Sunday, April 27, 2008
Inspired by Pat, I have been looking for a place where I could get a PADI Open Water divers license. Approximately 350$ and a whole new world should be opened up for me. I'm already excited! It seems like a perfect plan for my last week here... a 4 day instruction course in Ko Samui - what ya saying, folks? :)
Sunday, April 20, 2008
This qualifies as the silliest post of all times - it doesn't take much to leave me gaping. Orange juice... can't me simpler, can it? Except the fact that, on top of choosing between different producers, I was put through another "tough" decision... from what area (also type.. I found out that Si Thong oranges are called "the golden oranges" - because of climate differences the oranges grown here become sweeter and juicier) should the oranges the juice is made out of come from. It has never occurred to me there could ever be a choice like that. The best tasting orange juice.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Don't ask me what that "thing" above was... some tiny tiny spineless creatures living in the Arctic waters or something. Freaky little buggers :)
One day I stumbled upon a small show promoting India and the tourism opportunities there. These dancers were amazing - their smiles and energy was contagious.
Being in Singapore is like going back to the Western world ( and Western prices as well) or doing time traveling into the future and having a peak-preview of what other Asian countries might look like in years to come. Full of dynamics - I could almost hear the city hissing "expansion.." in my ears :)
I found it peculiar to hear people of different nations (think Chinatown and Little India) speak their own languages and then, all of a sudden, switch to English, since that's the official language of Singapore and no matter whom you run into, English should do it.
The infamous Orchard Road - this is where the "shopaholics" (S. Kinsella's invention:P) go loose. Who was I not to follow 'the rules' and leave some of my income scattered around da' road.
Rain downpour released all kinds of related "activities" I have never seen anywhere else. I'm not sure if that is a common practice, but at least the shopping mall I happened to be in when the heavy rain (monsoon period) started, provided free umbrellas for people to cross the street with. No kidding! This guy comes out with his little umbrella stand and even tried to convince everyone not to open their own umbrellas bur use "his" instead :) Brilliant so I had to take a picture, hehe, the man even posed for me! :
Also, had never seen special plastic bags to put your wet umbrella in before walking inside a mall. "Magasin", "Bruuns Galleri" and "Salling" managers could learn something from that :)
Friday, April 18, 2008
Dong, Dong - now that your bloggurs (blog 'bout other blogs) site is up and running, it "hit" me one more time how simple and brilliant that idea of yours really is. The "Next Blog" button sometimes makes me run out of patience... there is a limit how many "daily outfit shows" I bother looking at (no offense... oh well, maybe a microscopic one). But this is enjoyable - direct road to Tried, Tested & Interesting:)
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Yesterday and today I have used city busses for my daily trips to work and back when the "school-bus" (read: company car) is not en route. Me being a foreigner does confuse the bus-drivers, hehe, it seems that they simply cannot believe that yeah, I actually am trying to stop the bus! I'm sick of using taxis.. by now it seems like such a "fake" thing to do. Not for real, you know. I mean, who takes a cab to and back from a shopping mall?! Answer: many locals. Never been a taxi person and now, all of a sudden, in and out of green/yellow, blue and pink cabs more often than I can be bothered to count.
Cabs are dirt cheap here and the money saved by using public transportation instead is really of an insignificant amount when converted in DKK, but taking a city bus is an experience in itself - the busses look like they're home made! The ultimate kitchen table technology! :) Like the one from this morning. Believe it or not, the floor was made out of wooden boards, had these huge nails in them - if you'd "remove" everything surrounding it, it would make the perfect pier! Or floor for a summer cottage. There's loads of diverse stuff hanging on the walls - small fans (how did they got attached?! :P), wires of all kinds, flowers etc. The bus never closes the doors & all windows are open. And in between all that - people and me. Wished I had my camera on me. Maybe tomorrow.
