and I have battled them to complete this entry.
The past two weeks have been absolutely insane.
Let’s kick it off with Dan’s fight on December 27th. Crazy emotion filled night. We got home around midnight and ate dinner, got to bed around 1:30am. Up bright around 730am, I needed to train before we headed to Maesot for my VISA run. After a few rounds of shadowboxing and 5 rounds of pad work with Dan, we headed home to make breakfast for the road. We were supposed to just pop up there and get back in time for a Christmas party, but a 5 hour max journey turned into we didn’t get home until midnight. It was a long weekend for New Year’s and Thais were headed out of their towns and cities to head to Myanmar, a popular destination for Thais unbeknownst to us at the time.
Dan and I have never actually seen Thais form a line. We hopped off the bus in Tak to find a line the length of the bus station to go to, of course, Maesot. 2 and ½ hours later, we were on our way in a mini-van to handle my VISA.
I haven’t written about our first experience in Maesot and I promise I will get to it, but just a tidbit… driving to Maesot is on one of the most dangerous roads I’ve ever been on. The cars on both sides swerve into each other’s lanes because the turns are so sharp and consecutive, but these curves don’t slow the drivers down. It’s like they’re trying to collect coins and hit all the power-ups.
Thais would trash Mario and Luigi in Super Mario Cart.
I found myself on the first trip there actually staring at the light in the middle of the van on the ceiling praying that we were getting out when we stopped. It turned out to be a passport check and I cried a little when the van was back in motion. They tie little plastic bags to the handles of the seats, just in case.
We get to Maesot and jump on the back of two motor taxis to head to the Friendship Bridge, which connects Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. I then have to get my passport stamped out of Thailand and just take a stroll across the bridge into Myanmar. I watched boats row across the small river delivering illegals into Thailand. I watched the Thai police watch the illegals meander into their country. I watched the police go back to chatting amongst themselves. While walking over into Myanmar, I answered “Hello’s” and smiled at a woman who let me scoot through her and two other women that casually balance suitcases on their heads. I have done this once before so this time I knew exactly where to go once I got to the other side. It was busy. Cars lined up across the bridge and people formed lines alongside the bridge entrance on the dirt road in front of officials, I walked across to the foreigner room that looks like a shady interrogation room. It’s not. Inside the official’s asked for my passport and either $10 or 500baht. This time I just get the stamp on my passport and no conversation. I was asked on my last trip by the man who stamped my passport if I had ever traveled in Myanmar. He told me, actually pleaded with me, that I could stay and have lunch.
“You know you can stay here for a few hours before you have to go back. You could have lunch. No? No. Okay, well maybe next time. You don’t have to go right back you know.” Thanks, man, but I think I’ll just take my stamp and head right back over into Thailand for now. On the way back, I leave the same way I entered, smiling and answering “Hello’s.” I get all stamped again once on the other side and headed back to the awaiting motor taxis, which took us back to the bus station. We got almost immediately back into a mini-van to take us back to Tak. We got stuck in Tak for close to 4 hours, not many buses were heading to Bangkok that night and we are one stop on the way. We weren’t sure whether or not we would actually be able to get back to Kamphaeng that night. A guy waiting for the bus to Bangkok told us we weren’t likely to be able to get on the bus, no room. He told us to just leave and come back the next day. We lucked out with a bus that was actually going to Kamphaneg Phet. When I say lucked out, I mean it. We were EXTREMELY lucky to get on that bus. Dan said once we sat in our seats he’d only believe we were getting back to the apartment that night when the bus was in motion. We got back and in bed around midnight.
Next day was my rest day, I was fighting Monday. So rest day… worry day for me. I started with the endless reel of combinations and outcomes flowing through my mind. We made breakfast and watched Rousey and Tate go at it, which pumped me up, and then we watched Andersen Silva break his leg.
Yup. I watched a man snap is leg on a checked kick right before my first fight.
