Thailand: For the seeker in all of us

Note: This is a more personal experience with my travel to Thailand. I did travel with a friend, as you will see in pictures, however, travel is personal and this is my experience in Thailand. Further down is the information that could be helpful for you if you are thinking of traveling to Thailand. 

The following is verbatum from my travel journal from the last days of the trip, please ignore grammar and spelling errors..

Birds chirped at my as I walked by a large red hibiscus tree. I walked on the quiet side road by the guest house that we were staying at, the golden wats on either side of our residence glinted in the morning sun. The sun had just woken up but already the heat was notable, by smiled inwardly as the rays basked on my shoulders and back, like a hug from a friend. Walking on the brick roadway, scooters and delivery trucks occasionally passed me moving fast to their destinations. On the roadways shops began to wake, the doors open with their owners sweeping the floors using palm fans or using hoses to clean off the store fronts, moving the leaves and garbage from the day before. There are smiles anywhere you look for them, each single person would offer the largest smile and a polite hello if you just offered the first smile. I now arrive at “The Bird’s Nest Cafe”, my destination, not far from our place and one of my favorite places to sit, think and drink coffee (French presses with clove and cinnamon need I say more). I order and find my seat in the top section, taking off my chacos and sitting. This city was the last we would visit and today was the last day of the trip, how did this happen? Where had the time gone? Was I that frivolous that I had given my minutes away as though they meant nothing?

“March 26th, 2017- Chiang Mai, Thailand

The point of my life is what? To see many things, impact greatly, or maybe to see as many places you want to before finding someplace you wish to stay perhaps and call home, if only for an evening. Sitting in a coffee shop Thailand I can  say that when you get out here you meet some amazing humans, all welcome and all seeking. I wish to have the ability to travel as they do, free and without strings. To take off like the bird I am, to see it all and land atop a tree now and again. I want to seek and find what it is my soul craves, of which I do not know; A person, place or purpose?

I feel at home here in Chiang Mai. The bustling city moves and sings together from the moment the sun rises to long after it has set. Everyone smiles and greets one another. A smile gets you a long way here, even if you don’t know what to say or how to say it. Pleasant demeanor gets you a long way.

I feel as though this place is a current and it has many people moving through it following their hearts to seek. Most don’t seek with the intention of finding a specific thing but just to be a part of the search for something greater than our knowns.  If you ask say “how long are you traveling or where” they will respond with not knowing but that they are experiencing some amazing places and people along the way.

This place makes my soul crave to be a part of that current, it pulls at me asking me to “come” and my worldly obligations this year stop me from obliging the current, however, I will work on it with every fiber of my being to make an extended trip a reality for next summer.

I want to seek, for I am a seeker”

Leah 

The beginning: Vancouver, BC to Bangkok, Thailand

This was a long trip but I highly recommend flying out of Vancouver international airport, it was so much more comfortable and cheaper than flying out of Seatac. We arrived into Bangkok around 1 am and after wandering around getting familiar with the airport (as we were to come back later that day to take a bus to Koh Chang) and getting money from the ATM, we were off to our short stay at a Bangkok hotel (5 hours to be exact) it was a pretty sweet little hotel (The Great Residence”), they had a fantastic breakfast and we even saw a monitor lizard while we were there! Later we returned to the airport and got on the bus to Koh Chang.

Getting from Bangkok to Koh Chang

There is a bus/van service which departs from door 8 on ground floor at Suvarnabhumi Airport directly to Koh Chang, it is 600 (includes the ferry ticket) baht per person and takes about 5 hours with a stop for snacks/potty break halfway. I highly recommend this service (Suvarnabhumi Burapha is the service provider)

Koh Chang

After riding the ferry we began to feel like we were finally arriving in Thailand, as silly as that sounds but we had been just traveling for almost 2 days. The final road to our bungalow at Lonely Beach was a crazy rollercoaster of a road, the people there drive fast and as far as I could tell there was not many traffic regulations, it was amazing and we got used to it quickly.

We stayed at the Lonely Beach Resort, which is less of a resort than you are likely thinking (in terms of western expectations) however the bungalows were excellent,  there was a fantastic swimming pool and the bar/restaurant in front was very very good (still remains one of my favorite places to eat even after the trip), eat the spicy salads mmmm. We stayed here for 4 nights I would most definitely return. Lonely Beach was beautiful and an experience of its own, with the jet lag we would get up very early (before sunrise) and then walk around town once the sun came up. Every morning the town was dead quiet, the people got up later and the town became active closer to 9 am, we learned (from the evidence on the ground in the form of  litter and experience) that every night was a rager of a party catering to the european travelers which lasted into the morning of the next day. This is all well and good but my friends if you need coffee (as I do) you cannot get it before 8AM (our hotel didn’t have a self-serve station as many do). Once 8 am hits there is a fantastic couple of places to get coffee including the Sleepy Owl, theres was likely the best of the whole trip.

