February 27 2016

TWO MONTHS OF THAILAND

I am sitting in my appartment in Chiang Mai, drinking a special flower tea I had bought to drink on this day and overlooking the crazy traffic below me. Staying on the 9th floor, next to the city walls, having a lovely Had Buak Park just three minutes away and living in a clean nice apartment with an amazing view are words that describe my temporary home in Chiang Mai. My brother Žare did an amazing job finding this place!!

 

Today is just another ordinary day. It is Monday, although days in the week are rarely important to me these days. Ok yeah it is important to know when it is weekend to go to the JJ (Jingjai) Market, where you can find good, fresh vegetables, fruit, juices, and also I love the black sticky rice and sweet potatoes there! There are a lot of markets in Chiang mai but this is a winner in the category of clean healthy food. It is mostly organic and all is supposed to be toxic free. You would think that in this area a lot of food is toxic free but actually they use a lot of pesticides and herbicides here. Usually I try not to think too much about it but in Chiang Mai you really have such a supply of organic and good quality food that I try to take advantage of this and enjoy really good food:)!! Amazing restaurants with a big choice for those who want to be more aware of what they put inside their body.

 

 

Well there are more things that make this day special. First of all they cleaned the room today so yeeeey:)! Yesterday I experienced my first rain in Thailand although this is my 4th time here. So today is quite cold and the clouds are covering the sun so I couldn't see the sunrise I wanted. But it doesn't really matter. After experiencing so much sun and warmth I really don't mind this change. It is a cycle in life, changes happen and without experiencing the colder days we wouldn't be able to appreciate the warmth and the sun so much. I consider myself really lucky to have a chance and spend so much time in a warm climate so that the change of weather doesn't really bother me.

 

There is another reason why today is a special day. It is my 33rd birthday :). This is the fourth birthday I am spending in Asia but it is special in a lot of aspects. I just finished my amazing Tai Chi lessons in Chiang Mai and am just discovering really interesting parts of myself and the world that surrounds me. I have been away from Slovenia for more that two months and a half and have had so many amazing experiences that I am so grateful for. I don't really miss people or things much, I try to live in this moment, where I am, so to be in the present. Sometimes I am more successful and sometimes less, but I try my best. Of course a lot of people and experiences are a part of me and a lot of memories come up, some randomly and some associated to a new memory, some could be considered good and some bad (if we decide to judge them in this way, although every experience has some good in it, if you watch really closely you can see). But saying "See you soon (which means actually in about 5 months)" to my brother and his girlfriend and having my best friend come and visit me with an amazing gift made me realise I actually do miss the lovely people I have the fortune to be surrounded by!! Just after we woke up quite early Živa showed a video of some people that are really special to me, each in his own way, telling me the things they wanted me to hear on this day. Best gift ever! So simple but not really, because each of them took their time and energy to do this probably at first a bit unusual, uncomfortable thing that brought me so much love and energy that made me cry like a baby. Yeah, we are emotional beings and by denying that we deny ourselves. It is just so good to let emotions run through your body, overwhelming every part of us instead of blocking them and making our body stiff. By allowing us to feel the way we feel we can process the emotions, experience them and then let them leave our body.

 

                                  The sun, the sea and the blue sky

Well let's go back a little. From Macau I entered Thailand at Pattaya-Rayong airport. I was planning to spend my first night in Rayong as it was close but actually it was way easier and cheaper to just go to Pattaya. I found a cheap room there, got a tasty green curry and went to sleep. I wasn't particularly enthusiastic about the sex tourism I was suddenly surrounded by. A lot of European guy, mostly old but also young with young Thai girls. I know I shouldn't judge but I found it sad that so many man find it interesting to have fun this way. Well I am sure everybody has it's own story and it is not all sex tourism that I saw , some people are really in love and some are just using one another to get what they want, but that is common in all relationships. But I guess for a lot of men it is much easier to "hire" a companion than to put an effort in a real relationship. I bought a Thai sim card so I can use internet wherever I go, got a coconut, some fruit and a bus ticket to Chanthaburi. One day of Pattaya was enough for me.