I couldn’t even entertain that. I did not have that power, there’s no way, right?
SO that happened.
After that stomach turning fight, we watched movies and chilled out for the day. I continued to stress and unstress, flipfloping between confidence and anxiety. We finished off the evening watching Spartacus (I prefer Game of Thrones, but Dan got me hooked and it’s good to watch a badass show when trying to gear yourself up to attempt to be badass).
Insert fight day here. I’m writing a whole entry on my fight day. I’m not going to rewrite it here. You’ll just have to wait. =) Thank you for doing so. I will say I was nervous as hell all day and wore a bright blue beanie.
The next morning, after getting to bed at 2am, we woke up at 6:30am to try to get a bus to Chiang Mai. We got one for 9am. We headed back to the apartment so I could us breakfast and coffee. Instead of the nice 1st class bus we usually take the 5 hour journey in, we took a 2nd class. No comfy seats, no blankets, no TV, no snacks. Okay, so the TV was really not a problem for me. I was good with not hearing Thai pop music or a Thai soap opera. Overall, I’m not complaining; it was a gamble whether or not we would even get on a bus on New Year’s Eve. Then the bus started leaking, the AC broke. Luckily, it didn’t really leak on me or Dan, but the woman in front of us was not so lucky. Thais shuffled all over the bus away from leaking ACs. And then we noticed we were actually crawling up a hill. I think I could’ve run to Chiang Mai faster. It took us an extra hour and half. A little over 6 hours on the bus, I wanted coffee and not just any coffee, DUNKIN DONUTS. After getting a delicious iced mocha, we went to the 2nd place I needed in my life, Loco Elvis. MEXICAN. I think Kevin Ross, a Muay Thai fighter- google him, says it well “can’t stop fatty.” I was just so excited to eat non-Thai food. I shared a chicken quesadilla and chips with guacamole with Dan. After downing the deliciousness, we went back to the hotel to skype family, nap, and get ready for the night. We got to the hotel around 5 or 6, so not much time to do alladat. Once we, and by we I mean me (I took full advantage of being a girl and taking a little while to get ready to be pretty for NYE), once I was finally dressed and ready, we headed out to the street. The streets were littered with tourists and Thais alike, stands lined the sides with everything from little quirky notebooks for 10baht to kebabs, designer clothes to Pad Thai, samosas to offensive English words stitched with love on bracelets sold by a little Thai lady. We walked around a bit then got off the street and up into the sky at a rooftop bar. Murals covered the walls, murals with Beatles lyrics, glitter and neon paint. You had to take your shoes off before heading upstairs and once upstairs you knew why, there were no chairs, only little floor cushions and small tables. Comfy and cozy, good music and a beautiful view of the fireworks and lanterns being set off into the sky, I was a happy girl. The bucket of Thai whiskey, coke, and a bit of Redbull wasn’t bad either. We met a group of cool people, had good conversation, ate some offered Pad Thai, and headed back out to the street to light our lantern.
We spent the night eating and drinking, shopping for little trinkets, listening to acquired taste live Thai music, and enjoying all the randomness that is Thailand. Just before midnight we walked back to the hotel to drop off our stuff and pick up our jackets (the out of the norm long cold winter is finally over now). We lucked out staying in a hotel that was right off the main street in the middle of the old city where the party was going on. We were lucky at all to find a place to stay and really lucky with its location. We headed back out for the countdown, stopping at 7 Eleven on the way to grab two Leos to toast with. Waiting around for the countdown, I ended up counting down too early, of course I did. Awkward Jill. In my defense, it was midnight on my watch and there were fireworks going off. Then all of sudden everyone started counting down and the fireworks that followed that countdown was much bigger. Oh well, I got two midnights. =)
Dan knew I probably wanted to dance a bit, so he had googled before we left the hotel a popular place that people went to go shake it. We got a little lost and stopped to have Irish coffees. We watched masses of backpackers head in one direction while sitting and enjoying our coffee. Figured we would be okay following them, we ended up at a place called Zoey’s. It was PACKED. Everyone was dancing and drinking and generally having a good overcrowded time. We got a beer and then spotted a reggae bar beyond Zoey’s. We were walking over until we saw usually passive Thais getting into a loud aggressive argument. Weird location to not be relaxed and chilled out, a reggae bar… So we nixed that and followed the sounds of a live band playing some Spanish music to a bar close by. Dan sat most of the songs out, although I did get him up and moving for a few. I got to dance a bit and even get a free hug from a European wearing a sign that said… Free Hugs. Why not. We left shortly after the hug and picture.
