29 Sep 2010

.In.Around.

I probably don’t have to say this anymore – but I am unbelievable when it comes to, from the first sight, pretty easy things. So besides of going to school, we are also sometimes going out, exploring the night life of Bangkok. It doesn’t really matter that every morning we have to be at school around 9 a.m., we still want to see it all. So one night we decided to meet at Si Lom, the place, that might better be known as red lights district.

Of course, me and Steffany wouldn’t be us, if we managed to go to the meeting point with no problem. So instead of getting off at Si Lom, we got of at Chit Lom and keep on wondering in the street thinking, where the hell the guys are hiding. Wondering took much more than ordinary people would stand and after several calls here and there I finally realized that I am in the wrong place. Plenty of curse words and I am, all furious about the situation, heading home. But while heading home I just pass through BTS [sky train – similar like metro, just over ground] station and decide to get on and this time get off at the right place. I manage to find guys with no problems this time [of course, when you are in the right place, everything seems just so easy].

After couple of days and after some shopping, when I realize how those people are actually small [it’s amazing, when you buy XS in states, S or M in Europe, but you end up in Thailand and the only clothes you actually can fit in are XL. Funny or sad?], we join our Thai classmates to the gym. One more new thing – badminton is apparently very big in Thailand. Everybody is playing it. Well, everybody, so meant us as well. It was a nice thing to do some sports, the only problem – no air conditioning in the gym, so you literally just feel like you are in sauna. May I just add that I don’t really like sauna?

Anyways, after this, we decide to go to eat and we end up going some place pretty far away [almost outside the city]. The place we arrive is actually very nice, we have some dinner and some beers, but just after the lectures and two hours in sauna while playing badminton my eyes are just closing with no compromises, so I end up going home. We did plan a going out night next evening anyways.

The night out was a fun night indeed. We [and by we, I mean Europeans] discovered some non-touristic Thai some sort of night club, where we were listening to the life band and had tones of fun. At some point some police came and shut the place [again, one more new thing to learn – police can do much things in here. For example to come and close a club for the night], so we went to some place for this ‘after party snack’. It’s interesting, back home, it would mean some kebab, McDonald’s or other similar stuff, but not in Bangkok. You go and you take whatever you want – chicken curry, seafood or boiled vegetables. Just like an ordinary dinner. No wonder, people are tiny in here – with such a heat and healthy food 24/7 you just cannot end up being fat.

Talking about the food – it’s unbelievable. But like seriously – fruits are so delicious [I still keep on trying new stuff that I have no idea about the names] that you cannot get enough of those. All the rest of the food is very tasty as well, although I always manage to get something really spicy. Still haven’t learn how to ask for non-spicy meals, but to be honest, I don’t think I ever will. Their pronunciation is way out of my league. I tried to learn how to say ‘my small beautiful octopus’ today and they keep on correcting me, although I honestly feel no difference between what they said and what I did. So the language is not the thing to come to Thailand for, but food definitely is. Of course, it’s mostly noodles and rice, but every time it tastes different. And I am keep on trying that new stuff again and again.

It’s still amazingly hot here in Bangkok and I cannot say that I adjusted to it already, but I’m getting there. Although for the last couple of days we are getting thunderstorms, every single night. No kidding, I think you can adjust your watch according to it – it starts at 6 p.m. and finishes at some point when I am already sleeping, so pretty late [or early in the morning]. But every morning it’s the same story again – hot sun, trying to shine through pollution cap and sometimes [but only on a rare occasions] really blue sky. That’s an exception, if you see it in here. Usually it is some dirty white kind of color.

23 Sep 2010

.Back.In.

Life back in Bangkok seems to be in order. I just got back from KL on Saturday night and already next day I realized that my school starts on Monday [better known as tomorrow]. So we talked to one of the exchange students here, just as I am about meeting before and going to the class together. Of course, I probably don’t have to tell you that I managed to get lost and not to be able to find the meeting point, so we ended up going there separately. Fortunately among all those Thai students it was pretty easy to find Europeans, better known as exchange students in the class. So we talked a bit and then the class started. Which was not bad at all. The first for me in here. Not the last one, though. Teacher seems to know the subject pretty well and all the writing paper and exam parts seemed to be manageable.

In the evening we went to Khao San street, better known as touristic very much street. For the first time I was riding this tuk-tuk kind of thing [some sort of taxi with no doors, but goes pretty fast and is a bit scary in the beginning]. We turned couple of times, got into smaller and with much less tourists street, where we found an Indian restaurant, where we had some dinner, some beers and endless conversations, more or less `let’s get to know each other` more or less. It was fun. So far as we know, we are four exchange students in here. Me, no need for introductions, I suppose, then a German girl and two Norwegians. We all have this passion for traveling, tasting different food, experiencing different cultures and we are all studying the same or similar thing. Somehow I get the feeling that we will get along just great in here.

Since the system in here is a bit different than in Denmark or Lithuania for that matter, lectures are pretty intensive. Those people here are studying one subject for one month, taking the exam and only then moving for another one. So this is what we are doing, everyday looking at that huge pile of paper [copied books and papers], some of us maybe reading those, others are just preparing to read, then attending lectures, trying to remember all that was said.

We got to know some of our Thai classmates as well. Amazingly nice people with awfully difficult names for us, Europeans, to remember and pronounce correctly. But they are nice and we get along just great.

