I had a gut feeling as I bought my minibus ticket to go to Pai from Chiang Mai. The feeling was…in a nutshell, “Don’t Go.”
But everyone told me I had to go to Pai. So…I did.
I was reluctant even as I was boarding the bus, mainly because I loved Chiang Mai so much and I didn’t want to leave. But, got on the bus I did.
I had heard horror stories of car sickness from the 762 turns on the road that leads to the little town. Luckily, no one was sick in my bus, so the drive to Pai was tolerable. I quickly learned, though, that a tolerable ride to a place that you don’t really want to go becomes a miserable ride.
Learning new drinking games in Bangkok.
I love hostel life. I really do. I don’t mind sleeping in a dorm with nine other people. Even people who snore or smell or come stumbling in drunk at four o’clock in the morning. Those are things I can look past.
Being around such an amazing variety of people is worth it.
There are so many characteristics of hostel life that I enjoy: I like entering the common room in the morning and someone asking me what I’m doing for the day and inviting me to join them in their plans, or just giving me advice on where to go. I like that I can always get someone to tag along with me if I am nervous about going somewhere or doing something alone. I love the sense of community and listening to other travelers’ stories.
That being said, I have run into some prejudices I have never run into before at a hostel.
After a three-hour minibus ride on the windiest road ever (over 750 turns!), it is a relief to arrive in Pai just in time for the sunset.
I thought driving a motorbike would be easy.
After all, thousands of Thai people drive them everyday, weaving recklessly in and out of traffic, without a problem. So, I got on my bike and within…oh, maybe 65 seconds, I had fallen on my ass. I was so nervous taking a turn that I wouldn’t lean into it, so I just toppled over and proceeded to scratch up my leg and humiliate myself in front of dozens of onlookers. Four Thai men ran out of a convenience store to help me up even after I insisted I was fine.
It was…highly embarrassing.
Floating markets in Bangkok are popular destinations for both travelers and locals. They are known for vibrant Thai atmospheres and…well, lots of amazing food. Of course, it was one of the places I knew I had to go.
When I was told there was a shuttle bus that could pick me up directly from my hostel and take me to a market over an hour away, I knew that it would be packed with tourists. Not that I’m against tourists. After all, I am one of them. But I get frustrated in crowds, so I wanted to go someplace perhaps a little quieter.
I read about Klong Lat Mayom, a smaller and less touristy market, and enlisted a couple of my hostel mates to travel along with me first thing in the morning. (I am not quite brave enough to venture so far on my own yet. I thought getting older would make me more brave. It turns out it just has made me a big chicken.)
See that picture? See that girl? She has a look in her eyes. It is a look of excitement.
It is a look of sheer terror.
Now that I have safely reached Bangkok, I can laugh at that picture.
My trip was not easy. First, I got to the airport and the ticket agent asked me for an onward ticket which I absolutely did not have. But as I stuttered something about a bus ticket that I didn’t have proof of, the man took pity on me. Or, he just didn’t have the energy to deal with my nonsense. He gave me my boarding pass and urged me away from his counter.
Then, just as I settled into the waiting area at my gate, my body started to turn on me. My stomach started churning and I started to shake. I tried to curl myself into a ball. I tried to take a nap. I tried to drink some water to see if the feeling would pass.
First of all, thank you to everyone who has messaged me regarding my whereabouts, it meant a lot to me to know that you were curious/concerned.
I know it has been a while. No, I have not cancelled my trip. I leave in less than a week for Bangkok and from there…I can’t say I have much planned. I really need to get on this planning thing.
The past couple of months have been a whirlwind of chaos. Before I quit my job (yes, I finally quit!) I was working 80 hour weeks. On top of my office job, I was also picking up extra night and weekend shifts at the theater.
I’ve been saving a lot of money, but not as much as I’d hoped. I barely met my minimum goal, meaning that I will have to be extra frugal if I’m going to travel for a full year. I’m usually really good at saving money, but I was pretty miserable at my office job, which zapped almost all of my motivation from me. Plus, I absolutely hate the winter. I hate the darkness. I hate the cold. I hate snow. And, most of all, I hate the holidays. I know…bah humbug. Continue reading