Thursday, June 14, 2007

This is the second time I will attempt to write this, as the first time, after writing around 10 pages, the computer crashed. So, where I left off was at Lopburi with my monkey friends. After that, I made my way up to some other ruins and from there realized that I may not have enough time to make it out of Thailand before my visa expired. So I headed for the Mai Sot, the border town to head into Myanmar. I hopped a motorcycle taxi to get to the border, and when I arrived, was told that I needed my departure card. It had been in my passport, but when I was in Kho Pang An, the lady from whom I rented my motorbike ripped it out absentmindedly while she was talking on the phone. I had put it in the top compartment of my large backpack. So I had to go all the way back to my hotel. Once I got into town, I hopped on the first transport device I found, which I thought was a motorized wagon of sorts. It turned out it wasn't motorized so I slowly made my way to my hotel while the driver peddled me along. I took a truck rickshaw back and finally arrived, ready for a day trip to Burma. I crossed the friendship bridge and wandered around for a while. It reminded me a lot of India in that everyone stares at you and wants to know about you. One guy actually stopped on the sidewalk right in front of me, pointed at my face and yelled to his friend across the street to look. I left the border and travelled up to Chiang Mai where I remained for a few days. I ate fried bugs with some girls that I met, and the next day we went on a long motorbike ride and got quite lost. We ended up around 30 km out of the city and had to make our way back. That night we went to a jazz club as well. After Chiang Mai, I went up to the Laos-Thai border. I had to take a boat 2 days down the Mekong river in order to get to Luang Probang. It was a long trip as the seats were tilty wooden benches. Luang Probang was controlled by the French up until the 70's so it's a mix of French and Loaitian architecture...really nice. Actually Laos in general is just really beautiful. Full of limestone cliffs covered in trees, and rivers. I visited some waterfalls and found a rope swing and a waterfall I could jump off of, so that occupied me for a day. I met some British girls that night and the next day we went to a cave. It wasn't good, but it was full of Buddha statues. I'm a little Buddha statued out though to be honest. All they do is is, stand or recline. Do something else! I'd been reading Kerouac's "On the Road" and was becoming interested in the idea of hitchhiking, so the next day I was out on the road waving cars down. In Laos you don't stick your thumb out in your direction, but sweep your arm inward towards you, palm down. I got a ride pretty quickly. Picked up by a trucker heading in my direction. We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant with other truckers and ate bull stomach soup, then continued on our way. He dropped me off a while later in some small village and continued. So now I was stranded in a small village and no cars were passing at all. Thanks a lot Kerouac. Eventually a bus came by and I flagged it down. The trucker had taken me around a quarter of the way to Vang Vien, so I bargained the ticket down and saved some money, then arrived in Vang Vien later that night.Checked into a hotel then went to the Organic Cafe to get some food and a mulberry smoothie. When my food arrived, so did Angelo, a man in his late fifties who began to talk at me, and didn't stop for around 2 hours. I allowed this as I thought he was enough of a nut to merit my attention. He started off by capturing my attention, telling me that he'd just overheard something that was really depressing, that he'd heard before. He didn't want to tell me though because it was upsetting and life changing. I would never look at the world the same again. I was obviously interested. He kept me hanging however and stated telling me his back story, about his home in Cicily and his travels. He ended up being a racist bastard, blaming all the problems of the world on the Jews, using bad terms for black people and supporting certain Islamic views of death to the American culture. I pretended to be unphased so as to gain his trust. So it came down to this. That day was the third time he'd heard this tidbit of information and now he was a staunch believer. On January first, 2008, the government will implement a new manditory vaccine. Inside this vaccine is a small microchip. When the microchip is activated, the government (which is run by the Jews) slowly kills you. It activates the vaccine. The reason for this is simple. Fist, the government can kill anybody causing them problems. Second, it will save the government money. They have a problem. If pensioners live too long, it will cost the government loads of money. If they're sick and constantly in need of medication and treatment, that also costs a lot of money. The key is keeping the pensioners healthy and having them expire early. This vaccine is the answer. Also, little known fact: George Bush is actually a Jew. I always thought he was a staunch "born again Christian" but apparently it's just a cover. Later he told me that he could control women through yoga mind control. "give me two months and I can get any woman". He was mostly talking about Thai prostitutes however, and he could only control them to a certain point...they still always wanted 1500 baht. So after a while we said our tear full goodbyes and I went to bed.The next day I went tubing down the river. It's a sort of bar hop where the bar people toss you a line and drag you in. You're then supposed to drink a lot and go off massive rope swings. I enjoyed these rope swings so much I went two days in a row. All my training had finally lead me to the big times. I met some girls there who I would later travel with. The one girl Toiosi suggested that she and I go again the next day, but without tubes, which I immediately thought was a brilliant idea. So that's what happened. We were to swim and float the 4 km down the river. This worked up until the final 2 km when the water was too shallow. We tried walking, but that didn't work, so we started walking to the shore. Once there, I tried climbing a mud hill. I made it to the top and was about to pull myself up via a broken bamboo shaft sticking out of the ground, when something pricked my arm. Barbed wire. I contemplated what to do next, but my thoughts were interrupted when the bamboo I was holding onto broke, and I fell. So we continued walking up the river as bar-folk floated past us, wondering what we were up to. "where are your tubes?" We made it back to the bar and decided we'd have to swim to the other bank of the river. Toiosi got tired half way across and I had to tow her the rest of the way. Then we walked up a hill through some dense bushes where there was a hole in a fence. we thought it might lead to a road that may or may not exist. So we proceeded through a clearing full of wooden bungalows. A guard pointed us the way to the dark mud road and our way was lit by nothing but fire flies. Then it started raining, which was alright cause we were already wet. We made it back to the city and jokingly agreed never to discuss it again. The next day we headed to Vien Tien, the capital of Laos. There is nothing much to do there, besides get your Chinese and Mongolian visas and crash your motorbike and cut up your right arm. So that's about all I did there.
