All posts by ProHobo

About ProHobo

I am my thoughts......I think.

An Account

Thurs 26 Feb 2015

“Hey, babe. Coffee.”

The waitress nodded and briskly walked towards the kitchen, returning moments later with the steaming, hot broth.

“Cheers, babe. You’re looking smart in that uniform. Let me fix the collar for you.”

Her young body froze with fright. Her collar didn’t need adjusting. Even so, it was for her to adjust and she was perfectly capable of fixing it herself. Instinct told her innocent mind that this was wrong. She cringed inside at the close proximity of the mature stranger and the touch of his hands on the back of her neck.

“Much better! Let’s order some breakfast, yeah?” He said, as he lowered his palms, along her skinny arms and onto her stomach, in order to adjust the bottom of her shirt, where a sliver of skin was visible and vulnerable to a quick feel.

She pulled out a notepad from her apron pocket and placed it on the table to begin writing. The smile that she would normally wear, to greet and serve clients, had faded into a wide-eyed look of worry and anxiety as she leaned over to jot down their order.

“I’ll have the English breakfast, babe. I like my eggs firm, like your skin. Hmm, smooth, too.”

The pig slid a fat hand across the table and began stroking her arm with a thick, sausage-like finger while she tried to concentrate on the breakfast order of his wife, sitting alongside him with their infant child in her arms.

Never had she experienced this kind of discomfort and fear. Why was this man, that she had never met, treating her with such disrespect? Couldn’t he see that he was hurting her? Or did he just not care? Even a polite request, for the guest to respect her personal space, may upset him and cause a scene. Upsetting a client means losing one’s job. A Thai waitress earns a dismal wage on a good day, but one cannot afford to eat without it.

The event in the restaurant, involving the western “gentleman” and tiny Thai woman, left quite an impression on both Maja and I. In fact, this town has made more of a dent, rather than impression in my mind about the behaviour of people. I use the word “people” very loosely. Many of the specimens that we have observed could be categorised, in the “Missing a Chromosome” column, along with Jacob Zuma, George Bush and members of ISIS.

Sex Trade and Pure Filth

Sun 22 Feb 2015

Being back in Thailand is quite a shock to the system. We quickly acclimatised to Myanmar and were really enjoying it. The weather, people and culture are worlds apart, even though the two countries border each other. We left Myanmar on a gravel road and entered Thailand on a wide, asphalt freeway.

On a positive note, Kanchanaburi has good coffee
On a positive note, Kanchanaburi has good coffee

Staying in Kanchanaburi only enhances my gag reflex. The decision to stop here was based, purely on geographical reasons. The town runs on sex, drugs and alcohol. This environment could cause me to hate humanity. I sincerely hope that Myanmar manages to protect itself from the disease that is western tourism.

The presence of sex trade is made revoltingly obvious by the numerous older, white men accompanied by young Thai women. Couples will sit at restaurants in complete silence and without any real interest in each other. We watched as an obese, middle-aged man groped a young waitress, while his Thai wife held their child and put on a brave face. The sight turned Maja into a raging Viking, vowing to burn his battered remains as an offering to Odin. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’re in love. Or, she is poor and needs the money to help her family and he’s a pig that doesn’t stand a sperm cell’s chance in a blowjob of finding a financially independent partner in his own country. Too harsh? Fuck him. Go home and evolve into something that resembles a decent human being. You’re giving the rest of us a bad name.

"Get Drunk for 10 Baht!"
“Get Drunk for 10 Baht!”

Maja and I will spend most of our time here working behind our laptops and trying to block out the drunken mating calls of British chavs at 02:00am. We were fortunate enough to be woken by such a melody of nature this morning. I could imagine David Attenborough narrating the scene. “Watch, as the lower-than-average-intelligence male, with his hat at a seemingly impossible angle, attempts to court the tubby, slightly bearded female by shouting at the top of his voice, ‘NICE TITS!’ The female approves of the display and so, it is here, on the muddy riverbank, that the future of the United Kingdom will be conceived.”

Riverbank of romance
Riverbank of romance

Exit Myanmar

Sat 21 Feb 2015

When we arrived back in Dawei we discovered that the internet had been down for the entire time that we were away. And it was still down! A whole town without internet for seven days. Productivity levels must have sky-rocketed, while YouTube views of skateboarding bulldogs plummeted.

