Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cheers to Africa

There's always more you want to see and more you want to buy. Though, your time, money, and luggage size is never infinite. There's a time when you have to call it quits and go home. Enjoy what you did, create memories and call it a day. You have to leave something for next time. Be happy for coming and seeing what you saw. Never regret not doing something because if it was so critical, you would have either done it or you'll come back for it! Life is good. Enjoy it. As I've said many of times, do what you want to do. If you wake up more times unhappy than happy, then change your life. Don't wait and let it change you. Be adventuresome, try new things, and being crazy isn't always a bad thing. Until next time Africa, it's been amazing!!

More to Africa

To be posted soon...

Africa

The rich are rich and the poor just keep getting poorer. That's life here in Africa. I definitely see the difference since we're living at the American International School which is gated and has housekeepers, gardeners, people to take out the trash, and people to wipe your ass.  Then, 45 minute walk later, we're standing in the middle of Bauleni, a compound where the city dump is burning across from the town market. 20,000 people live here in shacks and barracks. Most kids don't continue school past 7th grade. And even at the 7th grade level, few still can't read and most aren't proficient in math. AIDS and HIV is very common along with starvation. Though, no one will talk about disease. All the locals say is "so-and-so is sick", "so-and-so died". They never said what someone is sick with and why they died.

Realization

Yep, the right hand is used to eat and the left hand is used for... : /

Note to self: bring toilet paper EVERYWHERE and do not use the bar soap (liquid is ok)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sisters

To my surprise, Suzie was one of the best travel companions. It defiantly takes a special person to spend every waking moment of 10 weeks together and not have someone dead by the end. Yes, there were times when we wanted to kill each other and even debated splitting up, but through it all, we stood side by side. We could be grown up travelers one moment and have side aching laughter like giddy children the next. Sisters have a remarkable bond that will never break. She gets me better than anyone else. For goodness sakes, we have the same mother and father so we understand each other. We were on the same time schedule, financially equivalent, and showed interest in similar things.

Traveling with her was like re-meeting an old friend. We haven’t spent more than Christmas break together in the last 8 years. I had to replace the shy Suzie who use to make me ask the store attendant for the location of the bathroom with an older, mature, wardrobe-designing, young professional. I saw a lot of her in me and vice versa. I relearned my sister’s character, including strengths and weaknesses which often times mirror my strengths and weaknesses. All of this caused me to learn so much about myself. More surprising than anything, we biologically reacted very similarly to things. We responded to drugs, sicknesses, and exhaustion in the same manner. If I had a headache due to travel exhaustion, most likely Suzie had the same headache.
 
At points in our travels, I never thought I would travel with Suzie again in the future, but now looking back at it, I can only smile with the good memories. I’m going to miss her this next month and am excited for our next adventures!

The Early Bird Gets the Worm


It never fails to get to the airport early and check, double check, and check again your flight details.
 
Suzie and I arrived at the Kathmandu airport with plenty of time to spare. I checked in no problem. Suzie, on the other hand, rushed back to me with a worried look. Since she has two layovers in India she needed a transfer visa which was news to us! In a panic, she booked a flight with a different airline company to bypass one of the stops and pick up her flight at her second destination. We pooled our cash together and had just enough to cover the cost. Wow, did her flight just get expensive! After all the commotion, I was worried we would miss our flights! Thankfully being in an Indian and Hindu influenced airport, there was a line for men and a line for women. As we were the minority, we breezed through customs and security in less than five minutes. Suzie hopped in the boarding line, and I sat waiting for my flight to New Delhi. One step closer to Zambia!

Instinct

Number one rule of traveling: always trust your instinct. No matter where you are or what is going on, if you get a bad feeling, trust it. Especially being a women. Don’t be scared to say no. There is no such thing as a grey area, and if you feel like you’re heading that way, say no. Be straight forward and stern. Though, saying no doesn’t mean you’re being impolite or rude. You can be nice while still keeping to your opinion and standing strong.

There are different limits in all cultures, but you have your own limits and they shouldn’t be crossed, no matter what culture you are in. Yes language barriers and being open-minded can make it difficult to decipher your limits, but always remember, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Are people really that nice or does niceness come with a toll? Of course there are genuinely nice people out there who care about others, but there are defiantly people who take advantage of the system. Signs to look for:

1.       Does the person continue to talk about how good they are? Even after you’ve acknowledge that they are a good person, do they still persist to tell you so?

2.       Do they try to convince you to do something and use numerous tactics as to why to do it, or why to trust them?

3.       They talk down upon other people.

4.       They slyly mention repayment numerous times.

Never feel pressured or rushed to do anything. Take your time, think about the options, and make the decision for yourself. Often times persistent people have a different plan in mind, so don’t become the victim.

Be prepared. Sometime things don’t go the way you planned. Always have a plan B which may change as the circumstances change. Constantly think about what is going on and if anything seems weird or suspicious. The more you can see ahead, the easier the present decisions will be.


Confrontation is key. When in a difficult situation, be as blunt as possible. I have heard numerous stories from friends that when being followed, turning around and confronting the person is often times the safest thing to do.


Suzie and I got the opportunity to talk to a women who has done an extensive amount of traveling, alone and with others. These are words of wisdoms and knowledge from a collection of traveling souls. With this knowledge Suzie and I have stayed safe and responsible throughout our travels. Please take the advice however you wish.

Street Children

Pokhara is the most distinctive spot where tourists meet the native Nepali people. The two groups of people are shaken and blended together, but mix as well as water and oil. The tourist walk past slyly gawking while the natives continue with their normal life. The most interaction is in shops and through trekking guides. The kids though, do not follow their parents’ lead. They wave and yell hello to you. Often time they approach you and want to hold your hand. This is all fun and games until you hear "give me candy", "give me money", and "give me chocolate". It sometimes seems like your running from zombies (YouTube). The street children are even worse. They pop out of nowhere and demand everything. It has become a game for them: How many things can I get from the tourist. They ask for your bracelets. They ask for your water even when there's a spigot 10 feet away. They try to annoy you enough so you want to give them stuff just to go away. The worst thing a tourist can ever do is give street kids sweets or money. This keeps the street kids and village children on the streets. If they can make three times the average person by begging, why would they go to school, get a normal job, or stay in programs to get them off the street? Parents in villages also hate when tourist give the kids things. So, from one traveler to another, don’t do it!

