Sunday, April 22, 2012

Texas, USA

Now that I am officially back home in Texas, it's time to reflect upon my last 6 months of life.  I'll start with a list of all the things I did in the first 24 hours home that I had not done once in Thailand.

1.        Took a bath - A real bath. No more cold showers! 
2.         Put on a seat belt - Safety first! 
3.         Had a Dos XXs Beer and Cheese Enchiladas 
4.         Played with Tuesday (my cat) - oh how I missed that little fluffball! 
6.         Slept on a SOFT bed. 
7.         Had clean feet - seriously, it's been a while. 
8.         Done my own laundry  NOT in a bucket but real life washer and dryer! 
9.         Not felt the desire to take 5 showers a day - 1 will suffice as it is not 90 degrees with 100% humidity outside! 

I'm positive that there are many more to add to the list - but these are the major items.

My awesome cat I've been missing! 

Life has now gained a whole new perspective from my eyes. I have a "new found respect for life", as once said by Ross Gellar (any FRIENDS fans out there? Remember that time that Ross thought he almost died and said this?! No?! Well maybe I watched too many Friends episodes while I was in Vang Vieng, Laos). The point is - life is much different now.  It will take time to adjust. 

It’s strange being back to normality. Or at least what is deemed normal. For 6 months my normal life consisted of consistently being in 90 degree weather sweating my ass off, drinking gallons of water a day, not following any safety regulations, and eating suspicious food from people on the street.  I haven’t touched real cheese in an eternity. I haven’t had a washing machine or dryer for laundry.  I’ve had no need for more than one sheet to sleep under at night, if that. I haven’t had a fancy phone or computer (for 3 months).  I haven’t even had a cat to cuddle with at night. Yet now I find myself surrounded by luxuries.  I have hot water, a soft bed, regular size water bottles, air conditioning in every room, a fancy TV, and pets that don’t look like they may be carrying some disease! LUXURIES!

These luxuries come at a price however.  I also haven’t had to deal with things such as stress, unemployment, or responsibilities for that matter. Now I need to find a job, pay off my credit card, prepare for my best friend’s wedding, and think about what to do next.  It’s almost nicer to live without all these luxuries if it means having a stress free life.  Do I really need that soft bed and that air conditioner?  You don’t miss what you never had, so I guess for some people this is perfectly okay.  In fact, I think I was just about adjusted to it before I left.

Quite honestly, being back is like waking up from an amazing dream.  It’s sad that its over, yet you've got to move on.  I see this as a step forward to my next big adventure, rather than one step back to reality. Hopefully I can find something just as amazing to look forward to shortly. If anyone knows any openings - send them my way! I'm ready for the next big thing! 

For now, this is goodbye Thailand. It was nice to meet you, and one day we'll meet again. Until then - take care! 

Highlights of Thailand: 

Squatter Toilets! 


Hammocks by the beach 


Erawan Falls! 

Sunrise on top of Pu Chi Fah! 

Riding an Ostrich! 

Happy New Years! 

Classroom Olympics! 

Long Tail Boat at Koh Phi Phi!

The tallest peak in Thailand - Doi Inthanon! 

Siem Reap's Angkor WHAT?! 

Angkor Wat!

Cambodian Temple Siem Reap! 

Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos! 


Stacked rocks at temples! 

Santa at Wang Chan Wittaya! 

And so much more that you will just have to see via my facebook. :) 


Tuesday, April 17, 2012


My final country is Laos.  I was only able to experience 2 cities in my week and a half here - but it was well worth it. 

Vang Vieng

When I first started to plan for Laos, I had struck this city from my list of things to do.  It's town filled with heathens, parties, drugs, and who knows what else.  But then I changed my mind.  Sounds like fun. 

The initial drive to Vang Vieng was brutal.  I was continuing my trip with my trusty travel buddy - Dave.  We bounced around the mini-bus for 4 hours.  It was rough. 

The main attraction here is the tubing.  When they say tubing, they don't mean the Texas tradition of bringing a cooler of beer down the river for the day - they mean, "Let's rent a tube and float for 30 seconds at a time in between bars that reel you in with a water bottle attached to a line!".  Both of these types of floating are approved by me.  However - due to the high rate of deaths on this river due to dangerous terrain, platforms, waterslides, alcohol, and drugs - we made a decision to attempt not to do anything stupid (not that all of us followed that rule). Overall the day was fun - but being awake while your body begins to sober up and the hangover initially kicks in is unpleasant. 