Those precious, little signal bars reappeared sometime yesterday. Maja was happier than a Swede eating rotten fish at an ABBA concert.

Breakfast at the Muslim tea house. Our favourite hangout.
Breakfast at the Muslim tea house. Our favourite hangout.

The U.N. refugee something-something department, in Pretoria, wants to interview her. That’s a great opportunity to kick-start her career. However, I would rather sleep under a bridge in Despatch than live in Pretoria.

We did some gift shopping at the local market. A financially strategic decision, as Dawei is disgustingly cheap. Things are so cheap I feel guilty, for a very short period of time, but guilty none the less. We found a liquor store and dug out the sketchiest, dustiest bottles of booze we could find; for our loved ones.

Local produce
Local produce

This morning we shared a minibus to the Thai border with two guys from USA, a Canadian girl and a Frenchman. Ben (USA) had served in Iraq. Talking to him about his experience in “The War on Terror” was interesting. He is, in no way, proud of what is happening to innocent people in a country housing a handful of “terrorists”.

The ride to the border was only about 160km, but it took over five hours. The roads are all gravel and wind through the mountains, without safety barriers on the corners. Rain, creating a muddy driving surface, did not increase my sense of safety. Misjudge one corner and we would end up like the balrog that Gandalf bitch-slapped off the mountain.

Of course, no journey is complete without a flat tyre. The driver pulled out a spare, which looked like it had done a few laps around Asia. We may have been better off limping along with the flat.

Tyre changing is a spectator sport
Tyre changing is a spectator sport

At one of the military check points we all handed over our passports for inspection. One minute later a uniformed man came marching over to our van with only one passport in his hand. I took a deep breath and did not even try to convince myself that he might be holding some else’s passport. He slid open the door and with a straight arm, thrust the boerewors book into the bus while scanning our faces to match the mug shot on the back page. I raised my hand, in admission of guilt, and he firmly asked me, “What countly ooh flom?” I responded with the obvious answer and he walked away. I can only guess that it was the white face with African nationality that threw him off. The concept seems to confuse most people outside of the Commonwealth.

Stamping out of Myanmar
Stamping out of Myanmar

Our driver got us to the border and threw us out. We organised a ride to Kanchanaburi in a double cab. An American and Canadian on the back and the rest in the front.

Time is Relative

Tues 17 Feb 2015

One loses track of time here. Or, rather, one gains a different perspective of time. We no longer look at our clocks. We gauge our day by the position of the sun. The best times of day to be active are in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun is not blasting UV rays at full force. It also creates a magnificent light and contrast of colours between the water, beach, sky and forest. Maja calls it the photographer’s golden hour. It’s actually just an excuse to take an obscene number of photos of the same object then obliterate the free space on my hard drive by using my laptop as a back-up.

A good time of day to be outside
A good time of day to be outside

We’ve discovered another, younger litter of puppies. Super cute, but covered in fleas. Two puppies, from the older litter, have adopted Maja as their supreme leader. They follow her everywhere and even join us on our walks. Although, they get carried back, as they are not strong enough to make it that far. Maja named them Shnuggles and Bitey, because one likes to shnuggle and the other enjoys ripping the flesh from my ankles. She orders an extra portion of rice at every meal and brings it back to the bungalow, with six puppies right behind her.

Puppies from the younger litter
Puppies from the younger litter

One of the ladies here has been bringing us different treats every day. Either she’s generous or she’s fattening us up for the next full-moon festival. We have sampled grilled calamari and crab, marinated and spiced. She brought us a desert of banana, coconut milk and other unidentifiable ingredients. This morning she gave us water potato. I found it quite bland, but Maja, being the Scandinavian savage that she is, scoffed them both.

Walkies on the beach
Walkies on the beach

This morning, at high tide, we walked to the rocks where a local man and wife were fishing. Their rods were simply long, flexible branches with gut tied to the tips. The water was so clear we could see the fish, taunting us, from quite a distance. Not having snorkelling gear is a major regret right now.

Happy Valenti……ah, fuck it.