 

Chanthaburi is a nice town, has a lot of temples, good food and a great message place (at one temple). I had an amazing two hour Thai massage, after which I am so careful choosing the massages because it is hard to find one that comes close to it :)! I was lucky because my brother knew this guy from Chanthaburi that has amazing simple bungalows a little outside of the city and to get there you need to cross the river. But there was the perfect place for me, quiet, nature and simple. I was lucky because they were doing a tour with one family so I just joined them for two days discovering waterfalls, temples, aquarium, a museum, the sea and eating delicious food. The guy and his family is amazing, very nice, friendly and smiling a lot. I had a great time with all of them, riding in the back of the opened truck, with the wind in my hair. They were a great company and I saw so much in a short period of time. But I was later tired so I rested a bit at the bungalows and enjoyed great markets and good food. I helped to make green curry and learned one other dish too :). And of course I loved the Chanthaburi's  food markets :)!!

 
 

I spent 5 nights there and was really satisfied. From there I went to Trat because I wanted to go to Koh Kood - an island very close so Cambodia that I found interesting. When I arrived at the bus station they said that the last ferry to the island had already left. I was sad and was just walking through the bus station, I thought that I would have to spend a night in Trat. When I saw some tourist I just asked them where they were going, they said that to some island so I just went with them. Later I realised that I was actually going to the same island that I wanted to go, just with another ferry :). And one of the tourists I met in the car, Ricardo, was a nice guy with whom I spent quite some time discovering the amazing island. He had already been there before so he knew a lot. I got a nice bungalow just one minute away from the amazing beach (northwest). 5 minute away was a fruit market. The fruit is a bit expensive but I found some good ones. There is no public traffic there so Ricardo rented a motorbike and we drove around the island. I saw a beautiful waterfall, amazing almost deserted beaches and the island is covered with jungle. It was my favourite island: not a lot of people, nice beaches and a perfect place for relaxing! In the south  the beach had big waves and we played like kids, jumping in them and laughing. I made deserts with fruit, coconut milk and sesame and I loved drinking Chang at the sea! On Christmas eve we had a nice dinner and took a Chang to the beach and enjoyed the lovely scenery :)! In the morning I swam a lot, watched the fish and collected plastic bags out of the sea. In Thailand they use so much plastic, I try to avoid it and keep telling that I don't want plastic bags but still I use too much of them so this was my way of clearing my conscious :).

 

 

But I wanted to experience more islands so after 3 nights I went to Koh Mak. I was supposed to go with a slow ferry and was just thinking how much fun it would be to go with a speed boat, but they were more expensive. Well, actually because the ferry was late they put us in a speedboat :)! Koh Mak is a nice island but very flat and there is not much jungle what I liked about Koh Kood. I stayed at cheap simple bungalows for 300 bht a night at Baan Ing Kao resort with a sea view, it was great for the price but the water wasn't so nice for swimming. I spent two nights there and rented a scooter. It was nice driving around, getting delicious food and discovering different beaches! I found a nice one at the North, just with fishermen and a restaurant, not crowded and with beautiful clear blue sea and of course a Chang beer:). In the morning I visited one temple. The monks explained I can look around but have to move slowly because of the stray dogs. There was a great big old tree and statues outside, inside wasn't a regular temple, just a room with Budda and some things. One monk brought me fruit, some pastry on a platter and water. Of course I ate it all and then he brought some little fruit and a pink powder inside a leaf for me to eat. I tried it and after I couldn't feel my tongue, I think it was because of the fruit, but it was a really weird feeling. For a few seconds I panicked and thought what if he drugged me but then I remembered I was in a temple and just relaxed and enjoyed the experience :). He didn't speak much English but we talked a lot, he told me about the other temples he visited and showed me pictures and I explained him I want to do vipassana meditation :). It was an awesome experience, just binding with the monk. I wanted to give him some money for the food but he didn't want it so I just gave him a watermelon I had bought before:)! Yeah, I had a nice time there but it was time to meet my friend Marija on Koh Chang.

 
 

Ok now to write a few words about ferries, if somebody could use the information. From Trat bus station it is easy to get to any island and the boat ticket includes the transport to the pier (about 30 minutes) and also on Koh Kood the transfer from the pier to any place on the island. This is very unusal for Thailand where you have to pay a lot of money for taxies, usually when you come to one island you have to pay quite some money to get anywhere. My ticket cost 500bht and they had tickets also just for 350 bht but I was too late for that one. Not expensive for an hour and a half drive on a ferry and also inclusive of two truck rides. Koh Kood doesn't have public transport, not even taxies, but it is easy to get a ride there either with someone driving a motorbike or with a tsongtaw like vehicle which drives people from the port. From Koh Kood to Koh Mak I think I paid 300 bht with a slow boat (but actually got a speed boat). On Koh Mak if you book an accomodation it includes a transport from the port, if not I think it costs just 50 bht. From Koh Mak I went to Koh Chang with a wodden ferry, of course the cheapest, I think it cost about 400 bht but it also included the transport to the west side of the island.

