January 21st, 2005

2 stories

I've been asked about the tsunami's effect. Here in Bangkok hundreds of miles away there is no direct impact to speak of. Its just stories and photos. The main travelers hub is Khao San Road and at the moment I'm staying quite close to it. At one end of KSR a wall of photos has been posted, each with a name/age/etc and simply missing/dead/injured or safe. By far the majority of the photos say missing, which leads me to believe that the final body count will rise substantially once the missing are finally considered dead.

The hostels often have tasteful ads at the counters, pleas from west coast tourist towns, which warn that the majority of their citizens make their living from tourism, and that they are being destroyed by tourists who are starving their economies by assuming that the entire west coast is a no-go zone. I'm still in no rush to head off to those areas, largely because I've been there before, but I certainly would have no qualms with others who chose to go.

Yesterday I had a nice conversation with a South African, who was leaving today, to visit one of the affected towns in Sri Lanka. It was a package with 20+ backpackers, beginning with 4 days of tourism, followed by assisting in building a tent city and helping with the associated infrastructure. Ideally I'd like to see reconstruction first, then tourism, but I think the model is still a good one,and if I find a similar opportunity I might get involved.

I'll try and post some photos of the wall of missing persons, and the flyers shortly.

Mom, don't read this

I expect to lose some weight while I'm here. Even when the food is excellent and cheap, my body will need some time to learn to cope with the different microorganisms. Given the length of my stay, trying to avoid the local bugs seems futile, so I'm just going to expect the inevitable. I'm eating off the street stalls (exclusively so far) and using ice in my drinks. What I didn't expect is how quickly it would start.

Yesterday I woke, had some wok fried veggies over white rice from a roadside stall, and then bummed around for a day. Lunch was a bottle of rum and 2 bottles of coke. As terrible as that may seem, it was a nice way to beat the heat as my body adjusts to the local climate. Later in the evening I had a grilled ear of corn. For 30+220+15=265 Baht = $7 it was a pleasant day. Since I had nursed the rum over 4 or 5 hours I wasn't even in particularly rough shape. After wandering out to a park and watching a large crowd do aerobics by the river, browsing through shops, and generally enjoying myself I finally called it a day. By now the buzz was long gone and I should have slept without issue.

At what I can only guess was 2 am I woke with a strong need to vomit. Sleepily I hustled down the hall toward the shared bathrooms. I suppose what happened next is that I fainted in mid step, since I woke shortly in the middle of the hallway with a nasty bump on my head. Since I hadn't gotten ill during my little nap, I resumed and found a stall I could call home for a little while. Alas nothing came, so I headed back to bed and brought the garbage can withing arms reach. Later in the night that proved wise.

I awoke this morning feeling fine, with nothing to show for it except a knot on my head and a garbage can sorely in need of a new liner. Some of you will assume that the bottle of rum is the cause, but I've never had drinking affect me in any way like that (despite my fair share of attempts and variations). So I'll chalk this up as round one to the bugs. I don't intend to change my eating habits so let the experiment continue.

For anyone reading this who can confirm that Tim Nelson has made it into iraq safely, please let me know.

Or to hear another friend's bad first day of a trip check out this journal.