Woo hoo! I’ve now been on the road for four months. Can you believe it?!
Warning, the following story may not be appropriate for Grandma. Before leaving Bali, I went to Victoria’s Secret to purchase some new underwear. Side note: clothing wears out much faster when you wear the same thing every week for months on end. The pair of shorts I bought January 2017 in Chaing Mai hit the end of their road this past December. The pair of sandals I bought November 2016 met the trash can last month. One of my shirts is on the fritz but I’m still holding out hope for it. Maybe I should have packed different clothing than the previous six months’ worth of travel. After picking out some underwear, I ask a staff member if I can try them on (obviously over my current pair) as different styles have different sizing. She said yes and pointed me towards a door. When I opened the door, I noticed it was a storage room, not a fitting room. “Um…” Doesn’t look to be any cameras in here. I guess this’ll do. As I started undressing, the staff member came. “Don’t worry. No cameras. But I do stay in here,” she said. Alright then. This should be interesting. The next ten minutes were filled with her critiquing each pair I tried on. As is typical with Indonesians, she was bluntly honest. I don’t have a mirror so I guess this is the next best thing. I ended up buying three pairs… all of which were approved by her. What an experience that was!
Monday morning I packed up my bag and headed to the airport. I knew my plane already had an hour delay. Upon arrival at the airport, I found out my plane was delayed another hour and a half. At 1pm, I boarded my flight and was asleep before we even left the runway. I woke up about halfway through the flight to an announcement from our pilot saying our ETA into Kuala Lumpur was 4pm. Hm… I wonder what time my connecting flight departs. I grabbed my boarding pass and saw the departure time… 16:00. For those of you not familiar with military time… that means 4pm. Huh… well I hope my gate is close to whichever one we land at. After being that jerk of a passenger that I hate, you know the one, being the first to jump up into the aisle after the seatbelt sign comes off and pushing their way to the front, I was greeted by an airline member at the gate. “Bangkok?! Anybody going to Bankgkok?!” “Me! Where do I go?!” He points toward gate H8, five gates away from where I was, and said, “Hurry!!!” I ran to the gate, put my laptop and carry on through security (every country has different security measures), only to be told that the captain declined me as a passenger because they were already late. “But isn’t that my plane right there? The one that doesn’t even have the thing hooked up that pushes the plane it back.?” “Yes, that’s the plane but the captain still said no. We’ll put you on the 7am flight tomorrow morning.” Fail. Turns out there were three other backpackers in my same situation. After going through immigration and customs, they put us up in a hotel for the night and gave vouchers for dinner. All hotels should be like that one… there were no windows so when I turned out the lights, it was actually pitch black which is what I strive for. Back home, I have a black shower curtain over my window because regular black out curtains don’t get the room dark enough for me. However, I’m basically trapped if there were to be a fire outside my room.
Around 7pm, I headed downstairs for dinner. When the staff member was trying to explain how much the voucher covered, he had a really thick accent and was attempting to say “thirty-five”. I responded with, “Ohhh! Tiga lima?” (Indonesian/Malaysian for thirty five). He had a deer in the headlights look on his face for a few seconds before recovering with “kamu mengerti bahasa?” (you understand the language?). Man, give me about 9 more months in Bali and I could totally be bilingual! I think I forgot to mention when I had a pedicure done in Ubud after ripping leeches off my feet, I said, “Terima kasih. Semoga harimu menyenangkan,” (thank you, have a good day) to the owner and he responded in English with, “How long have you been here?! Your dialect is really good!” All the credit goes to my beach boys!
Tuesday started with a 4:45am alarm to catch my 7 o’clock flight. By noon, I had made it to my hostel and settled in for an afternoon nap. That evening, I headed out to find some street food. Most of the carts were only in Thai and nothing looked appealing until I found one that said Chicken Noodle Soup on the top. Ooo… that sounds good! I asked for one for take away and checked out my surroundings. The little alleyway was pub street central, complete with a ladyboy lounge called Soi Cowboy. Yep, I’m back in Thailand.
