Archive for April, 2014

Screwed that one up…

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

I was messing about with my settings and accidentally deleted all old content associated with WordPress and facebook. All my old junk is still online at my site, just gone from here until I can figure it out. That’s what I get for tampering..

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An Uncommon Angst in Chiang Mai.

Friday, April 18th, 2014

A visit to Funky Dog’s cafe this afternoon ended with an elaborate diatribe condemning Chinese for their boorish behavior. It’s sheer irony that Mr. Funky himself descends from an ethnic group that once resided in southern China. This is reporting directly from what he said, my anti-sino sentiments aside:

“I am afraid of a loss of our culture. They come here [Chinese tourists] by the thousands and eat everything; consume everything. Chiang Mai has changed much in the past few years, and I am afraid I will lose my country. What are they doing here? They eat meat sticks on the street and throw the sticks and rubbish on the ground. They walk or ride bikes in the center of the road in large groups and not on the sides, sometimes stopping traffic and causing accidents. They even stop around corners in groups causing passing elderly people to have to hurriedly brake on their bikes risking injury. A big problem also is their photo taking. Why do they take photos of us without asking? We are not monkeys or tigers. How would you feel if someone suddenly took a photo of you without asking. It’s so disrespectful. We are people, same same.” He looked angrily at two Chinese girls that had wandered in and were touching some of his decorations. “Look but no touch; looking is good. Keep your naughty hands to yourselves; just like babies.” Now back to me, he kept railing and pointed barely below his crotch simulating an bawdily short mini skirt or shorts, “Why do they wear things so short? Don’t they know it’s disrespectful to us, especially when they try to go into temples and don’t want to cover up? What are they trying to show?

It’s clear they don’t care at all about our culture. They don’t even consider it. Many business owners have reported to the TAT
[Tourism Authority of Thalland] about these problems. I have also gone to the government. We don’t want so many of them [Chinese tourists] to come here. They are ruining a lot of things. There is an group of business owners that are considering refusing service to them and some guesthouses are already doing it. Our culture will disappear if we don’t do something.”

I sort of abruptly cut him off, complimenting him on his self roasted coffee that he picked up in the hills. I am absolutely familiar with the situation he is burning about and didn’t need to hear an echo of my thoughts. I have also seen it. The cause of this massive influx of Chinese tourists was a low brow comedy film called 泰囧 (Lost in Thailand). The film portrayed three idiots brazenly wandering the streets of Chiang Mai laughing at certain local customs and being unable to communicate because they can’t speak Thai or even English. A constant theme of the movie is, “Wow, that’s so cheap, let’s buy more”.

Actually, commodities in Thailand are cheaper than mainland China, but this isn’t surprising. Prices of nearly everything now on the mainland are higher than most neighboring countries: even Japan and S. Korea. So the perceived cheapness of everything motivates the Chinese tourists to rashly consume. Lack of supply and can drive prices up for even local people as the cost of gas has increased.

Another odd point is that the Chinese don’t bargain when they travel outside China while they negotiate fiercely for a few pennies back home. This encourages cost gouging for other travelers as the Chinese don’t care because they think it’s “so cheap.”

The typical mainlander reply to this would be: “We are spending our money there. They should be happy to have us come. They want our money.” Mr. Funky Dog’s adament response to this would be absolutely inconceivable to the money obsessed new rich in China. “We don’t want and don’t need their money. We are happy here without them and their destruction.” Do all share his sentiments? Probably not, but scowls in the streets at the boorishness and signs posted at some guesthouses and restaurants only in Chinese describing basic rules of how to behave are suggestive.

Now, my diatribe outside the realm of journalism:

It’s what I would often say to Chinese people I know: “You live in your disgustingly polluted cities in China driving your amazingly expensive cars down roads as congested as a 70 year old fry cook’s heart for what? Your car is three times more expensive as outside but you still buy! You destroy nature and claim development, leaving ugly scarred moonscapes with your square, blocky and ugly architecture and pay thousands of dollars for one square meter. Why? You claim no choice.

You have so much cash but fear investment because you know there’s no recourse in the courts in case of fraud. A dishonest boss can flee and move to a nearby down to ‘disappear.’

