Hello again. Long time no read. Work and life have gotten in the way of my writing as of late, so I hope none of you were holding your breath until this next note.
As you last read, I had just gotten back from the elephant sanctuary. Fun experience. I got dropped off back at the hostel, and immediately went upstairs to take a proper shower and get ready for the evening. The German girl and I, along with a couple of her friends, had made plans to hang out that evening – grab some dinner and whatnot – so I wanted to scrape the rest of the elephants off of me. Showered, got ready, and headed downstairs where I saw my new friend, Bryn, and we chatted about potentially going to Pai via motorbikes together. He’s from Portland/Los Angeles, and as it turns out, we have some mutual friends. Small world, that’s for sure. As he and I were sitting in the kitchen area talking, Igor, from the main room of the hostel stood up and creepily came over, stood – stone faced in a “Chang Beer” t-shirt – directly in front of me and said the following:
“I know you came into the room last night and talked to me when I was asleep. Don’t ever do that to me. I know you had a beer. Beer is bad. I had a bad experience one time when someone talked to me in a foreign language when I was asleep, and they controlled me and it ended up just not a good situation. I know you said I’m sorry in the hallway, but just don’t EVER do that again.”
I said “Ok!” and he turned around and walked away, to sit for no less than 15 minutes staring at the wall at the front desk couch in the main room. Now, there are a few things wrong with his statement aside from the fact that it’s false and absurd. First, beer is great – at this point in my life at least, and fuck off because you’re wearing a Chang shirt. Second, when I was walking by you in the hallway earlier in the day and you wouldn’t move out of the way, I said “sorry” as I had to maneuver out of YOUR way as to not run into you, as humans tend to do to be polite. Third, if I would have talked to you when you were asleep, which I didn’t, it would have been in English, which both of us speak, so you wouldn’t have to worry about me speaking to you in a foreign language and controlling you. Fourth, you can be damn sure I’m never going to imaginarily do that ever again.
Keep in mind, this was the first set of words he had ever said to me. Until then it was blank stares and motioning to the light. I guess he wasn’t deaf.
Incidentally, what I quoted is literally what he said because immediately after he said it, turned around, and walked away…after Bryn and I started talking again to make sure we hadn’t just dreamed that, I whipped out my phone and wrote it all down for me to have for posterities sake. Insane.
I then proceeded to go upstairs, pack everything immediately, leaving no trace, and I came back down to the kitchen where I was able to get Mr. Jay’s attention, who was still in the main room, at the front desk. I apologized to Mr. Jay, but told him that I couldn’t stay there anymore because I was just threatened, and that I need to check out immediately. He asked if I could change rooms, and I said absolutely not and thank you for offering, but I don’t feel safe here, and he understood. He offered me a discount on the $8 room, but I paid the $8 because it wasn’t Mr. Jay’s fault the psychopath scared me away, I told Bryn I’d talk to him later and I left. During the waiting time for Mr. Jay to come back from the front desk, also, I was able to get a room for the night at the same hostel as the German girl, so I had a place to stay – not that there was a worry about that, because hostels are literally all over the place – but it was nice to be able to have a place to GO when I had to go.
I left, and eventually found the GLUR hostel. Not a fun name, but a beautiful hotel-esq hostel…also $8 per night. I was using Maps.me to get there, and since it doesn’t use data, the directions were sometimes not terribly accurate – having me drive down one way streets the wrong way, etc – so after much zig-zagging, I figured it out.
The girls were waiting by the pool, and starving, so I tossed my stuff in my room and we were off! But wait, the person at the front desk had put me in an all girls (wonderful smelling) dorm room, rather than a mixed dorm. I hadn’t noticed because I literally just threw my stuff in there, but I wasn’t complaining. Evidently that wasn’t allowed, so I then moved next door to a mixed dorm. Extra time that the girls weren’t terribly happy about, so they went to get some food across the street at a British bar with live music that’s right on the river that surrounded the old city. I met up with them, and we had a nice meal, had a drink, had some fun, and started back.
