Southeast Asia in a Nutshell — Southern Thailand

So you get bored of rudimental day to day with work and home and decide to take a trip. Thailand sounds nice and you book a ticket. You sleep through the flight from LA to Taipei and on the connection to Bangkok, the man sitting next to you is your fathers age and he keep talking. He tells you how to say hello and thank you in Thai. He also tells you how to say I love you to a woman but you don’t think you’ll be using that. Then he tells you what the whorehouses are like in Pattaya and you feel uncomfortable.

You check into your hostel at 4 am and the jetlag wont let you sleep so you have a rolled cigarette with an Israeli guy on the patio while getting eaten alive by mosquitos. During your first day, you have to take Adderall to stay awake and pass through the jetlag. You get bored and make friends with a random girl. You end up with a recommendation to visit the Grand Palace and Giant Buddha and now have drink plans for the night. The next day you take a walk through Bangkok. You see a vast array within a small portion of this large metropolis, visiting highly developed areas, a universities and one of the many slums. You go to Wat Arun and get templed out pretty quickly.

You go to Khao San Road with other new friends and immediately want to run away. You imagine you died during spring break and went to hell, only to be ironically punished for an eternity, partying with a bunch of drunken European teenagers. Your new friends say, “we don’t drink here, we go down the alleyways and drink with the locals,” so you feel a bit of relief. After a few days of this, you head south to the islands. Your Israeli friend gives you two Xanax and a Valium to help you sleep on the 17-hour bus ride. Not knowing what you are doing, you take them and later wonder how you ended up waking up at all.

You go to Khao Tao because you always wanted to scuba dive and are told it’s the cheapest place in the world. You meet Americans, Canadians, an Englishman and a silly, adorable Thai girl who cracks you up. You have a bungalow on the beach and an instructor from Orange County who you talk to about how bad the Newport bars have gotten. You feel cynical. You find yourself astounded by the beauty of the bottom of the ocean. Your head feels like it’s going to cave in because you’ve been going through the certification class with a cold but don’t tell anyone. Your ears won’t work for the next week but you started to get a tan. Because you are from LA and you are vain, it feels like an even trade.

You go out one night and begin to harbor content for the nightlife on the island. You deal with same level of drunken teenagers and tourists everywhere. The beach is trashed and you keep picking garbage up from the shoreline and throw it on the floor of whatever bar you are sitting in front of. Unimpressed by the fire show, you ask a waiter “where the real party is?” only to be told “everything same-same.” You decide it’s time to leave the islands and head north only to meet a beautiful German girl who makes you consider going to Cambodia with her. You realize its Valentines Day and also one of your best friends birthdays and decide to improvise. You say goodbye at 5 am and board a boat headed to the mainland and airport. You didn’t have many expectations for what to expect in the islands but weren’t really into what you found when you got there. You get to the airport with a ticket you booked for the wrong date and have to change it. You want to scream at the frustration of standing in the queue behind one person arguing with the attendant for an hour and almost leave for a hotel and to try again tomorrow. You get a new ticket and board a plane for Chiang Mai, telling yourself “maybe the north is where it’s at,” but you don’t yet know what “it” really is. You take a breath. You relax. You realize you are content in your current situation. You don’t realize, in the next five minutes, everything will begin to change. Looking back, you know that so far, you are an idiot and you have learned nothing.

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