Kuala Lumpur – not koala bears….

Man,

Today has been long and I lost an hour traveling, so it’s even earlier than I’m used to, but I’m just beat!!

My morning started at like 430am, had to get to the airport, which was about a 45 minute drive. The hotel (and pretty much everyone I talked to) said to get to the airport 2 hours early. My first piece of advice, if you ever find yourself leaving Thailand through Krabi, 1.5 hours is more than enough. I spent 20 minutes just waiting to queue in the security line. Once it was finally open it was a breeze. But let me tell you, you can tell the EU and American travelers. They try to take off their clothes and all the crap in their bags. Security just stared. This girl from the EU dumped her water, took everything out of her bag and finally went through. No one else did that. So neither did I. My water bottle was full of water. They could care less. They just want to make sure you don’t have a gun?? I’m actually not even sure what they are looking for.

I flew Air Asia again (by the end of the trip I may have a free flight, unless I can transfer the points to American). Their international planas are nice!! More leg room, newer seats!!

And apparently not many people take the morning flight cuz the middle seat was open, And there were many empty rows. It was a quick 1.5 hour flight to a new country, Malaysia.

I landed and saw Uber ads all over the airport, I was so excited!! Once I opened Uber it said it was no longer available and I had to use Grab. I knew that was coming. Anyway, used Grab got a car assigned. After 22 minutes the car hadn’t moved and the driver wasn’t responding. So I canceled. Called another one, got assigned and after 5 minutes he said he was blocked in. So I canceled him. The third driver was assigned and after a minute said he was blocked in and would go look for the other driver. He never found him. So I gave up on Grab and went to the taxi stand. The guy I got was so nice. We talked about the city, and what I was going to do. He even offered to come tomorrow and take me to the airport for the same price. I then talked him into taking me to the Batu caves before the airport. So he said, ok 150 ringgit (roughly $35). So for $35 he’s going to drive me 30 minutes north to the Batu caves, wait for me, then drive me the 1.25 hours back to the airport. I like taxis here!!

The airport is like an hour out of the city, I honestly feel like that was a poor design decision, until I was entering the city, they literally have no room. I feel like 1 in every 5 apartment/flat buildings was well over 25 stories, usually with a twin tower right next to it.

My hotel is nice. It’s 2 years old, and a 15 minute walk from the towers. I paid $57 for a basic room, but was given an upgrade to the suite!! I was even early for check in by 2 hours and they let me have my room. This room is on orbitz for $144. So I’ll call it a win. I should have waited a day to do laundry though, cuz it has a washer/dryer combo for free in my room!!

I dropped my stuff off and headed out to the towers. The Petronas towers are the office towers for Petronas, an oil and gas company. On my walk over there I passed a ton of food places and a hop on hop off bus. None of the food was Malaysian, so I passed. I inquired about the tour, But wanted to do the towers first.

The towers are pretty cool, tallest twin towers in the world. You get to go to the bridge between the two towers and then up to the 86th floor on one of them. They finished them in 2.5 years. Two general contractors, One from Japan and one from Korea. I enjoyed my time, but would have loved more construction information on it.

They are also 90% done with the core of another tower called the Signature tower. It will be 40 meters taller than the twin towers. That tallest building title won’t hold long for signature tower though,because another building is being built that will be 117 meters taller than that one!! It’s only in the footings stage right noe, But by 2022 it will hold the tallest building in Malaysia title.

After the towers I found the bus stop for the hop on hop off bus. This is usually my favorite way to see the city, it drops you off eight at the places you want to go!! And it was only about $16 for the 24 hour ticket.

They said it was about a 2.5 hour ride. I decided to ride it and then eat after. There were 23 stops. After an hour, we’d only made it to 5 stops. So I gave up at stop 9, walked around for a bit, and found stop 17 and got back on to ride to near my hotel. It took another hour. By this time I was starving….so I decided to eat whatever was closest. Italian!!

I had an Italian pizza for dinner. I couldn’t help it. I was starving, so I ordered the 4 cheese pizza and was in heaven. I ate the whole thing. Since I didn’t eat lunch and had only had a banana for breakfast it seemed reasonable to me.

