Our Travel Blog
Blue roofs, cloudy skies, buildings arranged in an orderly fashion.  This was the view seen from the plane as we landed in Bangkok, Thailand on the 2nd of May.  Everything appeared so clean and tidy.  The airport was blasting the AC, which we were not used to anymore, as was the bus which we took to leave the airport to get to the central area of the city.  Getting off of the bus, just breathing or standing outside was enough to start sweating through all the pores of your body.  
We found an inexpensive place in Bangkok to stay in the area called Banglaphu for several days, from where we could get the rest of our trip organized with the help of a nearby hotspot WIFI internet access.  Walking through the main tourist street (Ko San Road) in our area became increasingly intolerable.  Here, business was to be made from producing and selling fake ID's, drivers licenses and certificates, very unmodestly dressed Thai (and foreign) young ladies, plenty of bars and pubs, very loud music, etc.  Aromas of mixed meats filled the air along the sidewalks in the majority of the streets downtown.  Thoughts of cheese pizza and watermelon suddenly started to tease Karen's taste buds.  Vendors here in Bangkok are not as persistent as in India and will leave you alone if you say that you are not interested.
We stayed in Bangkok long enough to meet some Bahá'í friends at a fund raising event.  To get there, it took us only two hours via public transportation.  On the way there, we took a boat bus which travels along the canals to pick up people from designated stops along the way.  They stop and start very quickly and are very maneuverable.  On the way back we hopped on the back of a designated public transit motorcycle which took us a few minutes down the road to the bus stop which shortened our travel time significantly.  The motorcycles are common in Thailand cities and the "taxi ones" can be recognized by the driver wearing a reflector vest hanging out with other motorcycle men waiting to provide rides.  Passengers are, by the way, not offered helmets to wear for safety.  Mothers holding babies and young children can be seen riding these motorcycles as well.  Most of the motor vehicles do not have seat belts for back seat passengers.  There seems to be little to no safety regulations in Thailand as also not in India.  Thailand traffic appears to be much less congested than India though and they do make use of traffic lights, traffic lanes and pedestrian crosswalks.
Our hitchhiking experience started as we left Bangkok to travel south.  People in general seem not to understand the concept of hitchhiking, but at the same time wish to be helpful.  They will often stop and offer a ride to the bus station or police station as happened to us on our first night outside of Bangkok.  A ride dropped us off at the Hua Hin bus station from where we walked for what seemed to be an endless distance with heavy backpacks to reach the outskirts of the town from where we could try to continue.  Several people stopped along our way to offer rides to the bus or train station.  One man came back after talking to us once, to offer us to stay in an empty room in his guest house for free since it was so late (close to midnight!) anyway and he didn't anticipate renting it out to anyone that night anymore.  We accepted the offer and headed out the next morning for a city called Hat Yai where we would visit some more friends.  This time a man stopped who barely spoke or understood english and happened to be going to Hat Yai.  He gladly took us with him.  After he called a friend of his who spoke english and had him translate some things we were certain that we were headed in the right direction.  
We stayed 2 nights in Hat Yai.  While there we visited with some friends, visited a university and numerous street markets, tasted some interesting fruits and learned more about the Thai culture.  The particularly interesting fruits were the ramutan which is small, red with numerous course hair like strands extending from its exterior containing a juicy white flesh and 1 seed;  the mangosteen which appears dark brown on the outside and contains a segmented, white, sweet juicy fruit on the inside;  and the durian, a large interesting fruit harbouring a very tough with moderate sized hard spikes on the outside, and large segments of a yellow, buttery, uniquely tasking -and smelling- fruit on the inside.  The durian is always eaten first due to its warming qualities, and is followed by the mangosteen due to its cooling qualities.
On the evening of May 10th, we made it hitchhiking from Hat Yai, Thailand to Petaling Jaya (PJ), city close to KL aka Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia with 2 separate rides.  Malaysia is very green until you reach the big cities.  In PJ we stayed with a hospitalityclub.org member and their large family of seven children!!  It was a very pleasant and welcoming stay.
We then left for Singapore, still hitchhiking, making it there in two rides, one half way (till Melacca) and then to Johor Baru, the border town to Singapore.
End of our adventure for today.
So, still no idea of where we are going ?
Monday, May 14, 2007
Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore...

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