Travel Diaries: Thailand

Thailand is a vast country. If all you know of it is from what the tourism media throws at you, you may be surprised when you have a look at it on a map. Thailand has ancient rainforests, modern cities and beautiful islands. So when you are planning to visit, you should check the map first before you plan your itinerary.

Getting the Visa:

Indians have the visa on arrival option but if you are planning to catch a connecting flight to your final destination, you should look into getting a Visa while in India. The Thai consulate removes the visa fee during the off season months so planning to apply ahead can save you some money. Remember that 1 Baht is equivalent to Rs 2.

Long weekend getaways to Bangkok/Phuket are doable though I would recommend spending atleast 1 week if you want to treat it as a vacation. We were going in Mid-September and this was towards the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the tourist season. After lot of discussion and researching weather patterns, we decided that going to the Gulf Islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao would fit perfectly within our 7 day itinerary. r/ThailandTourism helped me to figure things out.

Forex: Get your baht in India or at the airport(Visa on arrival requires you to show that you have at least 10,000 baht on your person and 20,000 baht incase your family is with you). The ATMs charge you a fixed 220 baht per withdrawal(apart from the other charges) so you could also consider just doing that once you have informed your bank. Credit cards work well in the cities but you would want cash if you want to visit the lesser known places.

Transport: Air Asia flight to Bangkok has the cheapest fares but mind you the seats are cramped and the premium seats are not much of an upgrade. We opted for premium just so we could sit next to each other. In the end, the cost came up to the same as opting for another airline.

But there are benefits to selecting Air Asia. Air Asia has a flight+ferry combo from Bangkok to the Islands(Koh Samui or Koh Phangan). You can either flight via Surathani airport or Nakhon Si Thammarat airport. You will not find this option if you select an Indian city of origin, so you will need to book a separate leg of the flight from Bangkok to your destination.

The ferry is operated by the Raja ferry company. These ferries are the slowest among the operators and take about 2 hours to reach Koh Samui. We booked the ferry combo to Koh Samui just because we could not have to worry about the transit to the mainland on our way back. My research showed that Lomphyrah ferry was the fastest and I intended to take that to Koh Phangan once we landed at Surathani. This option would be faster even though it would cost us 600 baht more. This combo also works out cheaper than taking a direct flight from Bangkok to Samui. While planning to transit with ferries you should be aware that different ferries have different piers and these piers are generally isolated. So buy your ferry tickets at the airport once you land. Couple of us travelled from the Nakhon Si Thammarat airport and their ferry pier was different. In the end, they took about half an hour more than us to reach Koh Phangan even though they landed ahead of us.

The ride from the airport to the pier is part of the ferry fare and you are taken along in these rhinoceros-like vehicles through the rural countryside. The roads are amazing and the ride comfortable.

True to the research, the Lomphyrah ferry was fast. The panoramic views of the calm gulf are not to be missed. The ferry also has ‘AC’ seats if you are willing to pay extra for it.

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Koh Phangan

Koh Phangan is a tiny island known for its parties. The Full Moon party draws a lot of partiers from the nearby islands. It has spanned a set of other parties like the half moon and the black moon. If you are the party type, this is definitely something you should consider.

Stay: Since we were planning a trip on a tight budget, hostels/airbnbs are what we were looking at. Koh Phangan also has ‘party’ hostels which are notorious for having parties throughout the week and pre-parties to supplement the moon parties. That said, there are other hostels which are pretty good. We choose to stay at Rung Arun Resort. This beach resort had a villa option which fit the 6 of us. You can also go looking for deals on foot but given that you have already travelled nearly 10 hours, you may want to just sink into a bed asap.

The roads are great so rent a 2-wheeler and the whole island is yours to explore atleast the motorable parts. The streets get deserted quite early during the non-tourist season. A 2-wheeler costs around 400 baht per day.

