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Mr Murphy you barstard! (Another one of Hap’s shit stories)

14 Jun

I just remembered that I hadn’t posted this post from my last week in Thailand, enjoy……….ummmm I’m not sure that enjoy is the right word, but enjoy anyway.

 

WARNING: Read at your own risk, this is one of my very descriptive defecating stories. I call this genre of my writing, POOetry!

 

Good ol’ Murphy ‘s Law, you know the law that states if you drop your toast it will land butter side down.

I met Mr Murphy here in Thailand last week. It was 1am, I woke bolt upright to the familiar feeling: No, not ‘dam that was only a dream’, but the feeling ‘I’m going to shit myself’! I mean it’s a familiar travel feeling, you know the ol’ Delhi belly or Bali belly, in other words, I had the shits.

Anyway, I woke knowing that there was going to be an anal explosion and if I didn’t make it to the toilet then Mandy was going to get a spray on tan.

I made it to the toilet in the nick of time to fully enjoy that euphoric state that can only be reached when you have come close to shitting yourself but haven’t. My euphoria was short lived though, as my mouth didn’t like my bum getting all the attention, he wanted some time in the spotlight, which I suppose is only fair in this day and age of equal opportunities.

I needed to spew, and spew now. I was lucky enough that the “poonami” had stopped. I jumped off the bowl, spun around and assumed the unfamiliar position on my knees with the speed of a cracked-out ninja. To give me a pleasant spewing experience I hit the flush to rid the bowl of my previous night’s fried rice that now didn’t look or smell as appetising floating in the bowl. This in itself was enough to make anyone spew.

Now is the time in the story where Mr Murphy makes his appearance. Instead of the toilet flushing the foul water brown stench down the drain, it decided that it wouldn’t flush. Rather Mr Murphy filled the bowl right up to the rim, creating a “poocano” with a diarrhea crater lake. I suppose I should look on the bright side that the “poocano” didn’t overflow and send a cascading brown lava flow down the side.

My optimism was short lived as the “spewcano” exploded. If anyone has had the pleasure of hearing me spew it is not pleasant. It’s like I’m going for a grammy award, I sound like a wildebeest being slaughtered to death by a butter knife in a pool of lemon juice. Put it one way, I woke Jeff and Ji in the neighbouring room from a sleeping pill induced sleep.

So yeah, that’s it, I repeated this again throughout the night, and like any good student I learnt my lesson from my experiences and didn’t flush the toilet the second time.

To wrap this post up like a dirty nappy, Murphy’s law in Thailand states that, ‘if you have the shits at the same time as you need to spew, the toilet will not flush’. Amen.

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Northern Thailand Photos

12 Jun

Hey team,

just quick to give the old faithful blog readers something to waste some time at work on, here’s the photos from our last 10 days spent back packing around Northern Thailand with friends Jeff and Ji, click here.

Sorry there’s no captions to them as still on the go here in NZ, busy busy. But busy in a good way, just got back from an overnight hike yesterday up to Lake Rotoite and now off for a 3 day family roadie over to Golden Bay, looking forward to it.

Nuthin but love Hap

The importation of exploitation.

3 Jun

In my previous blog post I said I would write more about our trip to the long neck village. Here goes.

The more I travel the more I see that all developing country tourist destinations have the same exploitive tendencies. It doesn’t matter if it’s environmental or human, if tourists are willing to pay for it, and people can make money from it, it will be exploited.

The tourist agencies along the Northern Thailand backpacker route advertise tours to “traditional long neck villages”. The long-neck tribes are characterised by the women that wear copper rings around their necks that push down their collar bones giving the impression of long necks. The roots of this tradition are unclear, but some theories believe the women use to wear the neck rings to make them unattractive to other tribes, or to protect them being attacked by tigers. Like most traditions in the modern world it was beginning to die out, but with the tourists willing to pay money to see it, it has made a come back.

We weren’t willing to go on a tour, so we located where a Karen long-neck village was and drove up to the Burmese border where it was located. The long-neck people are Burmese and not Thai, but the Thai government has given them refugee status and land on the Thai border as they escape ethnic cleansing and a hostile military regime (hence my title, ‘The importation of exploitation’).

