Greetings loyal followers! I have survived 10 days in Thailand, it was an action-packed trip as we started in Bangkok, then headed to Chiang Mai, then did a Jungle Trek, spent a day in Phuket, and did an islands tour in Phi Phi, so this blog might be lengthy, but i tried to highlight all the good stuff! 4.13 flights on flights
Today is officially the first day of spring break, and after staying up until nearly 2am packing (debating what types of bags and clothes to bring) we were on our way at 6am to the airport.
Jess, Monica, and I meet up with Sara and Grant and the five of us were off to the land of pad thai. The flight felt like fooooorrrrreeeeevvvvveeeerrrrrrrr. And the worst part was, since we took a budget airline, I didn’t get my FAVORITE part of the plane rides – the food – because I didn’t realize you had to purchase this ahead of time. MAJOR BUMMER, but as muther says “I could live off the land”.
When we got into our taxi in Bangkok, we learned that it was the Thailand new year, and the way Thai people celebrate is a giant water fight throughout the country. What does this mean? Exactly that, as soon as we got out of the cab we were hit with water guns and buckets of water were thrown on us as we schlepped our luggage throughout the streets. At first, it was frustrating, but since there was no escaping it we embraced it. We started running and weaving through people getting hit with water and clay. At one point Sara and I were targeted by a group of Thai boys who then followed us through the crowd and were absolutely relentless. I used my luggage as a shield to push people out of the way, and when we finally made it to the hostel, we were all drenched head to toe. An eventful first hour in Bangkok for sure.
We dropped our stuff and made a b line for food. We found a cool outdoor bar/restaurant and ordered two beer towers, and since we were all exhausted we all got a lil buzzed before heading back to the hostel for a good night of sleep.
4.14a day in Bangkok
We woke up refreshed this morning and ready to explore Bangkok. We got in our first tuk-tuk ride, it's Thailand's version of a taxi which are super tiny and a lot of fun. We managed to shove all five of us into one tuk-tuk after lots of friendly bartering with the drivers. Once we were in the tuk-tuk we were on our way to a boat tour of Bangkok, our driver ended up hitting on Sara and said that he liked her and it was pretty funny. Since we had one guy, Grant, with us, our driver also made jokes about that (and that ended up being the first of many comments about our gender ratio haha)
It was really cool to see the city from the water and we passed the floating markets and went down some cool alleyways of the river where there were tons of disheveled houses that people lived in. Since it was still the new year and people were still celebrating, the people in these houses were throwing buckets of water and hosing us down from their decks. It was quite the scene, as Monica and I just wanted to make sure our cameras didn’t get ruined, we were ducking but also trying to embrace getting drenched because it was fun.
The boat dropped us off at the Grand Palace, so we purchased skirts and shirts (because we needed to dress conservatively in the 90 degree weather) and headed to the temple. It was absolutely beautiful, the buildings were immaculate and the designs were so intricate, but it was so damn crowded and hot it was a tad unpleasant. Regardless, we made the most of it and went to all the museums and buildings within the complex.
After the grand palace, we were only a 25 minute walk to our hostel, so we decided to walk and take the scenic route through town. Once we got closer to our hostel, the water fights were in full swing. There is literally no way to explain the water fights to make you believe what is going on. The streets are absolutely packed, there are people shoved in like sardines on the side streets and there is music blasting from stores as loud as you can imagine and there are people of all ages throwing water at you and trying to put clay on your face. I still had my camera at this point and I couldn’t enjoy it as much because I was worried my camera and my future would get destroyed. So we got to the hostel, dropped off our important stuff, showered and then headed to dinner.
I took two steps out of the hostel, freshly showered, when I got a large bucket full of water dumped on me. I was drenched and lost all of my freshly showered-ness and I just started laughing as we headed to dinner. We found this restaurant that was blasting music for the water fights and decided it looked fun, so we (accidentally) ordered two beer towers (aka 8 liters of beer) and had the most fun dinner ever. Since we didn’t want to waste the beer we started playing flip cup at our table to drink it faster, and when we needed a break we would just dance like crazy to the music (which was still blasting inside the restaurant). It was so loud we were literally shouting at each other and just dancing like crazy in our seats. The poor Canadian guy that we met in our hostel and invited to dinner must have thought we were absolutely crazy, but it didn’t matter because it was incredibly fun.
We were scheduled to take an overnight bus to Chiang Mai, so after dinner, we grabbed our all bags from the hostel and walked through the water fight, yet again, to get to our bus. Sara and Jess decided to wear garbage bags so that they wouldn’t get wet, but Monica, Grant and I just got absolutely destroyed with water again and it was still so fun, and we were all a little drunk from trying to finish 8 liters of beer in a half an hour (don’t worry we didn’t finish, we ended giving about 3 liters of beer to a random table).