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Food: Night Markets are food courts that spring up during the late evening and offer different kinds of local food items. Phantip Night Market in the central market of Koh Phangan has lot of Chicken, Pork and Seafood food options on offer. You can even find the famous Mango Sticky rice and Banana Pancakes. A dish will costs around 60-80 baht here. The food courts shut around 9:30-10pm, so if you get late then you will have to make do with the food in the 7-11s. We were obsessed with the 7-11s during our stay there. There were so many of them and each was stocked with so many new things.

This was our favourite island of the trip and wished in the end that we could have stayed here longer. There’s a lot of things we could not do like visit the Phaeng Waterfall and walking to the viewpoint in the jungle. We did not do Snorkeling or cliff jumping or any other water sports. We did have some amazing food and discovered High Tide and Two Rocks. Vacations are not about having a checklist to do but rather to make things up as you go along.

Koh Tao:

Koh Tao is the smallest island in this trio of islands and is famous for its scuba diving certification courses. We took the Songserm ferry from Koh Phangan and it took us little over an hour to get to Koh Tao. The island is known for the cheap PADI certified scuba schools and multiple snorkeling spots and that’s what draws the tourists to it.

Koh Tao has very narrow streets and its roads are not as good as those on Koh Phangan. They are steep and tourists often seem to have accidents on these. We did hire bikes, but we barely used them during our stay, so if you are around for 2 days, you need not opt for them. Bikes are more expensive(about 600baht) on this tiny island and you are asked to purchase insurance as many a tourist is known to have taken a tumble down these mountain roads.

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Stay: We choose to stay at the Indie Hostel , a good clean place with a great cafe that I would highly recommend. It was a long walk from the port to the hostel and next time, we would want to opt for a ride (50baht per person).

Food: Koh Tao is typical tourist location and has lot to offer but we were looking for local foods. We loved 995 Roasted Duck for its duck delicacies and this tiny street restaurant outside a 7-11, where I got to try Stir fry pork with Kale and Morning Glory. A simple dish that I have since tried to replicate for its wholesomeness.

We took a day trip to Koh Nang Yuan, this tiny islet just off the coast of Koh Tao which doubles up as a plastic-free eco-resort. The islet is a boat ride away and is one of the locations around Koh Tao where you can snorkel. On our way back, we got caught in a storm and even though it was scary to see the large waves splashing into our small boat, I quite enjoyed it. Our boatman maneuvered deftly through those waves and we got to experience something I will not forget.

Koh Samui:

Now with only 4 of us left on the trip(the other two had to head back), we started the return leg of our journey. We took a ferry to Koh Samui. I think it cost us around 500 baht per person on a Songserm. Koh Samui is accessible from Bangkok by flight if you are willing to pay for it and is groomed as a typical Thai tourist destination. It was our least favorite island of the lot.

Stay: We stayed at the Liquid Lounge hostel which is managed by a polish old-timer who has been around for a while on this island. The rooms are clean and the owner very helpful. Your rooms are also just above the Liquid Lounge bar which is an added benefit.

Food: Since we were only going to be here for a single night, we did not get to explore a lot of food options. We visited one food market, but we found it overpriced and not as tasty as our earlier dinners.

Early next morning, I realized that the flight Aswin and I were supposed to travel on had already left 2 days ago. Luckily we were able to book a ticket and then we had to buy a ferry ticket and convince an operator at the pier to get us transport to the airport. We somehow made it to the airport.

Bangkok:

Once we landed in Bangkok, getting a cab proved to be difficult. We booked an Uber but the cops stopped him and asked us to join the Airport taxi line which had a long wait line. So we skipped out and found a taxi who charged us a lot but we did not really have options and our time was running out. He charged us for the amount that is usually inclusive of the tolls but asked us to pay for each toll. We realised this with our return trip to the airport.

Stay: We stayed at the Once Again hostel. I chose it because it was close to the tourist spots if we chose to visit them.

Food: I do not remember much about the food we ate here but I had a piece of scorpion at Khao San Road. Crunchy.