Dan and I woke up early the next morning to spend the day being lazy in Chiang Mai and locate pancakes. I really wanted pancakes and we tried really hard to get this bakery that looked amazing, but they were closed. We settled for a touristy place that took 45 minutes to bring us coffee. Enough said.
Walking around later, we found lots of places I could’ve gotten my pancakes. Duly noted. The pancakes wouldn’t have been bad if they were warm. Dan had a good eggs benedict.
Most of the things we wanted to do were closed for the holiday, but we managed to find an amazing little coffee shop that had great oatmeal cookies and ground coffee for our French press! We ate a lot more; burgers, steak, and NACHOS. Dan had a kebab in there somewhere. Then we found a night bus back to Kamphaeng phet, a night bus that ended up being the nicest one we’ve been on yet. SUPER comfy with soft blankets and we got the first two seats up front. It was a nice trip back until we saw a bus on the side of the road that had just overturned and realized that maybe we shouldn’t request to sit upfront again.
We got to the apartment around 2am and were up at 7am; Dan had school. I dropped him off and one of the teachers told me later that day they were having a Sport’s Day. These days involved crazy parades with costumes and a day playing… sports. We thought it was for the kids, but learned later, nope, it was the teacher’s turn. We were supposed to get massages when I picked him up at 3pm, but I found Dan rocking a sparkling red and silver jazz t-shirt (that I tried to convince him to keep) cheering on his team. I stuck around to watch the games with him. Teachers were running around in all sorts of costumes playing all sorts of games that I am so unsure of how they were even created. Who can put on underwear and throw on a cape to run back and forth the fastest? What? Then of course there was a dance and song performance. Great stuff. After the games, we were told to come back for a New Year’s Party.
Now, after my fight, I felt pretty good overall, but knew that wasn’t going to last. I had felt myself getting sick the week before and had a lot of emotional stress concerning Christmas away for the first time, Dan’s first fight, and of course mine. So, after all that was over I had a tremendous headache. Getting rocked in the face a couple times probably helped with that, but I was weak, immune system wise. Basically, I felt awful, but was powering through all of these festivities. The New Year’s party was nice, we sat with a bunch Dan’s Thai colleagues, ate (I think) a 6 course meal and had unlimited beer and a bottle of Thai whiskey. Not bad for a teacher party. There was also a raffle; Dan won a purple blanket. We got back to the apartment around 10:30pm and were up at 7am.
I crashed here. Couldn’t get out of bed, head hurt too much. I had my first movie marathon day in Thailand and it was difficult because I couldn’t download movies well. I managed to watch two all day. At the New Year’s party one of the teachers approached me and told me I could join her and some of the other teachers for an overnight to go on a safari, while Dan went with the other teachers to check out camp locations for the students. What? You can safari in Thailand? Dan looked at me and then told her I didn’t know about either event. I could do both or neither, and had to decide by Friday morning, they were leaving that night. Well the safari was out when I woke up and felt as awful as I did, so I was headed south of Bangkok with Dan and the other foreign teachers. We would be leaving at 4am.
