Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Well I made it -- arrived back in KC late last night...

I survived 9 days alone in Southeast Asia -- no makeup, no hair dryer, no razor (yeah, it ws gross), no purses or heels...just me and a backpack...and two amazing countries.  SO much fun! :)

All in all, it was a completely amazing trip.  The flight back, however, wasn't so amazing.  I developed a severe bladder infection the last night in Bangkok - I THINK from drinking contaminated water at a restaurant (thought I was being careful...guess not).  Actually - now that I think about it - it kind of felt like I was starting to get one on the islands, but it went away.  Anyways, I thought I would just deal with it when I got back here to KC, I mean it's not like I could find a doctor who spoke English and would give me something for it over here.  But by the time I landed in LA, I was peeing straight blood...LONGEST. FLIGHT. EVER.  And to make matters worse, I was by the window, so I had to literally climb over (like stepping on the arm rests over them) two sleeping Asian guys like every 20 minutes to go to the bathroom.  It was just awful.  Hands down the most pain I think I've ever felt in my life. I thought I had cancer and was dying, just stood there crying while waiting in the LONG line to get back in to the US.  Needless to say, I spent my first night in the US in an ER in a hospital in LA...good times.

After the ER ordeal (and a shot in my BUTT!), my driver drove me from LA to my boss' house in Palm Springs (about 2 hours away).  THEN I had to turn around and drive to Tahoe (9 hours) yesterday.  The drive was beautiful, but not exactly what I had in mind for my first day back in the states!

Pretty much as soon as I got back to Tahoe, I went stragiht to Reno to ANOTHER airport and flew with my boss' two oldest kids (4 and 5) here to KC late last night.  What a day! 

Anyways - I am home safe, feeling better, and trying to get back in to the swing of work!  JET LAG is no fun, but totally worth it for the awesome experiences! :)


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bangkok, Thailand

Well this one will be short - again.  They charge you by the minute to use the iternet anywhere over!

Anyways - Thailand has been absoultely amazing so far.  I arrived back in Bangkok this morning.  I got a taxi to the area of town that has cheap hostels (best way to go) and wandered around the main streets until I found the one I was looking for.  It was only a couple blocks off the main road, and looked pretty good.  It's kid of like a big dormatory or something.  Lots of institutional / hotel looking rooms on several floors, communal bathrooms / showers.  It's a step up from Ho Chi Minh, that's for sure!  Here is a pic of the view from my room (on the 3rd floor) and the sign in the entry way.  "No Thai visitors" - haha!

I dropped off my bags, chatted with a few people there to get the scoop on what to do and see in the area, and headed out for the afternoon.  It's BUSY here!  These first two pictures are just around the corner from my hostel.  So really, it's a normal area just about a block away - haha!

I took a high speed train to another area of town to do some shopping in the markets.  I got a really cool paper lamp, some bracelets and jewelry (of course), a little turquoise dress/shirt thing...   The fruit here is just amazing and it's everywhere, so I tried some of that.  SO GOOD.  I also found an ice cream place and ordered a smoothie.  The young guy working tried to flirt with me forever, despite his lack of English, haha!

I am heading out on the town tonight!  This city has so much energy and is lit up like a Christmas tree at night -- SO fun!

This lady (above) hounded me the WHOLE TIME I was eating at a little restaurant.  I sat outside along the street, and she just stood there and kept scraping this stick on the back of a little wooden frog making the most annoying sound!  She didn't speak English (or at least I don't think so) and she would NOT LEAVE!  If she would have been selling something worthwhile, I would have just bought it to get her to leave me alone!! 

Again, I've met tons more cool people here and am having a blast...AND being safe! :)
I leave Bangkok tomorrow evening (thinking I might visit some of the palaces around here tomorrow) to go back to Hong Kong and then fly to LA.  I'll let you all know when I make it back alive!! :)


Friday, October 26, 2007

Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Okay, I don't even remember what all I wrote about last time.  I think I just said I was here in Thailand or something like that.  So let me back up a little...