I reckon another visit is required to do justice to this city. So until then..

7 Things About Chennai

Share Auto Life

Things have Changed. Circumstances forced this move to Chennai. Its been a month here so far and the schedule is hectic. I have just got down to blogging again. For people who do visit to check my blog posts, Geekd.in would be the place i would tend to update more often.

So how has Chennai been so far? Not entirely unfriendly. I knew that Language was to be a problem and Water too. We dropped by in October to find a place to stay at Ambattur as our ILP centre was close by. We ended up with a small room in Annanagar West Extn., after a wild 3 days which saw us roaming around in marshy areas finding something that sounds like ‘Abhinjyam Stage 1’ Flats in Mogappair West at night and Going to the MMM Hospital to get Bottled water at 11pm. Lot of New experiences definitely. But then every one of us who came here had their own list to share.

So back in November, we left Mangalore on 31st. Around 32 of us travelled in Train to Chennai. That was the beginning of our Adventure. Arriving at Chennai for the third time in 2 years , i had grown accustomed to some of the things. And we learnt more along the way in the past one month.

1. One of the basic things we were confused about were bus journeys. The Buses had fares which were completely indecipherable with respect to bus type and distance covered. Finally i was enlightened to the fact that the bus fares are ruled by the bus boards. The White board buses are the cheapest and the Blue the costliest (i think). Also a M prefixed to the bus means you get charged 1 buck extra. Travel is cheap here in Chennai. This link helps us at times. Rab.in.

2. Food didn’t turn out to be a problem although the notorious white rice is everywhere. Never try Non-Indian food at Vegetarian hotels no matter how good they are supposed to be. Had a bad experience ordering American Chopsuey at Saravana Bhavan. But i Found their tea heavenly and its pricing (Rs 16) too.

3. Language was and still is a problem. Thanks to Karthik and Rathan, i can survive with my limited knowledge of Tamil. Broken English is a great help at times.

4. We discovered Share Autos as a more viable option over the meterless autos any day. There were lots who got looted by rickshaws. Travel can be dangerous too. We had a ride where the driver thought he was playing ‘Grand Theft Share Auto’. He broke a lot of those so-called traffic rules. But then not many people in Chennai seem to stick to them. I’ve had many close shaves trying to cross the road here.

5. Chennai has freaky weather patterns. Cyclone one day, Sunny the next. I Caught a cold thanks to that and had sore throat thanks to the water. Bathing is horrible due to the salt water and feels almost redundant.

6. Chennai has an English Radio Channel, Chennai Live! 104.8 fm It plays good music and glad i discovered it. i Bought a new Nokia 5030 to manage my new Chennai number and this was a pleasant surprise.

7. Diwali in Chennai is like being in a WarZone. People just burst crackers left and right, On the road and near vehicles. Scary stuff. And deafening too.

More News from Chennai soon.
Image Courtesy: Deepsan

Four Year Mile

It was 4 years ago, blogs had just captured the attention of newspapers and the offline world. I had joined Engineering. I had started writing about 2 years ago when i decided to test if i had inherited it from my genes. What started off with autobiographical writings and dark poems eventually culminated in this blog Aninosaintlife, which after second opinions resulted in the wp.com version you now see before you. Eventually i broached out to this, largely kept hidden until recently, where i blogged as Insomniac. ‘An Inosaint Life’ gave way to ‘An Innocent Life’ and in somewhere in 3rd year of engineering ‘Life is not all Ha-ha hee-hee’ was replaced by the newer namesake’s name. ‘Mad Hunter Skozaken‘.

The Blog and the online world taught me a lot i should say. In addition to finding some awesome people online, it made me develop my writing style. This has changed from an ‘everyday blog’ to a more My Article Blog.The Old Gang of bloggers is almost all gone. I myself disappeared for long stretches in the past two years when offline life kept me pretty preoccupied. When i did eventually come back, the blogosphere was changed. I really didnt feel the need to ‘publicize’ my blog. I still maintain contact with some of the ‘Old Gang’ but thats pretty much it. Nowadays i just follow some of my friends blogs (who arent very regular when it comes to updating).

