Goodbye BKK

I have less than 10 hours left in this city, and to tell you the truth, it is kind of bitter-sweet. I said goodbye to my students last week and it actually hurt! As much as I yell at them (to get out of the shade and start participating in gym class), and push them (academically), and get them mad at me, and get mad at them, my last day I had the opportunity to show them that I really did appreciate each and every one of them, and they showed me that they respect me and that they will miss me. It’s hard to realize how much of an influence I made on my students, and how if I miss them, that means that they will miss me too. Since it was a Friday after a week of exams, and I teach PE on Fridays, I gave the students an opportunity to relax. I played a game with them for the first 15 minutes of class, but gave them the remaining 30 minutes to talk or play games or do really whatever they wanted to do, within reasonable limits. Some of my M3 students sat on the grass in the shade outside on the field and invited me to sit with them. They¬†surveyed¬†my limited Thai (which I don’t think they realized was THAT limited, but it gave us some good chuckles), and then they asked me about my life at home, and I asked them some questions too. It was so interesting to have an non-academic conversation with them and really get a feel for who they are as people, not just as students. I think they felt the same way, for after that half hour it was so, so difficult to say goodbye. I will admit that I shed a couple of tears since I am not sure if I will ever see them again.

Saying goodbye to the staff at Lertlah was also difficult. I have made friends here that I hope to stay in touch with in the years to come. I have learned to rely on them when things are not going well in the classroom, and also to help them out when they are not having the easiest time either. There are a few people in particular that I look forward to connecting with back in Canada.

Though it is sad to say goodbye, I know that there are some pretty amazing greetings coming at me back at home! I’m so excited to see my family again, and hug my parents, and chat with my sisters, and smother my niece with kisses. I also look forward to seeing my friends and spending the rest of the summer chilling out with them and maybe hitting up some not so nice but totally doable beaches ūüėČ I look forward to sharing stories of my adventures (which another blog post will come, telling a bit about my week of travelling southern Thailand…) and hearing about things I have missed in my 3 months away.

I am currently lying on my rock solid Piya Apartment bed, anxious and ready to haul my stuff to the airport and head home. I’m okay with leaving this temporary home behind and picking up with the adventures back in Canada with the people I love. However, I am not ready to say goodbye to Thailand all together, but rather, I would like to say ‘see you again, sooner or later’! The beauties of this country will always have a place in my memory, and someday, I will make the opportunity to come back and see this beautiful place again.

But for now… I’m going home.

Weekend Inning #11 ~ Bangkok One Last Time

Since I knew I had a week away ahead of me, I decided I could afford to spend one more weekend in Bangkok. It saved me a couple baht, and also gave me the opportunity to visit with someone from back at home that I have not seen since March! One of the guys that is in the same cohort (AKA. home room class?) as 3 of us U of M students that are teaching here was travelling around Thailand and some of the surrounding countries for a few weeks with his brother and friend. The other neat thing is, this guy is also my second cousin! So, the weekend consisted mainly of relaxing and spending an evening with the guys.

Blaine, Elise, Me, Aisha

Blaine, Elise, Me, Aisha @ Saxaphone Pub, BKK

I also had an opportunity to visit China Town (which is strange, since I am surrounded by Asian influences everyday, but it is evident that China Town gives off a much different vibe), and one of the many gigantic malls that are scattered among downtown Bangkok.

It was a very chill weekend with lots of walking around, enjoying the city, and relaxing!

Weekend Outing #10 ~ Pattaya

Though I may have been to Pattaya before, this weekend getaway was much, MUCH different than my previous experience. Pattaya is the sex tourism capital of Thailand, however, this is not why we choose to visit there for a weekend. Pattaya is also one of the closest beaches to Bangkok, only a 2.5 hour drive. So, a few days before we left I researched a couple different hotels and ended up booking one that had excellent reviews and was near the shopping malls and the beach. Perfect, right?! First off, it was so insanely difficult to find! I had the address of the place, but no map since we can usually rely on taxi drivers or locals to help us out, and they are often more reliable than the maps that are in Thai, or translated from Thai to English where things can get lost in the translation. However, this time the locals were not so friendly. We were told numerous different ways to walk, and then we were told to walk back to places we had already walked, and then we were told that it was so far that we could not walk, and others said it is just around the corner. It was dreadful. There were 4 of us white girls lugging around our backpacks, tired from a long days work, walking around the sex tourism capital. SKETCHY! Eventually we found a cab that helped us out, and after we convinced him that we were from Bangkok and we knew the standard rates of taxi rides, he didn’t rip us off too bad with the price.

