August 15 2014 03:14PM
In case you were wondering, and I know you were, for the past couple weeks I took up the Nation summer tradition, jumped on a plane, and got out of here. While I was away, I had planned on writing updates on anything amusing that I was up to, but it was tougher than I expected. How many times could I really talk about binge drinking and overeating? Combine that with the fact that my laptop crashed, and keeping any type of thoughts organized became difficult.
One thing I did not expect was having to write the same trip updates twice, so since I've written this twice, you'd better read this twice. It's either that or I post it two days in a row - it's up to you. Since I didn't know how often I would have Internet, I was keeping notes in a word document. Much to my delight, my laptop decided that it no longer had a hard drive and my computer was now an expensive paperweight. I no longer had a work tool nor a place to find dirty pictures - the laptop was dead.
Bare with me, this may jump around a bit.
After spending 3 and a half weeks on a plane (hyperbole - get it?), we finally arrived in Kuala Lumpur. On the way there, we had layovers for a few hours in Vancouver and another few hours in Hong Kong - I bought overpriced rums at all of them - but it made for a really long day. All I really wanted was to land in Kuala Lumpur and find a bed. I can't sleep on planes, and having to spend over 24 hours in and around planes and airports was more that enough for one day. Regardless, someone had to do it and we arrived tired, sweaty, and ready for action.
It had been a few years since I'd been to KL, so I was excited to get back and explore the city. KL is a pretty massive city with a lot of ex-pats living on the cheap, working abroad, or just living the life. Who could blame them? Everything is so much cheaper and you can get any and all western services you could want, if the need arises. We were staying in a gated community surrounded by rich people. The last time I was in Kuala Lumpur, I was staying in a room that was barely the size of a pantry that had a shared bathroom and no lock on the door - this was something else. Actually, I'm fairly confident in saying that the room I had in this city had an hourly rate with an active turnover, if you know what I mean.
After arriving, our first few days were basically a really great tour of the city from my in-laws that have been living in Asia for the past five years for work reasons. In the first few days there, we got pictures taken at the Petrona Towers, the king's palace, explored various shopping centres, did the touristy thing until we eventually settled into a local bar to watch the world go by. It was a tough. Basically, the only thing we really did aside from getting blasted on the daily, was hang out at the pool and rub elbows with people many steps higher in social status than us. We ate great, we drank too much, I plastered the city with Nation stickers, and life was good.
DIDDY LIFE ON SAMUI
After spending a week in Kuala Lumpur, we flew into Thailand. I've been lucky enough to travel SE Asia a lot in my life, so I was really excited to get back to Thailand. The country is amazing, beautiful, interesting, and nerve racking all at the same time. We were flying in to Koh Samui, specifically, to celebrate my in-laws 30th wedding anniversary - it was basically the reason for the trip in the first place (more on that later).
Quick lesson: Samui is one of the larger islands of the East coast of Thailand and it's the kind of place where you can find anything. If you're looking for knockoff purses - Samui. Need some company for an evening - you got it. I'm not saying anything new by telling you that a lot of people go to Thailand for the wrong reasons, but this trip wasn't anything close to that. Where I was staying, the place was clearly 10-15 notches above my pay grade. Frankly, the place I was at was so nice I shouldn't even have been allowed in the lobby.
I had never seen a villa before, let alone stayed in one, and this was going to be our home base for the next week. We had a maid staff, a cooking staff, a private pool -- the whole lot. This was so unlike anything I had ever experienced in Thailand before that it almost seemed surreal. We were literally tucked away from the general population by gates and a 10 minute cab ride into the general population. To say that the place was amazing would be an understatement. All I know for sure is that I basically drank beers on the set of a Birdman video for a week - all that was missing was the video hoes.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
If you've been to SE Asia you've experienced a lost in translation moment at one point or another, and since there's nothing interesting in reading about how I was drinking beers at a Villa, let me tell you about my favourite miscommunication from my trip. This was so great that even thinking about it makes me laugh. Sometimes, when you're in a country and you don't speak the language, the barrier between two people can be nothing short of hilarious.