I grabbed an ice cream and a Gatorade and came back to the hotel. It was by far the hottest day of the trip so far, I know I didn’t drink enough today so I’m sure that had something to do with it as well.

I’m looking forward to the Batu caves to hike up the 330 stairs to the temple on top.

Malaysia is a hodgepodge of people and religions. Many people are Muslim, but I’ve also seen temples and churches. The tour said everyone takes pride in that here, that they all can get along.

I’ll do the caves then head to the airport for my final stop of Singapore!

Things I’ve learned about Thailand

In true Laura style, I didn’t do a whole lot of research before I set out to Thailand. In fact, the only reason I had a hotel in Bangkok long before I arrived is because a friend had told me about the Elephant Nature Park and how it gets booked up quickly, so I had to book that and the nights before that adventure to ensure I could get there on time.

My flight was to Bangkok. When I pictured  Bangkok, I pictured a warm climate, tuk tuks and lots of people. Everything else was unimaginable to me. I’ve been to big cities before: New York, London, Rome, Cairo. None of them are comparable to Bangkok. Cairo would be closest, but mainly for the weather.

1. Bangkok is dirty. It is hot. It stinks. And it is not all that exciting. If anyone is thinking of a holiday in Thailand, don’t plan on spending a lot of time in Bangkok. It’s a sprawling city. I stayed in an area that was recommended on a blog, and it’s just plain disappointing. I stayed along the river, which was supposed to be beautiful, but it smelled and was full of plastic trash. It was a 3 mile walk to any of the big sites, I should have stayed near the palace.

It is a tourist trap and things are over priced for what you get compared to other Thai cities. The biggest scam is the long boat tour. It falls on so many lists of ” things to do” but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. You voyage down a tiny water way covered in trash in a loud boat. And then their friends in canoes try to get you to buy your driver a beer. My advice, don’t waste your time or money, if you want to see the water take a water taxi for less than $0.50. I spent over $100 a day there in the two days I was there. I got to town around 11am and left the next day at 5pm….rip off.

2. Chiang Mai is the place to hang out. There are many day trips from Chiang Mai, prices are more reasonable, hotels are nicer, food is better, and it feels more like a happy town. They have street food vendors at the night market, hiking trails, some beautiful temples, and happier people.

3. You really can afford a massage on the daily. Even in Bangkok they are cheap. But outside of Bangkok I’ve only spent about $30 a day including 1 meal, a mid afternoon snack and a massage. I paid 300 baht for a Thai massage at the fanciest place I’ve seen since I’ve been here. That’s $10. For an hour. Dinner is usually the same price.

4. Thai people are so friendly. If you don’t know what to do – smile. That was something I read. And no joke it works. They smile back, they thank you. If you want or need something they will do what is best for you. I need a ride to the airport early for my flight, they offer a van, but since it’s so early and it’s just me, they said a taxi would be cheaper. And since I’m leaving early they will give me a water, fruit and muffin for my trip. And no cost. This is not abnormal.

5. They take feet very seriously. In Buddhism feet are seen as the dirtiest part of the body. You should never point your feet towards Bush’s, you should always take off your shoes when entering a temple (or room, or massage house, or some restaurants). When you get a massage, wait until they wash your feet before you put them on the clean towel. Don’t cross your legs and point your toes at anyone. Don’t put your feet on things that aren’t made for feet (tables, chairs, etc).

6. They LOVE plastic. In a very, very earth-is-in-trouble kind of way. No matter what drink you buy (water, pop, beer, juice) they give you a straw. And most of the time try to put your beverage container in a plastic bag. Even if you got it in a cup. They even have these plastic things that fit over the cups with handles on them so you can carry it by plastic bag handles. If you are an eco friendly traveler, don’t take the straw or bring your own. I always have a backpack with me so I never take the bag and I don’t care for straws so I deny those as well.

7. Thai food is good. It’s served in much smaller portions than in the states, And it’s the perfect size. Without someone to eat my leftovers I feel bad leaving food on the table, but here the portions are smaller and more reasonable so if I don’t finish It, it isn’t much at all.

