One of the worlds top parties, a howling display of party animals, neon colors, fire throwing circus acts, and the most energized dance moves only a full moon could attract! The line up of parties before the full moon (the waterfall party, the jungle party, etc..) can either prepare you for whats to come or exhaust you before the main event. Every month thirty thousand people come covering every grain of sand of the Haad Rin beach, prepared to rage or at least witness the spectacle which is, the full moon party. What to be warned about; lock your things up in hotel, break-ins can occur if your sleeping close to the chaos. Don’t use the bucket. Get the cheap drinks but ask to mix it yourself in the empty water bottle you bring. You don’t know what will could be mixed into your drink or thrown into your bucket by strangers. Plus, with a lid you can dance without spilling your drink.
If your usual mode of transportation is moped or a motor bike then I don’t have to tell you how much fun it is! For those of you who have not yet tried, or only been the passenger, or only test drove one, then it’s time to try again. I’m not encouraging you to jump on a busy highway, but to take yourself to an island like Pha Ngan, Thailand and give it a go. Easier said then done. For only seven dollars we rented a motor bike to explore the north side of the island knowing very well we had no idea what we were doing. When we asked the sweet owner of the bike to actually show us how it works fear set in her eyes. We knew we would pick up on it quickly but the reminder to stay to the left of the road was much needed for the both of us. What a great feeling, the open road, the wind hitting my helmet, going into the unknown, all with the comfort of bring on a small island and therefore limiting the possibility of getting lost. We came upon a park with an outdoor gym, a Chinese temple, and a quint lunch spot, with plenty of stories in between. With our moped adventure I can confidently say we saw the island of Koh Pha Ngan.
We were told about a side of the island where not many people venture, a strip of beach with only one resort but plenty of bungalows. A quite, colorful collection of the selected travelers that choose to venture away from the party in Haad Rin. We took the advice to take the ten minute long boat ride around the corner. I was impressed with what I was coming upon. For the first time I understood the possibility of the truth in the novel, The Beach, and I wasn’t even close.
I would give you a map to this beach but if I learned anything from the movie, it’s gonna come to back to bite me in the ass. So just google it, Haad Yuan, Thailand.
Over the past several months I’ve experienced all types of celebrations and traditions but for me nothing beats Thanksgiving and all it has come to represent. This year I will be missing out on my families traditions, to live out a dream I have had to travel the world. And I am grateful, I am grateful to have this time to realize even more what I love about home, family, and friends. I might be far away, but over the last few months I have come to understand those I am close to and truly love, more than I ever had before. It hasn’t been the phone cards and wifi that have given me this chance, but the time I am without them. Whether it be alone, talking with a new friend, or just a lesson from observing a complete stranger, I found myself reflecting on who and what I have in my life. Stepping away from home has given me a chance not only to understand, but identify what I am thankful for.
I could tell you that in my travels I have met many people with far less than you and you should be thankful for what you have. And although it is true we have heard it all before. There is no comparison. Life brings different things to different people. With one thing we all have in common, there is always something to appreciate and be thankful for. No matter how faint it is, it is there, and that flicker will become a flame if you feed it. Grateful things come to grateful people.
So as I sit in Bali, ten thousand miles away from home, I know I won’t have all the trimmings I love about thanksgiving (autumn air, loud family, sweaters, tv in the distance, cuddling up on the couch) but the one tradition I will always have, from anywhere in the world, is the simplicity of giving thanks…I am thankful to all of you who give me love, support, and inspire me each and everyday!
Every time I asked a local what I should do with my time in Bangkok the infamous lady boys made the list. So we had to. The raunchy ping pong show, I could do without, but the lady boys were a must. What we pictured the popular Calypso Cabernet Show to be was a showgirl display of exotic acts by a mixture of all gender parts. Yes, we were going to pay for this. When in Bangkok!
But upon arriving at the riverside Asiatique theater we were shocked! It wasn’t a run down or hidden theater, it was a beautiful park of shops and restaurants with the theater as a main attraction. The calypso show was something serious. The classy theater was made up of white marble and red velvet seats. One free cocktail and the show would began.
They introduced themselves, pageant style, wearing gowns of all extravagant designs. I still thought those dresses were going to be ripped off and the show would start, but they never did. Each act was an entertaining display of interesting dance moves and lip syncing! I loved the humorous flamboyant broadway spectacular! And was thoroughly entertained by the costumes and artistic take of English pop songs. As for my friend, I think she had prepared herself to see something of the ping pong show stature (or hangover two trannies) and therefore just a little disappointed in just how classy these ladies were.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok, just a short walk from the ever popular Koh San Road, but a world of a difference. I would love nothing more than to pour out informative details about this beautiful palace, but the truth is our self guided tour went in one ear and out the other. What I am able to tell you, you can clearly see. I was memorized by the bedazzled details that reached every corner. The gold temples and colorful tiles. The green lawns of perfection. Even the waves of tourist were a intricate display of colors and patterns.
It wasn’t the plan, but when I sat alone in the Moscow airport waiting for my travel partner to arrive the reality hit… I would be spending some time alone once I landed in Bangkok because she had missed her flight. I haven’t traveled much on my own and have never been to Thailand, but I was comforted by typical statement about solo backpackers “you’re never really alone when traveling in southeast asia”. Also the fact that I have wondered how I would have done on this world trip if my friend didn’t choose to join me. This was my chance, while she spent the next twenty fours hours exploring the Moscow airport, I would have my adventure as a solo traveler. Leaving the beautiful Bangkok airport my only objective was to make it to the hostel with not much difficulty, without breaking a sweat would be a whole other story. Being the paranoid and anal (some would say smart) traveler that I am, I already had the address of the hostel written in Thai for the driver and took a snap shot of his drivers info as soon as I got in the back seat. This is something I often do even in New York. I’ve seen enough movies to know how a foreign kidnapping plays out. So it might sound crazy but it takes only a second, and so why not.