Last night, the exchange students, we went to a red light district, ended up in the gay bar [well, actually guys ended up in there. Me, on the other hand, no surprise, of course, got off the train at the wrong station, so kept on wondering where the hell we are supposed to meet and was late for 1.5 hours. That’s the charming Ona’s luck, who is enjoying itself very much by making fun of me]. But I’m just glad that at the very end I managed to find them, and have some nice time with them.

This is the life being back so far. With the school and the heat and everything there is not so much time for traveling and exciting misunderstandings, that keep on following me wherever I go. But it’s still fun.

New stuff learned in Bangkok

Christmas.
They don’t have Christmas, can you imagine? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am not that stupid, I know that most of Thai people are Buddhist, but having no Christmas just sounds so weird. I was already almost comfortable that I will have no snow this year, but having lectures on Christmas eve and Christmas – that was a bit of a surprise for me.

So whoever was wondering, if I am coming back to Europe for Christmas – no, I won’t, I will be at school during the Christmas. I’m just guessing that I have been a bad girl last year [no, not this way bad, as some of you could start imagining. Stop] and Santa Claus decided to take away Christmas [I can handle that] and snow [this is going to be so much more difficult to handle].

Pink University.
Yes, can you imagine, my university is actually pink? It’s the color of university. I knew subconsciously which university to take for my exchange, right? Steffany is so pinkish happy, that it might be hard for you to understand. It’s not enough we are sometimes taking pink taxi [yes, that bright bright, really pink one, like in the picture on the facebook], but when we go to the school posters are colored in pink, there are pink buses around and so all in all – welcome to the world, where you don’t even need pink glasses, because everything is pink here already. Who could have thought that I will manage to get here, in one piece, with all of my luggage and pink taxi cars around, and also end up in the Pink University? Ahh, it’s just so fascinating man!

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19 Sep 2010

.Out. Singapore. Mostly.

My second trial to get out of Bangkok turned out to be successful. Not purely ‘no problems’ case, though. I just got to the airport building, took a first glance at the screen and what a surprise, my flight is pleasantly ‘delayed’ for 2 hours. Ok, I figured, 2 hours I can manage as long as it doesn’t turn into 2 days. When I got to my check-in desk, I saw the same member of staff from the trial to get out of Bangkok no 1, better known as ‘unsuccessful’ one. She seemed to be happy to see me, she waved, talked to me a bit [even though I know she was talking English, Thai English is sooo ridiculously hard to understand, that I could catch only every third word, but kept on nodding politely when necessary].

While passport control went with almost no troubles, security check was a bit of a challenge, I may say. I had no idea what went wrong this time, but my bag was scanned 3 times and they went through it manually 2 ties. Cottage cheese looked very suspicious for them as I saw, but the main reason for checking, I would guess, was my keys and a little Eiffel tower as a key-chain on them. Be aware of strange key-chains, when you come to Asia!

Anyways, I managed to get through with no of my stuff confiscated [woohoo], so I consider it went more than perfect. Flight, however, didn’t. it was late for way more than 2 hours, started to feel not funny at all anymore, but at least we managed to take off this time. During the flight Kafka has left me. And it kinda left some emptiness inside of me. Just like in Mr. Nakata. Although I usually pretend to be a boy named Crow.

I arrived to Singapore just in the middle of the night. All the passport and security checks went with totally no troubles and soon enough I entered hot Singapore night. It was even hotter than Bangkok night, if You can imagine [can you? I can]. I arrived to my place around 4 a.m., better known as B&B+ @ Liongis [which, I may say in advance, was really a catch – the best hosting I could have ever imagined and more].

Day No 1 or the day of walking.

My first night ar B&B+ was more than perfect, but very short as well. I woke up just early enough to see Liongis before he goes to work, get a map [which my blond mind, of course, forgot to collect at the airport] and suggestions of what I might be able to see for that day. So we did – everyone in that apartment went to work and a blond girl went explore the city/country [still a little fuzzy about that]. The day was sunny and hotter than Bangkokian days, but with no other choice of my hands – I went on exploring.

Day no 1 gave me millions of billions of miles on my feet. I managed to see all the major places in the city center and around it. I started by a walk along the river, followed by Chinatown, which was nice, really, if only people weren’t looking at me as I was some sort of white bear again.

After the Chinatown and some temple from “must see things in Singapore” I moved to the city center, went through real concrete jungles and offices [I would guess that at least half of the country/city works exactly here]. I went to the place that they call “Merlion park”. Apparently a park for Singaporeans is just some square of slabs with no green piece of anything. But that was fine. What shocked me – was the Merlion thing itself. I couldn’t believe it’s size is just as that chick’s with legs in Copenhagen, I was disappointed. Of course, only blinds and me manages to miss the real one and see the copy, that stands next to it. Oh, what a relief I just felt.

So after touching and making pictures of the symbol of Singapore, I went to explore some Marina Bay area, moving to some arabic block. Nothing very spectacular there was followed by Little India. I have never been in the real India, but this place looked very Indian as least for me, indeed.

While seeing some green place on the map, I considered it to be a park and thought that it must be a nice place to finish my walkings of the day. Boy, can you ever be wrong? That green place was closed and covered with a tall fence, and I had no idea why. Later on, people, who are living in Singapore, told me that it is some sort of big person’s [prime minister’s or someone’s..] residence or something. No wonder I had no chance of getting in. Anyway – angry about that I told to myself – ok, then I am going home on foot. That was a long walk, including some walking in the shopping district, so at least Steffany got to do some window-shopping. We try so both could be happy.

