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600 km. to Berlin
Farang Chronicles.

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Adios to Lake Toba

Medan, Indonesia


Back in Medan, this dusty typical third world muslim town full with stinking open gutters, heavy traffic of the rusty type and people evrywhere going to and fro on a mad quest for Allah only knows what.

For the sake of convenience - and still having lots of local tatty notes of Rp. still in my pocket that need to get out of there - I decided on an airco minibus to Medan - 25.000 Rp. for a local bus and 70.000 Rp. for a airco minivan with the added advantage they drop you off in front of the hotel of your choice which in my case was Hotel Residence near the Meshid Raya, the main mosque an the location of the tourist district in Medam.

The Meshid Raya is also the only real place of interest in an otherwise very boring Medan unless you fancy walking around traffic congested dusty streets full with people, risking the health of your lungs breathing in all these exhaust fumes that cloud the air.

So it was goodbey and muchos saludos pero el tiempo de regresa a Bankok ya viene muy pront yesterday to all these willing to marry a ferringy male Batak ladies yesterday with the cleaning ladies from the Carolina Hotel waving me off and a SMS tekst message from Mamma Cesca on my phone while I was already well on the way to Medan.

Provided I wake up in time I`ll be on that ferry to Penang tomorrow. Another five boring hours surrounded by dozing locals dressed in thick coats because they can`t stand the ferry`s airco.

Two days in Penang, twnety hours by train to Bangkok/Krung Thep and on to that Male Kingdom that keeps coming back - one way or another - in my tormented dreams when I sleep in my own bed, in my own house, in Amsterdam. it is waving at me, gesturing me with obscene vistas to come back, to return each year. False promises of REAL LOVE with wintered prostitutes.

And after Pattaya is over, back to my beloved Amsterdam where I will slug it out another summer with the drunks, the hopeless and the lost souls in Westerpark!!!

permalink written by  heraclio on June 9, 2009 from Medan, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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The different world of Malaysia

Kuala, Malaysia

Malaysia, border crossing, 14-02-2009.

I leave my dingy liitle room early morning at first light, bulky backpack strapped to my back and dressed in my last clean clothes, I`ve a border crossing to do today so it`s best to be dressed in clean clothes or else I might get refused entry on the grounds of looking like a worn-out pennyless tramp.

The lobby of my hotel is a complete mess, empty cans of Chang beer and equally empty big bottles of Kloster lying around at random, an Isaan lady of the night asleep on the old sofa with the cracked leather upholstery where I was most of last night "admiring" both the going-ons in my hotel as well as the mad spectacle outside in the dimly lit street. The receptionist lady is fast asleep snoring loudly with her head resting on the reception. I leave the key in front of her deftly sidestepping the big pool of stinking greenish vomit right in front of the reception.

The scêne outside is equally depressing, empty beer bottles and cans littered around the sidewalks, a few Hot Mommas asleep on wooden vegetable crates put together and covered with some old blankets, the air already sweltering under the hot Thai sun of an early tropical morning - somehow the temperatures in Southern Thailand are always a few degrees hotter than up north - , a motorbike taxi driver is resting peacefully streched out on a wooden camping chair but happy enough, when I wake him up, to bring me to the border for a meagre 50 Baht. Early morning business, 50 Baht... more than enough for two cans of Chang or a few shots of moonshine whiskey with the day still having to start.

At this early hour the border crossing is nearly deserted, just a couple of bleary eyed hang-over Malay men queueing up, passport in hand a reddish colored 100 Baht note sticking out of it...a bit of baksheesh for the border officials in a country where corrupotion is as rife as the population of rats and cockroaches - maybe all this vermin is reliving their first life`s Karma as Thai officials involved in ripping off whatever they could get their greedy hands on, not enough offerings made at the local Wad to pacify the Buddha for the sins of greediness, too busy going to the girly bars spending that "well-deserved" corruption tainted dough!!!

