Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Island Life

Well hello again. I suffer from island time so I fell asleep too early hence why I'm up at 2am...but hey! Joys of unemployment and TRAVELING? Zero concept of time and loving it. I just know I need to be at the airport by 11am on the 4th of november...whenever that is :) so I treated myself to about 3 weeks in the islands and loved every minute of it. The first week was spent with 3 of my amazing girlfriends and we just had the best of times. I think I'm still recovering from all the laughter. 4 girls, 1 bungalow, and a ton of luggage. It looked like a tornado had hit, but we had a blast. I was sad to part ways with them after an amazing week, but paradise doesn't always last...unless you have  your life and take a ferry to another beautiful island to continue paradise living aka staying in denial about moving to the western I gave my hugs to my girlies and boarded my ferry to Koh Tao and started on my own adventute...traveling solo is scary at naturally I found a row to sleep on and dreamt my fears away. Woke up to the beautiful sound of the horn announcing our arrival to Koh Tao. 

Koh Tao is the smallest of the East islands and is known for diving and snorkeling. I did neither. I blew my ear drums awhile back and still need to get them checked out before I attempt at diving again. I booked myself a private room for a week as I have all of my luggage aka life with me (scary to think I can carry it all by myself) and just wanted to spread out and have some private time. Once sorted in my room I walked straight to the beach to catch some sun and a snack on the beach. Always love catching sunsets...and should have known I wouldn't be alone for long! 

Not 20 minutes after I got my soup that two friends from chiang mai walked past and we did a double take and we're like "omg hi!" So we decided to get dinner together and walked along the beach in search of some BBQ seafood. My friends own an amazing hostel in Chiang Mai- Stamps backpackers and I strongly recommend this place for anyone traveling in the area. I knew the owners through a friend I met in pai back in 2014 who came to visit last year and that's how I know them. See Asia gets small real quick...

Anyhow, I head home after dinner to shower and change and then head over to their place for some drinks before heading to their friends new hostel that just opened up on the island. Yay local friends! Love backpackers and all, but the stories get repetitive. So we head there thai styoe, 3 on a motorbike (sorry mom) and chill there for a bit before heading to the two bars that are open (thailand is in mourning and they shut everything down at midnight). 

So we head to the music and I run into the Dutch guys (neighbors on the other island) and we stay out on the beach and I call it a night around 1am. Walked home and slept a good solid 12 hours. Got up and showered and headed to the beach to get my tan on and read aka nap a bit. So that's pretty much how I spent my days. The last week I met this girl Sarah in an evening yoga class and just had a ball together. She just graduated from Harvard Law and has worked in the House for years and is actually now in Vegas working on the Hilary campaign for her old boss right now. Incredible in my opinion. So anyhow, we end up exploring yoga on the south of the island and just get hooked on the power vinyasa classes at Ocean sound dive and Yoga. Amazing class, so much sweat, and the best feeling after. We spent our days going to yoga, eating, napping, reading, beaching, yoga, eating, massages, rinse and repeat. It was the perfect oasis. One day Nida, her and I explored the island on an afternoon hike. Completely drenched in sweat the whole way, we would just go in the ocean when we got too hot. We took a break and had smoothies and fresh fruit overlooking the ocean. Was a great time. Had spent a lot of my time with the guys that I welcomed girlfriend time immensely. 

Once Sarah left I kept going to yoga and had made friends with some of the girls in the class and on Halloween the instructor offered a dance workshop...we learned the thriller dance and wore makeup and made a dance video! I will post it once my friend uploads it. Wifi is a bit shaky on the island so might be awhile.  UT yes, it was fantastic and amazing and so much fun. Halloween was spent with 10am than yoga 90 minutes, 2 hours thriller dance fun. 6pm 90 minutes power vinyasa. After that I treated myself to pizza and a nap haha. Honestly was such a godsend to find that yoga studio, felt at home again. Loowing forward to finding a yoga studio in melbourne. 

Halloween night was spent at a friends who lives on the island. We met on Chiang Mai back in June when my friend from LA was visiting. She was on the island doing her dive master training, she wants to be a videographer. Anyhow she lives with her dive buddies and had a Halloween party so hung out with them for a bit. Only took about 5 minutes for someone to mention Trump, however this bloke was from the UK so all you really have to respond with is Brexit. Conversation ended. Had a great time though, met some interesting people and got home at a reasonable time. 

