Monday, November 26, 2007

Jesus and the Mary Chain

Things that have happened so far,

Finished thesis and University
Australian labour Party won the Federal election.

BTW this is the first incursion into Jack's blog by me, thanks Jack. Thanks Jack doubletime for the re-invite cos I missed the ship when it was blog that is.

Being at uni for 5 years I have learnt to be a student, - ...if the whole system runs the distance, then I (sorry "we" inc. all the other p.grad newbs) will be bending over to be lubed in the bike tube by the skills shortage in Australia when it comes to professionals outside of the Arts.

Uni maybe typically cynical, that maybe a biased view coming from the Arts...or a generation Y thing, but after half-a decade of learning its only fucking now I realise that the golden gun isn't there at all, in fact satisfaction could actually be found joining the local YMCA, which I didn't do, and now with two pieces of paper, being qualified couldn't feel more insipid. So where to travel to next? Well fuckit. Time is perpetual, and you'll be doing something, even if it is staring at the ceiling with 10mg of Diazepam cursing through your veins whispering to yourself "god I feel benign...". But that latter scenario is rather specific, what about the Green Fields (tm), !!??? Well, yes green fields, no valium, no celing just a beautiful girl who you love, wheatfields sort of day, wine in your hand, gentle southerly with warm air to fucking flies - is that cynical enough?, cause if it sounds that way I can lie using words well cuase I was being serious.
I think it was this French philosopher Montaigne who championed wisdom in life not necessarily in the education system. But then plural geography teaches me to be nuanced in my understanding of black and white scenarios (which is a good thing) so maybe tertiary education is wisdom giving, but Hey! fucked if I know!. So the only thing that is of any offer in this, the expedition into blog, is my own worth in telling someone out there some - thing - useful. So, everyone do ethics when you go to uni if you havnt already...

they'll be more poignant prose when I am boyed by my own wisdom...but now thats all I got...sorry Jack.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Experiencing Bangkok

I almost got it right. Especially about the shithouse tattoos and cosmopolitan tourists. I think Thailand is the respository of the world's lamest tatts. Jack Cambrian needs to come here just to even it out a little bit. I was expecting a more visible homeless population, but it turns out Los Angeles appeared way worse than this. Maybe downtown Bangkok is heavily policed so all of the homeless people get shifted to other areas. I don't know. Travelling in Thailand is SO EASY! It's ridiculous. I was expecting a little bit of a struggle. I was also expecting a bit of hostility and the occasional feeling of not being safe. But I feel more in danger walking around Chapel street late at night on weekends when there's those roaming packs of young men in very nice clothes looking for an excuse (for example: eye contact) to bash someone.

I haven't yet found the glamorous side to Bangkok that I was expecting, but my description of Khao San wasn't far off from the reality. It's been weird how much of the shit I've read has stuck in my head. I was on Ko Chang the other day and I missed Jed. I actually MISSED him. A fictional character (from The Beach). I was hanging out by myself thinking, wouldn't it be great if Jed was here? Fuck.

Another strange experience was the sensation of having been here already. Thailand felt so familiar. All of the stuff I'd heard about before I came here really had an influence on me and it couldn't be helped. But this feeling is probably also influenced by the overwhelming desire to find a reference point to FORCE myself to experience Thailand as familiar. I was walking around Bangkok and Ko Wai thinking yeah this is like Mozambique or that is like Madagascar and I had to stop myself. It's nothing like those places. Just because a place has a beach and coconut trees doesn't make it the same as fucking Madagascar! Or just because an apartment building is dilapidated doesn't make it the same as Mozambique. There are all these layers of difference that I stopped myself from experiencing and instead focussed on very basic elements of my visual experience. I'm not sure why I did this but it happened spontaneously. Possibly I was kind of scared being alone in a big foreign city and wanted to stop myself from feeling stressed. It worked.

I don't have a creeping sensation of danger walking around Bangkok (which I had in Maputo, Mozambique's capital and Antananarivo which is Madagascar's). Mozambique and Madagascar are much much poorer countries and this makes a big difference. The food is totally different. The architecture is way different too, (besides a few vaguely similar apartment buildings), and the buildings in Bangkok are in much better condition. Actually, almost everything in Bangkok is in much better condition. There's a very prominent tourist culture in Thailand which possibly makes the locals more used to our presence here, which means we receive a lot less attention (both negative and positive). Also, movement through the country is unbelievably easy here and comfortable, which changes the way a place is experienced.

I didn't expect Africa to be such a big influence on the way I experienced Thailand. Almost everything in my first few days in Bangkok I related to my time in Madagascar and Mozambique. It was something I had to force myself not to do, and now finally, after about ten days in the country, I am experiencing everything for the first time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Imagining Bangkok

This is Part 1 of a two part blog I'm writing on Bangkok. I'm going to be in that city tomorrow so I want to detail all of my preconceived ideas of what I imagine Bangkok to be like. I am also going to do a list of all of the sources that have influenced my ideas of Bangkok, so when I get there I'll write another blog (Part 2) about the reality of the city and how it compares to my preconceptions. And Part 1 also allows YOU to share your thoughts and experiences on and of Bangkok, for the sake of kicks and more comparisons.

I imagine downtown Bangkok will have a real flashy side. Like Chapel street with a shitload of neon. There will be clubs blasting lots of horrible music like House except it will be ok because of the context. But fused with the flashy side will be a seedy side and a poverty side. I expect beggars and the homeless to be alongside the rich and glamorous. There'll be trashy strip joints and 'massage' parlours etc, and all of this will be mixed together but whenever you read about this area they will only mention the flashy parts.

There will be more tourists than what I thought possible. Tourists escaping their lives in the West. Tourists looking for the 'Real Thailand' (Vietnam). Sex tourists, shopping tourists, adventure tourists, 'sea, sun, sand' tourists, drug tourists, food tourists, drunk tourists, tourists with bad hairstyles and shithouse tattoos, sunburnt tourists, crazy looking tourists, hippy tourists, and also tourists who will be some of the coolest people I've ever met.

Khao San will have two to three storey buildings on either side and the whole street will have a claustrophobic vibe, because it'll be really packed. The buildings will have shit hanging off of them everywhere - lots of clothes, signs and flags. There will be lots of vendors selling awesome yummy food and fresh fruit, and also selling lots of tourist garbage. It will be very LOUD. The tourists in Khao San will be more of the backpacker style, and the mix of nationalities will be fairly cosmopolitan. Not just aussies, but lots of Europeans from all over that continent, plus heaps of Israelis relative to their population. The Americans there will be the cool types.

The downtown area will be surrounded by really poor areas. The city will be pretty safe most of the time. I'll get harassed a bit by dudes trying to sell shit but it won't be much of a problem. Public transport will be pretty good. The traffic will suck.

Ok, I could go on for longer but I'm writing this from the library in Darwin's Parliament House, so I don't have much time. Tell me what you imagined and tell me how right or wrong I am!


- word of mouth from friends and people at parties

- The Beach by Alex Garland (one of my favourite books)

- The Ends of the Earth by Robert Kaplan

- Lonely Planet guidebooks

- movies

- my imagination

- my experiences in Africa

- TV shows

- photos taken by friends in South East Asia

The following academic journal articles on backpacking:

- Erik Cohen's Thai Prostitutes and Farang Men: The Edge of Ambiguity

- Teo and Leong's A Postcolonial Analysis of Backpacking

(these two are from the journal Annals of Tourism Research)

The following academic books

- In the Cities of the South by Jeremy Seabrook

- Planet of Slums by Mike Davis

I think they're the major ones. Look out for Part 2!