At this point, my German girl ended up getting super sick. I felt so bad for her. She swears it was because of the fried mushroom appetizer we had at the restaurant, but I still think it was because of the elephant sanctuary because I got so sick later that night. Sickness isn’t fun to talk about, so I’ll just skip over this part and move to the next day after I had slept for something like 15 hours. It sucked, too, because I was going to go with one of Mr. Jay’s friends to get a tattoo this day, but I couldn’t really stomach doing anything, let alone getting a tattoo, so I had to send word to Mr. Jay that I needed to cancel.
Flash forward to the next night, when I was well enough to get something done. I went to the 7-11 to put some Sprite in my belly to calm it a bit, and then I went to a big night market that they have. These night markets were all over the place all the time every night in and around Thailand, it seems. You could walk for miles and get shirts or trinkets or food or anything, really, so I walked around one that was just inside the old city. This was the night I put my feet in the fishtanks, for those of you who’ve seen my instagram posts (@kolberyan). I won’t repost that, because I already did, but I was happy to have accomplished something that day.
I went back to the hostel and just wanted to chill out, so I went by the pool and got a huge bean bag chair that was there and just laid back and relaxed. In hindsight, this wasn’t the smartest thing I did on the trip (similar to eating the food at the elephant sanctuary), because I was so comfortable that I fell asleep with my hands behind my head, thus exposing my lower arms/inner elbows. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but being by a pool in a warm climate, you might guess that there were some mosquitos. Turns out mosquitos love white boys.
All together, I got over 30 mosquito bites in that evening and for the next few days they made me insane with how itchy they were. Thankfully, I don’t think any of them turned malarial, but who knows! Went to sleep and was actually woken up by how itchy they were the first night. Super!
Woke up the next day, and felt tip-top. Thankfully my sickness only lasted those few hours the day before. I messaged Bryn to see if he wanted to do the motorbiking to Pai after all, and after a while he responded that sure, sounds good. We agreed to meet up. I bummed around the city for a while before meeting with him, and then went back to the first hostel, where Igor was still there – evidently he paid up front for like a month worth or something – and Bryn and I were off.
I knew SORT OF how to get out of the city, and that Pai was North…so, I put Maps.me on my phone and we began driving. After a while, we were out of the city, and into the forest. We passed by a waterfall that both of us thought about stopping at but didn’t, and as we’re going through this super curvy jungle road, there were all these random little huts or coffee shops just plopped in the middle of nowhere. We decided to stop at one and it was this little open air shop with ice cream and pop and beer and snacks and bathrooms and food and a garden. Pretty random, but it was a good stopping point after a couple hours of driving. Back on the road, the landscape was pretty awesome. It was jungle followed by national park, followed by jungle. At one point about 3 hours into the drive, we came around this corner, and there was a military check point with cones stopping cars and guys with full military gear and dogs and whatnot. Holy shit. This was particularly “oh shit” worthy because a) I didn’t have my passport – it was back at the hostel as collateral for the motorbike rental, and b) I didn’t have an international driving permit, which you’re supposed to have. As I saw my life of joy turn to a life of hard labor in the jungles of Thailand, the military people at the checkpoint hardly even batted an eye at Bryn and me, and we barely even slowed down – so we continued our journey.
We got to Pai without incident, and I realized I was very unprepared. I had left all my stuff in the hostel, and just brought a handful of things…so I wanted to get a t-shirt and some shampoo so I could shower and fake cleanliness. I wanted a Chang tshirt so I could unironically pay homage to Igor, while at the same time sing the praises of the delicious lager that is Chang beer. It was surprisingly difficult to find one, but I ended up making it happen later in the night. Before that, Bryn and I went through a market, and bummed around the city for a minute looking for a hostel. We found one that was fully booked, and they suggested we go across the street, so we did and there was a perfectly good two-person room with a TV that we didn’t use, and a hot water shower. Score. We got ready and went into the city proper, where there was another night market, and we just walked around there getting some appetizers, then found a restaurant that didn’t acknowledge our existence so we left and went to another restaurant that was delicious, then continued walking and we stopped at a “jazz” bar and had a drink and then called it a night because both of us were pretty pooped from the day.
