One Night in Bangkok, Katsjourney Around the World: 24 March, 2003

Subject: One Night in Bangkok
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2003 17:37:27 -0600
There was a song that came out in the late 1970’s that some of you may

remember.  It was a one hit wonder and the chorus went something like this:

“One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble…”  Well, I am here to tell

you it’s true.  My girlfriend Kathie, in Austin, told me that the city is a

real ball buster, whether your balls are real or imaginary.  That’s true

too.

I am staying at a hotel on probably the most hectic street in the city.  I

heard from a friend in Cape Town that it is owned by a group of Nigerian

drug lords.  AND they used to have two floors booked out for “Mr Smith”.

That would be the western gentleman sponsoring a lovely Thai girl for an

evening of entertainment.  The place is tattered, but clean and only costs

1200 Baht, about US$ 29 per night.

A Thai gentleman that I met in Cape Town collected me at the airport.  He

was a dignitary professor at a conference that I worked with my friend Ilse,

back in December.  Not 1 kilometer out of the airport and his very nice

Holden car (looks like a VW Jetta) was rear ended by a delivery truck. Ban hit car It

was a bit of a jolt and now I have a mild case of whiplash.  Funny, we had

just been talking about the insane traffic in Bangkok.  We managed to pry

the boot open and get out my luggage so I could jump in a taxi whilst he

messed with the police and insurance people.  Welcome to Bangkok!

After a short arrival nap I set out with my Bangkok city map to explore the

city.  The humid heat is overwhelming.  With the humidity index it is about

42 degrees (107 F).  The pollution is choking.  I was completely jostled

around in the small streets of the markets with food vendors and cars trying

to make their way through the narrow lanes.  And talk about noise.  Noise,

Noise, noise everywhere.  Hawkers, horns, cell phones, music blaring, loud

tuk tuk engines.  You could lose 30 years of your life living in this

sprawling city of 10 million.

But there is also a certain beauty here. The people are warm and polite.  If

you show just a bit of respect, they will bend over backwards to accommodate

you.  The food is some of the best in the world.  And the lush Royal gardens

and palaces are like no place else I have ever seen.  I have never seen such

pure gold as in the temples and Buddha images.  Every place I wander I

mutter under my breath, “Oh my God”.  It is amazing.

I am leaving tomorrow for a remote island called Ko Lanta.  It is an hour

flight south of Bangkok and then a two hour boat ride south east of Krabi.

I heard that they just got phone service to the island in 2001.  Amazing.

It will be a real contrast to Bangkok.  It is there that I plan on studying

the teachings of Buddha, learning to meditate and do a bit of writing.  If

there is an internet place, I will send an update.

The war rages on and I am able to keep up with it through CNN and the

English Bangkok newspaper. I pray for the safety of the world and our allied

troops.  There is a large Muslim population in the south near the Malaysian

border.  I am officially Canadian whilst I am here, just for safety. candian flag

Love to all,

Kathleen

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The Great Ocean Road, Katsjourney Around the World: 17 March, 2003

The Great Ocean Road
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 14:21:35 -0600
Greetings from the Journey Down Under,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Mel St Paddys day

I am still in Melbourne, Australia and enjoying

the last vestiges of Indian Summer here.  Today and tomorrow will be a high

33-35 degrees Celsius (in the 90’s) and then it will be cooling off to 18-20

(in the 60’s) and rain…a much more proper Melbourne type day in the

autumn.  Since I am following the summer on this journey, that means it is

time to head north.  I will be leaving for Bangkok, Thailand this Friday

night.

Last week was a fantastic week of touring and introspection.  My friend,

Ron, from Austin, is here teaching part of his facilitator course with Mike

(whom I am staying with in Melbourne) from RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute

of Technology).  Anyway, they teach the first module in the lovely seaside Mel grt ocn rd rainforest gully

town of Lorne…about two hours south west of Melbourne.  We hired (rented)

a car and I was able to explore for the week on my own while they taught.

I can’t tell you what a freedom it was to have an automobile.  Something I

have taken for granted since age 20.  I had no problems driving on the left

side.  In fact, since November, everywhere I have been has been left hand

road driving.  so, even as a passenger you do get used to it quickly.  My

difficulty came with turning on the windscreen (shield) wipers every time I

attempted ot turn.  You see, the wipers and the blinkers are opposite of

ours.  Thank god the brake and the accelerator are not reversed!

I traveled west, down the Great Ocean Road for the week and stayed at

delightful little towns along the coast.  This rugged coastline is one of

the most beautiful in the entire world.  On one side are the Otway Ranges

complete with fern tree rainforests and on the other side are sheer cliffs

into the ocean with beautiful, pristine beaches tucked inbetween rocky

outcroppings.

The 12 Apostles in Port campbell National Park is the most famous seascape

rock formation in the country.   These rock outcroppings, light gold in

colour, are magnificent along the beach as the Great Southern Ocean waves

constantly pound them.  As the sun changes positions throughout the, so

changes the colour and the “feel” of the apostles.  To stand in the viewing

platform near them is a party for your senses as you smell and taste the

clean, pure salt water below and feel the power of the place.  It is the

kind of place you can imagine your God talking to you.

All along the coast are several stunning stops…The Loch Ard Gorge, The

London Bridge, the Arch, the Grotto and the Blowhole.  A few times, I almost

didn’t stop, but the raw beauty of each naturally carved rock was worth a

walk to view it.  It was also so nice to see no development.  Untouched by

human hands, as it were.

As an added bonus, I was able to capture photos of several koalas in the

wild.  They are such beautiful creatures and sadly,  near the point of

extinction.

They feed only on certain types of eucalypt and are very

sensitive to changes in their habitat.  They are losing their habitat

quickly here.

I was alone all week and chose to eat  take-away meals quietly on beaches or

at picnic areas in national parks Mel Grt Ocn rd Pt Fairy lighthouse and rainforests (there has not been much

rain, as Australia has been in a terrible drought).  I had lots of time to

find peaceful places and think about the world and my life.  It is a luxury

few of us get, since we are usually caught up in day to day madness of the

world.  I wish I could solve some of the world’s problems.  Hell, I wish I

could solve some of my own problems!  But it was interesting because time

seemed to move very slowly.  A sensation I would say most of the western

world is not used to.

In my introspection, I know I am passionate about this earth and the

horrible way that humans are treating it.  The mines we are stripping, the

forests we are destroying, the oceans we are polluting, the ozone we are

depleting, and the sensitive plants and animals that we are killing to

extinction.  All of those that were created on this earth for the perfect

circle of life.  Alas, it is not so perfect anymore.  And then there is war.

Are the Americans helping to save the world from weapons of mass

destruction, a mad dictator and terrorism or is the true axis of evil oil,

greed and money?  Something to ponder, if you can find the time.

I have changed the course of the journey a bit, since Nepal is quite

dangerous at the present time.  Of course, there is this crazy Asian virus

that is killing people and plenty of political unrest in North Korea and the

Malaysian Muslim extremists.  Where is safe anymore?

I will send more updates from the wild, unusual and amazing city of Bangkok

next week.  Love to all.

Kathleen