Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Been a while!

Hi Friends!

I have to apologize for not having written much lately, but we've been hop scotching islands like crazy and the internet is suddenly not so cheap on this side of the country :/

We are now in Phuket, where Vern's mom got us a very sweet deal in an extremely nice resort. So this is our time to relax and enjoy having air con and a hot shower and tv and all those things we forgot about. So thanks again Jane for that :)

The last few weeks have flown by! Asfter Samui we headed to Koh Pagnang where I had gone for the full moon party. We found a cheap room that fit all 4 of us (with 2 beds this time :) ). The island was MUCH quieter without the full moon crowd around, so it was a good relaxed 4 days where we could unwind from Samui and Brandon could heal from his accident. At night they still had parties on the beach, but much smaller, and just as fun. The second day on Pagnang, our friend Bam actually took the ferry over and came to stay with us. I had forgotten a pair of shoes at Chuchi and she was so nice to bring them over, plus she used the shoe excuse to come and see Vern, whom she's grown quite fond of :) And just when we were departing mentally from Samui, our friend Dee Dee showed up the next day to surpirse us as well. We really left our mark in that place haha. But it was a good 4 days that we got to spend with some friends. Dee Dee's birthday happened to be the next day so we rented motorbikes and went exploring around the island that day. It is a much smaller island than Koh Samui, but still has a lot to see and lies on lush steep hills that are a little scary to drive on, but worth the drive. We went to Koh Ma, a tiny little island right off the north western coast, which has a sandbar connecting it to the main island. It was such a quiet, beautiful little spot. Brandon couldn't get his foot wet so he had stop hop on one foot across the sandbar haha. We spent a good couple hours there enjoying the sun and peacefulness. After Koh Ma we figured since we had bikes we should explore a little more, so Bam got a map and decided we should go see some waterfalls. We failed at finding the first, and when we found the second, we had to drive up this rocky, steep, crazy little trail for 10 minutes just to find out at the top that the waterfall was dry because it's not the right season. We decided to 86 the waterfall idea, and went to a viepoint park, where there's another very dry waterfall and apparently an amazing view at the top of the mountain. When we got a good way into the trail to the viewpoint, I was following Brandon and realized that no one was following me anymore. We kept going for about 30/40 more minutes and climbed through rocks and sticks and who knows how many bugs and spiders and we did this all barefoot because both our flip flops broke. We pretty much reached the very top where it was such thick jungle that you couldn't see anything and we started to hear noises and see interesting looking webs, so we turned around and headed back. I almost died 5 or 6 times on the way down, but hey! no worries because I'm clearly alive and well telling you all about it :)
So it was definitely a good day, we stopped on a cliff on the way back to watch the sunset on the island and then took DeeDee out for a nice dinner. Later we danced on the beach all night and savoured our last night on Koh Pagnang.

So the next day we decided we were ready for a new area, so we booked a combined package with ferries, taxis and buses that would take us to Krabi where we could have a few days before we had to reach Phuket. We started off with the overnight ferry that was pretty neat, this ferry has 2 levels and the top level was laid out with tiny mattresses and pillows all the way through. We slept like babies being rocked by the waves. Sadly after the ferry it was a nightmare! We arrived in Suratthani, a big city on the mainland that we had heard a lot about, but the place was trashed (at least what we saw of it) it was worse than Bangkok I would say. It was about 5am when we got there and it took us an hours or so to get to this soup kitchen where we had to wait with many other travelers for like 2 hours. We were tired and dirty and didn't know what was going on, but they were playing Jackass on tv so that kept us entertained. Our cab driver that took us there and later took us to our bus was on some serious drugs and was wide awake and strung out at 5 am, singing and laughing the entire time. We got to the busand on it before the bus driver even got there, so we were starting to get worried, and you should've seen this bus. Half the lights were missing, the body was all rusty and bruised and some of the windows were cracked. Anyway, after forever, we made it to Krabi where we took a longtail boat to Tonsai...a climbing village secluded on a beach that's closed in by gorgeous limestone rocks that shoot miles into the sky. If that place didn't look like paradise, I don't know what does. Beautiful, but far removed from anything, Tonsai doesn't have much going on if you're not a climber, which was lucky for Vern who climbed for 4 straight days. Us on the other hand...haha I got sick and Brandon still had stitches that couldn't get wet, so while Vern climbed, the 3 of us would pretty much sit outside our bungalow while Bran and Tre played guitar and eat twice a day and that's about it. Good times haha. No, it wasn't bad really, but I don't think we could've stayed longer than we did. And that was definitely the most we've roughed it out of this entire trip. Our bungalows were little bamboo shacks with a fan and a light (which only work at night because the electricity is turned off during the day), and a mattress with a mosquito net. There's a community bathroom with a sad little drip they called a shower and two toilets that you had to manually flush with a water bucket. We  were high rollers in Tonsai, let me tell you! haha But it was a fun experiennce, and the views were amazing! next to us was Railay...another village which is a bit bigger and more popular, so there's much more going on over there. To get there however you have 3 options: a short, but sketchy hike through some very steep rocks, which can be risky when the lights go out...you can walk around the beach during low tide where there are also many pointy rocks and it's slippery and muddy...or a back mountain trek through the jungle that we tried the last day there, that is a 30 minute power workout with cool trees and lizards the size of medium dogs (no kidding, we encountered one)....so we only made it to Railay twice hahaha. We saw some cool monkeys and made a couple atm transactions. There wasn't much out there, but we made a couple more good friends and then got on a ferry to Phuket.

