Walking With the Gentle Giants

There’s not much to say about Chiang Mai. I mostly sat in the hostel working on the website and figuring out what I was doing next on this trip. I did manage to go and see some Thai boxing with the owner of the hostel that I was staying at. I also got to cross a part off my bucket list and went to take care of elephants for a day. 

  It didn’t go as planned at first, being that they forgot to pick me up in the morning, but after getting picked up by the owner of the elephant sanctuary, I was on my way. 

  It was deep in the middle of the jungles of northern Thailand. Miles of dirt roads finally lead us to the place where the elephants roamed freely. We were instantly introduce to the family of five gentle giants and got to feed and play with them. One elephant took a liking to me and followed me around like a puppy. I honestly can’t remember her name (language barrier) but she was about 46 years old and was very smart. She figured out where I had the bananas and sugar cane in my shirt. Every once in a while I would feel her trunk picking the snacks out of my pocket.   We found ourselves in a creek bathing the elephants and mudding them. Mudding the animals cools them and keeps the bugs off. We spent a few more hours giving the elephants medicine and learning how to take care of them day by day.  


This whole experience was beyond my expectations and I really enjoyed myself more than I ever have on this trip. Before I knew it, we’re back on the truck heading back to the city. Later that night I finally managed to walk around the night market with a Dutch family that was stay in the same hostile I was. It was a good night and I really enjoyed resting for most of it before figuring out where I was going. My original thought was to go to Laos, but with their slow mentality and travel, I knew I didn’t have the time and so I bypassed it. Instead I took a night bus to Bangkok and jumped on the flight from there to go into Cambodia. 

 

Drinking the Salt Water

After my trip through the Krabi, I decided to go with the two Americans to Koh Phi Phi which is a small island in the Andaman Sea. This island was best known from the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, which (once again) I’ve never seen before. It’s was a two hour boat ride to are destination. Once we got off the boat we got bombarded by people trying to sale us stuff. This is when we realized this island was a tourist trap and really made me want to jump back on the boat back to Krabi. I also ran into a friend that informed us that there was bed bugs at the hostel we booked, so didn’t take a chance and canceled our booking. Now homeless, we described to book a hotel instead and I was happy we did because it was the best view on the island!  The next day, they talked me into doing a boat tour to all the islands around the area. The thing I was worried about was the fact that they had snorkeling, but I don’t know how to swim well. Luckily they had life vests which helped me a ton from not drowning. The only bad thing was that the current took me farther away from the boat then I thought and that’s when I heard the horn blow to come back. Now it was a mad Dash/doggy pattle back which felt like forever. Sucking in about a gallon of sea water and dying of exhaustion, I finally made to the boat where I went over today’s decisions while coughing up salt water. 


  After resting for a bit we floated over a beach that still had signs of the 2004 tsunami. We continued the journey when the weather start to change for the worst and we had skip a couple island because of the choppy waters. We ended up at the island where they filmed that movie I never saw. At the end of the trip, we got to go to “monkey island” where the beach is infested with monkey although we only saw two while we were there. All in all, it was a good tour and we got back just in time to see the nightlife.   


On the last day on Koh Phi Phi the sun was out in all its glory, which was great if it wasn’t the fact that were leaving and I had to go up and down the stairs of the hotel a couple times. Unfortunately all the walking and the lack of water in my system didn’t do so well once I got to the boat and became sick and passed out for most of the trip back to Krabi. I got better at last bit of the boat ride and even managed to grab most of our bags to get off the boat. I made it over to the airport after saying goodbye to my awesome traveling partners. I had to leave the south to go explore the north of Thailand! 

No Reservations

The best thing about not having a plan is that you never know where you’ll end up. My thought was that I would be trekking it up north to Chiang Mai, but then a message from my buddy Ian changed all that. I wanted to sit on a beach since I got here and Bangkok and Chiang Mai was nowhere near that. Plans where changed within moments. 

