Parasailing in Phuket!

Today was the coolest day. We arrived at the sister hotel on the beach, and got to play in the pools. I had a good lunch, and then headed for the beach. It was so sunny and great. I had about 100 dollars left, so I bought some more CDs and spent the rest on jet skiing and parasailing. I parasailed first, and it was soooo cool. I’ve always wanted to do it, and I finally got the opportunity to, and I am so glad I did it. It was so amazing. Your view is only the air, you don’t see any strings attached to you, and it was soo awesome!! So, after doing that, we all got jet skis and were out in the bay for about 40 minutes. It was so much fun–so much that I might consider getting one when I get home!! That day went way too fast though, and we were rushed for dinner, because Maya and I had to go to the airport that night. Most everyone else was staying–to do Bangkok–since they came later than us. We had a really nice dinner, and it was hard to say goodbye to everyone–most of who I might not see again ever. SO, we were off to the airport, and boarded the plane, and flew back to Bangkok. The only bad part, is we arrived at about 11:00pm and had to wait for our flight back to Tokyo the next morning at 7:00am! But, I used the internet some, and the time passed quickly. So, we flew back, and it was a nice flight, but boy were we ready to be back at Sakura Heights! When we landed, we got out and got on the train back to Tokyo. After a 3 hours of traveling again, we finally arrived, and it was so nice to be back and have a hot shower and sleeepppp!! All and all though it was one of the best experiences I’ve had, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see Thailand. It is just the beginning though of all my Asian travels this year!!

Koh Phi Phi

This morning we got up to go to the Island of Phi Phi. We boarded the boat and took a 2 hour boat ride from the island to Phi Phi. On our way we saw some gorgeous scenery and landforms. The water was absolutely blue and green. It was soo cool. You only see the water in those tropical shows where people scuba and such. So we arrived at Phi Phi, had lunch, and then had about 3 hours to play on the beautiful beaches. The water felt good, and you could walk for hours and still be only knee deep. It was really cool. We then got back to the boat, and headed back to the hotel. By then it was evening, and we just hung out around the hotel, watching tv and sorts.

Phuket Town

The next morning, we boarded a bus that took us to a temple that had tons of monkeys!! That was a lot of fun! We then went on a boat down a river for a while and the mountains were sooo cool!! We stopped at a dock on some random island and had lunch. We then took the boat back, and went back to the hotel, then out to Pathong Beach where I found a lot of good cds again. We ate a great dinner at some restaurant. We then took the bus back to the hotel.

The Tropical Island of Phuket

Then it came for us to leave Chiang Mai and fly to Phuket (Poo-ket’) Island. The scenery from the plane was gorgeous, and we went on several excursions on the island. We took a boat ride to Koh Pi Pi Island, and to a monkey park as well. We finally got to a beach to relax, and parasail! This was a great end to our journey throughout Thailand, but a sad end as we would not see the others for a long time. Maya and I had to leave back to Tokyo, while the others had to go back to the US–they were only in Tokyo for one semester.

Pop’s Aunts

The next morning, a couple others and I got up early to visit the market where Pop’s aunts have worked every day for the past 20 years to sell their food. We went to buy food for the monk that comes every morning. The food consists of a meat, rice, and dessert, and it is to signify a meal for yourself in your after life. So, everyone brings out a meal everyday for the monks to ensure they have food in their after life.

This morning, I woke up at 6:00am to see the aunts at work. The aunt’s worked every day of the year since they were teenagers at the local market. I mean everyday–these were the first days they have not worked in years…and knowing that, I felt a lot toward them. They had both really hard lives growing up. When Pop’s mom was born, the mother died giving birth. The father, soon after died, at which the 17 year old daughter–Pop’s aunt, had to take care of several children–including about 3 boys who were stolen from her to work for someone else. I don’t believe she knows anything of them from that point on. So, the 17 year old raised Pop’s Mom, along with the other sister. She worked everyday making her food and going every morning to the market from 3 to 8, selling her food. As she was raising her siblings, she would be so scared at night, that she would take medicines to calm her–which has now caused her to go practically deaf. She is not allowed to leave the country, and is almost a prisoner in Thailand due to her work not being important enough to come back to. Quite a sad story, and I don’t see how anyone couldn’t be affected by the kindness they showed us during the entire time we were visiting. Beautiful ladies they were. So back to my story, at the market, we bought a meal–to give to the monks that come by in the morning, every morning at 6:50 sharp. So, you buy a meat, a rice, and a desert–giving it to the monk will ensure you have a meal in your next life, so most people give every morning…feeding the monks who come, and those back at the temple. It was definitely a sad goodbye at the airport. They had been so great to us, and I for one was really sad to say goodbye. Here we also had to say goodbye to Whitney–she was going to stay in the North a little longer, and then later go to Laos–who knows where she is now!! Now on the plane to Phuket, it was so nice to see the ocean and shore from the plane. We arrived at the airport, and met up with 3 Japanese girls that Monica knew. We then took a bus to the hotel with all our stuff, and got in our rooms. We were in Phuket town, so not too close to the beach–a 30 minute drive. Most people when we arrived wanted to take a nap. We just hung out the entire night.

Butterfly and Snake Farm!

