Day One : Kathmandu to Lukla to Monjo

Distance covered* 10 km *Lukla to Monjo

Altitude gained * 2840m to 2835m *-0.5m (!)

Today I began trekking to Mount Everest.  I got to the airport early and checked in. I thought it was funny that they only wanted me to check my collapsible walking poles, not my smallish yet densely packed bag.  I charged my phone up at the power source in the airline office knowing that I would be charged dearly for electricity from this point on. A group about a dozen of us piled into the small prop plane. We had tremendous views all the way and very few turbulence. It was slightly disconcerting to see one of the pilots reading the newspaper while we soared over the deep valleys and rice paddy terraces.

Shortly after we took off, we began to descend. After marathon flights over the years, this was definitely one of the shortest but probably the most scenic. The 1500 foot single runway was just long enough to catch us as we glided in with marked precision.  I will admit, I held my breath until the plane came to a complete stop.

The others had skipped breakfast so I waited as they devoured an insanely expensive cinnamon roll. Little did we know, that would be the first of many overpriced bakery items we would be tempted by over the next few weeks. When they were done, we suited up and started walking.

The path was pretty obvious and I decided to forgo buying a map. It seemed pretty hard to get lost when there were hundreds of people spread out over this 65 km route. It took me less than five minutes to stumble and fall. Luckily, there was no damage other than my pride. I brushed off and kept walking. We passed many shops and small villages this day while taking in the gorgeous scenery. I was amazed at how warm it was and didn’t even really feel any different even though we were already at over 2800m altitude.

We walked and walked stopping sometimes to snap photos of the exceptionally stunning countryside. We had decided to trek all the way to Manjo which would be ten miles of some of the most gorgeous nature I have seen in a while. Every now and then, I would glance up rather than down to admire the looming mountains surrounding me. It may have been one of these careless moments which caused me to trip over a rock. I took a nasty spill and ended up with not only a badly injured knee (now I have a pair of purple knobs) but a bloodly fat lip. I literally bit it and hard.  M and M doubled back and tried to minimize the damage. They wiped the dirt off my face and helped me shake myself off. The kept telling me it wasn’t as bad as it was all the while giving each other “the look”.  Nevertheless, I spent the rest of the trip with a limp and what looked like half a moustache and bad case of face herpes. I guess I wasn’t out here to win a beauty contest but come on!

By the time we reached Monjo, I was at the end of my rope. I wanted to stop an hour ago but the others insisted somewhat ruthlessly that we press on. I didn’t realize they had to buy their park pass which drove us further than we actually had to walk. I had already organized mine back in Kathmandu so for me, the extra effort was pointless. If there is one thing I hate, its inefficiency.  That coupled with the biting wind that had kicked up made for a very grumpy Carmella.

Luckily the guesthouse was warm and friendly serving up some decent grub. The bare bones rooms cost only 100 rupees which is just over a dollar so they charge a lot for food. I didn’t care that I had to pay for hot water since I had brought all my favorite teas. I saw the envy in the other’s eyes as I prepared my version of spicy coconut ginger tea in my enormous thermos.  Everyone knows that tea makes me very happy.  And today, that tea warmed me up from the inside out.  We made a few new friends as we all sat around in the communal dining area where the trekkers, guides and ports all gathered. We all cheered when they lit the fireplace and the whole room got cozy real fast.

I surveyed the damage on my knee and promised myself I would make sure not to give into the pressure to keep pace with the others. If I arrived a few minutes or even an hour later, it made no difference. We just sat around doing nothing in the lodge for the rest of the day so I may as well take my time and enjoy the scenery. What was the point of rushing? I, for one, was in no race.  If nothing else, this was a practice in slowing down.

I bundled myself into my down sleeping bag and covered myself with the extra blankets we finagled.  I had my thermals on and I was toasty warm. The only discomfort I experienced was the frequent bathroom breaks I had to take downing all that tea.  Here was another lesson I learned hard and fast. In any case, I slept like a log.

Grateful for moderation.

