Work in Progress

“In the best travel, disconnection is a necessity. Concentrate on where you are; do no back-home business; take no assignments; remain incommunicado; be scarce. It is a good thing that people don’t know where you are or how to find you. Keep in mind the country you are in. That’s the theory.”
–Paul Theroux

I'm just a girl who loves the world, finds beauty in the unknown, and can't keep her feet on the ground. I like finding unique (and cheap) ways of making my way around the globe. Interacting with people while living, learning, and loving the culture I'm surrounded by.

This is my attempt to keep my friends and family updated, to keep track of my experiences, and to serve as an inspirational resource for all those travel addicts like me out there.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

don't believe me?

just watch.

One night in Phuket

Our Phuket adventure started with a two hour "taxi" ride from Koh Lak. The man driving us was in fact not a taxi diver, but a primary school science teacher named "M". We happily engaged in conversation with us and told us if we needed to stop for food or the toilet, just to let him know. Come to find out he hadn't ate all day because he's been so busy with his second job - we all decided it's a good idea to stop for food. We pull up to a little restaurant and start the process of figuring out what we want to eat. Shortly after filling a toilet with water from a bucket so that it will flush... spicy chicken, soup, beef, and veggies arrived  at our table. Trying to describe the intense deliciousness of the meal seems impossible, so just take my word for it. It was perfect. After taking selfies with M, witnessing a group of Thai kinds banging around on drums for the Lunar New Year, and filling our stomachs to the max, we jumped back into the car and got a quick nap in before we arrived at our hostel.

We made our way out into the streets of Patong, itching to find a street market we drove past earlier with M. On the way we grabbed some cheap beer from a convenient store and bought matching bracelets laced with crystals. I picked one with Tiger's Eye out for Jessica. My sweet best friend is on the adventure of her life traveling throughout Thailand and needs all the luck she can get.

I am so lucky that I got to share this experience with her. She is one of those people that I know will always be apart of my life. Her free spirit and friendly heart make her one of my absolute favorite people in this world. After spending time traveling with her, I was reminded of how much she inspired me to get out and do my own thing. 

Anyways. Beer, cheap souvenir shopping, and selfies with Polaroids ensue. And then we stumble upon Bangla Road. Massive amounts of people lining the street filled with bars and boxing clubs and people advertising pingpong shows. It happened. It was something that needed to happen. Something that will probably never happen again. 

I made friends with similar interests on the streets, spent money on things that I can't unfortunately get in Korea, and convinced a 7-11 store clerk that I was desperately sick in order to use their toilet because I had to pee so bad. Decided we were lost and accept the challenge of finding our hostel and getting to bed at a decent time.  We weren't having any luck, so decided to eat delicious Pad Thai on our mission back to the hostel. It gave me just the fuel I needed to realize I had directions to the hostel on my phone. In Thai. All I had to do was show it to our sweet server (who may or may not have charged us twice). Thankfully we were right around the corner and ended up falling asleep and waking up  with plenty of time to explore day time Phuket. 

On our way to find food and coffee and 20 pairs of vibrantly patterned pants we ran into a friend Jessica had made on a bus a few days ago. He was staying at a temple with a monk that Jessica knew. She had already told me the story of this sweet little guy so I was happy to follow our new friend to the temple. 

We walked along the beach, drinking our Thai coffee, taking everything in. The temple grounds were beautiful. Filled with dogs and chickens eating bowls of rice and running away from us. There were beautiful trees adorned with Buddhas of all shapes and sizes and colors. Flags and ribbons and bells. 

The monk, who's name I couldn't tell you, went to a lot of trouble to get us all chairs - which he situated on the patio outside of the room he was sharing with Brendan, our new friend from "The Amsterdam".  

We chatted for a while, talking about how small the world is. And how lucky we are to have ran into them. The monk said something that really resonated with me. I can't quote him directly, as my memory is not that good... But what he said was along the lines of:

"If the world was flat we wouldn't run into each other. We are lucky the world is round and our paths cross."
When he said this, my eyes got big and I made a mental note to never forget it. It resonates with me so much. Time after time, through out the past few years of my life, I have realized how incredible large and small this world is.

Jessica and Karyn both left before me, so I was given the chance to do a bit of wandering on my own. I meandered through the beach, watched the myriad of tourists pass by while they were hustled by Thais to get into their "taxis". I got some noodles and convinced someone at the hostel to buy me a smoothie since I spent all my cash on food. Chatted with new friends while waiting for my mini bus to arrive to ship me off to the airport.

