Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Burma, Burma, Bur--CHIANG MAI

OK, so I lied! I am not going to Burma, I should actually already be there right now.

I've heard many mixed feelings from travellers who went there and had conflicting advice from the internet. Some claim that it is difficult to travel anywhere without supporting the government financially, which I really am against doing. I'm also concerned that by going the Burmese government will view this as some kind of acceptance from 'the West' (not that I have so much political sway, but if all travellers boycott the government it sends a message).

The country sounds absolutely beautiful, and the people are supposed to be some of the most friendly around. It would be quite an experience to go there and hear about their stories and perceptions of their situation.

Burma will always be there and I can go back some other time when the authoritarian regime is removed from power (hopefully in the not to distant future), I just wish I didn't already buy my plane ticket and visa.

Instead I'll be leaving Bangkok tonight and heading towards Chiang Mai in the north.

On an un-travel related note; I really suggest more people read about the government's actions in Burma. Human Rights Watch has many reports on Burma's use of child soldiers, it's marginalization of minorities, and of the government's crackdown onpro-democratic protests.

I've only partially read one report called 'CRACKDOWN'. It's over 100 pages long but you should definately check out the sections called The Monks Join the Protests and The Crackdown. The report contrasts the actions taken by the two sides in the fight for democracy in Burma, it also really made me so angry at all the injustices of the world!

I also found a video, (it has a few bloody pictures so beware) I can't tell if it has sound (no speakers on this computer) but it has pictures of the day of the crackdown.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Burma, Burma, Burma

At the advice of my traveling mates I've done more reading on Burma, all urging travelers not to go. I'm starting to question going, I just wish I didn't already have my ticket and visa paid for.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Crocs Eat Flip-flops for Breakfast

Today I went to Bangkok's weekend market, Chatuchak. I wandered around the maze-esque bazaar for hours in fourty degrees and gave into my consumeristic side a wee bit.

At the end of a long day, I realized something; I hate flip-flops. I've owned Crocs for a long time, and I wore them nearly everyday in Singapore, unfortunately I lost them on Ko Tao. When I got to Bangkok I decided to buy flip-flops instead of Crocs, big mistake. I don't understand how people can tolerate flip-flops, the bottoms of my feet are very sore and I have blisters between my toes and on the tops of my feet. Here are my thoughts on the flip-flop/Croc debate:

Firstly, and undeniably, Crocs are more comfortable that the thongs.

Crocs also look ridiculous, which I think is a bonus. I feel like I am sticking it to 'the man' or 'fashion police' when I stroll down the road in my Crocs. I actually had someone say upon meeting me 'are you actually wearing those in plublic?!'. Score one for the fashion criminals!

(I've found the effect is greatly increased on fashionistas when I wear Crocs with socks.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Best Things in Life Are Free...

Woooooot! I've struck gold in Bangkok! FREE INTERNET!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thoughts on Travelling

Nothing to report really, just thought my blog was being neglected. Here are some random thoughts, and a bit about what I've been up to and what I plan to do.

After grumbling on Ko Tao about not being able to dive and then picking up a new travel partner, we (for those keeping track: Karlijn and I, plus newcomer Linda) headed to Ko Phayam on the west coast. The island was very secluded, and since it was off season we were only sharing the beach and the waves with about fifteen other people, which is quite a contrast from the city-like Ko Tao and Ko Pahangan.

My initial thoughts on travelling: I love it. It's very busy and I don't have much time to think of home so I don't miss it too much (sorry everyone!), except for when I have the occasional bout of home sickness. I also feel like I learn a lot about myself, some travellers are very open and you discuss everything and through that I have questioned myself (in a good way), and learned a lot. I'm learning to be more positive and outgoing and not to judge people right away.

