The Last Episode of Melissa’s Southeast Asia Adventure

Dec 5, 2017

I know, I’m extremely late with this blog post. After coming back I had to get over jet lag (which by the way I just started feeling normal after 2 weeks) and my boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Disneyland for Christmas that was scheduled 5 days after I got back. Plus, I’ve been visiting friends and family, this is the time of year where all of that matters…so that’s why this blog post has taken this long.

Anyways, let’s get back to what happened my last week. I’m not going to go to into detail of everything since I literally did nothing my last week. Today I was going to Koh Tao, an island most famous for it’s diving and cheap diving certification process. Well, the night before I left I took off my band-aid on my shin to let it breath and clean it before going to bed. There was no toilet paper left in the toilet (remember there’s one bathroom for 26 of us in a dorm) so I wanted to tell the staff that there wasn’t any TP left (I’m not going to go into detail of how neglected this hostel was, but basically they didn’t clean the dorm rooms nor the bathroom every day). When I went to go outside to alert a staff member, I didn’t step on the gross towel that they put on the stairs (that they left there all day) because it was nasty and I was barefoot. Well, I guess they put it down on stairs for a reason because once I put my foot down I immediately slipped and fell. But I didn’t just fall, I skinned my hurt leg on the edge of the stairs, right where I took off my band-aid.

I was in intense pain, the worst pain I’ve felt in a long time. The skin around my already scrapped wound was very sensitive, and I just made it worse. I couldn’t do anything but lie on the couch in pain, almost in tears. One of the staff members helped clean it up and bandaged it, but I was so angry that I just re-hurt the wound I was hoping healed right before Koh Tao.

Fast-forward to the morning, once I woke up it was storming outside. It was the most violent storm I had experienced so far in SE Asia, and I was really nervous about getting on a boat. I guess everyone was leaving that day because there were tons of people in the hostel lobby with all of their stuff. We were waiting outside for the taxi to pick us up to take us to the pier. As I was waiting, I saw other taxis go by with backpackers’ stuff in garbage bags. I have a rain cover for my big backpack but not my small one, and I was sitting there thinking, “fuck, that’s a good idea, I’m going to get soaked.” I wore my rain jacket and my quick-dry pants, but that was it. I went to the mart to see if they had ponchos, but no luck.

Once one of the taxis arrived, I immediately went in. From the hostel to the taxi I already got so wet, and the ride to the pier I got even more wet. Once there, there were so many people. Everyone from the Full Moon Party were leaving that day and it was evident most of them were either going to Koh Samui or Koh Tao. There were massive amounts of people standing outside in the rain, ladies selling ponchos (where I picked one up as a cover for my little backpack), bodies and backpacks everywhere. It was absolutely miserable. The rain came and went, but it mostly came. It was also very unorganized (not saying that I expect it to be top notch service). So people were standing in the rain, not sure where to go, not sure which line to stand in, not sure what boat to board. Also, our boat was supposed to leave by 12, but since it was storming and raining our boat was obviously delayed.

Once our boat came, we all stood on the pier, waiting to board. It was a little ridiculous, but we were all standing on this pier when it started to come down hard, I mean really hard. So we’re all standing there, miserable, in the wind and rain, waiting to board this boat that’s 2 hours late. Finally, after making a few friends (and chatting about how miserable we were), we got onto this really tall boat. Most people chose this one to go to Koh Tao because it’s the cheapest option (it’s slower and not as nice as the others) so it was really crowded. I sat with this girl, Dez, who I met out on the pier. We sat at the top with some crazy backpackers (I’m pretty sure these people were drunk because they were loud as fuck) and braced ourselves for a rocky journey. We’d heard that the ride from Koh Phangan to Koh Tao was extremely rocky because there’s really no other landmass, it’s just complete open water. Well, our ride was more than extreme. Since our boat was tall and not wide, it would go over the waves like a buoy–the base would stick to the top of the ocean but the top would sway. Since we were on the top, we were swaying uncontrollably. The boat would rock so violently that it seemed like we would almost sit parallel to the sea.

I was able to nap a little bit and luckily didn’t get sea sick. Once at Koh Tao pier, our hostel’s taxi was waiting for us. This was nice because I didn’t have to haggle with a taxi driver to get to my hostel. I got in the actual cab part, but these taxis were just pick-up trucks with benches on the bed. So, when it started to rain again on our way to the hostel, I was really glad I was in the car. I immediately noticed the streets leading up to my hostel were completely flooded, like almost knee deep flooding. I guess they have really bad draining systems because it was just not an ideal way to get around.