Posted in Asia, In Travel | Leave a comment

Trekking to the Top of the World – Pre-trip Preparations Kathmandu

 

I have no idea what possessed me to embark on a walk in some of the harshest terrain in the world, enduring some of the worst temperatures I have had to survive for years, living without common niceties like showers, plumbing, infact there would not even be heat in the places  I would sleep. Ok, this may sound a little nuts for someone who spends majority of her time and energy avoiding the cold like the plague. So why am I doing this? I guess  part of me wanted to challenge the laziness and apathy I have been experiencing over the past few months. And what a better cure of my recent curse of severe clumsiness? All this falling down stairs and walking into walls just has to stop.  Trekking among the highest mountains in the world oughtta do it, right? Climbing almost 100 km through the Himalaya wilderness to the highest altitude I have ever experienced is just what the doctor ordered. Or so I thought.

I spent a couple days wandering in and out of the glut of trekking stores in tourist laden Thamel. I had a few administrative errands to run including getting my TIMS permit ($20 USD) which would register me with the Nepal Tourism Board and the Sagarmatha Park pass which cost a thousand rupees ($12 USD). Luckily I got both of these within minutes at the same place. Then I made the short jaunt over to the Immigration office where I would extend my visa for another two weeks for thirty dollars.

While I was waiting for them to process my extention, I met a Danish lass called Marianne. She just so happened to be going on the same hike on the same day so we decided to keep each other company. I was intending to do this trip solo but I reasoned it wouldn’t hurt to make a few friends along the way. She said she had met another Canadian the day before, Mark from Calgary, who would make our little team three. I knew this would quell my mom’s nerves as she expressed some deep concern about me wandering around the remote parts of Nepal alone. At least now if I fell off a cliff, there would be someone there to witness it and report back. There would be no tales of Yetis kidnapping , this young lady, no siree. I met up with my two trekking buddies the next day and we booked our flight to Lukla. It was only 35 mins but it was a serious flight into the most dangerous airport in the world. The night before, I reconsidered my gear and at the last minute rented a puffy yellow down jacket for 35 rupees a day. That’s less than 6 dollars for two weeks to ensure a happy warm Carmella. Money well spent, I reckon.

Since I would be taking time away from the kids at the school I have been volunteering at, I decided to dedicate my trek to them. I set up a quick and dirty Facebook event for Klimb for Kids. I didn’t know if anyone would participate but it was worth a try. And perhaps it could make a difference for a child. At least this effort wouldn’t be in vain.

I packed my new 5 dollar 35 liter backpack with my “real fake” designer hiking gear. I glanced nervously at my new ten dollar unbroken in hiking shoes. Needless to say, I was a little worried but something inside propelled me forward. I didn’t sleep that night. I am not sure it was from excitement, fear, or anxiety. Probably a little bit of all. I was about to embark on something I had never dreamt of. Could I do it? Honestly, the thought of not finishing didn’t even cross my mind. I would do this if I had to crawl there on my hands and knees.

Grateful for spontaneity.

Posted in Asia, In Travel | Leave a comment

Recovering in the most Un-Indian part of India – Arambol Beach, India

I am sitting in one of the many cafes that provide free wi-fi but it does no good because the power is out again. No matter. Reminds us all to slow down. Not sure I could slow down much more than I have now though. It took me 2 hours to get out of bed this morning. I finally got it together to come try a new breakfast spot. This one brags of good coffee and scrumptious cookies neither of which I am trying. Instead I will go with the breakfast of eggs, salad, toast, homemade jam and ginger lemon tea for 80 rupees. Not only is the price right but the vibe here at Dylan’s Coffee House suits my mood.

I am feeling much better and my cough has subsided save for a few episodes this morning. I didn’t sleep well due to my new hair style. I spent the last three days at Om Hair Art while Vicky and his mom tag teamed braiding my mane into one hundred tiny braids. Last time I got this done in Africa I had extensions added but this time I am hoping to keep it natural and maybe my locks will dread naturally over time. It was a real pleasure getting to know Vicky’s family and how they run the hair/bikini shop. By the end of it, I knew most of the prices on things and had even sold a few people on braids or dreads. They like me and think I am good for business.

