Last day in Ko Samui, though I don't leave until 7:45 p.m. tomorrow. Wish I would have researched the islands a bit more, and opted for a hostel instead of a hotel. Meeting people is really hard without a hostel!! I did make friends with a local reggae band, but they aren't people I can hang out with during the day. As touristy as it is here, everywhere is still pretty quiet as it is the off season. The weather has been perfect though, so I'm not convinced that there should be an off season at all. I'm switching hotels tonight and apparently my new one has a huge party going on until 4 in the morning, which would be fine if I wasn't planning to get picked up at 7 a.m. for a day trip via speed boat to koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan and Anthony National Marine Park for some snorkeling and sightseeing. Oh well, considering I passed out at 8:30 p.m. last night I can handle it.
Oh, I'm up to 6 massages now and the most I spent on one was $12; most are $6-9/hour. I can't get enough!!!
26 July 2016
In ko samui now. Hard to sleep because my hotel is right behind a party hotel, and it's 3 a.m. and I just got back but it is still so loud out!!!!
Anyway, I smoked weed with a reggae singer and a police officer on the beach, which coupled with last night's accidental opium intake is everything I said I wouldn't do in thailand, but it's all amazing and fine. I love it here. May not come home, because I don't think I'm a very good person in america.
24 July 2016
Traded my luxurious bottom bunk for a scary, much smaller top bunk with an old Chinese lady who was very grateful on the overnight train to bangkok.
Guys: I'll post more details soon, but I just spent the night in the jungle with a man from the Lahu tribe who smoked opium the entire time we were in our shelter that we built. I got contact high and it was amazing, but scary at first because I didn't understand what was happening!!!! My guide didn't speak any English and I definitely don't speak Thai or Lahu, so it was very...solitary. Hardest hike of my LIFE getting to top of mountain. Very uncomfortable sleep and I was quite petrified the entire time.
22 July 2016
Cooking class! I made: papaya salad, mango sticky rice, pad thai, green curry, stir fried holy basil, and a few others!
21 July 2016
Just returned from #elephantNaturePark and am so beyond moved. The trip there involved watching a horrific documentary on the abuse of elephants (i.e. if you have ever ridden an elephant you're a dick) which shocked me beyond belief. Spent the day with 2 females, a 30 year old and a 65 year old who are best friends. I met a 2.5 month old and saw a 90 year old, and many 70 year olds, most of whom have spent the majority of their lives with all four limbs tied up and physically and emotionally abused. This place was a sanctuary. I walked alongside them, fed them, bathed them in a river, and rubbed their tongues. The park also has 400 rescued dogs that roam freely and are the sweetest things ever. Definitely a place worth supporting. Follow me on Instagram for videos.
20 July 2016
19 July 2016
Kao Yai National Park, Day 2:
Day 2 was all about looking for animals in the park. We saw monkeys, gibbons, a lot of really special birds, wild elephants, huge spiders, scorpions, deer, snakes, lizards, the second largest species of squirrel (2 feet long!), and unsuccessfully searched for crocodiles. Despite wearing leech socks, I managed to find three leeches crawling on my arms and hands, and having only ever seen water leeches before, which are much larger and look more like miniature eels, i mistook them for inch worms and named one Stanley and let him crawl all over me. Then one bit me! It hurt!! I was told not to pull him out, otherwise he would leave his teeth in and insert an anticoagulant which would leave me bleeding. So we instead put tobacco on him and within a few moments he crawled out, which was nice because he still got to live.
I can not BELIEVE I held a scorpion. And a millipede. Anyone who knows me knows that this is unbelievable. And I wasn't even afraid!!!!