Once at the hostel, I got some tacos since it was a Tuesday (and my hostel was literally called “Taco Shack”) and went back to the room to dry everything off and shower. The rest of the night I just chilled, watched some Netflix and YouTube, a theme I would find myself doing for the next 3 days.

Dec 6, 7, 8

These days I didn’t do much. In the morning I’d go to a cafe and FaceTime my boyfriend. I couldn’t go in the water or do yoga or anything active because I didn’t want to further injure myself or re-injure my cut (since I’ve already done that once). I was also a little down in the dumps since I wasn’t able to get my diving certification, my whole point into going to Koh Tao. I was also a little over trying to make new friends and socialize. I mean, I couldn’t even do that many activities (since we’re on an island and surrounded by water) so I thought there was no point in trying to make friends. I think at this point I was ready to go home. I couldn’t go in the water because I was told by the doctors in the clinic to not go in bodies of water. I didn’t want to risk it and I was completely fine sitting inside and doing nothing.

One day I went to the beach and actually chilled in the shade. That was the only day where there was actual sun and the beach wasn’t flooded. I also had dinner and went out with my friend Kristen, the girl from San Jose that I met in Cambodia. It was nice to actually socialize with people, but I’m glad I had those last few days to myself.

Dec 9

Today I was making the journey from the south of Thailand (the islands) to Bangkok, it would take about than 12 hours. First was a ferry ride from the island to the actual mainland. I actually got to ride in the nicest boat, with a whole row to myself, and my luggage inside. After that we sat at a rest stop where we got food and waited for the bus to come. The bus then arrived at 12pm, I sat with this guy from Israel. He was really nice and insightful and we talked for an hour or so. The ride itself was a whole 8 hours, luckily I had some Netflix movies downloaded to my iPad, I would have been so bored without it.

Finally around 8:30pm we arrived in Bangkok. They actually dropped us off a block away from my hostel, NapPark, the same hostel I booked when I first got to Bangkok. I really like my experience there, I met really cool people and Liv & Josh who I ended up traveling with for majority of my trip. I thought it’d only be right if I stayed there for my last remaining days.

Kristen hit me to hang out that night, she also went to Bangkok that day but flew instead of used the bus. I knew it’d be my last night out, so I said why not. I wanted to celebrate my last time in Bangkok with people I actually enjoy. We got some buckets (of alcohol), bought some balloons (filled with laughing gas) and just enjoyed the night. I was really tired so I ended up leaving around 1ish. Traveling all day takes a lot out of you..even though you might not think it does.

Dec 10, 2017

Since today was a Sunday, I decided to go to the Chatuchak Market, or the weekend market. I went here the first weekend I was in Bangkok with some friends, but this time I wanted to go solo. I really enjoy shopping solo, I get to go where I want to go and see what I want to see. I don’t have to cater to anyone’s needs or slowdown to someone else’s speed (or speed up). Plus, I needed to shop for people’s pasalubongs (souvenirs) and their Christmas gifts. This was a very daunting tasks since I had a lot of people to shop for and a lot of options to do so.

Chatuchak Market is one of the biggest markets in Bangkok. It’s so overwhelming I like don’t know where to look, what to get, where to go…it’s just so much. I ended up spending almost 3 hours there, got no where near the amount of stuff I wanted for people, and spent an hour in traffic getting back home.

Since I couldn’t find a lot of the touristy stuff at the market, I went to Khao San road to find the rest of my souvenirs. Here I almost found everyone’s before I got tired and bored (of shopping). I went back to the hostel, chilled, got some street food, relaxed, and watched Netflix before going to bed.

Dec 11, 2017

I did more souvenir shopping today, nothing too exciting. Yeah I don’t think I did anything exciting today except chill and shop…wait just kidding I got pampered today at the salon. Got a waxing in, got my nails did as well as a pedicure where they actually trimmed the dead skin off my feet. Lovely!

Dec 12, 2017

So…here’s the breaking news. Lucky for you if you read to here…but I got a tattoo. And no not a small tattoo and no, not one of those bamboo stick tattoos. I did my research, found the tattoo parlor, found tattoo inspiration, contacted the tattoo place, told them what I wanted, gave them pictures of what I wanted, and scheduled an appointment.

This tattoo place was one of the most renown places in Bangkok. They’ve won countless awards from tattoo conventions, and were the first tattoo studio in Bangkok to get certified at the Paris Tattoo Convention. My tattoo artist was Tom, the tattoo artist with the most experience and one of the first artist at that particular tattoo shop (called BKK Ink). In fact, think he helped open the shop.