Up at 3am, we got ready for the trip and I made a chocolate protein black bean brownie for the trip. We spent most of the day driving in a minivan. We had a delicious free breakfast and lunch. During the day, we had decided to ask if we could be dropped off in Pattaya. I didn’t know much about it except there was a beach. Beach was all I really needed to hear to be sold. We hadn’t packed for an overnight and just had our computers, but we could buy things there if we needed them. We went for it. Before we parted from the group, I found out a bit of what Pattaya was, the red light district of Thailand. Apparently, it had some nice resorts and such and would be a different experience for a couple. I was game. I missed the beach so much I didn’t care where it was. They dropped us off in the middle of town at a shopping center and we found a taxi to the beach. Literally, we just asked to be taken to the beach. Once there, we walked down a street by the water and boardwalk that looked a little like Jersey Shore was attacked by prostitutes and tourist shops just threw up all over the sides. I found a little Inn off the main road amongst the lady boy section of town. The room had a balcony that looked over the ocean, was clean, a little more than we wanted to spend, but we would only be there for a night, we booked it and dropped our stuff off. First stop for Dan was a kebab and then we got bathing suits. We walked down Walking Street, the main location of debauchery in the city. It was about 4 in the afternoon, neon paint stained the ground and hundreds of strip clubs were gearing up for later. It was quiet for the most part and people were going to and from their hostels that I’m assuming were scattered between the bars and strip clubs. This was a much different scene later that night. It was like we were walking around in the calm before the hooker storm. We got off Walking Street, grabbed two beers and a rottee (mouthwatering fried treat of flour, egg, banana, chocolate, and on Dan’s side of the dessert condensed milk) to watch the sunset on the little beach. The beach in front of our hotel was populated by countless chairs and umbrellas, random prostitutes, Europeans, small makeshift bars selling beer and fruit shakes, but not much sand. It was a small sliver of beach, but it was a beach and the sunset was a breathtaking pink and orange that put all the neon sin to shame.
We were sitting eating and drinking sitting in two of the hundreds of chairs for maybe 10 minutes before a woman came over asking for 20 baht for the seats, she told us the sand was free. The sun had set already, so we headed back to the hotel to shower up and go back out to explore/eat/observe. We walked around a bunch, Dan ate a Kebab. He really, really has a deep love for kebabs. I had Indian food, amazing Indian food. We had enough of being hassled to see a pingpong show and watching young girls throw themselves at people passing by. It was an interesting place to see, but hard to witness. We went back to the hotel soon after I had dinner.
We woke up early (See a theme here? If there’s one thing I take away from all this, we are sleep deprived.) to get the most of the beach. We tried to get access to wifi in a Starbucks, but were unsuccessful in the internet department, yet completely successful in getting a peppermint mocha and a white chocolate mocha. Another positive for the Starbucks trip, a random man was able to direct us in the right way for the “proper beach.” Proper beach is in quotations not because they were his words, but because they are dripping with sarcasm. We walked for an hour down the street, through a resort, over some rocks to find the massive amount of Russians our Starbucks guide told us we would see if we were in the right place. We stopped at some rocks that led out into the ocean a little and decided to relax there for 20 min or so. There weren’t many people around the rocks, so if you just kept looking out into the ocean and not back at the “beach” it was pleasant, a little painful lying on the rocks, but worth it to feel the sun, seriously, in my bones and hear the waves crashing around me again. We wanted to check out the actual beach before we left. I wouldn’t take off my boots. Broken glass, empty noodle cups, fruit cores, beer cans, replaced sea shells and soft sand. There’s not a chance I’d risk injury to walk on that. We didn’t stop on the beach at all, just kept walking until we found a side street and a motor taxi to get us back to the hotel. Check out was at 12. We packed up and roamed around until we both ate, then we headed to the bus station to start our long 7-8 hour journey back. The only reason I’d ever go back to Pattaya is to check out the Fairtex Sports Resort. I was glad to have a crazy, random, on a whim overnight, but I think once in Pattaya was enough for me.
Onward to more adventures and better beaches.