This blog entry and the following ones pertaining to my experiences in Phuket will be disjointed - not a story start to finish, but rather a collection of random items that I jotted down to remind myself to write about later. And now is later, so here we go:
Phuket Phunk: So - what is the "Phuket Phunk?" Well let me tell you - it is a smell unlike anything I, or you, have ever smelled before. It's a strange mixture of sourness, sweatness, BOness, street food vendorness, and essence of spilled alcohol. There's probably more smells in there, but you guys all know that if I taste a wine I don't talk about the 'burnt mahogany with a finish of steamed roses' I just taste good and bad - and the Phuket Phunk was bad. The high temperatures and even higher humidity only exasperated things further. The rain (every night like clockwork, actually) did clear it out while it was raining, but only returned stronger after. It wasn't as bad up in the hills - but then it still smelled - usually like my perspiration (I did sweat…a lot)
Craig: I spent a lot of time with a now good friend Craig. In Craig I think I have found a guy as cheap and unwilling to spend money wastefully as I am. Good dude - we have a lot in common - married, 2 kids, Christians, generally good natured. What we don't have in common…he's 6' 2" and maybe in the neighborhood of 230 - basically a linebacker from the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team (he's from Minnesota, actually, but a corn-fed country boy from Nebraska was more fitting). And walking around the streets of a foreign country it made me feel safer to be with a guy on average twice the size of anybody else there.
Ship to shore: This was my first port of call and really had no idea how things would be set up - they explained it pretty well to us, but some things you really can't understand until you experience it. In retrospect, I still saved money doing this port the way I did, but if I were to do it again I might do it differently - anyways - the island of Phuket doesn't have a port large enough to let a ship as big as ours actually pull up, drop a ramp, and let us walk off - we would run aground first (bad news for the CO, no doubt) so we drop anchor a mile or so off from the shore - oh, let me tell you about that later. And shuttle ships are provided to bring people from the big ship to shore at 120 people a shot. These ships are pretty old, owned and run by the host country, and take about a half hour to or from. And then we took busses from that point to the actual city - the good news is that all of this is free and provided for the military guys to get into and out of town - also good is that they ran pretty much 24 hrs all the time we were there. The bad news:
Average Time: 1 hr 30 min Shortest Time: 1 hr 20 min Longest Time: 3 hr 30 min (Yeah that one hurt, especially because I got to the bus at 1 in the morning) So my plan when everybody else was making hotel reservations was that I'd just stay on the boat, get off to get something to eat and walk around a little, and come back to work out in the now open gym. Doesn't work out so well when a round trip is a little over 3 hours of sitting waiting to get somewhere. It still worked out in the end and let me get to know Craig a lot better during this trip.
One thing I did notice about Thailand, moreso outside of the city where there were so many people, is that it if very open - houses, businesses, garages, restaurants - almost none of them had a front door - or a wall in the front, for that matter - which also means none of these places had air conditioning - lots of ceiling fans - it was interesting to drive by all of these places - being so open, you can see the entire restaurant, all the way back to the kitchen, the whole garage, everything is out on display. Kind of contributes to the general Thai disposition, now that I think about it. The Thai people have a reputation for being one of the happiest cultures around - from my experience I would have to agree. Maybe because their language is so hard and we Americans make such a funny scene trying to pantomime where we want to go to a taxi drivers - nonetheless, they all looked very happy / friendly / generally pleased to see you - even the people outside of the city. I think part of it is because of the openness of their architecture. Their home / business / is open to anybody passing by to come in and sit, have some tea, and some roasted duck (well they say it's duck I'll never really know for sure) - it was nice
Bodybuilders: my first day there I was riding in a bus and was people watching on the way to the drop off point - and being the mathemagician I am, I started polling the population passing by for ethnic diversity. I was one of the last ones off the boat so by that time at night I saw maybe 80% Thai, 8% Marines / Navy, 7% European / Caucasian tourists, and 5% grossly huge muscle guys wearing torn up shirts because their abnormal frame won't fit into anything the right way. Strange - it seemed disproportionate to me - as I'm sure it does to you. What are so many bodybuilders doing in Thailand? It has nothing to do with training at altitude (this is the part of the country that got wiped by a typhoon a few years back), and training in extreme heat and humidity is just annoying - I asked a friend and got a fitting but sad answer: Steroids, along with many other drugs, are totally legal in Thailand - so you get an influx of European and American bodybuilders who come the Thailand and "get huge" for a few months and then go back home - blah.
Some of the items on the docket for tomorrow (Or the next day, we'll see how things go - I am deployed, you know):
To do list
Sleeping on a big ship
Thailand Economics explained