We arrived at the Burmese border where we were greeted by a sleepy, yet friendly border guard that motioned that we weren’t allowed through into the actual refugee camp, but pointed to another booth. We went to the rustic bamboo booth at the entrance way to the long neck village. We paid the absorbent entrance fee, 200 baht per person, which is ridiculous, that’s the same price we pay for a double bed bungalow, but we had come all this way. What makes it worse is that you know the village people won’t see any of that, that money will be spent of high class prostitutes and expensive whisky.

Visions of smiling village people (the photo below the exception) going about their daily chores were quickly banished as the dirt road led us into the human giraffe zoo. Long-neck ladies stood behind make-shift bamboo stalls in front of their huts, reciting rehearsed English sales verses “special price, hand made scarf” etc. I got a token tourist photo, and we made a purchase from the hand craft stall, as that is the only money they will actually get.

The village was not made up to look fake or beautified for the tourist, it was basic bamboo huts, rubbish lying around, it was how they lived. After all no matter what way you look at it, it’s a refugee camp.

After spending 20 minutes there we walked back up the dirt road, all feeling ripped off, sadden, empty, but more so disgusted at the exploitation.

The question that filled my head was, “are we as tourists helping the long neck people or simply aiding in the exploitation of the long neck people?” As I mentioned before, the long neck people are Burmese refugees escaping ethnic cleansing in a country where 40% of GDP is spent on the military and a mere 1% spent on both education and health!

By us as tourists wanting to see long neck people and get a token photo to show people back home, we have given them an opportunity to get away from a grim Burmese existence. But you have to ask yourself, it must be a pretty dam grim existence back in Burma if living in a village on the Thai border and basically treated like zoo animals is a better way of life.

No matter what way you look at it, it is exploitation. The Thai officials that profit from the human zoo are taking advantage of an ethnic minority’s vulnerability.

I hope this helps those backpackers reading this and wondering whether to go on a long neck tour. Now you know what to expect. But hey, what do you do? The long neck people depend upon the tourists buying their hand crafts to survive, but they are being grossly exploited, you decide, I still don’t know, all I know is that it’s bloody sad.

OK, this is far too long and most people may not have got this far, but it you have I will leave you with a quote, I can’t remember where I heard it, but it fits nicely into the theme of this post:

“The world will only know peace when the power of love outweighs the love of power.

An idyllic waterfall and a dead body

1 Jun

Another Thailand road trip has come to an end. The mini beast, a temperamental 4 door Suzuki Vitara was our carriage in our crusade for adventure. Jihee, Jeff, Mandy and myself made up team adventure.

We left the city of Chiang Mai headed for the mountains and Jungle of North Thailand. After winding our way up and down the steep roads surrounded by lush green rainforest we arrived at Pai. A small town nestled in the valley with a large expat artist community and a live music scene to rival ………………………..well, a place with a real good music scene I suppose.

Pai was our base as we set off in search of hill tribe villages, hot springs and waterfalls. With most good adventures we basically just got lost on roads that didn’t seem to appear on our maps. We managed to come across more muddy waterfalls, boiling hot springs that would cook a chicken in 5 minutes – yes there were some girly screams let out accidently hopping into it- and villages that weren’t that surprised to see a bunch of whities. But it was awesome just cruising with the windows down, the sun beating down, green grass, following a narrow road that every now and then would bring us face to face with a truck full of smiling contented peasant workers.

After feasting on the hippy inspired cuisine of Pai for a couple days it was onto Mae Hong Son, another mountain town famous for the long neck tribes. Instead of going on a tour to a long-neck village we made the short journey north to the Burmese border to check it out ourselves. One word sums this experience up, exploitation, but I hope to write a blog post on this in the days to come. Anyway we got the token photo which they expect, hopped back into the mini beast and went in search of yet another waterfall.

And find a waterfall we did! It wasn’t really the waterfall that made us feel like a 4 year kid sitting on Santa Claus knee for the first time, but rather the 5 metre deep rock surrounded clear swimming hole that the waterfall ran into. The best part was that we had it all to ourselves. We spent hours there, diving, flipping, and rock climbing, just enjoying the serenity, the feeling of “wow, this is awesome”. Thank you to that waterfall, as I was beginning to think that Thailand’s idea of waterfalls was sewerage coloured water dribbling into a puddle – OK I realise I’m a waterfall snob coming from New Zealand- but thumbs up to that waterfall.

