Monday, 18 September 2017

Bye bye Xi'an. Hello Hat Yai.

Holiday

I had 4 weeks off and stayed in Xian. Spent the time cycling around the city, writing a novel and having skype interviews.


Dancers at the lake I walked around. A bird's eye view of an orange octopus above a pool of blue balls. Why didn't things like this exist when we were little?

Fountain show at the Big Goose Pagoda watched by a crowd of thousands to remind you you're still in China. I never made it to the Small Goose Pagoda. Or the Terracotta Warriors. Fed up of crowds you see.

Took a bus through an 18km tunnel to ZhaShui in the heart of the QingLing Mountains. There were signs saying no buses, tuktuks, horns or exploding cars. Imagine being a fly on the wall at the council meeting discussing this?? I'm guessing terrorist car bombings blighted this town before these signs.

The air felt clean and fresh. View from the hotel roof.

Taking the train back to Xi'an. Foreigners need a passport to buy bus or train tickets - even for local trips. I went for a shit in a minging bog and was surprised that I wasn't required to show my passport. There are blokes in uniforms everywhere in China to stop you doing things. Spitting is fine though.

Back in Xi'an I was treated to this wonderful example of parking. Even after 12yrs in Asia I'm still left scratching my head sometimes. Apparently the Chinese have higher average IQs than Europeans. I'm suspicious of this claim. How come they haven't figured out how to clean toilets? Form orderly queues? Not hawk up greenies everywhere? Or talk without sounding like they want a fight? Or made any significant contributions to maths or science? The students are lifeless drones. The place has no soul. Too many people. No peace. It was a mistake coming. I'll never be back.

Novel

I wrote a novel called Hill Tribe Love. It's on sale for $1 (link at the top of the page). I'm disappointed in the sales ... suffice to say it hasn't made the best sellers list. The helicopter is on the back burner until then. The few that did read it said they enjoyed it - or didn't want to hurt my feelings.

Transition

After 5 months of visa delays and 6 months of Chinese purgatory ... I wanted out. Other than salary I can't think of a single redeeming feature about China. Not one. After a few skype interviews I was offered positions in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. I was deciding between them when I received an email out of the blue from an international school in Thailand.

Despite being the lowest salary I couldn't resist the lure of the Land Of Smiles and accepted immediately.

I was sad to leave the weights bench behind. An hour, three times a week, for six months had transformed my upper torso. Still a skinny bastard ... but a toned skinny bastard. I only did 5 exercises: Bench press, dead lift, shoulder press, pull ups and dips. That's it.
One of the few positives of the last six months was hanging out with Kaijin. A really good guy. He helped me transfer money overseas since foreigners aren't allowed. I gave him my bicycle and wireless router as parting gifts. Maybe I'll see him again in Thailand? Who knows?

Thailand

I had a Saturday night pizza at Xi'an airport before checking in. As I was walking towards the immigration desks a young official asked to see my passport. He scrutinised it as hundreds of Chinese filed past in the queue. He didn't check anyone else's. As he handed it back to me, sneering, I grabbed his arm, looked him angrily in the eye and told him to "Fuck Off". I was now at the back of the queue for some other unsmiling robotic bellend to stamp my passport. Prick.

I can't describe the joy I felt walking around Don Muang Airport in the middle of the night. The vibe's just so much better. I couldn't sleep. I drank coffee through the early hours with a Frenchman who'd just arrived from Japan. We joked with the staff at the 24hr coffee shop. Man, it felt good. I could feel Thailand's energy filling my spiritual void - couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

Beach

I arrived in Hat Yai 0800 Sunday morning and spent the first three nights in a hotel near the school.

Within two days I'd bought new shoes, trousers, a motorbike and found an apartment. The first thing I did was ride this Suzuki-125-automatic (20,000B) to Songkla Beach. I sat drinking a coffee thinking I'd won the lottery.



If this was Xi'an there'd be half-a-million people destroying the sabai-ness. There's a reason China pays so well.

All this just 30km from my apartment. Mint.

School

I've only been here two weeks but already we've been blessed by monks and had a Wai Kru - a ceremony where students pay respect to their teachers.

In Chiang Mai and Xi'an I was teaching 17 and 18yo students A-level stuff. Now I'm back to yr7-9 and IGCSE. The kids are great. Full of energy and fun. The material's a doddle - the main challenge being keeping the classes fun and engaging.

I often think to myself: Did that last 6 months in China really happen? It's like some kind of nightmare. It's been awesome speaking Thai again, watching football, riding the scooter to the beach and around town, finding a new gym, jogging around the stadium, checking out bikes, eating Thai food and generally just being here. Living the dream again!!

Malaysia



I'm currently in Penang gorging on Teh Tarik and Tandoori Chicken. Applying for another work visa - had to get fingerprinted at the copshop this time!

I'd just spunked 20k on a scooter when a lad at work handed me the keys to his Kawasaki Z300. Like a drug dealer getting me hooked on his "gateway" bike. I spent Saturday in Honda and Kawasaki showrooms knowing I can't, in all seriousness, ride around on that little Suzuki - although I'll concede it's good for keeping your feet dry in the rain.

Bike


It's down to these two. They're both mint and both around 200k thb. I think I'm gonna splurge on a brand new one given that I've never had a new car or bike in my life. The one positive of China is that I have a few bob to blow on something like this. Not exactly minimalism but sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

2 comments:

  1. Take it for the experience. China could be fun, but gotta have the right mindset for it. And after Thailand, it's really incomparable. It's almost like going to M.E to get sober. You're right about the high salary being the only motivation to stay in this country. However, maybe Southern Parts might be the way to go someday, like Yunnan, Quizhou or Guangxi. Enjoy the southern hospitality. Many Sanuks wishes.

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  2. That's great you're back in LOS, man.

    We chatted a while back via email. I used to run Dividend Mantra. Anyway, if you ever find yourself up in Chiang Mai again, send me a note. It'd be great to meet up.

    Enjoy your time down there. Best of luck with the new job and bike.

    Cheers!

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