I`m in Malaysia now, a completely new and totally different world, no more Buddhism here but Islam is the name of the game, no more Thai Baht but Malaysian Ringit, no more Thai but Malay is spoken here which is closely related to the Indonesian Bahasa, much easier to pronounce!!! Muezzins calling the faithfull to prayer at one of the many mosques five times a day. Put your immortal soul in the hnads of the Almighty, the holy entity called Allah and Mohammad is his profet, and you`ll leave behind the notorious Thai superstition. No more Thai spirit houses or ghouls that rule the minds and fears of the local population...the Malay people even look different...the only thing I had to do was crossing the border and nada mas!!!

permalink written by  heraclio on May 19, 2009 from Kuala, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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Night in Songai Kolok

Hat Yai, Thailand

Songai Kolok, 13-02-2009, nighttime.

Lord Buddha is supposed to frown on prostitution while rumour has it that Allah Himself forbits the public s*x trade nor is any of these two holy dieties especially keen on the consumption of King Alcohol.

Maybe Songai Kolok might excist in a state of limbo, has been turned a blind eye to by either Lord Buddha or Allah or morer likely by both. At least both these holy entities can agree on one thing!!!

It is close to midnight and I have placed by white Farang behind on an old sofa in the lobby of my hotel, sketchbook and acrylic colors close at hand, watching both the going-ons in my hotel as well as the spectacle outside where once pious young malay men have by now become semi-professional drunks being approached by sluttily dressed women whose age I guess from early twenties to mid thirties, all of them from Thailand`s poorer Northern provinces, no Thai muslim ladies here to satisfy these hordes of s*x starved malay men.

The cavernous Karaoke bar just across the street is spilling out male brown colored bodies in various states of intoxication blatantly looking around for female companionship, ready for action after boozing and male drunk boasting all evening, building up courage for an act against Malay law and religion induced fear.

Huddles of Hot Mommas willing to be of service, a handfull of Ringit changing hands, a short walk to one of the many shorttime hotels where the rooms go by the hour and apart from a towel and soap, condoms are issued for free.

My quick pen sketches of the world around me attract the attention of Hot Mommas going or coming from one of the many dingy rooms of my guesthouse, despite the Light My Fire from The Doors blaring out of and ancient juke-box behind the reception there is no mistaking the obvious grunts coming from these rooms!!!

I pay several ladies a can of Chang while sketching them in my scrap book.

I don`t consider coming to Songai Kolok a mistake, I mean I knew what to expect, I had heard the stories, the rumours circulating on the boulevard in Pattaya, Sodom and Gomorra all in one and right smack in the middle of the Muslim South of Thailand and apperently also the headquarters of the Muslim uprising in this Asian Kingdom...

Good joke, these Isaan ladies of the night would most probably kick out Mohammad himself if He had the bloody nerve to show up here!!!

permalink written by  heraclio on May 18, 2009 from Hat Yai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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Hypocrisy of the faithfull!!!

Hat Yai, Thailand

Songai Kolok, same day in the evening of 13-02-2009.

Muezzins call the faithfull to prayer, attend the many mosques in this ach-typical border town while I disembark from my last Song-thaew, shouldering my bulky backpack feeling worn out, sweaty and semi-frustrated after a whole day of travelling on local chicken buses, road blocks with severe looking police men and soldiers getting on sometimes taking people out for frisking purposses outside the Song-Thaew with the driver patiently waiting for the - to him no doubt - daily procedure, unfriendly and at times even outright hostile stares from my other passengers.

Leaving the bus terminal my eyes are under a strange and constant attack of contradicting impressions, sights so unusual for me in this part of the world. women pass me in the street dressed head to toe in mostly black islamic gear trying hard to avoid my eyes, looking down at the dusty street modestly never daring to meet my blue Farang eyes, men with the inevitable skullcap and in pale djallebas share the same sidewalk with slutty dressed young women whose Thai accent betray their place of origin, memberes of the Isan clan of females, literally thousands of them populate the streets, standing in front of small seedy looking hotels, outside Hallal restaurants, their dark oriental eyes assessing me openly and bluntly. Their profession is easily guessed, no mistakes here, no room for error.