My time in Thailand was far too short, but I will be back. OH, will I be back.

no troubles, just bubbles

"Why am I not on a boat? I just want to be underwater. I wonder what the fishies are doing at this moment." These are constant thoughts trickling through my head at any given moment since the time I arrived home from my trip to Thailand. I am so confused.

This is going to be a hard blog to write. I don't know how to sum up my experiences this time. There are so many things I could say, so many stories I could tell or feelings I could try and put into words. 

Here is a little excerpt of writing I punched into my phone before falling fast asleep after a day of diving: 

Okay. As if things could get any better.

Okay, they could. I could have seen a whale shark with the majority of the other people on the boat. But I didn't. But it's okay. Maybe I will tomorrow. Maybe I will in a few years. Maybe 10 years from now. But I'm not losing hope. My time will come. However hard it is to not be a bit jealous of everyone else, patience is a virtue. 

Let's instead talk about ALL THE AWESOME THINGS that I saw and that I did. Richelieu Rock is phenomenal. The colors. The swarms of fish (and other divers). Things that I've only seen in pictures, now alive and thriving before my eyes. I still can't get those beautiful manta rays out  of my head. Being suspended, weightless, in the water with those three beautiful creatures circling me seems like it was a dream.

With each dive I am feeling more and more comfortable... But after our last dive today it became obvious. It was perfect. A "secret" dive sight. It's not on the maps. It's not outlined in any book or a stop for any tour group. The tour leader ended up diving this sight almost by accident. It's off the rocky shore of a quaint little island where some people will go to snorkel and sun bath and eat some food. But they don't take the food off the island with them. It goes straight into the water. 

Unfortunately these people have a hard idea distinguishing between left over rice and plastic utensils. 

Dive master flex explained that this dive wasn't going to have the purple coral and "appeal" as Richelieu. But what it had was character and a crap load of aquatic life. AND SEA TURTLES. 

This was probably one of my favorite dives. Not only did picking up the trash feel incredibly satisfying, but I loved playing around with my buoyancy to get me there. Before the trip, this is one of the things that I was most worried about. I wasn't very good at it during my certification. I finally figured it out though. I was up and down, weaving through rocks and picking up plastic forks like it was second nature. I was slightly impressed with myself. I didn't even smash into anything and only managed using a finger to push myself up once. 

The whole trip was perfect. Everything went as planned. From traveling to my time on the boat, I don't think anything could have gone any more right. We got where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. I got to catch up with my best friend, hear about her experiences being a nomad through out Thailand. Hug her and tell her how much I freaking love her. I got to wander around Khao Lak and drink cheap beer. I got to learn new things and meet new people (and new fish). I got damn lucky. That's for sure.

I spent three amazing days on a boat, diving and eating and swimming and being happy. Besides seeing the most unreal things under the water, there are almost equally unreal things going on above water. Hanging out with people between dives, chatting about life experiences and listening to music and eating food. Don't even get me started on the adorable Thai staff. From helping me get my gear on, to cooking meals for 15 people in a teeny tiny room (I'm talking Harry Potter closet under the stairs tiny), to smiling at me every time I encounter them. When I wasn't learning a thousand new things a minute about diving and fish and life under the water, I was soaking in the sun or chatting or reading and always eating. Relaxing. Gearing up for what was sure to be another incredible experience 20 meters below the calming waves of the Andaman Sea.

The first time I saw manta ray.
I wanted to scream, but screaming underwater is weird and I didn't want to scare it away. So I screamed in my head. Not like a "holy shit, I'm scared" scream. It was a "I can't believe this is happening, look at that thing, it's so big, I think I'm going to cry" scream. And as it glided through the water like the majestic creature that it is, I might have teared up a little bit.

To say we got lucky is an understatement. There wasn't as much as a ten minute gap where we weren't gawking at a manta ray. My first proper dive. How am I ever going to top that?

While I was sitting on the top deck of the boat that first night on the boat, looking at the stars and squealing with excitement at the arrival of any and every burst of heat lightning - I asked Karyn how I would ever be able to describe this experience.

There aren't words. It's too unreal. Too perfect. No matter how detailed I get in this blog, or how many pictures I take, or how awesome my compilation video turns out... This experience will only seem complete in my memory. 

Over years, memories will fade. I'll forget the little things. But I guarantee there is one thing I won't forget, and that's how incredibly incredible all the feelings that I am feeling feel.