Thailand has been the number one country I wanted to visit for a long time. It ended up being nothing like I expected, and it had many ups and downs, but it was such an amazing place with a beautiful, vibrant culture. It will forever be one of my travel highlights. That being said, this is quite a long post and there will be lots of talk of temples, heat, and walking, so grab a cup of tea and get comfy or maybe read one day at a time.

Saturday, June 13th

Charlotte and I hopped off our plane from Singapore and went about trying to find our hostel in Chiang Mai - something I was very nervous about doing. Of all the countries on this trip, Thailand had the least English speakers. Of course I don't expect them to speak English, but I knew it was going to make our time there just a little bit tougher. We were able to get our bearings at this little airport and find a shuttle service that said they would take us to our hostel. After a very dramatic drive with one very angry Australian hippie, we were dropped off at the little ally that lead us to our hostel. (Ironically, this rude, screaming Aussie hippie was in Thailand for a yoga/meditation retreat. Boy did he need it.)  When the van left us, our hostel was not in sight and the maps feature of my phone was not working, so I started to get quite nervous. Little inconveniences seem to get amplified when you're in a foreign place, don't they? Luckily, we were able to find our little hostel/guest house that had been recommended to me by a friend. It was called Living Place 1. We walk in and there were a bunch of people napping on mats in the lobby, including the woman who runs the hostel and her puppies. I don't blame them because it was pretty hot and a nap sounded very appealing. She helped us get settled into our place and we left our packs to go off exploring.

Walking around the city in the heat and humidity was actually really difficult since I'm not used to that out here in California. It's one thing if you're indoors somewhere, but being out and about all day was really taxing on the body. We decided to stop and grab some food, and I had my first Pad See Ew of the trip. I was thrilled. Thai food is probably my favorite of all the foods and I was so ready to experience it in the place it originated from. We walked and walked and walked that day - all around the inner city and out the South gate of the city where they hold a night market. I was expecting a few little stalls, but my goodness this market literally went on for miles. I was in awe of all the trinkets and souvenirs that lined the streets for what seemed like forever. I had to fight the urge to buy everything, knowing that I just had my backpack to carry everything I needed, and I didn't want to overload it 10 days before going home. It was quite tempting though, since things in Thailand are very inexpensive compared to the U.S. We walked and admired for several hours, making a mental list of the things I'd like to bring back to my friends and family. I did pick up a little ring for myself and had the work Thailand stamped on it. Since I do collect a ring from every place I travel to, I feel better knowing that I have already found one, even if I come across a better one later like in this case. Don't worry, you'll hear the story about it a little down the line :) I did allow myself one more purchase, which was a waffle from a street stall. I have to admit, I was a little nervous to try food from street stalls, but Charlotte helped me get over that fear and I decided not to miss out on all the amazing street foods.

Sunday, June 14th 

It was our first morning in Thailand! I was nervous and excited and overwhelmed all at once. Culture shock can be really crippling if you let it, but I decided to embrace my adventure and not waste any time being scared. It helped me a lot that Charlotte is so adventurous and also that she had been to Thailand before. We hopped out of our squeaky little bunk beds and went out into the city to grab some food. After wanderng around a few restaurants in the city, we decided on a place called Dada Kafe where I had a mango banana pancake...not super authentic I know, but definitely very tasty. There were two older women sitting next to us that looked like they could have been Charlotte and I in 20 years, and we got all sentimental about the idea that that could be our future. Traveling together and making up for lost time in new places. If that's what my future looks like, I will be a very happy girl. 

Once I had devoured my pancake, we decided to walk around the city more. We had come to the North of Thailand without a plan on what we were going to do or where we were going to stay, but since arriving in Chiang Mai, we had decided to visit a small town called Pai. That meant that we didn't have much more time in Chiang Mai, so we explored as much as possible that day. We grabbed a map and walked around the parts of the city we had not yet visited. There were a few temples we wanted to check out, but our map was not very accurate, nor was it to scale. It was a loose interpretation of the city. We went in a few circles and made some wrong turns before we were able to find our first stop at the Statue of the Three Kings. While it was very beautiful, I'm not sure what it represented. We visited several temples (called wats). You've never seen a city filled with so many temples. Just so you have an idea, here's a 3D map showing the wats and keep in mind, the town center is probably one mile wide. All he cone shapes on the map are just the main temples.

