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Sah-wah-dee!

So I'm on my last few hours in Bangkok; I leave for India in about 3 hours. Spent the last 24 hours or so here, though I didn't do much since I got in late at night and spent half the day getting my ticket reissued (again; but it's finally an e-ticket so I can change it without going in in person now if I want to) then hunting in vain for an EmPower adapter to use my laptop on the KLM and Delta flights to India! (Korean had standard power outlets. No more net access in flight for me either!)

I did wander around Bangkok a bit, but didn't see much other than the seas of concrete and glass that you find in any major city. Did manage to wander into a cool little slum-ish area right in between huge shopping malls and giant towers of commerce. I had a nice view of the river from my hotel room; looked great at night, but not so great in the morning after I could see the nice dark brown color of the water. :)

So I spent almost a week in Phuket! I'd originally planned on 4 days there, but the diving turned out to be great. I only got in 7 dives (had some work to do in the evenings or I'd have gone on a liveaboard), but it was still a ton of fun. The highlights were a dive at the King Cruiser wreck and Ko Doc Mai. I'd never done a wreck dive before, so that one was quite fun. Had a couple cool swimthroughs down around 25m through parts of the boat! Ko Doc Mai was a wall dive; basically there was a vertical reef wall that we swam along. What made it especially cool was the cave there that we went into for a bit, though. I have to take up more cave diving in the future! I dove a few other sites, all of which were quite nice. Racha Yai was particularly nice, as I did just 2 dives there, but managed 60 minutes just fine on both dives (finally getting decent at not sucking up all the air too quickly.) And the 29°C water was quite nice, after starting in the 17°C waters of Sydney then moving to the warm 23°C waters of Cairns around the Great Barrier Reef! I'd definitely like to make another diving trip to Phuket sometime in the future.

Thailand's been a great place to visit. Everyone's so very friendly here; of course I'm headed off to India now where the same can be said (at least in the south where I'll be), but I don't expect quite so much out of many parts of Europe. And that's where I'm still headed for almost two months after 6 days in India. Still haven't quite made a plan for Europe, so I'll just figure out it when I get there. If I get bored I think I'll head down to Belize and go diving in the fabled Blue Hole there and get my own flight up to Aruba since I'm out of stopovers.

Oh yeah, I did spend a couple days in Kuala Lumpur before my Thailand trip, which was pretty fun. Met up with my friend Suresh and his wife, and they showed me around the city. Unfortunately I didn't really have time to see the "real" Malaysia either, though Suresh took me to a fairly interesting temple. Lots of cool artwork on the walls with a strange multi-colored motif suggesting the artist was on something. Went down to Singapore for a day as well (I spent 12 hours just wandering around taking pictures); it's an interesting place. Everything's polished as can be, and I was afraid to even jaywalk lest I get caned! Of course I stopped in the Long Bar at the famous Raffles Hotel and had a Singapore Sling, as every tourist must do. (And, yes, I threw my peanut shells on the floor. It would be sacrilege not to!)

Phuket though...definitely one of the highlights of my trip so far. Wonderful people there (other than the tuk-tuk drivers who try to severely rip off tourists!), met a lot of great folks, and had plenty of fun. So yeah, it's off to India shortly for a few days, then wandering my way around Europe for some time. Still working on all those pictures; I suck, I know. I shall reappear from Europe in a few days time! The Great British Beer Festival kicks off the day after I arrive; Ethan, John Arresty, and John's girlfriend are heading over to London for that, so it should be fun.

And I just had the most intriguing experience checking in since I'm finishing this up from the Air France business lounge in Bangkok... Got sent over to the supervisor at KLM check-in, who proceeded to closely examine my passport, take a picture of it, then go over it with a magnifying glass! Apparently this was triggered since I'm flying BKK-AMS-CDG-MAA (Bangkok-Amsterdam-Paris-Chennai); about 11000 miles to go what's around 1400 miles direct, so normally one wouldn't fly such an indirect route. But that's the way of life flying on an award ticket with no better routing... They cleared me with no problem but it was kinda funny watching the guy with the magnifying glass. :) Then I got to Thai immigration and ran into more problems there! Since I'd taken the train up from Kuala Lumpur to Phuket before flying into Bangkok, I'd just had the most brief of immigration formalities at Surat Thani on the Thai border. Brief meaning they didn't even process me into the computer system (I got a stamp on my departure card at least), so I got sent over to yet another supervisor. Took a few minutes and several questions but then I was finally on my way... and off to Chennai I go (in about 2 hours now), long and circuitous via Europe!