If I wanna have a good restfull sleep tonight I might very well give up on my determination of staying at rock bottom dirt cheap hostels but habit as well old time`s sake make me decide to give it one more time.

Steep steps bring me to a small guesthouse based over what must be the one and only real Thai food restaurant in Songai Kolok, darkly lit corridors with thin doors giving access to dingy rooms, girls are everywhere following me to my room, asking me repeatedly "you like have girlfriend, mister"?.

Outside I see buses with Malay number plates unloading hunderts of Malay males, typical Southeast Asian Muslim garb covering their excited bodies, skullcaps trembling in anticipation, I see them arrive on scooter and motorbike, in jeeps and pick-up trucks but whatever their mode of transport their excitement is inevitably easy to recognise. I am starting to get a very strong idea what the economy of this border town is based on.

S*x!!! With prostitution forbidden and no s*x before marriage in Muslim Malaysia because of Islamic rules...so they come to get it here, conveniently close just across the border. This small chaotic city a hotbed for Islamic fanatics???, maybe in the bedroom of sleazy ans seedy hotel rooms, yeah!!!

Talking about the hypocrisy of the faithfull.

permalink written by  heraclio on May 16, 2009 from Hat Yai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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In the heart of Muslim territory

Hat Yai, Thailand

Songai Kolok, 13-02-2009.

Songai Kolok is supposed to be the heart of muslim territory in Thailand, within walking distance to the Malay border and - as rumour has it - the place of origin of the masterminds behind the Islam uprising in Southern Thailand. Basically this small and claustrophobic town houses a hotbed of islamic fanatics that are bend on total independence, create an Islam state in Buddhist Thailand, no matter what the cost!!! Blow up a police station, roadside killings or maybe a mortar attack on a public school...all that in the name of Allah, never mind the innocent, unschooled local farmers whose main concern is trying to feed their families.

I spend most of the day changing Song-Thaews, looking from the glassless windows at an endless array of rice paddies, women working the rice paddies covered in long black dresses and muslim headscarves, constant police road blocks with camouflage clad soldiers entering the Song-Thaew, their black heavy military issued boots banging heavily on the metal floor, their big guns slung around their shoulders looking menacingly, checking papers of passengers.

The always festive air that rules King Bhumipol`s Kingdom and for so many Farang the main reason for falling in love with this mystic Asian kingdom, GONE!!! Instead I sense a strange mixture of hate and fear at the same time.

We pass small dusty village where I can hear the call of the muezzins coming from hidden mosques, quick stops for food hawkers trying to sell vegetables and bottles of mineral water, other passengers getting on, getting off, men with skullcaps and thin grayish beards covering their chins look at me in a non-commital way, gone are the friendly Thai smiles beaming from friendly and open faces, gone is the gay and colorfull Thai dress code. I feel like I have been parachuted into a hostile and non-Farang friendly dictator ruled state of fear!!!

I try to concentrate on what goes on outside the closed confinement of this sweltering hot local bus where the oppression of angst has providence over the ever importance of the concept of Sanuk in the Thai Buddhist mind, a lone dark black buffalo with strangely shaped horns relaxing in a mud pool and looking at me with what seem warning eyes... a warning from Lord Buddha himself??? Near naked kids dressed only in their underwear playing in a river, pointing brownish little fingers at me excitedly...more warnings involved here???

A serious young Thai male reading an Arabic Koran a few seat ahead of me, skullcap in place, long pale pastel blue colored Djalleba covering his slender frame, long single black hairs prodruding from a thin chin betraying a serious effort of growing the necessary muslim beard in a race where bodily hair is sparse, his dark brown eyes looking up from his Holy Muslim book whenever the fancy strikes him, trying to lock them with mine...menacing...threatening....

permalink written by  heraclio on May 14, 2009 from Hat Yai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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Lord Buddha please tell me...

