Archive | May, 2010

What About Haircuts, Laundry, Medical Needs?

Current Location: Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand
Current  Weather: Hot and humid of course
Days Gone: 17
Days Remaining: 199

They say that when you rent a motorbike, make sure to point out every single scratch to the provider so that you do not get charged a fortune for “wrecking the bike” when you return it. Back on Koh Tao, I talked two guys I met into renting motorbikes with me and touring the island’s hectic and dangerous roads for a day. There were several driving rules that I had to learn very quickly. First, drive on the left side of the road. I became aware of this upon arrival in Bangkok (when the taxi driver seemed to be driving in all the wrong places) and one embarrassing moment when I tried to board a bus from the wrong (right) side. Putting it into practice was another story, instincts die hard. Second, the biggest thing in the road always has the right-of-way. The hierarchy goes something like this: Cargo vehicles >> Buses >> Trucks >> Cars >> Motorbikes >> Pedestrians. The third rule is counter-intuitive; motorbikes can drive however and wherever they want. This last bit was perfect, as any time I found myself instinctively drifting to the right side of the road, I just appeared to be a typical, rebellious, Thai motorbike driver.… Read More

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The “Why” of Travel (and Island Life)

Current Location: Koh Tao, Thailand
Current Weather: 93° F (feels like 108°F)
Days Gone: 10
Days Remaining: 205

I chose to come to Koh Tao because it’s known the world over for its amazing scuba-diving. After picking my destination, I just had to figure out the cheapest way to get here. Turns out there was an overnight cargo ferry that left the port city of Chumphon at midnight and arrived at Koh Tao at 6 AM. Of course, traveling with cargo isn’t a very luxurious option, but you get what you pay for: the ticket was a mere 200 baht ($6) – the other (faster) options climbed as high as $20. The added bonus of taking the night boat was that I didn’t have to find (or pay for) a place to stay, so the ticket was more than transportation, it was a place to sleep, sort of…(see photo).

I boarded the boat via a very thin, very slippery metal plank. This plank walk was a bit scary considering a fall into the fiendishly dark waters below would result in the likely destruction or permanent alteration of everything I had. Not to mention possible bodily injury or death. But I survived, as I tend to do somehow.… Read More

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Transport Mania: Tuk-Tuks, Motorbikes, and Haggling

Current Location: Cha-Am, Thailand
Current  Weather: 90° F (feels like 107°F)

Days Gone: 5
Days Remaining: 210

I had just finished dinner and was enjoying the rest of my liter-sized bottle of Chang (a Thai beer) when I struck up a conversation with a Scottish fellow named Keith. He was surprised to discover I was from the United States, and I agreed that Americans seemed scarce. Despite being in a major backpacking hub for three days, I had yet to me a single other person from the US. He explained to me that this was because I was especially distinguished, and broke down my rarity with statistics (though no sources were cited, these estimations are probably accurate enough). Let’s say 15% of US Citizens have a passport. That number used to be 5%, but since Canada now requires a passport for entry the number jumped. From that 5%, subtract anyone who wanted a passport for Spring Break in Cancun or any other pleasure-centered respite on a white beach or cruise ship. Then from that number subtract anyone who has a passport for business reasons. Keith estimated that the remainder, those US citizens with passports for “real” travel, was about 1 in 400.… Read More

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How to Dine and Shop in Khao San

Current Location: Bangkok, Thailand – Khao San Road
Current  Weather: 93° F (feels like 104°F)

Days Gone: 3
Days Remaining: 212

 Bangkok is wired with energy, it’s almost dizzying. I’m planning on bailing on the city and heading somewhere quieter within a couple days or so. I’ll be back in Bangkok in seven months to catch my return flight, so I can always come back early and spend several days downtown. Wandering the Khao San district yesterday I managed to find scissors for 10 baht (30 cents) and a power adapter for 35 baht ($1). I also found a breakfast option at a corner cafe called the Phomotion Breakfast. It included an omelette, bacon, toast, jam, hot coffee, potatoes, and fresh fruit for 110 baht. The man running the cafe happily told me it was extra special and only 100 baht today ($3). I accepted and was presented with this:

As you can see, the omelette was really just scrambled eggs in the shape of an omelette, but it was delicious anyway. I spent most of the day wandering the shops, stalls, and back alleys of the district to try and get a feel for what was available and what it cost.… Read More

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How to Get to the Other Side of the Planet

Current Location: Bangkok, Thailand – Khao San Road
Current  Weather: 91° F (feels like 104°F)

Days Gone: 2 
Days Remaining: 213

I’ve had a hell of a time getting to Bangkok. My route was supposed to be Louisville-Chicago-Tokyo-Bangkok and my total travel time was supposed to take about 24 hours. For those curious, the flight was purchased from CheapoAir.com for $1160 (pretty cheap to get to the other side of the planet) and, of course, was non-refundable and non-changable. After a delayed flight out of Louisville (SDF) caused a missed connection in Chicago by approximately 73 seconds – I was told I would be stuck in Chicago for the night at my own expense (weather-related delay). The next flight out was the following day at the same time, 24 hours later exactly.

So, I needed a few things. First, a place to sleep for the night. Second, food to sustain me. Third, something to occupy my time to maintain sanity. Keep in mind that I am now in backpacker budget mode, a terrible mode to be in while still inside the United States. But all was not lost, I managed to stay fed, sleep in a hotel, and contact home for under $20.… Read More

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Wanderlaunch – The Legend Begins (in 7 Days)

Current Location: Louisville, Kentucky; United States
Current Weather:
75° F – Sunny

Welcome to Wanderlust! This is where you can read the constantly unfolding story of my adventures backpacking through Southeast Asia. That’s right, in just seven short days I’ll embark on a seven month journey from my landlocked home state to the Far East and back again (I hope). This means you now have the exciting opportunity to watch, from the safety and comfort of your own home, as I battle everything from language barriers to giant spiders to Traveler’s Diarrhea

If that last line disgusts you, you might want to reconsider visiting. There are times when it’s going to get rather sweaty and unpleasant around here. But that’s just one side of travel. If you are intrigued instead of dissuaded, you will undoubtedly be rewarded with colorful tales wrought with peril and a smattering of tasty foods. You will even get to view the results of my attempts to photograph things of exquisite beauty. 
If all this sounds pretty cool to you, feel free to read a bit more about me, learn about my journey, what I’m carrying, and maybe have a few questions answered while you’re here (like why I’m going in the first place).
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