Since we were drenched we all decided to get changed into some dry clothes in the bus parking lot, since no one was water fighting here. Then we just hung out till our bus came, and it was a pretty awful bus ride, it's really hard to get a solid night of sleep when you’re sitting upright….
4.15 day one in Chiang Mai
The overnight bus arrived at about 6 in the morning, and they got us to our next hostel, which was super nice. We, unfortunately, couldn’t check in until 1, so we took a walk around Chiang Mai to see our new neighborhood, and ended up finding a really nice hotel with a breakfast buffet and paid $10 American dollars for an all you can eat western breakfast buffet. Monica, Sara, Jess and I ate here and got enough food to feed 10 people. We were so hungry and tired and not in the mood to have rice for breakfast, so we took advantage and just stuffed ourselves, we even got pancakes in the shape of our faces!
After breakfast, we were able to check into our hostel early and we all took much needed power naps for an hour before heading out at noon (this was possible the longest day ever). We decided to participate in the last day of the water fights, so we all bought water guns and were on our way. We walked to the East Gate of the city and we watched a parade and were finally able to carefreel-y join the waterfights (didn’t bring my camera this time).
It was so much fun, I couldn't get over how crazy the people were, children and adults were absolutely ruthless in their water fights and we were drenched within minutes, but this time we finally had water guns to fight back with which was fun. About halfway through the day we stopped for some beer and ended up at this dive thai bar that was on the main street. Again, they were blasting music similar to the restaurant in Bangkok, so that must be a thing for the new year. After the refreshing Chang Beers, we joined more of the water fights for another hour or so before walking back to our hostel and trying some street food along the way.
That night we were all exhausted and decided to grab some dinner really close to our hostel at what looked like some woman’s house. She cooked us some pad thai and we sat in really heavy wooden furniture and hung out and chatted. None of us were really in the mood to go our or drink, so we walked through the night market that was literally around the corner and were buying elephant pants left and right. I even bought a really cool tie dye bucket hat (it was cool because all my friends saw it first and immediately thought it was a “juli” hat).
4.16 jungle trek pt. 1
Today we were off to the jungle to play with elephants! We got picked up in a jungle bus, met some backpackers, and drove two hours into the mountains. It was a rough ride, Monica and I got pretty car sick, but we eventually made it and it was sooo worth it.
As soon as we stepped out of the car, you could see elephants playing by the camp. We put on our “uniforms” and were given instructions about playing with the elephants and were on our way. It was kinda crazy being that close to elephants and just being able to play with them, and they all seemed incredibly happy to be where they were (in other camps we saw later, elephants looked extremely unhappy).
After we fed the elephants twice we went to wash them in the mud pit. At first everyone was tip-toeing into the mud because it was pretty gross, but soon the Thai guys running the camp started throwing mud at people and getting everyone dirty. One thai man targeted me and put so much mud on my back and head. Then all of a sudden, I felt a guys are come around my waist trying to take me down into the mud. I thought it was Grant just trying to push me in the mud, but as I turned my head around saying “haha grant funny”, but it ended up being some random older man who was a solo traveler. This random man ended up body slamming hard core into the mud pit, every inch of my body was pretty much covered in mud at this point, even my face. I could see my friends outside the mud pit dying of laughter as I awkwardly got up from this random guy….
Luckily, after the mud pit, we went into a waterfall oasis area to clean off with the elephants. It was literally insane, we were given buckets and just got to play with them in the water. Once we were all clean, we were allowed to feed the elephants and hang out with them one last time before we left. Then, very abruptly, we were told we had to leave and we were headed to a different camp to have our overnight.
Our overnight camp was plopped in the middle of the jungle quite literally. Once we got there we dropped our stuff in the sleeping cabin, and headed to a waterfall for some swimming and cliff jumping (basically our showers for the day). Dinner was a chill night in the forest with our Thai guys and fellow backpackers.
4.17 jungle trek pt. 2
We went to bed incredibly early and woke up at 9, giving us a full 12 hours of sleep which felt absolutely wonderful for our bodies. Our thai guys made us some breakfast, before we headed to a different, sadder, elephant camp. The previous day was much more fun, so we just hung out around the camp before hiking up a vertical hill to the next waterfall area and lunch.
This area was super cool because the river and rocks made an all natural waterslide that me, Monica, and Grant went crazy over. We had a ball just going down the slide over and over and over again. Since we started pruning, we got out and headed out of the jungle by walking through a small village and the views of the jungle were absolutely incredible.
