File under “Wanderjahre”:
Thirty years ago I was on Phuket island in Thailand. On the Trans-Siberian train in April of 1978 I had met a few young fellow travelers, an Englishman on the way to India, a Swede on his way to Thailand. We called ourselves the Semolina Club, because for vegetarians the only food options on the train were semolina gruel, peas and the occassional potatoe, baked, wrapped in newspaper and offered for sale in buckets in railway stations by old ladies. The train would stop for a few minutes and we would jump out and buy potatoes. Yes, I did sell a pair of jeans to a waiter in the train’s restaurant car. And we drank vodka with soldiers on the train.
I arrived in Japan at end of cherry blossom season. In Japan I got around by hitch-hiking, and while hitch-hiking is something the Japanese did not do themselves, they tolerated foreigners doing it and in fact it was very easy to get rides as people wanted to practice their English. Three weeks later I flew to Taipei, where I stayed for a month studying Tai-Chi. In July I traveled to Hongkong, which I loved, and in August to Bangkok, where I ran into the Swede from the Trans-Siberian train, heard about the beautiful Phuket island, and took a bus South. At the time Phuket had one resort hotel (((must be hundreds now!))), but I rented a hut about 100 feet from the beach, for $1.50 per night. I stayed for a month.