"Just because it feels good,
doesn't make it right"

I've always remembered these 2 lines from a song called "Hedonism", if I'm not wrong. I can't even remember who sang it... I know I heard it at Wala's one night... I got the impression it was bout a girl who didn't want to be sucked in into some relationship.

It's always open to debate I guess... there's no point going through life thinking that ascetism and suffering in life is right either. And I guess it makes me feel guilty when I commit something close to what the song title is.

To the point I guess... now we decided to go visit Patpong, to see what the renowned Thai nightlife is like. Okay... we didn't really no our way, and we accidentally stumbled through the homosexual section, where we were propositioned... Patpong is full of aggressive touts who try to bring you to see "Thai-gers" and "Ping-pong pussy" and all sorts of fantastic sex shows.

I needed a break so I ducked into a 7-11 to get some smokes.

So there we were walking up and down the street, touts everywhere. I had a bad feeling, I guess everybody did. We walked the street once I guess, didn't find anything we liked. Most of the "sex" shows were located in suspicious looking second stories of shophouses, up some dark stairway.

I think we thought "what the hell, we're in patpong anyway, lets get ourselves a drink". I thought well I guess it'd be fine if we went to one of those lighted ones where women in bikinis dance around poles. I was suspicious of 2nd storey shophouses I guess because I know screwed up shit happens, but I guess I was curious. Just like the other time I was propositioned at Hsimenting in Taipei. Part of me wanted to "see", you know, been there, done that.

Went up to the first 2nd storey... gave me the freaks, went back down. Eventually, I we did go up to one of them, accompanied by a very irritating and pushy guy who seemed to be from the Bangkok underworld, with desperation seeping from his voice.

Okay, and then there were gyrating women and a few others lounging around in bikinis. Nothing about the room spoke eroticism. My bottle of Heineken was my friend. And as usual, when I am lost and weak and really really confused, I have a light.

There was a rather quiet whore (hostess/sex worker? whatever shall we call them?) beside me. We made casual conversation. (yes, talk to a whore. how typical.) in a fit of messianic emotion i decided to get her a drink (how noble.) In hindsight I probably just contributed more money to the big-bellied owners of this establishment.

I think I felt so bad because I felt so helpless... eventually we left. I felt moral outrage but I had gone in didn't I? I am disgusted with myself. I have to be honest, I also hated the world. Because you know, if you find the words, you could probably convince me that there is nothing wrong with paid sex, that sex is just some human instinct, and it's just stupid social mores that deny us our all-too-human sensuality. I guess so, but I guess then that this didn't feel sensual at all.

We walked out quickly, anyway. It was a joke and I felt very lonely. Being wrong is the next worst feeling the world. I hate this phrase but because I find it so hard to describe what I felt that night, I guess I felt that I was anchorless and drifting. And I really didn't like the world one bit.
The rest of the day was ambiguous, to say the least. Lip had lost his rain cover and damaged the buckle of his backpack, thanks to some inept baggage handling. Now, I mananged to pass immigration without much difficulty, nor did I get singled out for baggage check like in Singapore.

We decided the cab was the best way into the city, and we were heading to the backpacker's district at Th. Khao San. Now I had been to Bangkok what 6 or 7 years before, for a few days, so I did remember a bit about the city... but of course, what was familiar was the traffic, the "in your face" flyovers and uncompleted highways. In short, the concrete mayhem that was familiar thanks to me playing Burnout 3 on my XBOX just a few days back.

I wish we had a crazy shit ass taxi driver, but he was insane enough. We marvelled at the numerous modifications the taxis around us had, and we had a rather smooth trip (no jams) all the way to Banglamphu.

Aaah yes and we knew it was Songkhram... wet T-shirt time... the traditional new year celebrated by the Thais with the dousing of masses of people in water. It was hazardous, considering we were with our backpacks and didn't want to get ourselves too wet. But it was all good for us... hoping for some pretty young things to get their T-shirts wet. We looked around for some decent accomodation and got a room for 280 baht a night. In retrospect, as we would progress along with our journey, perhaps our first room was the crappiest of em all... It was clean though, and run by friendly people... called "Mom's guesthouse".

Okay... time to hit the tourist trail. Now, off to the Emerald Palace, "the Vatican City of Thai Buddhism". I had seen it before, but of course not all 4 of us had, and we decided it was worth another look. I guess we should have tried to pass off as Thais but then again I was bringing my camera about and so we had to pay the 250 baht admission fee... and it was wonderful wow... It's basically a series of really nice temples and lots and lots of gold so it shines in the sun... and a few museums showcasing the glory of Thai royalty. It was also bloody fucking hot.