The Telluride of Nepal

Pokhar was more touristy than Thamel! I yi yi, everywhere you looked you saw westerners and Nepali tourist loading up their shopping bag for their big trek. This land is the trekking mecca of Nepal. If you come to Nepal, most likely you either hike Everest Base Camp or trek in Pokhara. The feeling of this little town nestled between a lake and a mountain range is that of a ski town in the summer. Everyone is very outdoorsy and did I mention there’s a whole hell of a lot of tourist.

Pokhara is also the most distinctive spot where tourists meet the native Nepali people. The mixing between the two cultures is purely water and oil. The tourist walk past and slyly gawk while the natives continue on their their normal life. The most interaction is in shops and trekking guides. The kids do not follow their parents way. They wave and yell hello to you. Often time they approach you and want to hold your hand. This is all fun and games until you hear "give me candy", "give me money",  "give me chocolate". It sometimes seems like your running from zombies. The street children are even worse. They pop out of nowhere and demand everything. It has become a game for them: How many things can I get from the tourist. They ask for your bracelets. They ask for your water even when a spigot is 10 feet away. They try to annoy you so much that you give them stuff just to go away. The worst thing you can ever do is give these kids sweets or money. This keeps the street children and village kids on the streets. If they can make three times the average person by begging, why would they go to school, get a normal job, or stay in programs to get them off the street. Parents in villages also hate when tourist give the kids things.
Completely shaken and blended together, but mix as well as water and oil


While we were Pokhara, we wondered through the town, spent a day biking, and, of course, trekked. The trek was three days and two nights. After talking to other travelers, we discovered it’s not uncommon for one or two of the three days to be very short without a lunch on the last day, no matter what time you arrive in Pokhara. Through the grapevine, we found our guide which turned out to be about half of normal cost. Ya, I’ll take that ; ) First night we stayed in Sarangot to wake up to an amazing sunrise. The sky was clear and the Anapurana mountain range laid right in front of us. A sight I couldn’t forget even if I tried. The next day we hiked along the ridge, down to the creek, and back up the other side to spend the right in Dampus. Here we met our new American friends. They are a fun, middle aged couple working in Antarctica. Six months of work and six months of play, not too shabby! Suzie, Sheila (our new friend), and myself had “girl talk” until lights out. The next day was an easy 2 hour hike down the ridge to a crowded bus which took us back to Pokhara. Overall, it was a good hike, and now it was time to bike!

So, let me first remind you of Suzie and my previous bike rides. We tried biking the bumpy road from hell in Vang Vieng, and then we had our pitiful attempt to go fishing in Pai. Not learning from the past, we took off bright and early at 11am with bikes, helmets, a map, and a few snacks. We biked around the lake, stopped for tea, as per usual, and ventured across a bridge into somewhat no man’s land. We figured if we kept biking towards Pokhara around the lake at some point we’ll either hit the highway or town! Perfect plan right?? It was a lovely bike ride up and down small hills and weaving closer and further around the lake to avoid croplands. After ignoring a warning from a local, we continued our joyful biking. The trail narrowed and soon we were pushing our bikes instead of riding them due to the steep hill and loose dirt. At first, it wasn’t so bad since there was a mix of places to bike and places to walk. We ate lunch with a spectacular view and continued up the mountain with a general idea of where we were on the map. Half an hour of walking turned into two hours of walking. Yep, I was defiantly over it by now! Suzie, on the other hand, wanted to continue up. “Grrrrrr. Bikes are for riding, not walking,” I barked! Finally when we asked someone how long until Pokhara, he said it wasn’t too far but he could help us hoping to gain a few bucks. Finally we found out what “not too far” meant. My ass where we doing this for another 3 hours!!! It was now time to turn around. Let the fun times begin! Wahooooo! It took us half an hour to get down what took us two hpurs to get up. We took a shortcut back and got to cross the river with a homemade pontoon. On our way back to town we stumbled across a lakeside restaurant with the best dal baut we’ve had! Ok, I’m happy now : )

River Rafting

The first day was fun, nothing too intense. Though, there was a cliff jump about 17 feet high which got your blood pumping. That night we danced to Nepali music (similar to Indian) and enjoyed the evening. Day two was going to be a big one! Other rafters joined so now there were two rafts: one with Suzie, me, and guides and one filled with middle aged men. We started higher than normal so I got a little nervous! At least Suzie and I were as safe as possible. I don’t know how much could go wrong with 2 novice rafters placed with 4 guide rafters and the leader. When the man in charged yelled for us to go right, hot damn did we turn right! We completed a few class V rapids that were extremely technical. My favorite rapids were called Frog in the Blinder and the Gerbil. We have now rafted the 7th best river in the world and didn’t even get stuck once (thanks to the guides)!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Common Life in Nepali Villages

You travel to see things, to broaden your horizon, and to experience different cultures. Even when you explore and engulf yourself in a new country, you still cannot see everything. There is so much tragedy that is overlooked or put behind closed doors. In Nepal, women are still struggling for their rights. The government does not see them as citizens. Therefore, they cannot pass land to their children, they cannot give their children citizenship, and sometimes they cannot even eat dinner at the same table as their husband and elders. People live in villages with no running water, no hospitals, and since the young men have left to find work, no farmers. Still today, people die from common diarrhea or infections that simple antibiotics could cure. The saddest part of all, Suzie and I have been in the country for 5 days now, and we wouldn't know about any of this if it weren't for a local women we met on the rafting trip. The government tries to hide it because it’s not the most optimal advertising for tourists. Very few tourist actually know what is happening in this country.


All of this knowledge makes me want to do something to help, but all this knowledge also makes me wonder if I can even help. I'm only one person and the problems are so big. Programs can be implemented and money can be donated, but nothing will change unless you make the people sustainable. You have to teach villagers skills that they can continue to use. Teach them how to sow instead of giving clothes. Teach them how to farm instead of giving food. For long term change, the government must also change. For that to occur, I don't know if I have any influence. Though, the key is to start small and with enough small things, you create something big. Change the people in order to change the governing. Most of all, a little luck is often needed to get the ball rolling.

