April 14, 2012.

Arrived in Bangkok in the middle of Songkran, Thailand’s New Years celebrations. This entails much throwing of water on everybody, buckets, water pistols, bottles, hoses, and balloons, anything that could possibly hold water enabling you to throw it at another is used. In addition you might be smeared with a liquidy-paste (sort of the consistency of a chunky milkshake) made of clay and water, or in some cases, talcum powder and water. When it’s the real clay it’s almost like a facial mud, you feel a tingling and imagine your pores tightening nicely. However to arrive on Khao San road in the midst of this, at high noon, carrying everything you own on your back, well it’s a surprise to say the least, especially when you thought Songkran was next weekend.

I successfully navigate the way to the hotel I want to stay in, successfully meaning I make it, albeit soaking wet with a facefull of mud. I can’t help but laugh and hope my electronics make it through ok, what else could one do? People are having a great time, I may be jet-lagged and overheating but the fun is contagious and I’m laughing out loud at the antics. Everyone is in on it, kids, teens and young people especially but there are some grannies playing as well with playful glints in their eyes, super-soakers pumped and primed, and terrific aim.

I shower the mud off and take a short nap and then venture out for some dinner, not too far from the hotel, I want to attempt to stay dry(ish). The place I choose has a table of Thai girls up in the front, right on the street, one of them has the most piercing scream that I have heard and uses it a lot as she and her friends take part in the water wars with their young male counterparts who are across the narrow street. It makes for a noisy meal, but entertaining. I’m beat, and head back to my hotel where I make a valiant effort to stay awake reading but catch myself nodding off by 9:30, I give in to sleep around 10 and woke up the next day at 8am, guess I needed it.

April 15, 2012

Woke up and finally made up my mind, I’m not staying in Bangkok to meet up with Alex and Brit, I need some time on the beach. I book my escape for early in the evening, a bus to Champhon and a slow boat to Ko Phangan, its back to Bottle Beach for me. I spend the rest of my day getting a massage and a pedicure and emailing. I hope A and B will meet up with me on KP but for now I’m recognizing that every fiber of my body and mind is calling out for rest and relaxation and the opportunity to get into a schedule of exercise and eating well, Bottle Beach is the place to do that, and get my tan back as well.

May 1, 2012.

I spent some wonderful time on Bottle Beach, hanging out with my friend Geoff among others, and started getting the tan back. I started to feel normal again after about 3 or 4 days. Alex, Brit, Josh and Kyla showed up after I had been there about a week and we stayed on for 3 more days. Our first night together was Geoff’s last as he headed home to England after 3 months at BB, we sent him off in style though he has since written me and cursed me out for the late night and multiple buckets. What I do know is that I woke up on the floor of my bungalow, just inside the door, at some point in the middle of the night and I really didn’t understand why my bed felt so hard.

On our last night Alex and sprinkled some of my mom’s ashes into the ocean and sent off a fire lantern into the night sky. It was lovely, I think mom would have liked it and it was good to share that with Alex.

The next morning we headed off by longtail boat to another part of the island that I have never been to before, Thong Nai Pan Yai, we spent 2 nights there and on the second day rented scooters to go check out some of the nearby spots. We visited a waterfall and cruised into the town where the ferry docks, Thong Sala. The roads were a bit treacherous at points, dirt road with a scattering of gravel, it’s doable until you get to the downhill parts. Alex was doubling Brit, Josh was doubling Kyla , and I had my own bike. I was nervous at first as it had been a while since I had driven one but I pulled it off. Josh and Kyla weren’t so lucky and took a spill coming downhill on the way back, Josh was fine but Kyla got pretty scraped up, nothing broken though for which we are all thankful. I think the most damage was to their wallets for the cost of repairs to the bike.

We moved to Hat Yao and spent a night at a place that I may designate one of the worst I have ever been to (and that is saying a lot), surly staff and filthy rooms, with many massive cockroaches. I hung out on the beach that afternoon and ended up covered in multiple bites from an unknown bug that have proven to be incredibly itchy. The next morning these bites had swollen up to look like half a golf ball was buried under my skin, attractive AND itchy, not my favorite moment. Got some cream and some antihistamine to take the swelling and itchy down and am doing better now though still not a pretty sight. We also promptly moved the next morning to a much nicer place, which is where we are now. Having a “chill” day, reading, computing etc.

Tomorrow we move onwards to Krabi so they can all do some rock climbing. I’m going with them but will likely wander off on my own for a few days to explore some nearby areas as I cannot climb anymore (bad knees). We’ll meet up again somewhere in there and work our way down to Malaysia around the same time. I have to be out of Thailand by the 13th but Alex and Brit have until the 16th, so we’ll see how that plays out.

I’m doing well, I feel pretty good and it’s nice to be traveling with these guys, makes a change for me as I am so used to doing it all on my own so letting go of the reins is a pleasure. The only drawback would be feeling slightly out of it sometimes as they are 2 couples and I am just me, but it is a rare feeling and to be expected.