This is the first time that I write a text about three cities. I'm sure some people have experienced extraordinary things in these places. Only, I haven't. I found them terribly dull. As everywhere in South-East Asia, there is a night market and a few temples in each of these cities. In Chiang Rai, there is perhaps the most beautiful temple in Thailand, and even he couldn't catapult me out of my lethargy. The worst, however, are white tourists. Eighteen-year-olds are jumping around either topless or in spaghetti-tops and mini skirts. White men beyond their midlife crisis are looking for young Thai asses. They pull masseuses into their lab, who then jump up, screaming and indignant, and then catch a slap on the butt as if they hadn't made it clear enough that they didn't want to be touched. Most of the time, the young female colleagues disappear into the back room, and an older model takes over. Such observations remind me of my bitter experiences in Iran, and I get sick remembering the discussions that I have had with men who think that there is nothing "like that” at home. I'm ashamed of my fellow Germans. They are showing their true faces because the laws are not applicable to them. Because they believe, if it's forbidden, it doesn't apply to them. They run around with blinders and drink their beer without registering how the locals live, dress and move.
The negative aspects are like thorns in my eyes, and I find it increasingly difficult to perceive positive impulses. It has a lot to do with myself, as I am still digesting the decision to fly to Australia. However, I realise island life won't be much different. The waste separation doesn't work on the mainland, how should it work on the islands, where everything edible is wrapped in plastic and brought or flown in? Anywho, I don't feel like it, and that's fine. Maybe a flight has its positive sides, after all?
Travelling in Thailand is easy. Everywhere there are hostels, night markets and street stalls. Everything is simple but good. The food tastes the same everywhere because ready-made sauces get used. I didn't get sick of it, because it's heated that much. Here I can finally drink coke with ice cream and try delicacies from every stall. What is initially a relief, gets boring quickly. Whenever I try an Italian pasta dish for a change, it's so terrible that I stop eating for joy. My budget only entails the rotating local delicacies. It puts into perspective just about everything I've heard from other travellers about Thailand.
Buddhism is lived differently than in Nepal and Tibet, but in essence, it's very similar. Most of the temples are made of concrete, from which the houses are built as well. Although the temples are lavishly decorated, I seldom find examples that impress me with craftsmanship. I have already seen too much, and it's high time that the experiences settle in my mind.
Friends of mine have toured Thailand with a rental car and have been able to gain so much more exciting insights. I realise that this is not general, but I'm not into this corner of Asia at all. Of course, it's not just the food, but also the climate. It's just too hot for me. I love beaches, albeit in winter. In summer, the sun, the salt water and the sand are torture, especially with a small budget. (Of course not if you get out of an air-conditioned bungalow with a shower on the beach, but that's not how my reality looks.)
I do learn about one great thing from this corner of the world: Sepak Takraw. The coolest sport I have ever seen. In Chiang Khong, I walk past a group of six young men kicking a ball over the net under the king's portrait. It looks like a combination of football, volleyball and badminton. It's extraordinary and has been played since the 15th century in Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia. It's expected to become an Olympic discipline in 2022. The players are dancers rather than footballers, and the ball is different. Look at it. It blew my mind.
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