 

As it was just before the New Year Marija wanted that we book the accomodation in advance. We did it about a week before and on the internet they didn't have many options, so we booked just the first two nights on Kai Bae beach at Paradise bungalows. They were nice but too close to an elephant camp and we heard them, reminding us what tourism does to the animals. Actually these seem to be quite ok taken care of, every day the elephants came to the beach and bathed in the sea and they weren't chained and just moved amongst people like one of us. But still, knowing how we exploit animals in almost every possible way makes me feel sad although I do it also sometimes. The beach was very nice, we had to walk about 5 minutes to get there, but I enjoyed practising Tai Chi in the mornings and swimming in the calm sea. I loved the great food it had to offer, on my first day I already made friends with a guy selling fruit there, he have me good prices and I bought a lot :). The food was really good and cheap, I ate at the night market and also and one restaurant called Bobby's, like they call my father:). I bought a hammock in the market and have been carrying it around since then. I don't use it often but when I do it is a great thing to have and it doesn't weight much. I was already well settled on the island when Marija came in the evening, tired from the road. It was so nice to see her, we had a great time last year travelling through Laos and I was so happy that it we got to spend the New Year together.

 

It was kind of nice that we didn't have to think about finding accommodation but as there wasn't much choice on the internet we booked our 3rd night on the South, our 4th night on the North and our 5th night on the East side. I didn't like changing places so often but anyway I would want to explore the island so I would see some of these places. I rented a motorbike for three days and Marija travelled around with taxies as she doesn't like the motorbikes. It was a bit challenging driving to the South with all my luggage as sometimes the road was very steep and winding, but I love the feeling of wind in my hair and the freedom that comes along with it.

 

I liked the South and Marija loved it. We had a bungalow on the beach, very nice and comfortable. The beach was just for the customers, other had to pay to use it. Usually I don't like this, because I think the beach should be for everybody to use. But here it meant a lot of privacy, which we both really needed. I drove around a little bit and found a nice snorkelling spot and a view to see the sunset. In the evening I wished for a beer. As here I spent more on accommodation that usually (some were pretty expensive, but altogether as we were sharing it was about 500 bht a night for one person) and also my daily budget included a motorbike rental I was more careful about the amount of money I spent on other things. One big Chang, bought at the supermarket (7 / 11) cost about 1,5 EUR. So this time I bought a bottle of what seemed to be the cheapest beer. But later I found out that it wasn't a beer but a very cheap bad white wine :). I had to repair the taste so I bought a Chang, for even more, 2 Eur. It was so funny as it was actually my most expensive beer as it also included the wine I threw away :). I have learnt that sometimes by trying too much to find the cheapest option it can be quite expensive in the end:)!!

 

 

The last day in 2015 was pretty nice. I relaxed on our nice beach and then I moved with my luggage to the North, close to the pier. The place was really nothing special for the price, but they had free tea which I liked. I found a nice fruit market and went to the waterfalls. As it was already the dry season there wasn't much water but I got a nice cold swim and a good place to eat some fruit. Later I drove to the East side of the island, which was nice, not a lot of traffic and tourists. I loved the drive along the more rocky coast and I went to the part where you can have a nice walk amongst the mangrove trees. In the evening we dressed up (Marija lent me her dress as I didn't have anything for this occasion), I even put on some make up for the first time while travelling which felt pretty strange. In China while training Kung Fu I didn't have even a mirror in my room so there were days that passed without looking in the mirror and worrying about how my hair looks like :). It was probably messy and because of the cold I washed my hair only once a week, so not fresh at all, but there it didn't matter, it was so nice not to worry about appearance :). I returned the motorbike and we met on the food stalls at White sand beach, I loved the Khanom Krok (thai amazing pankaces), the green curry and the lovely Lao dark beer :). Just a few hours before the midnight we went to the beach which was quite peaceful as it is supposed to be the busiest beach. We walked a little then sat at a place they had cocktails for 100 bht, on the beach, just enjoying the view with our feet on the sand. Two German guys joined us and we had a nice time together, they are skydivers. I thought about doing it before but I am a bit of afraid that I wouldn't have the courage to jump although I love the free falling feeling but I hope one day I get the courage to do it. Later we went to probably the only rock bar there as usually people listen more to electronic music. I love rock music and live concerts so it was very nice to be able to experience that! Marija and I were really crazy that day, we went to sleep after 3 o'clock in the morning, which was pretty amazing as before we both fell asleep not much after 10 o'clock in the evening :). But in the morning I woke up like usually, with the sun coming up, I guess I am just excited about the travels so much! Or maybe I still have the internal clock set up from the Kung Fu training, worrying that I would have to do 100 push ups if I don't wake up soon enough :). I wasn't really a morning person but I guess that I have became one as I enjoy starting the day very early :)!

