15 hours on trains and buses has left me in Krabi (Grah-bee), southern thailand (see map). since arriving at the train station in bangkok, ive had three very enlightening conversations with a canadian, a scotsman and a german. the former was very lighthearted and we had much in common to talk about, the latter were focused on world issues and took the chance to express their views to an american who would listen. the scot, who jokingly suggested iraq to soon be the 51st state, had some excellent ideas i had never even thought of before. he didnt even come up for air while i intently listened and inhaled my dairy queen blizzard (yup, the long arm of DQ has reached thailand). the german who, before actually meeting americans despised them all, had some views id heard before. i didnt have time to get into things with the scotsman, but i sat on a bus next to Ines, ze german, and we had tons of time to talk. she has pretty blue eyes.
luckily, a sensible person realizes that taking out aggression on a random american citizen beause they dont approve of American policies is riduculous. obviously, i didnt suggest to Bush that we invade Iraq. there was no vote for that war. these people know this. they realize that americans traveling just want to travel, like everyone else. (of course, there are those who cant view it this way, and will sieze any opportunity to hurt an american.) with this kept in mind, we can have civil conversations even when we disagree. im always quick to make it clear that i, as an american, want to hear what they have to say. i do want to hear them out. its part of the reason for my being on this trip, to expose myself to new ideas, while staying firmly grounded on what i know to be the truth. what i do hear, and have read in foreign papers, is astonishing. i have never, ever heard such things from people or media on american soil, even from people who dont like bush. Bush, or America, is seen as a war-monger, a bully who wants to dominate the world and hoard its resources for personal use. i have cut articles out of "The Hindu", printed in Dehli a few days before Bushs visit to india, that express these ideas. a hatred for "dubya" is the brunt of anti-americanism, but theres more.
the conversations went well. i didnt have time to express my views to the scot because i would have missed my train, and boy was he a talker. but i told ze german that i voted for bush (surprised her) because he supports israel (surprised her even more). i told her of my faith, my belief in the bible and the emphasis it places on the importance of Gods chosen people, the jews (now shes amazed). i explained that that issue is more important to me than any other, and i voted accordingly. she had never heard anything like this. americans, or in my case, liberal alaskan hippie bush-haters have never even heard of this. because its such an uncommon view, they have nothing to say against it. some have nothing to say at all. fine by me. some are impressed and others just befuddled.
so these talks are fun, as long as no one has any bombs. but right now i will turn my focus to the beach and away from world politics. this place has clear, turquoise-colored water, white sand and huge limestone ciffs world-renowned for climbing. ill keep you posted.