A quick jaunt throught the sub continent of India

I’m already back in Thailand. That isn’t so much a comment on India as it is a comment on how much I love Thailand.

After 2 days in Chennai I then took a 2 hour flight to Mumbai (Bombay). India has a lot of discount airlines and the pricing is really ridiculously cheap. One of the airlines offered a flight from Chennai to Mumbai for $0. You only had to pay the airport taxes and the national taxes (a total of about $40). I’ve seen cheap flights in Europe, South America, the US and Thailand and other spots (never communist Canada though) but I’ve never seen free! The quality of the service and planes was very good too.

I hardly did anything in Chennai. I stayed at the Sheraton Park hotel there and it was incredibly nice… actually both hotels I stayed at in India were extremely luxurious and way cooler than the great majority of hotel rooms I have stayed in (ie. had 50″ plasma tv screen, wireless phones, high tech massage chair etc). But I did pay an average of $300 USD/night, in India, so I should expect pretty luxurious accommodations. India seems to have some super luxurious hotels and then nothing except medium and lower level hotels… I would have preferred to spend $100-$200 less a night and not had my own personal butler, but the next step down never seemed that nice so I just stayed in the best hotels there.

I went out my first night in Chennai and it was dead quiet everywhere… granted it was a Monday night, but I was hoping to see a few people out. My hotel concierge also warned me that “it’s not safe out after midnight”… not sure what to make of that. But considering everything was so quiet I just decided to call it a night early and not test out the concierges tip.

After having spent 3 quiet days in Colombo and 2 quiet days in Chennai I was chomping at the bit to get to Mumbai, the financial center of India and also it’s entertainment capital (home to the world’s biggest movie industry, Bollywood).

Mumbai was certainly interesting. I stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in South Mumbai in an area known as the Queen’s necklace which is a huge bay, ringed by lights, which at night has a beautiful sweeping curve to it.

This area of town would be really beautiful if it weren’t for the scourge that seems to indundate most major cities in the world, even moreso in Asia, smog. At what point do we as humanity tire of having many of our cities shrouded in grey soot??!! The really, really sad part is, we could have sparkling blue skies in many of these cities, if it weren’t for one of the biggest conspiracies in recent history, keeping electric cars off the market, mainly at the hand of the big oil companies who, as all businesses do, have used governments (or the biggest gang in each country, in other words) to do their bidding.

Did you know that there were more electric cars in the early 1900’s than there were gas powered cars? The technology is there to have electric cars that you just have to plug in at night into a regular wall socket, and they are as fast (or faster, check out this vid of an electric car whipping a Ferrari). And if you combined a world full of electric vehicles with a world full of nuclear power generating plants, you have a complete, non-polluting, clean source of energy and blue skies the world over.

Imagine a city, with almost dead silence (just the whirring of electric vehicles) and clean, fresh air. Stress levels would go down exponentially.. being in a city would almost be like a trip to a rain forest, rather than the loud, chokingly polluted cities of today.

For more on electric cars, check out the excellent documentary entitled, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”.

Ahem, that’s it for my off-topic rant for today… now back to this weeks episode, India…

As for my thoughts on India, I really didn’t know what to expect. First of all, I didn’t realize that basically every Indian speaks English (there are over 100 million English speakers in India, so basically everyone who lives in the bigger cities speaks English). That makes it very easy to get around… although, with their Indian accents, combined with their English (as in England) accents, it can be a bit hard to understand them, although no where near as hard as Scotland, where I didn’t understand a word anyone said to me the entire time I was there!

Also, coming from Edmonton and Vancouver, where you see so many Indians wearing turbans… I spent a few days in Mumbai and I think I saw one guy wearing a turban… and it wasn’t those big ones, it was a little light black cloth style one.

The taxis in Mumbai are pretty funny… they are SUPER old Indian cars that look almost like hearses. I asked one taxi driver how old the car was and he said 30 years old, but it looked like 60 years old!

The traffic in Mumbai almost makes the traffic in Bangkok look civilized, safe and serene. I stopped counting how many times my taxi driver honked his horn as he veered INTO oncoming traffic in a never-ending game of chicken. He was basically in a constant motion of small beeps, long beeps and a continual flashing of his high beams… and so was everyone else, making for quite a show.

I went out to some clubs in Mumbai… it appears some of the best clubs in Mumbai are in a suburb of Mumbai called Bandra. I ended up at a club there called Poison which, I was told, is where all the Bollywood stars go. They may have been there too but I wouldn’t know as I wouldn’t know what they look like.