 

The 1st day in 2016 we spent at the East coast. To get to there we needed a taxi but they wanted way too much so we just hitchhiked. To the pier we got a nice Thai couple with the girl who had already been to Slovenija :). From the pier we needed a ride just for a few kilometres so paying the crazy price they wanted for it was not an option. Not because of the money but mostly because of the attitude. At some places the taxi drivers have arranged prices among themselves and you can see that because they do it nobody wants to drive for a normal price. That is one thing I really don't like and Marija was on the same page with me so out of stubbornness we lifted our finger again in waited for a car. After about 15 minutes one guy with a motorbike came by and would drive us both separately but when we told them where we are staying he called the guy to pick us up :). The bungalow was nice, close to the beach although the beach wasn't the nicest. It was rocky and hard to get in, but I enjoyed this place so much, just relaxing on the beach in the hammock and enjoying the easy life :). The last day Marija left for Bangkok early in the morning and I spent some more time on the lovely Amber sand beach and took an evening ferry to the mainland. Oh how I love the sea, it was a bit hard for me to say goodbye to it for a while. As I have a lot of time it is not easy to decide where  I will spend my days, because I just want to do everything. The next day when I was at the Trat's bus station I almost took a ferry back to Koh Kood which I loved so much. But I didn't do it as I felt that I want to explore Thailand more than just for it's beautiful sea, but also experience the way Thai people really live, away from the touristic places. And this decision was really great!

 

                 Experiencing non touristic Thailand

I wanted to see the Khao Yai national park. As I was coming from the South it was closer to enter it from there and also less touristic. But that meant also that I had troubles renting a scooter I needed to move around the national park. I was so lucky to have met a very nice lady, Pawadee, at the night market who speaks English very good. She helped me translate as there people don't speak much English and I stayed in her brother's bungalows just a little outside of Prachinburi. I was probably the first white tourist at their guesthouse and him and his wife were really nice! We couldn't communicate so much but we talked a lot and one evening they prepared a wonderful dinner with papaya salad, vegetable salad and lovely sticky rice. And in the morning the guy rented me his motorbike, which was really great as this was a place that I couldn't rent a motorbike anywhere!

 

The Khao Yai was wonderful, I stayed there in a tent which I had to pitch myself. I choose the campside when I saw big deers just walking around the tents, and said to myself: yeah, I want to sleep here :). In the park there are a lot of official well marked paths through the jungle which pass many waterfalls and also a crocodile which was a bit too shy to meet me. I saw monkeys, some were pretty aggressive, one ran towards me and jumped to reach the bag with fruit I had in my hands, but I was more stubborn and wouldn't give him my papaya!! I enjoyed relaxing, going to the viewtop and just looking at the amazing scenery and waiting maybe to spot a wild elephant which was also a bit shy and didn't want to come out of the bushes. One day I found a nice waterfall I had just for myself and did my tai chi there and just relaxed. Then I met these two guys who had jumped from the waterfall the previous day as they were there with a Thai guide who had told them it is ok. I wanted to see them jump but in the end jumped myself and it was an amazing experience and the water was so refreshing! I love jumping into the water from high places and as they explained they checked themselves the depth of the water and also a local guy told them it is ok to jump, so I felt safe enough to do it! Yeah I really relaxed and had fun there! After returning the motorbike to the lovely family, where the last morning I did the alms giving to the monk - I went with the guy when he gave food to monks for good luck and he just gave me the food to give it to the monk and later we kneeled as he was blessing us :)! Well I have a lot of good luck but can always use it, so this was a special moment, being almost one of the locals :). From Prachinburi I took the bus to Saraburi and there I had to wait a few hours to get a bus to Phitsanoluk. Travelling by buses in these not touristic places is completely different. It is not like the rest of the places where they take you directly to your destination and there are transports very often. Here I had a map and a plan where I want to go but to get there I usually had to wait few hours for the bus and change a few of them. Usually they have vans instead of busses to travel between local places. There are sits for maybe 15 people and I was just wondering how they manage to know how many people will go on a bus so that they are not full. Well, at the end of one trip there were probably 30 people in the van, standing, sitting on every spare corner and being squeezed like sardines :). Luckily I had I seat (I usually take the single sit besides the doors as it has enough room for my long legs :)) but some were really really tight, although they usually didn't drive long this way, just a short distance, but it was kind of fun too see how many people they put inside:)! In every place I stop I try to see the local market which is normally pretty easy to find. I love to see the local food they sell and get local snacks for the road like sticky rice with coconut inside a bamboo, fried broadbeans, sweet potatoes or khanom krok, of course all this on top of the lovely local fruit :)!