Anyways, the owners of B&B+ were so special and awesome people that we finished my first day in Singapore with real Singaporean seafood dinner. For the first time in my life I tried crab [wow, it has some very delicious meat inside of it]. It was sad at the beginning, since I actually saw the poor guy still alive before we ordered it, but that’s the life for you. We also had some huge shrimps and one delicious fish, but the name, sorry, I forgot right that minute they told it for me. After the dinner we have a nice walk along the beach while watching millions of billions of lights of ships and went to sleep.

Day No 2 or the day at Sentosa.

The next day started with a rain. So I was waiting for it to finish, since my goal for that day was to discover one small island, connected with Singapore Island with a bridge. Some sore of resort of Singapore, I should say.

So after the rain finished I tried Singaporean metro for the first time [I have to say the metro itself is not much different from others, except that it is insanely clean and tidy, but when operator started singing “train is coming, train is coming, train is coooooming” they surprised me] and then took a little train to Sentosa. From the first look it is very touristic place – plenty of fancy hotels, casino, restaurants and other stuff. I kept on walking. I stopped at Merlion statue, which is on of the main points in the island, made some walking around, ended up in some sort of ‘walking in the jungles’ kind of style path and decided to walk it. It must end up in the beach – I was sure about it. Turns out, I was wrong. Who could have thought? Again. Don’t laugh. After I got lost there in the woods somewhere, I found my way back just almost as easy as I lost it for the first time. So after some jungles I did end up in the beaches. I was walking around feeling like being in some sort of movie. You know, with palm trees in the beach, nice sand and calm sea? It looked just like that, just soo.. not completely real. But I could touch everything and I knew it’s real. So I was walking, taking pictures, enjoying the time for myself.

I walked up to one board, which proudly stated that ‘we are 136 kilometers from the equator’. Damn it, I thought, I am so close to the equator, it’s almost possible to touch it with hand and no, still not below it. Well, maybe next time.

When I got back from my small trip in Sentosa, B&B+ owners took their guests [a.k.a. me] to play some tennis. Boy, would you have seen me play. It was so sad, funny or pathetic, I don’t even known how to say – but one is clear – I am NOT good in tennis at all. The night was finished with some beer and some conversations before we all went to sleep.

Day No 3 or the day of museums.

I decided to take it easy on the third day. After all I had two pretty heavy days already. So I have been walking around the places I missed on my first day, met Liongis for lunch and then, decided and encouraged by Liongis, took a toud in Asian civilization museum and National museum of Singapore. Both were interesting, I have to admit. And I have learned some more about Asian cultures and I definitely learned some more about Singapore history, culture and development success.

After that we took some beers and stayed a bit at the pool, enjoying the cool weather after the really hot day. And after that we went for some Mexican meals and margaritas. It was my first time I tried margarita as well, and may I add – I will most likely will go for trying those once again.

After the Mexican meal we went to some place called Marrakesh I guess, but we drank Irish beer there [you would be surprised, but there in Singapore they have Guinness and other irish beers, even my beloved Hoegaarden and etc]. and some nargile [you would better know that thing as water pipe].

Day no 4 or the last day

From the morning it seemed that Singaporean sky just decided to cry non-stop. I was waiting patiently [or not] long enough, but then decided – enough and went to the Botanic garden. I knew I have to see it and some kind of rain is not going to stop me. I realized, a bit later, that it’s maybe even better that it was raining, since the park was almost empty [I had almost it all for only myself], plus the blossoms of the flowers just looked so nice in the pictures with a little drops of the rain on them.

So I dedicated all day for the Botanic garden and there was no single minute to regret it. It was amazing. Such a green thing in such a small place like Singapore, amazingly nice blossoms and different trees from Europe. Some rain forests, some orchids, some swans in the lake. Actually that one, the lake of swans I mean, had this small island inside of it and then a statue of several swans on a flying mode. It gave me some shivering and some memories from one movie, I have seen millions of years ago [more than 20 if you can believe me]. The one, I have seen in the cinema about seven sisters, who were coming to the lake in a shape of birds, turned into girls, did some swimming and went back in the shape of birds. Damn, I started to want to see that movie again. But it’s already about 10 years I have been looking for it with no luck.

After the botanic garden we had some Indian dinner, said goodbyes and the guys went for some salsa dancing lesson. I left there alone. A little time after a little and I packed all of my stuff and went to the bus station to catch my bus to the Kuala Lumpur, which, in Asia, popularly is much better known as KL.

Day of KL or day of having my ass kicked.

To my surprise, when I got to the border of Malaysia, I realized that this is a Muslim country. And the deeper I went into it, I learned that it is really a Muslim country. It just hit me how still so little I know about the world. About Indonesia, at least, I knew. Did you know that Indonesia is also a Muslim country?

A day started with no promising beginning. For starters, the bus stopped somewhere, but I mean, literally somewhere [well, for some maybe that place means something, but for me, poor European girl in KL for the first time – it was just somewhere] at 4 a.m. with no cash, no ATMs around, no public transportation available and no people [everybody seemed to have plans of how to get out of that place] I was staying there. There were some homeless people around, some strange, kind of seeking for troubles guys not too far away from me, but since I had no other option, I just stayed. The good part was, I remembered Karolina telling me that I can keep the book [which I borrowed in B&B+] so I was reading it for not falling asleep [that was a miracle to have that book, really] up until the dawn.

