Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Monday, January 28, 2008

greetings from Bangkok

Hello Everyone,
I am in Bangkok thailand again. Sincer my last update in Luang Pra Bang Laos, I have crossed the border back into this country and now here I am again! I came via Nong Kai, a border town on the Thai side of the Mekong river. Unlike most fronteir towns I have been to, this is rally a nice place! Often how much one likes a place is directly correlated to the people one meets.
So I arrived after dark and after an argument with my tuk tuk driver I had him take me to the hotel of my choice. Often the drivers dont want to take you where you want to go. Usually they want to take the unsuspecting traveler to a more expensive place where the people give the driver a commission, which of course you pay in the form of a higher room tarrif. Of course this is always more likely to happen in a border town or at the airport because the driver thinks you have just arrived and dont know what is up.
So anyway, I get to my place and they have only one room left. I am glad the argument didnt last very long as while I was checking in two more travellers showed up and were told the place was full. I was meant to meet up with a buddhist yoga teacher whom I had met at Wat Suan Mok, but he never returned my e-mails and so i didnt have a free place to stay as I had originally planned.
As I was entering the hotel there were 3 french guys there drinking some Johnny Walker Red. After putting my stuff in my room I came down stairs and joined them. Well as many of you know, i dont hardly drink much at all anymore. And as some of you know this is because I have a tendency to be "a lot easier to start than to stop". This proved to be the case.
After polishing off the first bottle we switched to 100 Pipers and then after that was gone, and the liqor store was closed, we staggered to the nearest bar to indulge in some Sam Song(Thai Rum). I dont know how much I had. I am still wondering how I found my way back to the hotel.It was a good night and the next day I was told that I was a good sport and that I have a good singing voice...
Phillipe was the sober frenchmen of the group and the next day we took off on rented bicycles and explored the whole town. I mean the whole town. I extracted quite a bit of 80proof sweat let me tell you!!
Phillipe has been living there for a month or so and he knew all the good spots. first I went to the train station and got a train ticket to Bangkok. then we took off to the morning market and looked at all cool stuff. Then to a vegetarian restaurant. Then off into the country side on dirt roads through rice paddies and beautiful nature. Thailand is so lovely. Finally he stops and says there is a village about 5 km up the road where we can get something cold to drink. he picks up a stick about 2 meters long breaks it in half and gives me half.
As we get near civilization, all these dogs start chasing us with their teeth bared and barking and growling. happens all the time. You wave the stick at them like your gonna whack them a good one on the head and they leave you alone!! See what I mean? Sometimes your whole experience is shaped by the people you make friends with on the way! good 'ol Phillipe. Saved my ass from a very negative experience!
After a cold coca cola and a little rest and chat with the local thai people, we biked back into Nong Kai and found sala kaew koo...One of the coolest and most interesting places I have been to in all of Asia!! No kidding!!The grounds are filled with strange Gigantic statutes depicting scenes and characters from the Buddhist and Hindu lore. this sculptor guy lived with a hermit for like 10 years. The hermit died and he emerged and stated making these enormous statues of buddhist images and divas and hindu godds and the like, in a little garden near Vien Tien Laos. during the '70s he moved to Nong Kai because of the war, and continued his extraordinarry work. Absolutely mind boggling. Truly an amazing place. I just cant put it into words. Imagine going to Angkor Wat 1000 years ago when it was new! if you are ever anywhere near this place... Go!!
Next day I spent resting my legs from biking 100km or whatever tit was, and hanging around on the very pleasant walk way along the Mekong, shopping in the market, and then boarding the overnight train to Bangkok.
Philipe gave me his e-mail and invited me to visit him in Morrocco next time i get to North Africa He bought a house there and now he will live there half the year. In Cheftouan. Cheftouan i asked???!!! Yes he said with a big old grin!Okay, okay. I will visit.
Cheftouan for those of you unfamiliar with it, is the place where about 75% of all the hashish and kif in Europe comes from and I had myself a dandy time the last time I was there. Good 'ol Phillipe. Sometimes the whole experience depends on the people you meet, know what I mean?
so I get on the train and I see a real pretty girl right near me and say hi. Do I know you? it turns out she was on line in front of me at the ticket window for the train 2 days ago. She is from the Channel islands and is named Jennifer. I told her I had never met anyone from a Bailiwick before! She was very impressed that I even had heard of the channel islands let alone that I knew it was a bailiwick.
She has the lower birth and I the upper berth of our sleeper compartment and we became buddies. She is going to BK to get a new passport as hers is now lost. In the morning we say goodbye and I step into Bangkok and find the 53 bus stop to get to Koh San Road.
At the stop there is an american guy with a saxophone case. We start talking about Jazz and sit on the bus together and I am gonna take him to the guest house where i will stay and as we are walking down Ko San Road, There is Lee the guy I was gonna visit in Nong Khai, walking our way! he sees me and smiles and says "Whooaahh! Robert! is that you?!?!" Milo, (the sax player) turns to me and says "do you know Lee?" Bloody hell! Well like I say, sometimes the whole experience just depends on who you meet along the way, huh?
Now after this I meet up with good old Peta who I had planned to meet anyway. She got my message and is in the guesthouse where me and Milo have gone to. I have traveled with Peta in Turkey in 2004 and Egypt and Jordan in 2006 and now Thailand in 2008. We go around Bangkok for a couple of days and then she heads off to Laos. I am walking down the street when I bump into Jennifer from the train who is walking with Lieven my travelling buddy form 5 towns in Laos and now we are going around exploring Bangkok together! Small world you think? wait it gets better...
I am in a little sleazy joint called Mamas place owned by a 70 year old lady boy, when a guy comes up to meand in a thick french accent and says "Do i know you?" I say maybe...I have been here in South East Asia for about 8 months now and..."No. No" he says. "Were you in Colombia in 2005?" Aye Zukes!! I dont even know what to say. so I say yes...He says "are you a chef?"...
We met at the Palm hostel in Medellin where he and a group of other frenchies were staying. there was a kitchen there and they were watching me cook one night and just couldnt believe that i wasnt french!! i cant believe he remembered me and recognized me after all this time and distance. Sometimes the whole experience just depends on the people you meet along the way, huh?
Everyone who is on this mailing list is someone I have met along the way. The road goes on forever and the highway never stops. I hope i see each of you again somewhere someday. Usually i end these udpates with a quote or two. this time I will share with you all a poem I wrote around christmas time in 2005 in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
Peace Love and Happiness to all of you,
Throw your TV out the window
Find yourself un playa linda
get your head out of the fog
call your boss and quit your job

Dont believe the lies that youve been told
Your way too young to act so old
Buy a cybertick today
Click the box that says "one way"
strap a rucksack on your back
Board your flight and dont look back

string a hammock on the seashore
Why not live a life of leisure?
Find a quiet place to be
Sit down underneath a Buddha tree
And let the silence set you free

Theres a simpler life to lead
All the things you long to be
Dont mean shit until your free
Theres a path to paradise
Do whats right is my advice
Try to think outside the box
Thats the key to freedoms locks


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