Because it's monsoon season now in the islands, the rain poured daily. So naturally the day I left, today, it was sunny. Ah well, had a lovely time exploring thenisland, doing yoga, making new friends, and just living in the moment for a bit. 

Now I am in Surat thani visiting my friend Becca for a day to see her new place and chill out for a bit (because island living is just exhausting...). But really. We got som Tam from the market and went to an evening yoga class. Met her roommates and went to sleep early. Hence why I'm up at 3am bah. Tomorrow is errand day...haircut, last minute shopping, massage (duh), need to finish my book (like I need more luggage), yoga, and making sure I have everything. Checked into my flights and everything is sorted...Yikes! 

Logged in again to make sure my visa was still granted (it is), I just like to worry a lot...have been assured I have someone to pick me up Saturday. Still unsure what I will do in Kuala Lumpur for a night. 

But yeah...

It's finally coming to an end...I'm going to make a different blog for my future posts once I leave thailand...

Here are some island pics :) 

Fun de na kha (sweet dreams)


so I joined a lovely yoga studio (ocean sound dive and yoga) and learned a new Trick! The floor was slippery, but your get the idea 

Finished product tadaaaa! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Farewell Lanna Kingdom

I recently went home to my beautiful state of California to celebrate one of my dearest friends wedding in sunny San Diego! I have been MIA from blogging because life has been a whirlwind blur of everything and many countries and traveling to be had...rough life I know. The other part of me is realizing that this blog is about to end as I'm about to leave this beautiful country that I've been so blessed to call home for the past two years. Now as excited as I was to visit California for a few weeks, it meant it would be the end of my teaching days for awhile...and not seeing my students daily has really been a hard reality to grasp. My school has been so kind to me my secondary teachers threw me a beautiful lunch in appreciation and gave me a stunning akha (hilltribe village) purse and tears flowed. My little kids surprised me with posters of drawings of me with their names and little sayings "I love you" "I will miss you." My last day was filled with a huge emotional Rollercoaster of feelings. I would be flying back to Thailand before Australia, but I wouldn't be Teacher Dao anymore. I wouldn't hear the laughter of children echoing down the halls. The teasing of my naughty Mattyhom students. The boys playing guitar. Watching my boys play football. The girls skipping rope. The teachers calling me fat...oh wait, no I won't miss that haha.
So needless to say my last day was a  it emotional. Jeffrey and wynie gave me a  eautiful book filled with our photos and inside jokes and had teachers and students write me messages and sign in. One of the most valuable things I now own. Emily gave me a real microphone with a note saying I was now a Filipino. Now this is because we do a lot of karaoke and I actually have been working on singing with her and our last night karaoking I sang quite well and they were so excited and I got goosebumps. Filipinos have beautiful voices so having her approval means the world to me. She also had her students draw pictures of me with their little names (they're grade 2). Her little note also made me cry. Leaving my school was hard, but leaving my little family was going to be the hardest thing I would go through in possibly my life. And no I'm not being melodramatic. They have been and continue to be my world. They have showed me how to be the best teacher I can be, how to love unconditionally, how to forgive and let go, how to feel, how to always be kind. To always choose happiness. And to always, above else, be thankful. They all have the characteristics of what I have always wanted to attain. They have been there for me when I would throw a tantrum and they would remind me that everything will be okay and to not worry. They had my back when I would battle with the administration. They always comforted me when I would fall for the wrong guy and get my feelings hurt. Let me cry when I had my heart broken. They prayed for me when I traveled solo because that is just unheard of for people on this side of the world. They taught me their culture. Took me on adventures to explore our beautiful countryside. I learned about their families and how hard it is for them to be away from them. They rescued me from the frogs in my bathroom and the snake in my room and countless other thailand surprises. Most importantly, they just loved me for me. I never had to try to impress them. They taught me to be humble. To believe that things will be okay. Writing this is making me sad and I'm on a beautiful tropical island hah.
Point being. They would be the hardest part of me moving on. And I will forever carry them in my heart.