Sat 14 Feb 2015

Apparently it’s Valentines Day. Not really a big deal where we are. Actually, it’s not even recognised. I have no problem spending it on a perfect, uninhabited beach; not that it features on my calendar in South Africa.

The real reason Maja wanted to come back
The real reason Maja wanted to come back

We walked into the village this morning, to have a look around. The beach on that side is also stunning, despite the litter from the village. Being the weekend, the children were free-range and found us very interesting. I don’t have the same interest in them and find them exhausting.

The future of Burmese rock music
The future of Burmese rock music

The little boy that lives on our beach is eight years old. I could take life lessons from him. He smiles all day, every day. One of his favourite toys is a block of wood that he drags around on a string. He balances bottles on the block and sees how far he can drag it before they fall over.

How to actually use a gameboy
How to actually use a gameboy

We are both happy to be back on the beach. Taking a swim in the warm, clear water first thing in the morning is the best way to wake up. Napping in the afternoon and having a bodysurf before dinner isn’t too bad either.

Beach. Repeat.

Fri 13 Feb 2015

Yesterday was a public holiday, Union Day. On Wednesday the internet went down in the whole of Dawei. Maja reckons it was shut down intentionally, to coincide with the holiday. Very possible. Having people with spare time and access to information can be hazardous to the well-being of a healthy dictatorship…..I mean democracy. We were not able to accomplish everything we wanted, but we did draw more money.

Construction works near the village
Construction works near the village

This morning we took the vomit-mobile back to the beach. From what we’ve heard from other travellers, the far south is very restricted and not worth the effort or hundreds of dollars. The government controls just about everything and tourists need to pay for permits, tour guides and more permits to visit the area. According to what we’ve read, the money goes straight into the pockets of government officials, instead of profiting the community or environment. We’ve donated enough money to the Nkandla Fund for my conscience to be clear about not giving to the needy government of Myanmar.

Rubbish disposal
Rubbish disposal

Apparently, the establishment on the beach is less than legal, but we’re happy to support a local, hard-working family. They are very friendly and extremely generous towards us. The north is very touristy and we don’t enjoy seeing other white people. If we went exploring we would just look for another beach, like this one.

The only one that appreciates my music
The only one that appreciates my music

No Escape

Wed 11 Feb 2015

Feeling trapped in Dawei. We need the internet to organise our lives, before arriving in SA and Maja needs to hand in assignments. The only ATM in town is out of cash and we can’t go anywhere without cheddar.

On our way back to Dawei
On our way back to Dawei

I’ve had a bad reaction to the sand flea bites. Walking makes my feet itch to the point where I can’t think straight. I lose concentration of everything else around me, while the poison from Satan’s sand minions tortures my skin and the pain consumes my mind.

Dr Skold treating my bites
Dr Skold treating my bites

Feeling slightly anxious about going home. Not sure where we will be or what we will do. It’s too late and too expensive to go back to uni. I’d rather stab myself with chopsticks than go back to working in engineering. My diploma will make for pretty toilet paper.

It looks better on the inside
It looks better on the inside

Au Revoir

Mon 9 Feb 2015

We left the beach early yesterday morning. The minivan is a ride from Hell, due to overloading the vehicle with people and local produce. My long legs hate me for it. We’re back in Dawei and staying at the Dream Emperor, again. We miss the beach already, but we both need to use the internet and withdraw more cash. ATMs and wifi are as scarce as real coffee.

My feet are covered in bites from sand fleas. They itch so much it’s painful.

On our last evening at the beach we walked to the eastern side of the bay and watched the sun set. One of the best I’ve ever seen.

Setting over the western peninsula.
Setting over the western peninsula.

The jungle is equally as stunning as the beach. The thick, tropical greenery stops dead as it reaches the fine, white sand which gently slopes into the warm, turquoise Andaman Sea.

Facing west
Facing west

Within the next few years this will become another destination on the tourist route. I have heard, from travellers older than me, that the beaches of Thailand were once deserted and inaccessible. It’s a shame to think that this paradise will be scarred by casinos and hotels, in order to profit those who already have too much money.

As those who saw Koh Samui forty years ago, we are fortunate to have seen this today.

Forced to Relax

Thurs 5 Feb 2015

Strandloper
Strandloper

We spent most of yesterday relaxing on the beach. Not much else to do here, but that’s how we like it. We walked to the other side of the bay, where a fishing family lives on the beach. If Andre were here he would say, “These people are so rich.”