River Rafting


The first day was fun, nothing too intense. Though, there was a cliff jump about 17 feet high which got your blood pumping. That night we danced to Nepali music (similar to India) and enjoyed the evening. Day two was going to be a big one! Other rafters joined so now there were two rafts: one with Suzie, me, and guides and one filled with middle aged men. We started higher than normal so I got a little nervous! At least Suzie and I were as safe as possible. I don’t know how much could go wrong with 2 novice rafters placed with 4 guide rafters and the leader. When the man in charged yelled for us to go right, hot damn did we turn right! We completed a few class V rapids that were extremely technical. My favorite rapids were called Frog in the Blinder and the Gerbil. We have now rafted the 7th best river in the world and didn’t even get stuck once (thanks to the guides)!

Everest!

We have done the flight. We have seen the highest point in the world. It's quite an achievement, and still I want to see more. The flight was beautiful and the Himalayas are breathtaking. The mountains are so rigid and harsh. The flight showed the difficulty of even hiking to the base camp. Everest is not just the tallest mountain, but it is also surrounded by sky high mountains. Talk about a ruff trek! Most of the Himalayas are over 27,000 feet tall!
On our flight, Everest was a faraway mountain blanketed by a light cloud. Though, it didn't completely give me the realization I wanted. It didn't strike me with its power and strength. Everest is not very jagged, and since it’s so deep in the mountain range, it doesn’t look like the tallest peak. It’s difficult to imagine that people have died trying to climb it. Maybe I’ll be taken back by its presents if I see it closer. I guess I'll have to wait until next time I'm in Nepal! At least I got to see it once, even if it was far away! : )

Monday, April 21, 2014

Helllooooooo Kathmandu!

After a 28 hour flight, all Suzie and I wanted to do was sleep. We booked a guesthouse and crashed! Later we met up with our soon-to-be couchsurfing host to take a walk around the town. We explored the night market and drank tea overlooking Durbar Square. The hustle and bustle under us was like a stream of cars and motorbikes with people swimming upstream. The streets are chaotic, and I'm surprised there's not more accidents. It isn’t because they drive fast, but there are no sidewalks, the alleys wind and turn, and you must swerve around the random cows moseying down the street.

Talking to Harri, our host, we learned some insider info on the culture. It doesn't surprise me, but I didn't expect the Indian influence. There are multiple Hindu festivals and celebrations each month. The city closes down around 10 pm, but unlike Myanmar, it doesn't wake up especially early. The food is a mix between Indian and Chinese. Since there was a revolution only 8 years ago, things are changing dramatically. The infrastructure is improving and more roads are being paved than ever before. Though, this does not mean Google maps is accurate. When following Google’s most direct route from Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath) to home, the road disappeared into dirt and rock piles. After cutting through an abandon parking lot and a hole in the fence, we were back on route only to find out the road turned into stairs. Now it makes complete sense as to why the taxi took a roundabout way to get to the temple!

The next day, Suzie and I explored Boudhha. This is the biggest stupa for…. The prayer flags strung from the peak in every direction was gorgeous! Shops and restaurants surrounded the square. As we were told, this was the most expensive area in all of Kathmandu! A short 30 minute walk away was Pashupatinath Temple. This is where the holy river flows into the city and has become the location for cremations. How far upstream the body is cremated depends on the class of the family. It once was segregated by occupation, but now is based on price. Bodies are being burned all the time. We witness two during the two hours we were there.

The best part of Kathmandu, other than shopping for scarves, was our sleeping arrangement. Suzie and I laid our heads down under a sleeping bag and numerous blankets on the roof of an apartment building! Yes, we slept outside every night and woke up by the sun every morning if the dogs and roosters didn't wake us up first. It's crazy how you can be in the middle of the tourist center and still feel like your camping. This is a once and a lifetime opportunity and we have to thank Harri for making it possible!

Wow, does time fly! We have already traveled through Myanmar and are about to go to Nepal. My friends I'm meeting in Zambia are leaving in a few day so I can join them in two weeks. As I reflect, I am defiantly reminded to live in the moment. Take in each breath, live each sunset, and be present no matter what you're doing. Often times we get distracted by technology. Nowadays you look around and all you see is people texting, talking on the phone, or checking Facebook. It's kind of nice having a useless phone aside from when I have WiFi. Another distraction I find so often is a camera. If you're obsessed with finding the perfect shot, you won't even remember the moment. Yes, it is good to have photos to show others and to remind yourself of the moments, but you have to find the balance between being behind the lens and seeing it with your own eye. If you don't stop and look around, you're going to wake up one day and wonder where you're life went. Do what you enjoy and surround yourself with people you love. Sometimes it's as easy as that to make your life better.

I'm excited for our next adventures and I've thoroughly enjoyed our trip so far. Nepal, here we come!!

Inle Lake

We have made two more people addicted to Zilch: Anaïs and Benjamin, the French couple. They joined us for drinks the night we got back from our trek. We ended up drinking the first draft beer we’ve had since we started traveling and played Zilch until about 10:30. Well, I guess that’s late for Myanmar. We were the only people in the streets and when we got to our hotel, the doors were locked and the gate was shut! Thankfully, we saw a little bell which summoned a boy to rescue us. That night was the best night of sleep I’ve had!

 
Sadly a bit of Cindy became installed in me and by 6 am I was up! Rise and shine, it’s bacon time! We spent the whole day with Anaïs and Benjamin. It started with biking an hour to the hot springs which turned out to be a hot tub with a $10 entrance fee. Scratch that! Then we took a boat (with our bikes and all) to see the jumping cat monastery which no longer has jumping cats! By this time we only had a few hours before our bus left, so no time for the winery. We had our last drinks with our new friends before heading for the bus. As per usual, the pickup van was late. We picked up numerous more people and headed out of town. Are we going to drive the whole way there in this minivan?!? After half an hour of worrying, we rolled into the bus station and boarded the bus. We laid our plastic bags down on the seat (to prevent bug bites), and here comes another long night!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Trekking to Richland!

Hellooooo from the rooftop patio at the Richland Hotel in Inle Lake! We made it!!! We’ve trekked from Kalaw to Inle (with a little help from a truck). Normally the root takes three days and two nights. Our schedule didn’t allow that much time so we signed up for the two day trek and drove the first part. Thinking back on it, thank god we didn’t do the three day because I’m sore just from the two day!

We trekked through rolling hills filled with chili, ginger, and potatoes plantations with a few rice patties thrown in there. At one point we were on a single track following a farmer and his cows! We passed through many villages with little kids coming out of houses, barns, and behind trees just to wave “Ming-la-ba” (Hello).