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, 12-02-2009.

Waking up on my hard cot with the thin old matrass in my windowless hovel, I`m instantly remembered of the two small cans of Singha beer I consumed last night before allowing my Farang mind to drift off the the dream world.

No hang-over can beat the weird feeling inside your skull after drinking Singha beer or Mekhong whiskey the next morning, a hang-over caused by a certain conservative forbiddewn in the West but a main component in Singha and Mekhong here in Thailand.
Drink Heineken or Kloster during your trips to this Asian Kingdom dear reader, take it from me!!!

Though it was a mistake these two cans of Singha did their job and knocked me out for a couple of hours, no Thai Hot Momma induced nightmare that have plaqued my Western trained mind since my very first trip to Southeast Asia. A punishment from Lord Buddha Himself for falling in love time and again with these Thai Ladies of the Night, or else an unconscious self afflicted torture over a Western cultivated Guilt Conflict that has no right of excistence.

I waste no time or effort taking a shower or even brush my teeth some how treasuring the layer of clammy sweat covering my shivering body, the stale and superdry taste lying inside my mouth cavity, going down the stairs and crossing the garage that is the lobby of my dumphouse guesthouse, ignoring the strong smell of gasoline and the heavy snoring originating from Mister Dumphouse Patriach lying on a old bench against a wall, his potbelly heaving, no doubt having a hard time trying to digest all the Mekhong he consumed last night.

I seem to remember he was drunk - Mau as the Thai call it and quite a usual word often used - out of his head last night when I returned home, sitting on his cot with a green colored sari wrapped around his hips, raving loudly and throwing empty dusty beer bottles around the place, one of them narrowly missing my head, Miss Receptionist-Parttime-H**ker guiding me up the stairs fast and furious while Sonny-Love was hiding behind one of his treasured scooters...Lord Buddha, please tell me what am I doing staying in a madhouse like this, for a meagre 50 Thai Baht more I can stay across the road in a quiet and friendly Farang owned hostel!!!

Outside in the street the Asian sun has just emerged from the horizon turning the sky into a spectacle of orange colors, a scêne I would normally enjoy but right now the soft pastel colors hurt my poor head even more while walking over to the waterfront looking for the boat people fully aware what they will be doing at this early hour.

And yes...I`m right seeing them sitting in a small group around a bottle of Black Cat Whiskey drinking the stuff straight without ice from white plastic cups. I wai them politely asking them in my halting and badly pronounced Thai for a cup of this sharp heavy stuff, the perfect medicine for my hang-over. they laugh softly at the 50 Baht note in my poffered hand and thereby actually saving me face though you need the know the Thai ways to realise that!!!

permalink written by  heraclio on May 13, 2009 from Krabi, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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The nighttime Krabi food market.

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, 11-02-2009.

Like any other town in Thailand, be it small, average or big, Krabi has got a nightly food market, these places are apart from excelent Thai food also great for meeting locals as well as fellow travellers from the Asian backpack scêne.

Krabi`s night food market can be found at the Khong Kha pier or you could consider following your nose, chances are that particular part of your bodily equipment will get you there!!

I arrive just after darkness has settled on the Thai Kingdom, smelling the strong odour of strong spices, huge gray clouds emerging from the many food stalls, rowdy Scottish voices mixing with raucous laughter coming from German throats, shy female giggles interfering with a raspy swedish tonque.

Nothing in the world as far as food goes can beat the Thai Kitchen and as always I have a hard time to make up my mind what to eat tonight...Tom Yam Kung, a Prawn dish served in a mushroom soup with lemon-grass added or maybe a plain noodle soup with beef, pork or chicken, spicy, sweet, salty or sour, take you pick.

Iron tables and plastic chairs, kersonese lamps or electric lighbulbs loosely hanging from the food stalls, black electric cables dangling like jungle veins from stall to stall providing the necessary energy. Scrawy dogs lazily wandering among the tables looking for scraps of left-over beef, a discarded chicken leg or maybe a bit of pork.

