One of the big tourist draws of Thailand are the hill tribes of the north, and the guidebooks devote considerable space to describing how to identify the different groups by their dress, adornment and physical features. But sometimes farangs in Bangkok seem to exhibit their own distinctive tribal characteristics and distinctive behaviors.
June 2004 Archives
Dance of the Apsaras
We arrived at the north gate of Preah Khan just as the rain let up. For a few moments, the ruined walls were bathed in a rich golden light and coils of mist arose from the wet ground. We locked our bicycles and admired the damaged balustrade with its rows of headless gods (to the left) and demons (to the right) doing their part in the churning of the sea of milk by tugging vigorously on a rope made out of a naga (naga expressions are difficult to read, but I can only assume that the luckless serpents were feeling some discomfort).
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Say 'No' to drugs
I am sitting here trembling, on the edge of an anxiety attack. I have just spelled Phnom Penh six different ways, and none of them looks right. I am agitated, unfocused, confused. I have to stop doing these terrible drugs.
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Phnom Penh Colors
Or "How I learned to stop worrying, and love the moto-taxi".
I am not comfortable as a motorbike passenger. Something to do with too little control over one's own destiny and too much responsibility for the collective equilibrium. It doesn't help that I'm taller than most Asians, and the driver is apt to forget that farang knees stick out further than those of most of his regular passengers.
Continue reading 'Dr Strangedops'
In the 1920s, the French built a hill station at Bokor, where they could retreat from the constant heat of Cambodia to the cooler climate at the higher elevation. In Bokor's heyday, the two casino-hotels and the church welcomed the elite of French-Cambodian society. Now the buildings are empty shells, daubed with orange moss and still bearing the scars of fierce fighting between Vietnamese forces and Khmer Rouge holdouts in 1979.
Bangkok to Kampot
I'd expected Trat to be dark and deserted when we got off the bus at 4 a.m, but the market was brilliant with electric light, the wooden tables covered with produce and household articles. The fruit and vegetables on display were solid-looking and healthy and I was reminded again of the impression of "furious plenty" I'd had when we first returned to Thailand from Laos four years ago. Sometimes even rural Thailand can seem tremendously rich.
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It comes as a shock to realize that we've been in Thailand for nearly four weeks, and our thirty-day tourist visas are approaching their expiry date. It's time to do what the local expats know as a 'visa run', ducking out of the country and then returning after a graceful interval for a new thirty-day visa.
Continue reading 'Visa Run'