The Low Down (like.. really low)

IF there is one actually a thousand thing that people overlook when traveling to Thailand, it’s the toilet situation. In most tourist places (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui, etc) you’ll find the good old fashioned sit-your-ass-down toilet seat. But there is a little squirt gun (similar to what you find to do the dishes with) next to it. It’s there to spray your ass after you $hiT. And with all the curry and spicy food your body isn’t used to, it comes in handy. You’ll also find hopefully a trash bin next to the seat and you are expected to throw your toilet paper into it. Thai sewers aren’t quite as updated as our western ones are. Just respect the country and toss it in the bin.

BUTT – there is something else to warn you about. If you are like me and don’t go camping every weekend, or hike, or do the nature thing in general, If you are the type who will hold it until you get home (or at least somewhere you’re comfortable going to the bathroom at), some of the smaller towns and bus stations will come as a shock. You will politely excuse yourself from the table and find this stall that may or may not have a door attached. In the middle of the ground is a what looks like a metal toilet seat with ridges on the top. “Why is this toilet seat so low?” you’ll ask yourself.
.. it’s a squat toilet. You have to squat. Don’t work out? Too bad.

If you are a woman, you stand on the ridges facing the wall and squat down like a baby would to pick up a bug they found on the ground. Then you do your #1 and hope you remembered to bring the tissues. Should your bowels be a moanin’ and a groanin’ you will face away from the wall and squat (see previous description) and let it all out. And then hope you brought EVEN MORE toilet paper. And sanitary wipes. And a Glade scented candle.
When you have finished doing your dooody, you will (hopefully) see a trash bin with water filled in it. You will take the bowl that is floating in that water and proceed to ‘flush’ your by-product down the hole. A few good bowl fulls should do it. If not, you’re shit out of luck (ha!!).

It’s disgusting. Some people don’t mind. Some people say it’s better for your posture and blah blah blah. I will NOT miss this. I went 5+ months without having to use one of those bastards. Then I had a reallllly bad stomach one day during class and had no choice but to do the squat. And it was HORRIBLE. You may dribble on your shoes, you may miss, you may spatter, you may want to throw up. And no, you don’t get used to it. At least I didn’t.

My favorite quote concerning squatters: “F- that.”

Advice:

  • ALWAYS carry wipes or toilet paper
  • Have toilet shoes/sandals
  • carry hand sanitizer
  • avoid if at all possible
  • learn to hold it
  • wipe tiger balm under your nose before going in – it wreaks.

That’s the toilet story. I had to warn you, my cyber friends. Good luck.

Blame it on the..

It’s been a long while since I have posted an update. My apologies – I blame the heat. Actually, one can blame the heat for a lot of issues here:

A certain laziness sets in that makes joining a gym or working out just seem torturous. I luckily have looked past this (and into a mirror) and joined a gym that does not have air conditioning. They have fans, but I haven’t seen them on yet. I spend more here on a gym membership per month than I did in the States.

A rash is inevitable. Heat rash mostly. The constant Florida summer heat can make sensitive skin break out in ways and areas that make ZERO sense. Luckily, pharmacies are as accessible as the drugs they sell. I picked up some cortisone for 180Baht (roughly $6).

I blame the heat for bad hair days! Being a native Floridian, having a ‘good’ hair day keeping long hair straight for longer than 2 hours. Here… maybe there is, maybe there isn’t an excuse. It’s too hot to blow dry and straighten my hair. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used a blow dryer… which was actually used for drying my paintings. The straightener bit was a few times more I think. I end up sweaty before I get through half of my head. However, Thai girls have good hair days everyday. I think they may wake up hours earlier than they should to make sure they look like dolls. Thai teachers especially. They rarely have an ‘off’ day. (Maybe I can blame the heat for the laziness of not getting up early to sweat from straightening my hair!)

I blame the heat for dirty clothes. Darling English people.. I know you LOVE to wear white in the worst combinations but white + heat = sweat stains. And they are obvious. I have a couple of white shirts that I have not and will not wear in Thailand. If not for the heat and sweat, then the rain that will give the Thai culture a real sense of spring breaks in Florida.