I negotiated a better price on the flat I am staying which tempts me to stay even longer. I have been here a week now and don’t feel any draw to move. After a couple nights of moving around I feel settled and am beginning to find my favorite places. Internet is cheap at only 40 rupees an hour and I can work on editing my book. I am learning that this process takes a lot longer than I had thought as I keep remembering more stories that I hadn’t written in the blog. I have been adding but not really taking away which is making the book fatter and fatter. Reliving my early travels has been amusing to say the least and even dare I say, charming, in parts. Can someone charm themselves?

My food has come and it is delicious. About a dozen French people have come as well and the place is now buzzing with words I only half recognize. I guess one of the bonuses of growing up in Canada is that even if you didn’t study it, the French language has somehow made its way into your subconscious.  Every two minutes I hear someone call out for a cheese croissant. There are a couple of guys in front of me doing some serious pretzel stretching between puffs of a fat cigarette of wacky tabacky. There is a place here in town called Cookie Walla (Cookie Master) and apparently they sell hopped up cookies. After visiting the smoky dopey tent I believe it. I liked the idea of a cookie walla but don’t want to partake of the “special” ingredients. So I guess no cookie for me.

There are a lot of circus type people here with a unique tribal style. One of my favorite parts of being here is the gathering which happens at sunset point on the beach.  Along with the drum/dance circle there are dozen or so artisans selling their wares. From twisted jewelry to stylish clothes to tarot card readings to essential oils, you will find it here. I was so impressed by the brave young woman selling the Diva/Moon cup on her little blanket spread out on the sand. I gave her a big hug to show my appreciation of her promoting this valuable product.  There are a few people who bring momos and other stuffed dumplings as well as a roasted corn cart which usually shows up. If none of that grabs you, you can watch performers of every caliber practicing with the backdrop of the fiery orange sun sinking into the sea. Yes it goes without saying there are a lot of beautiful people here. And most of them know it.

Grateful for getting a break.

Posted in Asia, In Travel | Leave a comment

End of Asia to Home to Liftoff once again…

It’s been a long time since I have written. For you, that is. I guess I have been doing some writing on and off in my own private books but to you, I am still in Asia. I guess after my birthday things just picked up and I stopped making time to share. I guess it was also the fact that I was winding down from that trip and I knew it. So I will attempt to give an overview of what has happened between then and now. I warn you, it will be in no way complete or even in order. I am just in a free flow place and will go with that. I may go back into these pockets and elaborate later on what may be brief points. The idea of going back almost a year has been overwhelming and has kept me from starting several times. A lot has happened. Hence my trepidation to catch you all up. Oh well, I gotta start somewhere. Here goes nothing.

So after Laos which I ended having a memorable day on the elephants with my soul sister Julienne, I took the slow boat down back to Thailand. In line to get on the boat, I met a lovely young lady from California who was about to join the peace corps. I ended up getting sick on the boat after a toxic meal at the overnight stop. I am talking like deadly sick and I spent half the time laying on the floor of the boat trying to keep myself together. My new friend Shannon was kind and did her best to take care of me but truly, there was nothing to be done. I just had to let it pass. To anyone who wants to enjoy the wonderful boat ride (I recommend going Northbound rather than the more crowded Southbound trip), don’t eat at the Indian restaurant in Pakbeng, no matter WHAT he offers you.

We ended up traveling together for the next few weeks. We went to Chang Rai and then spent some time in a hill tribe village. It was a stunning environment and the experience was one I would highly recommend. Next we made our way down to Chang Mai where I parted ways with Shannon and decided to chill out before heading back to Bangkok. I had originally planned just to take it easy and get massages everyday but then in the hair salon, everything changed. A very bling bling egotistical soccer player from Africa convinced me I should jump on the bus with him the next morning and go to Pai. I had heard great things about Pai but didn’t think I was going to make it there this trip. I guess fate had something else in mind.

Though I gave him a ton of objections, this charismatic but pushy dude dissolved them all and next thing I knew I was on the way to the darling little hippy town in Northern Thailand. I am so glad I went because this turned out to be one of my favorite stops. Almost as soon as we got off the bus, I realized that the way we traveled differed too much to stick together so I bid my friend adieu. I spent a night in the town before discovering a Piranha Fishing Pond where I proceeded to spend the last of my days in Asia. I absolutely loved it there. I fished and played with the two baby kittens who just “happened” to wander onto the property a couple days before. I was in heaven, seriously. I went into town a couple times to enjoy the nutritious and delicious fare. The night market was charming and there were enticing deals galore of local crafts, foods, and spa treatments. I could have stayed here forever.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. I was able to tear myself away from Pai and get myself back to Chang Mai where I jumped on the night train to Bangkok. I enjoyed the night train immensely but admit that I wasn’t really looking forward to the hustle and bustle that is Bangkok after finding such peace in the North.

