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February 27, 2005


It is Monday morning, February 28th and I am in Hong Kong! After leaving Phuket I just couldn't hang out in Bangkok any longer and needed a change of pace from Southeast Asia so I decided to fly up here to beautiful and mysterious Hong Kong, the gateway to Asia and the gateway to China!

After seven days in Phnom Penh it really was time to leave. My friends Frank and Thom were departing and I thought it was time I do so too.

The life in Phnom Penh was almost too relaxing as I found myself spending too much time sitting on my butt and drinking beer at the California 2. Not a bad way to spend time but not real healthy either.

So I decided to head back to Bangkok since it was relatively close by in order to figure out my next move. The great thing about Bangkok is that it's a central hub in which to travel practically anywhere in the world. Plus Bangkok is so easy to manage (compared to other Southeast Asian cities) and seems to be made for travelers, particularly the Sukhumvit and Khao San Road areas.

I tried to stay at my old hostel, the Suk11 (in Sukhumvit) but they were actually full! I couldn't believe it, my oasis in the insanity of Bangkok was full, oh well.

I decided to hit the famous backpacker paradise of Khao San Road where I knew I could find decent and cheap accommodations. I mentioned Khao San Road in a previous Bangkok blog entry. This road is about 1 kilometer (1 Km = .62 mile) long and the backpacker area includes some of the surrounding streets and alleys. It is full of bars, places to eat, shopping, travel agents and Internet places. Everything a traveler needs! Costs seem to be higher here than in other places in Bangkok and Southeast Asia but are still a bargain compared to any other western country.

I found a decent guesthouse, the New Siam 1 (not to be confused with the New Siam 2) for 600 baht a night (about $15) for a room with a bed and a shower that was relatively quiet at night (only needed my earplus occassionally).

A few days on Khao San Road and in Bangkok is more than enough as I had already spent 7 days here back in December and saw most of the main attractions and got a pretty good feel for the city. I did go back and see the Golden Palace again in a bit more depth than I did previously and that was fun. But now I had to decide where to go next...

My first night walking around Khao San Road I ran into my friends Ryan and Michele from Canada. I don't think I've mentioned these two before, I first met them in early January on the Slow Boat in Laos. We are on similar routes it seems. Ryan and Michele are from Calgary, Canada, are married and in their mid to late twenties (I think). They are taking a break from life and spending 5-6 months in Asia. Ryan runs a hotel and Michele is an Accountant so we have alot in common.

The odd, but fun, part is that we keep running into each other. Once the Slow Boat got into Luang Prabang we ended up staying at the same guesthouse. I left Luang Prabang before them and went to Vang Viene where we also crossed paths at the same guesthouse on the night before I left to go to Vientiane. In Vientiane the same thing! We all ended up at the same guesthouse. Similar tastes and budget I'm sure but there are literally dozens of places to stay in these areas.

I took off for Hanoi, Vietnam and guess who I ran into a few days later in an Internet place? Yup, Ryan and Michele. And now I see them over a month later in a bar on Khao San Road. A very happy series of coincidences as I enjoyed their company and enjoyed the times we spent drinking beers, eating dinner and takling. I wish them the best of luck and happy traveling!!

I had thought (and wrote) about the Cambodian beaches of Sihnoukville while I was in Phnom Penh so I guess the surf, sand and sea were on my mind when I decided to head south to Phuket Island.

Phuket is a large island with many towns and many places to stay and hang out. The western side of the island has the great beaches and resorts and is on the Andaman Sea. It is also one of the areas hit hard by the December 26th Tsunami. I decided to stay in Patong Beach, the resort town on Phuket that was probably the hardest hit by the Tsunami.

Patong has a reputation as a rowdy place full of nice resorts, beautiful stretches of beaches and ALOT of bars, it certainly did not disappoint. Oh Jason - I never did find those 2 ugly girls for you but I did see hundreds to really pretty ones!!

The visitors to Patong Beach were mainly European. If any of you have been to a European beach you will know that there are at least 2 things they do that are much different than American beaches - Men in speedos and women topless.

Now I don't know what you ladies think about men in speedo bathing suits but I think it is disgusting, everything hangs out (if you know what I mean) and many of these guys are fat. Seeing a big belly hanging over a speedo swim suit is really quite a sight!

Now, women sunbathing topless is another thing. Unfortunately it is tinged with irony. Of all the women I saw going topless there were only a few that looked good topless (but, oh boy, those few were awesome). The irony is that the women you wished would go topless don't and those you wish would not go topless do.


