And He's Back

Damn, I’m happy to be back in Tokyo. I think Japan’s getting to me, because as much as I enjoyed Thailand, the constant vigilance wore me out. My host dad told me to watch out for my wallet when I went, but that was never an issue; the danger in Thailand is that 80% of the people on the street have some scheme in mind for wringing money from the clueless farang tourists, and constantly battling the taxi drivers, street vendors, and shop owners just wears down on you after a little while.

If you ever go to Thailand, follow this rule: never, ever, ever, ever take the suggestion of anyone about anything. Maybe you can ask the guy at your hostel about a good place for Phad Thai, but that’s it. The streets of bangkok run on elaborate, transparent tourist-trap schemes, where teams of tuk-tuk drivers, street promoters, and friendly townspeople hand you off from one to the other, using cheap taxi fares or a jovial manner to suck you into tailor shops, expensive longboat rides, the infamous “gem stores,” and all manner of money pits. When they’re not trying to trick you into giving away your Baht (the awkwardest cash currency in the world), they’re accosting you outright, in your face hawking their cheap wares and looking personally hurt if you don’t buy them.

Taxis may be three times as much in Tokyo, beer four times, and noodles five to ten times as much , but there’s something great about knowing that you can walk into any store you like and be treated like royalty even if you don’t buy a single thing. There’s something reassuring about knowing that you can hop a train wherever you want, without fighting with your driver until he turns on the meter, or fearing a destination that resembles the place you’re trying to go just enough to confuse you.

Don’t get me wrong, Thailand was great. Cheap, delicious food, amazing weather, good friends, eating tropical fruit on a white-sand beach- this was a good vacation, and thanks to the strong yen and proximity of Japan, didn’t quite leave me broke. I’ll put pictures from the trip up soon; Bangkok and Ko Samet are both really photogenic, and the whole tropical vacation thing seems like it’s checking off a box on a list of awesome things to do before I die. I’ll always have fond memories of Thailand, but one you’ve experienced Tokyo living, it’s hard to want anything else.