Disclaimer: This post contains a picture of a spider. Ewwww.
You’ve obviously ascertained by now that I was either severely jet-lagged or quite ill during much of my stay in Thailand, so Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Koh Yao didn’t really get a fair shake. If (and that’s a big if) I ever return, I will endeavor to be more healthy and thus, more enthusiastic.
The moments when I could stand up straight and think clearly were limited, and I regret to say many of them were filled with misadventures. Let’s call them misadventures because at least it still sounds fun…
1. Though it’s not the first time I’ve been peppered with questions about my marital status, my visit to Thailand was the first instance where I’ve ever felt like I had to explain it 10 times a day to an unbelieving population.
- Me: Table for one, please.
- Waiter: Only one?
- Me: Yes. Only one.
- Waiter: You are by yourself? (cocks eyebrow suspiciously)
- Me: Yes.
- Waiter: Only one person? No husband? No boyfriend?
- Me: Right. One person. Solo traveling around the world. No spouse.
- Waiter: You are eating alone?
- Me: Yes. YES! ALL BY MYSELF!
YES, I’m ALONE. First of all, I’m from the South, so I already get enough grief for being 29 and unmarried from the settled down folks back home. Second, I was feeling awfully lonely after being sick with no one to take care of me, so all the waiters and hotel receptionists who inquired again and again and again were just rubbing salt in an open wound.
- Concierge at check in: Are you alone?
- Me: Yes.
- Concierge at check in: Will anyone else be joining you?
- Me: Are you asking if I’m here for sex tourism?
- Concierge: Nevermind. Here’s 4 breakfast vouchers for your two night stay.
- Me: GAHHHHH.
- Me: I’d like to order the Cobb Salad please with the dressing on the side.
- Room service: Is that all?
- Me: Yes, thanks.
Moments later, the phone rings
- Me: Hello?
- Room service: Sorry, did you want two salads?
- Me: No, just one salad.
- Room service: So nothing else for anyone else?
- Me: Nope. I’m on my own.
- Room service: Ooooh. Sorry for that!
2. I have a debilitating phobia of cockroaches – dead and alive. I’m not exaggerating when I say debilitating. I don’t even have to see one to stress; if I so much as suspect there might be one anywhere around I freak out with eye twitches, panic attacks & hives. I certainly can’t be expected to sleep. The whole thing is not pretty. It’s also not rational that I have zero fear of sharks and yet can’t sleep in a room where there may have been a harmless insect in the past month.
Anyhow, the moment I landed in Thailand I could sense they were all around me. The market in Sukhothai where I saw them and other bugs grilled up to perfection on a food cart confirmed it and several night time walks across Chiang Mai with Amber & Anna sent me screaming and running down the sidewalk. I swear the whole place is held up by a hundred million of the suckers seething under the sewers. Ewww, I’m giving myself the heebie-jeebies.
Thanks to Amber’s stomping upon arrival in any new guesthouse, I didn’t come across any critters while in Laos. It wasn’t until I got back to Thailand that I had a little incident.
I just woke up and stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I have a roach radar like nobody’s business, so moments after I started brushing away, my eyes were drawn to the huge thing lying dead (yes, dead) on the floor way too close to my bare feet. (You have no idea how hard it is for me to write this without a glass of wine.) I did what any sane American traveler would do – I yelled a few choice words at the dead creature and then ran full speed out of my villa, foaming at the mouth (with toothpaste – I’m not that crazy) and screaming for help while on the verge of tears.
The poor staff came running from all directions with genuine concern on their faces. The way I was carrying on, you’d think there was a man with a blood-dripping axe in the bathroom.
I directed the entire horrified staff into the room of doom and followed hesitantly behind. The pool guy looked up quizzically, not seeing anything remotely frightening in the bathroom. When I pointed to the roach, he laughed and said, “It’s dead!”
THEN, oh my gosh, I can hardly even get the words down I’m so heebie-jeebied, he picked it up with his bare hands… and that sent me running outside again in a panic. Land sakes! He probably took it home and grilled it – was definitely eating size if that’s your thing.
(There were also multiple incidents with huge spiders, but I’m not scared of them. Spiders are no match for my ninja ways.)
3. I had one day left in Koh Lanta before heading back for an overnight in Bangkok, and since I wasn’t quite well enough to dive, I signed up at my hotel’s desk for boat excursion to Phi Phi Island. The seas were quite large and several passengers gave up breakfast during the ride. Upon arrival, about 16 tour participants transferred to a long tail boat. Unbeknownst to us, that’s far too many people for a long tail boat, especially in huge, semi-violent seas. We set off for the famed beaches & coves in the area, a ride which should’ve taken 20 minutes. Forty-five minutes later, after our captain had to repair his sputtering, smoking engine en route, we reached a protected cove where half of the passengers had meltdowns. There were three Korean girls who couldn’t swim who were convinced we’d never make it back; one guy of indeterminate origin who was chain smoking nervously and counting lifejackets (there weren’t enough); and a German guy who shouted, “If I don’t get off this boat I’m going to kill everyone on it!”
So yeah. A good time was had by all.
Our tour guide eventually let us in on the secret, “The waves are too big to go to the beach or any of the coves.” Right. The whole reason anyone was on this long tail boat to nowhere was to see these breathtaking sights. Instead, we sat on the tiny boat in the protected cove for the duration of the tour, eating curry (the wisdom of serving curry when there are no bathrooms is beyond my understanding) and trying not to upset the unhinged German guy.
In the end, we all lived to tell the tale. But I know in my heart we came really close to a Gilligan’s Island (or LOST) scenario.
Other misadventures not told here: bugs in my food, bug crawling up my neck, hotel staff always saying yes to everything and never actually giving correct information – causing me to miss my only opportunity for the ferry… the list goes on.
When I added up the good times and weighed them against the bad times in Thailand, I’m disappointed to confess I was overjoyed to leave. I’m sure Thailand is amazing – I just didn’t get the best of it on my trip. I wouldn’t rule out a return visit necessarily; but it would take quite a bit of arm twisting.