The Ultimate guide to
The Ultimate guide to
Early this morning I was sat on a chair ourside the hostel watching the world go by, as you do, and a couple of rituals caught my eye. The Thais seem to love uniforms. They`re everywhere. And this morning I saw an even stranger thing.
Next door but one from the art space hostel where I`m staying for a few days is a learning centre, a sort of private school, probably for the elder children of the more affluent Thais. Before going into the school, they were lined up in the forecourt at the front of the centre and they and their uniforms were closely inspected before being allowed to enter.
The other thing I noticed was the respect most of the Thais have for their religion, which is mainly Buddism. In the corner of the hostel forecourt there is a spirit house. These little temple like shrines can be seen outside or in the grounds of homes and businesses throughout Thailand. As people walked past the one in the corner of the hostel forecourt, probably on their way to work as it`s on a busy main road, the majority of them clasped their hands together and bowed their heads in a mark of respect.
One other thing. There are lots of stray cats in Bangkok. But happily, the one`s I`ve seen anyway, don`t look too badly off. Afterall, this is Bangkok and with it`s food stalls everywhere, I`m sure there are plenty of scraps to go round. And the ones around the hostel here where I`m staying are certainly well off. Not only do they get pampered by the hostel staff and guests, I also witnessed the cay lady this morning. An elderly Thai lady who regularly comes around to give them food.
Sunday 26 April 2015.
From one experience to the other. Life`s rich tapestry. I guess I`ve just walked into the Bangkok underground scene. Even the relatively short journey from Phaya Thai to another suburb in Bangkok was an unforgettable experience. But I`ll tell you about that in a moment.
A couple of the girls at the very homely hostel I`ve just vacated smiled when I told them I was going to The Overstay (alternative, art space hostel) and informed me it was probably best described as a squat rather than a hostel. But they added it was an interesting environment and I would probably enjoy it. If I didn`t mind the noise and the cats. They`d both been to The Overstay recently.
To be honest, I don`t mind either. The cats preferable to the noise. But for only a week I`d be willing to put up with the noise too. Especially as I`d been offered free accommodation in return for making a video or two about the place.
So yes, with the comment from the girls and my prior research into the place, I knew that this was going to be no ordinary experience. And so when my tuk tuk driver eventually found the place, it came as no surprise that the guy in charge behind the bar couldn`t locate my booking.
First of all , It wasn`t a booking as such. It was a voluntary agreement with the owner through the workaway website. And secondly, the guy in charge behind the bar, or any of the other bar staff for that matter, had no idea who I was talking about when I asked for 'Da'. That`s the name of the guy I`d been in contact with. Eventually all was sorted out when, 15 minutes later, Da (the owner) appeared and explained to the guys that he was also known as Da. All was very friendly and the bar staff , including the guy in charge behind the bar and a couple of regulars and I chatted about being in Bangkok and I just took it all my stride.
Just to digress for a moment. Right now, as I`m writing this, about 6 hours after I arrived this afternoon, there`s a guitarist and drummer on the stage playing what sounds to me like a loud rock type jam. Sounds pretty good.
Now, back to the tuk tuk. I got in a taxi first but the driver drove me a 100 yards up the road, stopped to ask someone if they could read the address I had which was written in English, failed to get it translated and said sorry but he had no idea where he was going. No sooner had I alighted the taxi when a tuk tuk driver appeared out of nowhere and said he could take me. He looked at the address I had on the piece of paper in my hand and said, no problem. I`d had an experience with a tuk tuk driver on my last visit and so knew that I had to haggle with him for the cost of the journey or face being well and truly ripped off. 400 Baht (£8) he said. 100 Baht (£2) I said, knowing that a taxi on the meter in Bangkok would cost me no more than this, probably much less. We agreed on 200 Baht (£4), a rip off for sure, but I needed to get to The Overstay.
Between the dozen or so stops we had on the way to The Overstay to ask people to translate the address for him and give him directions, you know, the address he said he knew, he kept saying, "It`s a long way. I like 400 Baht." I kept saying, "It`s not a long way. I like 200 Baht." And so it went on all the damn way, probably less that a mile which, because of all the incessant stops to ask for directions, took around half an hour instead of 10 minutes.
The Overstay Bar is pretty dark and dingy but there are some impressive street art type drawings on the walls and other artistic pieces spread around the room. There`s also lots of art space upstairs. And I have to say, having now met another of the bosses here, Kelvin , a young, very tall and thin German guy, I think I may have found a little alternative hub that will possibly help me to think a little more creatively when it comes to video. Kelvin mention something to do with time and space as a premise for a video production about The Overstay. I`ve no idea what the heck he`s talking about (at the moment) but there`s a meeting tomorrow with him, the other boss, and I to discuss.
That`s if I make it through the night without being smothered by a cat, clawed to death by one of the many kittens or deafened by the noise.