Since our cook’s tire popped in route to the first day’s lunch, and therefore lunch took 3 hours instead of 1, the last part of our trek was in the dark. We arrived at the farmer’s house around 7pm. Once again, the guests, us Westerners, ate in one room while the family and guide ate in another. I’m curious about the dinner guest customs because twice now the family has eaten separately from the guests. By 9 pm Suzie, the French couple, and myself were playing dice while everyone else was asleep. Clearly we had no idea we’d be up before dawn to finish the hike. Sure enough breakfast was on the table by 6 am and we started the hike groggy and far before my sleepy eyes woke up.
 
The temperature varies tremendously here. At night you’re in jeans with a light jacket and by mid-day all you want to do is swim in a cool lake. So it was probably a good idea to hike before it starts getting hot around 9am. As per usual, we were a little late and got to Richland sound 5 pm. A nice, clean bed in our own room has never felt so good!

Today we’re exploring Inle Lake and tonight we’re heading back to Yangon!

Kalaw, Myanmar

Kalaw is a little town and that’s about it. The main attraction is the trekking. You can hike around Kalaw or to Inle Lake which is our plan! We’re doing a two day, one night trek to Inlet Lake tomorrow. I’m very excited!

While we were in Kalaw, we figured we’d check out the town and explore the cave. The guesthouse receptionist told us the cave was just a cave so we didn’t have to worry about showing our shoulders or knees. Suzie and I roll up with knees out and shoulders for all to see when, in fact, the cave is a pagoda. So, we asked the nearby store if she had anything to cover us, but she had nothing. We started our sad walk back to the hotel until we saw a fabric store a few minutes later. Here goes nothing, we’ll give it a shot! With some hand gestures, a few English words, and many laughs we finally got our story across and walked out with skirts made of large pieces of fabric and a shawl. Boy did they laugh hard at us! We got to see the cave shrines for Buddha which was cool solely because it was defiantly unique, but still nothing to write home about.

See you in Inle Lake!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dinner for Two

Suzie and I were invited to a Burmese family dinner. We had no idea what to expect or what to bring or what not to bring. Thankfully our tour guide told us no one brings flowers unless it’s for a girlfriend and even that is not very common. Scratch that idea! So, we brought drinks instead and a little desert. We sat at the table to find there were only two placesettings! Hmmmmm are we eating with the family?? I guess the family had already eaten, or so they said, and it was only the son that was going to join us. At least we had one family member joining us! The plates came out full of rice. Holy cow! How are Suzie and I going to eat all this rice?!? The food was delicious. We had red curry, sweet and sour soup with quail eggs, duck egg salad, and cauliflower. I noticed the boy only really used the broth from the soup and the red curry with rice. I don’t know if that was personal preference or he wanted to save the meat and veggies for the rest of his family. Throughout dinner, the family members came and went as if eating in the kitchen. I don’t know if this was a cultural difference or what, but I just let it happen. Half a plate of rice down and I couldn’t go any further. I wanted to, but I was stuffed to the rim! Desert was mini bananas which looked so good, but soooo bad because I was so full!

After dinner we played go fish with cards. I never realized how hard it is to explain a game to people who aren’t fluent in English. Though, the kids caught on quick so afterwards we played a dice game. Before we headed out, we got a family portrait which I hope to send them later. There address was very different from ours. It described where the house was in relation to a restaurant and included a phone number. We gave them our information and I would love to stay in contact with the family. They are such amazing people. I hugged the mother which I quickly found out was not a part of the culture but she embrace it, and shook the fathers hand. They seemed so appreciative for our presents which was exactly how we felt as well.

I hope we all get to have dinner again sometime soon!

Exploration of the Ancient City

Today we explored Bagan! We started at 8:30am with a guide recommended by our new Burmese family friends. Our guide was very bright, spoke good English, and was extremely nice. You can tell being a tour guide is a fairly profitable business because our guide had a bigger motorbike and a nice purse. Normally a day guide cost about $35. I don’t know what percentage she receives after her company takes their portion and I’m sure the government does as well. Today hopefully was under the table so she could keep it all.

We started the tour at Shwezigon Pagoda, then Ananda Temple, Thatbyinnyu Temple, Shwesandaw Pagoda, and ended on Dhammayangyi Pahto. Each of these are very famous. Shwezigon Pagoda is a good one to start at because it’s on the far north side of town. Ananda Temple is known for its beauty. Thatbyinnyu Temple is the tallest while Dhammayangyi Pahto is the largest. Lastly, Shwesandaw Pagoda is one of two pagodas left which you can actually climb to the top. The view was nothing I’ve ever seen before. Began is defiantly a world beauty. There are 3,122 temples, pagodas, stupas, and monasteries. Some are made of brick, some sandstone, some are painted, and others are left raw. There was period of time when Burma was wealthy and had a good economy. During this time, every king had a temple or pagoda made for him, even if he was a bad king (Dhammayangyi Pahto for example). In addition to these structures, most common people built little structures before they passed away. Before the earthquake in mid to late 20th century, there were over 4,000 structures! Throughout the tour we learned facts, history, and religion behind these structures. There are three main kinds of religious structures. You can walk inside temples, you cannot go inside pagodas, but there are exterior stairs which you can climb, and stupas you cannot go inside or climb on the outside.

We also briefly spoke with our guide about the government. Myanmar had gone through many governmental changes. Before WW II, the British ruled the country. After they were granted freedom, the government turned into a monarchy and King’s rule was law. Then the military took control. In 2011 A president was elected. This president still has many militaristic views but is much better than when the military controlled. School have now become public, people have more rights, and tourism has greatly increased. Even with all of the reform, you must realize there are still many parts of the country that tourists are not allowed. Crossing the border by land is possible, but difficult. There are numerous military check points, the roads are bad, and at some crossings, you cannot legally go any further than the border town. There is still internal fighting between villages. We spoke with some traveler who were motobiking around the country. They were still in a “tourist safe zone” and were mistakenly shot at by a nearby village. Thankfully they were not hit, but defiantly hightailed their way out of there! Problems between Muslims and Buddhists also exists. Over the last decade many Muslims have been killed or run out of the country. Even with all the problems, the people are still some of the nicest people I’ve met.  The next election will be in 2015, and hopefully it will help the country continue to move forward.