Another thing - normally a bus can only be stopped at a designated bus-stop, right? Fair enough. So I wait at a bus-stop. Logically I also assumed that it will stop at one too. Pushed the "stop" button and waited for the vehicle to pull over at the upcoming stop. Oh well, the driver was in a good mood and just pushed on the brake right after the "beep". Taxi-Bus? Bus-Cab??:)
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tough morning... it could have been so coz' of sleeping very limited number of hours... :) The 2nd day's plan included passing by two small waterfalls and that meant - aaaahhhh shower! 1.5 hours of more or less downhill walk to the first waterfall/valley village. I recall everyone was exhausted from the heat and you could see "sleeping bodies" all over the place :) It took another 40 minutes to reach the second waterfall. I can't say that they were impressive or anything, but I assume that the reason the path goes by is to give the hikers a chance to have a dip... not the worst idea after all.
On the second day the guide guy (geez, cannot remember the man's name... Joe?!) picked up a dog to come with us (all of a sudden there were 3 dogs instead... where the heck..??). I was told that there can be some water snakes in the stream we were walking by after the 2nd waterfall and that the dog's a master at scaring them away. Well, I only got to see a tiny one, so not much excitement involving wild life creatures.
The night was spent at a Jungle Camp in a valley - identical bamboo huts to the ones from the first night. Beautiful location and the camp was run by one family, so the whole atmosphere was extremely 'homely if I can put it that way. Maybe I should clarify few things here - none of the mountain villages has electricity (I did see one solar panel in a place we passed through, but it seemed to be there for the sole purpose of powering up a huge satellite dish not a water pump :P). Regarding water: mountain stream, water pressure is built up somewhere above the village itself, bunch of plastic pipes and there you go - a tap above you head in a small bamboo shack! Very spartan in a super cool way! :) Well, I guess you have to keep in mind that for the majority of these hill-tribe people accommodation of hikers must be the main source of income.
We got to the camp sometime late afternoon, had dinner around 6pm and for some unknown reason (yeah right!) I decided to lay down and read for a while. Woke up around 2am with my contacts still on. Flashlight, hasty "eye removal" procedure and back to sleep :)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I have managed to return from Chiang Mai with all of my bones in an intact condition except a few minor scratches on my legs. No silly falling during the trekking tour and no nasty encounters with stampeding human-buffalo's in Chiang Mai city during the Songkran festival - trust me, I saw quite a few people (including women) with arms and legs covered in elastic bandages and looking like some war veterans. The whole town was going wild...but I will get back to that later. Lets start with the trekking tour while my memories are still fresh.
Got picked up from my guesthouse by a man, who turned out to be our guide for the whole 3 days; on the way more people where picked up - I believe we got to be 11 in total for the first night. This is slightly funny - in the previous post I mentioned I figured (as the TravelHub lady told me) the group I'd be joining in on was from Germany and in their early thirties. Well, there was one German student there; basically the folks requesting the hike were exchange students studying in BKK - mainly french, one Canadian, one American and yeah, the infamous German guy. And so not even close to 30! But I was "saved" by additional 2 drop-in's like me :)
Nevertheless, great people and it was entertaining to observe the dynamics of the group and compare their impressions of being stationed in Bangkok. Some love it, some hate it to their guts. The french seemed to seriously suffer from lack of access to proper cheese and wine (oh those spoiled gourmets :P). Understandable, really. I miss that too. I also got to hear a sentence in the lines of "as long as I make 250 thousand by the time I'm 30, I'll be a happy man". Felt like asking for the Recipe Of Happiness.
As I have mentioned before, this is the time of Songkran/Water Festival - the traditional Thai New Year. The main fun attraction (both for tourists and the locals) is throwing water at everyone - people passing by, moving vehicles - you name it. Wherever there are people living, "attack stations" in the shape of huge water barrels OR (for the more sophisticated type) water hoses are set up on the roadsides. There is no escaping getting soaked. Especially when the ride is taken in an open-type truck. Well, our guide was prepared - large plastic bags for keeping our backpacks dry. No human-size sacks for us. Get the drift. Two hour long drive later The Hikers where "unloaded" and got to trek for an hour... uphill, naturally. Lunch.