My last 24 hours in Asia were a whirlwind of craziness. I heard that song One Night in Bangkok whirring through my brain all the while. I hired a cab for the day and shopped my heart out, went to the Floating Markets, and sampled all my favorite foods that I had discovered over the past few months. I ended up on Koh San Road (backpackers mecca) getting last minute beauty treatments, nibbling 50 cent Pad Thai, sipping fresh fruit smoothies and buying yet more souvenirs. If there was any chance of empty space in my luggage (which I had bought specifically for the last week of purchases which I crammed full of goodies to give to my peeps at home), it was squashed in that last few hours in Bangkok. My feet were so sore from all the craziness so collapsed into one of the chairs and paid a man for a 30 min foot massage while waiting for my cab to fetch me. It was the wee hours of the morning when I boarded my plane and I felt completely spent. I sighed loudly in relief. I felt a strong sense of accomplishment but I was ready to go. Even though it was mid winter and I would be entering into the deep freeze, I just wanted my home.

I spent the rest of February reacclimatizing to being back in North America…I guess that continued well into March and April too. In that time I really didn’t do a lot except my taxes and meditate every day. I made it a real priority to sit in silence for up to an hour a day. I though that with that much meditation I would surely become enlightened or something. I didn’t. I didn’t really notice a lot changing in me but now, looking back, I realize that sitting quietly for long periods of time by my window was pretty much all I could do at this point. Points for me on becoming more proactive in my reentry to Western culture. It’s getting easier for me to adjust after trips as long as I give myself that buffer zone.

In April, I started going to the gym and reconnecting with my friends again. I started dating a bit but that was a bit of a gong show. I suppose its par for the course but seriously, some of these guys were certified wackadoodles. I spent a lot of my days at the coffee shop across the street and found that I fit in well with the regulars. We had many a interesting debate about this that and the other. Infact, it was my Sugarbowl gang who gave me the last little push to jump on the iPhone bandwagon. I have to admit after resisting this “fad” for years, I now know I will never go back. I love (and I mean LOVE) my new toy and spent a good part of the spring playing with it and the wonderful world of apps.

The closer summer got, the happier I felt. I was feeling really sad that some of my favorite friends were moving away though. I maintained my health and commitment to remaining clear through the summer months despite a few temptations. I went to and worked at Astral Harvest, a music festival up in Northern Alberta in July. It was oodles of fun and I was really proud of myself for finally conquering that old demon. Since I was able to enjoy that, I gave myself the go ahead to attend Burning Man again.

After rehabilitating myself after the string of unfortunate incidents which broke me in the summer of 2007, I finally felt ready to go back to the scene of the crime, so to speak. I decided for sure that I would pack up my lil’ Trillium trailer and roadtrip around the States after attending Burning Man. I spent the rest of the summer keeping busy as a bee. I beautified my home a bit and surprised myself at how handy I was by re-doing my balcony/deck into something of an oasis. I went camping with my mom alot, reunited with my sister after having been estranged for the last year (man did I miss her!), and even unexpectedly got a job managing a hip new coffee shop on Whyte Ave. I got to spend time with my niece and nephews going to movies and Cirque de Soleil. I also spent time picking berries and apples at my parents.

Right before it was time to leave for the States on my road trip to Burning Man and Beyond, I went on a train trip with my Mom from Edmonton to Vancouver. I got to visit with my extended family before buying my cousins car and driving back to Edmonton. The last week in Alberta was crazy with all sorts of prep for the trip and I almost lost my head. I really packed my days and nights with stuff I had to do (not to mention a last minute trip to Calgary for a Bon Voyage Burners party) and get done. But in the end, it all worked out. I got my Trillium hitched up to my trailer and on August 26, I was off.

Grateful for memory.