You pursue money for what? Quality of life? The rich and the poor have to breathe the same air and eat the same foods. What’s the difference? You think your life quality has gotten better? Look around you. Look at how expensive everything has become and how horrible the quality.”

For them it’s never enough. There can be no satisfaction. I just can’t see the point to working so hard to eat the same bread as the improverished.

Oliver Stone on China:

“It’s a beautiful country,” he added, “but my god, the repression.”

The Longer March

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

The islands are as the islands were: remote and unforgiving on the wallet but still cheap by Western and Chinese standards. In one year, the reefs around have suffered tremendous destruction and whitening. Last year, fish of all shades could be easily spotted from the jetty walking in and now the population seems to have vacated this vacation spot. Someone should reveal to the locals the fact people come here to see fish and coral. Barring that, nobody would be willing to suffer the poor travelers cuisine of frozen fish and fried rice. Originally, the hippies that went to the Perhentians taught the locals how to make pancakes and simple western foods – damn them. It’s all that’s available now.

After the boatride back to Kuala Besut, the decision was made to taxi to the Thai border for 90rm.

The driver was beaten by age and tainted with experience but absolutely ruined by occupation. His back was crooked as a bent coat hanger and his mouth was ajar obscenely wide by the consequence of his poor stature. His lungs were unable to fully inflate and left him sputtering and groaning, rocking to and fro, seeking a

Beer in Chiang Mai.

Why not? They don’t have it elsewhere!

painless answer to the ancient, taxi seat. For 1.5 hours, he was our liberator and employee; diminuative and oppressive. He was impressively browned for someone who had spent 20 years shaded behind the wheel. His 45 years more closely resembled 65.

The Keletan countryside is ugly. What is the most beautiful way to describe ugliness? Which writerly technique could describe the malnourished trees and dusty, smokey air? It’s as if the province took the worst architecture of the Chinese, Indians and the Muslims and painted the country with it. Buildings bloated and stunted for height; blocky and bleached colorless by the searing sun. Poverty always spurns wreckless industry. The environment is the supply for the cash demand. Wood, sand and rock are transmorgified into dinner for the poor workers.

The driver picks his nose and tenderly rubs his forehead trying to remain conscious. He jabs the breaks and we slam to a stop on a bridge over a teh tarik colored river: muddy and reeking. He jerked along a roundabout going around town and coasted some village roads out of police jurisdiction.

The wretched border towns of RJ and GK sit watching each other, precariously aware of the Muslim seperatrist claimed violence of 2008. Both sides point M1’s and AK47’s at the other in wait behind sandbagged bunkers clad in their seperate colored fatigues. The Malays grimace while the Thais grin.

After a withering 20 walk, the train station’s street food and iced tea saved us physically and monetarily. The 18 hour AC train ride to Bangkok felt like a BMW compared to getting around in Malaysia. Grabbed a cheap Air Asia flight and hit up Songkran in the North again.

Relaxing under eaves and trees in Chiangmai now.

Above the Grey.

Monday, April 7th, 2014

You ask me when I shall return, and I cannot give a time. The reason is about half ways; putting yourself half way in leaves the most space for manouvering.

Blue.

Blue.

It’s not for a good reason, and there’s nothing wrong. As an excuse, booking single trips often comes out on par with round regardless to what you have heard but failed to investigate.

Above the grey, its singularity. We hurtle towards finality together but alone; seated adjacently but silently pushing through the wasted time in the air.

It’s the longest, continuous blue I have seen in weeks. I can only stare in remembrance; seemingly, as far as the distance of a memory from youth. Were there ever blue skies in DG? Where they ever grey in childhood? It’s not nostalgia, the days are confused as the sky and the sea look from shore.

Going to Penang is for idiotic reasons. I want cheap Indian food and to replenish my incense supplies. Else wise, the road crawls on, and I will follow to where it drags me. Hopefully it strays away from grey and I can get some color; my skin tone is like 19th century gentry. While I enjoy Byron and Shelley, I don’t want to be alabaster as the fashion of that era.

The plane didn’t disappear into the deep.