After several hours of visiting wats, we were exhausted and decided to take a tuk tuk back to our hostel. This was another thing I was quite nervous to do while I was here, because I'd seen some crazy driving around town since we had arrived in Thailand. The streets of of Chiang Mai are madness and there are hundreds of tuk tuks squeezing in between cars wherever they can. Also, I know since we are tourists that they would try to overcharge us, so we had to be weary of that. Our first tuk tuk ride was a success, though, and we made it back to our hostel safe and sound. It was the hottest part of the day and we needed some refreshment. The people at our hostel recommended the place right next door for smoothies, so we popped over and had some really tasty drinks while we waited for our next activity. 

Charlotte and I signed up for a cooking class and I was beyond excited about it. They picked us up at our hostel in a pickup trick that had benches in the truck bed and we drove around town sitting there. Our first stop was at a food market where our instructor shows us all different kinds of vegetables that I had never seen before. He taught us so much about where all the for in Thailand comes from and what their traditional foods are and where to buy certain ingredients. As we were standing there, I could see rats running all around people's feet and I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach, but stuff like that you just have to suck it up and get over. It did make me appreciate the health codes in the State, though. After our educational trip to the market, we walked to the place we would be cooking. I think it was someone's house. There was a large, low dining room table set up right when you walked in. We left our shoes at the door, as you do in most Thai households and even some restaurants, and everyone sat at the large table. Over the course of the night we really bonded and got to know the other people in our cooking class. We ended up cooking four different plates which you got to choose. I went with spring rolls, pad thai, coconut soup, and green curry. I have to say I was really impressed with my cooking ability, especially with the spring rolls. And the green curry I made was actually the best one I had the whole time I was in Thailand. I did get burned by popping oil a few times, but that's just part of the whole experience. The cooking class was one of the best parts of my whole trip. I was stuffed after eating four courses, so we said goodbye to everyone we had cooked with and went off to another night market. This one was at the East gate of Chiang Mai, so it was very close to our hostel. I ended up buying a few souvenirs for friends back home, but I think it ended up being a really good choice in the end. It was our last night in Chiang Mai, so we stopped on our way home at a trendy looking bar. We sat on the patio drinking our fruity drinks and watching all the hustle and bustle of the people on the streets.

Monday, June 15th

We had an early bus ride in the morning, so we hurried out to get breakfast just down the street at a place called Ratana's. It was a very unassuming cafe, but it had a beautiful view of a temple across the way. Then we scurried back to our hostel to catch the bus which took us to another bus. I was feeling friendly on the ride and started chatting with the guy sitting across from me named Steffen, who ended up being really cool and we spent a good amount of the rest of our trip in Thailand with him. That was probably the only positive experience that came out of our bus rides to Pai. Someone had warned us how windy the road to Pai is, so thank goodness we picked up some Dramamine from 7/11 before we left. It was a 4 is hour ride, and there was more than one person who 'got sick' during our journey if you know what I mean. Not fun at all. Plus, Charlotte and I were stuck in the vey back row of the van and I was crammed against a stranger canoodling with his girlfriend the whole time. Once we arrived in Pai, the bus dropped us all off and I was so thankful for the fresh air. Paid is so small that it has one main street called the walking street and pretty much everything there is along that street. Someone pointed us in the direction of our hotel and it was really near everything else in town, which was amazing. We had had a rough few nights in Chiang Mai, so we decided to treat ourselves in Pai and got a room for just the two of us. I am so thankful we ended up doing that. We both needed a little peace and quiet to recover from all the traveling. We got into our room and immediately fell asleep.

Pains walking street

Just for some background, Pai is a very interesting place. There were tattoo shops everywhere, every third person on the street had dreadlocks, and everyone in town rents motorbikes to get around. Every third person on the street also seems to be bandaged up or in a cast because they think they're invincible and end up crashing on said motorbikes. This place is a hippie's paradise, and that's a big reason why I loved it so much. There was an atmosphere of openness, acceptance, freedom, and mature surrounding the whole place which was only occasionally ruined by drunk, praying tourists. But even when those people were raining on the parade, it was hard to let that being me down because of how relaxed and peaceful I felt there. I think part of me belonged there and that I was meant to go there. 