Posted in Asia, In Travel, North America | Leave a comment

Impromptu Birthday Party with Random Strangers – Luang Prabang, Laos

I was tickled pink to have made her acquaintance because Melbourne native Jules and I seemed to be cut from the same fabric. Initially, we were going to rent motorbikes and ride their ourselves but we were accosted by a boatman. He convinced us that it would be much more fun and cost efficient to let him take us there. After some gentle negotiation, we agreed to his offer. When we crawled into the long wooden boat, we were greeted by a five-some of young and beautiful Brits.

We made our introductions and learned that we all led quite interesting lives. I shared my cherimoyas with the group as we cruised down the Mekong River admiring the landscapes. A couple of them climbed onto the roof while a few others documented our adventure with their cameras. As we visited and got to know my new mates, I congratulated myself on having conjuring up such a fascinating group to hang out with for my special day.

After about an hour on the boat, we transferred to a tuk tuk (really just the back of a pickup truck) for the remaining 15 minutes. The cheeky driver made a quick stop at what looked like his families house and brought out some moonshine. After passing it around and the boys partaking, I was glad to have declined. After only two sips their eyes seemed to go bloodshot! What was in that stuff?

We finally arrived to the waterfalls and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t overrun with tourists. Don’t get me wrong, the infrastructure is certainly there but we must have chosen a slower day or at least hit a lull. We visited the Bear Sanctuary and watched the roly-poly bundles of black fur search out their lunch. The keepers had hidden pieces of fruit all over the compound in some of the strangest places but the bears were privy to all of them.

After having our fill of the animals, we headed on to the waterfalls. We were all astonished at the surreal glowing turquoise pool and it didn’t take us long before we all stripped down to our swimwear. The water was a tad chilly but after about 2 minutes, it was fine. We splashed about and watched the dragon flies flutter around us. We marveled at the giant tree anchored right in the middle of the pool whose mystical roots looked like they may come alive at any minute. All of us agreed that this was the stuff of what fairytales were made of.

A short time later, we ventured up the trail and lo and behold, there were more falls…and more and MORE! Until finally, we hit the big one. It took my breath away and I couldn’t stop grinning at my fortune to have *this* as my birthday setting. Looking way way up you could see water cascading over dozens of cliff stages finally traveling all the way down to us. I just stared in awe at the giant spout as it crashed down over the mossy rocks into a frothy cloud entering the pool below.

With a little encouragement, we climbed up all the way to the top, walked across, and came down the other side. It was an arduous climb but worth it in the end. And I reasoned that this would earn me a piece of birthday cake without guilt.

At the end of the day, we all met up for dinner at the 8000 kip (about 1 dollar) vegetarian buffet. The meal was delightful, with birthday song, cake, presents, and all. It was grand and I felt really lucky to have been blessed with such a memorable surprise birthday party.

Grateful for surprises.

Posted in Asia | 2 Comments

A Blast from the Past – Luang Prabang, Laos

I ended up finding a cute guesthouse that was just built and though it would normally be out of my price range, I splurged. I decided since it would be my birthday tomorrow, I had better enjoy it. One of the many presents I was planning on giving myself.

I wandered around town and noticed it was quite small. I liked all the activity and the market stalls that were spouting up all over the place. It seems that at night, this place comes alive. I went for a massage and ended up giving the girl at the front desk my lip gloss. She was so enamored by it and explained to me that they cannot get such things here. I wondered how different it would be to live in a culture that so values modesty. The petite young lady wistfully revealed her secret wishes to wear short skirts and makeup. She explained that Australians and Canadians were well known for our sense of style. Really?

I wandered home that night through the quiet streets and realized that this town seems to be stuck in another era. Sure there are cars and electricity but the attitude seems to be from a simpler time. I think I would trust the honor system here more so than most other places I’ve been. I tested it a few times when I had to promise to come back and pay later having run out of Kip (the local currency). Every single time they just smiled with eyes brimming trust, nodding their heads with understanding. They didn’t even want me to leave anything for insurance. My Word was sufficient.

I meandered down the main street which turns into a huge market at night. The atmosphere was subdued yet delightful and children were visible at every other stall. I admired the colorful handmade wares and their impressive attention to detail. After having asked a few prices, I was sure I would not be escaping Luang Prabang without a few reminders of my time here.