We got dropped off at the end of the street that our hotel was on, which shockingly ended up be ‘Boyz Town’… a.k.a… the street with bars and¬†night-life¬†that caters to gays. It was flashy and loud and quite uncomfortable. There was absolutely nothing in the reviews when I had booked the hotel that it was in this area of town. However, there was one huge perk to the place… none of us girls ever felt threatened by the craziness around us because none of the guys were interested in us! What the reviews did say though was true.. the hotel was very quiet at night, very clean and comfortable, and within walking distance to the beach and mall.

Friday night we went for a stroll down the walking street, which exposes the sad reality of the sex tourism and trade in Thailand. I have been told that sex trade is very prevalent all throughout Thailand, but Pattaya is very open about it. There were strip clubs with women dancing in windows, sketchy bars that were selling more than just alcohol, and prostitutes lining the streets. Coming from a modest background, it is and understatement to say that I was uncomfortable with my surroundings. It made me sad and angry and overwhelmed to see what was all going on, and then thinking that the same thing goes on all around Thailand, just often behind closed doors.

Walking Street - Pattaya

Walking Street – Pattaya

I did not stay on the walking street for long at all! I headed back to the hotel and a great sleep in a very comfortable hotel room that had heavy curtains, which allowed me to actually sleep in past 8 AM!

The next day we decided to check out the mall and found that there was a Ripley’s Believe It or Not and many other attractions in there. So, we paid for a package that included 3 of the attractions. The first that we entered was the Ripley’s museum. I have been to one of these in Wisconsin, but it was still neat!

World's Tallest Man

World’s Tallest Man — AKA. Leanne’s Boyfriend

The next stop was the wax museum! I loved this place! However, the one downside to going to a wax museum in an Asian country is that I don’t have and idea who their popstars or movie stars are.¬†Luckily, we were able to find a few people we¬†recognized!

A young Hermione Granger

A young Hermione Granger

The 'King of Pop', Mr. Michael Jackson

The ‘King of Pop’, Mr. Michael Jackson

After we were finished at the wax museum, we headed over to the last stop, the Haunted House. No pictures for this one, as the flash would have ruined the scariness. This was certainly not my favourite stop! As I have grown older I have begun to HATE getting scared, especially when it is intentionally. I’d rather not put myself in the situation that I know I am going to get freaked out when there are often alternate options.

The weekend in Pattaya pretty much ended there, since I didn’t want to experience walking street again. We left pretty early the next morning to head back to Bangkok. Since we were back so early, one of the girls had a great idea of going to see The Amazing Spiderman in 4D. Yes… 4D!!! It was pretty neat. We got 3D glasses, and then sat in chairs that moved and blew air in our faces. I think it was the perfect movie for 4D as well. It felt like I was Spiderman at moments! I could feel the wind blowing through my air as I swung between buildings!

Overall, it was an enjoyable weekend, but I am certainly done with Pattaya. I think it was important for me to see the realities of the ugly parts of Thailand, but it is so far out of my comfort zone with all the drugs and booze and sex. It really makes me appreciate what I have that much more, and it encourages me to help out and be a positive influence to others.

 

Figured it out…

I am going to tell you about this girl that has lived in Bangkok for nearly 3 months and has taught Physical Education every Friday since she arrived here. This girl is me.

There are perks to teaching PE only on Fridays… one perk being that I only get really stinky at school once a week (remember… no A/C in the gym!) Another perk is that I only have to wear that dreadful uniform once a week! The main perk, however, is I only had to deal with the dreadful rash on my leg that resulted from the gym on Fridays. The horrible part is that it was always Fridays that the rash came, so my weekends were spent getting rid of the rash.