Next I headed to Luang Nam Tha. That bus ride took 24 hours and (as happens with most Laos buses) it broke down. I decided to go to one more place in Laos, so I hopped a truck rickshaw to Muang Sing. I found that it was just an isolated town with no technology ie, Internet, that I needed to use, so I left the next day for the Chinese border. I left Laos in style as I always try to do. Hopped on the back of an old man's chopper. It was equipped with golden speedometers and leather tassels hanging off the handlebars. He wore a leather jacked, a wicked black helmet, aviator goggles and was somewhat lacking in teeth.I changed the rest of my Laos money and hopped on a bus to take me to Mengla. It cost exactly the remainder of my money. I wasn't worried however as I knew that Mengla had a large population, and therefore had banks that would at least take my credit card. I should have worried. On the way over, I found that Chinese people are loud and often seem angry as they talk to each other in outdoor voices all the time, and tend to scowl. So I arrived and went in search of a bank. Nobody spoke English. A motorbike taxi seemed to know what I was looking for and told me to hop on, so I did and we went in search of a bank. The first one didn't work, and neither did the following two, so I was a bit worried. He took me to a money changer, and he didn't accept credit cards, so I was in a word, fucked.He was really nice however and told me that he'd dealt with this before. He said I could eat dinner at his place and that he would pay for my hotel and my bus the following day to a city that would take my cards. I didn't accept at first because there was one more major bank I needed to try. The motorbike driver kept harping on at me in Chinese while the money changer was talking to me. I had a pack of cigarettes for some reason, so I just handed it to him and he shut up and left me alone. I had told him that I didn't have money...even shown him my empty wallet before getting on the bike. Also, he wore a straw helmet that had no straps. He looked humorous.
The last bank didn't take my card either. The money changer had given me his phone number so I decided to take him up on his offer, only problem was that I didn't have money for the call. I tried several different phone companies trying to explain that I had no money and that I needed to make a call, but nobody was sympathetic to my cause, or spoke even a little English. I was thirsty and hungry and it was getting late. I figured if I could get some water I could make it fine till the next morning where I could meet the money changer at work. I contemplated stealing. Actually had a water bottle in my hand, but finally put it back and decided to try one more phone company. The kid spoke some English so I was saved. I called the guy and he picked me up in his bicycle wagon and drove me to his house. There we ate rice and pig's ears and I met his wife and one year old son. The next day he paid for my hotel and my bus and I took his bank details so as to pay him back and was on the road again.So next stop was Jiang somethingorother and I emerged from the bus terminal looking for a bank as usual. Couldn't find one. I saw the first white person I'd seen in days and ran after him. "Excuse me!" "Hello!" He seemed really happy to see me and invited me into his house/cafe with his pregnant Chinese girlfriend. His name was Charlie and hers was Lena. I hung out with them till the banks opened and then he walked me there. She found me a hotel as I wired the money to the money changer and finally had money in my hand. I was overjoyed. I spent the next two days hanging out with Charlie and Lean, ate at their cafe and another Swedish guy walking by at random came in as well and he did the same. I bought around 60 movies for 8 dollars the next day. Then I left for Dali, which is where I am currently, sitting in a cafe, typing on a laptop and drinking a milkshake. And in a nutshell, that's what's been happening lately.