Full Moon Party (Part 1)

At some point in our young adult life, we hear about this legendary ‘Full Moon Party.’ Sometimes these parties happen around the corner from your home, in the desert, in the woods, etc. But there is none as great and LEGEN (wait for it!) DARY as the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party! Koh Phangan (Kho Pang-yan!) is a small island off the east coast of Southern Thailand. At the southern point is a beach called ‘Haad Rin’ (Hahd Rin) and it’s nice. The water is blue, the sand is sand-colored, and thousands of people flock to this beach once (or rarely twice) a month for this specific party.

It’s a THE full moon party. This party contains buckets, THOUSANDS of people, Burmese & Thai people, mushroom shakes, sex, fire dancing, fire slides(!),”music,” and of course glow paint.

BUCKETS are filled with whatever small-sized liquor bottle (yes, the entire bottle) and mixer. A famous one involves Vodka, Red Bull, and Coca-Cola. My personal fave involves gin and sprite or HongThong (Hong Tong – Thai ‘blended spirits’ aka rum-ish) and Red bull and Manao soda (like a lemonade spritzer?). These buckets range from 150Baht to 500Baht. Or – get creative and buy all the ingredients and mix it yourself.

Thousands of people flock from all over the world (mostly European, especially Irish) to experience this crazy extravaganza. I don’t mean a few thousand. Up to 40,000 people. Typically that number is reached during high season and/or New Years. My party allegedly had about 10,000 people but I can assure you I didn’t count that many. Or at all. I was wasted. The majority of the people (as stated) are from Europe. The sexiest European award goes to Holland!! DAMN DUTCH ARE FINE!!!! The quantity award goes to Ireland! Them bitches be everywhere! And being Irish, they can drink. And they can stumble. And they fall. One particular Irishman I met was dressed in an orange and white tank (vest, for you weird English) and was painted with orange, white, and grey/blue stripes on his face! Naturally, I approached him with ‘Tony?’ and he had no clue what I was talking about. I tried to school him on Tony the Tiger only to be reprimanded. He was, in fact, NOT tony the tiger.. but a were-wolf. Were-wolf + Full Moon Party = get it? Yea, he looked like a tiger. The most ridiculous award goes to Spain! It only took two guys and one simple conversation:

Spain: “You are beautiful. We are two guys who are the most attractive men in the world. You are the most beautiful woman. This is a sign. We should be together.”
Me: “No hablo espania.” And I walked away.

England and America of course get points for conversation. I chatted with an Englishman named (Wenton? Weston? Wimbledon? Wyoming? Whatever – I called him James, the only name Englishmen should have). We chatted about his semi-sad semi-heroic life choices of taking care of adults who have severe social and mental disorders, including his best mate who started showing signs of dementia at age 15. Sad, heroic. Good for him. Good luck in life.

From America, I met some cool and still douche-bag-like people. I met a complete ARSE-HOLE who used “wanker” in an American accent on several occasions. ((((SIDE NOTE: IF YOU ARE FROM AMERICA, SPEAKING WITH AN AMERICAN ACCENT – DO NOT SAY ‘WANKER’… you sound like one, stupid.)))) I kissed him to shut him up only to find he was as bad at kissing as he was at talking. He said “This was meant to be. I feel like I know you.” I laughed, and managed to get away. He then came to me and said ‘Are you serious? This is not the girl I have come to know! You don’t mean this. Come with me to my bungalow and we can sort this out.’  ???? Psycho? ????

Other people include Burmese and Thai locals. They are the ones cleaning up after you and selling buckets and trinkets, respectively. While the thousands of tourists come and ruin their God-given paradise, they stand by and watch. The strange groups of Burmese people with most of their faces covered and bandit-like clothing will go around and pick up the buckets and bottles and other various trash items that us beloved farang leave behind. They probably clean them out with water and give it to the Thai people, who turn around and sell it back to us filled with our favorite beverages for another 500Baht a pop. The Thai people each have their own stand that they will yell at you from. They write English words on their hands and arms in hopes to attract you. “Free hugs! Kiss me!” and other phrases that remind me of those little valentine’s candies.