Which brings us here! The resort is amazing and such a crazy contrast from the last place we stayed, but it's like a gated community and the occupants fit the agenda. It's all rich old people and families. But we're enjoying the relaxation and pampering very much! And tomorrow is Than's birthday! Get excited!!! We're gonna rent some bikes and head to a busier side of the island where we can have some fun because here we're pretty isolated from anything. Should be fun! We leave in 3 days and are heading down to Koh Phi Phi, which is pricey but we've heard great things. That's close to where they filmed "The Beach", so we're thinking about doing an overnight camping tour out there where it's supposedly jaw-dropping beauty in natural form. That's also gonna be around Bran's birthday so if any of you who may read this are friends with either him or Than, make sure you send bday wishes! :)

As for me, I'm doing better, and I'm still loving Thailand and I'm still missing you all like crazy and I'll make sure to get back on here sooner next time!
Raiti Sawa! (Good night)


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Samui On My Mind

It's been a while! As you all may have read and heard, with Brandon's accident it's been quite a week. However, I'm very happy to say that he's healing rapidly and well and should be back to drinking and driving in no time. I'm kidding! I think this accident has made him think a lot, and he will take it as a very important lesson. I'm also happy to report that he will stay and continue the trip with us, because for a while we were all convinced he was headed home.

Today is our last day in Samui. We're definitely ready to head out and see new places, but the memories we've made and the people we've met on this island will last forever. It was truly a magical experience and we were blessed to have had it turn out this way. And even though this is only our first time here, we feel like part of the family along with Kob, John who's been here 7 times and the Guernsey boys who are following in the same footsteps. Our last night was fun and much like all the others, we sat around a good bottle of whiskey and laughed and told stories till late hours of the night. Now we're headed off to Koh Pagnang where we will stay a few days to check out the island and take a day trip to Koh Tao, known for it's snorkeling and diving. We leave Samui with a heavy heart, but mostly heavy from all the friendships and incredible moments we've had. And to any of our readers who may ever consider Thailand as a possible destination, i would highly recommend Koh Samui as a must-see :) You may even find us or some of our friends hanging out on the premises of Chu Chi Mansion, surrounded by thick, lush leaves and tall palms.
For now, we'll see you later :)


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ramble on

So the last several weeks have been a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but altogether experiences that I wouldn't change for the world. With people rolling in and out of our apartment complex everyday, you eventually start to develop relationships with the ones who stick around for a while. I must especially mention our friend John, with whom the four of us have been spending quite a bit of time. John is a 30- year old Swede who is currently on his 7th trip to Thailand. A very soft but eloquent speaker, John has been more than happy to play tour guide for us around Samui for the last week or so. A big part of the appeal of this island is that everyone we have met is so laid back and seems to take life as it comes to them. I'm 22 with little direction and an anxious mind, and I have found spending time with people like John to be extremely cathartic.