When it was already not dark anymore outside and people started walking around to work or somewhere, I went to look for a currency exchange booth or bank or anything. Of course, not surprisingly, I found nothing but an ATM. With no choice, I just took some money [way too much, to be honest, but how can I take just as much as I will pay for taxes while using foreign ATM?]

While finding no tourist information [that was a mystery for me all the time by the way – because I could not find any at any time and I could not find a map anywhere, even in a central train station! So if You want to explore KL – bring your own map! A must in your bag] I decided to take a metro [or something] to a more ‘city center friendly’ stop and walked with no directions or no map or anything.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this city kicked my ass. Big times. And yes, I know, I have been in the worse situations or met stranger creeps, but at that time, this one hit the bottom. In general people in KL were very nice. None of them talked English, but they were smiling and greeting me. So I sat down in front of some sort of city hall in a kind of nice park, but since it was an early morning, I was alone. I was just trying to finish reading my book [the last pages and I just was dying to know how the things ended]. And while reading I saw somebody coming closer. I wasn’t looking up and I thought somebody just needs to pass by. But I noticed that this somebody kind of stopped kind of close to me. Trying not to be paranoid, I kept on reading my book but started to feel really uncomfortable. I looked up and I saw this guy [****ing pervert, if I can be impolite] taking of his pants and getting ready to jerk off just next to me.

I can’t say I was afraid or scared, just a little shocked and disgusted. I would have just as simple as that taken the knife out of my bag and offered him to cut his balls for him [I was pretty pissed about all the picture I have seen], but since I had only my hand-luggage for the plane, knives are not acceptable. So without wanting to get into troubles, I just took all of my stuff and moved away. He wasn’t following me, which was a good thing. For him. But still, he destroyed my any positive impression about KL.

Later on I was just exploring the city, going here and there [not too far away, because I was afraid to look track without a map] having some, most probably Malaysian meal in the local place, exploring Chinatown [there is one in every city here in Asia I guess], meeting much more normal people than the one before. Two times I was complimented for my T-shirt [pink one with a bee, can you imagine? Who would do that?].

So after a while I sat in the KL sentral [train station, a.k.a.] to wait for my bus to the airport. Here comes another creep. For starters he is being pretty nice, just talking to me. Seemed like an ordinary guy [pretty old though] who was just bored and needed someone to talk to. So we did. When he started telling me I should come back to KL, he will take me to the places, he will take me to his place to cook me dinner or he wants to marry a girl like me [well, that would be just stupid, but hearing this was creepy] – it started to hit me ‘girl, get the …. out of there’. To my surprise, when I kind of stopped talking to him [it was a very comfortable chair, I did not want to loose it just because of some creep], he started pointing out that, for example ‘my fingers are like men’s’. I mean – what the f…? Did he just want a good punch in his face? Then he said, that ‘my belly is too big’ and, if it was not enough that ‘I should do some running or swimming to make it smaller’. Then I got frustrated. I mean, no matter how fat I am, or become or can be, no moron has a right to tell me what to do with that. He was lucky I am not an angry bitch, just psycho one, so instead of getting angry and screaming I just starting finding people pathetic. So then I left, leaving the pathetic jerk sitting there. I don’t really need this. And I went to the airport.

At the airport I got extremely nice security check, nothing went wrong, they were smiling and being very nice. It kind of brought some believing for Malaysia in me, I might be considering coming back. Just not to KL I guess, but some paradise looking islands. When I saw a bookstore at the airport, my eyes started shining – I was missing Kafka or Trainspotting so much already, that I needed to buy a new book to read. And they had so many and so good ones, I couldn’t decide what to take. Finally I ended up grabbing “The girl with a dragon tattoo” which, I have to say frankly, so far got to me and I am very interested in what is going to happen. What next I should pick up for readings? Suggestions are welcome!

And then I got back home. Yes, home, Bangkok is already feeling like home. The same streets, the same room, the same heat and the same annoying tuk-tuk drivers, that don’t even annoy you as much. I’m back. In.

12 Sep 2010

.In.

After my unsuccessful try to get out of Bangkok, there was nothing much to do – just to stay. So I did. Stayed. Trying to use my time as efficient as possible in order to explore the city, find something unusual and interesting.

Sightseeing
As every ordinary tourist, I took a map and just walked around to the spots, that are marked in the map as ‘important’ ones. And of course my map became advanced couple of days ago, when one guy, who knows why stopped me in the street, start telling me where to go and what to see [usually those Tuk-tuk drivers are doing that, so after they can take you there, but this one seemed to be just nice, no additional bonuses for him], so he put some notes in my map. Funny now, when I think about it, but he drew a stick-man next to one of the spots and wrote 40m. In the beginning [since when Thai people speak english, you do not necesarrily understand it anyways] I thought that it takes 40 minutes to get there. Turns out – it‘s 40 meters statue of Buddha [am I spelling it correctly?].