8. Maybe the most random. They LOVE 7-11. Like LOVE. They are everywhere. And they are 24/7. They have these crispy things. People said to try them. My understand is that they are basically a panini. And since I don’t like them in the states, I’m not sure a 7-11 panini will change my mind. So I stuck to yellow Gatorade, water and my daily ice cream fill.

My thoughts on traveling….

As I sit by the pool today I’m reminiscing on all my travels thus far, and the few remaining days I have left. I have also been thinking about my previous trips and adventures and how they have brought me here.

I enjoy the solitude of traveling on my own. No pressure, no compromise, just go where my feet go and take it in. At the same time, traveling with others has taken me to places I would have never gone on my own, from countries to cities to museums.

I also am reminded about the realities that have hit while I’ve been far away from home. My step Dad diagnosed with prostate cancer while I was backpacking through Europe on my own. While in Egypt, 29 people were killed during the Arab Spring, luckily we were hours away, but that did little to settle the fear of family and friends back home. While boarding the ship for Antartica, my aunt was supposed to be coming out of surgery, anxious to hear the news I was attempting to reach any family member who knew anything, and right before we left the service area I heard she had made it out and she was doing well. Last year I was in Ireland when my step dad broke his femur. Upon arrival back to the states my real dad had a prostate biopsy that confirmed cancer. And on this trip my youngest step brother passed tragically. It’s a real world reminder why I can’t leave the state. My dreams to live abroad and travel for a living are real. And one day, I will reach that goal, but for now I am (for the most part) content in my yearly adventures and my time with my family and friends in the states. While there will never be the “right time” I know right now it is the wrong time. When the opportunity presents itself to set off on an extended leave from the US, I will embrace It, enjoy it, allow myself to be consumed by it.

I’ll just continue to work hard at the job I love, spend time with those I love, spoil my dog who is my true love, and be thankful for all I have.

I finished reading the Elizabeth Smart book and she is and was wise beyond her years. She chose to move on immediately after her ordeal, giving Mitchell no power over her after she was rescued. I wish I could be like her, give the negativity no power in my life. But this is something I struggle with in daily life. When I am away and traveling, the anxiety, the fear and the depression (for the most part) are gone. I feel truly free and myself when I am in a foreign place. Maybe because I am forced so far out of my comfort zone I become comfortable, but I really think it’s my desire to just take it all in, learn, see, Love. Travelers are not as judgemental, we are all on a journey of our own, crossing paths of others in far away lands, And continuing our own journey.

If traveling has taught me one thing in life – take nothing for granted, and take it all in.

My day ended with street food and a foot massage. But of course it couldn’t be easy going. I left my phone at the hotel to get some much desired away time. I need to learn to just not pick up the phone and always have it with me.

1. My dinner was by far the best I had had yet on this trip and also the cheapest. I got chicken pad Thai and spring rolls (ya know, the usual) and went to the mini mart for a sprite. Best pad Thai yet!! Perfect spicy level, great meat to noodle ratio- ugh so yummy!! And I got no picture. But it was good. The place was right on their little board walk area, across the street from the water. Perfect way to end my last night.

2. After dinner I walked back to the mini mart to get cash from one of their atms (there is rarely, if ever just one bank atm). One girl was using the blue one so I went to the yellow one. I put my card in, agreed to the fee (I did the math today and realized it’s like a $7 fee for the cash, glad my bank reimburses me for those). My money came, the receipt came and then the card, well it only sorta came. Like I could see it and touch it but fat fingers could not retrieve the card. In all my attempts (with another card for leverage, pinky to pinky) nothing worked. And boom the machine ate my card. First of all I am glad I brought my other atm card, for emergencies like this. But I was so upset (as in, damn it now I’m going to have international fees, upset). I walked into the mini mart and asked if they could call. Bit of a language barrier – but they finally figured out what I was asking. One of the girls walls outside with me, looks at me, looks at the machine, looks back at me, and pries the machine from its case and gets my card. I couldn’t believe it. I also couldn’t figure out why more of these machines aren’t robbed. But I was so thankful.