So after more driving on winding roads that pettier out into narrow impassable gardens (see photo below) and car loads of smiling Thai school kids, it was time to get back to Chaing Mai to drop off the car.

On the last leg of the journey the heavens unleashed on us, the main highway into Chiang Mai was like an elongated lake. Curtains of water closed over the windscreen as we hydroplaned over the lake surface. A flashing baton up ahead signalled for us to slow down. As we passed the baton waving officer, just 2 metres from us lay the limp uncovered dead body of a young lady who I believe was the driver of the scooter that rested under the chassis of the pick-up truck.

Seeing that made us think, someone’s world was about to be turned upside down with a knock at the door. Someone’s mother, wife, sister wasn’t coming home. We slowed down.

Who is mad?

30 May

Who is mad? Are the normal people mad or are the mad people mad?

Ahhhhh my good friends, the beauty of travelling, the mind is free to wander and try and solve the world’s mysteries. This is what I love about travelling, the chance to step back from the real world and take time to yourself and think about this wonderful ride of life we are on and the crazy world within which we reside.

What has fuelled the fire of this post? I have just finished reading ‘Veronika decides to die’ by Paulo Coelho the well known Brazilian philosopher/author.

The book is set in a Slovenian mental institution and the main character is Veronika. She is a young attractive girl that tried to commit suicide but was unsuccessful. She was then put in a mental institution where she finds out she only has 5 days to live due to a heart problem. Then the book shows how she regains her love for life and will to live. Sorry, I hope this doesn’t give it away too much if you wanting to read it.

But to me the underlying theme of the book was, who is mad? Are the “mad” people in the hospital mad because they do and say what they want, or are the people in the “real” world that conform to the societal pressures and live life the way it is “supposedly” meant to be lived the mad ones?

Here’s a little excerpt from the book, where the doctor is talking to Veronika about reality and uses his tie as an example:

Veronika asks, ‘What is reality?’

Dr Igor replies, ‘It’s whatever the majority deems it to be. It’s not necessarily the best or the most logical, but it’s the one that has become adapted to the desires of society as a whole. You see this thing I’ve got round my neck?’

‘You mean your tie?’

‘Exactly. Your answer is the logical, coherent answer an absolutely normal person would give: it’s a tie! A madman, however, would say that what I have round my neck is a ridiculous, useless bit of coloured cloth tied in a very complicated way, and which makes it harder to get air into your lungs and difficult to turn your neck. I have to be careful when I’m anywhere near a fan, or I could be strangled by this bit of cloth.

‘If a mad person were to ask me what this tie is for, I would have to say, absolutely nothing. It’s not even purely decorative, since nowadays it’s become a symbol of slavery, power, aloofness. The only really useful function a tie serves is the sense of relief when you get home and take it off; you feel as if you’ve freed yourself from something, though quite what you don’t know.

‘But does that sense of relief justify the existence of ties? No. Nevertheless, if I were to ask a madman and a normal person what this is, the sane person would say: a tie. It doesn’t matter who’s correct, what matters is who’s rights.’

‘So just because I gave the right name to a bit of coloured cloth you conclude that I’m not mad.’

Koh Phangan photos

27 May

Hi guys,

click here to view my photo album from our 5 day trip to Koh Phangan the other week.

Cooking up a storm

26 May

It’s great to be back on the backpacking mission as I get to do all the things I wanted to do but didn’t get around to doing when settled down in KohTao. One of those things was a Thai cooking course.

We went to ‘The best Thai cookery school’, how could you not go there with a name like that. It started off with a trip to the market where our energetic smiling teacher Perm talked us through the finer points of choosing ingredients.

Then it was back to the classroom where we cooked up curries, stir fries, spring rolls etc. Then we sat down to the feast we had created.

Our teacher Perm made the day, he was one of those cute bubbly people that if you could, you would shrink him, take him home put him in a jar and place it on your coffee table for hours of entertainment. Also note that in the photo below I’m missing side burns as they were burnt off in the above flaming photo.