One night, we were in a bar, having drinks, losing to locals at pool, and generally having a good time, but the bar didn't have a whole lot on the menu. Actually, all they had on the menu, in terms of drinks, was beer. My missus isn't a huge beer drinker but she found that they served screwdrivers and ordered one. The beers came out quickly, but the screwdriver was taking some time. I couldn't figure it out -- were they growing the oranges? What was happening?
Fast forward 10 minutes and the funny little bartender comes running up to our table and literally presents my missus with a flathead screwdriver. Not only did he bring her an actual screwdriver, he was very apologetic for taking so long to bring it to her. I tipped the man excessively because I didn't think I would get a greater laugh from my whole trip as I did from this.
YOU LITERALLY DID NOTHING FOR 2 WEEKS?
As I'm writing this, I realize that it looks like I did absolutely nothing for 2 weeks aside from drink and eat - that's basically the truth - but we did take in some of the culture as well. One of the greatest things we did was a Thai cooking class, where we had a private chef show us how to make 3 traditional Thai dishes. If you know me, you know that I can't cook anything outside the microwave so I knew that this was going to be a challenge, but it couldn't have been further from the truth.
The woman running the class was fantastic, patient, and always willing to help. She made everyone in the class try everything, feel welcome, and have an understanding of what was going on. Most amazingly, my food turned out really good! Ask me to do it again, I dare you, because I don't think it would happen. Basically, the instructor did half of the work for me while taking the time to dumb everything down to my level, and I loved her for it.
We also spent a lot of time wandering through markets and trying local foods. I'm really open to trying random meats on sticks and so a good chunk of time was spent bouncing from food stall to food cart. I also love talking to locals and finding out if they've been lucky enough to travel, how many hours they work in a day, and finding out about their lives. I couldn't write enough good things about the people and that part of the world in general. It's an amazing experience and you're guaranteed to have a great time, as long as you go in with an open mind. I highly recommend it.
RANDOM VACATION THOUGHTS
- Some things just don't make sense to me, much like the picture above. If you're wondering what this picture is, this is the case of disallowed items from the airport in Koh Samui. Why did someone try to bring a fluorescent lightbulb on the plane? Were they dissatisfied with the overall quality of the reading lights? I'm not sure. You see the slingshot? What the hell is that for? Although, I guess, having a slingshot could make for an effective way in getting people to sit down when the seatbelt light is on?
- One thing that I still don't understand is why guys still feel the need to wear speedos? I see you, European guy, strutting the beach like a modern day Adonis. Unfortunately, it appears that you don't see yourself. Listen, I've worn speedos many times, but it's not like it was a look I was going for. I wore the speedo because I wanted to embarrass anyone and everyone around me for my own amusement, but so many of these guys think they look good! What is that? (For the record, I know I look good in a speedo).
- If you're in a country that does not speak English as the primary language, why the hell are you getting angry at the person that doesn't speak English to you? I watched this happen a couple times. One of the most amazing habits that some people have is to speak louder when someone doesn't speak the same language. How does this make any sense? If you're yelling at me in Portugese, I still won't understand what you're talking about. If you're a Thai guy, and you speak very broken English, how can I get angry at you for not understanding me? ESPECIALLY WHEN I'M IN YOUR COUNTRY!
- Ladyboys... if you don't know, ladyboys are very common in Thailand and you're very likely (probably guaranteed) to see and interact with them, in some way, while you're there. What I don't understand is how some travellers feel like they can treat these people as though they're not even from the same species? I saw some guys be really harsh to a few ladyboys while we were having drinks one night, and it made me sad for them. Just because something is different for you culturally, doesn't give you the right to be a dick just because someone is different.
- Plane Etiquette is a thing that a lot of people don't know about... so many people feel like they're the ONLY ONE that is uncomfortable on a plane that they completely forget the concept of other people. Why shouldn't you be allowed to have half of my seat because you can't get comfortable in yours? Makes sense. *face palm*
- I'm not sure how the people that run airport bars can live with themselves. In the Hong Kong airport, I ordered 2 beers, my chick had coffee and a water and our bill came to $50 CAD! I'll tell you how the airport bar owners sleep at night, on their piles of dirty dirty money.