Day 8 - Criminal Abroad - ๐ŸŒ MWT 2017

Monday September 4th, 2017
Hiked 4.1 miles
The ATM that stole my money.

10:19 am

I am back at that great coffee shop I came to yesterday.  I ordered the iced coffee because I was particularly hot after walking all over the place.

I have learned that you can lose your money in a million ways in Thailand.  One is to simply go to an ATM.  An ATM that gives you a 1000 bhat bill with four cigarette burns on it across the image of the king.  I did not give it too much mind as in our country as long as you have most of the bill you can get your change.

After the bill came at dinner I left that 1000 bhat bill with the check.  I saw them all gathering around the cashier.  I was surprised how many people worked there.  I thought it was just two, but now there are at least five or six all looking at the bill and pointing at me.   I can not make out what they are saying, but this bill obviously was bringing bad luck.   I motioned for them to give it back to me and I gave them a 500 bhat bill that was nice and crisp.  They bowed in thanks and appeared eternally grateful that I relieved them of my curse.


I checked on my conversion tool and was reminded that 1000 bhat is about $30 US and worth looking into.

This morning as I was checking out of the hostel I spoke with the owner Jason who was from Austin Texas.  I pulled out the burned 1000 bhat bill and he gasp.  I told him I tried to pay for dinner last night and they didn't seem to want to take it.  He said no, it is really a big deal to have money that is desecrated.  I assured him that I did not desecrate it, I got it from the Surf Shop ATM like that.  I ask him if I was just out thirty bucks, or maybe I could write the bank of the ATM.  He did not have an answer for me so I think I am just out thirty bucks.  A pretty cheap lesson considering that I could have easily pulled out a greater amount.

Did I say I really like this little coffee shop, it is air conditioned and I did a lot of walking before trying to remember where this was.

Before I landed I learned that the King has projects all over the place he blesses.  I was told by a tuk tuk driver on Khao San road that one of his projects is to make Bangkok known for more than just ladyboys so he gives free gas to bring tourist to the best tailors in the town.  I have to say their quality was the best I have ever seen.  A custom made suit for $345 sounded like a bargain to me, but I was not here to buy suits.

Back to the ladyboys. There really are not that many around anyway.  I noticed one or two during the day, but they are not accepted well in their society and walk around with a hint of shame. There is a street you can go to and see shows and wonton activities.   Every big city has an outlet like that. I did not visit it, but online it brings in a large amount of money to a poor part of town, and foreigners tell legendary dirty stories about them.

I learned that Google translate is useless with Thai. If you buy something with English writing it could be 800% higher than the one next to it you don't know what it is made of and have no way of knowing.

Pepsi is called EST.  I don't know how to say it, but it taste the same and has the same colors on the can.

I learned that once you are done spending your money, the locals are pretty much done smiling too.  Like when we got dropped off early from our tour,  I think maybe he got paid early. They are hungry. They are not smiling a lot because your shit is floating down the sidewalk and they are welcoming the rainy season to wash it all away. They can tell it is the farang, (forienger), shit because it is followed by a stream of milky paper.

I couldn't be more ready to leave this island.  I caution all foreigners that go here that you get all your shots if your going to scuba dive.  If your going to scuba dive here, then anything you eat or drink will not be what kills you.

I learned that on Phi Phi you can not sit in any chairs placed out without paying a fee.  I saw anywhere from 40 bhat ($1.20 US) to 500 bhat ($15 US) for a chair.  I don't know how much time that actually is for.  The 500 bhat chairs looked a lot nicer. Outside of your hotel you must pay to go to the bathroom.  It ranges anywhere from 20 bhat to 100 bhat.  I couln't afford the 100 bhat bathroom, but the 20 bhat I tried near the bar at night was not ever cleaned.. ever.   There was someone to take my 20 bhat as I left though.

Now I am reading on the internet that Thailand is a second world country.  It is an emerging market. I can clearly see that it is.  Until they realize that tourist like fecal free beaches their tourist flow is going to be minimal.  They charge to clean it.  Maybe it is way too much trash to handle.  Who is throwing it in the ocean then?

