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One Year

Just over a year ago I was in this same place. It's a short and touristy row of shops leading up to a temple in Asakusa, Japan. Last time I was here it was my first time in Japan, which meant that I was so enthralled with being there that I didn't realize what a tourist trap it was.

Now I'm here again and I see the place in a different light. I've lived in Japan for almost two months now as part of my year long trip around the world.

As I look up at the paper lanterns dangling above the street I have a thought.

Thailand's Last Westerner

On The Tiny Octopus

(I should add pictures to this one day once I get a better connection)

As of writing I'm just finishing up a three day visit to Thailand waiting for the airport transfer at the Glow Pratanum hotel in Pratanum, Bangkok, Thailand. I had a wonderful time and did the usual tourist things for my very first visit like the street marketplace, night market, floating market, ride the elephants, visit Wat Pho and the reclining Buddha, etc... I also got to stop by Siam Paragon and it was indeed one of the cleanest and best malls I've seen yet.

Reflecting on the trip all the good stuff about did consist of the things 'between the lines' per se. Riding the motorcycle taxi's at breakneck speeds weaving thru full on traffic while LED lights pulsate from all over the place was a one of a kind Asian experience I will never forget. Haggling for computer parts at the electronics market (which dwarfs out any electronics store I've ever seen) was also pretty epic for me as they had just about everything I have ever dreamed of and more. Thailand's style of shopping seems to differ from what I'm used to as the buildings are grouped by what they sell - one building will be all clothes, one all electronics, one all jewelry/accessories etc... All in all this seemed like a lot more of a foreign experience than many of the other trips I've taken to the Philippines, cruising to Mexico/Caribbean, Canada, etc... I also got pretty good at converting prices by increments of 30's or 300's to derive 1/10$ US and other such fun.

One thing I found very interesting was how many westerners and europeans were walking the streets of Thailand as well. The only other diverse international city I've ever been to really is Las Vegas where you can often hear 5-6 languages taking a short walk down the strip. I remember just about EVERYONE raving about Thailand about 10 years ago and how great of a place it was. I wonder now then if I am getting the same experiences as these people or if I've just come in really late to the party. Similar to visiting the Philippine island of Boracay (supposedly one of the world's best beaches) change and commercialize heavily between my last visit around 2006 and 2013 I wonder if I'm just getting the regurgitated bits of travel. Boracay used to be a private beach paradise and now you know they've tipped over the deep end when you see not one but 2 Lonely Planet store outlets in the markets with full on cement and steel resorts popping up left and right. I miss getting my Coke in a plastic bag with a straw for 10 pesos rather than paying 50 now for a canned equivalent just like everywhere else in the western world.

Well anyway I take solace in knowing that at least I got to experience some of that badassness as Thailand's last Westerner. I honestly think this is the best trip I've taken in my life yet though I have high expectations for Japan and Korea if I ever visit. Europe tbh at this point seems boring and expensive. Israel would be fun just for the massive religious lore. If Thailand was this good 10 years down the line then I wonder how orgasmic it was for the early runners. Even the CLICHE stuff was fun (which was lke 5% of the country)! The hotel was truly 5 star and the people are the most accomodating I've ever met. All of those who believe in the so-called 'golden rule' about treating others should take notes on these folks. At the McDonalds for example I noticed I did not have my hamburger 20 mins after purchase since I vegged out for a moment. Not expecting much I went back down and showed them the reciept and in short order they got me another hamburger no questions asked. There was no way to prove that I didn't just eat the first burger then come down slumming around for free seconds.

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