It all began the first week of teaching. The rash came, but it was not too horrible. However, a group of us went to Ko Samet that weekend and the abrasive sand irritated it quite a bit. But I was not about to let a little rash stop me. I had my suspicions that it was something about teaching gym that had caused this rash, but I had no idea if it was a heat rash (since I had worn pants in the gym and it is very hot in there) or something more serious.

Week 1 - Rash

Week 1 – Rash

Not knowing what the rash was from, I headed to the doctor¬†the day after we arrived back from the beach. Things were looking up. I got cream that worked quick and cleared up the rash before the middle of the week (I still have no idea what the cream was… lovely language barrier!). However, Friday came again, and it was time to teach PE again. Thinking that the rash may have been from the heat, I wore capris so I wouldn’t get my calves so hot. Surprisingly though, the rash reappeared. It was after this that I realized that it must be from the gym, and not just from the heat. The result this time was horrible though. My leg was swollen, the rash went up to the middle of my calf, and if any article of clothing even hit it, it felt like someone was putting a flame to my leg. It. Was. Dreadful.

Weekend 2 - Horrid and Painful!

Weekend 2 – Horrid and Painful!

The funny is, despite the pain and swelling, the weekend I had this rash was my weekend in Chiang Mai, which was probably the roughest weekend on my feet/legs (other than jungle trekking in Chiang Rai). I went zip-lining and rode on scratchy elephants with my 2 swollen legs that felt like someone had poured acid on them. Thankfully, I brought some antibiotic cream from home that I had received as a prescription just a few months earlier, and it seemed to be just what I needed to clear up the rash in a couple days. It was so strange though that the antibiotic worked so well. I knew for certain at this point that it was not heat rash.

For the next few weeks I went with the¬†preventative method… I would put the antibiotic on my legs on Friday mornings before I entered the gym. By the end of the day it was usually not too bad. Two weekends ago I tried something new: I¬†thoroughly cleaned my legs immediately after I exited the gym with¬†antibacterial soap. It was amazing the difference this made (and it was also amazing how dirty my legs had become from the gym!). There was minimal rash (just a little bit right around my sock line), and the rest was just fine!

This last Friday I tried something more. I bought some antibacterial hand wipes and wiped my legs down between every gym class. The result: NO RASH! ūüôā It was fantastic! I finally found something that worked! I have talked to some of the people that have worked at the school for a while and we have tried to figure out what it is in the gym that is causing this horrible side effect. Though that has been no definite conclusion, we have think it has something to do with the ducting and A/C vents in there. The vents are covered in a kind of insulation with tinfoil type stuff over that, but the tinfoil stuff is falling apart in places, so some of the insulation is falling to the gym floor. We think I may be reacting to whatever is in there (potentially asbestos or mould).

I find it weird that I am the first one to react to the gym floor though. None of the kids have had an issue, none of the previous staff have had issues, just me. How lucky of me ūüėČ Anyway… I am just happy that I have found a way to prevent the rash from coming back every single week! The end.

What I Miss…

There are a variety of things I miss back at home. Don’t get be wrong, Thailand is great! However, there are some comforts of home that I really, really miss! So here it goes… the things I miss:

  1. Hugs from my family and friends
  2. A fridge
  3. Ruffles Chips and Heluva Good Dip
  4. Drinking tap water
  5. Not having to be scared of what kind of toilet will be behind the door
  6. Driving my car
  7. Hot showers that warm me up rather than cold showers to cool me down
  8. Cooking and baking things
  9. Home cooked food
  10. My bed & my pillow
  11. Wearing make-up… it melts off my face here
  12. Yard work
  13. Curling up on the couch in the evening
  14. Chai Tea
  15. Cool summer nights (though they don’t seem to be having those back home)
  16. High-speed Internet that is in fact ‘HI-SPEED’
  17. Wearing long pants and still feeling cool
  18. Walking on carpet
  19. Bonfires with friends and family
  20. Movie nights with my sisters
  21. Sloppy kisses from my niece
  22. Driving around with good tunes with my little sister
  23. Taco soup with my older sister
  24. Sleeping in a basement, not on the 4th floor of a large building.
  25. Getting to choose what to wear to work and not being restricted by a uniform
  26. Random rides to town with my dad
  27. Sunday morning breakfasts with my parents and Harry and Martha (look Harry… you made the blog!)
  28. Breakfast cereal and fresh milk
  29. Living in a small town
  30. Not having to constantly struggle through the language barrier, though it has turned out to be quite hilarious on quite a few occasions!
  31. Getting my hair cut! I have come this far, so I may as well get my hair cut in a place where there is no language barrier!
  32. Family dinners around the dining room table
  33. My friends! I miss playing pictionary, and going to McDonald’s for coffee and spending 3 hours there, and going to some friends place for dinner, and watching Disney movie’s, and just hanging out and enjoying each others company!
  34. My family’s house
  35. My family. It is actually hard to express how much I miss my family. I cannot explain how this experience has changed my perception of just how important family really is. I miss my parents, my sisters and brother-in-law, my niece, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins. I now understand how lucky I am to have all of them in my life!