Krabi is small town in the south end of Thailand and was just the place to Search for those beaches I was looking for. So early that morning I jump on my phone and booked a flight for that evening. That was the easy part, unfortunately the hostel I was booking was not available for the first night (which they informed me after the fact) now I was frantically trying to find somewhere else to go. I managed to find a “hotel” that was cheap in Krabi near the hostel I booked for the next couple of nights.   One crazy uber ride to the airport and the shortest flight I’ve ever been on, I found myself standing in a little airport about 15 minutes away from the center of Krabi. I hailed a taxi to the hotel, gave him the address and off I went. Unfortunately the nice taxi driver didn’t speak a word of English and come to find out, he had no idea where this “hotel” was. We drove around for 30 minutes when he pulled into a travel agency, where he got the agent to talk to me. After a little bit, we found the place on the map. Finding the place that I was staying was a bit surprising. The “hotel” was actually a sort of motel and most of the rooms had permanent residents in it. The room was fairly clean other than the lizards on the wall and the giant spider in the bathroom. I managed to sleep for a bit before they decided to either start working on the room next to me or was cutting up a dead body at 3 a clock in the morning. 



Once out of that wonderful hellhole, I decided to walk to my hostel. That afternoon I went and explore downtown Krabi and got food at the their market. That night I met a few pretty awesome people, two from the US, one from France and one from Australia. The two Americans, the Australian and I describe to rent scooters the next and go explore the beaches down the road from Krabi. This was a first for me because I’ve never been in the waves before. Later that day, we rode to a hot springs that seen better day, but we made the best of it. 


  We rode the scooter the next day where we saw more beaches, climbed a big rock and got caught in a thunderstorm while riding back. We seeked refuge at a restaurant with one of the best food on the trip so far. 


  Known of this was reserved or planned weeks before, it just happened. I think everyone needs a trip like this! Nothing to this extreme, but just something random and reservation free. 

Stomach Pains: Starting Off in Bangkok

  21 hours! 

 That could explain a lot of my journey to Asia. When the girl at the front counter of the hostel asked me, “how was my flight?” I simply replied, 21 hour and 3 different airports. She just nodded and laughed. 21 hours earlier, I was dropped off at the SeaTac airport by my buddy Mike. Unfortunately it was 4 hours early and the wait felt like forever. That didn’t make me feel any better than what I was, being that my nerves where already uneasy about what I was jumping into. 
Inside of a Boeing 777
The first leg of the flight was 12 hours to Taipei, Taiwan where I spent 5 hours eating breakfast at a cafĂ© in the airport. The next and final leg was a 3ish hour flight to Bangkok, Thailand. Once off the plane, I went through customs (twice because I forgot the immigration forms) After, I quickly found a shuttle to the street near the the hostel I booked, leaving that airport in record time!!   Once I stepped out of the shuttle  and grab my backpack is when the heat and humidity hit me. It was a bit overwhelming, but luckily I met a lovely couple on the shuttle from New York that was visiting Asia for a couple weeks, so at least it wasn’t alone for my journey to the hostel. Their hotel was just on down the street for me. After being guided through the hostel I decided to put my stuff away and go down to the lobby to see if I could meet some people I could go and explore with. I know if I laid down for a nap the jetlag would sit in and I would end up like the time in Amsterdam where l was jetlagged for several days. The great thing about these trips is that you learn from your mistakes. 

The streets of Bangkok 
   I decide to go walk the markets and experience the street life which is very difficult than home. The smells can be good and bad within a couple feet. the drains to their temporary kitchens just go out into the street. Some of the food looks delicious, but every once in a while you find something that was either questionable or just down right disgusting. This is when I start developing some problems, every time I sat down to eat with the group of people I was with, I would instantly lose my appetite even though I was hungry. This went on for about four days and as I’m writing this, I’m still going through it. (Although I have been eating a little bit more than I have been.)   


My days in Bangkok were very much the tourist route. I never did anything to extreme. I managed to go see the Royal Palace one day and got to see some temples the next day. I was prepared for this though, I knew that the first part of my trip would be a hit or miss, but once I get used the way how things go in this country I become more laid-back and start doing the fun and out of the ordinary thing that backpackers do!