Trip Start Jan 12, 2009
11Trip End Apr 26, 2009
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for those of you who maybe don't know...ines and i were exchange students together our junior year in high school. we've been in touch ever since. ines has been back to mn twice now and this is my second time coming back to reutlingen. after a very long journey from bangkok, ines and i finally arrived on zeppelin straße 10 (aka ines' house in reutlingen) around 5:30pm yesterday. i'm so excited to be back in germany! it really doesn't seem like its been 4 years since my last visit...my german is still pretty good, although i can understand more than i can say.
here's a recap of our last few days in thailand...
From Ko Phangan we hopped on a ferry and then a leaky bus (it was raining and water was dripping on us from the ceiling and spraying in through some of the windows!) and headed south to a little port city called Krabi. From what you'll read in the guidebooks, Krabi is nothing more than a short stopover to get to the islands. But we really enjoyed our time in this little place where their cute/cheesy motto is "lively town, lovely people." We arrived just in time for the weekend market there, and could feast quite royally from all the vendors there. It was also nice to be outside of the backpacker area for a bit, we were definitely the only blonde girls in the crowd and all of the signs were in thai...its always amazing to me how much people can communicate with each other without speaking the same language. There was also live music and a funny shadow puppet show. The next day we had another bit of good timing...we met these two german guys, aiden and ollie, who had mopeds - aka a free ride to the beach :) Two people asking us for directions, turned into a really fun day at the beach with two new friends...this is what i love about traveling!
The next morning we had booked a boat tour around some of the islands and arranged to get dropped off on the island Ko Phi Phi to stay there for a few nights. This was the first really touristy thing that we did...it was a little annoying having to wear a flourescent sticker all day indicating which boat that i needed to be herded onto, but it was totally worth it! the landscape in this area of thailand is incredible - steep rocky cliffs that are topped off with green jungle. i get so frustrated with the pictures that i took, because it really cannot do the reality justice. Our boat tour took us to bamboo island (one of my favortie spots in thailand...the most turquoise water i have ever seen exclamation point), and to maya bay where the movie "the beach" was filmed (quite ironic as in the movie its this top secret ultra secluded location, and in reality swarming with boats and tourists), and we got to go snorkeling with hundreds of brilliantly colored fish (which was mostly very beautiful, but also a bit freaky when they would surround you).
After our boat tour we got dropped off on Ko Phi Phi...which was also gorgeous, but definitely backpacker central and more expensive than the other islands. We had a bit of difficulty finding a cheap room, so we decided to splurge and get a nicer room for our 3 days there. and when i say splurge, i mean spending 10 bucks a night rather than the usual 3. After 2 weeks of sleeping with bugs, geckos, and sticky sticky heat (where you have to sleep completely sprawled out bc if any part of you touches another part of you, you wake up having to peel yourself apart) it was simply glorious to have a couple nights of luxury...ie ac, sleeping under the covers, flush toilet. We were also excited to finally find some beach volleyball on Ko Phi Phi! There was a group that played every night and therefore we joined them every night. It was through volleyball that we met 3 nice german girls traveling together with a nice minnesotan girl, and they all introduced us to Papaya...a tiny little hole in the wall restaurant with some of the most delicious curry i've ever had, and a cat in the fridge!! no joke...their cat was pregnant, and so they let her sit on the bottom shelf right underneath the coca cola to keep from over heating!! haha...i'll be sure to post the picture later, bc you really have to see it to believe it!