Though there are things that I miss back at home, I know there are things I will miss here in Thailand too. I’ll save that for another post though…

Where is Home?

I only have 23 more sleeps left in Thailand. Of those 23, at the very most I will have 15 more nights in my apartment. As the time draws nearer to return home, I have started to think about what ‘home’ really is. I know that Thailand will not be the place I choose to settle for the rest of my life (I could never stand the heat here for the rest of my life!), but in a way, it has become my home for the short 3 months I have been here. My simple white apartment has a comfort to it. I would not want to stay in these apartments forever, but since I have settled into a bit of a routine in this apartment, and I have dumped and thrown my stuff all around the place, it certainly is my own!

Often when I am saying ‘home’ in a conversation with others though, it is not my apartment I am referring to. Home will always be where my family and friends are, home is where I feel totally comfortable, home is where my niece is just down the road from me, and my sisters and parents are there to enjoy life with. Though I may venture off again for another adventure sometime in the future, I know home will always be Manitoba with the people I grew up with and love.

It is quite surreal to think that in a few short weeks I will be back in Manitoba, back in my bedroom, back to having drinking water that comes from the tap, back to seeing the people used to see every day. And just a few short weeks after that, back to school for my final year off my undergraduate degree. I know it will be nice going home, but also think that it may be weird getting back into the routine of my ‘Manitoba Life’. I won’t have the opportunity to go on weekend¬†expeditions every single weekend, I won’t have the convenience of running down to the soi and grabbing a quick bit to eat, and I’ll be leaving behind some pretty funny students, not to mention other staff. I don’t think I would go to the extent of saying that I have built myself a life here in Thailand, but I have made myself comfortable enough in routines and such that it will be quite a change going back to Manitoba. I can’t believe that I will get to hug my family and see my friends in just over 3 weeks. I can’t even imagine how amazing that will feel!

So overall, what I have come to realize is that I can become comfortable somewhere and make it feel ‘home-ish’. This has taught me that I can be away from Manitoba and stay somewhere for a period of time and make it feel like home. Though houses and apartments and locations may change, family is not something that can be changed. ‘Home’ for me will always be where my family and loved ones are.

Weekend Outing #9 ~ Chiang Rai

This weekend 4 of us U of M students headed back up to northern Thailand to Chiang Rai. Don’t get this mistaken for the previous northern city I went to, Chiang Mai, for it is quite a bit smaller, much less busy, and actually the most northern large city in Thailand. I was excited to visit the north again, but I was very unsure of what Chiang Rai would have to offer that I had not already experienced, or if it was just going to be a relaxing weekend of sitting outside with bug spray on and reading my book (which I recently bought online and put on my Kobo… e-books are an amazing thing in a country where English books are sometimes hard to come by). However, it was under 2000 baht for the round trip flight (which is under $60), and I loved Chiang Mai, so there was no reason not to go!