Bagan


Today we hopped off the night bus bright and early in Bagan. At the crack of dawn we were searching for a guesthouse in a horse-pulled buggy… am I still dreaming??? During the search we met a couple heading to Mount Popa for the morning so we tagged along. First stop was a sugarplum whiskey distillery (hut) on the side of the road. It was surprisingly tasty! Next, we were off to the Nat (spirit) temple on top of Mount Popa. Shoes were forbidden for the 777 stair trek to the top. The temple was covered with monkeys! Some big, some small, and some mothers with a child attached to their stomach. At the top, there was a beautiful view of the plains and surrounding temples. So, to sum it up, the view was greenish brown speckled with gold temples.

The craziest and most memorable part of this journey was the Burmese people. Of course I was constantly catching people staring, but I also caught a few people secretly taking photos. The brave ones would ask to take photos with us. This turned from one photo with the whole family to individual shots with every family member. As I approached the last stair to the top of the temple, I saw a family picnicking. When their eyes met mine, they lit up. Then, when they saw Suzie walking behind me, their faces got even brighter. With no time to spare, they dropped everything and were asking for a photo. It was funny how the first photo was of Suzie and I standing close, but not touching the Burmese women, but ny the last photo the women were holding on to our arm with both hands.

Around noon, we headed back for lunch and nap time. Later, Suzie and I caught sunset at Htilominlo Temple. We were let by a little girl, her brother, and sister to a small monetary just outside the main temple. We were the only ones present for the sunset. The locals were quite talkative and very curious about us. By the end of the sunset we were all good friends. They showed us a good place to eat, but we had to follow at a distance because of the police. If you don’t have a tourist guide license, then you’re not allowed to show people around. I think it’s because tourist guides pay a percentage to the government, and so they don’t want people making money under the table. You must remember it wasn’t long ago when the military ruled the country. At the restaurant, our new friends ordered for us in Burmese. We tried to convince them to sit with us, but they continued to make excuses. I think it was because of the police. After dinner, the girl found us and asked us to come back to their place. At their house there was two plates set. Suzie and I sat down and shortly after they brought us ginger salad and fried broad beans with a Coke and a Fanta. They whole family was so nice, friendly and welcoming. They loved asking us questions about our life. Tomorrow we have dinner plans at their house. I’ll post on how it goes : )

Ta Ta for now!

Note to Readers

I apologize about no photos, but with very limited internet access in Myanmar and the power cuts in Nepal, photos have become impossible to upload.

A Spectacle of Stares


Our Myanmar experience started with the taxi ride from the airport to our hostel. Half way through, we made a turn and I could see the Shwedagon Pagoda. Omg it was beautiful! It was only 9:30 at night, but everyone was in their homes so the only thing lit was the pagoda. Never will I forget that sight!

If the average person in Myanmar had a camera, there would be thousands of photos of me. Constantly Suzie and I get stared at and the occasionally wave. The first day in Myanmar we took a three hour train ride around Yangon. It was very interesting to see the difference between the city and the outskirts. People pointed, waved, and stared at the sight of two westerners, one blonde and one tall. Even with the curious stares, the people are lovely. They continue to awe me with their niceness, friendliness, and desire to talk to you. At one point a stranger on the train saw an unintentional worried look on my face and asked if everything was ok. That would never happen on the subway in New York. Despite what everyone has said about this costly country, the food is ridiculously cheap. For dinner Suzie and I ordered chicken. We got a small plate of curry chicken followed by two plates of rice, soup, a potatoes dish, spicy salsa, and greens. I was a little worried about the cost since we unintentionally got so many dishes. When the bill came it, it consisted of one beer and one rice (all side dishes included). Traditional Burmese food is a small portion of meat with numerous side dishes. The beer cost just as much as all the food, a whopping $1.50! Now we’re on a night bus to Bagon, see you in the morning!

Opening My Eyes

When we arrived in Myanmar, it was like taking a step back in time. This country is not use to tourists and is not as developed as the rest of Southeast Asia. It is a very funny country. I have a feeling that the way things are done have changed many times. For example, they drive on the right side of the road, but the steering wheel is on the right as well. It’s very odd to see the driver on the outer side of the car. None of the taxis have meters so you have to know how far your destination is or the going rate. Food is extremely cheap, but lodging is fairly expensive. We had to pay $25 for a room which was very basic and a little dirty. In Thailand or Vietnam, you’d be living like a king for that price! Let’s just reminded you that in Change Mai, Suzie and I paid $2.60 for a bed in a four person room. We would never pay more than $10 for a private room and bathroom. Also, it’s very difficult to book anything online. Wait to book until you get there. There are a few guesthouses and hostels on hostelworld.com, and the three or so that are on there are either booked or very expensive.

Another funny thing is the time zone. They are half an hour off Bangkok time, but in the wrong direction. The clothing is very different. The shape of the clothes are very square. Both men and women wear skirts that look like a colorful (green or blue plaid for men), ankle length rectangles. I guess they are cool, comfortable, easy, and most importantly, cheap.

I think the people are the most amazing part of the country. They are so nice and friendly. Without even asking, they will offer their help. They people are so nice to tourist, but when I asked a taxi driver and he said they don’t want the tourist and the tourists don’t help the economy very much. I wonder if that opinion is true for most locals.

Give me a Slice of Pai

Pai is AMAZING!!! I love this little town. It reminds me a lot of steamboat. Pai is a little hippie town three hours northwest of Chiang Mai. Suzie and I finally found a place to relax and hang out. We spent four nights here and would have spent more if we didn’t already book a flight to Myanmar.

On the first day, we spent the morning catching up with our blogs, uploading photos, and so on. In the afternoon, we decided to explore elephant riding. An hour later, we were both on the back of an elephant heading towards the river to play in the water. If you think mechanical bull riding is hard, try riding an elephant! The guides were tricksters and would give the elephants commands in Thai and three seconds later we would be in the water. The guides loved putting us on the elephant’s neck, and telling the elephant to try to shake us off. Wow, what a work out trying to stay on! At one point, Suzie and I were sitting on the elephant’s head only be shot backwards, over the elephant’s body, into the water. Sadly, play time came to an end and we had to ride our elephant back to camp so he could go into the mountains for the night. Suzie and I spent a little extra money, but went to the happiest elephants in Pai. The owner wants to start an elephant sanctuary because wild elephants are so rare. So, it’s nice to know our money went to a good cause : )

The next day was another lazy day. We hung around town and rented bicycles. I had been wanting to go fishing so we started the trek to the fishing resort. Right from the start, I regretted our decision. The whole ride was a gradual uphill. We continued for about 5 km before we decided to throw in the rag. Tomorrow we will rent a motorbike and explore it that way! On our way back to town, we didn’t have to peddle once (thankfully!) Almost back, we stumbled upon a gym and decided to try it out. So, we’re waking up bright and early the next day for… MUAY THAI!

