Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Insane market in Bankok's Chinatown

When you arrive in a new place at such an early time in the a.m., your dreams tend to be inundated with questions of the unknown. What's this place like? Will I get sick? Will I get wicked lost? As a typically ill-informed American tourist (shocking right?) The facts I had were few. Bankok is densely populated. Stuff is wicked cheap. Thai food is dynamite. It only took a short few hours to confirm the aforementioned.

Bankok, a city of 8 million people, sits not far from the equator. As such, the climate can be most easily compared to somewhere between the heat of a hot muffler and your balls after basketball practice. Seriously, it's hot here. The night might get down to 75; the days anywhere between 88 and 94. We're in the winter here folks. I can't imagine what the summer would feel like.

The "tuk-tuk" - the even more affordable taxi alternative

The air thick from dense humidity and the harsh pollutants of buzzing two-stroke engines, we weave our way through the streets. Used to the picturesque characters of both the Korean and Japanese languages, Thai looks more Arabic then anything else. Though this matters not because I'm illiterate in all three. First task of the day; food. Not one to linger in terms of cultural immersion, I jump right in.

Breakfast - red curry, shrimp and coconut milk over jasmine rice

After breakfast, we make our way down to Chinatown area for some sightseeing and shopping. The temples are spectacular so much so that all one can think about is the countless number of people that have tithed in order to erect them. The shopping you ask, well now I know where Walmart Inc. does their wholesaling at. There is everything a guy or gal could want down here. Since we were wearing shorts because it was 90 some degrees we had to purchase pants to enter the temple. 2.75 cents later we were in the temple. Light airy shirts to combat the stifling heat; 3 USD. It's all here and available for a price, actually it's available for a mutually agreed price that you and the person in which you are bartering/charading to agree on. As far as food goes, we dined on a fantastic little concoction called "noodle soup" to the tune of 22 baht, or 66 cents.

Noodle soup - The poorman's Japanese tongkatsu ramien

This cat dined along side of us

After we were shopped out and saw the sights in which we need to see, we headed back to base camp in East Bankok. East Bankok provides no glitz and glamor of the down town district. Besides Sputnick at my side, we saw one other tourist. It's dirty, it's gritty, it's fucking real. I've been to several Asian cities with over 4 million people and, well, Bankok definitely has some personality. Seoul wants to be Tokyo, Tokyo wants to be the moon, but Bankok doesn't care. Bankok is Bankok . Scooters sift their way through traffic at stop lights and cabbies drive with surgeon-esque precision amd a monk-like zen to get you to your destination at a price about 4 dollars per half hour. Business suits? Well I have yet to see any and that's just fine with me. There isn't any pushing and there isn't any shoving. Today at the insanely busy Chinatown district we likely encountered 20,000 people within a three feet distance. I was bumped into or shoved exactly zero times. Had I been in the same situation in Korea, I'd have to ice my bruised shoulders. It's a delicate symphony of harmonious anarchy and I'm enjoying every note of it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The arrival

Philosophers have pondered, poets have written, songbirds have sung but they've all arrived at exactly the same assertion; there is absolutely no way to prepare for 19.5 hours of flight.

After some confusion, a narrowly averted Korean visa disaster that would have landed us indefinitely, some begging, and eventually some more begging, we made it to Seattle and our long awaited flight. Our total luggage can best be summarized as one suitcase, two white-trash duffel bags, and 2 carry-ons. Of course, these are supplies for more than just our Thai excursion. If it were up to me, I'd wear only my board shorts and let the chips fall where they may. But it wasn't, and sadly there is work and colder temperatures waiting for us on the other side.

But enough about shitty possessions. People used to be excited to fly places. Travelers would wander, friends would visit others friends, and men would visit mistress but it seems most of the appeal has been lost. I blame the Totally Spineless Amoeba's. You may know them as TSA. Whilst being cattle guarded, I looked around and noticed the blank expressions on people. I wouldn't have a problem with the premise itself, disarming militants from dropping planes out of the sky using a bevy of dangerous weapons such as pocket knifes, nail files, and gasp, more than 3 ounces of shampoo but Dateline, or the cable equivalent, did an expose where ten times out of ten they were able to sneak bomb making materials past the aforementioned "security checkpoints". Pay close attention but more often then not the glassy eyed, overweight blob checking the bags looks like any of characters from the movie "Wall-E" (This isn't a dis on Wall-E himself. I'm actually quite inspired by the little fella's work ethic but that's another issue). As far as the security checkpoint people who go about collecting their paychecks, some 70 years ago, near the water coolers around the SS station, I'm sure the expression "jaa, but at least it's a job" ended and began more than one conversation. But until I become part of the solution, then I reckon I'm smack dab part of the adhesive of this problem. Until I put the finishing touches on my Geo Metro making it an amphibious transcontinental vessel, ill sentiment will remain ill sentiment.

SEA > SFO > SEOUL > BANKOK -> Immigration. After that there was the cab driver who staunchly refused to turn on his meter so a 8 dollar taxi ride became 15. Beyond tired at this point, I relented and chalked this extra expenditure as an "American tax"

We retired into our 20 USD hotel room at 3:30 a.m and drifted quickly into slumber, knowing that the following days in Bankok would provide us with great adventure and possibly a "ping-pong show".

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Adventure: Redux

Come one, come all! Resisting the urge to use a lame cliché such as "ice being back for a brand new edition", I'm indeed, for all intensive purposes, back in the writing saddle. You're back because you are a) family b) enrolled in Stanford University's English 302 - Creative Literature c) a glutton for punishment with yet to be named mental disorders or d) prisoner at San Quinten's State Penitentery who happened to stumble upon a hole in the internet firewall. I include this preface because the critical reviews for "Some Call me Waegook" have been trickling in and Siskel and Ebert were sporting less than two stubby thumbs up.

"egotistical, yet self-loathing"
- Sean Keighley - Great Falls, MT

"keep your feet well-manicured for when you put your foot in your mouth"
- Dead Garrett Hohn's Aunt - Tempe, AZ

In the event that you've forgotten why you love or, more aptly, hate this publication, let us take a convoluted memory lane.

Chapter 1: "Ho brah! You like beef, hawley?!"
Chapter 2: "Vie are im Deautcheland! Isn't that veird!"
Chapter 3: "Untethered, unmotivated, unemployed: The poor-man's Wall Street Journal"
Chapter 4: "Some call me Waegook (others call me "Asshole American")

After "Some Call Me Waegook" ended, I returned to Montana, putting the pen down all the while rejoining life as an average swingin' dick. Trading in the urban sprawl and public transportation for miles of rugged terrain and an old 4 wheel drive truck, was refreshing yet strange all at the same time. And after time, I came to the realization that "home", being while being comfortable, beautiful and hospitable has a shelf life at this juncture of my life. The solution was simple; another adventure.

Follow my wife Alla and I (did I mention I got married?!) as we head to Thailand (Dec 15th) for a couple of weeks followed by another stint in South Korea. Ladies and gentleman, I'm excited to offer you my, Garrett Hohn's, newest writing venture - "Oatmeal & Porn : Cherished Gift from Abroad".

This t-shirt really doesn't have anything to do with anything. I just thought it was deserving of a caption.