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Make sure you read to the bottom!

December 5, 2009

Just the other day I finished my second off-the-island adventure, where I set out to obtain a tourist visa which will permit me to remain in the country.  It was a fairly straight-forward endeavour but not knowing what to expect made it all a little tense.  The entire mission which took three days played out much like a choose your own adventure novel.  ‘To take the jury rigged passenger pickup truck to town, turn to page 27.  To try and find a way onto the tour bus, turn to page 40.’  Of course, there’s no putting your thumb on the page to sneak a look to see whether or not the vampire-alligator devours you and your sidekick.  Luckily for me, there are no vampire-alligators in Thailand, but you sure hope to god you’re in the right place as you move along.  The part that threw me was that I was supposed to be travelling to a city in Malaysia called Penang, which is where the big consulate office is.  I expected it to be a mere Sunday Drive from the border but two hours later, we’re still blasting down the highway, our numbers dropping as people reach their own destination.  By now we’re down to 3 of us from an original 10.  Now we’re driving onto a car ferry and I’m thinking, “where the hell are we going and I hope this place takes [Thai currency] bhat.”  Finally at about 11 that night we pull into Georgetown, a community within larger Penang.  The place we’re dropped off at is called Banana Guest House.  I start to breathe easy as I passover my passport for the visa and learn more about where to stay.  BGH is all booked up, but for 15 Ringgit a night (approx $3), I found a dorm room just across the road.  I ran into a few people from the island I knew and we sat with drinks for a little while, swapping travel tales.  The next day, three of us opted to travel about the island and do some sight-seeing.  We had motorbikes on loan and took off to a temple with a seemingly infinite number of Buddha statues and carvings.  One of them was literally the size of a small apartment building  (Check the site later for some pics).  Later on we took a drive along the northern side of the island and found lunch at a little beach side restaurant.  After we returned the bikes it was time for more drinks.  We ended up meeting a couple of American ex-pats who were so ornery and cantankerous, yet somehow social and honest  it was stunning.  This one fellow from New York is what gives Americans a bad rap abroad.  He first thought I was trying to put moves on this girl they had met the night before and blurted out,
“I’m 75 years old, I can do whatever i want!!” he said while shaking his fists as his underarm skin flapped about.  I burst out laughing.  He went on about how he worked on the Saturn V rockets during the Apollo Program and then moved on to nuclear reactors.  “We thought for sure those things were gonna tip right over!  Finally scared the shit outta the Reds though, that’s for damn sure.”  I don’t wanna tell you what he said about the French.  By the end of the night he was declaring “AMERICA, greatest country on god’s green Earth!” while the entire bar has stopped to stare at this growing spectacle.  It was right about this point I completely ran out of money.  I scraped together enough coins to buy a tall boy of some pseudo Belgium beer.  Extra strong at a formidable 12.2%.  My word, it felt more like shooting a hot tasting rubbing alcohol than beer.  Well that’s what you get when you buy beer with bus change.  It was terrible.
Almost as terrible as trying to get sleep in vans they sardine pack you into. 
But not as terrible as sneaking into a charge-per-use washroom.  Remember when I said I sunk my last coins into the bacteria smiting beer?  The restroom at the service station we stopped at was a cool 2 Ringgit.  There was a guy sitting behind a desk (the gatekeeper, I gathered) full of loose change.  Above begging, but not above picking up flattened beer caps, I walked by as if in a hurry, a smacked the beer cap down, silver side up into the biggest part of the table and rushed into the stall.  Closing, the door and looking about, I think I paid a fair price.  I walked out, trying not to make eye contact.  Whatever, it’s not as if it’s going to throw off the balance sheet at the end of the night.
I made it back to Thailand and then to the island all in good time.  I should mention though, as a condition of my visa, I am officially no longer diving professionally, for money or any other compensation.  I am here to spend my money, support the Thai economy and have a good time.  Any further mention of diving will be of 3rd person stories from those who are legally entitled to work here (and I hope to meet lots of them).  I hope you enjoy the first pics which should be up by now and I hope to add more soon.
Cheers,

Also, Jennifer Mook-Sang has posted a link within WordPress, which has my blog in contention for the “New” Canadian Blog Awards ’09.  The link is here :http://demochoice.org/dcballot.php?poll=cba09r1new 
Thanks Jennifer!

Check it out and place your vote!

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One Comment
  1. jenny mook-sang permalink

    OMG will. that was hilarious. looking forward to hearing more adventures. keep reminding your readers to vote and vote often since the blog awards site lets you vote more than once a day.

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