California was everything I ever could have imagined and much more. It was a sign that yes Australia was the next adventure for me. I got comfortable in thailand and thought about staying, but just a few hours of being in California I knew I was ready for a change. As much as I love my little town tucked away in northern thailand, it was time for me to take the tools I developed over the years and to apply them in a new setting. I played tourist and saw a lot of California. Spent time in San Francisco and saw my cousin, went to fisherman's wharf for some sourdough clamchowder bowls with another female traveler, checked out the alcatraz exhibit, and went to corepower yoga! Oh how I missed my mat and the familiar studio. I'm looking forward to going back to a yoga studio in melbourne. I connected with old friends and ate Mexican food. Life was grand. Explored Santa Cruz and reunited with friends. Headed to San Luis obispo to see Jackie and max and then we headed to San Diego!  The wedding was to be held in Coronado and we would be staying at the Broadstone. 4 days of wedding SHENANIGANS! And what a beautiful weekend it was. So much fun. Pictures don't do it justice. After the wedding I stayed with my old roommate at our old house and we got sushi and wine and watched my new favorite chicken flick. Like old times. The next day I headed to LA to see an old friend and had a great time catching up. Then the next day I flew to my parents! Where I was greeted with altitude sickness joy! So my days were spent sleeping and eating and working out with my friends and of course yoga. Got to drive my mom's fancy new car and cuddle with my cats and the family dog. Walks to the cascades and time spent at the creek. Good old mountain living. Loved spending time with the family. My brother and his girlfriend even drove over for a few days. My last few days I went to see my grandma and Fred and spend some time with them. My grandma is just so cute. How I love that amazing woman. Such an incredibly strong woman. I have learned so much from her. And Fred, 100 years old and still healthy. Amazing. Both of them. Then I hopped on a bus to San Francisco and was able to catch up with my longest friend Katy Wells :) friends since babies. Then I took myself on a date to kuletos on union square where I had some wine and an appetizer before heading to the airport to board my 2am flight. What a trip!
The journey back wasn't too bad, thankfully I'm capable of sleeping everywhere (thank you universe). So now was the last haul of departing my beloved town....
Thankfully responsible me went through most of my clothes and things and determined which I would take to Oz and what I would give away. Naturally when I landed I was  denial and so spent time in Chiang Rai avoiding reality and visited my friend in Mae Sai. 3 of my girlfriends and I planned 5 days in Koh Phagnan together so it wasn't completely farewell time. But I was avoiding Jeffrey, wynie, and Emily and I knew they were avoiding me. I was leaving in a few days and we just didn't want to deal with it. Said my farewell to my director and met the new teacher. Ran errands and cleaned my desk. Made cards for Jeffrey and wynie and tackled my room. It was my last day and I would be taking the 15:30pm bus to Chiang Mai. Emily wynie and Jeffrey helped me with my bags and I broke down. It wasn't really happening was it? Actually leaving my family. Not just taking a little trip and returning them with my shenanigans. Wynie, Jeffrey, and teacher Nope would drive me to the bus station but Emily couldn't go. I was her little sister and she the older sister I never had. We cried into each others arms and I'm crying as I type this. She told me to never let anyone else hurt me or else she would have to fly to Oz to kick my butt. Smiling through tears I climbed into the car and we drove off. Wynie and I held hands the whole way to the bus station. We made small talk to try to keep our spirits up and my eyes dry. We waited for the bus to arrive and they kept trying to joke about me staying and in all honesty, I was hesitant about leaving. The bus approached and I had to muster up all my strength to board it. We hugged each other and cried and I just sat in my seat crying while looking at them. Waving. And the bus pulled away and I was off. I just sat and let myself feel. To take in my last minutes of my town, not knowing when I would see my little world again.
So needless to say it's been while since I blogged for a reason. I managed to sleep and woke up in Chiang Mai. Got to my friends guesthouse and my friend had a drink ready in hand. I went to dinner with my old manager from Santa Cruz who happened to have just moved to Chiang Mai to teach so it was really great to see some California in thailand. I would be taking the trains down south and had no idea what to saved me costs of hostels and extra baggage fees, sleeping pills and movies downloaded, I was ready. I saw my old friends one last time and the next afternoon I headed to the train station...
I was pleasantly surprised with the train. I had an outlet to charge my electronics and the beds were quite comfy. My last thoughts before falling asleep lying in my little bed, curtain closed, the moon bright outside. Knowing that my entire life is right here, everything I own fits in my bags (granted it's a sight, but I can carry it all). Onto new adventures, pursuing my travel dreams.
I want to see the world. And I was ding it on my own. I somehow have managed to fill  your passport with stamps, met people from literally all over the world. To try to learn some new languages wherever I went. To swim in different seas. Cross international borders via bus, minibus, plane, or by foot. To learn that a smile is the same in every country. That kindness exists everywhere. And that things really do somehow workout, even when it seems impossible at the time. Quite a  serene feeling as I was heading to the south of thailand on a little train...oh Thailand, what have you done to me!