3. My massage was great. Relaxing, allowing me to read my new book on the Vietnam war. I was in a Zen state, I was constantly having to reread a passage. Mainly because it was hitting me that my dad had been on the front lines of the Vietnam war in this horrendous weather!! Like, I who had access to cold water, air conditioning and a real bed; now I felt guilty and gratitude. I feel shameful for complaining about the heat, And the uncomfortable beds. So while I was relaxing I was also feeling guilty.

4. Tomorrow morning is going to come so early. Time zone change, country change, life change!! Woohoo!!

Relaxing day 2

Another slow morning, it’s very odd because even at home I don’t stay in bed late. But I’m forcing myself to relax before I venture on to Malaysia and Singapore.

Today I hung out at the pool. I really realized how bad my back was burned this morning so I borrowed some scissors from the front desk and cut the sleeves off one of my shirts. I realized I didn’t need to have a farmers tan, I just needed to protect my back. So I did. I took the now tank shirt off to swim, only for about 30 minutes at s time. Swimming just feels so good. The pool is cooler than the air, but nice and warm, not hot.

I finished my book, Hidden Figures, I highly recommend the book. Goes in way more detail and history on the girls. Even the epilogue is good!! Now I’ve moved on to the Elizabeth Smart book. I actually got about halfway through it down at the pool.

When I got back upstairs I realized I needed to do some laundry or I would run out of clean clothes in Malaysia. Since this hotel offers laundry I took them up on it. Turns out I could save myself more than half if I did it myself. So for 200 baht I washed and dried my own clothes, they even gave me the soap and fabric softener.

While the clothes were in the wash I decided to try the ear spa. My friend Dana and I had heard about these ear massages so I figured this must be it. The picture shows ear candling, but I figured for 500 baht (roughly $17) I must get a massage. Nope just ear candling. Bummer!!

I switched my laundry and headed out for dinner. I decided to try a place right on the water since the sun was about to start setting. Food was good, views were great.

After dinner I went back to my usual massage house and got a foot massage. They use menthol cream and oil on your feet and legs. I can never get enough though. When you get a foot massage at this place, they finish with a mini neck and head massage. It may be my favorite part.

After my massage, back to the hotel to grab my laundry and head up to blog. It’s been so nice and relaxing, I see why lots of people vacation here. The vibe is just relaxing.

Chiang Mai Adventure

My, hotel is amazing. I slept super well, even though I woke up at 4am  I lounged around until about 830 then got ready for the day. I get a buffet breakfast here and it was huge. Both Asian and western breakfast was served  I can’t fathom eating stir fry for breakfast again so I went with the western breakfast of mini pancakes and corn flakes. Their orange juice almost tastes like tang and orange juice mixed together but it’s just their yummy oranges!!

I looked up the Doi Suthep trek and from my hotel it was about 8.5 km. I started walking with the intention of hiking up and riding a cab down, but about 2km into my walk through town I was so hot. I decided to attempt one of the red truck rides. It’s a low riding truck that has a cover and benches in the back. Usually its about 30 baht ($1) for a ride. I was going to call for one on the Grab (uber) app and while it was loading one pulled up honked it’s horn and asked where I was going. I told him and he said ok. I got in back and there were two girls already in there. They were from Slovenia. We were going to somewhat the same place. Katarina and Ania were awesome.

We decided to venture together and threw both our original plans out the window for the random fact we were now doing it together. We road another red truck to the top of Doi Suthep to the temple. We followed the group of tourists up a couple stairs, turned right and saw a WHOLE LOT MORE STAIRS. The only way to see anything was up, so up we went. Tourists have to pay 30 baht to get in so we paid and headed in, after catching our breathe first.

Temple was usual for most I’ve been to now, but it’s about 1100 meters above Chiang Mai so the view could be good. One of the girls at the elephant park told me it was a hazy view though. And she was right  we got to the lookout point and couldn’t see the actual city, disappointing for sure. We did this thing where there are sticks in a cup and you shake it around until just a single stick falls out. What that stick means is your fortune. I got a great one.