 
 

Phitsanoluk was for me just a stop to break too much time of being on the road. But I found nice local markets, good food, temples and through the town runs a lovely river which makes it even nicer. And I saw a great folks museum where there were exhibited all sorts of thing one guy has been collecting, from really old kitchen utensils, books, clothes, toys and even traps for rats. Very interesting museum! The next day I took a nice bus that had a stewardess and even a toilet that was clean and easy to use while driving, without spilling the content of the toilet everywhere, this was the first toilet I didn't mind using while on the road:)!

 

                        Hello again, Chiang Mai

While I am writing about my next Thailand experience I am sitting in my hammock overlooking the lovely Andaman sea, but this time I am already in Malaysia, on a small Pangkor Pulau island, which is mostly used by local tourists rather that falangs, and this makes my ending to Malaysian experience even sweeter! Ok, so to get back to Thailand, a little further from the sea, Chiang Mai. This was my 4th time there, usually I spent there only few days, but this time I spent there more than 3 weeks:)!

 

The first week I was enjoying the lovely Fruit Winter Festival which is a festival where people from all around the world come to enjoy amazing fruit Chiang Mai has to offer and also great company! It lasts for 10 days and every day there is a different activity, from going to the lake, hot springs, caves, quarry, trekking to Doi Suitep, rock climbing, dancing, doing yoga and all sorts of other things. I loved doing acroyoga for the first time in my life! I thought it is impossible to do but actually if you have good instructions and partners (there need to be three person, the base, the flyer and the spotter) than it is so easy. Well I had both, my brother and his girlfriend Tumi were great partners and it was amazing to see how Tumi could hold me up in the air as I am much bigger, and heavier, but it is a lot about the technique. And we played also a lot of games, which were meant to get to know each other better as there were lot of people who didn't know each other from before. I loved the game "google somebody" where somebody asks "what would I find out if I was to google Katja and _______ (example: the sea)" and then the person would tell the other three the answer, just improvising and this way we actually found out a lot of interesting things about each others. Conor and Brittany who organised this thing did an amazing job, every year more people come and there are more things to do.

 

 

Well actually to me the best part of this time was also spending a lot of quality time with my brother, Žare, and his girlfriend, Tumi. I loved enjoying our fruit breakfasts at the rooftop of our appartment building (called Life in Time, which is great especially if you stay longer there as the prices are really good). First I stayed in a room with Marina, a girl from Serbia I had met two years before at the festival, very nice girl who is very active in sharing the raw vegan way of life with others. It was also nice to see Martin there, a friend whom I met two years ago at the fruit festival also and with whom I have crazy interesting talks. So for me after travelling for quite some time and moving often from one place to another it was very nice to stay at one place (although I changed there rooms more times, but still), hanging out with some familiar people and also talking in my home language again, it was like vacation on the vacation :)!

