I'M IN: Bangkok, baby!
HAVING VISITED: Kollum, Allephuza, Trichy and Chennai back in India
NEXT UP: Myanmar!
The end of my time in India was both amazing and difficult, sort of like all of my time in the sub-continent come to think of it. I was not able to find people to take a houseboat trip with in Kerala (where you live on a boat tooling around for 1-3 days) but I did log some time on the backwaters, first on a ferry (eight hours from Allephuza to Kollum) and later a canoe (three hours around a relatively isolated island community). And yes, everyone is correct - the backwaters are just lovely. Serene and lots of nature to gawk at. But mosquito-y? Aye-firmative. Many, many bites had I. Every day at dusk I would cheer my anti-skeeter allies, the bats, as they emerged for their nighttime mosquito feeding fests (I have another "My Enemy's Enemy is My Friend" alliance with spiders and lizards). These were definitely the largest bats I have ever seen - I'm guesstimating 12-15 lbs. Really huge! Unfortunately I was not able to get a picture of any of these friends... My other favorite thing about Kerala was staying at the Government Guest House in Kollum - this former Raj era mansion is now a crumbling mess, but a majestic (20 foot ceilings) and cheap ($5/night) one, which is just the way I like 'em.
And the past few days in Bangkok have been just fantastic - like seeing an old friend again after a long separation. All my favorite things about this crazy city remain - the preponderance of movie theaters (serving the delightful popcorn buckets wherein you can have half caramel corn, half salted which is as fantastic in theory as it is in execution), the fantastically friendly Thai people, the Sky Train, and the great food. There are a few new restaurants and some new friends I've made and the only disturbing change I've noted since my last visit here is a marked increase in 'Get R Done' t-shirts. Worn by Thai and tourist alike... I have no idea.
But the best news is I was able to get a visa for Myanmar no problemo, so it is to there I will head tomorrow. And my monk friend Mr. Moon will be around, so I am looking forward to hanging with him and his friends again in Meiktila. And doing a bit of touring, too. Yippie skippy.
Actually, the best BEST news is that I booked my plane ticket back to the USA and just like the song says, "I'll be home in for Christmas..." My encounter last year with the skinny Egyptian Santa convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's truly no place like home for the holidays. So hopefully I will get around to see friends and family on the East Coast in January in the midst of looking for jobs. Plus this means I can attend the inauguration, about which I am quite excited.
Not sure what the Internet situation is like in Myanmar these days - when I was there last year it was virtually non-existent in most of the country. But Mr. Moon tells me that there is now a computer room in Meiktila, so perhaps I will be able to post an update while there. In the meantime, hope you have a gobblin' good Thanksgiving!