Muay Thai is a greeeeat work out! We started at 8 learning technique, and then had some contact practice with the owner. After some stretching and abs, Suzie and I were ready to fall over by 11. The rest of the afternoon we went fishing and to a waterfall (this time with a motorbike). Out of the five of us fishing, I was one of the lucky two who caught something! I also discovered a great technique. I cast my line, napped for about half an hour and when I woke up… taDA there was a fish on my line! How long the fish had been on there, I have no idea, but he was defiantly hooked when I pulled him out. Before heading back, we went to the waterfall. It had a natural slide that we slid down into a murky pool. Weeeeee!

When we biked into town, there was something ere about it. No traffic lights were working and all the 7-11’s were closed. We asked around and heard that there was an accident near Chiang Mai that took out a power line pole. All the electricity in the town was out for the night! This means no internet, no lights, no water, and only gas cooked food. We quickly bought some bottles of water and got a candle from our guesthouse reception. I think tonight is going to be a quiet one! The night consisted of a candlelit yoga session and hanging out in our hut. Tomorrow we’re starting the trek back to Bangkok. We don’t know exactly how we’ll get there, but we have to be in Bangkok the night of the 20th to catch a flight to Myanmar!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Life is Good.

Today was an amazing day. Suzie and I started at the crack of dawn preparing for our biking adventure. By about 11 am we finally had two motorbikes, gas, and were off to Pai. Our first stop was the waterfall. It wasn’t far off the main road and turned out to be gorgeous! The waterfall must have been a local favorite because there weren’t many tourist. Numerous kids of all ages splashed about playing games swimming. Suzie and I made ourselves swim in the frigid cold water and then it was lunch time. We stopped at a cute café for some Pot-kA-POW-moo or as others call it fried chili, basil pork. The next detour was to …… National Park. Talk about a real live Alice in Wonderland scene! The landscape was very green, with crazy plants, and a smoky view.  We continued on through the mountains. It’s fall here so trees are changing colors and leaves are falling. It’s also burning season so the air is filled with smoke throughout northern Thailand. We even saw fires lapping at the road. The fire is only hot enough to burn the fallen leaves and not harm the trees.

During the first half of the beautiful, 763 turn road, the scenery reminded me of Kentucky with lush greenery. Though, all of a sudden, my nose was filled with pine scent. About three fourths of the way to Pai, the scenery turned to tall pine trees. We were in Colorado now! Towards Pai and off the mountain pass, the scenery was back to Thailand with banana trees, layered fields, and smoky mountains.

Just before Pai and with only 45 minutes before closing, we pulled into the hot springs. Imagine Strawberry Park Hot Springs in the 70’s, that is what we were about to take a dip into. Only elementary, slimy structures surrounding the hot springs pools. There were 5 pools ranging from 36 degrees Celsius to 32. Boy, did it get hot! Around 6, we moseyed into town to find a good burger joint and a cute hut to lay our head. 9 pm felt like midnight and it was time for dreaming!

 
Nighty night world! I’m excited for another adventurous day in Pai!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chiang Chiang Chiang...


 
Chiang of Mai

For five long days

I thought you were my city

But I found out

I’m just a tourist within your walls

 

Now if only I could stop singing Chain Chain Chain by Janis Joplin every time I mention Chiang Mai.

 

Chiang Mai was filled with activities. We started off by exploring the city and stumbled across the Insect and Amazing Science Museum. It was run by a little, old women who was one of the nicest people in the city. She took photos of every visitor and would email the photos to the visitor. We learned all about butterflies, beetles, mosquitoes, and malaria. Later that night, we perused the night market. It was like going to a county fair! We started with some street food, and soon found ourselves getting our feet sucked on by fish! Yes, these were little fish that eat the dead skin off your feet. It tickled more than anything else I’ve ever felt. The fish would try to get in between your toes. When you pulled your feet out of the water, one or two stuck on for a couple seconds until they realize water is more important than gross, dead skin. We did a little shopping and finished our night with ice cream.

To be blatantly honest, I may overindulge in massages. So, I know a good massage from a bad massage from an amazing massage. Throughout all of Thailand I must say the best massage was at the women’s prison in Chiang Mai. The cost is going rate, just over $5/hour. You start off by changing into the provided cloths and a women washes your feet. During the massage you’re trying to ignore your curiosity of why your masseuse is in the slammer. At the end of the massage, you relax in the garden with a cup of tea. The only thing I would change about the whole experience is the Women Prison’s sign. I was lost for half an hour and asked for directions at least three times. After passing the prison and searching again in the opposite direction, I finally found it. I guess it’s fairly normal not to advertise the location of a prison. It’s also abnormal to have inmates give massages. I have no idea who was the brains of this little fundraising idea, but I tip my hat off to them!

Before leaving Chiang Mai, we HAD to watch a Mauy Thai fight. This was very entertaining. On the first three fights I won three hundred baht. Quit while you’re ahead, so I pocketed the money and was done betting for the night. There was one fight with older kids, but the rest was mostly 10-14 years old. At one point, all the younger kids got in the ring and were blindfolded. When the ref blew his whistle all the boys stated charging one another blindly! Ha! You only see this stuff on YouTube! The ref even got socked a few times. It was a great time, and by the end of the fights I only somewhat knew how Mauy Thai was scored.

