April 30, 2010
Hat Yai, Thailand

We’re in Thailand. We were expecting it to be a blissful release from the stinking, humid, filthy cities to the south, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to make it to the coast. So now we’re holed up for the night in Hat Yai – another stinking, humid, filthy city, only in a country with a lower standard of living, so the stink and filth levels are even higher.

The view from the train windows was uniformly one of squalor and poverty. “How can they just live in their own rubbish like that?” Chris asked incredulously.
“They don’t have regular trash service.”
“So? Couldn’t they just get together and agree to throw their rubbish in one place? Like, ‘hey, nobody’s using that spot, let’s dig a pit and throw our garbage in it?'”
“I mean, fuck, if you’ve got a dead duck in your front yard you can either throw it away or leave it there. Throw it away.”

We got caught by a tout fresh off the train, who asked us where we were staying and wanted to drive us tere. Chris also made the mistake of telling him we were going to Ko Tarutao the next day, so he then dragged us off to his buddy’s travel office. I can’t stand these people, but I’m always too polite to say anything. That needs to change. Eventually we got him to just drive us to our hotel in the back of his pickup.

We’re staying at the King Hotel, a creaky and dilapidated building that is nonetheless better than any hostel, which we don’t have the patience for at the moment. We went out to get dinner, which was a hassle, since this Muslim southern province sees few Western tourists and hardly anybody speaks English. We ate some tiny plates of unidentified meat at a bar and then beat it back to the hotel. The desk clerk had earlier tried to push his minivan service to Pak Bara (the harbour town that’s the jumping-off point for the islands we’re so desparately trying to get to), and we had neither the will nor the time to check out other options, so we agreed. We tried to ring a bunch of places on Ko Lipe to get accommadation for tomorrow night, to no avail. Now we’re just looking up their websites but half of them are down and the half that are up don’t allow bookings less than 48 hours in advance anyway.

We’re tired and frustrated and still not having fun. I dislike this place even more than Chris, since it reminds me so strongly of Korea, from which I fought so long and hard to escape. The filth, the humidity, the sweat, the motorcycles, the clamour, the language, the people. It’s exhausting me. It’s exhausting both of us. It wasn’t meant to be like this. It’s been three days now and we’re nowhere near where we want to be, and not enjoying ourselves in the slightest. Every day is a struggle to stay fed and find somewhere to sleep and try to inch ever closer to our goal. This wouldn’t be so bad if only there was some redeeming features; if only we were enjoying ourselves, as well as putting up with the hassles. But we’re not. So far there’s been nothing to enjoy.

Chris mentioned over dinner that he wished we were in America. I keep thinking of Europe, of Belgium and France and Ireland. It can’t just be culture shock, because I’d even love to be back in Japan. Or South America. I’m just burned out on Asia. Whcih is a shame, because according to our plans we’ll be here another six months or so.

Something I’ve decided in the last few days, however, is fuck the plans. If we don’t enjoy a place we’ll leave, and if we want to do something else we will. If these islands are no good, if South-East Asia continues to be the sweaty, fetid armpit of the world, we’ll jump a plane to Los Angeles or Beijing or Santiago… somewhere different. I’ve visited six foreign countries now, and every single one was in Asia. It was geographic convenience that sent us here first, but I’m tired of the place.

This has been an exceptionally negative entry but that’s how I feel right now and I just needed to dump it out. These islands better be good. Christ, I’d settle for just being able to get there. Whoever it was that said the fun is in the journey, not the destination? Fuck that guy.