This morning we woke up again, and again had a problem with some ingrates being late, causing the bus to wait again, over 45 minutes. I don’t know where these kids were raised, but I am certainly the one that wasn’t raised in a barn, which everyone assumes, me being from Tennessee and all. Anyhow, we went to board our bus to take us to an Elephant farm. Here you could pet the elephants, feed the elephants, ride them, watch them do everything–even play soccer!! So, of course we did all the above, and after a couple of hours, we then went to a butterfly farm for lunch.. again traditional Thai. After the butterfly farm, we went to a snake farm, and watched a show with cobras. I held and kissed a huge snake around my neck. How fun. After the show, we got on the bus again to head for a waterfall near by. It was nice to be in the nature, and again get to talk to a lot of people again more closely. We all really had a great time together. That night, we went out to Chinese dinner, which isn’t your regular sweet and sour pork, but instead, pig ears, swan feet, chicken skin, you know, all those types of foods we seem to just forget. So here I am, hungry for a ham sandwich with a swan’s foot sitting on my plate. And it’s not like they tried to disguise it in a sauce or cut it up or anything. Just a big webbed foot on my plate, sitting next to a pig ear. What was I supposed to do? Well against everything I was taught about you are what you eat, I decided to go ahead. You can call me a swan’s foot if you like =) We then went home.

Chiang Mai

We woke up to meet the aunts (right next door) for breakfast. Of course we had some problems with people being soooo late and rude, there were some small arguments among them and the people who are on time, this time, I was not the minority. We went to meet our own bus, which had been rented just for us! It was great. It took us to a temple that has 300 stairs, on top of a mountain. So, after climbing the stairs, you’re pretty high up, and it was gorgeous once you came to the top, seeing the entire city of Chaing Mai below. At the top, there were temples where Monks sat ready to pray for us, so we went in and got blessed, which is shown by the bracelet being tied on us. The girls were NOT allowed to touch the monk at all, as he wasn’t allowed to touch them either. I still have my bracelet on by the way, and once it falls off, I am to throw it in the nearest tree. Ringing bells at the temple also gave me good luck, I guess, and we all took our time to look at the breathtaking view below us. I had to rent some pants, which were SO FUNKY, I had to take a picture of the sky blue rags. Our next stop from the temple was a hot spring. Some people bought some eggs to boil in the natural spring. I and many others went for the mineral bath and massage–a whole fifteen dollars for the works! So, we took a nice bath, the water feeling really different–a smelling as sulfur YUCK. But then we went to the hot tub for a while, until the ladies were ready for us. They called us, and me and Adrian (Monica’s brother) went in first, and they rubbed us down with all sorts of lotions and performed their traditional Thai massage. I could use one of them now, this typing is hard. That was all fun, and then we went to the bus, and went back. We went to the market again to find some more gifts, ate at Swenson’s YUMM and then went back home.

Train to Chiang Mai

We took a cab with ALL our stuff to the train station to meet up with Pop and everyone. Surprisingly everyone was on time! We were really glad to see everyone, and we knew then it would be such fun with everyone for one last time. We boarded the train, and got situated for the 12 hour journey ahead of us. Needless to say, we passed a lot of interesting country sides–again reminding me of my trip to Russia, how I had to ride the train for 20 hours instead, but just as interesting. The landscape was really interesting, with mountains and fields everywhere. We finally arrived at night, after a nice ride–we all got to renew our friendships again, and got to know everyone a little bit better. I especially enjoyed my talks with Whitney, who will be writing a book soon about her life experiences including some interesting stories about her mother’s life as well. Such an interesting girl. We were greeted at the trainstation by the 2 aunts and a cousin of Pop. We were all shoved into a small open back truck, which ended up to be our main way of transportation…so Thai!! We got to our guest house, properly named, Ben’s Guest house, got our rooms, which were really nice. I mean, it should be since we paid a whole dollar fifty. =) So, we went back out with the cousin, who was about 28 or so, and went out to a restaurant on the river. It was really nice, and I had a great brownie sundae–that chocolate fix again. We came home, by that same mode of transportation, and got to bed.

Train to Chiang Mai

After 4 days in Bangkok, we met up with about 10 others and traveled by train to Chiang Mai. This is where Pop’s (Pop is our Thai friend who arranged our trip for us–) aunts live. The train ride took about 8 hours, and we went through quite rural areas of Thailand. Once we arrived in Chiang Mai, we were all brought to the auntie’s home by a truck. I felt like livestock, because there were about 8 squeezed into the back of each truck. We arrived at their home, where a hostel was located right next door. It was called, Ben’s Hostel. This is where we spent the next 5 days–paying $1.50 per room, divided by two. The aunts and Pop had planned several activities for us, such as the temple of 300 stairs, a hot spring with Thai massage, and an elephant park. bluepantsThe temple was amazing, though I had to RENT PANTS that were terrible! The Thai massage was hilarious–I’m just glad I got the young lady instead of the old one!! The elephant park was interesting–I’ve never been so close to elephants before! We also went to a waterfall that afternoon, and we all got to spend some quiet time before dinner. The dinner that night was traditional Chinese food, all with the delicacies of pig ear, fish intestines (I didn’t even know they had any!), and last but not least the swan’s foot. Yes, a swan’s food is food, well, the webbed part at least=)

Bangkok Weekend Market

While the other kids were sleeping I went out to the market behind our hotel, and bought some movies and cds. They are of course black market, but hey they were cheap! That afternoon, we went to the weekend market. A huge place with all sorts of blackmarketed goods. So we all bought our little Oakley bags, fake stuff left and right. We then headed back to the hotel, and went to Thai Boxing. That was really cool, but we had to cut it short because Maya and Julia had to go back to the suit place to get fitted. So, after not remembering where the place was, we went back to the hotel so the girls could call and tell them that they weren’t coming, and they needed it delivered. Surprisingly, they agreed, and brought it right to the hotel. We then packed up and got ready to leave with everyone the next morning to Chaing Mai.