The next day we set off for our trek! The first few stops were touristy, as per usual. We hit the butterfly and orchid farm, then the market. Finally, it was elephant time! This is what I had been waiting for!! We arrived at the camp, and in five minutes and with no instruction, I was on the elephant’s neck while Suzie was in the chair. Let me tell you, elephant rides are not nearly as smooth as you’d expect. Here we were, in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road, riding the largest elephant at the camp with no instruction. I would be lying if I said wasn’t a little nervous, so I moved up to the seat with Suzie. We bought bananas for the elephant, and before we knew it, the ride was over. I couldn’t help but think, was that it?! I guess so... We continued on by hiking to a waterfall with a natural, rock slide! Weeeeee! Of course Suzie and I had to try it. Another two and a half hours later we were at the village. Sadly, I saw more westerners than locals.
Day two on the trek we saw another waterfall, tubed some terrifying class I rapids, and bamboo rafted down the river. By sunset we were back in Chiang Mai. That night we laid low because the next day we were motobiking to Pai!!!! J
 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Homesick

No matter how long you travel or how far away from home you travel, there will always be a point when you get homesick. Yes, I have constantly missed the obvious things such as my boyfriend, friends, pets, and family, but there are heavier waves of homesickness that come and go. I miss all kinds of foods such as Mexican food. We’ve had one burrito since we’ve been here and somehow there were hints of coconut and peanuts in the flavor. I miss the simple things like always having toilet paper or more so, flushing the toilet paper down the toilet. I miss not showering in sandals. I miss drinking tap water and refilling your water bottle. I miss being treated like the average person instead of being cheated whenever possible and haggling for everything. I miss cooking my own food.

There are sacrifices you have to make to travel, and traveling is not convenient or comfortable. But hey, I’d do the one-two-shake instead of having toilet paper any day to have the opportunity to travel. I’m learning life lessons that I’ll bring back into my normal life. And when I find those life lessons, I’ll let you know ; )

Luang Prabang




Imagine a small little French town nestled between two rivers. This is Luang Prabang. There’s a gorgeous waterfall about 40 km outside of town. We spent an afternoon here climbing to the top and swimming in the ice cold current.



The night market had shops that stretched forever and if you know how to barter, the deals were endless. We made it to the top of Mount Phousi which towered over the city. The view was incredible!

In our tuk tuk to the waterfall, we met Shana and Oliver. They were a nice couple from Australia and Scotland with endless travel guide advice. For the next few days, this was the gang: Shana, Oliver, Milly, Siobhan, Suzie, and myself. We swam at a local pool, caught numerous happy hours, chilled at a bar smoking hookah, and played cards and dice until the wee hours of the night.

To get to Chiang Mai from Luang Prabang you can take a 13 hour bus, fly, or take a boat. Since we’ve heard of all the accidents with the speed boats, we sacrificed two days and took the slow boat. The ride wasn’t too bad, it kind of reminded me of traveling in the RV to Kentucky. You have two days to catch up on sleep, blogging, reading, and eating. Similar to the RV, there’s the occasional rock and bump, but instead of having to worry about the silverware drawer falling out, you must be careful of a splash or two. The boat is outfitted with van seats. Two by two, some with headrests and most without. We thankfully had a table to play cards and dice. Though, rookie mistake, we sat near the back and all you can here is the motor, Oops!



 
It would have been a painful journey if it weren’t for Milly and Siobhan, our Aussi travel buddies. In total, we will have traveled with these girls for about a week. They are corky, goofy and, intentionally or not, they always make you laugh! I’m sad we’re splitting ways in Hauy Xai. It’s made our travels much more adventuresome and exciting. Suzie and I will continue the cards and dice game, but it won’t be the same without them. Until next time, happy travels!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Touristy, Tubing Sensation!


Vang Vieng is known for its crazy, drunken tubing. Just over a year ago, 14 bars were set up along the river for this whole day excursion. Alcohol and water aren’t a great mix, and so with pressure from other countries’ governments, especially Australia, the bars were cut down to 4. Now, it’s a soothing trip and a great way to meet people. Yes there is still drinking, but everyone takes care of each other so we all make it down safely.

So, of course Suzie and I had to join in on the fun!

 
 We first started our day biking to the Blue Lagoon. We’re pretty cheap so we got the road cruiser bikes with baskets. With one look at the road, we turned around to pay a little extra for mountain bikes. A little girl approached us and kept showing she wanted a photo. Well, I guess it won’t hurt anything if we take a photo right..? Sure enough, after the photo she’s asking for money. Suzie and I packed lunch so with a quarter loaf of bread she was skipping off with a smile.
 

Ok, so on the road to the Blue Lagoon image biking on a driving range that NEVER picks up the golf balls. About half an hour in and countless complaints from me, we decided to screw the blue lagoon and go to the closest cave. Suzie, our new Swedish friend, and myself we the brave enough to stumble into a cave and trust a local to show us around. For about $1.25 we were trekking through fields with a guide and headlamps. The cave started out fairly small, but after every turn there was a latter, bridge, or walkway! Is this thing ever going to end?!? That was, hands down, the furthest I’ve ever been in a cave. Wow, did we trust someone we’d never met before and spoke as much English as I spoke Thai? Without a second thought, yep, we were in the cave! Thankfully, we made it out safely and had the opportunity to swim in the little fresh water spring. Suzie was only mid-thigh deep in the deepest spot. Here I come, hot and wild. With a graceful slip on a rock, in no time I was drenched from head to toe. At least we had the bike ride from hell to dry my clothes off.
 

 
Back into town, all we wanted to do was relax and drift down the stream on a tube. It was about 1:00 when we hopped on tubes to start the adventure. We had heaps of fun bouncing from bar to bar, meeting locals and tourists, and floating down in groups of 10 or 15. We had to get the tubes back by 6pm to get our full deposit back, so in a frantic rush at the end, we jumped out of the river, hailed a tuk tuk, and got the tubes back with three minutes to spare! On the river we met Millie and Siobhan, our new traveling buddies : ) We went from 1:00 until midnight enjoying ourselves. Bright and early at 9 am the next day we climbed into a minivan for a 6 hour, twisty mountain pass drive to Luang Prabang.

 

 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Whole New Bed

A whole new bed,

A new fantastic point of view,

No one to tell me where to sleep,

Or say I’m only dreaming.

 

Well shit… here I am on a night train from Bangkok to Laos in someone else’s sleeper bunk with nothing but my tablet, wallet, and passport. Clearly I missed the memo that they lock the door between cars during the night. It all started out with a beer at the bar and meeting some Aussies. The bar car closed so we headed back to the groups’ car to chat. We were somewhat warned but with the language barrier, I thought it was just a noise complaint. As soon as I decided to be responsible and get in bed by midnight, I found out that the doors were locked. Thankfully my new friends gave me a bed and a bottle of water so I’m off to sleep.

Traveling lesson: make the best out of the situation.

Made new friends... check

Still sleeping in a bed… check

Got travel advice on a better/cheaper/easier way to get to Vang Vieng… check

Found time to blog since I don’t have my book on me… check

 

Good night!!!