The general nightlife vibe there was similar to big cities of its type… the vibe was a bit cold. For example, I’d walk up to a doorman at a club and ask him a question, like “how is it tonight?” and they would ignore me. Almost made me feel like I was back in Canada or the US. 😛 But there are no shortage of absolutely beautiful Indian girls… I only wish I had more time and better luck to meet some of them on this trip!

In general though, I’d have to say, I quite like Indian people in general and really, really like their food. I used to think of India as not being that cool, but they can be as cool as anyone/anywhere else really… I’d like to go back someday and check out a few other places, especially Bangalore, which I hear is a fun college town.

As I stated before my trip, I was very curious to see India, especially from an economic point of view. And while I was really only there 5 days, and that is no where near long enough to see enough to have any strong/valid opinions, I would definitely say that from what I saw, India is very advanced and could very easily become a major economic powerhouse… they have many challenges, including environmental and sustainability challenges… and likely their biggest problem is they are the world’s biggest democracy… which means they are also one of the world’s biggest bureaucracies… but, given China’s massive government (you have to meet with city, state and national officials to do ANYTHING in China) and the US’s growing police state and, of course, communist Canada, they are all basically paralyzed by big government… so India isn’t too far behind in that race to the bottom.

I’d have no problem going back to India, and in fact, I look forward to my next trip. But coming from unairconditioned taxis in insane traffic in quite dirty streets with quite a lot of poverty and arriving at multi-billion dollar Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok to smiling and nodding beautiful Thai girls, incredibly nice taxi drivers in brand new, air conditioned taxis, luxurious shopping, restaurants and a nightlife that I still discover new places in, every single week, that are better than nightclubs almost anywhere else in the world… I was, as always, very happy to return to Thailand.

In fact, seeing yet another spot and then returning to Thailand has even further reinforced my belief that this country has the potential to be one of the biggest growth countries in the world over the coming decade… and while it has many of its own issues, not least of which is their coup government which appears to be worse than your average democratically elected government (which is VERY bad!) and doesn’t appear to be in a rush to leave office, I think that Thailand has a really good shot at becoming a major world player over the coming years… so, I will likely hang around here for the next month or two… then may go to Canada, although not sure.

I will, more than likely, spend most of the summer in Europe though… I have numerous friends who will all be over there, in various parts… and I hope to visit Italy (Lignano), Croatia, Norway, Finland, Estonia and maybe a beach resort in Russia as well, beginning in June.

Until then, it may be pretty quiet around here… I really should get back to working a bit harder and working out more… I am almost for sure starting a publicly traded gold mining company now, so that will take up some time over the coming few months… plus I am working on a few other deals… and am feeling somewhat motivated and energized to get back to finishing one of the movie scripts I had been working on…

I will likely visit Phuket to do some scuba diving and golfing though, over the next few weeks… and may need to leave Thailand again in the next few weeks for a few days… if so, I may visit Laos or possibly Nepal. So, stay tuned, never too boring over here!

Shhhaaarrrreeeeee Lanka

I took a direct flight from Bangkok to Colombo, Sri Lanka on Friday night… Colombo is a pretty small town (600,000 population) and it showed… almost all the ‘hot’ places I went to had 15-25 people in them, at best… everyone seemed pretty cool and it was kinda neat being there especially during the Cricket World Cup as people in this part of the world are CRICKET MAD! So much so, that Pakistan lost a few days ago and someone killed their coach…. India lost to Bangladesh and there was riots in India!

I’ve never really been in this region before, so am not quite sure how to compare Colombo to the rest of the area, but it wasn’t too bad… just, as usual, a bit too quiet for me, so I got out of there after only 3 nights, two of which I just mostly worked in my hotel room on my laptop… didn’t really see much at all.

The interesting part started on the last day though. On the morning of the day my flight was leaving, I awoke to the top news story on Google News being that the Tamil Tigers had bombed the area around Colombo’s airport during the night as part of their continuing twenty year civil war. Being a very self-infatuated person, my first thought was, “oh good, i hope my flight is delayed so i can sleep in more”.

Interestingly, barely any flights were delayed, and even when I got to the airport, there was nothing out of the ordinary.. hardly any police/military presence at all… in fact the most I saw was two uniformed guys riding around on some beat up 10-speed bikes!

And, btw, that is great… I love that so much more than the 9/11 BS, which was, in case you still don’t know, completely orchestrated by the US government. The mood today at Colombo’s airport was light and open… I would never have known they had been basically under attack overnight unless I read it in the news.

BTW, I kinda respect Britian for a few things, and one was, after they had their ‘terrorist bombings’ last year (which, also, btw, was orchestrated by the CIA and Britian’s secret service… it’s pretty much all documented if you care to look), I rode the subway in London a week or so after that, and they did not have that whole US police state attitude there… they had a few bag checkers, but no sense of needing a throng of gun toting military gangsters to give people ‘confidence’. Also, I respect many of the BBC’s documentaries which are some of the best, most intelligent documentaries in the world… one you should watch is “The Great Global Warming Swindle”.