Elephant ride. Apparently em' beasts in Chiang Mai area has a particular skill - spray their own spit all over themselves and whoever happens to be on top. And if some muddy stream happens to be on the route, why not to do the same thing, huh? Elephant saliva - not cool! Mud flying out through the elephants trunk all over me - not cool either :)
Another three hours. Uphill, naturally. Well, the point of the trip was to go to 2 small mountain villages, so it couldn't have been that much of a surprise that the walk will go upwards, but the human mind has it's own mysterious ways of fooling the beholder. Sore muscles kicked in on the 2nd day.
The village was beautiful - great view even though April is not the optimal month for that. The bamboo huts (just like camping, except that one is freed from setting up a tent), home cooked food, beer and guitars - couldn't think of a better way how to end a tiring day. Guitar playing and singing along until early morning hours... hehe, both of the guitars were so out of tune, that Jedi aka Gad eventually refused to play it - hurting ears, you see :)
Obviously we were sending such good 'vibes' throughout the tiny village that another trekking group joined us - quite a crowd in the end. Great, great night.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
A while ago my hiking trip was scaled down to 2 days instead of 3 as initially planned - the company mixed up some dates and thus I only could make to the shorter trip (due to Songkran). It was fine with me as well. However, today I got a call from TravelHub and the sweet lady there tells me that she had received a 3 day trip request from a group of 10 people and if I'd like to do the 3 day hike anyway? Great! Im all in! The group is from Germany (or so I understood), people in their early thirties (purrrfect!) and lets hope that it consists of male bachelors only! :P But then again - I have never ever heard of 10 guys going traveling together, hehe, so the chances of no other females are very slim. Looking forwards no matter what the company will turn out to be - there are remedies for making even the most boring person on this planet manageable.t Beer. Cheer's Homer.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Numerous Starbucks coffees later... several shopping 'sprees' later... after being mad at my phone for having such a stupid and useless menu... after getting a new visa without encountering a single problem - I'm back at the airport. Want to get 'home', sleep, be super efficient tomorrow and leave again.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Back to YMCA - tired of walking for numerous hours around the city. Never got further than Orchard road, but its a long one with shopping malls all over the place. And Starbucks :) Had dinner together with an elderly American man, who happened to be in the lobby of YMCA at the same time as I - asked for directions and we ended up chatting and dining at some restaurant across the street (burgers and spareribs :P)
Walked to Little India - an area nearby that consists of shops and diners owned/run by Indians residing in Singapore. Crammed with people, Indian music and the smell of their delicious food - like walking into another country, really.
Well, now its time to give my tired feet some rest - gotta be at the embassy at 9am, so an early start it is.
Surreal to be here. Got out of the subway this morning and had to ask myself - what was the place I'm at? ;-) Very very different from Thailand.
Just landed in Singapore - now I dont know how many passengers this airport "gets through" on a yearly basis, but evertything is happening extremely fast here :)
Right, off to No-Line Immigrationc counter and then - lets see what kind of place have I gotten to :)
Friday, April 4, 2008
Yup, got a ticket in me' pocket, a clipboard full of documents and hopefully a booking confirmation from YMCA will arrive soon as well. Sort of set to go. What's missing yet - need to do some research about what to see there... have many hours to spend. It just might happen that endless strolling around without a destination will annoy me :)
Will make it fun.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
How do I fight the insane bureaucracy? Having trouble with extending my visa - lets see what happens tomorrow... worst case scenario I might be forced to squeeze a flight to Singapore and back the following day amidst my next weeks super-tight schedule to get a tourist visa (or if lucky, the embassy there could extend my ED visa...).
Tired of the whole circus. Also little bit worried about how it will turn out. Lets see, lets see.