After we got some rest, we made a couple laps along the walking street to get to know the town a bit. We stopped for a smoothie and some veggie gyoza along the street and ran into our buddy Steffen. As we were walking along the street, it started pouring rain and we went down an ally to get some shelter. The ally was filled with art and colored lights, and it led us to a really relaxed outdoor bar. It had some tarp covering it, so we stayed dry for the most part. We sat around on cushions and listened to the live music playing right in front of us. We made some friends at the bar - a girl and her brother from Missouri as well as a newly-engaged couple from England. They were all so lovely to talk to, and we sat and drank and listened to music until the rain somewhat died down. Steffen got hungry, so we sprinted back down the street in the rain to try to find food. We stopped at the only open food stall and had a bite to eat before calling it a night.

Our rain shelter bar

Tuesday, June 16th

We had walked past a place called the Witching Well on our first day in Pai and it looked really interesting, so we stopped there for breakfast where I had the most delicious mango passion crepe roll. Mmmmm. It was like having a really tasty dessert for breakfast. We had signed ourselves up for a tour the day before which I was so excited about. We hopped in the bed of a pick up truck that had bench seats and off we went. We had eight stops on our tour and there were eight of us on the tour, although there were two hungover girls that didn't last the whole tour. Our stops were the Buddha on the hill, the treehouse hotel, feeding the elephants, a strawberry farm, Coffee in Love, the Chinese village, a scenic viewpoint, and a waterfall. I won't go into detail on all the stops, I'll just let the photos do the talking.

A general, yet not accurate idea of our tour 

Temple on the hill 

The Treehouse

Elephant Camp 

World War 2 Bridge 

Pai Canyon 

Strawberry Farm

Coffee in Love 

Chinese Village 

Yun Lai Viewpoint

Mor Pang Waterfall

We had a long, hot day of touring, so once we got back into town we stopped for our usual afternoon smoothie to cool us down. I had my first avocado milkshake at a place called Lemon Thyme, which was an adorable little cafe on a side street in Pai. They also made artisans bread, so of course I got a big hunk of garlic bread. We were still tired even after sitting and eating, so we went back to our hotel room to shower and rest up a bit. After some R&R, we were ready for dinner. We had heard amazing things about a place called Burger Queen, so we walked down to it and I had a really delicious sweet potato burger. This place apparently has the best hamburgers in Thailand. After dinner, we went back out onto the walking street to browse the stores and street vendors. There was a really good selection of hand crafted things everywhere in town. Charlotte had a study abroad friend in town named Alice from Canada and we met up with her and some friends she had met during her travels. After going to Why Not Bar on the main walking street, we all went together to a jazz bar that was down a side street. We stayed and chatted for a while until the bar closed and we all headed home and called it a night.

Wednesday, June 17th

There was a nice outdoor cafe right across the way from our hotel, so we decided to have breakfast there. It was called the Cafe d'Artist and it was very eclectic. After breakfast, we tried to go to a meditation course which we came to find out doesn't run in this season, even though they were still advertising it. Bummer. We were trying to decide what to do for the day and also plan our travel to Bangkok, so we walked around in search for classes and busses. After a very unsuccessful morning of no meditation, cooking classes, or busses, I was feeling quite frustrated. We decided to put those things aside and go find a place called Art in Chai. I had seen little handprinted signs for it a few different places in town and it was practically calling my name...for some reason it is extremely difficult to find chai lattes in Thailand. So for the first time, I got to follow the cute little arrow sign pointing me down a deserted side street, and the cafe was of course nowhere to be found. This morning was somewhat of a bust, but stuff like that is aways bound to happen once or twice when you travel. We were eventually able to find Art in Chai and I can't even explain how glad I am that we found it. This place was like a mirage when you're in the dessert. I always feel like I get really dramatic when I'm writing my travel blogs, but places like this deserved to be swooned over. Of all the amazing things I did over my month of travel, having a tea at Art in Chai was my favorite part of the entire trip. That's saying something. This little cafe had more character and charisma that any coffee shop I've ever been in. I could not have dreamed of a more perfect cafe. The atmosphere was inviting and calm, the chai latte I had was hands down the best I've had in my life. Charlotte and I sat there after a pretty miserable morning and I just felt so at ease. We sat for several hours there in silence sipping our teas and planning our next moves for Bangkok. We finally pulled it together and found a bus to take us back to Chiang Mai so we could then catch a train to Bangkok the next day. We stopped at the Curry Shack afterwards and then went straight for a nap. That's basically the best way to escape the hottest part of the day, and pretty much everyone was on the same page because the town was deserted for a few hours in the afternoon.