I arrived in Bangkok at a lovely hour of 6am and quickly found my hostel that I rent for the day and could let my bags free for awhile. I explored the area and met up with  ynfriend and rode the bts one last time, as I would be flying from the south, not bangkok to Melbourne.
Now this time in Bangkok was very somber. I won't write too much on this as I'm still in thailand and talk about this is quite a sensitive subject.
On 13th of October, his majesty the king of thailand had left this earth and his people. I have goosebumps just writing about how the country reacted. Every screen in Bangkok displayed his picture and his song rang on the intercoms countrywide. They lost their God. Nothing in the western world could be compared to the loss of what the king meant to his people he was the longest reigning monarch in the world and most thai people have only know  him as king. Over 70 years he had the throne. The country declared 100 days of mourning and the loss was felt everywhere. No entertainment networks are allowed to air, no concerts, alcohol sales put on halt, music was not to be allowed to play. Black was worn country wide and there would be no talk about the Prince. And I will wait to write the rest until I leave this country as its illegal to even discuss this.
And Americans think sitting down during the national anthem is blasphemy...ah america, we have freedom of speech...
I boarded my night train and put on a movie and fell asleep once they made my bed up. Woke up in surat thani where I would take an hour bus ride to the pier to board a 2 hour ferry. All in all travel time from Mae Chan to Koh Phagnan? 42 hours. Whoop! Finally arrived at the island and got a taxi to the hostel where I waited for my friend to show up. Explored the beach and just tried to take deep breaths. Was so excited to see my friends and have a fun girls time on an island I hadn't been to yet. By the next day the gang had arrived. 4 teachers, 3 Americans and 1 British. And 3 very ridiculous Americans in all different ways haha. Emma was mother hen and the week was off. We beached and explored on bikes and spent a lot of time by the pool, as girls do. We made friends with the Dutch guys in the bungalow next to us and soon spent most of our time together. Swimming, laughing, learning Dutch swear words - you know, being cultured. No music was played after midnight and no bars were open. We had a great time at the pool playing games and swimming. And so much laughter, it was a constant lol-a-thon ans i was so thankful and wouldnt have spent those days with anyone else in the world. We had the best time together. Somehow we managed to not annoy each other as well haha. Oh girls...After 5 days the girls had to leave to head north to go back to work and I headed to Koh Tao. I booked myself a private room so I could have some quiet time and time to myself. I was finally alone. They were the last little bit of home except for my friend Becca who I will see before I fly out, but for the next few weeks I would be solo traveling,
Solo traveling. Can be quite lonely at times and social in other aspects, it brings you out of your comfort zone that's for sure. Learning that if you want to make a friend you have to make the effort to talk to someone in the common area of a hostel. Taking that plunge doesn't come as easily for me as many probably think it would. I usually have to pep talk myself saying how I'm awesome and friendly I just need to make the move to socialize. Well thanks to this lovely Girls Love Travel facebook group, it makes it easier for girls to make girlfriends without the awkwardness of bars and hostels. I met a girl Nida who had just finished two years in the peace Corp living in Tanzania in a small remote village. She was heading back to DC after being away for 2 years and she was scared of the real world. I don't blame her, once away, going back is frightening. We instantly clicked having the love of travel as both high priorities in our lives. Was refreshing to make a new friend. Been a bit of a loner once my friends left because I had a private room and didn't really venture out much. It's rainy season so I've only seen a few sunsets. Now I'm in a social hostel and ready to be social again. Always good to take a few days to yourself to regroup before you're ready.
My little sleeping pod is quite comfortable and will be moving to an even cheaper room tomorrow. Oh that nomad life.
I have no clue how long I will be on this island. I also have no concept of time or the date. I wake up when my eyes open, I eat when my tummy talks, and I sleep when  you eyes get heavy. My days are spent walking around the beaches and trying to find cheap places to eat. Might ferry to Koh Samui in a few days to explore that one before heading back to the mainland.
My dear friend Becca used to teach in my town, but now teaches in surat thani and she also just got back from melbourne so I'm going to stay with her a few days before my flight to Kuala Lumpur on the 4th of November, thinking I will stay the night in the airport and just watch movies and then on the morning of the 5th of November I am heading to MELBOURNE!
Just checked the date and apparently it's the 25th so will probably stay here 3-4 more days and head to the other island on Friday? Oh this life can be rough sometimes ;)
I'm off to get some sleep so I can explore the island tomorrow and do some much needed yoga on the beach :)
Phew that was a long one! Hope the next won't be quite so painful...
Until next time...
Sawadee Jao
Location: Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Thailand.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How is it September already?