With John and his friend Aek, a local hippie, as our guides, we drove deep into the jungle along backroads that were so steep, the little motorbikes could barely handle it. There were literally some points where we would have been going faster walking along side the bikes than actually riding them. Soon after arriving at the restaurant however, it became apparent that our reward justified our perilous journey. As you step out onto the porch of the restaurant, the entire south side of the island is laid out before you. The surreality of the view is enough to stop your heart. At one end of the island, the aquamarine water is striped with long lines of waves slowly coming into the shore. At the other, the sun, tucked away behind a thick mist, is only evident by the light that is reflected off of the water. As the day progresses, the mist subsides, the sun shines through and if you look closely, dozens of small islands, or more appropriately, large rocks, rounded to show their age shoot out of the water. Small fires dot the island and the smoke that climbs into the sky only adds to the islands mysticism. Good friends and good drink accompanied the divine panorama, and as the sun dipped behind the rocky knuckles in the sea, I struggled to think of a better way to end the day.

The next night, we were introduced to one of Samui's big players. A formal mayor candidate and exceptional cook Lung Ruern or "uncle Ruern" is a kindly and sage old man who despite having a massive villa on the island, chooses to live on a small farm deep in the jungle. We were invited by him to enjoy a traditional Thai dinner which was, hands down, the best meal I have had in Thailand. Boiled chicken with leeks and a large vegetable similar to a cucumber stewed all day in a chicken broth was absolutely delicious, perhaps in part because it reminds you so much of back home. Also a fried duck dish with cilantro, lime, and fresh chili peppers that was absolutely second to none. As we sat around drinking and eating, Lung Ruern told stories of his experiences in Thailand, one of which I thought was so funny that I have to tell you.

About thirty years ago, a group of Christian missionaries was sent into the northern jungles of Thailand to teach the hill people about contraception and safe sex. They demonstrated to the men how to apply a condom by rolling one on to their fingers. A chorus of understanding "ooohs" and "ah-has" surely followed. The men then repeated the demonstration and the missionaries believed that their work was done. When they returned to the village three months later, all the women were pregnant. The missionaries were understandably confused. They soon realized that the men were using the condoms, but had taken the demonstration a bit too literally, by putting them on their index fingers during sex instead of their penises.

With the amount of time we have spent in this place, you would think that we know this island like the back of our hands. But in reality, we really do little else then sit and eat and drink with the friends that we have met so far. Some people may think that we are robbing ourselves of experiences this way. But I wouldnt trade these last few weeks in Koh Samui for anything in the world.
Brandon, on the other hand, may have a totally different perspective of this adventure. After several weeks in Samui, he was taken to the hospital for what Giulia and I initially just thought was a panic attack. We later discovered that he had Typhus fever, a disease caused by a small mite that usually occurs in 'unsanitary and cramped conditions. I think that sleeping four people to a room and two single beds would certainly qualify. He spent the next couple of weeks sober and depressed. Finally, he started to feel better and went out for a night on the town with John and some other friends. When everyone else went to sleep, Brandon wanted to go to an internet cafe to skype his brother, but he never made it. Just outside of where we were staying, he laid his motorbike down and crashed into two others that were parked on the street. He came home, covered in the worst road rash I had ever seen and hysterically asked us for more money so that he could pay off the cops instead of spending the night in jail, this was at about 5 in the morning. Convinced that he was going to jail and still obviously drunk, I was sure that another panic attack would ensue. But over the next hour or so, he calmed down and we even found out that the vast sums of money he would have to pay would be his only punishment for his stupidity.

As it stands right now, the four of us are sitting in his hospital room joking and laughing about what an idiot he was. He is lucky to be alive right now, and I think he realizes that, even though he laughs as though it's no big deal. He thinks that the experience will serve as a wake up call to him, and I certainly hope that is the case, because there are so many people that respect, admire and care for him that it would be a real pain in the ass to get them all together for a funeral.
Until next time, Sawadee Kop

Sunday, February 7, 2010

One Month!

It's our one month anniversary in Thailand today! It still feels like it's been much longer though. I finally convinced a couple of the guys to write on here so hopefully we still have readers, even if it is just our parents :)

I'll begin...We're definitely gonna miss Samui when we leave in less than 2 weeks. Besides our tight quarters and dirty living conditions (not on my part of course haha) we love everyone here and I have a good feeling they like us a little bit too :)