Curry Shack

We wanted to take it easy for our last night in Pai. Charlotte and I grabbed some avocado smoothies at a place on the main street and people/dog watched for a while. There were stray dogs everywhere in Pai that liked to follow people around. There was a particular little puppy wandering around that I was enjoying watching. Steffen came up as we were sitting there and was hungry, so we trotted off down the street to Khao Soi for some dinner. While we were in Art in Chai earlier, I had seen a flyer for live music that night, so we went back after dinner and listened to some local musicians play while we had more tea. Steffen had his first Chai latte that night and I'm pretty sure he is hooked. He loved it. I was as happy as a kid in a candy store sitting there listening to the music. We went back out to wander the town and happened to run into Alice and her friends Susie and Marion. We all got some street food to bring back to our hotel. I got some little pancakes from an older woman and she was so sweet. We all met at our hotel after grabbing food and spent the rest of the night getting to know each other more and swapping travel stories.

Thursday, June 18th

Waking up on Thursday, I was really bummed that it was our last day in Pai. We got a late start after getting all of our stuff packed up. We didn't have much time before our bus back to Chiang Mai, so we went back to Witching Well for breakfast and of course for one more Chai before going to our bus stop. Long story story, I had a very horrible bus ride back to Chiang Mai and my body was hating me. We had just enough time to get some cheap pad thai and pick up snacks before our overnight train ride to Bangkok. The train ride ended up being something like 14 hours I think. It started off really lovely, with views of the country and rainbows and the sunset, and ended really miserably. Sleeping that night was practically impossible. It was so hot that I couldn't sleep, but that was probably for the best, because I had to fight of hundreds of bugs in the night anyways. I think I got a total of two hours sleep. It was really interesting, though, how the overnight train worked. The seats pulled out into one bed and another bed dropped down from the ceiling, and someone came around to every bed to make them at night and unmake them the next morning.

Chai with our new friends

Wrote my mom a letter on the train

Friday, June 19th

Okay, our first day in Bangkok and I'm running on practically no sleep. Already off to a bad start, and I'm just going to warn you, I had a pretty miserable time in Bangkok. It was busy, loud, crowded, full of drunk tourists, hot, and I was very sick for most of the five days here which makes everything harder to cope with. Of course there were highs and lows, but it was mostly lows. It's a bummer to end such an amazing trip on a bad note, but you've just gotta roll with the punches sometimes and hope it's stuff you can laugh about later. So here we go...

We caught a taxi from the train station to near our hostel and were able to find it by walking around. Walking in, it looked like a really nice place. The lobby was filled with mats on the ground, and there were a ton of people taking naps all over it. Our rooms were very clean and we each had our own little mirror and light, plus there was a curtain that separated our bunk bed from the others in the room. That being said, our room held 24 people. And they turn the air conditioning in the hostel off during the day. After dropping our luggage off, we went out to grab something to eat and the tried to take a nap at our hostel to make up for the lack of sleep. Once we felt more rested, we tried to walk to some museum we had seem online, which turned out to be a bust. It was a really old run down building, and the place we actually wanted to go was really difficult to get to by walking. We were finally able to get to the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha, which were quite beautiful. 

