Wednesday, June 01, 2005

johanesburg, hong kong, istanbul, amsterdam, buenos aires

everyone travelling south east asia
stops by koh san road at some point

most people pass thru pretty quickly
on their way to the islands in the
south, the mountains in the north, or
laos, combodia, myanmar, or bali. i
haven't found it an especially easy
place to meet people.

but i've become friends with a fellow
traveller staying in my guest house
who's been travelling for the better
part of the past 10 years.

he told me there's five cities i need
to check out -
istanbul, johanesburg, amsterdam, buenos aires,
and hong kong where i should stay in the
chung king mansion for 20$ / night.

he says beijing is very cheap and alot more
arty than shanghai which is emerging as the
business center. apparently the transiberian
railroad connects into china. you can pick up
the train in beijing, take it all the way accross
russia and europe and get off in amsterdam. the
trip would take about 3 weeks.

he's been averaging about $15 / day. i think that
includes travel, as he generall travels over land
which tends to be very cheap.

at least while im playing traveller i've found
living very cheap as well. right now im paying
220 baht ($5) / night for a very nice room in a quiet
neighborhood close to kho san road. almost every
day i get a mixed fruit smoothie in the morning
and then a mango smoothie at lunch for 50 cents each.
there are fruit vendors everywhere selling half a pineapple,
cantelope, or papaya for 25 cents. a falafel sandwhich is
alittle expensive at 60 baht ($1.50). red curry tofu, vegetables,
and rice is less expensive than that most places.

transportation is cheap too
you have to haggle with the tuktuks so thats alittle
variable. with alittle patience tho you can get it
almost unconciably low for a long ride. public transportation
like the river boat and the skytrain are super cheap
11 baht will take you as far down the river as they go
and 40 baht will take you aruond the whole line that
skytrain does.

a funny thing i've notice is that outside the traveller
areas things get more expensive. i experienced this in
india as well. outside the traveller area in calcutta
all the hotels i checked out were at least 500 rupees
and generally closer to 1000 which was a far cry from
the 150 i was paying on sutter street.

even more than india tho, thailand starts feeling tokyo
upscale as you get closer to the downtown of the city.
im thinking specifically of this megamall in siam center
thats maybe 7 floors of chrome, escalators, and upscale
trendy shops.

since being in calcutta i've held the conviction that
for most people the future looks more like calcutta than
tokyo. its interesting to me that bangkok seems much more
in line with the tokyo path of development than the calcutta
one.

there's something i don't understand about why the cost of
living here is so low when it appears there is a very large
amound of discretionary spending going on.

mmm.

i haven't had pancakes since i left the states
but i saw them on the menu at the place i had lunch
yesterday, so i think im going to give them a try.

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