In Part Two of Back to Bangkok, Peter lands at Bangkok Airport with a bump and then takes you on a little tour of a Thai neighbourhood
When it rains in Bangkok, it RAINS! Fortunately it`s warm rain and the downpour only lasts for 20 minutes or so. Luckily I was sat in a Thai restaurant when the heavens opened eating a plentiful Thai dish which only put a 150 Baht (£1.50) hole in my pocket. Of course I could have opted for an even cheaper meal from one of the many street food stalls but then I`d have got soaked.
I`d decided to get my bearings in the city. A little walk of about a mile there and back where I came across the Siam Discovery Centre, the impressive Museum of Art and Culture, the BBK Centre (a massive food court) and much more. I could then see just where I was staying in relation to these and other landmarks on my city map.
The Siam Journey Guesthouse is a clean, pleasant and very hospitable and relaxed hostel in a distinctly Thai neighbourhood in the city where travelers from around the world stay for a day, a week, a month. This evening I`ve been chatting to fellow travelers at the hostel, all of them younger than me, from the United States, Germany, Hungary, France, Argentina, Brazil, China and Finland. And that`s what I love about travel. It makes the world a much smaller place. Talk turns to what life is like in their own countries and it`s interesting that all travelers, no matter where they are from, seem to have the same view. And that is that travel is the very best form of education. It teaches things you couldn`t possibly learn in a classroom setting.
Host Nate is a cool guy. Trouble is he`s sold up and will soon be placing this heaven in someone elses hands. I `ve heard the new owners are Thai though, so I`m pretty sure not a lot will change. I hope not anyway.
Siam Journey Guesthouse, 164/68 Soi Nomchit Praya Thai, Bangkok, Thailand 10400.
Also see my video, Back to Bangkok Part Two, which takes you on a little tour of the neighbourhood around the hostel.
Lovely Planet TV`s Peter Quest arrives at Bombay Airport in Mumbai on the first leg of his return to South East Asia. Possible luggage and border control problems may lay ahead...
While I`ve back in the UK, most of my writing has been posted on my personal profile on facebook. However, I guess I really should be sharing it on my website blog page too. With that in mind, here are a few of my recent posts (mostly relating to travel). And anyway, I need to get back into the habit of posting to my blog again as I`ll be off on my travel adventures again in under two weeks (See 'Life Begins at 60 below)...
I keep meaning to add a link to this guys page on to the travel resources page on my website at www.lovelyplanettv.com - I`ll get it done this week. Although I`ll continue to use air travel to get to SE Asia, I used the advice, the times, the prices, etc from this guy on my train journey`s within SE Asia last month and everything was as he said it was. No doubt I`ll be using the site again and much more frequently in the coming months...A practical guide to classic travel, without the pain of the plane... http://www.seat61.com/index.html#.VSo4oPnF_uI and on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheManinSeat61 ...More and more people are looking for a more environmentally-sound, less stressful and more rewarding way to travel than simply flying everywhere sealed inside a plane. Taking a train or ferry from the UK to anywhere in Europe is easy and affordable, in many cases a far more practical alternative than most people imagine. The problem is finding out how to do it it, as most travel agents and 'big business' in general simply don't want to know. They'd rather sell you flights, flights, car hire and more flights. The same can often be said for overland travel by regular train, ferry or bus services around the world. The Man in Seat Sixty-One sets out to address this problem and explain in simple terms, how you can put the romance and interest back into travel without breaking the bank.
Success = Happiness...
Here, in this article (Link below) we can see the link between travel and success. Of course it depends on how you view success. Personally, I view success as happiness. It has nothing to do with money or the possession of materialistic goods.This is difficult for some as we are told from an early age to work hard, earn money , buy house, etc, etc. This philosophy often results in greed, one upmanship and the like. And a feeling of entrapment to our place of work, our chosen career and financial institutions, particularly where house mortgages are concerned. Surely. with the knowledge of the harm we are doing to our planet because of greed, our schools, our education system, should be teaching, or at least giving more emphasis to, an alternative way to live and to be successful. ...Just sayin'
Amongst the birthday presents Gill kindly gave to me for my travels was a travel pillow. I`ll tell you the story of why I needed one.... I already had one on my first trip and used it on my bed when I spent a week filming at the Krishna farm nr Lanchang. .Anyway, one afternoon I took the pillow out onto the grass at the side of the volunteers bungalow so I could comfortably lay down in the sun for an hour or two. The farm has a few dogs and a handful of puppies. Very playful puppies! lol. I went inside the bungalow for something and when I came out, one of the puppies was running down the track with my pillow in its mouth. lol. I found it later in the grass. Deflated with a couple of small teeth holes in it :))))))))
Life Begins at 60....
