Sorry, guys. This post is loooooong overdue. It’s either because I’ve had so many fun and exciting things going on while my time here comes to an end or because I’m supremely lazy. I’ll let you try and work that one out. Let me start off by saying that I will be devoting two posts to my trip to Thailand (no, you won’t have to wait two months for the follow-up). This post will be dedicated to all of the fantastically awesome things Joe and I did while in Thailand (spoiler alert – I pet a tiger!!!) and the follow up will be all about the delicious things I put in and around my mouth. Our journey began, like any other good vacation, with an inordinate amount of travel. It took a 3 hour bus ride, a 1 hour subway ride, and two plane flights sandwiched around a 4-hour layover at 1 a.m. in Bangkok airport. I can’t tell you much about Bangkok, but I definitely do not recommend hanging out at their airport in the wee hours of the morning. Somehow we managed to make the 20-hour journey to Phuket on zero sleep, in one piece and without a single argument. Those of you that know me are aware of what a gigantic feat that is. Our taxi driver was waiting for us just outside the airport with a sign reading my name – just like in the movies – and I was pretty stoked to cross that off of my bucket list. Once we got back to our hostel (which only cost about $14/night and included a TV, fridge and private bathroom), we decided to forgo a nap and soldier on because we were in freaking THAILAND! Who’s got time to sleep when there are picturesque beaches to be seen and Thai massages to be had?!?! First order of business was food. As soon as we’d refueled, we thought we’d get our stay started off on a relaxing note with an hour-long Thai massage. That cost $16. And was the best massage I’ve ever had in my life. Then it was on to those fish tanks where you stick your feet in and they eat the dead skin off of your feet. It sounds really gross, but mostly it just tickles. A lot. I was only able to endure about 10 minutes, and I’m not sure how much softer my feet were, in the end. But for $1.50, it was worth the experience. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the beach and the area near the hostel. We ate dinner at an amazing seafood restaurant recommended by our ever-so-helpful hostel manager and then headed home to hit the hay.
On day two, Joe’s parent’s arrived. After a much needed lie-in and some lunch, we headed off to their hotel to meet them. Their hotel was just a little nicer than ours, and we ended up spending a bit of time there over the course of the week. They had amazing food, and a super amazing pool. You know, the kind with a bar built into the pool? I’d always wanted to have a drink at one of those. Bucket list check #2. This was my first time meeting his parents in person (although we’d previously had many lovely skype conversations). They were very kind and a lot of fun and reminded me of my own parents in many ways, which was nice because I REALLY miss my parents. They were tired from their journey, so Joe and I let them rest while we headed to the Phuket Aquarium. I don’t know how apparent this has become yet, but I will go to any aquarium. Any time, any place, anywhere. I’m there. This was hands-down the saddest little aquarium I’ve ever seen. Granted, half of it was under construction, but still… At least they had a turtle and a ray, so I left happy. And entry was only $3. Can’t really complain about that. Although I think I just did… Afterwards, we met up with Joe’s folks for dinner and then spent the evening on the beach enjoying a few drinks.
Day three was jam-packed with activities. We started out with my birthday present from Joe – an elephant ride.
Bucket list check #3. It’s was super awesome/scary and our guide was hilarious. Except for when he directed the elephant so that I was within about 8 inches of the biggest, scariest, most evil spider I have ever seen. Not cool, tour guide. NOT COOL! I swear it was THIS BIG! (Which is about the equivalent of my hand, in case you were wondering.) Aside from that awful moment, it was an amazing experience with beautiful scenery. Joe was even brave enough to get off the seat and straddle the elephant’s neck. They asked me if I wanted to do the same, but I politely declined. I’d already used up my allotted bravery points for that day. By the way – Joe has officially thrown down the gauntlet on awesome birthday presents. But I’m really excited to see what y’all will do next year in an effort to top him. I have high expectations, people. High expectations. If anyone needs any ideas, swimming with dolphins is still on my bucket list… But I digress. After my super mega epic birthday present, we headed to the Big Buddha which sits on a local hill top. And where women are not allowed to show their shoulders. I knew this, and had brought a light sweater to cover my slutty shoulders but someone who shall remain nameless (Joe), left it in the car. Fortunately they had large scarves that you can wrap around your shoulders in case you are unprepared, as many women were. We were all wandering around with the same patterned scarf, which started to feel like a scarlet letter marking our Western ignominy (thank you, Mr. Alves’ junior year English). They weren’t finished building it yet, so there wasn’t a lot to see. We wrapped it up there pretty quickly and made our way to Chalong Temple. It was stunning. The buildings were so intricately detailed and ornate. I took approximately 1 million pictures, which made it very difficult to narrow down for the blog. Also, we saw a rainbow that formed a complete circle and is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. After the temple, we headed back to the hotel for lunch and an afternoon lounging by the pool. After dinner that evening, Joe and I decided to check out the local bar scene. It was severely lacking in patronage, as we went during off season. But that was fine with us because it meant the bartenders were extremely attentive. They keep games at the bar, which I’m not sure if is more for their entertainment or the customer’s, but they offered us a selection and we settled upon Connect 4. We played 25 games and the final count was 22:3. Guess who won? Poor Joe. Everyone at the bar was rooting for him by the end. On his 3rd win, he decided to quit while he was ahead (sort of).