For how much I disliked Bangkok, I did really enjoy all the architecture and the temples. I tried to capture how beautiful they were in photos but it was difficult. We went back to the area where our hostel was and went in search of street food. Our hostel was a few streets away from the famous Khao San Road which draws tons of backpackers and partiers. Khao San Road always had tons of street food stalls and vendors selling souvenirs. It also had tons of tattoo shops and very noisy bars. We grabbed some spring rolls and pad thai and sat to watch a cultural show that was about to take place on Khao San when it suddenly began pouring rain. They immediately shut down the show and everyone went to find cover; Charlotte and I ducked into an ally while the storm went on. (They eventually finished the cultural show and I ended up dancing with a bunch of people who were dragged to the front at the end of the show.) It was raining too hard to make it back to our hostel, so we stopped at a little art and coffee shop called Moka. I thought it would be nice to try a Thai tea, since I had never had one before, and the waitress talked me into getting a 'Guinness cake'. I wasn't sure what that was, but it was a chocolate cake soaked in beer with cream cheese on the side and oh man I was not a fan, nor did I like the Thai tea. At least I gave it a shot though, and the shop was really neat and had lots of unique art to look at. After the rain died down, we went back to explore Khao San more. I got a mango stick rice from a street cart because I had never had had either, and  brought it back to my hostel to eat it. There was a nice patio area at the front of our hotel where we sat to have our sticky rice, but little did we know there were mosquitoes everywhere and my legs got covered in bites. At the end of the night, I just sat in bed and wrote some postcards to send back home.

Khao San Road

Dancing during the cultural show

Saturday, June 20th

I don't know what caused it, but something was not right that night. I'll spare you the details, but I woke up at 2AM feeling terribly sick and spent the rest of the night sitting on the floor of the bathroom. I don't think I'll ever eat Guinness cake, Thai tea, or mango sticky rice again. I had a really horrible feeling in my stomach and at first I just thought it was food poisoning, but it lasted for so many days that I think it was probably something else. I stayed in bed until 1PM that day. Poor Charlotte was stuck with me when she should have been out exploring the city. Luckily, our hostel sold plain white toast and I was able to eat that. I wanted to take it easy obviously, so Charlotte and I went to a Starbucks a few blocks away and just sat in the comfort of the air conditioning for a while. We also went to a place called Jaywalk Cafe and I was able to drink a smoothie, but that made me feel worse. We ended our night by going back to Khao San so we could get some dinner, but all I could manage to eat was white rice. It was torture being around all the amazing Thai food and having to eat white rice. We picked up some snacks at 7/11 on our way back to the hostel and just laid in bed watching YouTube videos all night. It sounds like a wasted travel day, but it was really nice to just be able to spend that down time with Charlotte even though I was feeling horrible. It's been so long since we've been able to lay around and hang out, so even though it wasn't ideal, I still appreciate that time. I didn't feel well for the whole rest of the trip and only started feeling better when I got home, but I tried to take the 'mind over matter' approach and ignore how bad I felt for the sake of enjoying my last few days with Charlotte. It didn't help that I barely slept the entire time we were in Bangkok because people were horrible every single night in out hostel room - they were drunk, yelling, throwing up, running around naked, and doing other disgusting things that I'd rather not go into detail about. All I have to say to them is get a PRIVATE room next time, you jerks. That is all. 

Sunday, June 21st

I was really interested in going to a floating market while I was in Thailand. We had researched several of them, and decided no one that was supposed to be not as crowded as the other ones that drew more tourists. We took a taxi quite far out to the market, which turned out to be mostly not floating. There were a few boats at the end of the market tied to the docks, and it was fascinating watching them cook on tiny boats. Even though it wasn't really a floating market, I had the best time there. There were some really fun trinkets that I picked up for some friends back home as well as a lot of tasty foods I had never seen before. Charlotte got some grilled banana covered in a sugary sauce and also a big egg wrap filled with noodles. We sat on the outside of the market and ate for a while before heading back into the city center. 

We wanted to check out the national museum that we had heard about, so we walked there from our hostel. It was a big compound made up of several buildings that we walked around for quite a while. I still wasn't recovered from whatever I was sick with, and I started feeling really sick at the museum, so I had to leave and find a place with AC and a cold drink. There was a small cafe just down the street from the museum called Velo Cafe which was bike themed. I had a bite to eat and a rest and felt at least good enough to start walking around the city again, although times like that really make you miss home and the comfort of your bed. 

We started walking towards the major sites like the royal palace again, but this time we took a different path and walked wherever we felt like it. We ended up finding more than one street filled with stalls of food or tiny buddha statues or jewels. We were wandering the side streets and checking out all the hidden treasures when we came upon the river that runs through Bangkok. We walked along the river until we found a very trendy area full of new buildings and art installations and of course a million tourists. I enjoyed this little shopping area quite a bit, and was shocked that it hadn't been far from our hostel the whole time, but that it was totally hidden. After we got our fill of browsing street vendors and walking and walking and walking, we made it to the area we were headed for and stopped at a boutique hostel for some shakes and some Skype time with Charlotte's family.