What an adventure I have planned... So far confirmed: Late April...2 Days in a Bangkok Hotel to discuss a video project for them, followed by approx 10 days at an art space/alternative hostel to produce video`s. During which time I hope to also visit Iskcon (the Krishna`s) in Bangkok to film some of their activities. Then an orphanage in Cambodia for 2 weeks. Then back into Thailand to an informal English Club in Trat. Then, sometime in June, to Isckcon Malaysia to finish my Srila Prahupada 1971 visit film and other video`s for the Krishna TV Malaysia website, including the new temple openings in Penang and Ipoh. Then, from September ...??? Maybe Nepal for a month (trekking company video`s). Maybe India. Maybe Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Maybe Bangkok again. Who knows? All will become clear to me as I hear back from my contacts.Oh...and tomorrow it`s my 60th birthday. Told you before, life begins at 60 :)))))))))))
This morning I`ve been writing an article about my travels for the May edition of Darlington Monthly "Your local Independent Community Magazine". And choosing a couple of nice pics to go with the article. Don`t forget to get hold of a copy. The May edition should be out and around the many various venues in Darlington just before the end of April. By that time I`ll be back in SE Asia but I`ll be looking at the online version at www.darlingtonmonthly.co.uk Oh... and don`t forget ...I`m on the radio with John Foster. BBC TEES at 2pm Friday 17 April. ..just reminding you in case you forgot :))))))))
Great Websites for Travelers, Volunteers, Film Makers.
A few years ago, when I used to travel as a 'holidaymaker', I discovered Tripfilms. I used to make video`s of my holidays as if they were film making assignments. Not always easy for those who accompanied me as I always had one eye on my viewfinder and would spend ages afterwards writing scripts and editing. My ex wife Jenny will testify to this as so will my friend Gill, who I holidayed with quite a few times in the last few years. Fortunately, they both understood that, for me, a holiday without a video travelogue was out of the question. As for Tripfilms, it was a major breakthrough for me to find a website who rewarded you for views and offered you assignments if you could make reasonably good travel video`s. Of course, life takes you in all directions, usually because you need to earn a little money in the 'real world', and so attempting to produce travel video`s full time, was put on the back burner. Of course, I shouldn`t have given in so easily. But then, to find the Workaway website last year, well, it was obviously the perfect solution. It not only allows you to live overseas for less, because most hosts will provide your accommodation and meals, it also allows you to help those who need it in developing countries, therefore giving you a sense of purpose. So, Tripfilms and Workaway ... two fabulous websites which can give you opportunities to make your life more fulfilling. Whatever your age.
I hate having to wait for emails confirming my itinerary. But I guess I`ll just have to be patient. I`m leaving the UK for phase two of my adventure on 23 April. Flying to Bangkok where I have a hostel for a couple of nights (and a possible video project) before moving on to an Iskcon Centre in the city for a week or so to produce more video`s about the Krishna`s. My friend Simheswara, the general secretary of Iskcon Malaysia, has put in a good word for me.
From there, the plan at the moment is to go to Cambodia by train and bus, but just where I`m going to in Cambodia, I do not yet know. But I have to leave Thailand within 30 days due to visa restrictions. I`ve emailed a few projects in Cambodia, one of which is an interesting muti cultural centre who have some really interesting ideas about how we bring about change to the way we interact with the world at large. I hope they`ll get back to me with an invite.
Then I have an arrangement, subject to confirmation, to go back to Thailand, to Trat, a city near the Cambodian border, on 18 May, for a couple of weeks. This is an interesting project teaching at an English Club for the locals. I`ll be making a promotional video for them but I`ll certainly get involved in the English Teaching Club too.
Then, in early June, I`ll be travelling back down to Kuala Lumpa, Malaysia to continue my Krishna video work, Fortunately, my English visa allows me to stay in Malaysia for 3 months, which is good because I need to be there for the new Krishna Temple openings in late August and to finish my video about Srila Prabupada`s visit in 1971 .
After August, I`ll no doubt have to cross a border somewhere so as not to out stay my visa but I`m not yet sure where to. Maybe this would be a good time to visit India. Whatever happens, I don`t expect to be back in the UK for at least 6 months.
In the longer term, maybe I`ll turn all this into a book, attempt to get on the public speaking circuit, and return to the UK for a month or so each year so I can promote it. Who knows where all this will lead. But, right now, it certainly is the best part of my life so far.
I wish I`d done it sooner, when I was younger. Most of the guys I`ve met so far are far younger than me but I occasionally meet an older traveller like me. And for those of you with children, please don`t put them off travelling the world by telling them it`s a dangerous place. As long as they are sensible all will be well. And they`ll be better human beings for it.
Peter Quest of www.lovelyplanettv.com invites you to take a look around the Iskcom Centre in Taluk Intan, Malaysia. Also see my other Krishna video`s and films at www.lovelyplanettv.com/krishna-tv-malaysia.html
Join Peter of www,lovelyplanettv.com and the Iskcon Ipoh Temple President to take a look around the new Krishna Temple in Ipoh which opens on 31 August.
The cows have to earn their keep... In this short video from Peter of www.lovelyplanettv.com, New Godruma Dhama Farm Manager, Gopesa Govinda Das, explains the reasons for natural fertilizer and how it is produced. (Additional questions from Herlinde (Lindy) of www.lindysluggage.com)
All = videos & blogs.
Blogs = my written blogs.
Cambodia = Cambodia videos
Malaysia = Malaysia Videos.
Thailand = Thailand videos.
Krishna = Krishna videos