July| Vol. 22 No. 8.02 | Christian's Chronicles © 2015 – All rights reserved.
With only days left in my Southeast Asian trek, and plenty of time on my hands due to the less-than-ideal weather as of the past couple of days, I have been evaluating my experiences as told in the pages of The Chronicles. I have even considered whether the arguably deceptive title “Christian’s Chronicles” ought to be changed to something that more accurately reflects the true contents of the aforementioned publication. However, ‘An Idiot Abroad’ has already been taken, and really nothing else would sum up the contents of these pages quite the same. These are my chronicles after all, regardless of whether or not my name could potentially be seen as unintentionally suggestive of religious undertones. And so it was that Christian’s Chronicles continued to chronicle Christian’s chronicles. So let it be written, so let it be done. Amen.
It appears that most of the broadening of my horizons occurred in bathrooms. There was the initial encounter with the squatting pan in Singapore, as well as the butt-washer hose, similar to a bidet, which apparently renders toilet paper less useful for the purposes I am familiar with, serving instead as hand towels by the sink in many public restrooms. The icing on the cake: the cleaning ladies going about their duties in the men’s rooms while they are fully occupied.
In addition to my numerous adventures in the process of elimination, the second most memorable encounter was on the road. My experiences with scooters, or motorbikes as they are known here, include a crash, dodging traffic, and the complete lack of understanding of the rules of the road, if any exist. This is most forcefully demonstrated in the roundabouts where several roads meet, and from what I can tell motorbikes dart out shielding themselves behind cars in no apparent order of any kind. It is always an exhilarating process. I am told that nowadays there are far more cars on the road than before, when the constant flood of motorbikes was only occasionally interrupted by the presence of an automobile. Now motorbikes zip through the backed-up lines of cars at rush hour.
Third, I would have to list the cost of things. Generally, everything is much cheaper in these parts of the world. You can get a meal at a restaurant for $2 of even less. Then again, there was the infamous purchase of $15 underwear. There was a pressing need, and I was in the mall, catering mostly to the needs of expats with altars to consumerism. I had no options. Or so I thought. Just as soon as I made the purchase at highly inflated prices, I discovered a kiosk outside offering underwear by brands of dubious authenticity. Also, there are certain things that are just more expensive, such as protein supplements and other items of various categories that are luxuries for which only relatively affluent expats have a demand.
Finally, it seems everything sort of lulls you to sleep here, in a state of blissful relaxation. Of course, there are the beaches and beautiful scenery. But there also appears to be a pervasive attitude of general relaxation that seems to extend even to the many dogs that appear everywhere unrestrained, and do not seem to worry about cars hitting them. Also, people riding motorbikes carrying 3 children and a baby do not seem all that worried about accidents. Things that may cause much concern back home are not given much thought here. Unlike other economies in countries of relatively low average wealth dominated by tourism, I have not encountered any hustlers or beggars on the streets; not everyone is intent on ripping you off. It also seems safer here than those other destinations. I am told that this has its limits, and you do not want to piss off a local because once they hit a certain point they go crazy. I do not have the motivation or inclination to test this theory, so if it remains unconfirmed, I am fine with that.
At any rate, the people have been very hospitable and have shown great kindness, often without any hope of reward. I have had a very enjoyable time here, and hope to return again sometime soon after I fly back home on the 24th.
There is much more to tell, but I cannot spend all my time writing. Let me get back to experiencing things.
Cheers from Phuket,