Also - I will not be eating pizza again for some time.  That's all I have to say about that. 

Sadly, by day 4 I had bought a bus ticket to Luang Prabang.  I only had 1 week left in Asia at this point and I needed to move on before I headed back to Bangkok and then America.  So without my travel buddy - I left Vang Vieng.  I hope he doesn't die back there. :)

Luang Prabang

The ride to Luang Prabang takes about 7 hours through mountainous terrain and roads that make you want to scream in terror for fear of falling off a cliff at high speeds.  Luckily - I made it to the end. 

Day 1 in the city I did nothing.  I began to wonder why I had left Vang Vieng.  In all honesty - I probably should have stayed just one more night.  But - no use having regret when you have to embrace your last few days away from the real world! Also - I almost forgot - It's SONGKRAN! Water fights all over town.  Soaked through 2 sets of clothes that are now continuing to dry in my room - awesome holiday.

Day 2 I took a van to the Kuang Si waterfall.  First you see the rescue Malaysian sun bears.  They're cute.  Then you walk up a jungle path to the many layers of the waterfall.  I went swimming at the top.  I may have been the only one in an actual swim suit and I felt like I may have been offending some people - but I was enjoying the cool water. 

By this point I had already found some new people to hang around so that night we went out and discovered the bars...they close at 11:30.  So we went bowling.  Apart from the incredibly rude and obnoxious French-Canadian girls who attempted to make fun of me for being from Texas (y'all sounded like fools trying to do the impressions fyi!), it was alright.  I got to bowl in a foreign country!

My final day in Luang Prabang has been nice.  Slept in - climb to the top of the mountain to a temple - bought some more artwork - and had a massage at the Laos Red Cross.  Now I think I will eat some noodle soup, read a book, nap, and then go to bed so I can wake up at 5:00am for a ride to the airport.  Can't wait!

3 more days til I'm home! Tomorrow - Bangkok!

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Siem Reap - Angkor Wat

After officially ending my short lived career as an English teacher in Thailand, I decided to first embark on a journey to Cambodia.  My first stop was Siem Reap with my friend Marci.  To get to Siem Reap you must get a bus from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet - get a Tuk Tuk to the border - walk across the border - get a bus to a bus station out of the city - and then get a two hour taxi to the city.  Not so difficult or frustrating at all. 

I spent my first night in Siem Reap partying with some fellow travelers.  Day two I was walking around ancient ruins at Angkor Wat incredibly hungover.  I do not advice this.  It hurts. It's hot.  And you don't appreciate the Wat to it's full extent.  Luckily the hangover began to sweat itself out and I was able to enjoy the last 3 ruins a little better.  

Also - checked out the Tomb Raider temple.  I have walked in Angelina Jolie's footsteps.  Sweet. 

Phnom Penh - Genocide Museum and Killing Fields

Next was the capital city of Phnom Penh.  I've officially become an ignorant tourist for the first time.  I went with no knowledge of the city - just following the crowd.  Turns out there's some pretty brutal history going on there. I was familiar with the Khmer Rouge reign - but let's face it - schools don't really touch on that subject very well back in the States. I spent a depressing yet knowledgeable day walking around the Genocide Museum that was once a prison and the Killing Fields where all the bodies were poorly disposed of.

Other than that, I just saw a lot of prostitutes and had a massage.

Sihanoukville - Beggars

Lastly in Cambodia, I traveled to a place called Sihanoukville.  Don't try to pronounce it.  I'm pretty certain that unless you are Cambodian or French - you will screw it up.  It's a beach city. So far it's a pretty disappointing beach after being in Thailand for so long.  From what I can tell there's a hundred times more beggars and children trying to get money from you.  It's unpleasant trying to have a nice meal on the beach and having crippled bums walk up to you or a swarm of children harassing you to buy a bracelet.  I had hoped maybe the nightlife would make up for this - drinks are amazingly lower in price when compared to Thailand.  However - they are still rather weak.

The highlight of this town was the hotel - a "resort" for $12.50 a night and a swimming pool that has no street bums or children to be seen.  I like it.

So that's Cambodia in a nutshell.  Next I will be getting on a plane to see Laos for approximately 1 week.  There I will tube the Vang Vieng River and visit Luang Prabang..  Let's hope it's a "Happy" experience.