We embarked on our journey on Friday evening and flew into Chiang Rai. However, unlike any trip we had previously gone on, we did not have any¬†accommodation¬†booked. Since it is the low season for tourist (because it is rainy season… but more about that later), it is never hard to find a place that has a room or two open. Upon arriving we actually first headed out to the night market since we had heard that it was one of the least expensive markets in all of Thailand. After a while though, we realized that we should really go look for a place to sleep, for some places close the check-in counter before midnight, and it was coming up on 10 PM. So, we started our trek around the city to find something that was reasonably priced. First stop, a hostel. They had room, but it was a shared bathroom, the rooms looked a little sketchy, and it was still 150 baht/night/person (about $5). So, we continued on our journey for a place to rest our head. Next stop was Siam Hotel. I had read something about it on trip advisor or lonely planet, so we decided to check it out. We were brought to a room so we could see before we say yes or no, and the door to the room was right next to a parking garage, the light in the room had a orange-ish/red-ish/yellow-ish tinge to it, and there was a massive cockroach scurrying out from under the bed towards the other huge cockroach that was under a chair. Nope… NOT HAPPENING! So, we continued on our way and headed back to the night market to see if anyone there had any recommendations. A tuk-tuk driver showed us a picture of a place that was about a 5-10 minute drive from the market, it looked pretty nice, and it was only supposed to be 400 baht a night for room with 2 beds (so 200 baht/person (about $6.50)). So we hopped in the tuk-tuk and headed to this mystery hotel. Let me tell you, it was worth the drive! The rooms were little¬†bungalows¬†that were just adorable and so clean and they had A/C!

Nice clean room to sleep in! Hurray!

Nice clean room to sleep in! Hurray! (With my finger in the bottom corner…)

The next morning I had 3 things to do on my list of things to see in Chiang Rai. I really only went to Chiang Rai for these 3 things… The White Temple, The Black House, and The Hill Tribe Museum. So, first up for the day was The White Temple. Something I found really interesting about this temple was that they began construction on it on 1998, so it is a very new temple.

The White Temple ~ Blindly White!

The White Temple ~ Blindly White!

Just as most temples though, it had murals inside that were hand painted. It was forbidden to take pictures in the temple, so I will just have to describe it a little. Since all of the old temples have images and ideas of the time that they were built painted on the interior walls, I guess the designer of The White Temple decided to do the same. Though the mural was not finished, the parts that were had Spiderman, Superman, Ironman, Hello Kitty, the twin towers, spaceships, computers, Michael Jackson, and may other modern things incorporated into it. It was absolutely amazing! The strange part of this temple was that at first it looked absolutely stunning, but as you looked closer at things, it was actually quite dark and strange.

Traffic Cone...

Traffic Cone…

Wouldn't you like this lawn ornament?

Wouldn’t you like this lawn ornament?

I'm not sure what to say about these... creepy!

I’m not sure what to say about these… creepy!

It was a beautifully eerie place! Something that is unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. Pictured just don’t do justice to how completely amazing and beautiful and strange this place really was. And let me tell you, the day just continued on this way. Next up was the Hill Tribe Museum. Upon entering the building that held the museum, we passed by the very first Cabbages & Condoms restaurant I have experienced in Thailand.

I wasn't lying... that is the restaurants name!

I wasn’t lying… that is the restaurants name!

This chain of restaurants is actually pretty neat. They use a part of their profit to help out decrease the spread of AIDS in Thailand by using community awareness, and helping the people that have AIDS and HIV due to the large sex industry here in Thailand. I personally think it is a pretty cool project! Though the restaurant was closed, we were able to see the well known art that is outside every Cabbages & Condoms restaurant…

Santa Claus made out of condoms.

Santa Claus made out of condoms.

Anyway… we headed upstairs to the Hill Tribe Museum, which ended up being very informative! I have this phobia of being overly touristy, especially when there are people on the other side of the tourism that are getting ripped off or exploited. I was very weary about going on any of the well known treks in Chiang Rai that bring you through the Hill Tribes, for I find it very tacky to walk through someone’s village or house and look upon them like they are animals in a zoo. This museum brought to light some of the effects that tourism had on the locals, and what was considered to be respectful and okay in terms of what the locals and tribes believed and expected of tourists. We were unable to take pictures in the museum, but I purchased a traditional Thai Hilltribe shirt that maybe you will see someday!

Up next… The Black House. Though at first we thought it may be a temple, we were quickly corrected by one of the travel agents to which we asked for directions that told us it was in fact The Black House, and the word Temple should never be associated with it. This we quickly understood once we arrived there after a 25 minute tuk-tuk ride out of the city. This place was creep-tastic! It was dark, kinda scary, but totally amazing! There were animal skeletons everywhere, some very strange sculptures, and many dark buildings. I researched it a little and it is actually an art museum that some man decided to make. I don’t know if I can really describe it. The pictures don’t quite do it justice… but here are some anyway…

The Black House

The Black House

Elephant Skeleton

Elephant Skeleton

Look, it's a.... creepy thing!

