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Things I Want to Remember: Thailand


- in line for the British Airways plane to Thailand, the man with dreadlocks and tattooed elbows, multiple piercings and flamboyant red, yellow, & green pants, me smiling at his bold demeanor. Later on the plane, him in front of my exit row seat as he waited for the restroom, glancing up from my Woody Allen film to sneak a peak at him straight on, caught that he had bits of shell in his dreadlocks and a string of vertebrae on a dreadlock over his right shoulder. I smiled, he noticed, and without change in expression he turned away. Then, as if changing his mind, turned back to me, looked at me straight in the face almost as if to say, "Go ahead, you can look, it's OK". I was too embarrassed, he was a foot in front of me. I continued with my Woody Allen film experience but felt my face blush.

- first rain fall in Bangkok, running to Fortune Town for cover, looking for an umbrella to purchase, miming with the polite woman in the business suit, the kind man with the 8-foot green umbrella, walked me to the car port, smiling and helpful, couldn't remember phrase for thank you, both of us laughing and shrugging

- night with Faine and JP, they ordered pad thai, speaking with who we thought was the cook and later found out it was the owner of Aoody's, helping me to order an unfamiliar dish which ended up being seafood mixed with seasoning and jasmine rice, the owner apologizing for no shrimp, grateful I was able to order something other than pad thai which Faine & JP indicated was "the standard go to"

- the large frog in the lotus plant out front, Rob telling me he was saved by Fain, seeing his big eyes staring back at me

- Chinese vegetarian festival during the bike tour, seeing numerous turtles and other animals on strings, our guide explaining the animals are purchased, then released back into the wild for good luck

- Follow Me bike tour with Matthew our guide, enjoying the ramps and the slight misty rain towards the end of the tour, riding in narrow alleyways, hearing light rain on aluminum roofing and smelling incense from the homes, passing by an outdoor oil pan bubbling up, men smiling, children waving, scooters doing their best to be polite, policemen waving us forward, going alongside the water at a good pace on our bikes, the ferry, the Scottish wife feeling nauseous, husband climbed upon the seats and smiled, the flower market and the intricate work of the women there, learning to peel the lotus flower in front of the giant Buddha, having fresh fruit awaiting us upon return, wanting to ask the Scottish honeymooners to hang out but not wanting to take away from their honeymoon time

- Matthew explaining the land of smiles, discussing the genuine nature of Thai people, the happiness and respect for one another, appreciating Thai culture more and more

- Soi Cowboy, more interested in the unique variety of street food than the neon lights and bored looking Asian women in their mini skirts, lack of patrons, mysterious closed doors that I was sure held empty rooms with a multitude of naked women waiting for foreign men to enter

- free WiFi throughout Thailand thanks to Rob and his coffee shop cards

- sweet Rob and his OCD, rearranging the shoes, three different trash cans, post-it notes throughout the home

- precise queue lines created by the Thai people with no pushing or shoving, a respect of one another's space, a stark contrast to my experiences in China and Japan

- eating random chips with random flavors and drinking random drinks with my roomies while sitting on the cool tile floor in the kitchen

- Mod, my Bangkok food tour guide, cute Paul the Marine who I was paired with, us hitting it off more than the other group including the couple from Singapore, laughing at the insect cart and truly wanting to try them but Mod not understanding, pad Thai wrapped in an egg, sweet Thai tacos, crispy noodles with chicken & egg on top, the beautiful lights of Bangkok whizzing by during our nighttime tuk tuk ride, seeing the commercial being recorded in the street but not realizing until our tuk tuk driver smiled & pointed to the light-up sign which said "Move", the awkward ending of our drink at the Arun Residence in front of Wat Arun as we realized Paul and I were the only ones talking

- Nang Loeng taxi driver who was chosen by the police officer when others were trying to gain my favor at the train station, him shy and smiling after being so formal and cold, obvious that he was embarrassed, gave him a tip and saw him look somewhat surprised, grateful to find the market

- First Tuk Tuk ride, easily haggled down to 50 baht from 150 baht

- sleeping in my room with the green walls during thunder storm, hearing the flood of water pouring down, smelling the wet earth come through the windows of Rob's home, soothed to sleep and appreciating the experiences in both Ecuador and Thailand where I was able to fall asleep to ferocious rain fall

- the coconut ice cream within Chatuchuk Market, bright, foreign toppings of various consistency, all delicious and unrecognizable, strings of fresh coconut within the bottom of the cup

Chiang Mai

- drinking my honey lemon tea, taking a bite of fresh pineapple to help wash down the hot spice of the curry served with my dinner tray I ordered, listening to the loud Thai music played by the kitchen crew on a large radio system set up in the antiquated Japanese diner car, the window down and the air puffing through my hair as we pulled away, one staff lady with a little baby who all are enamored with, the baby who all are making laugh

- listening to Cab Calloway and Annie Lennox through my earbuds as the window in the diner car remains down, sitting with a neck cramp as I look out the open window, feeling a genuine rush every time we pass another train and a forceful puff of air pushes me back and the rhythmic clank of the metal becomes more lively

- my little cubby hole of an upper bunk with a vibrant blue curtain, realizing there were little coat hooks, an individual light, and hoop netting for possible trash, snuggling in to my blanket and smiling as I remember the look on the cashier's face when I declined the lower bunk and asked for the upper one "for the experience"