 

There are the infamous mushroom shakes to consider also. Different people like different drugs for different events. Here in Kho Phangan they have Mushroom Mountain and Kangaroo Bar or something rather. If you face the water, follow the beach to the left until there are steps. Ascend these steps, buy the ugliest ‘shake’ for 500B per cup and choose your adventure. You can stay up in these safer parts where people are trippin’ to blacklight paintings and funky music. You can go back down to the beach and proceed to party at one of the many dance/music areas. You can watch a sweet fire show. Do whatever! But be warned, with the high comes the low. At about 4am when everyone is beyond intoxicated in so many different ways, things can get scary. People turn into zombies and just when you think they’re falling to the left, they’ll stumble to the right and knock you down. They may try to grab you and make out. They may just fall asleep before they hit the sand. There are people sleeping EVERYWHERE on the beach. Likely getting robbed too. Some of the Thais and Burmese will watch over the sleeping darlings to make sure they’re not getting raped or robbed, but no guarantees.  But when ‘shroom shakes are involoved… you see what the drug lets you.

Sex on the Beach is not just a drink. It’s right in front of you. Literally. I’m pretty sure people were doing the dirty deed while dancing and wasted. There definitely were people having sex in the water with lots of onlookers. These people may or may not have been hookers. I have a ‘friend’ who claims that while he was fucking a hooker in that very water, his possessions were stolen from the beach. Sneaky bitches. . . gender questionable also. If you decide to partake in this activity, put your belongings in a safe and have a condom ready… Thai hookers are nasty.

 

Thais are famous for their fire dancing. They can swing fire around better than any hippie I’ve met in the States. They perform for hours making sweet designs in the dark. There was also a fire slide. Say WHATT!!!!!! A rather steep slide that goes straight through a ring of fire? Yea… it’s here. And I’ll bet that is what going to hell is probably going to be like. One last fun thing before descending into the flames. I didn’t try it. I was on a different adventure.

 

The music. The “MUSIC” is shit. But I also happen to think that electronic/dance/trance is bullshit. And every single bar that lines this beach plays something with major bass. I would have danced, but how do you do dance to DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOm DODODODODODODODODODODM ——————– BIEEWWWWWWWW DOOM DOOM DOOM . whatev. I can’t make the sound via typing and I hope I never have to try again. You know it and hate it or love it. Again, at about 4am the music changes to dark trance… and depending on your intoxication preference.. this could turn your high into a really dark and scary place too.

 

What to wear: Neon. Cheap clothes that are bright or look cool in black lights. You can wear white like at Day-glo parties. Just know you’ll probably throw it away the next day… or not be wearing it at all when you get back to your room.

 

What to bring: minimal. Money and maybe a small pouch or secret place to store this money that is not easily picked (pick pockets), cut off, or opened. Bring an iPhone and you’ll probably get it stolen, lost, or broken. Shoes will likely be lost also. light up anything and glowpaint.

 

There are plenty of food options and drinks are always flowing. There are phramacy’s around and plenty of shops. No worries, you’ll find whatever you need there.

 

I’m over this entry. Maybe a proper entry to come about my personal little adventure during the Full Moon Party.

The Flight

My flight situation was ridiculous.

I came over from Florida so I knew it was going to have a few legs of the trip. I didn’t get hired by my school until two weeks before I was supposed to be there. Naturally that was going to make the flight expensive. I also purchased my tickets one way.

Faregeek.com and kayak.com had some of the better deals to purchase tickets all together. However, the layovers were in places I was advised not to go to (Bahrain, for example). So I opted for the direct purchase instead.

The first ticket I bought was from Singapore Air. It leaves JFK on Tuesday night at 8:35pm, layover in Frankfurt for 2 hours, layover in Singapore for 3 hours, lands me in Bangkok on Thursday 11am(Thai time). It was rumored to be a fantastic airline I figured it’d be comfortable for the long legs. My WellsFargo bank wouldn’t let me purchase the ticket though because it was international and I hadn’t forewarned them I was buying the ticket. Chase was okay on the purchase.

My second ticket was Delta from MCO to JFK on Tuesday at 2:52pm. $123 one way with a 3 hour layover (enough time to get my bags switched and get to my gate)

Third ticket was with Thai Airways from Bangkok to Surat Thani (where I am staying). It was about 2,660B (aka $85 USD). The layover was 7 hours (11am Thursday until 6pm Thursday) though and that was going to suck.