Grateful for honor.

Posted in Asia | Leave a comment

Lucid Tubing – Vang Vieng, Laos

I really enjoyed Vang Vieng but when it was time to go, it was really time to go. I did end up doing the tubing but didn’t partake in the party aspect of the experience. It wasn’t a hard decision to make especially after I arrived at the scene. A picture of gross debauchery, I was happy to keep my head about me among the stupidly drunk (sometimes downright dangerous) westerners. I think I may be one of the few people who actually make it back to town in their tube. Most, as far as I can tell, have to be taxied back in droves from the riverside bars at the end of the day. Many barely able to stand up safely, much less float down the river for hours in their inner tube.

I really enjoyed the ride although by the end three hours later, I’ll admit I was eager to reach the shore. I certainly appreciated the stretches of river I covered with no one else in sight. No kayakers, no tubers, no motor boats, no swimmers. Just me and the birds. I admired the nature which included some little goats grazing in the tall grassy banks. A little local boy playing solo in the trees yelled and waved at me excitedly. The water was not as cold as I thought it would be and the sun kept me warm. I used my new fake (they just CAN’T be genuine for only two dollars) Croc flip flips as paddles to get me to town before the sun hit the tops of the rounded limestone tree covered peaks.

When I finally pulled in, I was pretty proud of myself for making it the whole way. I forced down some of the worst Laap ever made while watching the sunset over the clouds of smoke. They were burning the grass across the river and it made for quite an interesting show. I was glad the wind was blowing away from me but the smell of burnt grass was still quite overwhelming. I turned in for a relatively early night in preparation for the long bus ride up the country I would be embarking on.

Grateful for safety first.

Posted in Asia | Leave a comment

Trillions of Trinkets at the Night Bazaar – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Early in the evening I made my way down the street to the infamous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. I had heard about this place and since I love markets, it seemed like a obvious excursion. Little did I know that just two blocks away from my newfound home, was the market to end all markets. I was floored to say the least. The amount of stalls, stores, booths, and vendors was staggering. It just kept going and going and going…I was there for a good 3 hours walking at quite a clip and I am sure I still didn’t see it all.

Selling everything from kitschy t-shirts to hand stitched bags to massages of whatever body part is sore to pointy hats to glowing lanterns and crafted umbrellas to intricate jewelry to Italian gelato (I had coconut and amaretto) to creative expressions of bugs/dragons/motorcyles portrayed by rope/used cans/wood/leaves/you name it to eco-friendly stationary to scarves of every color of the rainbow and every texture under the moon to spices to sexy underwear to Muay boxing shorts to humongous murals painted on canvas being worked on by the artists who glance up every now and then with a gentle smile.

Even if I wanted to buy something, I would have been paralyzed by decision. It took my 6 tasters and 10 minutes just to choose an ice cream flavor! At one point, I just sat down overwhelmed by the vastness and perfection of it all. Each seller took great pride in their space arranging their wares neatly and symmetrically. Though many seems to be selling similar things there was always some variation in presentation.

And the prices! I don’t even want to go there. Lets just say that this place would test even the most staunch anti-consumerism advocate. Even I, who has been on a constant quest to live more simply (which in this moment means to lighten my backpack) found myself rationalizing how it was my duty to support the local economy. I had to shake myself when I began eying the suitcases and plotting how much STUFF I could cart home with me.

But I am happy to say that other than tasty treats, I did not buy anything. My strength of will prevailed and I came home empty handed. I relayed my excitement over having experienced such a fantastic market to the owner upon returning to the hotel. He seemed amused when I congratulated myself on showing such endurance at not succumbing to the peddlers.

“Ahhh Just wait, Little One! Tomorrow is Sunday,” the animated grey haired man pointed out knowingly.

“And? What does that mean?” I inquired with a curious frown noting silently that he was the littler one between the two of us.

“The Sunday market is much bigger and even more extravagant than the nightly bazaar. You shall see,” he promised with wink.

“Oh no!” I gasped only half joking. Perhaps I wouldn’t escape unscathed after all. I sighed with playful exasperation as I turned on my heel up to my cozy home for the night. Over stimulated and feet sore, I knew I had better get some rest if there was any way I was going to make it out to the main event.

