Temples. Sex. Beaches. Crabs. Ants. Monsoon. Through everything my stay in Thailand left a fond impression.
If you want the abridged version, here are some highlights from this trip. Looking at intricate temples. Finding an island to stay at for a month (which goes to the end).
The Korean culture of preserving peace and quiet grew on me. It was jarring to hop onto the airplane to Thailand and experience passengers shouting and disturbing the peace.
Stepping into Thailand was like entering a hot Sauna. Sweat started running immediately. Must see places in Bangkok include the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho with the Reclining Buddha, and Wat Arun. I was templed out after visiting them in one day.
These two photos above were taken at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. There must have been tremendous time commitments to create the intricate designs. I sweated the whole day in the scorching heat. At the Grand Palace I cooled off in a small air conditioned building for a few hours.
At Wat Arun were these very steep steps. Some people took a very long time to descend. I wondered how many people fell and died there.
If you are reading the abridged version, you may skip to the next highlight.
In Bangkok I stayed at We Bangkok, one of my favorite hostels. It was clean, well run, and well designed. One night I awoke at two AM to a shaking bed. I was in a state of stunned disbelief. My roommates and I discussed this very thing happening. I thought it was in the Loch Ness Monster, UFO, and Big Foot category. The moving shadow on the wall told otherwise. I removed my earplugs, stood up, and confirmed the unbelievable. All I saw was a girl on her back squeezing a man between her thighs. Irritated, I looked at them and growled, "You should finish really fast." Everyone started laughing. Another listener joked, "I was really enjoying it!" This ruined the mood for the two sluts. They both awkwardly laughed until passing out.
Travel vaccinations at the Thai Travel Clinic in Bangkok were quick, efficient, and affordable. My first visit required three or four jabs. The nurse and I talked about how uneasy I was with needles. She gave one or two jabs, drew blood, and administered another shot. By the time we finished I was close to fainting and very gray. She instructed me to lie down because she could not pick me up off the floor. I sat until feeling better. When I was five my mom brought a sibling and I for routine vaccinations. I tried to hide in tires in the room to no avail. The nurse jabbed me while I was watching and fighting. My arm was intensely sore for a day or two and my extreme fear of needles persisted. I recently learned that shots are tolerable after flexing and relaxing my arm three times, talking about something like an amazing trip, keeping my arm completely relaxed, and looking away. I tell nurses I am uncomfortable with needles and will distract my mind while she does her thing.
It was time to find an inexpensive place with a hammock and beach. Rationally I should have been working but felt like traveling first.
I took a day train to Chumphon and rolled past the lovely Thai countryside. The Salsa Hostel was great with probably the most luxurious, cozy, and comfortable beds I ever slept in.
The ferry ride to Koh Tao was relaxed. I heard Koh Tao has relatively affordable accommodation. Maybe in the past it was true, but times have changed. Well, it was not affordable for someone who should not be vacationing in the first place. I walked to my hostel. People were not keen on showing the way as walking meant they would not be paid. The path was easy to find.
I visited the island to enjoy the scenery. The walks were very hot, but worth seeing the crystal clear water and lush greenery of Thailand. Koh Tao's east side is beautiful.
Koh Samui was sweetened by meeting and hanging out with Campbell from Australia. We toured the island together, for him, a second time. He was a friendly and enjoyable young man.
Koh Samui has a mummified monk. He wanted to be left at the Kunaram Temple as an inspiration for Buddhism. It was creepy and gross, especially looking into his sunken eyes behind the glasses.
Later I dipped in a remote, liberating, and refreshing waterfall.
The trip to Krabi from Koh Samui was exhausting and required recovery. It took five different vehicles and five hours longer than it should have. I learned from my mistake. Any traveler in Thailand should only take government public transportation because they are safer, more reliable, and less likely to steal.
The Pak-Up Hostel in Krabi was another favorite. It was deliberately built with comfortable air-con, clean bathrooms, spacious rooms, and comfortable beds. From here I found a beach hut to stay at for a month.
Entering Koh Jum required riding this ferry. It was so noisy I used earplugs. For the entire ferry ride I pondered how it floated and if we would make it across. Meanwhile, the driver calmly used his hand pump to expel water that continued to leak in.
Bo Daeng in Koh Jum had a nice hut with a hammock literally three meters (three yards) from the beach. Deela was welcoming and supplied filling meals, fresh mangoes, bananas, and coconut. Fresh fruit smoothies were my favorite.
Deela showed me how to crack open a coconut and drink directly from it. I removed the straw after realizing it was unnecessary.
I chatted with Dave frequently. Bo Daeng has become his home. It takes a while until he reveals what is under his hardened exterior. Jo and Rob also visited. They are a couple who have been traveling together for decades. Jo and Rob were very friendly. He seemed to find work he enjoyed. As Rob said, if employees stop talking and start acting busy when the boss walks in, you can be sure it is not a good company to work for.
Koh Jum contained rubber farms with hundreds of trees. I did not know trees excreted rubber like sap. It smelled like standing in a condom factory.
The days were filled kicking my feet up in a hammock as sea breezes wafted over. Watching the sun rise and set. Tides come and go. Life and death on the beach fascinated me. It teemed with activity.
Some days a small local monitor lizard lumbered past.
Other days sand critters living in holes kept me occupied. They dug holes across the beach and retreated and rebuilt when the tides came and went. They fought and vied for territory. Even though they were small, I could hear them bumping shells and stirring up sand.
