My first taste of Asia was a great one. While waiting for a friend’s flight to arrive, we spent our time sampling some of Bangkok’s finest airport cuisine. We thought, “if the food is anything like this out in the country, we’re in for a great time.” And while the food was amazing, best we’ve ever had, we caught a nasty cold from the flight from Barcelona and found ourselves sick for our entire 10-day stay. Nonetheless, we dragged ourselves (hopped up on cold & flu medicine, armed with napkins and nasal spray) into the world to see what Bangkok had to offer. And offer it did! We dined like kings on everything from noodles to scorpions, saw some of the most ornate, glistening temples in Asia, and met some pretty colorful characters.
Bali is an island in Indonesia, one of over 17,000 islands, actually! It’s best known for its 2 massive volcanos, lush forests, mischievous monkeys, sandy beaches and top notch yoga/meditation retreats. The island is tropical, drop dead gorgeous, populous and very busy. Though not as many motorbikes inhabit the roads as in Vietnam, Bali is still crawling with natives and tourists on bikes, weaving between the many cars, trucks and taxis. I wouldn’t say the island has a city feel to it, but the roads sure do! Major roads are always packed with vehicles while the streets are far calmer. Calmer still are the beaches, waters, villages and their people. Balinese natives have a proud heritage and don’t hesitate to answer questions about it. Their Buddhist ways ensure they never cram their philosophies down your throat, but instead, tell a story about their beliefs and find it fascinating when you believe something entirely different. The island, while becoming more Westernized, still maintains that “untouched” feel. Cows roam the streets, cocks can be seen in their cages as pets (to be used in fighting rings), and shops full of handmade paraphernalia litter the land. If you’re thinking about visiting, do it soon. Westerners are invading fast; Bali may not stay as peaceful and exotic for too long.
This destination surprised us. We were expecting tropical wonderlands but found ourselves plopped into the middle of party-central Phuket. Staying on Patong beach, Phuket was as if Las Vegas, Jersey Shore and Moscow all had a baby. The place was a certified hotspot for bars, arcade games, restaurants, massage parlors (wink wink) and had a great beach. There’s also a direct flight from Moscow, Russia to Phuket, so the majority of tourists were Russian. Me being Russian, it was funny hearing the tourists try to communicate with the Thai people. They weren’t trying very hard to be honest! They spoke in their natural, Russian tongue, with no body language or helpful pointing, expecting the Thai people to understand them. Needless to say, the Thai were not fond of the Russians.
Our first taste of Asia was just a sampling. There’s still much more to be discovered and we’re already planning our next trip these very same destinations.
Photos in this series were all taken before photography became a more serious hobby of mine. Make sure to read parts 1 and 3 of the series, Rome, Florence, Malta, Barcelona and Taipei, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Mai.