We hung around for a bit longer, Katarina did a handstand in the middle of this wooden awning thing. We decided to go find the waterfalls. I read I needed to download an app called maps.me to help with the trail. Great idea because in the end it was a savior. Where the app told us to go, there was a Do Not Enter sign with “contact park staff” below.  So we went to find the information booth. Told them where we wanted to go and they sent us back to where we came from,  clearly that was a waste of time sign.

The hike was 95% down hill and jungleous!! Exactly what I was looking for. The map showed 2 water falls, for about a 4km total trip down. We had to climb over fallen trees, under some branches, it was great.

And it was all in the shade, protecting us from the extra heat of the sun. We found this random awesome tree and made a picture stop. As we were leaving a lady approached me and asked if we were going to the water falls and if she and her son could follow, so they did.

We made it to the first set of falls and ran into another two guys (Tamas and Danny) who were also heading the same way we were. We chatted for a bit, took some pictures and then it started to rain.

Since I had the app, and we were all trying to go the same place, everyone stayed together and followed what the map said.

We ran into a small waterfall and Katarina decided to get in the water for a picture. By the time she got out it was raining significantly more so we continued on our way down. We started seeing placards with information on them and knew for sure we were going the right way. We made it to the “entrance” of the hike, but the way we came was from the “do not enter” sign. So we don’t know where the actual park trail takes you!!

The final water fall was great, and it was pouring at that point. We took a group selfie and continued down. The walk to the start of the park was another 4km away, but at least it was paved. We saw a red truck and asked if he’d take us down, at first he said no, but came back a minute later with 100 baht per person. We decided to walk  because we knew we were getting ripped off. As we were walking a truck approached us from behind and offered to let us sit in the bed for the ride to the end of the park. We were so happy!! We all jumped in. They let us out at the park entrance and I gave the guy 20 baht. He tried to give it back to me, but it was so nice to have that 3 minute ride down. He and his wife then said they were going into Chiang Mai and offered us another ride!!We had about a 10 minute ride in the back of a truck down to the red truck stop. We were all so grateful!! We thanked them and then all hopped into a red truck to head to our hotels.

We decided to meet up again for the night market. We met at 7 pm at the Hard Rock (I had no idea they had a Hard Rock). All of us may back up and had some dinner at the street market and then walked around the night market. They have some pretty good knock offs so Katarina was trying to haggle for me (she’s a pro she says). It didn’t work on the lady so we left, but Tamas and Danny went back and got her down to almost half!! I am now the proud owner of a knock off Supreme Louis V wallet, in red.

We hit up the Irish pub after and had drinks (even I did!!) and chatted for a long while. We were all looking pretty tired so I said let’s go get foot massages. We tried to haggle the price since there were 6 of us, but no one budged. We struggled to find 6 chairs together anyway so we went to two massage parlors next to each other and all got them at the same time. They all loved it!! We hit another bar across the street before it closed at midnight, parted ways (half went one way, half went the other), hit up 7-11 (Thailand is obsessed with them) and all went back to our hotels to crash. We are all going to be down in the Phuket/Phi Phi/Krabi area so we will attempt to meet up again.

Best day, by far, in a long long while. This, my friends, is why I travel, to meet people from all over the world, who like me, want to go all over the world.

Elephant Nature Park day 2

I got the best night sleep of the trip yet!! I honestly don’t know if it was because of the amazing fresh air flowing through the room or Boots snuggling with my legs like Cali does. I’m only getting about 6-7 hours of sleep, but at least last night it was good sleep.

I woke up around 3am to Boots talking, and realized she was talking to another cat!! I now had 2 cats in my room. The other cat was an orange tabby looking cat. When I turned my flashlight on it saw it’s shadow in the mirror and hissed and attacked. Shortly after I curled back up and heard one of the cats getting sick. I knew I had to turn on the light in the morning before I stepped out of the netting. Cats I tell ya, interesting creatures. Glad I heard the cat getting sick. (hairball) I realized it was the tabby that had gotten sick, right at the foot of the bed on the floor. Glad I checked for sure!!