Traveling to Pak Chong was both easier than I anticipated and also more nightmarish. I found the bus OK, but was warned by the tour company in Pak Chong to make sure that I took a modern looking bus with AC to ensure a faster trip. That advice was useless though, because it didn't appear that we had any choice in what kind of bus would arrive next. I was also told they ran every hour, so when I bought a ticket at 9:40 a.m. I was told the next bus was at 10:30. It arrived at 11 and left closer to 11:30, had NO AC and eventually filled up so much that people were crammed into the aisle and forced to stand and still move over for the vendors that would board the train at each stop and sell luke warm meat on a stick. Oh, and there was a live rooster in the back, and definitely no bathroom. I had a seat so it wasn't that bad, but I also had pants and a long sleeved shirt on in what must have been a 90 degree bus.
Leaving Khao Yai National Park this morning. A lot has happened since my night in Bangkok that I've still yet to write about!
In a nutshell, I visited Khao San Road, which is the infamous backpacker road full of outdoor bars that blast competing music and offer buckets of booze for cheap. I had dinner at one before it got really crazy, was joined by a random British traveler who told me he sat down next to me because I 'looked like Queen of the Dead' (black dress red lipstick maybe??), which I obviously took as the world's greatest compliment. After my dinner of way-too-spicy papaya salad I wandered down the increasingly debaucherous street with a giant bottle of beer I picked up from 7-11. I was alone at this point and wasn't sure I could have fun in this type of environment without a friend, but I soon stumbled upon a very lively dance party with some THAI QUEERS and felt right at home, even though they were probably maybe 20 years old. To be continued, fucking WORD COUNT.
17 July 2016
Kao Yai National Park, Day 1, Part 1:
Day 1 we did a 1/2 day tour with Greenleaf Guesthouse, which I highly recommend. This tour was all about insects, bats, and caves. We first drove to a bat cave that is home to about 500 bats in order to gain an understanding of what the inside of a bat cave looks like, in preparation for a later cave that we would not be allowed to enter, but from which 2 MILLION BATS would exit before our eyes.
Getting into the cave required going down a set of extremely steep stairs that were maybe 40 feet deep. The cave was immense and full of bats and Buddhas and small temples for monks, who meditate inside at night. We wandered through the cave for about an hour; it was endless. I saw 2 tarantulas, a 'scorpion spider' (see blurry pic of kid with insect on his FACE), and a crazy fast moving extremely venomous insect that I forget the name of, but people had it crawling on them by way of our hilarious tour guide.
Kao Yai National Park, Day 1, Part 2:
After visiting the less populated bat cave, we drove to the main event. At first, I had no idea what we were looking at: we were stood in a farming field facing a tree-filled mountain, with mountains and a sunset to our left, and no sign of any cave. Then, as the sunset lower and lower we slowly started to see what looked like smoke rising up out of the mountain in front of us, much like smoke from a chimney would travel. This 'smoke' twisted it's way out of the mountain, twisting and swirling through the sky like a breathing snake. It reached the space above where we stood and it became clear that we were actually witnessing the bats exiting the cave. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We watched for an entire hour as 2 million bats flew out and into the sky and over our heads. I lay on my back and could hear and feel the swoosh of wind as they flew over.
Part 2: ANYWAY, I danced with the queers for a bit, who were OBVIOUSLY the best dancers there, but they eventually wandered off. I soon met a guy from Belgium who was also traveling alone. We ended up dancing and drinking for a few hours, bought stupid bracelets (see pic) and then we did what I said I wouldn't do this trip: we went to a god damn ping pong show. Not only did we go to a ping pong show, we went via a seedy whispering man who took us through a back alley to a tuk tuk driver who drove us '5 minutes away' which is seemingly the distance for everything if you are Thai, even if it really takes 20 minutes. The show was fine, probably one of the seedier, more depressing ones, and we left after an hour. If you are a parent of mine, stop reading here. I went home with the Belgian man (oops) and had to get up really early to go pack my things and head to Pak Chong. He ended up coming on the trip with me, which was actually great because navigating the trip there was a bit unclear.
16 July 2016
I have a few posts to complete today, so I'll try and keep the less interesting stuff short and to the point.
