08.18.2011 80 °F
I arrived home from our 12-hour bus ride and 10-minute taxi around 5:00 am on Tuesday, just in time to squeeze in a whole hour and a half of napping before a full day of school. Each day since school started has been hectic like this, and I plead borderline-insanity as to why I haven't been updating this blog more! After a few more mellow days in Bangkok, I hope to be less zombie-like and fill you in on Thailand living on a much more regular basis. Here's a start with my past week in Koh Phangan!
The tone of the weekend all started on Khao San Road when 19 of us met at the travel agency and thanked goodness that our hastily-booked 1,300 baht transportation had not been a scam! We boarded the bus, had a celebratory "cheers" that we'd all made it on time, and then mentally prepared ourselves for 20 hours of travel time--longer than most of us spent actually journeying from the US to Bangkok. We figured out one thing very quickly along the way: if you want a group of people to bond in the quickest way possible, throw them into the mess that is intense traveling together. Trust me, there is something very special about seeing your neighbor's head bobbing up and down with the motion of the ferry ride as they try to sleep that makes the first five hours together feel like years!
We all reached the island with a massive need to do some stretching routines, but instead had to pile into the beds of pick-up truck taxis because, oh yeah, we had not booked anywhere to stay! This set of bungalows called Friendly Resort lived wonderfully up to their name and accommodated us in a heartbeat and a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders. As soon as we dropped our luggage in the rooms and jumped in the pool to cool off/experience something close to a shower, the six days and five nights of zero stress and complete relaxation began.
I didn't wear a watch and rarely checked the time on my cell phone, so I can't differentiate too well between which days housed with adventures (and the next time any of you visit an island, I must INSIST that you do the same! It's the perfect escape). Every night we'd explore a different part of Haad Rin beach and by day we toured the island. I jumped off of a pier into the ocean, trekked to see a Buddhist altar, rode on the back of my friend's motorcycle up hills and winding roads, and unwound with my first Thai massage beachside. My favorite memory of these island days has got to be the hour-ride we took home after visiting Haad Sadet beach on the western side of the island. The beach itself was a spitting image of any photo you'd see in a Thailand book--ribboned boats tied up an cliffs practically made for jumping off of--but I kid you not, it was the ride back that made that trip! We piled into the bed of a pick-up truck with two benches bolted to the floor and no roof overhead (as we had seen on all of the taxi trucks on the island). This was actually some guy's personal car. He took us up and down the twisty dirt roads at 40mph through jungles that we are certain could be used in a reenactment of Jurassic Park. And the smiles that were plastered on our faces were probably only 10% due to the stream of wind, 90% pure joy!
That's the thing about Thailand, everything is really about the journey of life. That beach on Haad Sadet was the most beautiful one I have yet to see, but the real kicker was traveling down away from it. I've also been writing about my trip in Koh Phangan for a few minutes and have not even mentioned the Full Moon Party--the reason that we went! That's true Thailand for you.
Well that last night, the full moon, was phenomenal! We painted our bodies neon and spent the night dancing with 40,000 other travelers under the moon. Tiki torches, fire dancing, and DJs lined the sands so the look of the Full Moon Party was akin to a luau, Coachella, and Floatopia combined! Most people had cleared out by 5am, so when my friend Lex and I stood in the ocean to watch the sun rise, it was almost silent. The most magical experience of my life. I didn't sleep a wink that night--instead, we walked slowly back to Friendly to wake the troops and make our 12-noon ferry back. We had become regulars at one local restaurant, and she opened at 8am that morning just for our group's farewell breakfast.
The journey back to Bangkok was 20 hours overnight once again, and we arrived on Khoa San Road at 4:30am. I slept for a grand total of one and a half hours, like a boss, and we all looked so beat for the full 6-hour day of school that followed. Absolutely worth it.
Since being back in Bangkok, I've laid low to recuperate! We went to the theater Wednesday night and watched The Rise of the Apes (which I completely recommend!) and have had nice meals together back at 3J. Last night we visited our favorite food vendor across the street, Pok, and she introduced us to her husband, 12-year-old daughter, Yuy, and 7-year-old son, Art. We had our favorite Tom Yum noodle soup and Pok provided us with complimentary fruits as always! This time it was guava, faran, and we helped Art with his English homework and flipped through family photo albums right at their table on the side of the street. Pok, in all of her sweetness, even invited us to her hometown of Surin so that we could see some elephants! Who knows, maybe that'll be our next Thailand adventure!
After the first solid 8 hours of sleep that I've gotten in 2 weeks, I am completely back to my regular happy self again. No more exhaustion or running on empty for quite some time! And! I have the greatest friends in the entire world: Serena and Bibi are going to come visit Thailand in December! Life could not get any better right now (and I'm going to keep that in mind as I leave you here to take on 6 hours of school today).
I miss you all and assure you that I am having the greatest of times in my new home here in Thailand! If you ever have to opportunity to come to Thailand, please take it. This place never ceases to amaze me.