I was warned (by my boss) about Phuket and all the prostitution and child trafficking.  I didn't see any child trafficking - I don't know what I would have done if I did - but there are definitely plenty of slutty looking girls standing on street corners trying to attack any white guy they see!  Just a whole-nother way of life over here I guess.  So anyways, I took a taxi from the airport to a touristy area of town that looked safe enough.  There was a big mall and lots of little shops all along the streets to shop in, and some restaurants.  I hung out around there for awhile and then let some random guy convince me to hop in his "tuk tuk" and get a ride to the port.  A tuk tuk is like a motorcylce kind of thing with a little mini-camper kind of enclosed thing on the back - haha.  That's the best I can do to explain it! :)  It was cheap and more fun than a taxi!  At the port, I managed to buy a ticket to the Phi Phi Islands.  These islands were supposed to be just gorgeous and I knew I definitely wanted to go there.  I got on a small-ish boat with two levels.  Life jackets were required to be worn - and I saw why once we got out in to the rough open seas!  YUCK!  I get motion sickness pretty easy, so it wasn't a very enjoyable couple hour boat ride.  EXCEPT I did notice these two guys and a girl not far from me.  I kept looking at them and they kept looking at me - we were all young, around the same age, and NOT Thai, so we kind of stuck out.  I didn't actually go talk to them during the boat ride, because I was afraid if I got up I might puke. ;)  But as soon as we finally got close to the island the port on Ko Phi Phi Don, I was just SO excited to be there and started feeling WAY better!! :) 

I went right after the two guys and girl as soon as we got off the boat and started talking.  The girl is Christa, from Sweden.  The two guys, Dik and Q, are from the Netherlands.  They met traveling a couple of months ago in Malaysia and Dik and Christa really hit it off and are dating now, so they are traveling together for the rest of their time - like 6 more months I think.  **2010 UPDATE:  Dik and Christa are now GETTING MARRIED!**  Man, it makes me wonder what's wrong with Americans.  I mean everyone else I've met from Europe - they all take like a year off after high school and just travel the world.  THEN study and figure out their life.  We should all do that over here!! :)  So anyways, they didn't really have anything planned for their time on the island and neither did I, and they all spoke decent English, so we decided to stick together!  The island is tiny, NO CARS, it's awesome!!  I've never been to anyplace like this before!  We found a little hostel down one of the streets and booked two little rooms next to each other with two beds and a bathroom in each of them.  I assume Christa and I would stay in one and Dik and Q in the other, but after we had checked in, Christa pulled me aside and explained that she wanted to stay with Dik and wanted to know if I was okay with sharing a room with Q.  Fine with me - whatever - he seemed nice enough (and he was)! 

We set out to walk around the island and find some food and it started to sprinkle a little bit.  We went through my Lonely Planet book to try and figure out what we wanted to do and see during our time ont he island.  (Dik and Christa say HI!)

So I decided I just HAD to go cliff diving while I was here.  I found a shop on the street that had an advertisement for it and pictures out front, and I was hooked!  I showed back up first thing the next morning, signed a ton of waivers, and set out on a little boat with 5 other tourists (all from Canada who were teaching English as a second language in Malaysia) and our guide, Sean, who was actually from Pennsylvania!  He visited here after college, fell in love with the island life, and MOVED HERE!  Haha - crazy! 

So...cliff diving = AMAZING.  Definitely the coolest thing I've done since skydiving!  I am just such an adrenaline junky.  Jumping off the cliffs in to the unknown is LOTS and LOTS of fun. :)  We jumped out of the boat and had to swim over to the cliff we were going to jump off of.  (Sidenote:  The water here is unbelievable!  It is just a beautiful deep turquoise!)  We had to wear gloves and shoes and climb the rocks to get to the top.  Of course I was the first one up there.  I mean God forbid I NOT be first to something!! ;)  I started out on the lowest one - I really have no idea how high these were, but it sure looks freaking high when you're up there, I'll tell you that!  It took a little bit of talking to myself to jump the first time, and then I was HOOKED!  My swim suit came almost completely off, but I swam right back around and was up to the second level before half the other people had even jumped once!  One girl didn't keep her feet together and kind of landed on her butt - Sean warned us about that - and said it hurt SO bad.  She swam back to the boat and just waited on us - felt bad for her. :(  One guy (Howard from the UK - we're facebook friends now!) took like 30 minutes to jump - for real.  It was ridiculous!  I went to the third level and then was the only one to jump from the highest one!  I had to climb out around a tree branch and out on to this little rock ledge.  One of the guys had to stand behind me and stick his arm out for me to hold on to just so I could balance myself!  Not gonna lie, I was kinda shaking, haha! :)  I have a video of all of it, here is the link for that:

That's me...that white blur in the middle of the picture ^^

After we had been jumping off the cliffs for awhile, we realized we were getting an audience!  There were probably four or five other boats that had pulled up to watch us jump!!  Pretty cool. :)  Then we went to another spot (via the boat) not far away and got to snorkel!  There are some crazy looking fish over here!!  And the coral is beautiful too!  Way better than Mexico, haha! :)

That lasted most of the day.  When I got back to the island, Christa and I did some shopping (of course).  I bought a couple of little strapless summer dresses and some jewelry, some decorations and little souvenier things.  Then we decided to get get facials and massages.  I've heard so much about Thai massages - about how good they are - and man are they good!  And CHEAP!  Best massage I've ever had, by a woman, and probably the cheapest one too!  They gave us the facial first, then really worked us over with the massage!  (I'm wearing my new dress and new jewelry in the pic!)