I am currently still in Thailand, been around Bangkok and Pattaya lately, and on the twenty-seventh of this month I will be flying with my two pals to Yangon, Myanmar (if we can get a visa). At first, Myanmar sounded a bit dangerous to me, which is why I was attracted to it I think. On doing some reading it doesn't sound any more dangerous than any other SE Asian country. Most travellers avoid it because it is difficult to get a visa or because they are boycotting the government due to their violent crackdowns on pro-democratic protesters or other human rights abuses. I also considered not going because of the government's actions on peaceful protestors and monks, luckily there are ways to avoid giving the government your money while there.

OK, so I guess I had more to say than I thought.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bandaged and Bruised Under a Full Moon

The full moon party is a huge party which occurs once a month (surprise, during a full moon) and covers all of Ko Phangan's Hat Rin Beach. I met up with friends, from my exchange program in Singapore, there for one last party to say good-bye. Walking around the day after the full moon party there were several people with bandaged up legs or arms from nasty spills they took falling off a stage or playing hopscotch (with jump ropes on fire), I was one of the bandaged folk.

During the party two of my friends and I were having a splashing fight in the water, and I 'fell' (I still say they pushed me!) onto a rock. I knew my foot was cut instantly, there was pain and with my hand I felt a small piece of skin which was nearly severed from my foot but clung on to my foot. I don't remember who saw my arm first, but when examining my foot it was noted that there was a stream of blood which was flowing from my elbow off of the tips of my fingers and into the Ocean.

A note to my mother; no cause for alarm, I am fine, I got the cuts cleaned at a clinic so no chance of infection. I am changing the bandages everyday. In a few more days, I am told, I don't need bandages anymore.

I am now on Ko Tao (Turtle Island) which unfortunately seems to be the scuba diving capitol of the world, its not really but it seams that way when everyone else gets to dive except you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

School Out and I'm Outta Here!

I finished my last exam and left Singapore on the same day. I am now in Phuket, Thailand for the evening and will be continuing on tomorrow to Ko Phangan. Leaving Singapore was a bit sad , saying goodbye to friends and so on, but I have a lot to look forward to.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I received this message in my Inbox:

6 May 2009

Dear Residents,


As a precautionary measure against the H1N1 influenza virus, all residents will be required to monitor their own temperatures on a daily basis.

Please submit your temperature reading online by 10am each day, via the following website address: [removed]

Please be informed that non-compliance may pose health risks to our residents and compromise the university’s efforts to keep out the H1N1 Influenza virus.

We seek your cooperation in this exercise and thank you for your patience and understanding.

Residential Services

Office of student Affairs

Seriously!!? I guess to those not living in Singapore this may not seem (initially spelled seam, thanks to my Mom for pointing that out) too extreme. But when a thermometer is put in your ear for nearly every building you walk into on campus, it gets a little tiring. They actually close the library early now (during exams) because they can't afford to keep paying the thermometer people. And, they have cancelled all school trips out of the country.

I feel like this could be dealt with at the airports, they know where peoples flights are from, if they are coming from a flu affected area they could test peoples temperature. Oh yeah, they are doing that too, I got thermal scanned coming back from Thailand the other day. This country can be so hysterical sometimes, but I guess it's better than China which appears to be quarantining people because they are Mexican. Singapore seems to understand its caused by a flu virus, not Mexicans.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Stopped Studying for Stratego

My cousin David loaned me the board game Stratego on Saturday after I visited his house. I saw the game sitting on his coffee table and I was reminded of high school when I would play the game most lunches (I was really cool). I wont go into the full details of my rigorous board game ranking system, but Stratego is my number one 'two-player' board game. I had to borrow it.

In addition to that my good friend Greg showed me that you can play Settlers of Catan online (my favourite '3-6 player' game). That has sucked away a lot of hours from my studying effort as well.

Overall I have not had a short supply of distractions from exams. When my friends are too annoyed to play Stratego any more, I look up strategies online and when I am sick of looking up strategies, I play Settlers or when I'm too tired of even that I blog about it. Okay, now I can study, I have an exam tomorrow morning.