In these 4 years, I have started and blogged at more than 7 blogs writing around 350+ posts in all. The Mind Clutter Blogger blog, A Quiz Blog survived Ignitte.in and is now on WP.com, a Posterous and finally, in July Absolutely Filmy! came into being. I also re-wrote my ‘About‘ Page and created a ‘Downloads‘ page. Thats been my journey so far.
I really feel Blogging/Writing is my Chicken Soup for the Soul. I dont care if people dont read what i write. I know this gives me a way to archive my thoughts. Some day when i am old and worn, counting that the interweb survives, i would look back to the decades of history i intend to chronicle here. I write happy thoughts here. There s a lot left unsaid ; why should i reveal my emotions to all and sundry? Humans are fickle minded creatures. But thats another blog post in itself.

For People who visit/read, Thank You.
For Friends who support, Thank You.

Back to Bedlam

Hey Guys,

Just Got Back On Saturday Morning at 11 am after the Awesome trip with Family. We visited Malaysia, Singapore and Kashmir. It was a group organised tour but thanks to the young people of the same age we had loads of fun! Pics will be uploaded to Facebook. The Upcoming Posts are likely to be Travel Diaries. They will have better explanation of the Photos, events and some will also contain videos. But before all that has to happen i need to settle back down to normal Mangalore Life and trust me it aint going to be Easy!

Now Reading Garth Nix’s Mister Monday.

Origins: Mad Hunter Skozaken

“Mostly the next post will be one on the english blunders of our chemistry sir RB…which were noted down by a friend of mine while me and another guy were busy with our thesis on how to win Tic Tac Toe with all the various possibilities.”

Okay i know the guy who noted down the english blunders was Ajith but who was ‘the theory dude’?

Ha. It was Raison. Found it some more posts later. Wonder if he remembers that theory 😀

This timepass during class evolved as we went through the semesters to sketching superheroes on the desks, playing sudoku on the desk, etc. We also did anagrams which let to the formation of my anagrammed name: Mad Hunter Skozaken which you now find on my blog title.

Origins: Me and My Watch

@Praahas always bugs me about why i stopped wearing a watch. Mebbe this post would shed some light on this habit of mine.

Long back [September 23 2006] , We found this website while surfing at College and it was a hilarious one. It predicted our death.

So here is what had happened. Earlier Post.

Anyone Seeing the analysis would understand that it would be the most beneficial for me to keep away from my watch so as to prolong my life in this world.

All i have to do now is this year [22] not get addicted to heroine 😛
Then next Year i ll start Wearing my ‘Watch Only Sometimes’ because there’s no way i want to end up dying fighting in Spain.
finally at Age 25, i’ll start wearing Watches regularly.
Awesome Masterplan, no?

Thus the Story behind me not wearing a watch is revealed.

P.S. Alternative Version: Or you can believe that am too lazy to go and change the broken strap of my watch.

The Great Movie Tag.

1. On your blog, provide a link to the Great Bong’s Page, May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss.

2. Then write down your top 10 Hindi movie lines or top 10 English movie lines (You can do both if you want. Only one set is required for the contest). If you cannot think of top 10, make it top 5. Cannot think of even 5? Make it top 3. No problem. Only restriction: no two lines from same movie. This done to make it fair for other movies so that they dont get swamped by Gunda or Loha or Sholay.

3. Tag five friends to do the same.

4. Come over to the comment-space of this post and post your blog’s link so I can go and read it.

Remember: Before starting the tag, paste points 1 and 4 on your blog so that the rules are available to anyone who wishes to pick the tag up from your blog.

Movies , Movies , Movies… my new years resolution was to watch as many as the top imdb movies that i simply can. plus in preparation for the 3 idiots-pot pourri, i ll have to brush up on movies, so simply put, this tag is quite an excellent way of getting me up from my blog slumber. Thanks Adi .