I saw a small school of fish. A crab hid in its shell, but ventured out after a bit. It was fascinating to hear sand, shell, and claws grinding. It sounded like two rubbing slabs of concrete.
One day I only watched ants marching and climbing around. From afar they look organized. After watching closely logistical issues surfaced. Ants constantly bumped into each other and came to a complete standstill before walking around each other. They walked everywhere on the path, marched in separate directions, bumped around, and continued on their way — like traffic in Nepal. Returning ants carried something in their mouths, sometimes other dead ants. Ants going out to the field were empty jawed. They marched across my bed at night and bit me awake. To prevent bites I killed and discard them immediately. Otherwise even more returned to pick up the dead ant. They were like the Marines — they left no soldier behind. In this case, they returned to a death zone and were summarily dispatched. After immediately discarding dead ants and sweeping my hut daily, they became less problematic.
When I was resting in my hut I heard the bleat of a goat. I recognized it immediately from South Africa. It was being lead to the woods behind my hut. I went over to the kitchen and turned my music up. After a bit the goat returned hanging from a stick with a bloody neck. This is a change from when I was a kid. I kicked cats and animals at a really young age. I shot birds and other small animals to which my brother and cousin protested. As I became older the roles reversed. Now I wonder if I was releasing anger directed at me from elsewhere. I am very cognizant of the fact that animals also want to live and feel pain like we do. So I try to be more kind and considerate to them.
There are two daily tides a half hour later every day. Some days the water was low when going for a morning stroll, and others it was high. Tides constantly reshaped and sculpted the beach. Some periods had low sand. Other times the tide and water carried sand in and filled the beach.
In a month I swam once. One problem was the lack of education and will to contain trash. Litter washed into the streams and rivers and constantly poured into the ocean. Trash is a global problem. Too many people are irresponsible about their trash, actions, and environment, are unaffected by how their actions affect everyone, are incapable of seeing the bigger picture, and still do not look after themselves. It reminded me of growing up in a small town where I became very upset with people littering. Some found it funny to throw everything out of their vehicles and litter the roadways. They were unable to engage in higher level thinking to understand how their actions impact others. All they cared about was what made them happy and what was easiest for them. There was no consideration whatsoever about whose lawn it might land on, who will have to clean it up, and the rivers and streams it pollutes. One friend threw his trash out the window of my car. I stopped and ordered him to pick it up. He refused and instead walked home.
Before leaving Koh Jum a local befriended me. He introduced me to his friends and relatives, invited me to volleyball, and drove me around the entire island. When walking around he tried to hold my hand and walk very close to me. The next day he wanted to walk down the beach. I was receiving clues he was gay, but dismissed them as cultural differences. After all, in Nepal it was common for friends to walk down the street holding hands or with arms around friends shoulders.
He moved too close when taking one picture signaling a certainty he was hitting on me. It became awkward very fast. All thoughts about it being a cultural difference disappeared. He was gay and wanted to sleep with me. He continued to make moves. He took me on a walk along the beach when the tide was extremely high with water crashing onto the land. We sat on a hammock together and he became frisky. I went along with it and thought hand jobs would be okay. When he starting going for a blow job I stopped him and went back to my place. Since he didn't speak English well he couldn't understand that I was uncomfortable with that. The next morning he came around before I left. I carefully avoided him. Now I understand what it is like for a woman to be hounded by a man — awkward and unpleasant. I learned to be aware of what is a cultural difference and someone hitting on me.
I grew my facial hair to see what it looked like. After all, I was unemployed and did not need to shave. Yeah, that look may never return.
Monsoon season strongly impacts staying in a cheap beach hut right by the ocean. Nothing blocks wind and rain. One of the first nights with heavy wind and rain resulted in a piece of roof tearing off and water pouring in. I moved to the far edge of the bed to stay mostly dry. I thought that was as violent as the monsoon season became and stayed in the hut. The next night the storm was even stronger. Water blew horizontally in through the slits of the bamboo latticed wall. Water puddled in the middle of the bed. I tried again to sleep on the edge. The next morning I retreated like a wet dog with its tail between its legs to a hut further from the beach and better shielded from wind and rain. In this hut I only felt a light drizzle.
On the day I left I pooed in a hut that probably hadn't been used in months. Flushing the toilet involved filling a bucket with water and using a cup sized container to wash everything down. I was doing that but the water was not draining. I thought I plugged it up. Suddenly a rat jumped over a foot high out of the toilet. I twisted my body as I instinctually tried to move away. It was the same twist I did in South Korea and was as excruciating. The wet pissed off rat looked as surprised to see me as I was to see it. It quickly scrambled out of the room though a hole in the wall.
The day I left it was pouring and everything became soaked. Water dripped through the roof of the bus towards Malaysia. We had to regularly wipe drips off the ceiling before they splashed us.
I started and finished a very affordable rabies vaccination course in Thailand. Koh Jum does not have a hospital so I took day trips to the mainland. Because I spoke English I was treated with extra attention. It took 30 minutes to go in, get the vaccination, pay, and leave. Meanwhile, locals who arrived before me were still waiting when I left. I felt a little bad about that, but not enough to wait!
The month in Koh Jum only cost 325 USD for everything — accommodation and food. My desire to live on an ocean may be eradicated. It is not as important as I thought. Soon it becomes normal. It is not about where you live, but who you meet on the way. The friends we make are much more important than the place we are.