I decided to start my trip by exploring what it feels like to ride a Tuk-tuk. It is some sort of taxi in Bangkok, kind of motor-bike on three wheels and pretty comfortable [from the look] seat for passangers. There are millions of them in Bangkok and they keep on constantly beeping, yielling `miss, tuk-tuk` and trying to convince you to take one of them. So finally, on the day I decided to actually do that, they all seemed to dissapear from the streets or from my sight. So anyways, I decided to trust my feet and give them a full walking-working day. Here we were, going, trying to get to meet with another ordinary tourist in the city – onfortunately, unsuccessfully. After that, I decided, it‘s time for me to get to what they call `grand palace`. The guy did not want to let me in and send me to `rent clothes`. Apparently, even my trousers that are below my knees are inapropriate. So I was waiting in a queue waiting for some proper [jeez louise I thought, proper clothes in the university, proper clothes in the palace, what‘s next] clothing and decided it‘s not worth it. It was so full of tourist, that lost all the specificness [is that even a word?] and I just quit. Next time I thought. Or maybe never. I kept on going.

I have visited several temples, all look very similar to one each other, I have to say. All has statues of Buddha, they are all golden, all around there are flowers, money [that people donate and they do that pretty generously I may add] and frankincense and people that are praying. Interesting enough to see the people praying, I have to admit, although, as for the buildings – they just start to look like just the one I have just came from.

I also visited what they call `marble palace`, which was not crowded at all, although the guy had to give me a scarf, so I could hide my shoulders [such an improper person I am] and it was pretty nice. Nothing very special magnificent, but I learned something new, which is always a good thing. This one had a lot of different Buddha’s sculptures inside, so apparently, depending on how Buddha looks like, means something. Mostly Buddha is just on a `walking position`, or `forbidding his relatives to fight other than some specific way`, or `teaching`, or `calming the ocean` and so on.

Turns out, some things just never change. 40 meters Buddha was just as exciting as a chick with legs in Copenhagen [yes, the one you know better as a mermaid] and still so far at least for me the best excitement was brought from non-touristic places. I remember on my first day in Bangkok I went to some temple [it was on a map, but I wasn’t going there, just passing by, so stopped for a minute of two]. I wasn’t sure if I can enter it or if I can make pictures inside [even though I am not religious myself, but I like to respect other’s choice to believe and what to believe], but one of those Buddhist’s guys invited me in and even more – insisted on taking the pictures. I was so impressed by his kindness, that I still remember him with a smile.

Contrasts
It’s hard to judge of course, after only several days in the city, but it is insanely contrasting city. You have a big modern building for the ministry of energy on the corner and just 5 meters away you have some huts, that are home for someone, but truthfully, it’s deadly hard to imagine living in there. Or you have a big supermarket on the corner and just 100 meters away you have scrapheap [or whatever you call that place, where it’s just a field there nothing more just rubbish and trash is all around] and people are actually living there. Or you have so many people that has hardly money to buy a decent dinner and clothes, while in the streets you see very fancy new cars with fancy people in them.

Colors
Apparently, colors are very important in this country. Or maybe in this city, not sure yet. If you decide to take that tuk-tuk taxi kinda thing I just wrote about before – you have to take one with yellow numbers. Why? Because they belong to the government, so they will be cheaper, most likely will try to cheat less and are there is more possibility they won’t drag you into those tricks, where they take you somewhere and on the way, they stop in some jewelry or souvenirs shop, where you could buy something [it’s the deal between drivers and shop owners].

It is also very important to know color of the bus you need. So far I’ve seen only red and blue, but might be much more [I haven’t explored the whole city yet] and different colors takes you to different places, apparently. For example, if you want to go to Siam square from Khao San Road you have to take Red bus no 15 and nothing else. I’m just trying to imagine how easy it should be for color-blind people to be in Bangkok.

In general, there are a lot of things that you just need to know in Bangkok. For example, if you take taxi, it might be pretty expensive, therefore you should take `public taxi` which also belongs to the government and is the cheapest one in the city I believe. Well, you live and you learn it. Or you just google a lot and you learn it too.

Food
I finally learned what is the name of my `pink fruit`. They call it dragon fruit and I still have no idea what that would be in lithuanian, but it taste good and that’s all I need to know. But generally speaking – fruits are pretty expensive [at least comparing to the other stuff, like meat sold in the streets]. Or overall speaking – who told me Thailand is `very cheap country, everything is almost for free`?? I learned my lesson never to trust what people tell you the hard way, so I wasn’t so trustful this time as well, and I have to say, it’s not soooo cheap. I mean, yes, some things are less expensive, especially if you go to non-touristic small places to eat – you get pretty good deals, but if you go to the store – prices are very similar to at least Lithuanian prices. Well, I still haven’t figured all the prices system here, but so far it does not look like `living for free` country for me.

But anyways, today, while exploring the city and getting some rain [again] I tried one of those small eating places in a non touristic street [I was the only light skin/hair person with big eyes to be eating there]. Funny, how they spoke no english at all and I know zero words in Thai, so they asked me something, I nodded and was waiting for something that I ordered. But like literally – something. Turns out, it was one of the top 10 meals I have ever had. Very simple, noodles with some vegetables, chicken and something more [still have no idea what that was, but nothing extra exotic like worms for sure], took around only 2 minutes for them to prepare it, but I was eating it with pleasure – very good really. And it cost me only 30Baht, which is actually a bit less than 1 Euro. The sad part although – this place is far from where I live, so no way I’m going to be a regular there.

Religion
People seem to be very religious here. Buddha’s statues everywhere, small ones on every second corner, so people can pray if they feel like it. And millions of people are visiting them every single day, donating frankincense, flowers, money and praying, praying, praying. It made me wonder – maybe it is good after all to have something/someone you believe in, maybe it makes their lives easier and happier? After all – they seem pretty happy on a daily basis.