I worry that maybe the king can not hear this from his people because of the old lese Majeste law of 1908 that says that you can not critique the king or his decisions. I heard that in 2015 he publicly announced he was not above criticism, but there is definitely tension in the air whenever the royal family is mentioned.  I know that I am thinking very cautiously right now about what I write.  I am in the kingdom and although I respect it, I am finding that they have no problem sticking me as a criminal for having a defaced bill I got from the ATM.

Worlds most beautiful sunset, from afar.
From what I have seen so far, anything the Royal Family has blessed is a prosperous, clean, new, and well taken care of establishment that stick out among the rest.  Surely the king has the resources to clean up Phi phi island and make Waikiki beach look like a shit-hole in comparison. I would love to welcome him to visit Hawaii and see how we handle hundreds of thousands of pounds of tourist shit, hauling it away from the beach, and comb the beaches every-night for glass, trash, condoms, and cans. During the day you can not tell the horizon from the sea with the amount of tourist that are swimming in the inferior cool waters of the pacific.

If they cleaned this place up it could be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  It is from afar.  Pictures are all awesome.  Up close it is neglected and in need of the right repairs.

Oh yea.. Last night after I sat on the beach and enjoyed quite a beautiful sunset I tried to buy a beer with that 1000 bhat bill.  The bartender reached passed my extended hand with the bill and grabbed a 100 bhat right out of my wallet.  I feel like such a criminal with this money.

8:00 PM

It was raining on the way back.
I am in Bang Tao Beach section of Phuket.  It is on the western side of the peninsula and is definitely a very muslim side of town.  I heard a very loud prayer on a loudspeaker booming not too long ago.  There are also couples on motorcycles where the woman is dressed in head to toe elaborate coverings.

After my last entry I got on the ferry back to the mainland. It started to rain as we left.  I went out on deck and did not see any trash in the sea as I saw on the way to Phi phi.  I was relieved that nature is still finding a place for the trash and cleaning itself. They just happened to sell me tickets on board the ferry to my hostel on this side of town.  It was pretty cheap and the van was packed.  I happened to be the first one out after a half hour ride.

Air conditioned seating inside.
This hostel is very nice.  It is very new, modern, and well kept.  When I got here I decided to go for a walk.  I noticed how efficiently the water systems were all connected and irrigation flows to everyones gardens.  I was walking down an alley in a residential section and a mother with her baby passed me on a bicycle.  The baby saw me and just started to laugh hysterically.  I couldn't help but laugh too.  I can't tell if the mom was laughing because she was wearing muslim clothes.

I saw how locals cooked and lived.  It was really interesting.  There are no homeless people in Thailand like they are in our country.  No one was trying to get my money without giving me something in return. I didn't see anyone wallowing in their filth.  I think you will get out of Thailand what you desire.  If you desire good karma they will share it with you.  If you desire bad karma, they have a special street for that. They will take you there for free.

When I got to the hostel it looked closed.  A short older lady locked up the shop next door and walked over to check me in.  She spoke very little english.  She kept telling me her daughter needed to come and copy my passport.  Once I was checked in and paid, I put my bags in the room.  I had cashew chicken at the restaurant next door where I learned that Wales is a separate country from England.  I never knew before, but I was sitting next to a retired veteran of their armed services. The cashew chicken was the second best I had in Thailand, by the way.
Road near Bang Tao Beach
My trek around Bang Tao Beach
That is when I went for my walk.

I am laying in my bunk now and ready to continue on my journey. I never saw the hostel owners daughter, but her son took a copy of my drivers license.  He also offered to take me to the airport in the morning for 500 bhat.  It is a 45 min drive from here, and only a little more than a Grab car so I said sure. He said his shift ends at 4 am.  I will be in the lobby waiting for him at 10.  I made it 9 after he told me he was working all night. In case he doesn't show I will have an hour to get a Grab car.