reunification rampage


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with my brief jaunt through the Philippines quickly coming to an end and Christmas and New Years not too far off, i had to make some decisions about how, where and with whom i would spend these monumental occasions.  as things would have it the heavens were aligned quite nicely because i would end up embarking on a nice little reunion tour which i like to call “Reunification Rampage”.

my first stop was Singapore.  there, i spent the next ten days in the good care of my Canadian friends: Erin, Kate and Sandee.  while the girls were at work each day i stayed home and played housewife.  this involved cleaning their kitchen and watching movies in their clean air-conditioned apartment.  i kept it simple and did not stray too far from the hive while i obtained a deep level of relaxation in good company.

cover-solitude_made_easyearly one morning i awoke to find some very exciting news from my good friend from home Cody Field.  he had just finished his full length debut music album.  i immediately put it in my ears on continuous repeat and it soon became a new soundtrack to my travels.  allow to me introduce you to “Solitude Made Easy“.  i strongly encourage you all to pour yourselves a very tall glass of warm bourbon, put your headphones on and immerse yourselves in its crisp, gritty, heart wrenching, brutally honest, melodic, and extremely listenable tracks.

on my final evening before staying up all night and exiting the country, Erin and i attended a mixed martial arts event where we got to witness round after round of both men and woman beating the shit out of each other.  fights lasted three to five rounds and ended in knock outs, choke outs and the occasional limb getting pulled out of a socket.

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from Singapore came the three nights and two days of hard travel to the island of Koh Tao in Thailand.  there i was reunited with my Belgium friend Lieselot who i had trekked with in Nepal six months prior.  i showed up at her door on the morning of Christmas eve an exhausted lesser form of myself.  since we last parted, she had managed to become a certified divemaster in Koh Tao (the scuba dive training capital of the world) and is now living her dream and working at the Scuba Junction dive shop.  though i never actually got around to diving while in Koh Tao, i did spend a great deal of time at Scuba Junction with Lieselot and her diver colleagues.  still very sleep deprived i managed to pull through and join her and the others in a proper Christmas eve celebration on Sairee Beach.

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coincidentally, my very good and long lost friend Nathan also happened to be on Koh Tao during this time.  he had come to Thailand to vacation with his girlfriend and her family whom he liked to refer to as “the Swedish army” (them being Swedish and all).  for the next week and a half we slid into a routine of sipping rum on the beach and eating street pancakes late at night after the army was put to bed.

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Nathan has lead somewhat of a unique and driven life.  after graduating at the top of his class with a computer science degree, he moved to Switzerland to become a doctor of neuroscience.  after completing that he decided to take a year off to make a music album which he has now finished and is currently working on the live show and marketing components for said album.  after building up the album to me for an entire week cover-madnaxhe finally unleashed an advanced copy on me and i could not be more pleased with it.  his electronic arrangements and smooth spooky voices are both refreshing and addictive.  i also can’t help but develop a huge smile on my face when i listen to him sing about zombie love.  he has also given me permission to share it with those i deem worthy (in this case, being those of you have managed follow my blogging adventures for these ten long months).  introducing “Madnax – The Old Branch Never Falls (Friend Edition)”: you can stream it here or download it here.

my final reunification occurred after being on Koh Tao for a week when my long time French Canadian travel companion Nicolas arrived just in time to help us celebrate the new year.  this is the 5th time i have connected with Nik on my travels and this time we mean to do some damage.

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new years eve on Koh Tao was an epic delight.  just imagine thousands of drunken foreigners spread out on a beach grinding to house music, huffing nitrous balloons and fornicating in the ocean.  i’ll leave you with that imagery as well as this video i made.

 

we stayed on Koh Tao, A.K.A. “The Rock” long enough to feel like it was our home (these days it doesn’t take much).  i got in some good friend time, some good beach time (and saw 5 blacktip reef sharks all at once!) and some good nostalgia time as i lead us on a walking tour of the places i visited last time i was on The Rock six years prior.

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when our time was up, Nik and i put our travel hats back on and headed to Bangkok to procure us some visas for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.  while we waited we gorged ourselves on street food and cinema.

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we stayed at the fabulous Saphai Pae hostel where i had the pleasure of getting beaten up by a girl.

 

no stopover in Bangkok would be complete with out an evening spent on Khao San Road.  at this time of night the street is clogged with young tourists all stumbling along with their buckets of booze.

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Bangkok is among my most favorite cities on this Earth but we had to get out while we could so to escape the shutting down of the city due to the hoards of protesters who are currently trying to overthrow their corrupt prime minster.

our next and final planned stop in Thailand was Kanchananaburi – a chill town on the Kwai River and home to the historic Bridge on the River Kwai – yet another horrific World War 2 Japanese footprint.  perhaps you have seen the popular 1957 film of same name which depicts an incompetent Japanese army with no apparent bridge building skills and a camp of morale-hungry British POWs lead by Sir Alec Guinness who were determined to ‘show those Japs how it’s done’ and build the best darn bridge they could.  meanwhile, a covert operation successfully blows up the bridge with explosives soon after its completion.  well, as it turns out the film has very little historical accuracy.  the Japanese were actually very prepared with knowledgeable bridge builders who had learned how to do it right from British universities.  the bridge was then partially destroyed by Allied aerial bombing after a few unsuccessful attempts that inadvertently killed many of their own soldiers.  the bridge has since been rebuilt and now functions as a means to trap tourists into tiny colorful slow moving train cars.  the Kwai bridge was just one of many POW/slave labor efforts that contributed to the greater “Death Railway” that connected Thailand to Burma as a means to supply the Japanese soldiers who were in a huge hurry to invade India.  a project that cost the lives of over 100,000 people.  luckily for India, they never made it that far and now only sections of the original line remain in use.

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on our final day in Kanchananaburi we hiked up all seven tiers of Erawan Falls and became the child versions of ourselves in its many terraced pools.

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tomorrow we head for the Thailand/Myanmar boarder with a bag of crisp American dollars where we will attempt to cross into Myanmar overland.  a privilege that has been extended to foreigners for the first time as of last August.

  1. #1 by Diane on January 13, 2014 - 1:31 pm

    Interesting holiday blog! Have a great time in Myanmar .. can’t wait to hear about it.

  2. #2 by Diane on January 13, 2014 - 1:31 pm

    Oh yes, and posting from Hawaii.

  3. #3 by Karen on February 1, 2014 - 6:13 am

    We are looking forward to the Myanmar blorg.

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