In no particular order.

5. Inglorious Basterds

The part in the theatre when Col. Hans Landa asks Bridget von Hammersmark for her escort’s introduction. and the continuing sequence where the italian-challenged trio try to reply to Landa.

Col. Hans Landa: So who are your three handsome escorts?
Bridget von Hammersmark: I’m afraid neither of the three speak a word of German. They’re friends of mine from Italy. This is the wonderful Italian stuntman, Enzo Gorlomi; a very talented cameraman, Antonio Margheriti; and Enzo’s camera assistant, Domonick DeCocco.
Bridget von Hammersmark: [in Italian] Gentlemen, this is an old friend, Colonel Hans Landa.
Lt. Aldo Raine: [southern accent] Bawn gorno.

4. 300

King Leonidas: Ready your breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight we dine in Hell!

3. Ocean’s Twelve: A movie i dont mind watching over and over.

Takes place after they are sprung out of prison by Linus’s mom.

Molly Star: I hope Danny And Rusty appreciate the fine job you did – in a tight jam? I’m really proud of you.

Linus Caldwell: Thanks.
Molly Star: We both are.
Linus Caldwell: [pauses and looks at Star]
Linus Caldwell: [revealing that Molly Star is actually Mrs. Caldwell, his mother] You told Dad? You told Dad?
Molly Star: I had to sweetheart, We were on vacation.
Linus Caldwell: [shaking his head, looks away from his mom]
Molly Star: [smiling] I’m sorry.
Linus Caldwell: Great. you guys are gonna be dining out on this one for months! Hey, you remember the time your mom had to go to Rome, Blah, Blah,blah? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah?

2. Live Free or Die Hard:

John McClane: I know I’m not as smart as you guys with all this computer shit. But, hey… I’m still alive, ain’t I? I mean, you’ve *got* to be running out of bad guys by now, right? Huh? Gabriel? Honestly, you can tell me. I mean, how does that work? Got some kind of service or something? Some kind of 800 number? 1-800-HENCHMEN? Oh, you know what? I bet you’re still on hold with, “Can I get another dead Asian hooker bitch over here right away?”

1. Deja vu: This quote is really stuck in my head.

One Man’s terrorist is another man’s Freedom Fighter!

Come to think of it. I dont really remember dialogues. I laugh at the moment but i surely cant remmeber many now! hmm..

and as for the tag: let me go crazy, D!, frozenwell, vigneshwar, ajan, rakesh, djd. oh well anyone who’s got the time can do it.

Continued:

As part of my ongoing movie watching ways i would like to add whatever dialogues that i like as and when i come across. So This post will be constantly updated.

My Cousin Vinny:

  • [Vinny is the lawyer, but Stan thinks he is there to sodomize him]
    Vinny Gambini: Look, it’s either me or them. You’re gettin’ fucked one way or the other.
    [Stan tries to get up]
    Vinny Gambini: Hey, relax, I’m gonna help you.
    Stan: Gee thanks.
    Vinny Gambini: Excuse me, I think a modicum of gratitude would not be out of line here.
    Stan: You think I should be grateful?
    Vinny Gambini: Yeah, it’s your ass, not mine. I think you should be grateful. I think you should be down on your fuckin’ knees.
    Stan: I didn’t know it was such an honor to get a visit from you.
    Vinny Gambini: I’m doing a favor, you know. You’re gettin’ me for nothing, you little fuck!
    Stan: That’s one hell of an ego you got.
    Vinny Gambini: What the fuck is your problem? I did not come down here just to get jerked off.
    Stan: I’m not jerking you off. I’m not doing anything.
    Vinny Gambini: That’s it. You’re on your own. I’ll just take care of Sleeping Beauty.
    [Wakes up Bill]
    Bill: Vinny. Vinny bag o’ donuts.