Five young Thai girls busily working on their fried rice and noodle soups while blatantly discussing the benevits of having a Farang boyfriend against their Thai contemporaries. Even the Farang male equipment is under heavy scrutiny producing more gay giggles. These ladies have no idea of my shamefull eavesdropping and I have a hard time keeping my face straight.

Five young Scots in kilts alraedy three quarters on the way to total intoxication due to big pints of Tiger beer, on a stag party and rowdily talking about the merits of Thai prostitutes.

A Thai family of five sit a t a table full with satay dishes, a big condensed bottle of Chang beer for Mum, bottles of Coca-Cola for the kids and a bottle of Mekhong for Dad who is gnawing away at a big chunk of chicken leg, big sticky drops of satay dripping down on the table.

For 50 Baht I have noodle soup, a cup of coffee and a sweet milky Thai dessert, the entertainment provided by my fellow diners comes for free. I just find it dificult to understand why so many backpackers take their meals in the Farang restaurants where Arnold Schwarzenegger hops across the screen, the bang-bang sounds of his many guns making conversation with other travellers near impossible!!!

Meanwhile my female Thai neighbors have shifted their conversation topic from Farang Boyfriends to whether or not my Scottish "friends" wear underwear under their kilts.....hehehe, these guys could be in for a nice surprise tonight.

permalink written by  heraclio on May 11, 2009 from Krabi, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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Welcome to the Third World

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, 10-02-2009.

I wake up in my 120 Baht room, a windowless box with with green colored tarpaulin on the floor sticky to me feet because of the dirt, the only furniture a metal frame supposed to be a bed with a thin dirty matrass on it. The sheets gray with age I had to put on the matrass myself - the petite receptionist lady who doubles as a cleaning girl was porbably pissed off I ignored her obvious advances when I checked in.

She gave it another unsuccessfull try last night when I returned slightly intoxicated from next door`s reggae bar.

Having a hard time to overcome my hang-over while making it to the communal bahtroom for a cold shower, no shower head here just a metal pipe sticking out of the wall from which a steady but not so strong stream of water approaches provided the tap is turned all the way on.

Dark brown cockroaches comfortably walking up and down the not so clean tiles of the shower walls, yeah, these monster probably live on what quite literally lives on these walls!!!

Not sure if the grunting noices originating from my neighbors last night were the result of love making or a physical premarital dispute. Good thing I was intoxicated enough to fall right into the hands of Lord Morpheus instead of having to listen to all that sh*t!!!

Walking through the lobby on my way out trying to ignore both the smells of machine oil as well as the flashes coming out of Miss Receptionist I wonder why I always insist in staying at these dirt cheap dumps where the word dirt in dirt cheap has got an obviuous double meaning!!!

I wanna experience the real Souteast Asia where people have not as yet been corrupted by Western greed, where the locals have not yet been poisoned by the power of money, where Farang logic has not yet invaded the Asian way of thinking.

Well think again mate! The partiach of the family managing the dumphouse hotel is smashing drunk on moonshine whiskey down in the lobby most of the time, his pot belly getting bigger each day with fermented rice liquor while sonny love in the scooter business during the day, is busy spending the dough at the local pool hall - remember the double function of a pool hall in Thailand? - during the night.

Mum never comes downstairs, way too doped up smoking Yaa-Baa up in her cockroach rife room, on her flea ridden matrass while the daughter of the family is in charge of the reception pocketing the dough quick and fast before dad can get his greedy hands on it for more riced whiskey, not much interested in cleaning rooms but always in the mood for a 300 Baht shorttimew with any of the guests.

Welcome to the Third World, mate!!!

permalink written by  heraclio on May 10, 2009 from Krabi, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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A cycle trip to Bokkharani National Park

Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, 09-02-2009.