Smiling
They call it a country that smiles. And when you look around, they look like a smiling country. They smile to each other, they seem happy, no matter what they do. But they don’t smile to you. They smile back at you though. Somehow I get a feeling that light skin/big eyes people made pretty bitchy opinion about themselves in here, so Thai people seem to be a little careful about that. But they smile very sincerely to you, once you smile to them.

Today, one little girl was staring at me [well, a lot of people stares at me here, I hardly see that, because I choose not to]. And she was doing that so nicely, because she did not want to stare, but probably I was just a very interesting and not ordinary thing to look at. So I winked at her and smiled. She ran away to her mother and told her the story [I don’t understand Thai, but that wasn’t really a rocket science from here excitement and mother’s reaction] all happy. But then again, when you think about it, how often white bear is walking in your city, winking and smiling to people, right?

Basketball
Definitely Thailand is not the country of basketball, that’s for sure. I doubt if they even know what basketball is. So looking for a sport bar or sport channel where I could possibly watch some games from world championship, seemed to be a mission impossible. I had to skip Lithuania-Argentina game and just enjoy the result I got from a friend. I managed to watch Lithuania-USA match last night. No I am wondering if it was a good thing after all to watch, I hate seeing those guys trying so freaking hard and still have to leave loosing. And I lost my internet connection just before Serbia-Turkey match, so it was almost heart breaking news when I got the message, that they lost with only one point and that the whole match was a drama all right! I wish I could have been there, in Istanbul to watch it live. Oh well.

Tonight I am still not sure if I can make it to Lithuania-Serbia game and how to watch it, to be honest. I am supporting Lithuania 100%, but I also support Serbia and I can see how hard those guys are fighting during this championship. They lie when they say that final is between USA and Turkey. The real final will be between Serbia and Lithuania and so far I can say, I’m just hoping for a very interesting game and for my internet not to be cut off in the worst timing.

11 Sep 2010

.Escaping Bangkok.

Not a piece of cake, apparently. Bangkok seems to not want me to escape.

And yes, I am aware, it is pretty unusual and you might call it crazy to travel 11 hors to the place and leave it after only 1.5 days. But this is how my twisted world works. And no, there was nothing or no one I had to run away from [too little time even for me to manage to f*** the things up], but taking possibility – I chose to do it. No thinking – just actions – just the way I like it.

But the world seems to be full of surprises. Bangkok’s sky burst into tears just before my scheduled departure. I was confused, still am to be honest. Was this Bangkok’s way of saying “please don’t leave, I promise to be good”? But it does not make much sense, we both know I am coming back. And soon.

So it’s been a while since our flight was ‘delayed’ and yes, just delayed, who know until what time. We all have been waiting. And, I mean, I am really used to unexpected things like this happening to me, but what all these people, who have to get to Singapore, got to do with that? And so we’re waiting. ‘Delayed due to the weather’ was somehow changed to ‘delayed due to technical reasons’ and so, they kind of canceled our flight. Well, technically did not cancel, just delayed up until ‘no one knows’. We had several choices – wait for the flight [whenever that is going to happen], change our flight or just cancel. After I saw how long is the line for waiting for the flight I thought to myself `…. it, I really don’t need to wait here for nobody knows how long`, so I just changed it, to Monday [wanted Sunday, but most probably due to long weekend in Singapore, it was fully booked]. So here how my plans were changed, almost immediately - Singapore, here I come, just late. Just wait.

So this is how it goes here, in Asia, apparently – You plan on a trip to Singapore, you get just as much as a trip to the airport. The only good thing – Kafka was with me, so I was just laughing hard out of the situation.

Coming back home late [after all the stuff with the ticket, visa, passport control and etc] lead to late morning, which lead to rain [again??] and that lead to unsuccessful search for a sports bar here in Bangkok, where I maybe be able to watch some basketball tonight. But it’s not really a rocket science to understand that Thailand is not big with basketball. So I guess Lithuania-USA will have to be played without my watching and Serbia-Turkey as well. But just like last times, during my time in here or in a plane, I will send my best support for Lithuania and Serbia. I believe in both. No matter what critics are saying.

My Thai experience did not reach the exceeded limits so far, we are taking it slow this time. So I already tried some `take out` food, if you can call it `take out`. Some sort of noodles with some vegetables [don’t even ask what kind, because I honestly have no idea – just some vegetables. And it was good. Well, one of them burned my mouth, didn’t expect it to be this hot, but the other one had mild taste, but both I would assume real Thai and real good. Even Thai people were buying it, so it must be good, right?

10 Sep 2010

.Getting to the Bangkok in one piece.

Starting point: Kaunas. Starting with bus Kaunas-Elektrėnai. Then a friend‘s car [I can proudly say, Čiundra, since it was me who gave that thing a name] Elektrėnai-Vilnius. Then a bus Vilnius – Riga airport. Then a night at the airport. First flight: Riga-Kiev. Second flight: Kiev-Bangkok. Then Public Taxi: Bangkok international airport-National stadium. Then, finally – my two feet – getting to the dormitory, which, frankly, is far from dormitory.

Flight to Bangkok was unbelievably long. 9.5 hours – who could have thought? I was sure it’s going to be max 7 hours. Well, anyways, I had Kafka to entertain me [the book, not the boy].