Hey, how’d I get so off-track and political again? Well, since I did, let me clarify, I am completely un-political… I hate all politics, nations, states, armies and politicians… the truth will set humanity free and unleash us from the chains of these slaveholders.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOkkkkkkkkkkk… back to Sri Lanka…

So, I totally misjudged Colombo traffic… the taxi ride from downtown to the airport is 35 minutes at the best of times… but at midday, well, it was over an hour… I ended up arriving 15 minutes before my flight to Mumbai was supposed to leave, but it had apparently already left…

So, I asked, “what’s your next flight to anywhere in India?”. The cute Sri Lankan girl (btw pretty much everyone I met in Colombo spoke excellent English, which is so handy for someone like me, who only speaks English, poquito Spanglish, some Chinglish, and a few swear words in Thai) replied, “We have a flight to Chennai in one hour”.

I responded, “Ok, I’ll take it. And, btw, where’s Chennai?”

Well, I just arrived in Chennai… it used to be called Madras, and I have heard of that, so I kinda feel like I have some clue where I am.

I will report more on Chennai and India over the next few days… in the meantime, here are a few random comments:

1. The internet in Sri Lanka and India is blazing fast in the hotels I’ve been at… dunno if that is some anomaly or if they have way better lines over here or what… but one of the very, very few things I dislike about Thailand is that they censor the internet and their lines in general aren’t that fast…

2. For whatever reason, I have never eaten Indian food much… and never gave it much thought. But today I had some amazing Indian food on the plane (btw, $150 plane ride and they served all you can drink Heineken’s on the 1.5 hour flight and had an amazing lunch) and I just got to the hotel here and had some great curried lamb with roti… oh man, I am digging Indian food! Something about the spice feels so nice, gives you a warm feeling… and not like Thai food, which makes you scream like a demon has taken your soul, but more just a nice warm buzz. I just hope I don’t start to give off that smell many Indians do from the food… also on that note, since I’ve been digging Indian food now, whenever I smell Indian people walk by I get all hungry! 😛

I will leave more comments for later… my very, very general plan is to try to get to Mumbai on Wednesday until Sunday… then Goa for full moon party for 3-4 days… after that I have no idea.

But, after spending my first few hours in India it has already been quite an experience… will have lots of comments and stories from this part of the world soon!

Stories from Thailand

I have applied for a visa to India and should get it on Friday unless they actually figure out who I am… and I have booked a flight Friday from Bangkok to Colombo, Sri Lanka… so will be back on the road again soon with more antics.

In the meantime, here are some interesting stories and pictures from Thailand.

First, as many of you have heard me say ever since my boat sank, I always say, “I’ll never own more than what will fit in my backpack again.”. Well, this is a story about slippery slopes. I was sitting here in Bangkok and Jane and I had gotten hooked on the tv show “24”. It is in its 7th season now on Fox but we had never seen it before and Jane picked up some bootleg copies of it for next to nothing and we started watching it every night on my laptop. This is the kind of show where you have to watch it all in order as it is one long storyline. However, one of the DVD’s would not work in my or Jane’s laptop… but it would work in a regular dvd player.

So, me and Jane were kinda stuck, as that DVD had 4 episodes on it and we couldn’t just skip 4 episodes or we’d lose the whole storyline… so Jane suggested I buy a small dvd player for $50 or something.

I said ok and we went to the store. At the store they had an Xbox 360 and I thought, you know, I really miss having an XBOX and the XBOX has a DVD drive built in… why don’t I spend a bit more and get an XBOX too! (side note: this is hilarious… we were in a ritzy department store… yet they were selling modified Xbox’s… they even tried to upsell me on it like it was a catalog item… and then tried to sell me on bootleg copies of games for super cheap lol… i love Thailand). Anyway, so I bought the Xbox… but then I thought… man, this is gonna look like garbage on the tiny 18″ tv that came furnished in the room I am renting at the moment… so I thought, maybe we should get a cheap flat screen.

So I bought a decent size LCD flat panel tv for about $700…

On the way out I thought… well, now that we have a nice flat screen tv and an Xbox, it’d be a real waste to have a crappy sound system using only the tv’s speakers… so I then bought a 5.1 surround sound system.

An hour after leaving to pick up a cheap dvd player I came home with two taxis full of electronics.

Ahhhhh well, it is friggin wicked. 😛 I can still claim my backpack idealogy though, because I could just say I bought this for Jane. 😛

On to other things…

BUDDHA

It is pretty interesting, every day, living with a Thai girl. They do so many weird and funny things.