I was SO relaxed after this that I just wanted to go back to the hostel and go to bed.  But Christa was having NO part of that!  She said I HAD to go out and party at least once!  I decided she was probably right, that I should go out and dance and have a good time.  And a good time it was!  We listened to some live music at a little beach front cafe right on the ocean.

After the band quit playing, we decided to go to the local Reggae club and watch the fire dancers -- they were SO awesome!!  I think I want to try that someday... :) 

Then we danced the night away ourselves!!  At one point I started checking my phone and all the emails I had on it, and decided I really should go back to the hostel and get some sleep.  BUT - it was pouring rain by then.  So I HAD to stay and keep dancing!! :)


The next morning, I decided to go rock climbing - found another local shop on the street that did that and signed up! 

We set off on foot for about 30 minutes to get to our destination.  We walked along the beach, then hiked a little trail through the trees to get to the base of this giant rock formation we were going to climb! 

Once we got to our spot, we set our bags down and had a snack.  The guide kept talking about and warning us about the monkeys, but I thought she was just joking.  She WASN'T!  Once we started eating - we had bananas and peanuts, the trees started rustling and you could hear them chattering - no joke!  They looked so cute!  A couple would come up in front of you and distract you, and then a couple would swoop in from behind and grab your bag and run!  I am NOT KIDDING! was so funny!  They didn't get my bag, but I enjoyed watching them!  The guide, however, did NOT think they were cute anymore - she has dealt with them long enough.  She was screaming at them and throwing rocks to get them away!

So rock climbing really requires a partner - preferably one you really know and trust since they have your life in their hands (holding the rope).   I certainly didn't know the girl I got paired with, and she had never rock climbed before and was from France.  She kept the rope way too loose for me, even after I asked her to keep it more snug.  Meaning if I slipped and fell, I wanted to know she had the rope tight and I wasn't going to fall a couple feet.  I didn't ever slip and fall, which was really good because she sucked at belaying!

Anyways, it was still fun.  I climbed a couple of times, got pretty high.  As high as felt comfortable with her NOT holding the rope like she was supposed to!  It was a good experience though - and now I can say I've rock climbed in Thailand!!

Something I learned from my rock climbing guide is that this island was almost completely destroyed (ie WIPED OUT) by the tsunami in December of 2004.  He lived here at the time and he and his family ran to the highest peak on the island and watched everything just get ruined.  I can't imagine what that would be like - seeing your home get washed away by a gigantic wave!!  They have re-built a LOT of the island - I thought it looked pretty good, but apparently it is not near as nice as it used to be.  There is still a lot of construction going on.  There are signs posted all ove the island now like these - telling you what to do in case of another tsunami!

They have these amazing things here that are like fried pancakes around a banana or something like that -- with honey on them.  I dont' know what they're called, but it is something fried, something like a banana, and honey and sugar.  LOVE THEM.  I've eaten WAY too many of them!  Anyways, tonight we decided to pay some guy to take us out in his fishing boat  when the moon was up so we could see the plankton glow at night! I don't know how it works or what exactly it is, but you know that part in the move "The Beach" where Leonardo Dicapprio is swimming in the water (AT THIS ISLAND MIND YOU) and it starts to just glow like magic!?  Yea, we did that.  It really is like magic.  The more you move around and move the water around, the more it glows.  Just the coolest thing ever!!  No pics though.  A. it was dark out and B. it was in the middle of the ocean, where my camera is NOT going. But it was definitly something I will never forget!!

This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.  Check out the sunet here...

Tomorrow I am heading back to Bangkok (via the same little boat back to Phuket - not looking forward to that).  Dick and Christa and Q are going to some other islands around Thailand for awhile.  Man I wish I could just keep traveling - and NOT have a job and bills to worry about!!

I'll write more from Bangkok tomorrow!!