I attempted to take a shower. It was warm for about 3 minutes. And while I shower fast, apparently I wasn’t fast enough. All of a sudden the water was cold and never got warm again. However, just like yesterday it was ok because I wasn’t dying when I get out of the shower.

We had breakfast at 7 then took another walk through the park. Each walk they take us to each elephant and tell us a little bit about their story. All the stories so sad, the elephants really are gentle Giants and it’s crushing to hear how their soul was decimated by their previous owners.

After the walk we packed up our rooms and had a bit of free time. I just hung out in the table area, you sit 3 feet from the elephants when they are in the area and it’s just a beautiful place to watch the world go by. It’s also full of dogs and cats which provide for entertainment as well.

They took us up the hill to another buffet like so we had an overview look of the park. It was actually very peaceful and felt like a whole other planet up there.

After lunch we got to go feed an elephant. Her name is Tilly and she was awesome. We went to the river and she was there waiting for us to feed her bananas. We had about 50 pounds of bananas for her and we all took time feeding her and touching her trunk. She loved the bananas and was just spectacular to admire up close. She attempted to eat my go pro, so I can’t wait to see what that looks like!! She went into the river and had a bath after she finished the bananas.

After we finished hanging out with Tilly we went to the elephant kitchen and helped prepare rice balls. Rice, oats, bananas (peeled byus), rice wheat (outside of the rice), and some corn we’re all smooshed (by us)  into tennis ball size servings for the elderly elephant. Elephants loose their teeth around age 60 and usually die within 10 years after loosing them, but in captivity since they can be fed soft food they can live to be over 90!!

That was our last activity at the Nature Park. They loaded us in our vans and took us back into Chiang Mai to drop us off at our hotels. I had booked at a different hotel and boy did I pick right. It’s like a resort. It apparently has 3 pools, spa, 3 restaurants, and a coffee shop. The room is nice, very American though. It even has a mini bar. But for $37/night I couldn’t pass up the nice amenities.

I gentured out into Chiang Mai to find some dinner. There are massage places everywhere so I ended up getting a massage first.

Thai massages are painful. But after you can literally feel your muscles. Not painful, but warm. My back didn’t hurt at all, if anything it helped because of the stretching. They do stand on you. And I don’t know how they keep their balance. But it was good. Glad I did it. A whole $10 with tip for the hour long massage!!

Found a quick little place for dinner on my way back to the hotel and had some pad Thai and spring rolls. Food here is more expensive than Bangkok but it’s still so cheap. I paid less than $10 for dinner as well!!

Tomorrow I’m going to explore the town. I heard there is a peak you can climb so I’ll check that out first.

Time to hang out with some elephants!!

I feel the need to address my rock hard bed, or more realistically, my sleeping-on-a-pile-of-2x4s bed. It was super hard. And that is coming from someone who sleeps on the floor is the bed is too soft. So I woke up with a sore hip.

I never got hot water in my shower today, and the only time it was really a problem was when I wanted to wash my back, it was very cold. But when I got out I was thankful I wasn’t hot.

They served me a individual breakfast. I had a warm (yuck) sandwich with egg, cheese, ham, and lettuce. I of course took the ham off. They also had a plate of fruit. It had watermelon, papaya?? Mango?? I’m not sure. I just know I had to eat it not to look rude and it was yucky. All tasted like melon. I couldn’t bring myself to try the weird slimy gelatinous fruit. I’m now wishing I had.

I had to run back upstairs to finish packing before my shuttle cane to take me to the elephant sanctuary. I’m doing an overnight stay in the park, and I am very much looking forward to it. The guide(Ann) picked me up and we drove around Chiang Mai filling up the van of other guests. One couple from Vancouver, one from Aussie, another from DC, and one from Oakland. I’m the solo Rider on this adventure. But I don’t mind!! In fact I realized once I got to the sanctuary I was the only single person. Because of that though I get my own room!!

This place was started as an elephant sanctuary but also rescues water buffalo, cats and dogs.

We got here and immediately got to go out and walk with the elephants.

Rules:

  1. No touching

2. No standing behind (basically horse rules)

3. You have to wash your hands with provided soap before you can feed them.

5. Run when the guide says run.

They gave us a water bottle with a carrying sling, but the water gets hot quick so I’m just using my own. But all the unlimited cold water we can have!!