Grateful for precise organization.

Posted in Asia | 3 Comments

Bed hopping in Charming- Chiang Mai, Thailand

I arrived in Chiang Mai which is just 700 km north of Bangkok a couple days ago but already, I feel a strong affinity with this place. I am not sure if it’s the people, the atmosphere or the scenery, but I feel a strong sense of calm laced with little flecks of delightfulness. Certainly a big change from the aggressive hustle and bustle of the smoggy metropolis that I just came from. Don’t get me wrong…there is place for everything. But this is the place for me right now.

Where the tallest spires of temples are not shrouded by modern skyscrapers and where the street trash is sorted into their respective recycle bins. Where the busiest streets are still tame enough to walk across rather than the run for your life speed one must adopt to navigate CM’s bloated big brother, Bangkok.

I am sitting on the 5th floor rooftop restaurant of my hotel having breakfast as a morning breeze caresses my cheeks. Although the sun is beating down on me unfettered by clouds, it’s not too hot but I can feel myself already getting a tan. Nine AM and the city hasn’t quite woken up yet. The occasional market goer plods on briskly to discover what’s on offer for today. The birds chirp merrily as I admire the stunning mountain backdrop which surround this quaint gem.

I am feeling much better now. I am still a little sick with my cold but I am convinced the worst is over. My heart and soul feel a lot better too though I am not sure what changed. Perhaps it was the couple days I dedicated to serious self care. When I first arrived I stayed in a 10 person dorm room of a cheap ($3/night at A Little Bird Guesthouse) but cheery hostel. This was great for socializing and getting tips from other travelers, but not very restful.

The next day I splurged on a highly rated hotel ($80/night Rimping Village) a bit further from the center. It was very quiet and comfortable but rather isolated in its remote little neighborhood. This can be easily remedied by taking the complementary bikes for a spin and I saw many families doing just that. As for me, I was determined to heal my sore lungs. The caring staff brought me limes and honey for my tea and I crawled into my king size bed. Tucked in snuggly into the fluffy duvet, I watched the DVDs that I borrowed from the front desk until I fell asleep.

The next day, I felt a little better though not quite out of the woods yet. I decided to find somewhere in the middle where I could be comfortable for a few days but not break the bank. I decided on a cute little boutique hotel called The Small ($30/night). I thanked the owner of Rimping Village who insisted on driving me and checked into my new home for the next three days.

As soon as I entered the lobby, I was impressed by the vibrant colors and bold design. The fun continued up into my room on the 5th floor which was adorned with a pink and bright orange color scheme. I loved the high ceilings and sharp lines agreeing with almost all the artists choices. I was fascinated by the open shower concept. With glass on three sides, one could lift the blinds and look into the sleeping area or out to the street to watch the city below. I decided this could be a entertaining feature for couples and exhibitionists especially.

I am delighted to have found this place and am contemplating extending my visit already. I thought about taking some cooking classes as this is one of the major activities this region is famous for, along with massage schools and spiritual pursuits. I get the feeling my plan of heading to Laos may be delayed some as there is so much to explore here first.

Grateful for changing skylines.

 

Posted in Asia | Leave a comment

Things that make me happy Living in Koh Phangan

– Everything Coconut. It seems that everything here has this wonderful flavor not to mention the free coconuts that fall from the trees. Just have to be careful they don’t fall on your head. Death by coconut is a real danger here on this isle
– trapped butterflies who climb on my finger so I can release them outside
– baskets on scooters
– people who sing while they are zooming along on their scooter

 

– the daily fruit delivery lady on her bike
– geckos chirping and singing
– how easy it is to adopt a needy pet
– rolling blackouts
– sweet buttery fresh papaya
– beautiful Wats (temples) scattered through the island
– pad thai for 30 baht (1 dollar)
– fresh fruit smoothie for 20 baht
– watching the dog family who live next door raise their little puppy
– seeing random monks going for ice cream

 

– comfortable triangle pillow sitting things
– when the locals warned me to put on my helmet because the scooter police were around the corner
– the stars are so bright out here
– the amount of people that stop to take photos of my killer view
– naming my kitty the Thai word for pig which is pronounced Moo

Posted in Asia | 3 Comments