good exercise for sure. There were a couple of Aussies that were playing football (soccer) so we joined them for a bit but then the balls of my feet started blistering and breaking on the sand because I haven't run so hard barefoot in a really long time, so I had to stop playing soon afterwards.

Tyson and I cooked spaghetti together. It was *really* good. Seriously, we gulped it down like a slurpee in the Sahara desert.

There's a big music festival called Splendour going on this weekend in Byron Bay, so there's a ton of Aussies that have come into town. The place is packed full of people. The supermarket feels like a ant colony inside. I sort of wish I was staying, but of course I can't. I have to get to Sydney to see my cousin and head out to Bangkok.

Traveling can feel like a small world

This week I've met and re-met quite a few people while traveling down the coast. It's actually quite fascinating how many people I've seen more than once.

While in Noosa, I saw Tasha (Canada) again and she came out to dinner with my 2 friends Shani and Sandy that I met in NZ. Shani and Sandy happen to live in the Noosa area so they were very cool to come out and join me for dinner a couple of nights ago.

Here's a picture of Tasha and me.

Here's a pic of Sandy, Shani and me.

While visiting the Australia Zoo from Noosa, I met up with Johanna (Germany) and Marin (Germany) whom I had met on the Fraser Island trip. They were 2 of the girls that were in my 4x4 vehicle with me. Here's a pic of them in front of a kangaroo that was done eating.

While I was on Fraser, I saw 2 girls from the Whitsundays sailboat. Sinead (Ireland) and Rhoda (Ireland).

I told you it rained like hell.

In Byron Bay I met up again with 2 girls from Fraser Island. Renee (Netherlands) and Andrea (Netherlands).

Last night in Byron Bay I hung out with 2 girls that were my roommates in Magnetic Island about 2.5 weeks ago. I was lucky enough to walk by them several times this week in Fraser Island, Noosa and in Byron Bay. Jess (England) and Jenn (England). Aren't they cute? haha

(hint: they are stalking me)

Bangkok Update

I've gotten a recommendation from Renee (dutch girl I met in Australia) and some suggestions from my dad on a place to stay in Bangkok, so I think I will be ok. I did not book it yet but I will probably tomorrow.