Look, it’s a…. creepy sculpture thing!

Me in front of some creepy buildings

Me in front of some creepy buildings.

Yet another creepy thing!

Yet another creepy thing!

I have loads more pictures of the creepy things, but I think you get the idea! It was a very, very, very strange place to visit. We all left think that there were cannibals hiding somewhere within the grounds of the place and that we shouldn’t have made it out alive.

After a drive back into the city, we headed out for our next adventure… the Akha Hill House! The Akha people are a hill tribe about 45 minutes out of Chiang Rai in the mountains. The hill house is a place where tourists can stay to go on treks through the jungle, or where volunteers can stay to teach the hill tribe children at the local school. This is where we would spend our last night in Chiang Rai… in the jungle! However, we first had to get there. It was quite the adventure. We got picked up by the people that run the hill house with their pick-up truck, but we did not sit in the truck, but rather we stood (yes… stood) on the back of the truck and drove through the mountainous jungle It was quite the experience, and the view was breathtaking!

It is harder to take a picture standing on the back of a moving truck driving through the mountains than one may think...

It is harder to take a picture standing on the back of a moving truck driving through the mountains than one may think…

Jungle road... with a green tea plantation on the right. Super neat!

Jungle road… with a green tea plantation on the right. Super neat!

Upon arriving at the hill house, we grabbed our bags and headed to our shacks to settle in. Though this place was in the thick of the jungle, it was still clean and comfortable.

The little hut that we slept in!

The little hut that we slept in!

We headed back to the lobby for some dinner and booked a trek/tour through the mountain for the following day. While we were eating we met some other travellers and sat around and chatted with them for a couple hours. There was a man named Patrick who was from France who was three months into his journey of travelling around the world. It was interesting to hear his stories of India and Cambodia, and some of the other places he had been to on his travels. We also met a man and woman from Denmark (Anika and Bernardo), which proved to be an adventure just trying to figure out what they were saying through their thick accents! It was really nice talking to someone that was not affiliated with Bangkok or Lertlah School for a change! At about 10:30 PM we decided that we should probably head to bed, for the next day was going to be busy! Since we were in the middle of the jungle and our huts were not really closed in completely, we got to sleep under mosquito nets!

Cozy sleeping quarters!

Cozy sleeping quarters!

Though the room did not have air conditioning it did have a fan, and I actually woke up in the middle of the night quite cold (this is not a common occurrence for me in Thailand). I had to pull the blanket over me, for the top sheet just was not cutting it!

The next morning we woke up and got ready for our trek! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a nice day outside and the mountains were beautiful… so how could I say no?!

Myself and the other girls on the trek (the girl sitting in the middle with me is Mika. She is from the Netherlands... we met her on the truck ride up the mountain. )

Myself and the other girls on the trek (the girl sitting in the middle with me is Mika. She is from the Netherlands… we met her on the truck ride up the mountain.) Note: My shoes are very white in this picture… they are no longer that clean…

We started on the uphill climb up the mountain at about 10 AM. It was nice outside, and being in the mountains brought the temperature down a couple of degrees, which was very refreshing! Once we were sufficiently exhausted from trekking up the mountain, we took at break. At this time we were given the opportunity to take the machetes were had strapped around our waists to use. We were to make a cup out of a piece of bamboo. All I can say is, I have skills when it comes to some things, but using a machete is not my forte. Thankfully, no one got hurt, but there were tears from laughing so hard at my inability to hit the bamboo with the machete at the correct angle with any aimed consistency.

Look at that skill! This is the only picture where the blade is even in the bamboo...

Look at that skill! This is the only picture where the blade is even in the bamboo… ūüôā

After much help, I did end up with something that kinda resembled a cup, but was nothing near the standards set by our two guides.

With a little bit of help... I made a cup! Kinda..

With a little bit of help… I made a cup! Kinda..

Next… we continued our trek for a little longer, going over some interesting terrain that was anything but safe! Though, the view was breathtaking! Our guide would often stop and tell us about the different kinds of bamboo plants, or pick some fruits that we could eat off some trees.