There's something else to do in Bangkok. Shop!. Now once again I arrived in Bangkok on a weekday and would thus be unable to visit the famed Chattuchak market... but Alex, who was a Bangkok expert (hell, he has a Thai mom) could bring us to places to shop. We decided to take the public bus system, which at 4 baht per person! was unbelievably cheap. It was like taking 170 when I was 7 years old or something... with the old TMO buses... witht he conductor who would give you your ticket... and its amazing how they remember who's payed and who hasn't.

We went on to Siam Discovery Centre and MBK... now MBK is a miracle... when I was last in Bangkok, it definitely was rather more run down but I guess all the money brought in gave it a remarkable facelift and it looked really different. And there were like millions of shops selling handphones and I wondered how any of them could make money. Frankly, the shopping was bland and uninspired and I didn't feel like buying anything.

One great thing about Thailand is the food... we had roadside noodles and ate a huge variety of food at the food court...


I'm writing out of a cybercafe in Phnom Penh... the initial greeting messages and all were in French, but now they're in English... nothing like familiarity. I hope the connection co-operates and this is a really, really small cybercafe which doubles as a AUTOCAD/architectural company. Which reminds me that I made some errors in my draft the other time. Damn. I'm subsisting of really skimpy notes in my yellow notebook because I'm not bringing my PDA around like Lip is. Better get the firste few days out of the way. But photos... well I guess I'll keep them on my computer.

Bangkok Blues

The night started ominously enough, of course, with myself being unable to get any sleep. Because my sleep cycle had been irretrievably damaged by work... ok... so I was going to go for a trip un-fresh and totally screwed. So I thought.

I had 2 good hours of sleep and I headed off for the airport. So far so good. I hadn't left my flight itinerary nor my passports behind. Unfortunately... I left Jeff, who was supposed to send us off, behind, in my morning stupor. Screw-up 1.

Now the people over at Jetstarasia are really rather friendly people... when they checked us in, and I like the fact we had 20kg of baggage allowance. And of course, Changi Airport being the wonderful airport that it is, was pretty nice to mill around.

The plane wasn't. Now of course, we like to scare ourselves with budget airline stories, given they're relatively new to our region and being the bumpkin that I was, had never stepped foot on one. It was cramped and I had nothing to do, the seats were pretty fine, but generally it was ok but I hated being on the plane because I still couldn't sleep thought I knew I needed it.

So... 0920 - 1045... SIN - BKK, bearing in mind we're now back 1 hour thanks to I don't know, previous colonial differences or something. Okay... I think I'll continue another day.


Yay. I'm going travelling

Yes, again. Welcome... travel... aaah... most people would die for an opportunity to spit on other cultures, gawk at weird tribes and live like a king in developing countries where they earn US$1 per day. Where official corruption makes up for personal incompetence. Yes, lovely, all this and more.

D (-1), H (-24h50min), Monday, 11 April, 0830. 27 Coronation Road. A room in Singapore.

Timings look impressive and professional, and give the impression of miltary precision. Also gets the adrenaline going, because we all know how exciting it is to rush from place to place and be known as a "very busy person".

I thought it would be appropriate to start this way, because a good characteristic of any traveller is arrogance. And arrogance is when you think you can complete most of your preparations in 1 day. Au naturel.

Packing status : 0% complete

D (-1), H (-24), Monday, 11 April, 0920. 10 Leedon Park. Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Right. Thanks for the visa. Fucking lackey...from a company specializing in visas, running of and convincing me I had to get a visa done although I'm from an ASEAN country. Oh yeah, be safe, not sorry. And no run-ins with border guards. Nice embassy. Almost feel bad the ambassador has so many visitors each day. Ok... I have everyone's passports. Paranoid about losing 1.

Packing status : Still 0%

D (-1), H (-23h50min), Monday, 11 April, 0930. Back home.

Where the f*** is my green card. F***ing shite. Merde. F***ing Murphy. F*** his law. Ok.... fine... I guess I still have my re-entry permit. Should be fine. I'm calm, cool and collected. Message Alex. Check his car. Could have left it there again. Know I should have done all this rubbish earlier. F*** it. I'm walking to Leedon...