Within the hour I was unpacked and eating breakfast. I know, I already mentioned the heat but I’d really like to elaborate on what it feels like to sit outside under the shade on the streets of Bangkok. You are wet with sweat. Don’t whip the sweat because you’ll only sweat more. You have to drink water so you don’t dehydrate, but you’ll dread going the bathroom because pulling your pants back up is like putting on a wet bathing suit. In fact I recommend wearing a bathing suit! Except here there is no way to cool you down. So embrace it! Like I did that sunny morning. I ordered my first spicy Thai soup! And some hot coffee! Did I mention I’m a smart traveler?
Before heading out for the day I introduced myself to the owner who happened to be a connected friend of a friend. He has been recommended as being the most helpful person ever and I was so happy to be staying at his establishment (the green house). Once he moved on I started to map out my day. And before I knew it I had my first friend, a solo traveler sitting right next to me! As a girl you usual suspect a guy to be hitting on you with the first words coming out of their mouth, but after his second question that thought had passed and I was pleased to meet Steven. He gave me a handful of recommendations from his travels and we both went on with our day.
I took my time getting lost in the near by streets, by markets and street vendors I tried to comprehend just how cheap everything really was! At this point I was never leaving Thailand. And realized I should have come with nothing. Right down to the backpack, it all could have been bought here! Carrying all the unnecessary junk in my backpack brings me to, my first Thai massage. I tried to find a balance between store front appeal and price (we’re talking $5-$10 an hour). My first Thai massage. My feet were cleaned and I was escorted upstairs to a room full of beds set on along a small step. I was comfortable with my very flamboyant masseuse but had my guard up being alone. As I lay flat with my bare back exposed I found it hard to relax. The intensity of a Thai massage felt much like a sport, where I had to ready to take the hit. It was working though. My muscles had no choice but to become putty. At one point he placed some oil on the pillow under my nose. I could only assume it was part of the aroma therapy deal but my paranoid voice kicked in for a second and said ” he is trying to knock you out with drugs”. For the second I tried to hold my breathe. At this point he told me to relax for third time. And as he pressed his feet against my back and pulled my arms back to the sky I grunted,” I’m trying”. The massage was finished, I had lived, and as long as I didn’t have bruising I could say that massage was brilliant. I left saying, ” I’ll be back tomorrow”.
I ventured back to the hostel and found my new friend at his own table as he talked to two other solo travelers at other tables. I took my own seat and joined the conversation. Eventually it seemed ridiculous that we each had our own table and we joined together. What do you know, it was easy to make friends in Bangkok! Steven, from Holland (who I met earlier), a young lad from Rhode Island, and Jasper, another Dutchman. Each with a story to tell and tips to pass on. As they drank their Changs I had my first taste of Sang Som (the well known Thai whiskey, that might possibly give you wacky dreams). One would be my limit for the night, I didn’t need my own version of the hangover coming into to action. So, after some food and friendship bracelets I headed to bed, happy with my experience, happy to be heading to air conditioning, and happy to show my travel partner around Bangkok and tell her all about my day upon her arrival!
We strive to teach kids lessons that are valuable to their quality of life, but way to often we forget to apply them to our own. After just spending one afternoon with my two year old niece I was reminded of some very simple principles.1. Be yourself, embrace, and express yourself. After all, that is all your rally can be. So if you feel like wearing a dress over your slacks, ten different colors, and a crown, do it!3. Smile. Even through her terrible twos she has learned that a simple smile goes a long way. I know we aren’t all as cute as her but I promise you it will always work in your favor. 4. Fear, it is just a game you play with yourself. Just like our game of princess and dragon fear is a creation. So find the courage to change your fear. Just like my niece who had no problem in telling me (the dragon) in exactly which direction to chase her. 5. Manners. You have no excuse, if a two year old can use basic common courtesy then surely you can. It’s all about respecting others and to start a simple sorry, please, and thank you will suffice.
With that being said…Thank you for taking the time to read my point of view.
Fall weddings are by far my favorite, and what better than a October wedding nesseled amongst the changing leaves of the north east. Upon everyones arrival there was a welcoming party. Including the wedding party and all those who came in from out of town. If you knew the bride and groom it would only make sense that the traditional rehearsal dinner be morphed into a fun filled event complete with a live band, open bar, and many friends and family.
True to the nature of the couple I expected lots of dancing, laughing and meeting many kind and affectionate people. After all you are the company you keep. The day was so much more than I expected and it was the little gestures and details that were unique to them that made the day a wedding to remember. The yellow school buses to transport all the guests . For two local teachers this makes for a cute detail.
The fancy bow ties around every groomsmen’s neck. Fitting to the grooms personal style and usual dress up attire.
The bride and her father made a last minute decision to arrive to the country club ceremony in a gulf cart from an unscheduled direction. Giving the crowd a little chuckle and staying true to their personalities.
The readings were from some great classic literature throughout the ceremony, expressing the principles of love and marriage. After all they are teachers.
A moment during the ceremony to reflect on the special day. The dear friend that wed them had the bride and groom turn out to all the guests to take a minute to be in the moment before it flashes by.
The hand painted flags handed out to all the guests were gifts of love made the brides students.
The table settings had small stories about the places they’ve been together, many involving their guests.And throughout the reception there were many more details but all that’s coming to mind is my honey rimmed whiskey and the dance floor!
As the night went on you could see the strong friendships they’ve made over the years and the close family that they were so lucky to have. The night was beautiful, between the table settings, the bride, and the views of the country club, and all the previous mentioned details but it was the people that were what made this wedding standout out.