A very 'safe' foot bridge...

A very ‘safe’ foot bridge…

The next stop on the trek… fishing. This was certainly not my favourite part, since I am quite terrified of fish, but it was neat to watch! The guides use the traditional hill tribe method of fishing: by hand! They closed of an area of the stream so it would have still water, and then hopped in and went searching for the fish! It was quite hilarious actually, for the fish that were caught were no longer than a 2 inches long, and they also managed to get some small crabs and a water snake as well.

Fishing! I dubbed myself photographer for this part!

Fishing! I dubbed myself photographer for this part!

After the fishing adventure, we headed a tiny bit further to a shelter that had been created for when the treks take place during the rainy season. Us girls took it easy and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the jungle which the two male guides prepared lunch for us!

The 'pots' were actually bamboo shoots that were rested over the fire to heat.

The ‘pots’ were actually bamboo shoots that were rested over the fire to heat.

The meal they created for us was absolutely fantastic! I’m sure that everything about that meal though was completely against everything any doctor’s advice I received before I came to Thailand, but it was sooo yummy! We ate out of the bamboo cups we had created earlier in the day, and I ate my entire meal with chopsticks!

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served! … on banana leaves!

There is fish with vegetables, bamboo soup, and ‘omelette’, which is what Thai’s call any kind of scrambled eggs that are not completely scrambled. The main course is not shown in this picture, bit it was noodle soup… kinda like Mr. Noodle, just much spicier and much more delicious! Just as we were finishing up our lunch, the real extent of what ‘rainy season’ means became quite evident to us. It was pouring!!! After about 30-45 minutes of attempting to ‘wait out the rain’, we decided we better get a move on if we wanted to get back to the village in time. However, Thai people have a belief that the head is the most sacred part of the body, so when it is raining you should do everything you can to at least protect your head. So, the nice guides we had made us all cute hats out of banana leaves!

My hat!

My hat!

So, out in the rain we headed. I don’t have any pictures, for my camera is not waterproof, but let me tell you, the ground was so slippery that we could barely walk up the hill, and going downhill was like skiing in shoes. It was actually so much fun since I completely embraced the fact that I was wet and I was going to get dirty! However, there were a few times that I felt like I was certainly not safe, for one slip could have sent me rolling down the side of the mountain. Also, the rain made it impossible for me to see out of my glasses, so I had to take them off, which is kind of counter productive. The next stop on the trek was a beautiful waterfall. I have a video of it which attempt to show the true beauty of it, but you will just have to settle with a picture for now.

It is amazing how many beautiful things you can see in one day....

It is amazing how many beautiful things you can see in one day….

The trek back to the village from the waterfall was not too difficult, and the rain had let up a bit so it was a little easier to see and try to keep you footing. Upon arriving back I hopped into the shower: clothes and runners still on. It was absolutely disgusting! My lulu capris will never be the same again (I have sent them through the wash twice since Sunday and there is still ‘jungle’ attached to them). Again, I pity the person that had to sit next to me on the plane home… for I really don’t think I was all that clean.

Before we headed back into the city to catch our flight, our tour guide took as to one of the other attractions that is not far from the hill tribe… the hot springs. I really think Thailand should share these hot springs with Manitoba! It is so hot here I don’t see how anyone would ever want to use the springs to actually warm up.

Hot Spring

Hot Spring

When they say 'hot springs' they mean "HOT"!

When they say ‘hot springs’ they mean “HOT”!

So hot that they boil eggs in it!

So hot that they boil eggs in it!

Overall, it was a very unexpected, but very enjoyable weekend! I just love northern Thailand, and if I ever come back, that is likely where I would spend much of my time. The way of life is much more relaxed than anywhere else in Thailand, and the air is just so much easier to breathe! I’m looking forward to another weekend away this coming weekend in Pattaya, which is a beach city that I visited on my first weekend in Thailand. I only have 3 more weekends to travel Thailand… which is crazy to think! I am excited to come home, but I will miss having my weekends to explore, relax, or really have whatever kind of adventure I want to have! I have really realized what it means to live life to it’s fullest out here, making ever minute count!