From Ko Phi Phi we journeyed to Pattaya to visit my cousin Jeff, his wife Oas, and their cute little Tate :) They were both so good to us...I'm so glad that it worked out for us to meet up. Tater tot wasn't quite sure about what to think about Ines and I being in his house. Normally, Jeff told us, he is quite the chatterbox, but was super shy and quiet whenver we were around. I think he was starting to warm up to us a little bit tho, because whenever we would leave the house/go up to the room he would follow us and protest a little bit. The last time I saw Tate he was just learning how to walk, and now he's running around the house...such a cutie. Jeff also made sure that we well fed during our visit. He took us to some of his favorite places and ordered us a smorgasboard of deliciousness. The food is so good in Thailand that it's pretty much impossible to stop eating when there is still food on the table...Ines and I both felt like we left rolling out of pattaya, but it was wonderful...I'm already missing thai food. He and Oas also took us to the night market, where they dared us to try the insects...grasshoppers, scorpians etc...(i couldn't do it!) and baby tate somehow fell asleep in the middle of all the noise and people!! We also had our very last day on the beach in Pattaya. I was sleeping when I was suddenly awoken by the sound of people giggling. I sat up and there was a group of students (15 or 16 years old maybe) with their teacher! in a semi circle around my feet giggling and taking pictures!! haha! apparently i didn't get as tan as i thought, bc they were marveling at how white i am. i wasn't quite sure what to do so i just smiled and waved for the photo...before i knew it they were having a photo shoot with me!! two friends came and sat down with me, then there was an entire group shot, then everyone wanted a solo shot with me, and finally the teacher! wanted her picture taken too! haha...it was quite the experience...i don't think i have ever been quite so dumbfounded. ha!
we said goodbye to jeff and crew and made our way back to bangkok for one night. the next morning we caught a bus to kanchanaburi...a town 2 hours northwest of bangkok...to see the erawan waterfalls there. it was definitely worth the trip - so beautiful! there were 7 levels of the falls and a crystal clear pleasantly cool pools that you could swim in...unfortunately, there were only "ugly" (aka huge black fish) swimming in the pools that liked to nibble on you went you jumped in! ines stuck to the smaller pools where the smaller fish hung out, and i tried to be tough and swim where the big fish were too but i just couldn't handle it and i don't think the other tourists could handle much more of my squealing...haha. a big swarm of fish would literally follow you around the edge of the pool as you decided if you were going to jump in or not....after about 10 minutes of debating whether i was going to go in and trying to distract the fish to give me some space...i finally just slipped on a rock and fell in...ha! we didn't have much luck with animals that day...bc we were nearly attacked by monkeys as well!!! no seriously...there was a big sign at the front of the trail that said to watch out for "fierce monkeys" and we just kinda laughed and took pictures of it, but somewhere along level 6 or so we came across a little family of monkeys. they were calmly sitting and munching on something in the trees and we were taking a couple pictures with some of the other tourists when out of nowhere the monkeys came charging at us squawking and waving their arms!!! i have never been so afraid of something so cute and furry in all my life! and i swear that the one little monkey was sticking its tongue out at us! haha...i think they must get a kick out of messing with the tourists...politely posing one minute and then freaking out the next. which if i were a monkey, i would probably do exactly the same.
our final days in thailand were spent back in bangkok. so many people i talked to hated bangkok, but both ines and i really liked it there...it was almost like a homecoming for us coming into the city...back to our cozy guesthouse, the flourescent pink taxis (my favorite), and the markets. although we did some sight seeing (we went to see the ginormous and golden "reclining buddha") we spent most of our time the last day doing some last minute souvineer shopping (and yes dad, i bought you a present :) ). our entire 4 weeks in thailand were so laid back and relaxing, but our finals hours in bangkok were one big ball of stress!! we had calculated enough time to get back to the guesthouse to pack, shower, eat ...before we needed to get to the airport. unfortunately, instead of taking the usual 10 minutes to get back, our taxi driver took us on a bit of a detour, which got us caught in a huge traffic jam caused by a festival going on, which only gave us about 20 minutes to pack, shower, eat by the time we finally got back to the guesthouse. in a sweaty frenzy we managed to pack up all of our things in time, but arrived at the airport smelly and hungry...but we made it. whew. my flight had a 5 hour layover in cairo (i know it shouldn't really count, but i want to say that i've been to egypt now) and so ines had to wait for me for quite awhile at the frankfurt airport. we made it back to germany safe and sound, but definitely tired.
sorry for such a monster post...will hopefully upload more photos soon, but until then I posted some more on my facebook album.
hope all is well back home!