I got there at around 3, Tom didn’t show up until 3:30. He then had to wait until the guy at the sketching table left so he finally started tattooing me at 4:30. Well, I wasn’t done until 11:30 so I basically sat for 7 hours. It definitely hurt, not as bad as my first tattoo on my side but enough to where I was wishing it was over. At first I scheduled 2 dates, but once the tattoo machine hit my skin, I knew I wasn’t going to come back the next day to go through the pain again. I told him to just finish it that day, I knew my skin was going to be even more sensitive the next day, and I really didn’t want to go through the process again. So, instead I just sat through it, biting my tongue and hoping it would finish.

After sitting for 7 hours, I was really really hungry. The first thing I did was get some soup from one of the street stalls because I hadn’t eaten since 12pm (it was almost 12am). Then I went back to my hostel and went to sleep.

Dec 12, 2017

Today I didn’t do much. I tried to find more souvenirs, the last few I needed to finally finish up my souvenir shopping. I watched some movies at the hostel and finished the night with an “expensive” dinner (it’s in quotes because expensive for me is like $15). I got a nice steamed whole snapper prepared Thai style along with a banana and coconut smoothie. It was a nice way to finish off my last night.

Dec 13, 2017

I only had a few hours to kill before the shuttle picked me up for the airport. I went around the street food stalls to hopefully find something delicious for my last meal, but nothing was really open. So, instead, I ordered breakfast at the hostel. I got banana yogurt with muesli, the first thing I ordered when I got to Bangkok. It’s crazy how everything came full circle for me: I stayed at the same hostel where I first stayed, ate the same food for my first and last meal, and even was assigned the same bed, in the same dorm, on the same floor as the first time I stayed there.

My last few hours was seriously icing on the cake. As I was sitting in the hostel eating my food, one of the local staff’s kid was hanging out in the lobby, too. I’m sitting on this table, enjoying my breakfast, when he comes up to the table with his game (this chutes & ladder looking game with little balls) and starts speaking to me in Thai (I honestly think he thought I was Thai because I’m the only Asian person other than the staff there). I also think he was bored, so he came up to me and I started speaking to him in English. He asked me if I wanted to play his game, which didn’t make sense but we made it work. Before you know it, he gets these stickers from his mom. I told him to decorate my phone and man did he go at it (mind you, he’s like 4). He spoke some English, as much as the staff who worked there, so he could understand me. He would speak to me at Thai at times but when I responded to him in English I think he realized I wouldn’t speak back to him in Thai.

We played for a while, but I had to go upstairs and pack and check out. Before I did, I told him to stay there–I remembered all the small animal erasers that I wasn’t able to give out. I think this was fate, because this was literally minutes before I had to get on the shuttle to the airport and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to give out all my erasers. So I raced upstairs, got the erasers and gave him the whole bag! He was speechless, but happy. I went back upstairs to pack my stuff and check out. When I came back downstairs the staff spoke to the kid in Thai. He ran and gave me a hug, at first he just hugged my legs because I was standing, but once I bent down he hugged me hard. It was such a touching hug, he even wrapped his legs around me, that’s how big the hug was. I wish I got a picture with him, but being a little kid he got so distracted afterwards.

My flight home was nothing special or exciting. The only amazing part was once I was in California airspace, the sunset was absolutely stunning. There was every single color in the sky, and it was such a warm welcoming. I started to tear up from how beautiful it was and just got really emotional reminiscing on my trip. Like, I did this. I was able to travel alone and literally have the time of my life. I met amazing people (hopefully life long friends), experienced beautiful cultures, ate the most delicious food, saw the most breathtaking views, partied till I couldn’t party anymore, and just absorbed everything around me.

This experience exceeded my expectations, and I feel as if I came out a better, more well-rounded person (as corny as that sounds). I’m able to trust and open up to complete strangers, adapt to different environments, push my limits, and just be my complete, raw, vulnerable self. Writing all this down has helped me reflect on my thoughts. It’s helped me remember and learn from my experiences as well as my day-to-day trips. I’m really happy I made the decision to do a daily blog, even if it wasn’t written daily. I also just uploaded all of my video footage to my computer (and re-watched it) and I’m so glad I took video as well. It helps me remember this amazing experience and I can’t wait to edit it into a video!

To everyone who’s read my daily blogs or just followed along with me during this experience, thank you. Thank you for being interested in my trip, thank you for taking the time to read my very long (and sometimes boring/repetitive posts) and thank you for your support. It’s nice to know that my blog writing effort (which isn’t easy) wasn’t gone unnoticed. I plan on writing a 2017 recap, if not tomorrow then definitely in the upcoming week.

This is Melissa signing out, thank you for all your support of MELISSA’S SOUTHEAST ASIA ADVENTURE!!!

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