So got around to uploading some's a yoga picture of me working in the office past 22:00 because #ThaiLife

Lauren and I in Bangkok 

Engagement party with my friends January 2016

English pre[ (my student is with the jacket - nickname: Paul)

JQ, Hobie, myself, and Dan! (Camp friend)

Receiving awards for our students work

Teacher Dao <3

Birthday shenanigans

Philippines sunset

Alexie (roommate in Cusco, Peru) came for a visit 

The day I fell in love with Mark Bridge

SEA sunsets

sunburn before the dog attack

Adorable student work

wearing a wedding dress and lipstick. judge me

teacher fun at science day

my Swiss sister

student life <3

So apparently it's September already...And I have been in Thailand now for two years. How has that flown by so quickly?! Some silly updates of this incredible and crazy year...

  • January -My BFF from California flew out to bring in New Years with me in Bangkok in a posh condo and danced till 6am at a crazy club (best New Years ever)
  • February -Attended a TEDx conference with fellow teachers
  • March/April Explored Vietnam, Malaysia, and The Philippines solo
  • April -Met friends from California in Koh Phi Phi
  • May - Laid on the beaches of Koh Tao and turned 28 somehow...
  • June -My friend from Canada came to stay with me and meet my school for a few days - we were roommates in Cusco, PERU back in 2012 :)
  • June - My longtime camp friend from California came to visit Chiang Mai and got to celebrate our reunion with dancing, swimming, and a ladyboy show <3
  • July - My best friend, her mom, her sister, and her niece came to Chiang Mai and we got to spend time with ELEPHANTS together and just had an incredible time - short lived, but cherished every minute :)
  • July - While spending time on an island over a holiday weekend...I was attacked by a dog - survived and 6 shots later and a massive amount of coconut oil and aloe vera...all I have is a small little scar to remind me of my SE Asian adventures...
  • August - Had 2 school competitions where my students did quite well :)
  • August - Parted ways with roommate from the beginning...Lots of laughter and tears with that amazing woman. She has taught me so many things about myself. She taught me to be myself and to make me a priority...
  • September - My last weekend in Chiang Mai with my teacher friends. Was spent dancing, eating, swimming - rinse and repeat. Couldn't have asked for a better weekend

    Oh and I was electrocuted the other night while trying to plug my phone that was a terrifying experience...shocks running up my arm and have a blister...Oh Thailand...Honestly every day is a blessing in my life!

    Now I am wrapping up the school term as I head to Bangkok on the 16th and then I will be in San Francisco on the 17th! Will be a whirlwind of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, Los Angeles, then my parents house and to visit my grandparents...
However I realize that I have no idea when I will be home (in California) again! I have another wedding (shocking I know) September 2017, but it's an Alaskan cruise! So will see how California will work in that.

As of now...I have 16 days in California and I am back in Thailand on the 5th of October. Students last day is the 7th and I plan on sticking around with Emily, Wynie, Jeffrey, and Wyndel until as long as possible. I can't even write about how much I will miss these people so I won't! We are just trying to spend as much time with each other as possible before I venture on. My dear friend Gemma might also be leaving this term and we've been close for the past two years (she teaches at the school down the street from me). We've dealt with Thai administration and just everything Thai and trust me, it bonds you well with someone. Just seems like a all of this is a dream...

I will be heading on down south to the islands for a few weeks to get my tan on and try to control my emotions and prepare for a western world. Yikes!

Fly to Kuala Lumpur on the 4th of November and then onward to MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA on the 5TH OF NOVEMBER!

If they have me of course...

Have the work and holiday visa all sorted...funds in my account (hahaha like that has ever been a true statement in my life), insurance, a couch to sleep on (hey-oooo), and friends to visit...

Oh what a crazy life... <3

Sawadee Jao

P.S. I am sure I will have some deep blog, but the fact that I'm trying to keep from crying every few hours is making me put a hold on that. I might just type that one up on the plane. And yeah still not a lot of pictures, one day...

Until next time...