It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
– Henry David Thoreau
Since they forgot to mention that the hostel I would be volunteering at when I first arrived in Bangkok was shutting down after only being there 10 days for renovations for two weeks–even though they didn’t seem necessary, nor were the larger priority issues considered, I’ve decided to take advantage of this plus I knew I would need to take care of a visa run since you only receive 30 days when arriving via flight and it’s shortened to 15 days if you come in overland. A much different experience than Central & South America where you most every country granted you with 90-day tourist visas and most of the time there was no visa cost’s associated, but maybe a minimal entry or exit fee. With the knowledge that the hostel would be a construction zone for two weeks I decided to head South to Krabi and some of the islands since I could do an overland crossing into Malaysia where there was no entry fee or visa restriction. This morning I woke up at 6:30am and took the airport skytrain to Suvarnabhumi Airport better known as BKK, for my 9:30am flight. I’ve also sided on the cautious side where I would rather be waiting a bit more time at the airport than feeling rushed through security even for domestic flights in foreign countries, and since I knew the train would take roughly 30-minutes plus at this time on a Wednesday I had no idea how much more traffic there may be during morning rush hour. Since the one-hour flight was only about $10 more (1200 THB or $38) than the 13-hour bus ride there with two transfers, I figured this was a good choice. And I’ll tell you what, Bangkok Airways is exactly what they promote themselves as–Asia’s boutique airline that has excellent customer service. Since I was unaware of all of the amenities they offered, I ate breakfast at the airport just after clearing security since I was doubtful a meal would be served on such a short flight. Not only was I wrong, but the terminal where the Bangkok Airways flights depart from there is a pimped out lounged that looks as though it is only reserved for business and first class ticket holders. But oh no, anyone that has a ticket with their airline, as I just had a simple economy ticket, it was as though the keys to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory was given to me without punching out an Oompa Loompas. Not only did they have large comfortable chairs with individual USB chargers on them, there was also free high-speed Wi-Fi, which yes there is free airport Wi-Fi after you pass through security, but this was incredibly fast. There was also a full buffet of free food, coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolate, and they personal announced each one of their flights so you didn’t have to bother staring at the screens in case of any changes to your flight. After stuffing myself with free food and cappuccinos I boarded the flight and strangely enough I think the plane was about 20% full. I took what I thought was my assigned seat against the window, until a Dutch couple informed me I was in their assigned seat. Pausing, I looked up and stared around the plane only to notice that they had their pick of empty row after empty row, but for whatever reason they just had to be in this specific row and seat. After changing I moved and lounged out to and entire 3-seat row for myself and took a nice nap. I even declined the free meal, which I never do normally, but I was too stuffed from the delicious chicken salad sandwiches and seaweed wraps from the amazing waiting lounge in the airport.
The next morning I left on what was supposed to be a 7-hour bus ride to Penang, Malaysia, but turned in to 12-hours. Arriving in the evening, I the spent the next few days taking short strolls through the bustling port town admiring the colonial architecture as Britain's first settlement in Southeast Asia, and debating if I could handle the 350km 9-hour bus ride in two-days. Since my flight was out of Kuala Lumpur I mustered up the energy and arrived in time to couchsurf with a group of young people for three-nights that were all Muslim. We took part in some very interesting conversations regarding, religion, cultural differences, but they seemed to have more questions for me than I had answers for them, but it was a great three days and they told me that I am always welcome to come back and stay with them any time I am in KL. I did a bit of touring the city, especially the world famous Petronas Towers (in the photo), that between 1998 - 2004 were the world's tallest buildings, but still being ill I still did not explore as much as I would have liked too, plus the weather was not very cooperative on the days that I did seem somewhat healthy enough to walk around for a few hours. On a side note, Adrian, a backpacker and friend from Switzerland, had us watch a film that centered around Penang starring Vince Vaughn Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix from 1998 titled Return to Paradise. If you have the chance, it is an interesting and has a lot of very realistic ideals when it comes to the harshness of how they view drugs as well as just the sort of stereotypical Eastern type of thought when it comes to crime and punishment. Another one to watch is the BBC World Documentary, The Bangkok Hilton – BangKwang, Bangkok, Thailand Prison. Talked about being scared straight for anyone considering these things, and even just as think pieces to check out.