I was seated next to the ‘just married’ couple from Ukraine, and they were so nice and talkative people, that we even managed to have some fun. I had to force myself to speak Russian, which did not work that well, but at least they managed to understand me. We talked about this and that, I was giving some English lessons to the girl, we exchanged ideas about Thailand and how different it’s going to be there comparing to Europe. Apart from that, I was eating [Ukrainian airlines gives pretty good food next to not too expensive tickets], sleeping, watching movies and reading ‘Kafka on a shore’. It’s probably still too soon to tell if it’s a damn great awesome book, but at least so far I am very into it – it is actually very interesting how the things are going to turn.

Our flight was almost with no troubles. I say almost, because when we wanted to leave the plane, captain told us to stay in our seats, because we are waiting for police. I knew we had a couple, who drank too much on the plane, but I haven’t any idea, if this is the reason to call the police. Turned out, they were called for those guys, but no idea what they actually did. After a little while, they let us off the plane.

With having no troubles I managed to get my passport checked and my luggage not lost somewhere over something and headed out. Out was hot and it got me by surprise. I mean, it was 4 a.m. how can you expect it to still be boiling hot outside?? The only thing, that let me not to care that much about being fried under the Bangkok sky, was knowing, that Serbia won against Spain in basketball world championship. I headed straight to public taxi, since google almighty told me before, that this is the best way to get to anywhere you need from the airport. So for starters, I get into the cab and get a little surprise that wheel is on the other side. When we get into the street I realize another thing: speeding limit is clearly 60, my driver is going 100+ and most of the cars are actually overpassing us. So probably lesson number one – nobody cares about driving rules in this country. So the guy took me to the center and let me off at the National stadium. Ok, I thought, since I have my own crappy map of the place around, it’s going to be piece of cake to find my dormitory. What can I say? Have I ever been right with such an idea? The right answer is no.

I started walking around, looking for a place. Strangely, no matter if you show anyone [what the hell people are doing in the street at 5 a.m. in the morning is another question] the address of the place, nobody seems to know it, even if you are just 2 minutes away from the place. So I was walking around, tired and my poor feet were carrying not only me, but also 35 kilos of my stuff, and finally, at some point, I manage to take the right turn and get to the place. I get the key with no troubles and arrive to my single room in my dormitory. Ha, think again, I tell myself. The room is double, but hopefully no one is getting into the second bed. There is no kitchen even on the floor [maybe in other floors?] and apparently the place has room service! I feel like I am in not fancy hotel and just keep on wondering – do I really need this? But honestly, no time to think about this right now, maybe when I get back.

So I do a little unpacking, shower and other necessary stuff and tried my new bed for the first time [it was already 6.30 a.m. here, after all]. I took my time with sleeping next day, did the rest of the unpacking and decided I need to see at least a little of Bangkok, even if I have no map in my hands, but hopefully I won’t get lost. So I was walking around, trying to find a little bit of fresh air to breath [it is insanely hot in here, if you ask me] and exploring jungles. Yes, my dears, Bangkok is jungles. Well, instead of animals, there are people and instead of trees there are building, but it is still jungles. Concrete jungles, I may add.

So I was walking around, exploring things, watching all those people selling interesting food in the streets and really wanted to try something, but I just had no idea what to try and if I am sure I want to try something. Because I have seen white moving worms for sale and even black moving worms sold to a customer! So I ended up [well it’s my first day, give me time, I will try some more exotic stuff later] with trying that pink looking fruit [whatever the name is], where the inside is white with little black seeds in it. Tastes good, I may add. Me like it.

Nothing much so far, but to be honest – I will still have time to explore Bangkok. There are still 4.5 months left for me in here. By the way, when I was leaving airport, I saw a poster: “Welcome to the country that smiles”. So I am definitely in. In the smiling country. Well, at least for now.

9 Sep 2010

.Easy come easy go.

After running and trying to finish everything on time back in Denmark, which, in my opinion went almost very well, I went back to Lithuania. Strange, when you think about it, that the place, you have been living for more than 20 years now is just a temporary stop between the places. So here I was, almost 8 days, once again, million of stuff in my ‘to do’ list and once again – unpacking, finishing unfinished business, packing and leaving. Almost got used to that already, and then again, when you think about it – can you ever be used to put all your life in two conditionally small bags, rearrange and put the same life in the same small bags? After a while you just stop questioning, I guess, just keep on packing.

Anyways, my time in Lithuania was pretty busy and full of different things. I managed to participate in my mother’s birthday on the very same day I arrived to the country where almost everybody in the streets speaks the same language that I call my mother tongue. For the next couple of days I was staying in my beloved Kaunas, where I was having endless visits to the doctors and other offices, trying to make my health insurance work. That did not work out for me, I may add. But the good part is – at least now I know what needs to be done to make it work, so in case you ever need it and rules are not changed – you can consider me as a free consultant on this field.
I was meeting my friends, I haven’t seen for at least half a year. Some of them, I have known since my childhood and now it was such an amazing adventure to walk the memory lane, remembering how crazy our days were, when we did not need to worry about working, studying, taking care of ourselves, and we just had fun, played games and enjoyed being kids.

I did escape to Vilnius just long enough to meet most of my friends. Not all though, but then again, it’s always one day too little, one hour of sleep too much or just something unexpected comes up and you cannot really see them all. Friday was crazy for sure. I was going from a meeting to another meeting, then running to the third one.. It seemed that it will never end, and my eyes were like enemies, they just wanted to close and go to sleep. Too much of excitement maybe?