Once we got back in Chiang Mai, we returned to the same hostel and checked in right away and literally sprinted to the showers. Usually, I would be fine not showering for a day, but considering I had been thrown into a mud pit where elephants shit, and in water where the elephants also shit, so I needed a shower STAT.
We wandered around Chiang Mai that night and ended up sitting in a cool backyard beer garden for dinner. The group was pleased to be showered and back in the somewhat developed area, rather than the jungle. We continued to explore that night, we got some nice gelato and ended up at a live music bar, where I spotted an albino kitty who I played with for quite some time. Monica also taught us how to swing dance, since she is from South Carolina, and we had a good time just chilling post our jungle experience.
Monica also spotted a tattoo parlor, and egged Grant on to get a nose piercing because he had been talking about it for quite some time. She even went into the parlor to ask and get an estimate, but they, unfortunately, said they didn't do piercings, so then she tried to convince one of us to get a tattoo. At this point, Grant and I made a bet/handshake/promise that if he got his nose pierced in the next city, then I would get a tattoo and vice versa, if I got a tattoo he would get a piercing, and the agreement was made (and brainstorming commenced).
4.18phuket aka a place we never want to return to
We left Chiang Mai and headed to Phuket this morning, and the best way to describe Phuket is a trashy spring break town, so imagine us, coming from beautiful and cultured Chiang Mai, into a beach town that easily could have been in Florida or Cancun. Not great, but we carried on.
At lunch, we ordered pizza and pad thai, a weird combination but it worked for us. We headed to the beach, and got bombarded by people trying to sell us stuff left and right, there was literally no way to relax on this beach. And if the people selling stuff everywhere wasn't enough, there were parasailers taking off 20 feet away from us and the Thai men running it were literally jumping onto the parachutes like monkeys and flying over the water with no protection. Where are the waivers!! Where are the liability forms!!! Where is the safety!!!
That night, we walked down the main stretch of Phuket and it was absolutely terrible. It was like times square on steroids plus, basically, prostitution being thrown at us. We walked down the strip and weaved in and out before walking down a quiet alley to find a place to eat dinner. Again, we got some pad thai and rice and noodles, before heading back out to fight against that street.
The rest of the night was pretty chill, we walked and bought some elephant pants, before buying some beers and heading to the roof of the hostel to hang out. Disclaimer: even though Phuket was awful, the hostel was literally incredible, it had a rooftop pool that overlooked the beach and a nice patio. Like this gem in the middle of a terrible terrible town.
4.20 phi phi (pronounced pee pee, not even joking) islands
thankfully, we were getting out of phuket first thing in the morning and heading to the islands to finally have a bit of relaxing on this travel extravaganza. After some drama with the ferry, we were onboard and passed out for the 2 hour ride.
Immediately, Phi Phi was stunning. It was the picturesque land you always imagine when going to "the islands in thailand". We were all so happy to be at the beach, so incredbily happy.
This portion of the trip we booked through a tour group, so we actually got to stay in a hotel for these nights, and we were very impressed with the accommodation (especially compared to the hostels). Here, we also met up with Whitney our tour guide/leader/mentour for the few days we were there.
We headed straight to the beach once we were all checked in and just hung out and had a lazy but relaxing day in the heat.
That night we met up with Whitney at a restaurant with her other tour group of about 14 people all ages ranging from 19-29. Dinner was delicious, we had Mexican food, which was strange to have in Thailand, but regardless, very good and a much-needed break from all the noodles and rice.
After dinner, Whitney took us out for a night on the town. We started at a Muay Thai bar, where the entry fee was buying a beer. Then we sat and literally watched people fight, which was strange, but oddly fun. One of my roommates even volunteered to fight, because if you volunteered to fight you got a free bucket of alcohol. She ended up getting beat, but she still got us that bucket. At this moment, we were introduced to the concept of "a bucket". It's basically a giant bucket filled with a mixed drink that's super duper cheap. This free bucket tasted like lighter fluid, so once we left to go to the next bar, we purchased better buckets for the solid price of $5USD.
Our next stop was a live music bar, and since the buckets started to hit us, we all started dancing in the street to the music. It was so much fun, and Monica and I started swing dancing again and the music was on point, it was easily my favorite bar of the night.
But no, the night isn’t over yet! Then we headed to the party beach that is lined with bars and clubs blasting music. We started at one bar, but then immediately walked to a different one that was playing salsa music because it just looked like more fun. There we got free shots, and then I limbo-ed for free shots, Thailand is a crazyyyyyy place. The end of the night gets a little fuzzy, but this was easily one of the craziest and my favorite nights of being abroad so far.