Bangkok, round II


Bangkok, here we come!!!


Suzie and I took the ferry from Koh Phangan to Surat Thani, and then hopped on a night train to Bangkok. We arrive at our couchsurfer’s house by trekking through a park filled with tents from the protests. We got out of there quick! Our host was an entrepreneurial business man who traveled as he wished and was staying in the Marriot Executive Apartments. Wow, what a change from our last living sitch! We chatted with our host Ryan and his friend Tom for a bit, and then, surprise, two more couchsurfers showed up! Two girls from the Ukraine. We had actually seen these girls on the ferry from Koh Phangan to Surat Thani. What a small world! So the four of us took off to explore the reclining Buddha.



Later we made tacos for our host and starts playing some drinking games. Around 10 pm 3 more girl couchsurfers walked in! They we’re from Vietnam going to school in Singapore. I’ve never been with so many cuchsurfers on one couch! We hit a club and crawled into bed around 3 only to wake up at 7:30 the next day!

Today was TIGER TEMPLE! We started off thinking about renting a car. That quickly changed to grabbing ham and cheese toasties at 7 Eleven and hopping in a cab heading towards the Southern Bus Station. From there we bussed to Kanchanaburi and hopped on a local bus for the 40 min ride to Tiger Temple. It was 2 o’clock by now and the Tiger Temple closed at 3 (really 3:30, but the taxi driver told us 3 in attempt to convince us we HAD to go with him). I was praying we’d make it on time, especially after the hour taxi and 2.5 hour bus ride.

There are no bus stops for the local bus. All you do is stand on the side of the street and when the bus sees you, it’ll honk. If you start waving your arms, “poof!” you’re standing at a bus stop. To get off the bus you hop up, run to the front, and, for us, yell “Tiger Temple! Tiger Temple!” We were let off on the road and still had 2 km down a dirt road. We lucky hitchhiked with a minibus and arrived at the temple gates with ten minutes to spare. All is good : ) The tigers were soooooo cool! We were lead around to pet about eight different tigers. I may or may not have gone twice ; )
 
 

When walking the tigers back to their cages, the one in front of us made a weird noise, put up its tail, and sprayed Suzie! Now, I guess she is his territory. We were told it was good luck. So hopefully we'd make it back to Bangkok by sunset!
Our travels back weren’t nearly as chaotic. We haggled with a mini bus driver for a ride to Bangkok. Our starting price was 300 each. The language barrier was to our advantage because he would take nothing less than a whopping 500 for both!  That night we explore Kohsand Road and saw fried scorpions! No way Jose was I trying that!

For our last night, we swapped couches and stayed with a lovely guy from New York. We celebrated his birthday by seeing Robocop (much better than I expected), and grabbed drinks at a roof top bar.  Tomorrow we’re exploring the largest market in Bangkok and then it’s a night train to Laos.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Koh Phangan

If islands were parties, Koh Phangan would be the end-of-the-year, 5 keggar celebration.

We were surprised at the size of the island. This was no Koh Tao. So, when in Rome, we rented another motorbike!

We started our adventures by exploring the infamous Amsterdam Bar/Mushroom Mountain. It was a brilliant place to watch the sunset. We met our roommate, Bobby (Rob officially), a 18 year old, wide-eyed, kid from England. Suzie and I adopted him as our little brother.

During the day, we all explored the island in a hunt for the perfect beach. That night started off slow by playing some pool, but a few beers later, a 10 minute boat ride, and some good music we found ourselves on Eden, a secret beach, watching the sun rise over the ocean. It was an unforgettable night filled with many new friends.
Beginning of the night...
End of the night...


Note: Ignore the nose patch, minor scuba accident which is now mostly healed.

Today was a good day to be tired. Suzie and I slept the whole boat ride and most of the bus ride to the Surat Thani train station. I was a little worried at one point when our bus turned onto a dirt road. This is about the moment when I read "Get off ASAP, they robbed me for everything I had except this pen". Normally I would think this was just a silly joke, but as we're approaching what looks like abandon warehouses I started getting a little worried. On arrival, the bus driver announced a 20 minute break for toilets and food. I still wasn't convinced I would survive the day until another bus showed up. Needless to say, we made it to the train station. Boy, got to love the Thai way! Now, we're on a night train to Bangkok.

 
Note to self: do not drop anything in the toilet, it will forever sit on the train tracks with all the rest of the passengers’ disposable waste.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Scuba Island

Koh Tao is a cute, little island north of Ko Phangan known for its cheap diving. Every turn you make, there's a scuba shop staring you in the face. The island reminds me a lot of Paros, Greece. It's fairly quiet on one side and a party island on the other. Pick your place. Suzie and I rented a motorbike and snorkel gear. Ha! What a sight! The two of us crammed on one scooter with snorkels coming out of my backpack and fins in Suzie's hands. We discovered Freedom Beach which quickly became our favorite beach on the island. Between its clear water, single beach bar, and coral mobiles hanging from the trees it was the place to be.



 
Now we're off to party central: Ko Phangan.

All the Wonderful Fruit!


I found this poster in a restaurant with all the wonderful fruit I want to try. 15 down, 21 to go! Hope I can find them all before I fly home!

Night Boat from Hell

We met a nice couple in Chumphon who also had the whole day to kill before their train left. We got the best travel tip so far. The girl told us to go ahead and buy the more expensive night boat to Koh Tao. She mentioned how she was nervous on the cheap, small boat as there was only one exit, and hundreds of people crammed in the boat. Not thinking much about it, we spent the extra dollar. Our boat left at 11pm and arrived at 5 am.



Around 2:30 in the morning I awoke to an ear shattering crash! Shit, are we going under? I heard the crash again and the boat was rocking side to side like a rollercoaster. We were rolling in our bunk beds hoping our luggage was too heavy to roll off! I thought I was going to meet my maker that night. I heard another crashing wave on the boat and wondered if this was normal. I wanted to go to the deck and see the night swell, but instead I stayed huddled under my covers for fear of falling off the deck. All I could think about was how lucky we were to get the bigger boat. I couldn't imagine being on any smaller boat. I defiantly now know what our traveling friend was talking about.

Sometime between crashes I'd fallen asleep only to wake up again at 4am. I was so happy to know we only had an hour left. The waters have to calm down as we get closer, right? Needless to say, we made it to Koh Tao, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.
Never again will I take the night boat from