Two days ago was my first full day in bangkok (which I half blogged about), and also my last. I mentioned the tuk tuk ride where I ended up mostly being taking to absurd, why-would-you-take-me-here places that ended up being sponsorship places for the tuk tuk driver, who receives discounted gas for every visitor he brings. In any event, it was cheap, a little entertaining, and I got to see Bangkok and drive through crazy traffic in a tuk tuk.
Afterwards I visiting Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha and receive a massage from the famous massage school there, which is the oldest in thailand and studied at by people from around the world. I had an hour long full body Thai massage for 420 baht, or about 11 dollars, which is considered a splurge compared to most massages here that cost about 200 baht. It was great! Both painful and relaxing, but definitely not for everyone.
Well, I survived 7 hours of exploring Bangkok, without a map. I initially set off to walk to Wat Pho, to see the famous reclining Buddha. About 20 minutes into my 25 minute walk, a tuk-tuk driver said hello to me, and we started chatting. He, (I later learned falsely), informed me that Wat Pho did not open until 11 am because it was a holiday (i.e. Saturday). It was only 9:30, so he took out a map and started circling nearby things that I could do in the meantime. Standing Buddha, laughing Buddha, Thai Factory, That Information Center, etc. He numbered 6 places on a map, and said that his friend could take me to them all on his tuk tuk for 40 baht, waiting for me at each stop and ultimately returning me to Wat Pho in 1 or 2 hours. 40 baht is about $1.05, so I agreed, even though some of the stops seemed very strange and my driver spoke next to no English so I couldn't tell him to skip the Thai Information Center and Thai Factory.
To be continued because Journi has a word limit...
Finally arrived at Once Again Hostel after a 48 hour journey from New York. Hostel is great; beds are wide, long, and private (dark drawstring curtain) and makes it feel like you're sleeping in a cave. There's a rooftop with picnic tables and a nice view. There were some boys drinking beer up there when I checked it out, but I was too exhausted to socialize and also about a decade older than them.
Wandered down the street and had pad thai from a place that is apparently famous for this neighborhood. I was a bit lame and ordered vegetarian pad thai without any egg, but it was really good. I was more impressed by the bottled fresh squeezed orange juice, which was full of pulp and chunks of orange and tasted like heaven.
Oh, observation to share before I try and sleep: it's a bit sad that all of the face washes, creams, and even DEODORANTS, contain skin whiteners. Meanwhile, white people cover themselves in fake tanners, bronzers, and fry themselves like bacon on the beach.
15 July 2016
Well, I'm rounding up my 12th hour of my layover at Abu Dhabi airport. Last night I of course found the only Irish pub to try and kill some of my 14 hour layover. At first, it seemed awful---to my right was a horrific American family demanding half price for their meal after they experienced some food mishaps, and to my left was a very nice but pompous fat white American man and his Asian wife, whom I learned was his 3rd within moments of conversing. Then--in walked an older Australian couple. They looked maybe 55 but it turns out THEY ARE 70, retired, newly coupled, and just coming off a 7 week road trip across Europe in a rented RV. We chatted. Drank beers. An hour later I'm almost keeled over on the floor laughing so hard because I'm pretty sure I've just found my best friend in this woman. We exchanged contact info. Anyway, after that I made a bunch more friends (5 to be exact), drank way too much beer and wine, and then curled up on a leather couch around 3 am to try and sleep.
14 July 2016
Well, I made it to jfk but my hopes and dreams of finding a nice airport bar to eat and drink at fell through after the baggage drop line took nearly an hour. This is sad because I cannot name you one thing I love more to do than drink at airport bars. They are one of the only places where it is completely acceptable to be drinking alone, especially as a woman. And, if people hit on you, it's really in a non-threatening flirtatious way; you'll be parting ways in a few moments.
That being said, I am managing to squeeze in what must be the largest glass of red wine before I board. I can't tell if my flight is delayed. The Internet says it is---by 30 minutes---but nothing here indicates as much...but that's not saying much because my flight isn't really posted anywhere other than the exact gate.
I've never been on a flight where they serve meals. Are they terrible? Should I load up on crisps and other junk just in case?? I requested vegetarian, because meat on a plane sounds bad.