 

The second part of my Chiang Mai experience was learning Tai Chi at http://www.taichithailand.com/ from an amazing guy, Keith. Actually it wasn't just learning Tai Chi but much more, he explained us the theory and philosophy behind Tai Chi, Buddism, Taoism and Chinese culture. I have learnt a lot about meditation, moving softly, slowly and gentle and also discovered how all these things can be used in every day's life - to live more peacefully and fully! He gave us a lot of reading materials about Tai Chi, meditation, Chinese medicine, alternative medicine, food concerns, Taoism, I Ching and the talks of Alan Watts, Joseph Cambell and Bruce Lipton. These are amazing guys who had very interesting things to say quite a while ago go. I have been thinking about a lot of the things I heard here before and it was nice to hear somebody talk about this and explain things in their own way. I have also learnt other things that opened my mind in some direction. I didn't really like philosophy before but these talks I really like and I want to learn a lot more from the materials I got!! On the road I sometimes listen to the talks, usually during long bus or train rides, and I have to say that they are quite interesting. I liked the emphasis on how it is important to be moderate, to avoid extremes and have the right balance in our life! Extremities create deficiencies and deficiencies create extremities. And how it is important when trying to help somebody the way we do it - not by doing things for themselves but rather teaching them and allowing to learn from their own experiences. And I also liked the thought that in every success you should find some modesty so that you don't get too arrogant :). I try to practice Tai Chi every day, because of my travels I do not do it every day, but as much as I can that it is not burdening me. I have done it on such amazing places, on different beaches, viewpoints, tea plantations and on top of the 11th floor overlooking Chiang mai by night! Oh yeah, it feel good doing it, it makes me feel more present and at peace :)! It was very nice that we were just two students and it was fun chatting with David and practising Tai Chi and doing our daily homeworks. Yeah, every day we got a homework - to read a part of some book or something like that. This was actually a full day practice although the lessons were just 5 hours a day, but during breaks we practised the form, read books and talked a lot. I was so nice that the slow movement already showed in my every day movements, like walking slowlier and I even did the Tai Chi movements while sleeping :)! I really love it!

 

 

The last week in Chiang Mai was special for me because a dear friend of mine, Živa, came! I was so happy because she took the time and energy and stepped out of her comfort zone as she took her first long distance flight, alone :)! I gave her the instructions to get to the apartment but actually wanted to surprise her and I waited for her at the airport. I was so nervous while waiting for her to pick up the luggage, overwhelmed with emotions. She almost went pass me but at the last minute her confusing eyes changed into a smiley ones :)! I was so happy she came just one day before my birthday, it meant a lot to me to have her there. Not that I wanted to do something special but just to spend it with a close person. And after the best birthday gift ever (the video I mentioned in the beginning) I spent the day pretty slow and nice. I ate good fruit, a delicious mango and cilantro smoothie and had great spring rolls and green curry at Bodhi Tree. In the afternoon I relaxed and took a bath with candles and ate a delicious raw vegan brownie :). In the evening we went to the rooftop and danced like crazy for quite a while, it was so fun :). It was such a nice day that I didn't even have the need to have a beer :)! The first days were very nice and lazy - we slept a lot, talked so much that one time it was just a little over 11 o'clock in the evening when the staff came to ask us to keep it down :). And yeah, we can babble quite a lot and we also laughed like crazy, we had to keep up with a lot of things as we didn't see each other for quite a while! Just the day Živa came it started to rain and cool down so that's why we spent the first two days mostly in the bed, and the third day we also spent in the bed as we both got a bit sick. Probably it was the dinner (I ate an amazing mango curry:)), we ate too much and also we talked too much about everything so a lot of emotions came out and it was a bit overwhelming for both of us. And then it stopped raining and we felt better but we spent so much time just laying around that we both kind of got a bit nervous - me because I didn't do as much of Tai Chi training and research I had hoped for and had to work a lot more on my blog. And Živa because she wanted to experience more of Thailand that just the inside of an amazing apartments :)! But travelling means also spending quite some time researching places to visit and we had to do a lot of this as the first idea was to do kitesurfing and windsurfing and also see tea plantations and some other interesting things.

 

Travelling alone is much different then doing it with somebody. When I travel alone I sometimes make up my mind in the morning where to go. Sometimes this is also possible while there are more people but the most important thing is to tell one another about the wishes and plans one has. Because it can easily come to misunderstandings and tensions which are normal while travelling. A lot of times plans don't turn out the way you anticipated so it can be disappointing if you have too much expectations. And where there are more people involved, one influences another, which sometimes is good and sometimes not so much. My problem was that I didn't take enough time just for myself and work on the things I really wanted to - especially Tai Chi and this blog. But it was hard because I wanted to spend  a lot of time with my friend and wanted her to have the amazing holidays! But sometimes by wanting too much I didn't do enough for myself and that was a mistake. But I have learnt my lesson :).