Small little mozzies look for a safe spot on my sunburned legs to roost, suck away on my sweet blood. They better be carefull though! I got my eyes on them and will most definitely squash them the moment they will settle down on my reddish flesh.

I might be an animal lover and female friendly, totally aware that in the mozzy world it are the females that NEED my blood due to their reproductive purposes....

Still if I detect them anywhere on my sore and hot skin they can be reasonably sure of a one-way ticket to Mosquito Kingdom Come free of charge!!!

I am once again on my rented bicycle though today I wanna cycle to Bokkharani National Park nearly 40 km. north of Krabi, 40 km. of cycling through a slightly hilly terrain, both sides of the road flanked by dramatically shaped karst Stone formations covered in lush rain forest jungle.

A whole day of cycling under the harsh and hot Thai sun means I`ll get drenched in perpiration so I`ve given up on my long blue jeans - I must be one of the very few Farangs in Thailand not constantly dressed in colorfull shorts 24/7 - and instead put on my own shorts and a old T-shirt.

The weirdly shaped karst rocks are interspersed with big plantations of rubber trees and coconut groves.

I stop at karst Stone rocks to check out the caves inside being guided around whether I like it or not, by ragged looking village children hoping for a few coins in return. I stop at roadside shops for not so cold bottles of Coca Cola "sorry sir not have electricity for fridge", I pass small groups of local boy scouts dressed in light brown calling Sabai Dee, Sabai Dee sir while disappearing behind me. I get overtaken myself by farangs on rented scooters, their local girlfriends on the back glamoring me on.

permalink written by  heraclio on May 9, 2009 from Krabi, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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Wat Tham Seua aka Tiger Cave Temple

Krabi, Thailand

Wat Tham Seua, 08-02-2009.

Wat Tham Seua aka Tiger Cave Temple is not like most Wats in Thailand. A temple might be a place of worship but still a dusty place with scrawny dogs lazily scratching their flea ridden behinds, temple cats desperately and in vain trying to keep the temple grounds free of small mice, bold house sparrows eating from the small bowls of rice offerings like dignitaries from Lord Buddha himself sampling the sincerity of the faithfull. Sleepy monks still dozing in the shade after early morning's alm round.

Wat Tham Seua on the other hand has slowly turned into a serious tourist attraction with new hotels being build all around the Karst stone rock formation which is the centre of the Wat and visible from Krabi centre about four km. away.

Long lines of VIP tour buses parked at the entrance greet me when I arrive by hired bicycle watching the construction workers at the side of the road sitting on bamboo mats eating fried chicken, white plastic cups go from hand to hand. I don't need the sour smell of fermented rice boiling in a food kettle over a small fire to know they Burmese day labourers are having themselves a ball not caring much about the five star hotel they are supposed to work on.

Sabai, Sabia and Sanuk, Sanuk are all I need to know the motorbike taxi guys will let nobody near my unlocked bicycle while I tour the Temple ground. My sketchbook and pen, my water colours and a small mineral bottle in my bag ready for action I buy myself a ticket joining the many tour groups that wander from one building to the next listening to local guides explaining everything in a variety of different languages, camaras snap while umbrellas are closed upon entering a temple, opened again outside as a protection for vulnerable white skin against a harsh Thai sun.

More than 1200 very steep stone steps will bring me cherished peace at the top of the weirdly shaped karst peak, no more rowdy tour groups of mostly elderly Europeans hung with expensive camara equipment and sweaty T-shirts - not that my T-shirt is still dry after these 1200 steep steps up - just a few local and Farang die-hards who must have felt as fit as me at the beginning and look just as exhausted and perpiration drenched as me now that we have made it to the top.

Our rewards are more than just worth it though, apart from peace and tranquility that rule up here, vistas all the way to the Andaman Sea, a huge Buddha statue and a gilded stupa, friendly young monks hand out much needed bottles of mineral free of charge.

permalink written by  heraclio on May 6, 2009 from Krabi, Thailand
from the travel blog: Farang Chronicles.
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