- Arlhan and her beautiful raised wooden home, seeing her sleep on the matt underneath the home, the homemade bamboo shower that made me feel like I was showering in a tropical paradise, assisting her with charging of her tablet and assisting her daughter open the can of condensed milk to pour on her slices of avocado, playing with extension cords for my dim light in the room and balancing my adapter at just the right angle to charge my camera batteries, loving the mosquito netting I had that took me back to my time in Uganda with Maria and George and our laughs as the mzungus tried to twirl the white netting the way a Ugandan does . . . I tried my skills again and it was enough to do the job but lacked the beauty and flare of George's skill

- Baanchang Elephant Park, my slow-walking elephant Ton Khwang with the steady gait except in patches of mud, feeling her coarse head hairs, tapping her head firmly telling her </i>'dee, dee'<i> to calm her during thunder, feeling her hefty stride push me side to side as she walked, laughing as she distractedly stopped walking and began to eat the tall grass and bits off trees, Ton Khwang's mahout Dang walking alongside and grabbing my feet to scare me (and somewhat succeeding), bathing the elephants in the man made lake with the sudden drop off we all clumsily discovered, relaxing in the wicker hammock, hearing them squeak under everyone's weight as we discussed our vacations, where we were from, and what we would be doing next, sitting down at the polished wooden table in the nearly abandoned bungalows, amused that despite the baron environment hot boiling water was still readily available for instant coffee or tea, kicking my feet up and working on postcards while listening to the elephants bellow below in the rain fell, looking to the mountains while riding Ton Khwang and appreciating the jungle foliage and thick mist

- Sunday Night Market in Chiang Mai, the frail elderly woman in the wheelchair making wicker woven frogs, dragons, and fish, selling them for less than a dollar for the children to play with, quail eggs and 'ancient ice cream' street food, abundant stands around temples all filled with food, handmade leather goods and bits of art from soda and beer cans, listening to live music from the elder's club and more live music from groups of young men who were visually impaired, walking back to my room that night with my goods in a plastic bag, continuing to feel comfortable and happy with my direction and myself as a traveler, hoping my orange woven fish will make the journey home back to the states

- Crazy Jimmy and his elephant karaoke song, matchstick and shoelace magic tricks

- Chinese fire lanterns by the water, the darkened jungle around Baanchang, holding and releasing at the right time, feeling their heat and holding my breath as the large lanterns hovered over the water before ascending towards the night sky

- "white water rafting" in brown water, the nerves and excitement before, realizing the raft was taking on water before we left the bank of the river, being overtaken by a wall of mud water that left the raft full to the brim, seeing the panic set in to the "experienced" girls' eyes, losing our captain as he jumped out midway to take a photo of the chaos, spinning in circles near the rocks and beginning to fly down the river backwards, all misunderstanding the commands to stand versus to crouch, exiting out the raft onto a drowning reed plank where the water reached mid-calf and realizing I lost part of a toenail and a considerable amount of nail polish

- the short trek to the waterfall, sitting and sliding in the cool water, running into Lorre and Christoph (Belgium couple) and hearing of their horrific elephant experience compared to their time at Baangchang, doing the small rock waterfall slide, falling asleep on the lower level rock with the trees and sun above me, listening to voices carry down from the group talking at the small pool near the top of the waterfall

- helping to make poopoo paper in the factory, learning about the various fibers used, wondering how many products were made from the waste of the elephants whom we had helped to care for

- feeding the young elephants peeled bananas and bits of sugarcane, their trunks so much softer, strong mama reaching for the food as well, the staff reminding us that mama needs food too, focusing on her and reaching in to pet the babies

- the Hindu ceremony in Chiang Mai, two of us being corrected by the Thai women that we are not to stretch out our legs but instead need to sit cross-legged, realizing that feet towards their gods was an offensive act, listening to the music and the calls, the bells that were rung, not understanding the symbolism or the purpose, seeing the English man close his eyes and realizing that he was attempting to meditate in the way he learned and wondering if he was able to do so while being surrounded by so much stimulation, the free food after, enjoying the stewed bananas in coconut milk and the jasmine rice mixed with my curry


- the pure seashell beach in front of the property, the crunch of the shells as I walked along the water, the sound of the waves as they ruffled the shells, reminding me of the waves at Serenity Bay in Castaway Cay

- swinging on the swing, my bathing suit dripping ocean water, the sound of the zacadas and the playful waves, seeing the Thai long boats in the distance as they zoomed off to nearby islands

- the South African couple in the water, holding one another quietly off to the side of the long boat before crawling in, giving each other little smooches, sitting next to them in the boat and offering to take their photo & noticing they looked particularly surprised, began a conversation, wanted to ask them how they were treated as a lesbian couple in Thailand but thought better of it, just hoping they felt relaxed on their vacation even in the conservative south of the country

- the Thai longboat experience, not understanding beforehand we were to crawl out waist deep into the water and jump/crawl into the boat, the water rough and splashing my chest, the sway of the boat and struggling to find a way to jump in without wetting my bag, laughing with the other patrons as we looked at one another nervously swinging in the narrow boat, saying, "Well, this is quite an adventure, isn't it?"

- laughing with Roma and Albin, learning about Work Away and hearing of their adventures throughout Africa, seeing Roma and the kitty together, exploring the waterfall and appreciating their earnest nature and adventurous spirit

- helping Bat with his drawing of the girl in the sand, giving her the seashell necklace and him finishing it off with a leaf, taking a photo and being proud of our temporary art piece in Krabi

- clear water of Railay Beach, the recurrent long boat experience back to port, appreciating the rough cliff edges we passed along the way

Posted by WanderingWorld 16:22 Archived in Thailand Tagged ocean beach thailand elephants bangkok krabi chiang_mai rtw things_i_want_to_remember baang_chang work_away dawn_of_happiness

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