Hundreds of tiny Buddhas
An ally full of fortune tellers

I bought a scarf from this lovely woman

After letting the sun set a little, we went across the street to Wat Pho. I had seen so many Wats since being in Thailand that they all started to feel the same, but this one was very different. This temple was a large compound that we had to find our way around, and it was filled with the most beautiful pillar-type structures called chedis. These are structures that we had seen at every temple so far, but what was special about these is that they were covered in ceramic flowers. It also made them even better that there were kitties climbing on them and meowing at me...the simple things in life, right? I'm easy to please. I had a great time wandering the complex with my camera and admiring all the beautiful structures. Once Charlotte was able to drag me away from the kitties, we walked back to our hostel to meet Steffen for dinner. We ate at a restaurant called Chomp. It definitely wasn't authentic Thai food, but it was so good. I think I got a pasta dish that night and Steffen got a burger or something? The atmosphere was very relaxed and the food was just what we needed.

I spy a kitty!

Monday, June 22nd

Getting around Bangkok was hard, and I was sick of walking especially because of how I was feeling, so we decided to sign up for a tour at the last second - after all it sounded great to have someone drive us places and actually teach us about the sights we were seeing. It was a very busy day for us because the tour included six temples and a palace, none of which were in Bangkok. We drove out to a city called Ayutthaya and went sight seeing all day with our group. I won't go into detail about every place we visited, so here are some photos to get a good idea of our day.

Once we were back from our tour, it was still fairly early in the day and I wasn't feeling my best from walking around in the heat all day. We yelped a place for a snack, and ended up at a cool little cafe called Carbony. They had fresh baked goodies which we bought and snuck up to their very secretive upstairs room. It was so cozy and peaceful, and we ended up staying quite a while to recoup and chill. Carbony was a bit of a walk from our hostel and it was along a street of interesting looking restaurants and shops that all seemed to be closed. We had walked towards the river and ended up seeing a large old fortress and a beautiful park just past Carbony, so we meandered over. The park was along the river and it had a really beautiful structure in the middle of it. We hadn't seen much nature since we had been in Bangkok, so it was like an oasis for us. There was an aerobics class going on along the water that I just had a blast watching. 

We followed the river back down towards Khao San and started walking along the tourist streets again when we hear 'Hey guys!' coming from the bar on our left. It was our English friends we had met at the bar in Pai when we were all hiding out from the rain. I was really excited to see them again and it felt like such a cool coincidence. We joined them for drinks and had some lovely conversation for a while before venturing off on our own again. I had seen a really cool street while we had been walking throughout the day, so I asked Charlotte if we could head back there for dinner. We chose a place called Good Story because they were having live music that night, which is one of my favorite things. We sat and enjoyed some Thai food while listening to some local artists sing and play guitar all night. The music was pretty loud, and they were blasting it from speakers onto the street as well, but I didn't mind. Sometimes talking isn't necessary when there's awesome music playing. I'd rather sit and listen. I opted for an interesting dinner and got green curry with spaghetti this time. When in Rome...