One thing, for example, is she is always “feeding” Buddha. Actually I am not really sure if it is Buddha… Thai people seem to “pray” to a collection of things… they kinda have a wall/shelf, with stuff on it, including a picture of the King, who they pray too… an elephant man thing (i thought that was a hindu god?)… buddha stuff… and some people even throw in some Jesus stuff just to top it off.

Anyway, a few times a week she feeds him… although that isn’t the right way to say it, as when I say to her, “feeding Buddha again?” she responds, “Not feed! Feed dog! GIVE to Buddha”. LOL.

She gives him a whole bunch of stuff… here is a picture. She usually gives him a red fanta soda, complete with straw… usually some carrot stuff and muffins.

Last week, though, she gave him a fully packaged racing car set… dunno what that was all about.

Yesterday she was hungry and she asked me to grab the muffin from buddha… I told her that didn’t seem right and she replied, “It’s ok… you don’t know Thai people… we say it is ok, now get me muffin”. She asked me to make the praying nod motion as I did though… I guess it’s sorta like saying, “hey, you had it for a day… and we are hungry and too lazy to go get something else, thank you buddha”.

BRACES

Jane had NEVER… and I mean NEVER been to a dentist before… and I went to get my teeth cleaned recently and suggested she did too… it turns out she had no cavities… I think that is a statement on the way they eat here… the food she eats, every single meal, is so healthy… always rice or noodles, fish, vegetables, meat… no sugar… just a lot of veggies and protein and a bit of healthy carbs with the right amount of fat. All natural food, not the garbage most of us eat.

While she was at the dentist I suggested she may want to consider braces… her teeth on the top are straight but on the bottom they are a bit crooked… she got SO excited. NOTE: I have realized that ANYTHING that costs money is very exciting to her, no matter what it is. In fact, she talked to the doctor about it, and she decided to do it right then and there. The first thing she has to do is get 4 teeth pulled… I’ve never seen anyone so excited to have teeth pulled out of their head?!?!?! But I think I realize a bit what it is… here, in Thailand, having braces is fairly prestigious… if you have braces (at a total cost of about $1,500 over 2 years), it means you (or your family) must have some money as your average Thai person couldn’t afford it.

It’s just funny to me, because I had braces when I was in high school and I certainly did not consider it to be prestigious in any way… in fact, it just made me shyer and even less confident! (although I am glad I had them now as it is nice to have, as Elsie puts it, “oddly straight teeth”). But it is so funny to see how excited Jane is about getting them.

That’s it for the shenanigans for now… next communique from the island of Serendipity.

Still Bangkokking

Well, as you can tell by the complete crashing halt to my blog, nothing too amazing has been happening lately. After my return from Mexico to Bangkok I have been doing as I foretold, relaxing, getting back in shape, working and enjoying all the other things I always enjoy here, not least of which are great restaurants, great weather, the pool, etc etc.

However, in the next week, my 30 day Thai tourist visa runs out, necessitating yet another visa run. I think I will go on another adventure at the same time. I am currently thinking to go through Sri Lanka and then on to India (Mumbai and Goa at least). From there, who knows. I really would like to get to Iran before WW III breaks out there though, so at least I can have some perspective on the place outside of American Propaganda Media.

As a sidenote, remember that freaky little anorexic guy named John Mark Karr who popped up in the “news” a few months ago and said he killed that Jean Bonet Ramsey girl in Colorado? Well, it turned out he didn’t, but he really wanted to in his warped, child molesting dreams. Nonetheless, he had been living in Thailand at the time, essentially doing the visa run the same as many people here, including myself. Well, after that got Thailand some bad press they decided to clamp down and now you can only stay 90 days out of every 180 days on tourist visas here. So, all that means, is I now have to pay a company about $300 to give me a business visa (which effectively lasts one year) if I want to stay in the country on a regular basis… I love free markets, no matter how governments try to manipulate there is always a commercial way around their immoral dealings.

So, I’ll likely report in with some interesting new travel details in about a week. I am very curious about India.. from an economic and business standpoint, I have heard viewpoints ranging from it being the next great superpower to it being a corrupt, bureaucratically paralyzed backwater to the Chinese… so, will finally get there and get some basis for my own opinions. I have seen the ‘other’ highly publicized next great thing, China, quite thoroughly from the inside and am in agreement that it is the next great power… already is actually… so I am very curious about India. I have no doubt it will be fascinating on a multitude of levels, of that I am sure.

In the meantime, here are a few snaps of me, again proving my continued existence, although by existence I just mean ploughing around Thailand, causing trouble.

Me, doing my usual
Me at full moon party in Koh Phagnan again