Suggestions for Koh Chang:

  • use the taxis and go many places
  • go to Bang Boa and eat seafood at one of the “luxury” restaurants,
  • go snorkeling (wear sunscreen on your backsides my friends…)
  • eat somewhere new every day
  • try all the fruits available (Especially the fresh Guava)
  • wait to buy anything you don’t need until you leave the island and go elsewhere (very spendy).

The same service that takes you to the island can take you back, again a very good deal. From the Suvarnabhumi Airport we took the shuttle to Don Mueang airport and from there flew to Chiang Mai. Very easy and I suggest Airasia (no additional bag charges, some other companies do this too)

Chiang Mai

We arrived and easily procured a taxi to Thai Thai Hostel, a hostel suggested by friends. This hostel was very accommodating and excellent. The beds were very comfy, the people who were staying there were very interesting and many laughs were had on the roof over Chang beers and Marlboros. The first night we went on a walk to the center of old town to a bar called Zoe in Yellow, this place is pretty quiet until about 10, when it becomes a raging electronic party strobe lights and all, their mojitos are fantastic and you can get a whole bucket if you want one.  The hostel also booked us a full day cooking class at “Mama Noi’s Cooking school”, it was a deal for the fee! Very cool garden, people and yum!

Later we stayed at Gongkaew Guest house, this was an amazing find, if felt as though we were in the middle of the jungle but we were right inside the old town next to a couple of wats (monks chanting are an amazing way to wake up in the morning). This place I would recommend with two thumbs way up. At first we stayed in dorms and we were the only ones in the rooms, the bathrooms were outside under cover which was alright with me but if you don’t like the flying insects (biting or otherwise) then a private room with in room bathroom is for you. The last night of our trip we opted for the private room just incase some other travelers joined up in the bunks, we wanted to makes sure to get a good night sleep.

Suggestions for Chiang Mai: I wish I had more, next time…

  • Visit as many wats as you can
  • Eat street food (especially at the Chang Puak food night market)
  • Go to the Night market west of old town and the sunday walking market (my personal favorite of the markets)
  • Get a massage at Lila Massage, great price and experience
  • Try the unripe mango with dried chilli powder and salt! Mmm
  • Talk to everyone you can, the travelers in this area are great
  • Go to Zoe in yellow if you’re craving company, you will meet some excellent people (and possibly share buckets of mojitos, dance into the wee hours, consider dumping your life and joining a wise and beautiful french man on a multi month/country trip to find yourself but then wake up with a big headache the next morning full of regret you didn’t choose to)
  • Take taxis everywhere again, haggle!

From Chiang Mai we took a flight to Bangkok and then some hours later we departed Thailand on March 28th. The end before it felt like the beginning. 

My First Love; The Desert, and Our Reunion

Every year I do a trip to the southwest to visit the part of my soul that resides there. I was trying to describe this to someone the other day and the best I can do is this. There are places that feed the fire of your heart/soul, stoking it up so it expands and fills your chest, there are different places that do this for everyone. Other things can do this too, like creative works and what not, but for me it’s a few places located in various places such as: Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Montana. Of course there are other places out there also, things that I haven’t seen yet or maybe that I cannot draw from at this moment. This year I took along a friend of mine that I have had from high school, she’s amazing and it was totally worth showing her the places I had only talked about with people. In actuality she was the only one of my friends from Washington state (and childhood) that I have been able to share the places we saw together.

Exploring resets me, like a circadian rhythm, I come back to my reality a little sad to have to leave but more set on my goals and more clear of what I want from my life. Below is the image reel and mini description of what we saw and experiences.

Day 1: Leaving Seattle, WA (after fighting the TERRIBLE drivers that live in this city and visiting whole foods where we harassed the cashiers)IMG_2922

 

 

 

Image 1- After long driving through the night, with a small break at a rest stop the sun began to rise in Idaho.  This whole day was a rush which ended at Page, AZ.

Day 3-6 was spent visiting my family in AZ and also Flagstaff, Prescott and also Sycamore Canyon.

Day 6-8 were spent on the Colorado River below the Glen canyon dam, camping out under the stars, attempting to fish and drinking lots of good beers. This was the highlight of the trip for me, a great shooting star across the year. A happy hello and a sad goodbye.

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Day 8-9 was spend getting back from the trip, heading to williams and also hanging out with my sister for one last day.

