“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from god.” –Bokonon
Thailand is so fucking incredible. The people there both local and transient are so beautiful. I started my adventure at a place called Lonely Beach, on the island of Koh Chang. My bungalow was $4, there was free BBQ at a different bar each night, three beers were 100 baht ($3) or you could get a bucket full of booze for the same price. For $8 you could get a Thai massage ON the beach, with small waves rolling over the rocks below you and mellow reggae wafting from the nearest bar. After a few hours there I felt brand new. The small street I was staying on was like a path through country fair, thrown into a jungle, with a bamboo tattoo parlor at each end and a beach just down the way. There was only half a roof over the shower and to flush the toilet you pour a bucket of water into the bowl. Besides the simple fact of currency, daily life in Thailand feels like some kind of Bohemian Royalty. Everywhere you go, the path is lit with colored lanterns, you sit on ornate oriental pillows, red, gold and purple, you eat meals lounging in the open air and watch the sunset with other smiling souls under a palm frond. Needless to say within hours of my flight landing in Bangkok I had found exactly what I was after. Even though I had three months to enjoy it, the idea of stepping onto my flight home was looking very unlikely.
From there I found my way to Pai, by way of Bangkok and Chang Mai. We’ll leave out the bus ride and three days of food poisoning. Pai was incredible (this word comes up a lot in SE Asia). The synchronicity I found in this part of the world just kept blowing my mind. I love the part about traveling where you meet friends everywhere and you never feel alone, but I was bumping into friends I met a year ago in Costa Rica while just walking down the street in Thailand. How crazy is that? I shared my birthday with a guy who was born on the same day, the same year, in the same time zone as me, and his sister’s name was Molly! Back to Pai though, one day I was sitting in an internet café looking at pictures of the tattoo I wanted to get, asking for a some kind of sign that this was the time and place to do it, when I stand up and walk out a guy on a bicycle is riding by with the flower of life on his shirt. Too perfect, too well timed, that is what this whole trip was like. So I got the tattoo, then I rented a scooter and rode off to a waterfall with some friends. Then the next day we went and scooted to some hot springs. The day after that we rode elephants. What a world where every decision is based on passion and instinct, not reasons. You will only ever regret opportunities you missed, not opportunities you too readily embraced. The greatest thing of all about Pai was how much live music we found. There was a gypsy band, called Asto Na Pai, that played nearly every night at a different place. One night it was in a open air hut by the river and a troupe of fire dancers performed in front of a Rasta colored tee-pee. Another night is was upstairs in a little bar with candles melting all over the tables. The weekend after we arrived was the annual reggae festival in Pai. It was awesome. Scootered there, danced up a storm, ate sushi, drank buckets, tossed around glowing Frisbees and spun some poi. The trip was like being a kid, playing and doing whatever the hell you want, with long bus rides and a few night trains tossed into the mix.
From Pai I made my way to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Better known as Saigon. After that I went to the wonderful and wild world of Vang Vieng, Laos. And then came back to Thailand and went south to the islands.