Anyway, I digress... I got a great rate at a cool resort about 2 kilometers north of the main town called Sunset Beach Resort. This resort suffered minor damage from the Tsunami but like the rest of the Island is now suffering from lack of visitors. The high season here is from November through March and normally the resorts are 90-100% occupied. When I was there it appeared that occupancy was maybe 30-40%. A little Internet research resulted in a rate about 50% of normal so I was livin' large relatively inexpensively. The room and the pool were top notch and WAY better than anywhere I had stayed previously on this trip (Shelley - you would be proud!).

It was a pity that I was by myself as the resort, the town, the beach and the luxurious room would have been better served if I had shared it with someone special.

Of course, this being Patong Beach, there were plenty of options to find a temporary "special someone" at one of the bars in town for about $25 per day (and night). It appears that many, many western men had done so (the same fat, ugly men I saw with beautiful women in Bangkok).

I was talking to a local guy about the prostitution industry in Thailand and all of the bar girls and he told me that the vast majority of the girls were from Eastern and Northeastern Thailand who moved here to make money. Apparently in those regions poverty is more extreme and widespread and there is a lack of economic opportunities compared to the southern part of Thailand. The local girls rarely participate in the bar girl scene and tend to look down upon the girls partaking in this activity.

He also told me that the HIV infection rate amongst prostitutes in Thailand is well over 25%. No matter how safe you are those odds are not very appealing to me.

Sorry about the lack of pictures in this blog entry, I know you all enjoy them (probably more so than my writing :-) ). It's weird that Hong Kong is one of the most wired cities in the world but it is hard to find Internet access here. When I have found access it is either very expensive or no USB hook ups for my camera. I will either post pictures in this blog entry at a later date or in a subsequent Phuket entry. I have some awesome sunset pictures from Patong!

As usual, I am behind in keeping this blog up to date. I'm leaving Hong Kong tommorrow and have at least 3 blog ideas and outlines written out that I need to type. It may be a few days at least until my next entry as I am doing something a bit unexpected when I leave Hong Kong, I am making a long journey. Updates to follow!

Thank you for reading this. I hope to make this blog both interesting and entertaining. Please post a comment and let me know your thoughts, observations or counsel. Hearing from readers and knowing I have an audience is a great motivator and will be a great morale booster during down times on the road. Don’t forget to bookmark this site and tell a friend! Please feel free to e-mail me at “JeffMichie at Yahoo Dot Com”

Posted by Jeff on February 27, 2005 09:18 PM
Category: Thailand

Actually, if you look, Khao San Road has some of the cheapest accommodations in Bangkok. For example, the Sweety Guesthouse, just off KSR, is 100 baht a night. Of course, it's a spartan room with no private shower, but it's a great way to save money.

In Hong Kong, the cheapest accommodations are at Chungking Mansions.

Posted by: Chris on February 28, 2005 06:37 AM

I thought you were on a long and a bit unexpected trip already. At least if you are going to worry us give us something to focus on. My imagination is much to vivid and often out of control

Posted by: Bobbie on February 28, 2005 10:30 AM

Well, I must say that I am not intrigued about what your next step will be. I guess I will just have to wait patiently until your next entry!

Very strange with your friends Ryan and Michelle! - Very cool - but strange.

I don't think I would have done very well on Patong Beach. The thought of men in speedos (any man!) gives me the heeby jeebies! I'll take a pair of cut offs any day of the week!

Anyway, good to hear from you! Take care on your "long journey" and we'll look forward to hearing from you.

Travel safely! Ynez

Posted by: Ynez on February 28, 2005 10:48 AM

I think I found those 2 girls last night. I am looking forward to hearing about Hong Kong, it looks like a crazy place (at least on the Jackie Chan movies). Take care my friend.

Posted by: Jason on February 28, 2005 10:49 AM

Fat men/Speedo's in the same sentence? YUCK!!! you can save THOSE pictures Jeff. Look forward to hearing about your next journey. Take care!

Posted by: phyllis on February 28, 2005 12:40 PM

I bet, I know where your at.... and you won't be getting a room for $12. Have fun and be safe. The blog entry was good. I did miss the pictures they seem to make it so real. I guess, if it were men in speedo's or topless women we didn't miss much. It won't be long and the gent on 56 will be out in his speedo's. I think he must have a different color for everyday.

Posted by: Shelley on March 1, 2005 12:36 AM
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