 

For two days we rented a car and went to Ban Rak Thai, lovely tea plantations close to the Burmese border which we both fell in love with just by seeing the photographs of it. As I had been living for more than a month on the left side of the road, I drove the car first as I was already used to driving on the left side. But the problem was driving an automatic car, which I had no experience with. It was really hard until I realised that it is the same as driving a stick, just that the left leg is kind of useless as there is no clutch. Soon I realised it was a big mistake to use the right leg for the gas and the left leg for the break as it meant breaking really really quickly (because the left leg is used to quickly press the clutch), one Thai guy was looking at me weird like"Crazy woman behind the wheels":))! And then it was easy:)! I had a good navigator who had to be aware of the road conditions all the time. The road to Pai is not just extremely winding but also full of road works which meant that a lot of times there was only one lane and without warning I had to drive on the opposite side of the road and just hoping that no one will come in the opposite direction. Luckily there wasn't that much traffic and although people drive like crazy (3 cars in a 2 lane road) they are also very aware of the cars and drive actually quite good. On the way there we stopped at Pai Canyon for a snack and later we had lunch at one road stop with a view. We bought a lot of food on the JJ market and I ate delicious sweet mangoes with black sticky rice inside of a coconut (homemade lunch :)), I ate a bit too much so after driving for about 4 hours  we switched and this time I was the navigator. We still had to lift quite high and the last 20 kilometres were even more winding and very steep, but the views were amazing. Finally, just before the sunset, we arrived at the lovely village, found a nice bungalow, dressed a lot as it got really fresh in the nights and walked around the village, got some dinner and crashed soon. In the morning the view of the little lake under the tea plantations, which were just across our bungalow, was amazing. We walked around and really enjoyed the scenery and did a lot of tea tasting as  Živa wanted to buy a lot of tea for home, and she did, over 1,5 kilos, I am glad they didn't arrest her for smuggling:)! Well surely we had to try all the different teas that she wanted to buy which wasn't the smartest idea just before heading to a 7 hour drive mostly on a winding road. I didn't have the best feeling before I got in the the car and later I felt really bad in my stomach and also my head was very dizzy, I hope that was just normal tea and not some other stuff as we were kind of close to the Golden triangle :). So the road back wasn't the sweetest for me, we stopped just for food break in Pai and were kind of in a hurry as Živa really wanted to see the Sticky waterfalls. Well we made it just before the sunset and the shower there was so amazing as I really needed to cool my head. And it was funny walking on the stones in the waterfalls that aren't slippery :). Well after we found the gas station while for the second time had been driving for quite some time one the red gas light (on the almost empty tank)  we arrived in Chiang Mai, exhausted but happy with the trip we had made.

 

We had one more day in Chiang mai which we spent getting a massage, eating delicious fruit and buying the last things needed. I said "See you later" to Marina, Martin and David and I met one girl from Slovenija who lives here and works for one nonprofit organisation and the next morning it was time to go to the sea :).

 

 