Day four was pretty low-key. It consisted mostly of shopping, eating and lounging poolside. That night I got a pedicure. For $10. But day five was a hell of a day. We decided to book a day trip out to Phi Phi (pronounced pee pee) Island, which is where they filmed the movie The Beach and everyone had assured us we needed to visit it. Joe and I “lucked out” with seats on the very back of the boat. Where we were very nearly thrown off and killed. By they time we arrived at our first destination, we were drenched. Towels and all. I will say that the bays at which we stopped were some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I didn’t even know they made water that color in real life. However, the beauty was overshadowed by the unpleasantness of the ride (which had only just begun) and the number of other boats impeding the view of the breathtaking scenery. And this was during low season. I can’t even begin to imagine how crowded it must get during peak tourist season. We were able to get off the boat and snorkel at our first stop, but there was only one kind of fish to see and not a whole lot else going on. We then made out way to Monkey Island, where you get to throw food at monkeys that live on the island from the boat. Which at first seems kinda cool, but then seems a little sad. If people stopped coming there, would these monkeys even know how to fend for themselves anymore? After that, we launched into what I refer to as “the worst hour of my entire life.” And I saw the remake of Footloose, people. The water was so rough and choppy that it felt like a roller coaster and I had whiplash the next day (no joke). We got out at Phi Phi Island and only had about an hour to eat the buffet lunch that was included in the package (and was terrible) and to do a little souvenir shopping. The island was so crowded with people and souvenir stalls, that any potential beauty that may be there was lost on me. The silver lining was a gentlemen with a monkey in a diaper that would let you hold the monkey for a couple of bucks. Which I did. Bucket list check #4. The tour guides were unable to take us to our last destination because the water was too rough, so they took us to an alternate. It was a tiny beach covered in chairs that we had to pay $5 to sit in and where I used the most disgusting bathroom I have ever encountered in my life. The best part of the day was getting back to the hostel, taking a very long shower and changing into not soaking wet clothes. Needless to say, I do not recommend the day trip to Phi Phi Island. After dinner that evening, Joe and I headed to a Bar/Restaurant we’d walked by a few times and had heard sometimes had an elephant wandering around out front. We’d never seen said elephant, but decided to give it another go. Great success! The tiny elephant was out front and we got to feed it bananas. Bucket list check #5. Also, it was called Dino Bar and the staff dressed like Fred Flintstone and I thought it would be a fun place to have dinner but then Joe informed me it was tacky. So we only had drinks there.
Day six was also pretty jam-packed. Their was a lot of last minute souveniring to do, and I had been wanting to pet a tiger all week. We went to the Phuket Zoo, which is where said tiger petting occurs. Phuket Zoo is one of the most depressing places I have ever been. I have never seen such unhappy, poorly cared for animals. Do not go there. Unless you need to pet a tiger. It’s hard to resist the eye of the tiger. Petting the tiger was AMAZING. It was everything I had not to yell, “KITTAY!” But I had no desire to be mauled, so I resisted the urge. Until later. I didn’t want to leave, but there was a line. So they made me. I also got to hold a couple of parrots while I was there, one of which played dead in my hands, so that was pretty cool. But on the whole, the place is terrible. After the zoo we stopped by the Phuket Butterfly and Insect Garden, which was super cool. They have feeding stations all over where you can watch butterflies. And if you sit really still, the butterflies will just come land on you. They had a really cool chrysalis display, which had the chrysalises of different kinds of butterflies. I had no idea how different they all looked! There was also a really cool black and white butterfly. Next we headed to Old Town Phuket because I was one a mission for fabric. I knew my mother and sister would disown me if I came home without any. And I wanted some for myself, so I made it happen. When we got back, we decided to squeeze in another Thai massage. Still amazing. And dirt cheap. We met Joe’s parents for one last Thai dinner before we had to go back and pack for our early flight out.
Overall, the trip was amazing. We picked a great place to stay. It was nice, cheap and the staff was amazing. I ate some of the best food I’ve ever had. I did amazing things with one of my favorite people and met some great new people. Oh, and I went to Thailand, which means bucket list check #6 and crossing off the number one thing on my bucket list. Epic vacation, y’all!