After 13 years with Blogspot, I've shifted blogging platform. So (drumroll, please), you can find my new blog here . Ari on the Web will stay online, so you can scroll through the archives for all sorts of embarrassing tidbits. To make it easier to find some of my writing on particular themes, I've grouped some pieces together under a few labels: Cancer Fatherhood Indonesia travels North Korea travels United States travels Undergraduate days So as they say here in my new home of Japan, so long, and thanks for the all the fish.
I dream one day of visiting Pyongyang and staying in the wonderfully pyramidic Ryugyong Hotel. The outer shell of this hotel which dominates the Pyongyang skyline was built in the 1980s, and the interior was, well, never built. It seems possible that the project was commenced in a pique of optimism as North Korea put in a claim to share the 1988 Olympic Games with its southern brothers, but just as the offer was rejected - just like the bid to share the 2002 Soccer World Cup failed on the basis of North Korea's request to host the Opening Ceremony, Semi Finals and Final - the hotel was never completed. Nowadays, in stands pointing to the sky much the way that Kim Il Sung's statue does, both perhaps as a symbol of the excesses of North Korean enthusiasm. Instead of the Ryugyong, like most foriegn visitors to Pyongyang I found myself staying at the Yanggakdo Hotel. The Yanggakdo Hotel is a slice of Cold War Bondesque paranoia writ large. The hotel is located on an isla
Lazing back at the hostel planning on my next big adventure, I came across this on the notice board (read the whole thing here):
VISITING BANGKWANG, KLONG PREM and other prisons
It is usually possible to go and visit a prisoner without prior notice.
These visits allow the visitor to have a conversation with only a fence,
( or two fences as at Bangkwang ) between yourself the prisoner.
Message boards around Bangkok invite the casual traveler to visit anytime.
SCHEDULES : Bangkwang Klong Prem Lard Yao Women's Prison
This was an experience too exciting to pass up. There are so many layers to this encounter, I think I should start off by just explaining what I saw:
Dutifully, I followed the straight foward instructions that lead me to the river, on a 30 minute river express boat ride up to the poverty-riddled northern part of Bangkok, and then for a brief walk to the prison grounds. The visitors centre is a chaotic open-air courtyard, with surly bureaucrats and yo