The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted by Garth on Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm not sure which is which here, and there's probably multiple of each, but it seemed a fitting title since I haven't updated in awhile and I've had experiences which fit each of the above.

I was going to do this chronologically, but I don't really remember where I left off, and it's easier for my brain to work backwards right now, or maybe just jump around, so here it is.  I'm sitting in a hotel room in Chiang Mai, writing this on Sean's computer.  Why you might ask?  Well, because my computer is fucked.  It's been bluescreening for awhile now, and got to the point where every time I turned it on it would bluescreen then reboot then go into some sort of Windows repair mode where it couldn't find anything wrong then reboot then let me log in.  That process took around 30-40 mins.  Then when I logged in WiFi *might* work.  But it also might not, and then I'd have to go through the entire process again.  I had plans to fix it this week, but this whole impromptu roadtrip to Chiang Mai happened so it fell by the wayside.  So today I had a little downtime and decided to try to figure out what was wrong.  I *suspected* the memory modules I bought in Phuket, and low and behold one of them seems to be extremely faulty.  As in, when it's plugged in I bluescreen on bootup forever, and when it's not my machine boots perfectly.  But, now that I've taken it out my WiFi seems to be 100% disabled (i.e. broken).  Even in the BIOS I have a nice "!" in front of the option to use it as a boot device.  The kicker is that it's on the same module as the Bluetooth, but the Bluetooth doesn't seem to have any problems at all (shocking, I know).  So, as stated above, I'm using Sean's computer for this while mine just sits there.  I'm planning on going to Bangkok tomorrow and will do my best to get the offending module fixed/replaced there.  Thankfully there's a crazy-ass computer mall there which has everything I could ever desire and then some, so it shouldn't be a problem getting the part, but the language barrier might be.  How does one say "HP WiFi/Bluetooth module for a TX2000z" in Thai?

At any rate, the last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind.  I was planning on staying in Phuket until after Songkran (Thai New Year, April 13th), but at the last minute (the 10th) Sean told me he was roadtripping it to Chiang Mai and that I was coming with him.  And that we were leaving on the 11th.  So I literally had 12 hours to pack up my life and jump in the truck.  Sure, I could have said no, but to quote the (excellent) movie The Art of Travel, "The art of travel is to deviate from one's plans".  So I did.  Said my (painful and tearful) goodbyes, packed up my shit and got on the road.  The night of the 11th we spent in Bangkok after driving for about 10 hours.  It was pretty uneventful, though I did get a good video of Sean riding a mechanical bull.  The night of the 12th we spent in some little village which is *supposedly* a 5 hour drive from Bangkok but which took us about 10 hours due to crazy slow traffic where the Thais took it upon themselves to turn a 3-lane highway into 4 lanes by using the shoulder.  Not cool.  In that village (Seong Sang I believe, but my spelling may be horrendously off) we were staying at the home of a friend, and suffice it to say that it was downhome, backwater, old-school Thai livin'.  Their bathroom consisted of a squatter (i.e. a toilet without an actual seat that you just squat over to do your business), a bucket of water with a scooper (that you pour in said squatter to rinse out your business when you're done, as there's no flusher), and a big tub-looking thing that was about 3' tall and full of stagnant water (that you use to "shower" by pouring water over yourself from it and brush your teeth / wash your face / generally clean up).  We stayed there until the 14th, and suffice it to say that I didn't shit nor shower for 2 days.  I figure at some point I'm gonna have to use one of those facilities, but since I wasn't REALLY forced to do so (i.e. my bowels helled out) it wasn't a big deal.  As for the showering bit, well, it was Songkran, which basically consists of people throwing water on other people, so that wasn't really necessary either.

For those of you that don't know, Songkran (at least my take on it) is a bunch of people with huge garbage bins full of water driving around in pickup trucks and throwing buckets of water at other people driving around in pickup trucks.  Or riding motorbikes (scooters).  Or walking.  Or standing on the side of the road.  It's a day where everyone gets wet.  I think there's some sort of history there, and originally had something to do with cleaning or old people or respect or something... but what I participated in included none of those things.  At one point Sean and I were in the truck and there were at least 15 people in the back.  At the first stop (a lake where we went swimming no less) the older folks got out and got another ride back to the village and us young folks continued on for the rest of the day, with a much safer 8-10 or so people in the back including myself and Sean as one of the locals was able to drive while we partook in the festivities.

Yesterday was more of the same, but instead of some little village we were driving around Chiang Mai, which is a city that's surrounded by a moat.  So there was no shortage of water.  And people here like to add giant bricks of ice to it, so when you get hit by it it's freaking COLD.  Also, the moat water is pretty dirty, and I'll be lucky if I come out of this without a dozen different types of parasites eating away at my innards.  But it was a lot of fun :)

Oh, I also forgot to mention that both of those days also consisted of copious amounts of Sangsom (Thai Whisky which is actually, supposedly, a rum) and Chang (6.4% Thai beer).

Tomorrow I'm off to Bangkok and plan to spend a few weeks there as I have a friend I'm visiting, then off to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia (not necessarily in that order).  I hope to be back in Phuket sometime in July as there's a multi-week boat trip that I'd like to take part in.

I think that's all I'm gonna write for now as I'm a little mentally exhausted.  The next update will probably happen after I get my WiFi fixed, and there's no telling when that will be, but hopefully not too long.  Also means I'm gonna go a little incognito for awhile and will be checking my email only sporadically and likely not Skyping/Vonaging anyone for awhile.  But once I'm all fixed up I'll make sure everyone knows about it.

Happy Songkran everyone!  And Happy Easter too I guess (though I didn't see any bunnies or painted eggs here).


MoM:) said...

Great update, Garth. Stay cool and safe!! Will look forward to next update!!

Gregg said...

Take a look at the story at the Phuket Gazette

you failed to mention the girls in thongs Garth.

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