Bangkok, Boats, & Buddhas
I've been having far too much fun in Thailand and its been awhile since I've had a chance to write anything. Laura and I fell in love with Bangkok, such a cool city. There are sky high shopping malls mixed in with temples and giant buddhas, and delicious food stands on every corner. Its quickly become my home away from home as its the perfect travel hub for all of SEA. We spent way too much money, ate way too much pad thai, and maybe drank a little too much but we had a damn good time doing it.
Oh Bangkok, where to begin? The food. The food! What an improvement from the Philippines, the food in Thailand is unreal. Everything is delicious, there are tons of vegetarian options, and you can easily get an entire meal for $1. The shopping is unavoidable. Clothing, jewlery, home decor, electronics, beauty treatments, you name it, we bought it. You can literally buy anything in Thailand. I had to leave an entire backpack behind while we travel the islands and I plan to stuff it full before I mail it home next month. Laura and I both agreed we could have spent the entire month in Bangkok but our bank accounts would have dwindled quickly.
We booked tickets on an overnight sleeper train headed south where we would hop on a bus and then a ferry to get to our first tropical destination: Koh Tao. Again, my naivety has me thinking that this overnight train is going to be like the Hogwarts Express with our own private room, beds, and food carts periodically going through the aisles. Laura is excitedly telling me that she LOVES traveling by train. Me too! I took the Eurorail all over Italy and it was wonderful. Let me tell you that it was NOT like anything we were expecting. When we first got on the train we exchanged confused glances and proceeded to ask every worker we saw if we were on the correct train. Excuse me sir, there must be some confusion, we purchased tickets for the sleeper car? After being assured many times we finally accepted that we were on the right train and took our seats on the urine scented car. It turns out the two leather seats we were in slid together to make one bed and the metal cage above us folded down into a top bunk. We decided to sleep together on the bottom "bed" and used the top one to store our luggage. I refused to drink anything because there wasn't a chance I was going to use that bathroom again and by the time we reached our destination 10 hours later my mouth was so dry I could barely talk. I wish I could say that chapter ends with us getting off the train but it has only begun. We got to the deserted train station at 3am and waited until 6 for our bus. The bus was a quick 30 minutes to the pier and I slept the whole time. And then was what I can confidently say was one of the worst experiences of my life- the ferry ride. Its high season in Thailand right now and everyone is spending the holidays on the islands so the ferries are at full capacity. The weather last week wasn't ideal and made for some choppy seas in the gulf. Why they didn't warn us or cancel the ride all together is beyond me. Two hours on a catamaran rocking so violently side to side that the only thing you could see out the windows was the wave washing over it. Women shrieking as if they are on a roller coaster. Nauseous passengers vomiting into plastic bags every couple of feet. And me with my eyes closed tightly, hands gripping the seat in front of me, breathing deeply and picturing myself meditating on a calm beach with the horizon in front of me. It was horrific. How I managed to hold it together and not puke is a miracle. There were moments when I was questioning whether or not we would even make it to the island. I think I almost cried when the boat finally pulled into a harbor and the announcer said the name of a different island. I thought we were the first stop!! How long to Koh Tao?!?! Thankfully only 5 minutes away or I would have found myself vacationing on this other island I'd never heard of.
Aside from the terrible transportation experience, life in Thailand has been great. We've been on Koh Tao for 4 days now and just completed our Open Water scuba diving certification! The weather is beautiful and we plan to spend the next few days relaxing on the beach, hiking, doing yoga, and exploring the island. Time to lay low and enjoy the holidays :)