Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thailand Part 3: Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi is probably one of my favourite places in Thailand, along with Chiang Mai. It's one of those places that sucks you in and you don't really ever want to leave...
After Koh Phangan, I headed to Krabi for a night on my way to Koh Phangan, where I did some rock climbing and met a few Canadians! We ended up at the bar of my hostel and played beer pong against some Americans (and won, of course! When it comes to Canada vs USA, whether it's hockey or beer pong, we always win ;) )
The next day, I went on a bus to the pier, and met a girl from England and a guy from Belgium. We talked all the way to the pier, and then on the 2+ hour ferry, we kept talking. Finally, when we arrived on Koh Phi Phi, we all decided to follow her, because she had a reservation in a good hostel. She had booked a double room, which was the smallest room they had, and so I decided to share the room with her (Because when you're backpacking through a country, rooming with a total stranger is honestly not weird!) and the Belgian guy booked a room with his friend right next to us. We ended up spending our whole time together and I had such a great time with them!
These signs were everywhere. Koh Phi Phi was one of the places that was hit during the tsunami.
The island of Koh Phi Phi is an interesting one. Where most people are is called Tonsai Village, which means "tourist" village, and that's really what it is: hostels, hotels, restaurants, bars, convenient stores, tour shops, tattoo shops and souvenir shops. There are more tourist than locals there. I'm not usually a fan of very touristy areas, but I really loved this place. 
Notice the Irish pub in the background? (And yes, that's a REAL monkey!!!)
The day after I arrived, I went on a boat tour, that eventually made its way to Maya Bay, where the movie The Beach was filmed. Honestly, it was a beach like any other, but the way we got there was really cool. We arrived to this sort of round rock face by boat and in front of us was a rope ladder, which connected to a boardwalk. This boardwalk lead us into what looked like some sort of hidden summer camp with wooden cabins and everything. The path continued onto the famous beach. (I didn't take many pictures because we were all soaked...)
On our second night, we were out late for dinner and suddenly, all the bars around us started closing.... Confused, we asked our waiter and he told us that the military announced a coup d'├ętat, which included a nation-wide curfew: 10pm-5am. So even though we were on a tourist island, very far away from Bangkok where all the protests were happening, they still closed down most of the bars and shops out of respect. It was a little strange the first night, but the curfew was a lot less strict there. They left us tourists alone and we were free to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.

Finally, it was time to leave. I needed to head back to the mainland, to Phuket to catch a flight to Chiang Mai. I didn't want to leave, but I had no choice. So with a heavy heart, I said goodbye to my new friends and made my way to my least favourite place in Thailand. After a 2 hour ferry ride, I had to pay 5 times the normal price for a taxi to my hostel. Everything in Phuket was insanely expensive because of the intense amount of tourists there. The taxi dropped me off at the beginning of this insane street and told me to go "that way." That insane street is called Bangla Road. It's basically the red light district all in one street: strip clubs, night clubs, prostitutes, ladyboys, drugs, ping pong shows (don't ask...) who are all harassing you. So after an hour of walking in circles, I finally found my hostel. The A/C was at 15 degrees Celsius at night and you couldn't turn it up... So I nearly froze to death and got no sleep... But, the best part of Phuket was the sunset on the beach.

After 4 amazing days in Koh Phi Phi, Phuket is barely even in my mind. It's definitely a place I recommend and if I ever go back to Thailand, that will definitely be on my list of places to visit.

Thailand posts:
Part 1: Bangkok // Part 2: Koh Phangan // Part 3: Kho Phi Phi // Part 4: Chiang Mai // Part 5: Khao Sok

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

'Tis The Season to be Working...

Now that I'm back from Thailand, it's time to start working again! Just like any typical university student during the summer, I got myself two part-time jobs (and possibly a third one), and I'm working all summer to be able to make up for the lack of work during the school year.

I'm back at the Goldeyes this summer, working as a Fan Services Rep: basically, I stand around at the top of my section with a sign that reads "Please wait for a stop in play". That means, I stop people from going to their seats while a player is at bat. It's the easiest (and most boring...) job I've ever had! I'm getting paid to watch baseball and stand around. It's not my favourite way to pass time, but it's money!

I'm also still working at Bodegoes (it's a restaurant in the Exchange district). I haven't been getting a lot more hours than when I was in school, but let's hope I will soon!

I may be working hard, but I have a feeling this summer will be a good one.

Monday, June 23, 2014

And Now I'm a Redhead!

