We made it to Bangkok, then immediately through Bangkok without much incident. We’re currently in Chiang Mai, our fourth and final night here (this time around), tomorrow we’re taking a bus to the Laos border, then hopping on a “slow boat” down to Luang Pragang. I have no idea what to expect, except it’s apparently a French city? I’ll be the judge of that.
When we were in our first days of the trip, on Ko Lanta, we had a pet frog that lived on our porch under one of our discarded beach towels. I picked the towel up one day and saw the frog, then put it back down because I liked the idea of having a pet frog. We poured some water on the towel to keep it moist.
The next day we lifted the towel and didn’t see him, we were disappointed, but as we lifted it higher, he fell out of a deep fold, plopped right on the ground. We put the towel back down.
A couple days later a cleaning lady was there and I told her not to touch the towel – I did the international sign for “don’t touch this” by putting my running shoes (which I wasn’t wearing) on top. She still didnt’ understand, but when she went to touch the towel we shooed her away.
The final day on Lanta we lifted the towel, but the frog was gone! We were upset, but life goes on.
We made it to the sailboat, then to Ko Pha Ngan and then to Ko Ma. On the day we left Ko Ma for Bangkok there was a DOWNPOUR. Rain going sideways (and cold rain, at that), we were soaked, as were all the other travelers. To make matters worse, the inside of the boat had air conditioning that couldn’t be turned off, so we sat there and froze. Azure changed into socks and shoes, jeans and a sweatshirt, and I intended to follow suit, but when I took my shoes out there was this HORRIBLE smell. I put my foot in my right shoe but there was something hard in there. Then I realized that the smell could only be one thing – rotting frog corpse. The shoes just haven’t smelled the same since.
Story number two:
Azure and I rented a scooter here and went out to the suburbs of Chiang Mai, just trying to escape the smog a little. We came across the “Chiang Mai Sports Complex,” a sprawling group of fields and buildings and courts and one gigantic pool. It’s an Olympic sized 50-meter pool (there are only 2 of them in the Puget Sound area, as far as I know), it’s CLEAN and there was nobody there. I don’t know why – maybe the Thai aren’t big swimmers, maybe the ex-pats don’t know about it, but it’s a gorgeous pool that should be packed. And it’s not. At the most there were about 5 people swimming.
The best part of this thing is that there’s an Olympic-sized set of dive platforms there as well and throughout the pool area there were zero lifeguards to try to keep me from doing stupid things and hurting myself.
I’ve never jumped from that high up. 10 meters, I think, it was a monster. I stood at the edge of the platform and looked down and just couldn’t believe how high it was – my knees were shaking and adrenaline rushing the whole time. I know I can’t sit there and try to rationalize it, to convince myself to go off – so my way of beating the fear is to just not think and just step off the edge. But when you step off the edge of this thing, you wonder to yourself, “What the fuck am I doing? There’s nothing under me!” And you fall. and you fall. and you fall. and you accelerate the entire way and when you finally hit it’s chaos. I hit and my arms & feet stung and my ears popped and water rushed over me and threw me into underwater flips… then I surfaced, and floated, and let the endorphins do their work. But here’s the amazing thing about falling from that height: I did it 7 or 8 times that day and EVERY time it was just as thrilling. I didn’t want to jump, my knees shook, I decided it was a bad idea while I was still falling… every single time.
Yesterday was amazing. This morning we decided to do it again. We got to the platforms and on my 3rd or 4th jump the water slammed my jaw together and I felt a pop – chipped a front tooth. It wasn’t bad, but it was a visit to the dentist. We asked an expat if she knew a good dentist and she told us it was a little roadside clinic in the Northeast part of town and that she’d email us directions. But it was getting late, and we’re leaving tomorrow, so we decided to just drive and find a dentist along the way. We drove for a long time, got lost, didn’t see anything around except houses and a road that wasn’t about to turn up a dentist. We stopped at a hair salon, of all places, and checked our email. No word from the woman. The hair stylist, though, was taking her son to the hospital and told us to follow her, there’d be a dental clinic there as well.
So we followed them, parked and walked in. A couple wrong turns and we finally found the dentist and as we walked in, the woman said, “you’re Mike?” I hadn’t checked in, didn’t call anybody. “Um, yeah” I looked at her pad of paper and my name was written in red and circled. She said my appointment wasn’t for another 30 minutes.
Azure and I left completely floored. We found this place by getting lost and following a hair stylist, and when I walked in the door they were waiting for me, specifically me. Azure didn’t think it was a good omen, like a Twilight Zone thing, but I thought it was a sign that I HAD to get my tooth fixed there.
The dentist did a good job – she found some cavities (one of them very deep) and drilled drilled drilled while I squeezed Azure’s hand hard. Azure sang me songs about Mango Shakes to keep me from passing out from the pain. The dentist filled the holes and it was all done – a good job, I hope.
To fix a chipped tooth and fill three cavities, it cost a grand total of 900 Baht, or $25. Does anyone happen to know how much it would cost in the States? I need to brag accurately.
Thanks for the emails everyone’s sending! I love hearing about home.