After finishing my first semester, I had a break from October 4th-31st. An entire month off. It was glorious. My first adventure was trekking in Mae Hong Song. I decided to go trekking on my own since my #lamphunlady friends still had school. I left out of Chiang Mai, and there were 10 other people in my group. There were 3 Germans, 3 French dudes, a Swiss couple, a guy from Australia, and a guy from England. The age range was from 22-59, and there were four girls and seven boys. It was a very diverse group. I was reminded once again about the fact that I only speak one language fluently. Fortunately, everyone knew English, so I was in luck. On our way to the mountain, we stopped at an orchid farm, a butterfly center, and rode elephants. Now, I;ve ridden elephants before and I sat in the seat with a seatbelt, we had a driver, and we rode through the jungle. This time around, however, we did not have a driver or a seatbelt and we were going downhill on a road. Another twist was, the elephant was constantly stopping and reaching it's trunk back for us to feed it long the way. So, between hanging on for dear life and stretching as far as I could to feed the stubborn animal, it was a quite different experience, but nonetheless enjoyable. We had lunch before beginning our trek up the mountain. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but I found out exactly how out of shape I was after the first hour. It took a little over three hours to actually reach our destination. I would rather walk 15 flat miles than 6 up-mountain miles any day (I'm not sure on the actual distance-I really wish I had worn my Garmin). It was exhausting. I was extremely glad to arrive at the top. All 11 of us spent the night in a shack? cabin? I don't know what you'd call it. There were some very uncomfortable mattresses on the floor and I just picked a spot. We had dinner and I got to visit with the other trekkers. There are some interesting people in this world, that's for sure. After dinner, we enjoyed this super awkward and much talked about "magic show" put on by our guide's special needs brother. We did not really know how to respond, so we clapped a lot and cheered for each of his "tricks." I don't even know. I slept like a rock, despite sharing a room with 10 strangers and being extremely uncomfortable. The next morning, we ate breakfast before heading back down the mountain. I had anticipated this part of the trek being significantly easier. However, that was not the case. My legs were sore and going down was as, if not more, difficult as going up. Haha. We stopped at a waterfall, and finished the day with white water and bamboo rafting. I returned home to Lamphun that night and began preparing for our beach trip. I did laundry, finalized my travel arrangements and Alli and I were on a night bus Sunday night October 13th. While walking to the bus station, and dragging my suitcase along the main road, the crazy swim teacher from my school spotted me and offered me a ride. That was fortunate. We had a 10 hour overnight bus ride to Bangkok. Upon arrival at 6 AM, we needed to get from the bus station to the SkyTrain stop. Some dude claiming to be a taxi driver grabbed my bag and we followed him to his car, which was not a taxi, and he wanted an obscene amount of money, so we quickly backed out of that situation. A very helpful Thai man then helped us get into a legit taxi and to where we needed to go with no problems. We got to the airport, and checked in for our flight 10 hours early. Hahaha. We spent the day at the airport walking backwards on moving sidewalks, reading, but not buying, books at the bookshop, and then making the best discovery possible. We found a lounge for Bangkok Airways customers. At first, we were unsure if we were allowed in the lounge, but I could tell there were some Average Joes in there, so, sure enough, they let us in. Free Wi-Fi and snacks? What more could we possibly need? Our 10 hours went by surprisingly fast, and then we were on a plane with our friend Ryan headed to Krabi. So, I ordered the Hindu meal, without realizing how awkward it would be when the flight attendant had to ask me if I, in fact, ordered the Hindu meal. haha. Whatever, it was good. After a short flight, we were walking to our hostel in a new city. It was a nice place, and there were lots of bars and restaurants offering foreigner food around, which is always nice. The next day, we went to breakfast at a nearby restaurant and our menus were delivered by a butt naked little boy who was probably 2 years old. You don't see that everyday. We all ate Thai food for breakfast despite the fact that pancakes and other American favorites were offered. The three of us made our way to Railay Beach-it was a 45 minute boat ride from where we were staying. The beach was pretty and the weather was great, so we laid out for a little while. Naturally, I got fried in the 2 hours we were there despite my best effort to wear and reapply sunscreen. Oh well. It was to be expected, I suppose. I took a break from the Sun the next day and geared up for our 4 island tour. We got to go snorkeling and swimming and it was a lot of fun. After a few days at Krabi, we made our way to Koh Phangan. We took a 4 hour bus ride and a 2 hour boat ride to get there from Krabi. We took motorcycle taxis from the pier to our accommodations. We told them to take us to Seatanu Bungalows, but they accidentally took us to See Through Bungalows. Oops. Luckily, they didn't charge us for that little mix up. This place was right. on. the. beach. It was a cute, one-room, private bathroom, bungalow with a porch and hammock, just steps away from the beach. Perfection. We attended a Full Moon Party on our second night there and it was absolutely insane. That's about the only way to describe it. Alli photobombed about 25 pictures on the beach and that was great entertainment. It was a very relaxing few days at the beach. Our last day, we rented kayaks, and had a blast paddling around the ocean. I shared a boat with Alli (she probably regretted that decision since I kept almost tipping the boat over haha). Sometime during our stay in Koh Phangan, I made the discovery that, somehow, Alli and I booked our flights home on different days. Oops. We were supposed to be travel buddies because I was not prepared to take on Bangkok by myself. After coming to that realization, I booked a hostel for a night in Krabi and booked a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, so I wouldn't have to take an overnight bus home alone. Luckily, a group of my friends from Chiayaphum were in Krabi for the extra night I had to spend there, so I got to see them. Our boat and bus from Krabi was a little less efficient the second time around. We were on a giant ferry for what seemed like forever, got on a bus, and got dropped off in a strange city at a random bus stop. Alli was really afraid she was going to miss her flight so she got on the next van to the airport-which turned out to be the wrong airport. That would happen. Anyways, I waited for 2 hours at the bus stop for my ride to Krabi. I checked in at the hostel, walked to my room, and there were my friends from Chiayaphum! In my room! I caught up with them and caught up on my sleep before my flight the following day. So much confusion at the airport. First, I waited in the wrong line for half an hour. Then, my carry on was too heavy, so I start unloading crap from my suitcase into my other bag, but that wasn't going to work, then they said I could check a bad so I started shoving my crap back into my suitcase. I was a hot mess. Somehow I made it onto my flight and enjoyed another Hindu meal on my way back to Bangkok. I spent the night at the airport and caught my morning flight to Chiang Mai. I was home in Lamphun by noon after 2 full days of traveling. Totally exhausting. I intended on going on one more adventure, but that was out of the question because I was too tired and too broke by that time. School started on Friday and there's a chance that they will be hiring a new teacher to replace Jessica. It only took 4 and a half months.
Sorry it took me so long to update this thing. I can't believe how fast time flies. My birthday is in less than 3 weeks, Julie will be here in less than 2 months, and I will be on a flight back to the USA February 28th!
Love and miss you all!
With friends in Chiang Mai
Part of the 4 Island tour
Our bungalow in Koh Phangan