Watching from the shadows
Watching from the shadows

Within the bay are many little coves. Smaller bays, between rocky outcrops, with trees hanging over the sand. We sat in the shade and watched a man and wife pull their daily catch onto their little boat. They anchored in shallow water and waded back to shore where their children were waiting. From what we can see, they are the only other people living here.

Mango on the beach
Mango on the beach

A little sailing dinghy would be a lot of fun in the bay. Or I could ask to go out on a boat with the locals. Not sure how I would communicate that. I could just arrive with a fishing line, point to the boat while on my knees and put on my best grovelling face. Alternatively, I could send Maja there. She’d probably come back with her own boat.

Natural swing
Natural swing

Last night Eric (Australia), Maja and I were taken to the village over the hill, to experience a full moon, Buddhist celebration. That’s what we assume it was. We were sat at a long table outside and given food. We were the only white people there and stuck out like sore thumbs.  Hundreds of eyes were staring at us while people whispered to each other about the foreigners.

Our host from the beach walked us up the hill, to the pagoda, where we sat and met the monks. One of them, who we had met earlier on the beach, spoke some English. The monks offered us food and drinks which we wouldn’t dare say not to. We said good-bye and walked down to the beach, where a few fishing boats were anchored. We stood on the base of some collapsed, old structure and stared out at the perfectly still scenery, lit up by the massive moon. I could have stood there for hours, but our hosts wanted to get back to their beach.

This morning I met a Burmese man who works as a radio operator on bulk carrier ships. His English was decent and I asked for the name of this beach. He looked over his shoulder, to ensure there were no informants hiding in the shrubbery and risked a quick political discussion. Such a crime and one might become an ingredient in the local prison soup. He expressed his disgust at the government’s greed and corruption. As Africans, we know all about it and I can sympathise, but the Burmese people definitely feel a more direct hit from their leaders’ business ventures.

Stumbling upon Perfection

Wed 4 Feb 2015

Yesterday we bought our minibus tickets by pointing at the end of the peninsula on the tiny map in our Lonely Planet guide. We did not know the name of the place or what was there. A German guy told us that the beach was worth the trip.

The kombi-type vehicle was jammed with locals, luggage and Maja and I before we set off along the very broken road. We stopped a few times for food and to squeeze even more people into the van. Just when I thought that we were dangerously overloaded and could not possibly fit more passengers, that’s exactly what we did.

The locals are not accustomed to the motion of travel, which causes them to recall and display their previous meals. Fortunately, they were all given vomit bags before take-off. When the supply of bags was exhausted, they stuck there heads out of the window and spray painted the bus.

Five or six hours later we arrived in a village and could see the peninsula. Half of Asia began disembarking the bus, but our turn never came. We drove out of the village and to the end of the peninsula, where we found the Shin Maw pagoda. That was great, but where do we sleep? Maja found someone that understood our situation and he offered us a free ride to….somewhere. We jumped on the back of his truck and so did seven monks. They had a cooler box and gave us each an energy drink called M-150. It tasted like Red Bull, but stronger. Such a shame that we could not communicate.

Catching a ride with the monks
Catching a ride with the monks

The truck dropped us along a gravel road, with thick bush on one side and empty beach on the other. Except, on the beach were five bamboo huts. A man came out to greet us. I asked for a room and negotiated the price, as though we could go somewhere else.  I tactfully beat him down from $25 to $23 per night. Very proud of my bargaining skills.

Our luxury hotel
Our luxury hotel

We are the only tourists here among a handful of locals. Not sure what the name of the area is yet. Our little hut is still under construction, but it is more than perfect. It is literally on the beach, in front of the water. Our beach is in a small bay facing south. Last night the moon was full and we walked along the sand with the ukulele. The only other person we saw was a local man carrying more bananas than he had teeth. He didn’t have many bananas. We greeted him and he started speaking to us in Burmese. The conversation was obviously going nowhere, so I played him a quick song, he smiled and we parted ways.

View from the bungalow
View from the bungalow

We have a mattress on the floor of our hut. Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean and the sea breeze between the leaves is super cliché, but amazing!