They made us a hot lunch with a salad bar, and we got there a little late so didn’t get to try everything. But what I had was awesome!! Just the basic noodle and rice dishes but I love Thai food so it’s a win!!

On the food note, so far the only difference I can tell between the Thailand Thai food and American Thai food is ours is not spicy and has usually only a solo protein.  Here they do like pork and chicken or a seafood mix in all their dishes. Also they love seafood so they are mostly seafood dishes.

Anyway back to the elephants!! We got to watch them play, bathe in the river, eat (they love food), and walk around in peace. These elephants are from a tortured past. Either circuses, logging industry, tourist riders, or beggers. These elephants come here to live out their life in controlled freedom. Each elephant has a trainer that stays with them all day everyday. At night the elephants go to bed in their cages where they are safe from each other and warm or cool depending on the season.

We got to feed one of the disabled elephants watermelon. Her foot was injured by a land mine while logging in Myanmar. So she came here to be cared for and free. She took the watermelon out of my hand and she touched my fingers. Her skin was like rubber. Wet rubber. But she was big and beautiful and in her eyes you could see the joy. She was happy to take the watermelon from us and stayed as long as we had some. Once we ran out she just turned back to the sugar cane she was eating and we let her be.

We continued walking around the park and saw a few heards. Some have babies from Jungle Boy. Apparently before they built the housing unit for Jungle Boy he managed to impregnate 4 elephants. The goal here is not to breed, but to rescue. So they realized they had to build him his own pen to stop the reporduction.

There are only 3 adult makes here on site. There are 2 juvenile males as well that are currently being cared for by their heard. Once they become of reproducing age they too will get a pen.

There is a whole nother side of the park that we don’t get to see. That is where the agressive elephants go. They are kept separate to protect themselves and others and humans. Only their trainer is allowed contact with them. And in some cases the trainer can’t get too close.

Once we we’re on our way back to the tables (meeting area) it started to pour. The rain felt good. All of us with our cameras out ran quickly to get them out of the rain. Ann left us here and we got our night and private guide for tomorrow. Her name is Apple.

She assigned us our rooms and took us to them. Because I’m alone I got my own room, which is actually an elevated cabin!! No a.c. to be had here, but we get a mosquito net and a fan. The bathroom has a rain head shower head!! When I opened the door a cat started talking to me on the porch. I left the door open for her (I’m gonna call her Boots) and she came right in. She made herself at home on my bed on the outside of the mosquito net and wanted me to scratch her. Of course I obliged.

At 330 we could go walk some of the rescue dogs on site so I attempted to boot her out of the room but she wasn’t having it. So I opened a window for her if she wanted to escape.

I got to walk dog named LaLa. She wasn’t so keen on walking though. So there was a lot of pulling. She did like walking around by the elephants so we hung out there for a while.

When I dropped her off at the shelter she was happy to be back with her friends. I headed back to my cabin and Boots was still laying on the bed!! And now I have a black lab on the porch!! We have another porch facing the elephant sleeping cages. We heard they wake up around 4 am.

Before dinner I got myself a foot massage. Much needed after my 22k step day yesterday and my 12k day today!! For an hour it was $6!!

We just have dinner left for tonight. Then an early wake up call for some more elephant time!!

When I got back from dinner we had lost power to some of the cabins….mine was one of them. Bummer no lights or charging, glad I got my battery pack

**Boots update: she was here in my room after I got back from dinner. This time inside the mosquito net!! Smart cat. So she’s in bed with me right now.

Voyage to Bangkok

My trip to get to Bangkok was over 20 hours of travel, starting with my quick trip to Seattle for a work training, then back to SFO to catch my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong.

I decided to treat myself on this trip, so I bumped myself up to Premium Economy. Essentially this is domestic First Class. You get a bigger pillow and nicer blanket than basic Economy, a seat that reclines about 6 inches farther and a WONDERFUL foot rest. But before I even got to enjoy my seat I had been given an invitation to the Cathay lounge, so I hopped right on that!! I hadn’t eaten dinner so I grabbed some snacks, a Sprite and sat down to watch Grey’s before my flight.