Naturally I got the emails saying ‘Check in online!’ but I ignored them because I wasn’t sure how many bags I was going to have with me until the morning I left.
At MCO, I checked in with Delta and they said they can send my bags all the way to Bangkok since Singapore Air was a partner airline. However, they could not check me in with Singapore. They said not to worry because I had 3 hours in JFK and I will have plenty of time to check in at the airport.

My 2:52pm flight on Tuesday to JFK was delayed 30 minutes. 3:20 comes along and suddenly departure isn’t until 4:30pm. This was going to cut it close to my next flight but they said Dont worry, you’ll make it on time. We will have a car waiting to get you to your gate and the plane will wait for you. (So sweet, right?)
That 4:30pm departure shows up and now the departure is going to be around 5pm.. but nobody has even boarded the plane. So they send all of us that have connecting flights at JFK on another flight. We get there and I RUSH off the plane and practically run (with my 30lbs of carryon) to the check in counter.

Nobody is there. A lady said told me to try going to the gate directly. I head to the gate and encounter the security checkpoint. The lady says ‘Sorry but go to the checkin desk.’ Obviously that doesn’t work. By some crazy chance, a Singapore Air person comes around radios the plane to see if they can wait. But I am not on their list. At all. I have not checked in. “You must checkin 2 hours before departure.” What. a. bitch. I told her I tried but Delta was delayed and caused me to miss it. She says “Go see delta. You’re not getting on this flight.” – My heart falls to my feet.

There was still 45 minutes before the plane was technically leaving so I ran to Delta and tried to talk to reps. They said ‘We cant help you get on the plane. You should have gotten here with enough time planned.’ I informed that fukker that I was late because of DELTA! So “supervisor” comes over and says “We have a flight tonight with Delta at 10:55 to Amsterdam, then straight to bangkok. I’ll get you on that flight.” Liar. Singapore Air will not relinquish the ‘rights’ or ‘control’ of the ticket to Delta and therefore I had to wait until the next Singapore flight left.. which was 8:35pm the next day. I begged and pleaded and he said “Let me get you a hotel room and food vouchers.” Well what about my Thai Airways flight that I’m not missing because of Delta? “Here’s the number, give them a call.”

I cry as I call my family to let them know I’ve missed the flight. ((Side note: I had planned on getting to Thailand on a thursday because my birthday was Saturday and I didnt want to be jet-lag-hungover. My birthday plans were looking shabby now. And YES i tried to use the birthday excuse and they didn’t play on it))

I found my way to the hotel in 44F NYC (in my florida capris and tank top with barely a sweater). I check in around 10:45pm and head to my room. The door wont open. They give me another key and it still wont open. A security guy comes up and opens the door and reprograms the whole thing. I go to order room service and all food at the hotel ceases service at 11pm. I finally look at my breakfast and lunch food vouchers.. Each for $6. HELLLL NO. I couldn’t get a pretzel for $6! This is New York people!

After a bit more crying, my awesome attorney brother gets on the phone with Delta to see if they can help rectify the situation. Even the rep said it was bullshit that I had a $6 voucher for food. She told me there was another Delta flight at 2pm the next day and to go into JFK and talk to a Delta rep in the morning.
((As it happens, my “brother”/awesome pilot friend Andrew happened to be at JFK the next morning, so he was my breath of fresh air for the day. We had a lovely cup of coffee together before the rest of the chaos began))
*Taking a breather here.. it’s stressful just recalling it*

