Monthly Archives: March 2006

The Kuala Lumpur Monorail

Kuala Lumpur Metro Card

That’s right: I’ve acquired a new addition to my metro card collection. You’re looking at the Kuala Lumpur Monorail single-use card.

The system gets high marks in my book (and I am a strict grader): it’s cheap; if offers powerful air con; trains run frequently; and the system (in conjuntion with KL’s other LRT networks) covers a wide swath of the city.

Malaysia is renowned for its ethnic and religious diversity. Indeed, the monorail car in which I rode yesterday contained the following:

1. a Muslim woman wearing a head scarf;
2. an ethnic Chinese teenage girl wearing a skimpy outfit;
3. an Indian man sporting formal business attire;
4. a Malay Buddhist monk; and
5. me.

Greetings from KL

Kuala Lumpur

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Friday. I’m enjoying Malaysia immensely. It’s a country I didn’t think I’d see on this trip, but I’m delighted to have popped across the border from Thailand. I’ll relate the backstory in due time; until then, I leave you with the following photos devoid of explanation. Details to come.

Restaurant Guys

Dessert

Urinals

Me

No Durian

Indian Food

Tarik: Coffee-Flavored Cola

Star Wars Toys!

Haircut, Bangkok-Style

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So I got a haircut today — the first one in a while. Best trim I’ve ever received for the equivalent of $10 US (400 Baht). Multiple washings, massage, blow dry, consultation with hair style manuals, application of exotic hair gels, etc. If you’re ever in Bangkok, go to The Blue Wave in the bottom of the MBK Center. And tell ’em Newley sent you.

Side note: the young lady pictured here was actually not the one who cut my hair (she was merely an understudy, it appeared, and was blow drying my hair between two stages of cuttings). The one who got the honor of shaping my coiffure was a 30-something Thai man with dyed blonde hair; he moved around me with imperiousness and was not in a joking mood.

After he’d finished, I had to argue with him for a good five minutes in order to escape without getting the “white hairs” colored out of my mane. He kept saying “only 20 minutes, only 20 minutes — all hair color same same,” while I insisted, repeatedly, “no thank you, no thank you!”

49 Photos from Chiang Mai and Pai

I’m back in The Big Mango (Bangkok) after the return 15-hour overnight train ride from Chiang Mai; I’m sleep-deprived and disoriented, but because I love you all so much, I’ve uploaded a bunch of new images for your enjoyment.

A few of my faves:

Wats in Chiang Mai:

Wats

Wat

Wats

A bridge near my guest house in Pai:

Bridge at Night

The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai:

Train

A couple of self-portraits taken from between cars:

Me

Don't Jump!

My friend Somchai, a monk I met at a wat in Chiang Mai. He’s 26 years old and speaks excellent English; he has a B.A. in languages and an M.A. in political science. We had a chat about the controversy currently swirling around Thailand’s president, Thaksin Shiniwatra. Somchai took quite an interest in my journal, as you can see:

My Friend Somchai

And, finally, three simple words to live by:

A Word to the Wise

That’s all I’ve got for now, folks. I’ve received some emails asking questions about my travels, itinerary, and other stuff. Bring it on — just leave a comment on this post and I’ll try to address your query or observation in my upcoming dispatches.

Back in Chiang Mai

I’m back in Chiang Mai after five days in the sleepy, beautiful, farang-inundated town of Pai. Here’re some pics. I’m off to Bangkok tomorrow night, and have many more images I’ll be posting then.

Self-portrait on my rented 125cc Honda Dream motorbike:

Self Portrait

Two sunsets:

Another Sunset in Pai

Sunset in Pai

One of Pai’s main streets:

One of Pai's Main Streets

Pai, Thailand

I’m in Pai, a small town north of Chiang Mai, close to the Thailand-Burma border. Here’s the view from my room:

View from My Room

I made my way up here on Tuesday (at least I think it was Tuesday — the days have been running together in my head) after three or four days in Chiang Mai. The weather’s really forgiving here; it’s still very warm during the day, but at night you almost need long sleeves.

I’ll be heading back to Chiang Mai and then Bangkok next week; expect more photos and stories then.