Tuesday, June 23rd

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very crafty person, and anyone who has read my blogs ever knows that I have an addiction to buying rings. My dad had offered to treat Charlotte and I to an activity while we were in Bangkok, and doing tons of research on all the local craftsmen and art places, I discovered a place that offered a jewelry making class. I have always wanted to take a jewelry class, and it would be even better if that was in Thailand I thought. I called to make an appointment from the hostel phone and had a very awkward conversation with a giggly someone who ended up hanging up on me. I was quite flustered because I really wanted this to work out, so I called back and the same thing happened. Didn't seem like a good sign, but we desired to wing it and trek out to the Bangkok Center for Art and Culture anyways, which is where it was supposed to be. After getting ripped off by our taxi driver (although it could be worse, but beware of fake meters!), we found the very large building which was definitely a little confusing for us. We walked around each floor looking for Shannta, which thankfully we were able to find. It was a jewelry store and also a place for lessons. I walked up to the counter and told her that we wanted to take a class. She didn't understand a word of English. She called her coworker over who also didn't understand a work of English. I was thinking oh goodness this is not going to work out. I pointed to a sheet of paper that listed the classes and that got the point across. Although this experience was fairly awkward and they were both giggling the whole time because they were uncomfortable, it ended up being SO much fun. Charlotte and I were both able to do the class, which was sculpting jewelry out of silver clay. We each had one of the shop girls helping us and we giggled and pointed our way through the whole lesson. I made a ring for me and a necklace pendant for my sister. Charlotte made two necklaces for friends back home. So if you're ever in Bangkok and you're feeling artsy fartsy, GO TO SHANNTA. It was a major highlight of my trip, and now I have a reminder of the fun we had there every time I look down at my hand. I was even able to write Thailand '15 on the back of my ring. They helped us through the whole process, and I'm so thankful, because it is incredibly hard to sculpt a decent looking ring. The jewelry had to bake in an oven in order to turn it solid, so Charlotte and I went to a cafe on the lower level of the building and had some drinks while we waited. We also had time to browse some of the craft stores in the building. 

We headed back to our part of town and went to a bar along Khao San Road to write in our journals, drink some delicious coconut shakes, and listen to a very annoying drunk girl singing extremely loud. We met up with Steffen for his last night in town and went straight for the madness that tis Khao San Road. We people watched, souvenir shopped, ate a nice dinner at one of the very touristy restaurants, grabbed some street crepes for dessert, and finished the night off at the sketchy looking Gecko Bar where drinks were very cheap. After our last big hoorah, we came back to our hostel and chilled on the floor in the lobby until it was time to say goodbye to Steffen. It was a sad reminder that tI would have to say goodbye to Charlotte soon too. But I'm very thankful for the opportunity to make friends from all around the world and to have buddies to share these wonderful (and sometimes disastrous) memories with. 

Wednesday, June 24th

For our last day together, we wanted it to be relaxed and not crammed with activities. We grabbed breakfast at Chomp since it had been so good the other day before walking around town and collecting our last few souvenirs for friends and family back home. We spent the hottest part of the day watching The Hangover 3 in the lobby of our hostel with a bunch of other guests. Once it was bearable to go outside, we wandered back over to our coconut shake place and indulged ourselves one last time. Man I wish it was easier to get a coconut cake here in the states. Afterwards, we went back to the hostel and got all packed. 

Side story: In Thailand, you can get your laundry done at your hostel and they will drop it of on your bed for super cheap, but in order to keep track of everyone's things, they tie a little colored piece of yarn into every piece of your clothes to keep track of whose they are. I'm assuming normal people cut out the little knot of yarn, but I left them in because it gives me a little spark of joy every time I go to put on a piece of clothes and see a little orange string. See, easy to please :)

We made our last trip to 7/11 to stock up on plane snacks for the long journey ahead. I was headed home and Charlotte to Myanmar with her sister. Once we had gathered our plane snacks, we went into the city for some dinner. We chose a vegetarian place called Mango and went a little overboard for our last supper. It was a little place, nothing fancy, where you take your shoes off at the door and sit on mats on the floor. We ordered basically everything on the menu, but my absolute favorite was the vegan Pad See Ew. It was the best Pad See Ew I've ever had, and i actually still think about it If I'm ever in Bangkok again, that will be my first stop. We picked up a piece of cake at a bakery we had passed sometime during the week, and he gave us another for free since it was near closing time. Woohoo free cake! We took it back to our hostel with us hoping not to attract the cockroaches with it, and laid in bed together watching YouTube videos on our phones. That is a true friend - someone you can do nothing with and still be happy together. 

In the end...

This was one of the best months of my life, and definitely the most adventurous. I feel so so lucky to live the life I do. I know it's so cheesy and I think I say that a lot in these blogs, but traveling really shows you how lucky you are - to live where you live, to have all the things you have, to have people who love you back home, to have the opportunities you have in life. It shows me how capable I am of doing things on my own, how brave I can be, how little I really need to own to be happy, how special different cultures and different people are. Nothing against college, but I think I learned more during a month of travel than I ever did sitting at a desk. So yeah, not sure how to wrap this up besides WOOHOO THAT WAS AWESOME!! :D :D :D


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