By now the swellings of my mountainous mosquito inspired epidermal landscape are beginning to subside and I can begin to imagine using my hands for something other than madly scratching.

On the River Kwai

It is my fifth day in Thailand and my second in Bangkok. As I prepare to pack up and leave for Singapore, I've given pause to sit back, drink a coke, and reflect on the last week. (Well, in truth, it is 9:30 AM and "Hello Internet Cafe" does not open until 10 AM and this cyberweenie ain't got nuthin better ta do).

Below me, in the first floor open air restaurant leading back on to Khao San Road, farangs (western travellers) from New Zealand to Germany to Canada all sit glazed-eyed in front of CNN as commentary of Princess Diana's death begins the inevitable decline into the life and opinions of the neighbor of the dead driver's sister. Fame is such a strange thing and death becomes both more and less meaningful on Channel 7.

Khmer Remains

Khao San Road is an interesting place which I had not made the time to visit the last time I was here. It is sort've a "Let's Go" haven for youth...

(or dregs as the case may be...the hostels, bars and mood are reminiscent of Amsterdam. Though far less decadent of course. A powerful anti-drug ad reads, "Hello my name is John. I am from London but will be here in Thailand for another 25 years on drug use charges. If you have time to talk, please visit me in prison or write me)

...from dozens of countries. Tuk Tuk drivers and other local scammers circle like vultures at the ends of the short road.

But it is strangely comforting to be here.

Oddly, as a full fledged tourist, I tried like crazy to go native as much as only native food, speak only pidgeon-Thai, and do only local things. As an expat, on the other hand, I find myself craving McDonalads and English dialog.

It is not exactly that I am homesick, though I am already sick of not having a is more like I want to feel like I am not jumping into a whirlpool.

Flower Girl

Strange how intent modified what one craves.

Of course, I have eaten mostly Thai food, being very careful this time to find the freshest meat while eating from street stalls. I find that I missed Khao Men Gai quite a bit and end up searching for those stalls in particular as well as the ones for Roti (though I never did find any in Bangkok).

Though I remained awake for all but two or three of my 19 hours in transit, I remain unable to shake my jet lag. Perhaps it is yet another sign of my swiftly incrementing years. I find myself getting tired around 6 PM and dizzy around 10. I wake up at 6 AM every morning.

Hopefully I will be able to get used to the local time this week. Fortunately, Singapore is one hour ahead of Bangkok so I have some added help.

Bridge Over the
River Kwai

Sadly, for all the time I was awake, the flight was extremely unproductive as far as getting anything meaningful done. I was seduced into watching all three movies (all three of which I'd already seen) and spent most of the rest of the time listening to CD's. (I brought 12 or 13 24 packs of CD's so I was not at a loss for selection). I picked up my Cyborg Anthology for about 15 minutes, got part way through an article by Donna Haraway and then gave up. I then tried working on some of my upcoming articles for my programming column but quickly gave up on producing any real brain activity.

Happily, on Friday when I went to check my email, Eric Swildens (the coauthor of my next book and my ex-boss) had not yet sent any more AFC code, so I was off the hook for book writing that weekend.

Of course, today is another story. In about 30 minutes I expect to see a wad of fresh chapter drafts in my inbox staring at me impishly. because I have not yet set up a laptop here, however, I won't be able to download and work on the chapters till tomorrow when I reach Singapore. I figure I'll go right in to work, set up my desk and computer and perhaps stay the night writing. Then I'll be off to find an apartment for rent. (In retrospect, it did not go so well at all, but that is in part two).

Unlike my last visit, I am not spending much of my time sight seeing so there is not much to tell about Bangkok that I have not already written about in my previous journals.

Indian Guy

On the first day, I spent much of my time meeting and yapping with a cyberian pal named Mike Hines who had gotten in touch with me via email when he had heard I would be in Thailand. It is always so exciting and strange to make a virtual face real! He works at the Hello Internet Cafe where I am now and has been all over Asia. He had only nice things to say about Singapore.

I also went to Wat Po for a half hour massage at the massage school. Two bucks and you get totally beaten up and have most every bone in your body cracked.

The entire weekend was spent at Koh Samet, an island in the Gulf of Thailand just off Rayong and Pattaya. Rayong and Pattaya were both fairly sleazy but a short boat ride yielded the advertised white sand beaches, tropical fish and lush island interior snaked with mosquito infected hiking trails.

Koh (meaning Island) Samet was extremely relaxing and although I balked on trying out jet skiing ($30/hr), I did get my share of snorkling and hiking. In fact, for quite a bit of the first day I took off snorkling around the shoreline reefs for a good 3 or 4 miles around to the backside of the island far away from the resort. The reefs were a forest of urchins, flourescent purple sea slugs and brightly colored corals and tropical fish. It was not quite St Croix, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

I beached myself in a protected alcove and hacked up into the forest (hence the barrage of mosquito bites)

The hike was awesome. Sweat pored down me as my Tevas (which I'd used as swim fins practically and which left the strangest tanning pattern on my feet) crunched the underbrush while lizards and butterflys skurried everywhich way. It was a semi-steep climb up towards the peak which held a fantastic view of my snorkling trek and several smaller islands farther out to sea.

So now I am back in Bangkok waiting to get online and waiting for my pictures of Koh Samet and Northern California to develop. Tonight I will pack up my things and tomorrow I will be off to Singapore.

At various times during this trip I have had flashes of realization, but the fact that I am an expat has not yet hit me. I am not sure when or if it will either. Perhaps when I pay my first month's rent and sleep in my "own" room.

I look forward to my new job but am somewhat nervous that I will be able to succede. It seems to me that I am highly untrained and that at any moment everyone is going to suddenly realize what is going on and fire me posthaste.

Well so long as the charade lasts I will play...

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