It was a 15 hour flight, I slept for about 10 of them. I know dinner was served because I saw the menu, but I don’t even remember the safety video, so I know I crashed quickly.

The foot rest saved me. My back only was uncomfortable a handful of times and quick adjustment to the pillow situation solved that problem!! When I woke up (around 7am PST) I wasn’t tired enough to go back to bed, even though I had only slept about 6 hours. So I watched Wonder. (good movie) I crashed again after that movie until breakfast was served.

I forgot I had ordered a special meal, I thought it was just vegitarian but in fact it was vegan….sad day. Anyway it was noodles with veggies, for breakfast. Blew my mind, at least I got a blueberry muffin – I had to ask for it, but still.

Upon landing in Hong Kong I realized I had only 2 minutes until my next flight started boarding, to make matters that much trickier we landed at gate 69 and my next flight was out of gate 69, but first I had to go through the transfer hub that was a 10 minute walk in each direction. Once I got through the transfer hub I learned my flight was delayed so I ran to the business class lounge that somehow I got access to and took a yogurt and a Sprite and ran back out. If I would have known the flight was going to be 45 minutes delayed I would have sat and had a real meal -that lounge was awesome. I realized that compared to American airline companies, the Asian airlines pride themselves on service even if it means the flight will be delayed they clean every seat, change every pillow case and provide amazing service. It’s not about cattle hearding or how quick you can turn a plane around, it’s about the treatment of your customers. And I for one, will be using Cathay Pacific as often as I can!!

My flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok was short, only 3 hours. But we got a meal, and guess who got vegan noodles again for breakfast – this girl!!

I had a 15 minute walk to immigration and then stood in line for about 20 more minutes. Painless with no visa needed!! I waited for 30 minutes for my suitecase even though it was marked priority. I was starting to get worried that it wasn’t going to be there because the sign said last bag and mine still hadn’t come up – luckily there were about 7 of us that had bags come up after the last bag was called.

I had read that there is an app called “Grab” it’s the southeast Asia version of Uber (in fact they bought the Asia Uber). So I used the app and grabbed a ride to my hotel. They drive on the left side of the road here….it always takes a minute to get used to that.

Upon arriving at my hotel, I realized it was just barely noon and my room wouldn’t be ready for a couple hours. I checked my bags and checked in and then I started walking around near the hotel. I realized I wasn’t going to find anything interesting near where I was so I tried to hire a Grab car again but no one would come get me. So I walked back to the hotel and called one from there. I ended up at the Grand Palace. It was pretty cool – gold everywhere!! And also I never actually saw a palace. Just tons of temples. With gold. So much gold. You must take your shoes off before entering a temple, I’m thankful I had socks on because it was 96 outside and the ground was on fire. Those socks kept my feet from burning when I needed to walk to and from my shoes.

It happens to be the Thai New year right now and they do a big water festival too. So at the Grand Palace tons of Monks were there blessing people with Holy water and people were putting Holy water on all the Budha statues outside. The Monks were having fun beating people with reeds while they were blessing them with the Holy water. It was interesting.

After a couple hours I was done with the crowds so I started to walk back to the hotel. It was going to be a 3 mile walk in 96 degree heat. A tuk tuk offered me a ride to a long boat dock for 20 baht (less than a dollar) and I decided I’d go for a long boat ride. I over paid but got delivered close to my hotel and got an hour boat ride too. I saw the sound of Bangkok and the beauty of Bangkok, the old and the new, the dirty and the clean. It was cool just to sit and watch.

When I got back to the hotel I checked into my room, organized my stuff and showered for the first time in 48 hours….felt like so much longer.  I went to a little restaurant and got Massaman curry, it’s like a mix of red and yellow curry with peanuts. I paid $8 for curry, rice, spring rolls (6!), And a bottle of water. Woohoo!!

I’m back in the hotel room, relaxing until 7pm at which point I’ll let myself go to sleep. Nice room for $40. Got a king bed and tv, I call that a win!!