A nice person with a cat offered to pick me up.

Left-hand column: "Are you going to drive me to a quiet place in Bin Tong Park, beat me with a stick, and take away all my money."
"Is it the pink shirt I'm wearing?"

Official reason: He's a nice person sending his cat to the vet and going to his grandmother's place. He's watched me walk for the past 5 minutes and is going to take pity on me.

yay! my life is lovely. tomorrrow i will get married and live happily ever after.

didn't find the green card at embassy. (knows deep down supposed to be packing but... shit happens.)

Packing status: 0.00%

D (-1), H (-21h50min), Monday, 11 April, 1130. Coronation Plaza.

Get hair cut: Check. So won't look like a hippy after a month. Maybe it's nice, but I doubt so. I love my priorities.

Get photos taken: To please the border guards, in case they'd like to arbitrarily reject my visa.

Shop at NTUC: New toothbrush. Check. Hey... these wet wipes look nice... we could get dirty.... ok check. hmm... might as well get small shampoo.... and body foam.... check... check.... check.

Also: Have to get DVD for grandma working. The show "Big Fish" is not co-operating. She asks, "So, did the guy catch the fish?" How do you answer that? I've watched it at least twice.
It's not original, but they could raid my house now it's on public domain.

Packing status: More stuff, less packed: 0.00%

D (-1), H (-20h50min), Monday, 11 April, 1230. Coronation Plaza.

My green card and passport cover are found. Hallelujah!

D (-1), H (-19h50min), Monday, 11 April, 1330. Harbourfront.

Are there McDonald's restaurants in Vietnam? Or Cambodia, for that matter. I'm still in Singapore. Mistook 1300 for 1330, bad mistake. Had to spend money on cab. Yes, still had to settle my work, although I'm yes what's that number again yes 0.00% packed and sleep-deprived because of Spanish La Liga TV schedules. And work. And Tiger Woods winning at Augusta. Ok.

D (-1), H (-17h50min), Monday, 11 April, 1530. Lucky Plaza.

I have money to change. Speak to me. Give me your best rate. I have a lotta money to spend. What? You don't have enough USD? Lousy rate for baht? Fine. I'm changing this much (XXX) money. I'll survive on it. Okay. Some money. Check. Lunch. Check. SD card? Aaah fuck too expensive.

D (-1), H (-17h20min), Monday, 11 April, 1530. Plaza Singapura.

I like the cubes for packing because they make everything so neat and tidy but I haven't packed yet so how am I to know? And a waterbottle I guess, because I have a compartment at the side of my backpack for one and I guess I'd like to add it. Was thinking of adding LP: Vietnam (ooooh product placement) to LP: SEA on a shoestring, then decided to forget it.

Packing: soon, soon! We can be ops ready at short notice, anyway.

D (-1), H (-15h20min), Monday, 11 April, 1730. My bed.

I'm sleeping.... zzzz.... too little sleep. packing.... 0%

D (-1), H (-12h20min), Monday, 11 April, 2030. Still at home, yes.

Phenomenal progress. I've for my travel documents photocopied, in case shit happens. Like getting robbed by restive natives. I've made sure I've got my tickets (well, it's an e-ticket anyway), licenses, passports etc. I hope I didn't forget anything. I even have travel insurance in case I step on a landmine. Travel is dangerous you know. Called to confirm transport arrangements for tomorrow. Alex is going to walk to my place. sonofabitch. route march at 6. I've packed everything in cubes.... see... 90% done! shirts, socks, every damn thing. good thing is my backpack isn't bursting at the seams yet.

D (-1), H (-10h20min), Monday, 11 April, 2230. Still at home, yes.

Settling stuff... yes... must dutifully inform the army. Check mail... last stuff... blog... check if I have my roaming on.... and ready to sleep. Adjust straps of backpack. Pack all odds and ends. Charge camera battery. There. 99.5% FUCK YEAH! Let's go! sleep.

to be continued....


Friday, April 8, 2008.

My back hurts. If this continues I will be like many famous rich and powerful people who have hurt their backs. I know because I remember a book where J.F.K was screwing Marilyn Monroe (it was fiction), and his back hurt.

I average 5 am for my bedtimes. I envied insomniacs when I was in the army because they could stay up and get many things done. I think it's not bad, because you have all this time. But it's really dumb cause you're not having much fun.