                                         Returning to the sea

We flew to Nakhon Si Thammarat and from there took a van to Don Sak pier from where we took a ferry to Koh Samui. Živa wanted to do some windsurfing there and I decided to learn kitesurfing a little later in my trip as there weren't the best conditions there. We wanted to spend some time on Koh Taen, a small island South of Koh Samui. To get there we took a longtail boat from Baan Trong Krut, it takes just about 20 minutes and it cost 1000 bht for both for two ways. As we read that that island is really undeveloped and there you won't find any resort being built we expected something really amazing. Well the first thing we saw on the beach was an exavator. And quite a lot of garbage on the beach. As the island isn't touristic, nobody cleans the garbage that washes upon the island, and there is a lot of trash swimming in the sea, so sad. Well after moving with our backpacks and about 10 kilos of fruit we brought (more than half of it were two watermelons) as there are no shops on the island we settled in a guesthouse that lent us a tent to sleep in. At the resort it was more clean and quite cosy. We hardly moved more than the relation between the restaurant, the toilet and the beach which meant about 100 metres altogether, we were so lazy we didn't even swim although the sea was just there :). We relaxed, played, Živa read a book and I did some research and of course my Tai Chi. In the evening we ate good fish and made cocktails - I put the Thai whisky in coconut milk, and Živa in a bowl of fruit...the bowl itself was a watermelon :). Oh yeah and in the morning that day in Koh Samui we saw some guys collecting coconut from the palm trees and asked if we can buy a  coconut...actually we got it for free :)! The water wasn't the best but the meat was delicious! Sleeping in a tent directly on the beach was very nice, hearing the waves in the night and actually we got a good mattress to sleep on! We were just hoping that the bull that was just walking around freely wouldn't be wondering about who is sleeping in the tent:). The next day we walked around the island, saw some other beaches, another bull and mangrove forest. It was nice but very hot. In the afternoon we returned to Koh Samui and Živa rushed to the beach to arrange the windsurfing. Well I guess it just wasn't meant for her this time as there wasn't the best weather and the waves were so big that she couldn't even rent a surf. I was so sad because I wanted to see her surf and enjoy the waves but I guess some other time. She decided to go to Pattaya for surfing and for me one day of it was already too much and it was out of my way as I was soon leaving for Malaysia. So we found a nice bungalow just few metres off the beach for 400 bht a night and decided to spend two last nights together before each went her separate way. When we were walking on the beach I was just telling Živa how later we will have a lot of moments to remember and we would be laughing about them and saying "Remember the time..." And just at this moment one wave totally went all over me and made me completely wet. It was so funny as I was just talking about how we will be remembering some nice moments and this was one of them :). The last day we enjoyed walking around, swimming in the big waves and having fun just going into the water and out as it wasn't so easy. We packed, ate good food and in the evening we wanted to have some fun and maybe dance a little. After spending some time at one live band and seeing too much of gogo dancers we stumbled upon a nice beach bar while returning to our bungalows. We got another drink, danced and enjoyed the fire show in which Živa even participated :). It was a nice ending of our last night spent together. The next morning I left early and was very sad to say goodbye to her as I knew we wouldn't see each other for a while. But it was necessary to part as each had her own plans. And mine was to go to Ang Thong National Marine park.

 
 

I had already been there two years ago and it was my favourite place that year. Returning to the same place can be sometimes disappointing as you can have too big expectations. Well, I was so happy I came back! When I climbed the view top I knew it was a place for me, a magical place. I just wanted to get to Koh Wua Talab where I wanted to sleep in a tent, but the only way to get there was to take an organised tour to the national park and stay overnight. Well this time because of the big waves for two day the boats didn't come so I had an island almost just to myself. Luckily there was this sweet girl from Netherlands, Jess, just a little over 20 years old but we had very nice conversation, she has good opinions for a young lady :)! It was so funny as we both were so surprised how interesting it was that we both lost some pictures of our travels ( I lost one month of pictures that I took with my phone), but weren't really bothered by it:)). There was just one more family on the island and the rest were just about a dozen of locals who lived and worked there. And some cute monkeys and a lot of birds. I needed some time to rest, I slept a lot and did some research and some writing. The weather wasn't the best and there were supposed to be very dangerous jellyfish so I didn't swim but climbed the view top four times during my stay there. I just love it there, breathing the fresh air, having the wind in my hair and enjoying the amazing view. I did my Tai Chi there which was really the best way to do it! The first night I thought that the wind will blow over my tent  or that because of the big waves the sea will come to my tent but none of this happened. It was really nice to experience this island in a different way, without much people so I had time to do some things in peace and thoughts about some things . One morning I started to collect the garbage that had been washed upon the beach and soon the locals joined me one by one and at the end there were more than ten of us cleaning the beach :)! Yeah, I loved the time I spent there as was a bit sad when on the 4th day the boats came and as they weren't sure if they would come the next day I had to leave although I really wanted to spend one more night there. It is a magical place.

 

 

When I returned to Koh Samui I spent the night there and didn't really know where to go the next day. I was choosing between Khanom, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, Koh Kradat and Koh Chang. The last one because Živa went there as she couldn't windsurf in Pattaya. I had big problems not going there as it was so hard for me that she was so close to me but we weren't together. I really wanted to go there although Koh Chang was besides Pattaya the only place I told Živa in advance I will not go as I had already been there and Thailand has so much of different things to offer. And also it was way out of my way as my next destination was Malaysia.But still it was so close, I almost bought the ticket to go back to Bangkok and then to Koh Chang, but I am happy I didn't do it so Živa had a chance to experience Thailand on her own. And I decided to start my Malaysian adventure a few days before planned as I didn't have much time to spend there so I ended up in Satun, South of Thailand, just close to the Malaysian border. It was quite a nice town with good night market and in the morning I was kind of sad to leave the country  where I had spent almost two months of my travels. But surely we shall meet again :)!!