So, I arrived at JFK around 10am to see Andrew. Around 10:45am I head upstairs to the Delta desk to speak to a ‘red coat’ aka a supervisor who was supposed to know about my situation and help me out. Instead, a nice lady asks to help me until the red coat shows up. I tell her the situation and show her the ‘ticket’ (aka piece of paper with a bunch of numbers printed on it). She pulls up the ticket number and it was for the flight with singapore the night before. Then she pulls up my ‘file’ and says ‘Oh you were supposed to be on the flight to amsterdam last night’. I almost flipped.But she can offer me another food voucher. She prints it out and it’s for $7.   She says ‘Go find a singapore rep in arrivals and see if they will give us the rights to the ticket.’ So I go downstairs and the singapore lady says ‘We cannot help you.’ I said ‘Delta said you will’ She says ‘What? Do you WANT to pay thousands of dollars more to switch your ticket? You cannot just wait until the flight you’re supposed to be on tonight?’ I explained the situation and she sent me back to delta desk and they said ‘not our problem, talk to singapore’. I go back and shehands me a walkie-talkie and asks me to speak with David, the Singapore rep. I said, let me talk to him in person. 20 minutes later he shows up and explains that it is not their concern that I missed my flight. Go back to Delta. So I go back upstairs on the verge of tears and the lady says ‘Let me grab a redcoat for you.’ The redcoat says ‘I’ll be right back. I have to find this lady a wheelchair.’ That was about 12:30pm.
At 1:15pm I ask nice-delta-lady Crystal if she has seen him. She says no and calls the delta office. He went into training at 2 and wont be back. But if another one comes along she’ll send them my way. At this point, I’m not going to be on the Delta 2pm flight. So, I continue to sit. And wait. And sit, and wait etc. about 3pm a “supervisor” comes over to talk to me. She says I may as well wait until the singapore flight. But she can offer me another food voucher. She prints it out and it’s for $10. Now I’m up to $29 in food vouchers.. a proper meal at least. I explained the Thai Airways situation and she hands me the phone to speak to the Thai Air rep. He says ‘Dont cancel the flight because there’s a chance you can still make it.” Okay, this guy is a fucking idiot too. No point in that.. I’ll just eat that one. After much haggling and useless banter about my situation and how Delta can do nothing but offer me food vouchers, I finally get 2 $100 delta vouchers. As if I want to fucking fly with those assholes again. By now it’s 4pm and I haven’t eaten since the day before.

I go downstairs and enjoy a petit filet and a glass of wine. With proper food in my stomach, I’ll be a little less emotional and bit more sensible. All I have to do now is check-in with Singapore and I’m on my way.
At the check in counter they all know about me and my situation. Rather than offer an upgrade or a way to help me out, they stick me in an exit row with a window. I love windows, not a fan of exit rows: you cant keep your carry-on with you. The check-in girl says ‘I’ll block out the seat next to you so you have space.’ The rep says ‘No. You cant do that for her.’ What. a. bitch. The rep also says they can only get my bags to Bangkok since I don’t have a flight to Suratthani official anymore. After more attitude about how it was MY fault for missing the flight the night before, I get my ticket and walk away before I say something that will embarrass me. (It’s hard not to say ‘fuck you’ every few minutes after being in the airport since 10am waiting for an 8:35pm flight).

Just before my flight, I treated myself to an airport chair massage. It wasn’t bad. But it was much deserved after that fucking hell of two days.
I board the flight and two large french ladies sit next to me and take over whatever space is left between us. The adorable little boy behind me is playing a recorder/flute. His dad somehow manages to pry it away and just before take-off, little boy says “If I was a airplane driver, I’d get us into a crash.” Brilliant child. He also asks repeatedly if we are going to go past the boom (sonic boom, i assume?) and will we be able to fly to the moon? Also..apparently this plane should fit 1,479 people. He was cute. He was especially cute because he fell asleep about an hour into the flight. His dad also tried to hit on me a few times. Old German man. (No thanks).

The rest of the flight was fine. The food was exceptional on Singapore. There were cool individual tv screens to watch movies and tv shows, play games, listen to music, etc. I played poker a bit.


I watched a few movies, and got maybe a few hours asleep. I changed in Frankfurt, the flight to Singapore was 12 grueling hours. Again, good food, watched movies, slept a bit here n there. Singapore airport was fine. Tried to call Thai Air or Asia Air to book a flight to Surat Thani. Didn’t work.
Upon arrival in Bangkok I found my way to Air Asia and got a flight for 2pm.  I hung around Bangkok airport for a few.

Got my flight to Surat (the seats are so small that I couldn’t even fit in them.. i’m 5’2″. and there literally was no leg room. the asshole in front of me leaned back and i lost feeling in my legs.).

And here I am. In Thailand at last.

 

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