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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Elephants and Hong Kong.
Heya folks. if you havent yet, you should totally go read my previous post from Thailand. tis awesome. (me being modest and all...)

today's update is rehashed bits from my travel-blog on Facebook. it covers my journey from Chiang Mai to where i am now...

here we go

Chaing Mai is a large but quiet city, with lots of temples. I took it upon myself to visit a few of these on the first day, and on the second day i did a jungle adventure called "Flight of the Gibbon", which is a series of zip-lines and abseiling through the rain-forest, some of the zips being over a 100 metres long, zipping straight through the canopy. The great thing about it was that it was eco-friendly too, with much of the profits going to rain-forest conservation. Guilt-Free Fun! and i upheld the Pecometh Challenge Course Tradition of doing silly poses in my harness whilst photos were taken. these will be posted at the next available opportunity.

after that, it was time for ELEPHANTS. i spent two days and one night at the Chaing Mai Elephant Nature Park. it was crazy and surreal helping feed and wash these magnificant creatures, and helping prep their food (they eat a lot) but i also learned a lot about the history of elephants in Thailand, and despite them being a revered and national symbol, the torture and suffering the average working elephant goes through. The owner of the park, a Thai Woman known as Lek, has to put up with a lot of opposition and very hard work to promote her methods (she gets no finiancial backing from the government, and elephants aren't cheap), but her love for these animals is blatantly obvious, and you can tell that her elephants are happy too.

After Chaing Mai, i caught yet another long train ride down south to Ayuthaya, a small city to the north of Bangkok. There are a lot of temple ruins here, and i hired a bicycle to go and look round some of them. riding a bicycle in Thailand is an interesting (read: NOT SAFE!) experience, as most Thai's seem to take the rules of the road as guidelines rather than solid concrete things to adhere to. :q it was an experience to say the least.

i then headed south to bangkok for one night. i stayed in a dingy hostel. the owner was really friendly and had some great advice, but the bed i slept in had bedbugs! >.< im still itching from the bites. fortunately i was only there one night. whilst i was there i watched "Inglorious Basterds", the new tarrantino movie. it was pretty good (if historically inaccurate :p) The fact that half the film is in french or german meant that i was reading subtitles almost as much as the Thai's were! ha ha.

Thailand has been really interesting, and a whole lot of fun. I feel like i really found my pace as a traveller there, and i'd really enjoyed the whole experience. The Thai's, on the whole, are very friendly, and a smile goes a long way. The land is pretty beautiful, both the beaches and islands in the south, and the mountains and forests in the north; though there is quite a signifcant difference in atmosphere between the two!

Then it was onto Hong Kong (King Kong's big, bad tempered cousin... )

it was a big change of pace from thailand. very hectic, very busy, hundreds upon thousands of people, often in your way. :q

the first day i kept myself pretty busy wandering around hong kong island. i went on the worlds largest outdoor (yet covered) esculator, and i visited a zoological garden. i went on the tram system (which i amway too big for...i could barely stand up!). i explored the streets and and in the evening i went up to the peak (they have a Madame Tassauds up there, didjaknow?) and saw the hong kong skyline all lit up.

the rest of the week saw me explore other parts of the island and on the kowloon peninsula. on the last day i went to Lantau island, which was very beautiful and very peaceful too. i caught a cable car across Lantau too, affording some spectacular views.
I also saw the brand new ASTRO BOY movie on Lantau.
now, i dont claim to be at all familiar with Osamu Tezuka's original "Tetsuwan Atom" manga, but i get the feeling that the new cgi film isn't exactly true to the original spirit of the film. i enjoyed it enough, but they could have done so much more with the concepts and plot lines that they threw up into the story, only to leave them dangling and ignored. the last 30 seconds of the movie is just dumb too. unnecessary.
still, the scene where Astro is learning to fly...can't deny that it looked amazing, and i wish i had rocket boosters for legs (and i guess a cyborg body strong enough to withstand them!! ha ha)

Sad to say though that my evenings were what really made the visit for me. one night i ate in a place called "Ned Kelly's Last Stand" which had a live jazz band playing there in the evenings. i liked it so much that i went back there the following night (although i ate somewhere different).

the most interesting eating experience was at a themed restaurant called "Modern Toilet". i'll give you three guesses as to what the theme was. it was very bizarre. you sit on toilets (fortunately not connected to the plumbing), and your food is served to you in bowls and cups that are shaped like urinals and toilets of various shapes and sizes. utterly utterly bizarre, but kinda enjoyable. definitely an experience i wont forget.

later that same night i went to an irish pub called "PJ Murphey's" for a quick pint and met the lovely Laura Donnelly and equally amiable and friendly Dave. Laura was from Belfast and Dave was from Coventry...they had both met at the pub before i had arrived. as they say, two's company, three's a party (wait...) and "just a pint" turned into something a darnsight more. still, i can cross "get drunk with an irish citizen" off my list of things to do before i die. ;) we had a really good time, even though we only hung out for that one night.

overall i enjoyed hong kong, but i gotta say that it totally wasnt what i was expecting.over the years i had built up a strong mental image of what i though HK was like in my head, and i was kinda disappointed when reality didnt match up with the fantasy. my own fault i guess. it was still a lot of fun, although one thing i really dont like about HK is the sense that the whole city is trying to inconvience the regualr tourist. stuff like "no refunds" and "exact change only", poor sign posting, restrictions of all kinds...i could go on, but more then once i caught myself thinking "what a stupid way to do things!". kinda dampened the whole experience for me.

but as i said overall, i had fun with the things that i did manage to do.

and now, i am in Kyoto, Japan! its a dream come true for me to be in Japan. i only hope it wont disappoint in the same way HK did. i gotta try and see it with fresh eyes and not bring any preconcieved notions to the table. i figure thats the best way.

well, till next time... which i guess will be when i arrive back home!!!

hope y'all are well! i'll try to start visiting your sites again as soon as i get back (though my laptop is still in LA, so that might be a little difficult!)

ja ne!

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