Monday, March 25, 2013

Travel Rule #1: Arrive like a Rock-Star (or with one!)


Few advantages exist when traveling Korea Air via Seoul, but when you get to arrive in Bangkok like a rock start, with screaming teens and extra security, the kimchi airline redeems itself! 

That yellow blur is Jang Keun Suk
 flanked by security ...
Known as the Prince of Asia, Jang Keun Suk arrived with me at BKK for a concert he performed on Sunday. He's a Korean movie star-turned rock star - with a resume at 25 that we can all envy.

Anyway, I felt like Justin Bieber arriving at the airport (though my new Bieber hair was pretty greasy after 24 hours of traveling). As I happened to clear customs with this Asian star, I got whisked out with his entourage and into a teen girl screaming competition - what a way for Asia and Thailand to greet me!

I've flown from the East Coast to Seoul before - 14 hours leaves lots of down time (I finally got to see the very-cute, Perks of Being a Wallflower). Yet, I never followed that jaunt across the Pacific with a "normal" 5-hour follow on journey.

Admittedly, Korea Air has improved; you can't help but love the pale, doll-like stewardesses, who may not understand your problem, but they'll still smile (and giggle) and try to help you.
Looking down from 1st "Prestige"
Class to Economy (and duty free)

The aircraft (A380) beat the airline on my initial flight, since nothing beats walking up (and back down, when they forbid you from walking into 1st Class) stairs on a plane. I felt so Star Trek!








In-seat Camera View from Tail of the A380 
And of course, this view is pretty incredible (even if you can't see anything) as you're traveling over the ice caps...







After my rock-star arrival, I made it safely to my hostel thanks to my first Bangkok friend, named "Wood" (i'm told everyone has a nick-name in Asia). More soon on my first weekend in the Asian City of Angels


My first friend in Bangkok - "Wood"
(who I already ran into at the club on Saturday!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gay-Ok in Jordan?

In February, I joined my partner in adventures (read debauchery) abroad, Derek, in Amman - thanks to the USG I stayed with him (for a discounted rate) at the 5-star Hyatt (with exquisite daily brunches).

Amman is a stable, safe - albeit boring - Middle Eastern city (think call to prayer plus Friday-Saturday weekends), but forgive Amman for being a bit tepid since its been around for, I donno, like 5,000 years!

There is a great Roman amphitheater that's a fun place to people watch and get harassed by loitering groups of Jordanian teens. The 2,000 year old theater is just down the hill from the Citadel that has ruins dating back more than a millennia - so those are the main sights of Amman. The busiest markets are nearby as well - so you can pretty much "do" Amman in a day.

One week was barely enough to dig into gay life here - but it exists if you know where to go - and of course if you know Arabic, you're golden. The one place where it's ok to be gay is Books Cafe. Protected by a bookstore and discerning security, this "bohemian" cafe is no different socially than your HK gay bar (with a bit more excitement). Be sure to go to the back bar (straights are in the front). It's the gay Jordanian sanctuary - no other real place exists for LGBT people to socialize. They are still there smoking hookah and hanging out with friends (like typical Jordanians) - but nearly all of these guys are not out to their families, nor few, if any, other straight people in their lives.

View from the back of Books Cafe on a Thursday night (the western Friday)
Apparently, there are gay-ish nights at some of the clubs - and one club is called "G" - so there are likely other outlets, but Grindr and other social gay networks online are definitely the place to actually make a friend (if you're too shy to pick up a guy at Books).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gearing up for Asia!

Greetings gay travelers and gay travel wannabes,

Next Thursday night I won't be twink-hunting at Cobalt - nor will I be jamming on top of the world at Le Bain's Zig-Zag party- I will arrive in Bangkok with Asia at my feet.

What I hope to do before I depart is create a basic play-by-play for my trip across Asia over the next 2-plus months, and this is the shimmy right now:

Thailand:  Mar 21-Apr 17  (with the new year "Songkran" in Chiang Mai ~Apr 10-17)
Hong Kong:  Apr 17-22
Myanmar:  April 22 - 27
Phuket:  Apr 27-30?  (it's Phuket Pride)

Now it gets tricky...

I wanted to spend a week in Nepal with the Kathman-duo Cain & Nathan

But I also am supposed to fly from Taipei to Shanghai on May 8th...

Either way, I'll be in Beijing and in China most of my birthday month (May) before I make my Asi-exit and fly to Tel Aviv (via Vienna) on June 1 for Pride week!

Anyways, stay tuned as I find out if I've totally over-planned my next few months - and see all my adventures in Asia.

Where are you going? or where have you gone? that could help us all plot-out our gay geography - it's a big gay world out there and this blog is all about creating a working and dynamic understanding of the world both for gay travelers and for ourselves as we record our travels - our gay-ography.

Join us!

Ashton