Day 10- Getting to Moab, UT. There was rain, sun and snow along the way.

 

Day 11- Driving, lots of driving. Slept at rest stop next to “lucky lils” Casino, We did not test how lucky she really was…. Also went to Thompson Falls to visit my boss for my summer internship and check out the town. Very pretty town.

Day 12- Camping out near Alberton, Montana. This is a favorite place of mine, good fishing (specific location denied….) This was also the last day of the trip. Sitting by the crackling fire, we drank ginger beers and I played songs for Rachel on my Harmonica (not well I may add). After this we woke up and headed home back to reality.

When this trip ended it left me feeling hopeful followed by an overwhelming sense of lose, and I had no idea what to do next. It’s a new beginning, a chance at rebirth and by grace I have been given it, its difficult to let go of the things that bind us to the past but we must to make room for future.

 

Oh the places we have been

I wanted to take a moment before I wrote about my adventure today to tell you about where I came from. I am not talking my the womb of my mother but the place my mind was soul was born, Arizona (AZ). Most people when I tell them that I come from AZ exclaim how dreadful that must have been or something like how they just cant stand that there is just rocks and dirt. The first thing I ask is if they just visited Phoenix or the surrounding valley on their visit, the answer is typically “No, we went to Scottsdale” or something like that, well that’s just the rich side of Phoenix. Regardless of the answer I respond again by telling them if you drive north about an hour and a half and get off the freeway your idea of AZ should change.

I come from a place called Prescott (pronounced pres-scitt) which is called the mile high city and is amazing for lack of a better word. The scrub land mixed with large expansive ponderosa pines that smell of vanilla in the summertime when you scratch the bark.  The place is 70 is degrees most of the year, with a few months of heat (not near as bad as the valley) and a couple months of cold (colder then here in the PNW, with snow!). The town of Prescott has growth and changed like any desirable spot in the US the most common person moving in is the upper middle class/rich retired couple. They like it because its cooler then their home in Scottsdale and come up for the weekends most often. In my opinion the worst group of people to increase in the area, they require costcos/malls/olive gardens and typically have NO knowledge of what conservation is (see shopping at costco). There are other semi large groups such as; the college student (Embry-Riddle, Prescott college, yavapai), the outdoor folks (mountain biking love is here) and the random groups in between.

This place is magical, and a gateway to many of the wonders of Arizona. I have hiked, backpacked and climbed across some of it but haven’t come close to seeing all of them. From the redrock canyons with tranquil turquoise waters, to the high scrublands where the burrowing owls live in prairie dog holes and endangered black footed ferrets roam and to the iconic grand canyon and the mythical colorado river that runs through her. When people tell me they are to visit the grand canyon I tell them not to even try to go to the south rim but to take the long journey to the north rim where you can camp in the national forest, and hike the many trails seeing the canyon in your own time with out thousands of people swarming you drink tiny single use water bottles before throwing them and all their garbage on the ground where the crows and chipmunks take to feeding. The south rim is like cancer, to quote mr. Abbey again “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell” this place gets bigger and bigger allowing no one to have any idea was conservation is, for example the IRONY of the misters on the shade structures to keep people cool and refreshed while they take in the sights. Why is that ironic you might ask? Well the colorado is the most diverted river in the US, its waters feed New mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California, it even once fed Mexico, but we didn’t care about cutting those people off from the river long ago.The Colorado river is held above the grand canyon in what once was marble canyon but now is Lake Powell, filled in with water to create a hydroelectric dam to feed the needs of Phoenix. This river day to day, hour to hour has discharge rates that change as it reflects how much water needs to be flowing through the dam to create the power in consumption via Phoenix. As one could expect the river is very high in the middle of the day when it is toasty outside and the AC units are whirling away, with waters tragically low at night. The overall water loss through evaporation at lake Powell is staggering in an already water deficit area. There is simply not enough water for anyone, not even the great Grand Canyon.

So you see the misting is ironic because there isn’t enough water to feed peoples needs even most basic but the people have not discovered that. They haven’t discovered that their pools, dishwashers, 3 ACs used to cool one house, golf courses and water parks are the reason, next to the over population increase in the world, that the southwest will some day be a ghost town where everything is dead and empty cities sit with their empty pools collected dust as it is blow by. I long for that day to be honest, the desert will die, but it will come back with time and some many years later it will be what it once was, nature always takes herself back.

Okay so that got very serious, but the take away is that you should visit the southwest, respectfully and dutifully. How do you know what is being lost or at stake if you have never seen it for all its glory! I suggest Sycamore canyon near Clarksdale.

Good luck and get sustaining!

-Leah

dr seuss quote steer yourself