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Friday, March 12, 2010

Myanmar/Burma - Off the Grid until April 4

I am scheduled to fly out of Bangkok to Myanmar/Burma tomorrow and will have no internet for the next 22 days.  I am scheduled to fly from Myanmar/Burma to Siem Reap on April 4 and I should have internet once I reach Cambodia.  If not I should be home by April 11th.

Total Expenses for Thailand

Total I spent in Thailand was $378.58 an average of $60.10 per day.  Thailand is no longer as cheap a destination as it once was partly due to the lower dollar and partly because prices have gone up.  You can still get some good deals with food, if you eat from the food stalls.   I spent a total of $154.83 on my hotel room or $25.80 per night (the room included private bath with a hot shower, wifi and tv). I spent a total of $87.86 on food or an average of $14.64 per day.  Tours and transportation cost me $80.39 (most of this, $54.83 was for the taxi to and from Wat Bang Phra where I got my tattoo).  I also spent a total of $26.43 on souvenirs ($18.38 of which was for the donation for the tattoo).  And, finally I spent a total of  $6.27 on wash and some other incidental items.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bangkok Day 30

Today I decided to walk down to Chinatown and visiting a couple of sites on the way.  I stumbled upon a couple of interesting sites including a market where they were selling frogs, turtles, eels and other items.  I then took the river boat back-up to where I am staying.  It is a lot nicer staying by the water and using the river boats for transportation than a taxi or tuk-tuk (they will try and rob you blind), much better scenery and a lot faster also.

Spent sometime in the park reading and watching them film a movie than had some dinner on the water and watched the sun set.  It was a very peaceful day.  I hope the rest of the weekend there aren't any big problems.  However, it doesn't look good.  I just hope I don't have to spend Friday and Saturday in the hotel room and that I have no problems flying out on Sunday.  It seems that more problems will happen late Sunday and Monday, if anything happens (which I hope it doesn't).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bangkok, Thailand Day - 28 and 29

Yesterday I spent most of the day getting my visa for Myanmar/Burma and getting enough American dollars for the trip.  It wasn't too bad to get the visa.  I arrived at around 8:00 am and was the fourth person in-line.  The embassy opened at 9:00 and I was out of there before 9:30.  I paid extra to get the visa the same day so I didn't have to go there again another day.  So I walked around and visited Lumphini Park, something I didn't get to do when I was in Bangkok in 2006.

Last night I saw the biggest snail I have ever seen.

Today,  I visited Wat Bang Phra to get a Sak Yank Tattoo from a Buddhist monk, Hwong Pi Phaew. More about him and video of him giving tattoos can be found here.  I hired a driver who took me to the Wat, about 30 miles north of Bangkok.  After arriving, you buy some incense, flowers and cigarettes (70 Baht) that is a donation to the Wat and then you put money into an envelope for the Monk.  

There weren't too many people around.  At the end of February there were over 30,000 people there for the annual Tattoo festival.  

He gave me two tattoos the first is the Yant Goa Yord.  A Yant is a Sacred geometry design incorporating Buddhist psalms and magical formulas that invoke various elements and powers of protection and various blessings.The Buddhist psalms written within and around these yant are know inThai language as a "kata" or "Mantra".  It is for protection and good luck.  The second is for a gift of the tongue.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Arrive in Bangkok in time for Big Political Rally

It seems that the supporters of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have postponed a major political rally from March 1, 2010 to March 14 (the day I am set to leave for Myanmar/Burma).  This is the same group that shutdown the airport last year.  

The Thai cabinet has recommended invoking the Internal Security Act (ISA) to maintain law and order in Bangkok between March 11 and March 23 in response of the mass rally of the "Red Shirts" this Sunday.

You can read more here

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Plans

I didn’t know how hard this trip would be and that I would miss my wife as much as I do.  Things are just not as much fun when you don’t have someone to share it with.  And, although I know she would have hated India, she would love Nepal (maybe not seeing all the temples - I am starting to get templed out). It is nice to have someone special to share things with.  Of course, you meet people when you are alone, but it isn’t the same.

So here are my new plans:

I leave tomorrow (Monday, March 8) for Bangkok, where I will see a few things I missed on my last trip and hopefully get a tattoo by a Buddhist monk and secure my visa for Myanmar/Burma.  I am scheduled to Fly to Myanmar/Burma on Sunday, March 14 and then fly to Siem Reap on Sunday, April 4 and then fly home on Saturday, April 10.

India was tough because of the amount of people and all the hawkers and because I really missed Denise.  Nepal has been a lot better and now that I know when I will be home I can really enjoy the next month.  I saw all that I really wanted to see in Northern India, and although I haven’t seen everything that Nepal has to offer I think I hope to come back here again with Denise.  I am really looking forward to Myanmar/Burma because I have heard lots of great things about it and although I will be spending 22 days there could probably spend more (although you can only get a 28 day visa), but because of being afraid of running out of money (you need to take all your money (American dollars) with you because there are no ATMs and the bills can’t have any marks, tears etc. (because they won’t be accepted) and has to be small bills (which makes it tough) I got advice that 22 days was what I needed to see what I wanted to see.

So initially I thought that I would only be starting in Nepal when I will actually be ending my trip, but in a little over two months I got to see India, Nepal, Thailand (Again), Myanmar/Burma, and Cambodia.  I have saw lots of great things and will hopefully see lots more before I return home.  I have experienced lots of new thing, tasted some lots of great new food, met lots of great people and changed in lots of ways and hopefully will change in many more.  So I will return home with new experiences and hopefully a little wiser in time to find new adventures and for the beginning of the baseball season.  Go Nats!

Total Expenses for Nepal

Total spent in Nepal was $1063.23.  I spent a total of $242.00 on hotels, $80.37 on Food (average of $8.03 per day), $443.88 on Tours and Trekking, $303.48 for two flights and taxis, and $6.21 on souvenirs and misc.  I also sold some books for $12.67.  Kathmandu was a little bit more expensive than I thought, especially food.  However, the total amount I spent would could have been decreased if I did the trekking as planned and not been in Kathmandu for the amount of time I spent.  Also, since one day was Holi a lot of restaurants were closed and I had to go to a more expensive place ($17.10 for dinner) than I would normally have gone to otherwise.