4.21 the hangover
Thinking back on the previous night, we all woke up feeling like death. Many in the group were fighting the urge to barf, but we somehow made it to our tour at noon. We all got on the boat and were off to explore three islands.
The day was chill we hung out on the boat for an hour, then would stop for an hour and snorkel and go to the beach and then boat for an hour before hitting up a new beach. At the last beach, while we snorkeled, I saw a shark, and I was the only one in the group to do so, so I felt pretty lucky. After that, we saw a gorgeous sunset before heading home for the night.
Since no one was up for alcohol or going out, we went to a nice dinner with some live music and just hung out. Grant and I discussed our promise about our piercings and tats, where he gave me a good idea for a tattoo, so after dinner, we looked for a parlor that would give us what we wanted.
We found a place with a guy who looked identical to one of Grant and I’s friends at Michigan, so he went there and got his nose pierced. As he was getting ready to get it pierced, I was getting pumped up and ready to get a tattoo, however, once they started piercing his ear and I watched it happened, I almost fainted and needed to sit down. Needless to say, the tattoo was not happening for me.
We hung out and got ice cream and hung out with all the stray kittens. For some reason, this island is full of cats, and for the most part, they are friendly, so I've been picking them up and petting literally everyone I see.
4.22 boat tour pt. 1
This morning we all woke up refreshed and not hungover, what a beautiful feeling. So we packed up all of our stuff and checked out of our hotel and got ready to board and overnight boat tour of Maya Beach.
But we had some freetime, so I decided to try again at the tattoo. We revisited the place where grant got his piercing, and they claimed what I wanted was too small and I was totally bummed, so we tried another shop, this one claimed that it would be 5000 thai baht for what I wanted (aka $150 USD) and all I wanted were some tiny stars on my finger, so we passed. We finally found a place that would do it, but the only artist there didn’t speak English, but the price was right so I went for it.
I drew out what I wanted and he nodded, cut out exactly what I drew and transferred it to my finger before the tattoo-ing began. I started to get extremely nervous, especially because he was giving me a bamboo tattoo, meaning no machine and that it was all by hand, done the traditional tribal way. Then he started going for it, and it wasn’t that bad at first, I expected it to be a lot more painful, but it was tolerable. Some points were more painful than others, and I think that my mental hate of needles only made it worse, but I powered through. In the end, the tattoo looked great and I was extremely happy. It was spontaneous and fun and amazing.
The tattoo is the southern cross star constellation, which is only visible in the southern hemisphere of the world, so it represents my time in Australia and the goal to travel more in the future. There are also five stars, one for each member of the Polise clan.
After I got tatted and was no longer lightheaded, we headed to the Maya Bay Sleep Aboard Boat and I can easily say that it was not what I expected. I thought there were going to be bunks and cabins underneath, but there was none of that, and we soon learned we were literally going to be sleeping on the deck. I had a little bit of a panic being a light sleeper, but figured we would cross that bridge when we got there.
Once we started going, it was beautiful yet again, all these islands are basically giant rock formations that were insane. We basically hung out at some beaches and snorkeled and it was a nice relaxing day.
That night, we had dinner on the roof and one of the thai guides, named Aggyboy, came up and played some guitar for us while we ate. This is when we realized the entire boat was basically a couples retreat and then we were the five college kids that crashed everything. We weren’t obnoxious or anything, but it was just pretty hilarious at dinner when we realized everyone was coupled up.
The coolest part of this boat ride was the fact that once it got dark, we had the opportunity to snorkel with bioluminescent plankton. We weren’t allowed to bring cameras because the light from the screens would affect the visibility of everything, so we all jumped in the water, and started moving and it was incredible. All the plankton would light up if you moved, so we were all kicking like crazy under the water. It was literally surreal, it was pitch black and you couldn’t see the person next to you, but we were all floating in the water, a fun time for sure.
After our plankton experience, we took a dingy boat to the beach where we had a bonfire and barbecue. The second dinner consisted of garlic bread and chicken wings, we were all extremely content to have some western food before heading back to the boat.
4.23boat tour and travels home
After a pretty terrible night of sleep on the boat, I was exhausted in the morning. People woke up for the sunrise, but it was cloudy so I just tried to get some sleep. We dingy-ed back to the beach for an hour of rays before we headed back to the island, and then to the airport.
We arrived home the next morning on Sunday after lots of travel, and most of us spent the day doing laudry, sleeping, and catching up on homework if we had enough brain power. The tripped literally wiped us out and we are still feeling exhausted from it. In the end, Thailand was the trip of a lifetime, and I still can't believe that I was there for 10 days. What is this life I am living?