Back at my hostel, I grabbed a bowl and poured out the four different bags I was given. And this is what I saw…
Yes, those are chicken feet complete with chicken liver. I immediately started gagging. No, no, no, no, no. That is so gross. Oh, I can’t eat that. Maybe if I pick the feet and liver off, the noodles will still taste good? I covered my hand with a plastic bag and grabbed the first foot. Oh, that’s even worse! Don’t throw up, Laura. You can do this. Only three more feet to go. Five minutes later, I was at the nearest convenience store buying some Lays Bacon and Cheese potato chips.
I checked out of my hostel Wednesday afternoon and headed over to my dogsitting apartment. The owners are both American; the wife is originally from Illinois and the husband is originally from Indiana. After getting the rundown of the apartment complex and Tasi’s schedule, I saw them off and sat down with my laptop.
I purchased a 120 hour online TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification course back in December. I took 120 hours quite literally and planned to spend my time in Bangkok, holed up in an apartment, studying 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to have it knocked out in 3 weeks. Back to the mindset of working 40 hours a week! That first night I sat down to get started on it I was feeling excited. I’ll have some structure/schedule in my life again; this will let me travel for a longer period of time; T-minus 120 hours until I have a certificate in hand; got my notebook and three differently colored pens ready to go…. Three hours later I had already completed 2 out of the 10 modules. Either I’m flying through this information as most of it was familiar (back to Mrs. Olsen’s fourth grade English class of learning about propositions, subject/verb agreement, rules to forming a grammatically correct sentence, etc.) or some people are REALLY slow going through the modules. If I keep on this track, I’ll be done with this certification by the weekend. If this is how all online classes are set up, I’ve been doing my schooling completely wrong all these years!
Oh Thursday, I texted Carlin as we hadn’t talked since I left Bali which was odd considering we practically spent the last month together. He responded back with, “so funny story….” Turns out he was involved in a scooter accident that resulted in him getting 18 stitches in his head and a very swollen face. He was on the back of a friend’s scooter when they were T-boned and he flew off the scooter into parked scooters. Luckily there were locals around who put Carlin on the back of a street bike and another local got on behind to hold him on as he was super out of it. After leaving the hospital, Carlin decided to cut his trip short (he still had another 3 weeks) and booked the next flight back to Canada.
Unfortunately, I hear of scooter accidents all the time in South East Asia. Two days into my arrival in Bali one of the locals who I hung out with last year was involved in a head-on collision which resulted in him getting facial reconstruction surgery. After some thought, I’ve realized that foreigners driving scooters in South East Asia is equivalent to teenagers driving their first car in America. It’s new, it’s exciting, you want to impress your friends, you push the limits but you don’t really have the experience to properly handle the vehicle which then causes accidents. I bet 95% of American readers were involved in a car accident during their teenage years. So I say, Yes! Drive/ride scooters when you’re over here… just be smarter than your teenage self.
By Saturday, I had completed my TESOL certification course after a total of 14 hours working on it so I treated myself to laying out at the complex’s pool. So much for my plans for the next three weeks…
On Sunday, I said goodbye to Tasi and checked in to my apartment that I have rented for the next two weeks. I plan to get a head start on tutoring online to see if a) I like it and b) is a realistic way to bring in some money while on the road. I’m not out of money yet, but want to have a plan in place for when I reach that point later on. I have been hired by Cambly which is a platform for adults wanting to practice their conversational English skills online. I am anticipating it to be like having a blind date every hour… “Where are you from? What do you like to do for fun? Tell me about your family. What do you do for a job?”
Flynn and Tina arrive from the States this week! Flynn gets in on Wednesday while Tina gets in on Friday. They’ll be in Bangkok through the weekend before heading up north to Chiang Mai and down south to the Thai islands over the following nine days. I’ll hang out with them while they’re here, but I will remain in Bangkok while they travel around the rest of Thailand. Yay for more friends meeting up with me on this great adventure!