Once again, we had one of those so called ‘second night at the Ataturk airport’ conversations with Laima which clearly answers the question ‘why we are the part of the same body – OLGa’. Words were just coming out of our mouths wishing that time would at least slow down if not stop, but it seemed that it was running as fast as it could. So, even though it was for a short run only, we enjoyed being ourselves and sharing those damn hidden moments of our lives.

Meeting all of the rest of my girls was fascinating too. It’s just still strange to see them for such a short time and after such a long period of time, that even though you want to talk it all about, but you know that would take at least a week of non-stop conversations and we all know that was not going to happen.

Saturday I had a short visit to my relatives village house, some sort of family-meeting kinda thing, unfortunately I could not stay there long, but I had million of stuff to do that day later again. My friends picked me up from that place just on time, so I could be almost not late to a guitar concert, where I met some more of my friends, some of them were celebrating their first anniversary of their marriage around those days, the others – just amazing people I had to meet before I leave.
We did not stay there for too long and only because it is a world championship of the basketball right now and it was a must to see and cheer for a Greece team, when they were playing against Spain. Of course, coincidentally on our way to the place for a basketball match, we managed to meet my ex boss from Denmark, from the Dubliner, who came all the way to Lithuania to cheer for the football. So fast hi and hug and we are running for the basketball. Despite everything, it is still my second religion. I used to say it is my first religion, but I have to be honest – Love is my religion. Therefore, basketball has to be the second one.

The game did not go well. Unfortunately one of my favorite teams – Greece, lost it for Spain and had to leave Turkey. Well that was depressing, but I was at least happy that Serbia won their match. After a game we met some more friends, had some laughs and some fun and headed home. Well ‘home’, since I was staying at my friend‘s place for a night.

Sunday morning I took the train and returned to Kaunas. Once again, it‘s amazing how the world works sometimes, in the middle of the trip I meet Laima, who was also heading to Kaunas, but we had no idea and we did not plan to take the same train, that‘s for sure. It was a nice start of the day, followed by some very special moments when finally, after about half a year, we met with Inga, my neighbour, I have known for more than 20 years now and with whom we have this `we are the same` thing. The person, who knows so much about me and still likes me and the person, who manages to understand me no matter what and support me even in the stupid or illogical actions I take. We had a very nice sunny afternoon so we took a long walk in our good old places, where we used to walk as long as we could remember.

Monday was the day of buying stuff, start packing, arranging final agreements and preparing myself to leave. I still met one girl for a very nice conversations and returning all debts, when in the evening we had some sort of `last supper` with my family.

Tuesday – departure day. I learned one thing: `to put all of your life in 30 kilos, you need 2 hours‘. Once again I packed my bags, met Inga for the very last time [well, for now, we are going to meet when I‘m back to Europe], catched a bus to Elektrėnai, met a friend there, went to Vilnius, got some food and managed to be late for the Lithuania-China basketball game only 20 seconds and watched the game, which was supposed to be an easy one, but turned out to be pretty tough. Well, Lithuania won, so in the end it was good.

After the game, not so much time was left, I had to catch my bus, going to Riga, where, next morning I had to catch my plane, first going to Kiev, than to the smiling country [as Nina would say] – Thailand. Just before the departure Ieva surprises me to unbelievable levels, telling me she cannot let me go without.. And gives me the ring. Well, not the very same one, I have lost in the waves in Cabo Verde, but almost the same, with the same king Saliamon’s words on it. Still cannot believe I managed to get it back. My anch cross, my dog tags and my ring. Oh and the watch, which again, not 100% perfect, but damn close to it. Seems that world is giving me back almost everything I have lost there in Cabo Verde. Did somebody give me some extra karma points or was this Cabo Verde’s way of saying ‘well, maybe I shouldn’t have been to tough on you after all’.

So the bus was going and I was sleeping. After all that tiring moment of my life [well, if you can call 8 months to be ‘moment’] I needed that sleep and in the middle of the night I got off at Riga’s airport. Night spend at the airport was, surprisingly, with no accidents or anything unusual. It all seemed to be in order.
In the morning I checked in, once again, no accidents, no nothing, even my 22 kilos check-in bag didn’t make any troubles, or my 13 kilos hand luggage, which, frankly, exceeds the size of the acceptable one. It starts to look like Bangkok is waiting for me and giving me no hard time to get there. Well, I’m not there yet, so it still might joke with me, but so far so good. I even got my both tickets, so after I come to Kiev, I don’t have to stress I may not going to be able to get to Bangkok on time, like the last time, we had experience with almost missing the plane in there.

It starts to be conditionally easy to leave everything and go for the new adventures. Although, it’s maybe not easy, but just ‘getting used to’. Because this time, maybe for the first time in my life, I am not running away, I am not trying to escape, I am actually going to explore. I am going for the adventure. I start feeling like I am finally free.

“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I’m free”. Once again, a Greek quote. What can I say – we’re in Love. I have a thing for Greece and Greece seems to have a thing for me.

Off topic
There’s a ghost. In my room. I think, it must be You.
You make me shiver. You make me fly. You make me nervous.
There’s a ghost. In my heart. I know, it must be You.
You make me wonder. You make me cry. You make me nervous.