I dyed my hair red!
I've been wanting to dye my hair red again for almost 2 years. In grade 11, I had dyed it red and I loved it! I dyed it back to brown for my graduation pictures and I had wanted to dye it back ever since, but I never got around to it, and now that I'm back from Thailand and its blazing hot sun, I finally did it!
It's going to be a lot of work to keep it nice and red, but I'm loving it!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thailand Part 2: Koh Phangan

(Disclaimer: I went to Koh Phangan twice on this trip, so I apologize for the confusing timeline...)
After 5 days in Bangkok, I finally made my way south. My mom had told me that there was a woman she knew (well, her sister's husband is our plumber, so close enough) who owns a resort on the island and we both thought it was be a great way to get me some ocean air and relax for a couple days before I continued on my adventure.
I spent the night on the sleeper train, which was super cool since I had never been on a train before! Other than the fact that I nearly froze to death because Thai people love their A/C, it was really comfortable and I managed to get some sleep on this 12 hour train ride. In the morning, I arrived at the train station, where a bus picked me up and brought me to the pier, then on to a ferry, which brought me to Koh Phangan.
It was exactly what I needed. Some time to relax by the ocean, the air was much cooler compared to Bangkok and a nice big bed to myself, rather then the rock hard hospital bed. Pretty much every hostel I went to, there was a book exchange shelf, where other travellers leaves books and take others. It's a great concept! It ended up being really useful: I found a Lonely Planet guide for Thailand and planned the rest of my trip.
The sunsets, by the way, were absolutely amazing.
I stayed 2 nights there, then made my way to my next destination.
My bungalow at Sea Flower Bungalows

About 2 weeks later, I returned to Koh Phangan with my ThaIntro group. We were at a different resort, on a different part of the island. Not only was I was with a group, which made the resort like a small village of some sorts, but we also had some pretty cool activities! I got to hold a monkey, and we did an elephant trekking, though the latter was really, really not that great.

Let me explain. Also, keep in mind this is about a week after I went to an elephant sanctuary, which I will blog about soon. We were sitting on these metal seat on the elephant's back, and we were 3 on there. The seat is only really made for two people, so it was really squished and the elephant just did not want to go. The mahout (elephant trainer) kept kicking his ears, and even yanked on his ear with a bullhook to get it to keep moving, and it was completely disheartening. Yes, it was nice to feed them and be around them, but riding them like that wasn't.
Anyway, I spent a lot of time in the hammock outside my bungalow, reading, relaxing, and despite the whole elephant thing, it was an amazing way to end this trip. Koh Phangan is definitely one of the places in Thailand you need to go to if you want a nice beach getaway. There are also huge beach parties (full moon party), which I didn't go to, but I heard they are absolutely amazing. After that relaxing few days, I made my way back to Bangkok so I could fly home!

Thailand posts:
Part 1: Bangkok // Part 2: Koh Phangan // Part 3: Kho Phi Phi // Part 4: Chiang Mai // Part 5: Khao Sok

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thailand Part 1: Bangkok and the hospital fiasco

How to start...
About a week before I was supposed to leave, I started feeling really sick, and it kept happening... The day after the half-marathon, I made my way to the airport with my stomach completely upside down. I felt so incredibly sick in the airport, that I ended up deciding that I couldn't get on the plane. I spent a good two hours in the bathroom, waiting to throw up, trying and panicking. As I was about to board the plane, I nearly fainted and that was the last straw.
Later that day, I went to the doctor's office and they told me I had a bacterial infection called H. Pylori, which causes ulcers. Double whammy. So, I started taking medication, which made me even sicker. But a few days later, I started feeling better, so I rebooked my flight and a week later, I landed in Bangkok!
My first souvenir from Thailand...
Except that not even 24 hours after being there, I started feeling ever sicker than before. Fever, stomach pains, nausea, cold and hot flashes, trembling... So I made my way to the hospital, and they told me I had gastritis, on top of the ulcer and the infection, and you know, dehydration and lack of energy from not being able to eat... So I was hospitalized for 3 nights.
Before I go on, I should explain; the hospital was NOT scary at all! In 15 minutes, I got to see a doctor who spoke good english, was diagnosed and got an IV. Then my room was HUGE! I had a kitchen and a bathroom all to myself!
The view from my hospital room

Anyway, finally, I made my way out of Bangkok, but that's coming up in Part 2.
About two weeks later, I made my way back to Bangkok to start a tour called ThaIntro. If you ever go to Thailand, seriously, do this. (Originally, I was going to do it my first week, but because I was sick I had to push it to the end.)
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here they are, with captions, of course!
We all dressed as hippies and went to an amazing Indian restaurant

Thai cooking class!
Floating market

Leaning Buddha
Tuk Tuk

Chatuchak Market: One of the biggest markets in Asia. This one has over 15,000 stalls and you can get anything! From knick knacks to furniture to puppies.
Bangkok is an amazing city. It's so fast-paced and full of life! Temples, Khao San Road, street food, the markets, the people... It's so different from anywhere I've ever been, in a really, really good way.

Thailand posts:
Part 1: Bangkok // Part 2: Koh Phangan // Part 3: Kho Phi Phi // Part 4: Chiang Mai // Part 5: Khao Sok
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