I am leaving for my trip in 4 days. I would like to write about it. I would like to think I will be in a train and reflecting on what I have done. It will be a profound journey of spiritual enlightenment, but most likely, it'll be fun.

Not packing much... of course, before any trip there are all the trivialities to settle. At the moment I like to think I am a production worker. I always like ants, I played Sim Ant.

Godhelpme! I have feelings. Feelings go to the other folder.

New optimistic anthem (paraphrased from a song)

ain't got no nothing. ain't got no culture. ain't got no beer. aint got no smokes. aint got no sleep. ain't got no woman. aint got no love aint got no class. aint got no ticket aint got no token. aint got no god.

what about god?
why am i alive anyway?
yeah what about god?
nobody take away.

got my hair, got my head,
got my brains, got my ears
got my liver, got my eyes, got my nose, got my smile
got my tongue, got my chin, got my mouth, got my nose and my eyes too

got soul, heart, painful back.

got my blog, got my words, got my dick
got ym back, got my sex

got my fingers got my toes!
got my blood!
got my freeeedom
got the life, got the life, got the life.
got to keep it.
nobody take from me.


Cause we were waiting for the shops to open, lip decided to go blogsurfing at orchard... and he was showing me like blogs of well, popular bloggers.

there were some i liked... because of the design and tone and all... but some i didn't really like.

1 example... the pope just died right... and there so this well-informed blogger went around about how all these people were pathetic, finding some excuse to light candles for some old geezer who's gonna die and never did much. well, that was the drift.

and then he goes on about how xxxx people died in rwanda and xxxx people died in darfur and no one gives a fuck, and how xx% of the world's biodiversity is being wiped out... and probably everyone thinks he's a genius. probably implying that the world is full of hypocrites and ignorant christian fundamentalists. And probably he had a valid point... that the news media shouldn't be carrying so much on the pope dying and all, and more on real issues that threathen the world today.

wait. didn't the news media capture darfur. didn't journalists report about rwanda. hell. i wonder how the hell we knew about these genocides halfway across the world. i think we were disturbed too, hell, how many of us got up to fly to africa is one thing, but hell, not all of us are flying to the vatican to see the pope right?

and maybe he thinks the crowd is full of rich white people trying to rape the fatta the land, who also happen to be christians. fine, that is your politics. but to use "the world's grief is more than yours" is not very fine. and if this is what people care about, what business is it to care about their indulgences? people are NOTHING without faith. you just wished they'd care about per capita income gnp of the bottom third of the world... yeah, some of us do... but it doesn't take a rocket scientist... i mean most people take money out of their wallets to give to "rice for the poor" at church collections anyway... and we have doctors and people flying here and there to save tsunami victims... and we just look at one mass of people at st. peter's square and scoff. idiots. stupid tourists taking photos of the vatican. but you don't know... you never know... perhaps they've been working hard all their lives.... simple people, firemen, policemen, IT systems analyst... doing what they can do to yes, help themselves get by (or get richer)... they have their own stories, their own loves.... i think that's the problem with politics... we look at masses and "electorate", poor, huddling masses, oh let's drop money from the sky like manna, as if talking about ti would make said money drop. and let's not forget that 99.5% of the people in the world are leading stupid, unenlightened, unliberated lives and it is your duty to free them from their delusions. from the frying pan into the fire. i know, you're probably doing something to help, but i know scorn doesn't (hell, even criticism does, but not scorn).

to say that people are so STUPID to weep for someone who they BELIEVE in?

I don't know... there you have it... all the wisdom and erudition of the world, wow, this guy's a genius, and the common folk are stupid.

I don't know... I think I'm guilty of cynicism... but I guess a lot of people tell me about it and I guess I'm trying not to... I'm always trying to be optimistic, now, really, see that things can be done... it's just that everyone has their capacity, and we'll always be guilty of sins of omission. but it's irritating when you're cleaning one side of your car and someone tells you you haven't cleaned the other side... it's like... fuck, i'm getting there, or would you like to take a sponge and wipe with me?

and all the earnest workers... all the people i see... look at the filipino people... they're so devout, even in their mess of a country... even in indonesia... the spirit is strong. and i know, that there's something about us, without a culture of faith, can never match. but we're good at what we do (i guess that's to make money), and we do it well. and that's the best you can get from life, to be earnest and do your best, your way.

i don't want to sound communist by saying "worker, worker, worker", but I thinkt eh world would be a worse place if we all sat at home and listened to jazz. cause some people can't stand jazz.