We woke up early the next day and since my trip was coming to an end, we decided to go to the big white Buddah statue on the hill overlooking Pai, and climb the stairs to the top. We were the second and third to arrive because this dude named Eddie was up there cleaning up the debris at the base of the statue. We struck up a conversation, and he informed us of his crazy journey that brought him to this particular point – now he was studying martial arts, and he converted his family farm to organic, and he has aspirations to do a bunch of cool stuff – so that was cool. We took some pics and headed back down. After a restroom break, Bryn and I decided to go a little ways up the road to try and find this Kombucha stand we saw on the way INTO Pai, but when we couldn’t find it, we snapped a quick pic, and we went our separate ways…me back to Chiang Mai solo, and him to play with elephants, then hang out in Pai and do part or all of the Mae Son Hong loop. Good dude, I’ll look forward to hanging out with him when we’re in the same city again.
Wow, I’m writing a lot today.
I make the trip back and it took less than 4 hours this time, which was good because I was supposed to check out of the hostel at noon. Turns out a) I got there at 1, so I was an hour late, and b) I got the dates wrong, and I was actually 25 hours late to check out. In Thailand, evidently, that doesn’t really matter – you just have to pay for the extra day. They don’t even look at you like you’re stupid or anything. I grabbed my stuff, and then headed out.
For some reason, I really wanted to get a manicure and pedicure in Thailand. I figure, I’m most likely not going to get one in the US, so since it’s world-class and super cheap, I’m going to do it, damnit. I’m an adult. So I headed into the old city to find a shop, and it turns out I was at the street where my temple that had the Monk chat was. I took it as a sign, parked, and went in.
This time, the monks were in session, and I was able to find a particularly happy looking and welcoming monk. Monk? I’m not sure if I should capitalize that. I started into this little tent under a tree, and my monkMonk greeted me and was like “do you want to do the Monk chat?!” And I’m like, yeah! And he motioned to his monkfriend, who GOT OUT AN IPHONE AND STARTED RECORDING US TALKING. Turns out, this monk chat is a part of his training, where he practices English, and he has to get it recorded for his teacher to evaluate the conversation. Hilarious. Since he had his iphone, I got out my camera and started recording as well, but he started talking so quickly, I wasn’t able to find my microphone, so the audio could certainly be better, but I got the whole chat. At some point, when I edit my video together, prepare to be officially learned.
As I was talking to the monk, he said to someone over my shoulder “Were you trying to do the monk chat?!” and this girl said “I am, but I’m just a little shy” and he said, “Come on in!” So she did. The two of us ended up chatting with the monk and asking him about his life and whatnot for a while. Then, when we were done, and the monk was done, we were on our way, but I was just buzzing about how cool it was, so I asked the girl if she’d want to talk about what just happened and she was like, sure! So we went across the street to a little coffee shop and talked about it. She’s ALSO german, loves Disney and punk rock, and had some great stories. We talked for a while, then I had to return my motorbike. I didn’t want the conversation to end, so I asked if she had plans for the evening – she didn’t – so I asked her if she’d want to return the motorbike with me, and then walk around the city. She did, so that’s what we did.
I was going to originally fly back and stay in Bangkok for a night because I hadn’t really spent any time there, but since I hadn’t gotten my flight yet, my plans were flexible. She hopped on the back of my motorbike, and I drove us to my hostel to return it. We went in the front, and Igor was there sitting and lurking, the motorbike rental lady came back, gave me my passport, and my German girl and I were on our way.
Since I didn’t have a place to stay for the evening, since I thought I was leaving, we went to her hostel, and I asked if they had room. They did. I checked in, and my German and I decided to get ready and meet back downstairs in 45 minutes so we could start walking.
She cleaned up real nice and looked super cute, and I tried to make the most out of my one clean “look nice” outfit, and we were off. We walked around the city for a while, went to a night market, and just walked around there and talked for hours. It was awesome. I was her boyfriend for the night, except she was hung up on some guy she used to date so we didn’t end up making out or anything. I wanted to, though. Ha. The night was awesome, though. We ate, talked, looked at a whole bunch of masks and clothes and trinkets and it was all open-air market style, so it was cool as shit. We ended up staying up talking til 1:30 or so in the morning. Awesome. More later.