So here I am, did you think I'd forgotten about you, my lovely fans? Yes, I know it's been a while, but I've been busy.
Chiang Mai, Thailand is so far my favorite place, as A Little Bird hostel became my home away from home. It's funny, my new friends will gladly tell you I didn't do much while I was there. I started each morning with a wonderful fruit smoothie from Tip, a very sweet young Thai woman, and ended each night drinking with new friends, while most of the days were spent at the hotel pool or eating burgers at Duke's (yes, I still love my western food). At times, I felt guilty for not doing anything I couldn't do at home, but then I realized that the people I was meeting were the kind of people I left home to find...my people. As many of you know, it's always been important to me to find friends without the usual American racial biases and homophobias. Not that every American is racist or homophobic, but well, more often than not, they are. And not that every traveler is as open-minded as I'd like them to be, but well, more often than not, they are...even the Americans. I've learned so much from the people I've met, about America, about the world, and about me.
When my new friends heard that I planned to wait to go to Pai (about 4 hours north of Chiang Mai), they said, "No! Come with us!" I was so touched by the invitation, that off I went.
Admittedly, Pai was a little out of my comfort zone. It was an adorable little artsy town that I would love to see more of, but we stayed at a hostel that felt like more of a young, party crowd. When I got there, I was miserably sick with a head cold and so I landed myself in a hammock where I spent most of the next four days. I did manage to peel myself out for a little partying the night of the full moon when we christened Spicy Pai hostel with its first ever costume party. You'd be surprised what we backpackers can do with a little duct tape, tin foil, and leaves.
From Pai, we brought a few extras back to Chiang Mai with plans of staying together through a trip on the slowboat to Laos. What used to be a ride on the space left on cargo boats down the Mekong river, has now become 2 days (with an overnight stop in a seedy little border town) on a giant boat with tightly crammed, very uncomfortable, bus-type seats. The border town stops (one before catching the first boat, one before catching the second) were miserable. Bed bugs, spiders, power outages, hunger, and uncomfortable sleep were bringing a new level of crabbiness to our little group and I was convinced this country hated me. But we finally made it to Luang Prabang, began going our separate ways while we still had enough love for each other to remain Facebook friends, and in spite of an unfortunate incident where I slammed two fingers in a door (nearly breaking them, and probably needing stitches, but band aids will have to do) Laos and I are slowly becoming friends. I spent today swimming in waterfalls, tomorrow we will be taking a boat ride through caves filled with discarded statues of Buddha, and I'm pretty sure I may have found an elephant trek that doesn't involve animal cruelty for later in the week. I even found myself saying today, that if I decide to get my English language teaching certificate when I get home, that I think I'd like to find work in Laos. Laos and I might become lovers after all.