Unfortunately Brandon is in the hospital, he ok though! We had a rough night a couple nights ago...apparently he called a sort of virus or something from a small water bug called typhus and it can knock you down a little for a few days. We sort of researched it and it's nothing serious, but they're taking good care of him. The hospitals here are incredible and besides all the craziness the night we took him there, we had a few good laughs. After me and him got to the hospital at 4:30 am, they were hooking up strange gadgets on his chest and ankles and wrists and while everyone was testing and explaining things to us Bran was like "take a picture" so I'm sitting there snapping kodak moments while he's half breathing, and then suddenly the assistant told us the nurse was his wife and he looked at his watch and realized it was already a new day and told her "Happy Birthday!" and for a minute or two everyone dropped everything they were doing to Bran and starting clapping and yelling "Happy Birthday!!!" haha odd to say the least. But we finally got somewhat of a good night's sleep because those beds are super comfy and we had them all to ourselves. On the down side every time we'd start falling asleep, someone would come in and turn on the lights to check temperatures, or give Bran pills and stuff. Well, now that they've agreed he's gonna be fine they're holding him there a bit longer just for last precautions, so we've visited him a couple times and he should be out of there tomorrow (Monday here) morning or maybe even tonight to catch the Super Bowl. So good thing he's ok, now we just have to see when me and Trevor are gonna end up in the hospital, because we're feeling left out.

Besides that everything's still smooth. We got some new neighbors, very lively fellows, so our Chuchi crowd is very fun at night and we all share stories and laughs over some snacks, beers, or whatever the people here cook. The other night we gave our friend Mai, aka Mai Tai, money to go to the market and she made an amazing dinner for us! She's our age and she's so sweet! She's always laughing or joking around, and it's been fun hanging out with her. Tomorrow she starts her new job so we won't see her as much but we've had a good week with her. Bam (the other girl that works at Chuchi) has this electronic Thai-English translator that sounds words out for you and she speaks with the same intonation as the translator and it's so funny but cute. Singha Minga's a mess! haha She's ALWAYS drunk and she's actually been gone for the last 3 days, who knows where, but she was here today bright and early with a bottle of Singha in hand haha. The british guys from Gernsey tripled, because 6 of their friends arrived last week and they're all staying here as well. Due to this we've all picked up some good sayings like "let's get involved" (as in let's party) or "wrecked" for drunk, "bird" for girl, and many more...so..... we may come back with a fuller vocab and a Gernsey accent because we can't seem to stop talking in one. We also say "mate" and that's pretty terrible haha.

There was a bbq here the other night and some older french people that are staying here too are in a band (folky/americana/type) and they had banjos and trombones etc. so we had a lot of fun and Bran even played the banjo for a while...not bad I must say! Steve also brought some friends and we might go out with them one of these nights. Then there's Ket who lives here, she's Thai, and she's very intense and mysterious but also very cool. She's been here 4 months and we've rarely seen her around the mansion, but she came out of her room a few days ago and we loosened her up and it turns out she's a badass and probably part of the Thai mafia, because she doesn't work, she loves gambling and soccer, and is possibly the best pool player I've ever seen. So yeah, intense, but very nice! Today we finally got our room cleaned and I think the lady that cleaned it will have to recover for a few days, because she was in there for like 3 hours and she looked like she climbed everest rather than cleaned our room when she came out. We're just gonna take it easy these last days we have on Samui and try to enjoy them fully before we head on to Pukhet.

Miss you all much!



After leaving the suffocating congestion of Bangkok, it would an understatement to say that everyone was thrilled to reach the comparatively calm city of Pattaya. As we drove into the city, small glimpses of the sea could be seen from the highway.For me, it was pacifying to see the ocean again, it had been nearly five years since I had seen it last. Something about seeing those faint glimmers of sunlight shimmer off the gently undulating water puts the mind at ease. Seeing the size and power of the sea makes you contemplate your relative insignificance in the universe, but in a pleasant way that somehow makes you feel as if you are an important component of it.
Immediately after we reached the beach we were greeted by a family friend of Giulia's named Enzo. Enzo is a middle aged man with skin like a baseball glove, a youthful smile, and a stunningly beautiful Thai girlfriend. With his help we were able to secure a room for the night and get settled a little bit. A few hours later, as promised, Enzo reappeared at the Bungalow and told us he wanted to take us to a place called Walking Street. After the frenetic pace of Bangkok, all four of us were ready for a nice quiet night on a quaint and unassuming shopping mall in a small Thai beach town. None of us could have been more mistaken.

Walking street attacks your senses long before you actually see it for yourself. The thunderous thump of club music, the smell of fresh Thai food emanating from the streets surrounding Walking Street attempt to prepare you for the onslaught that is about to ensue. As far as the analogy goes, Walking street is very similar to the strip in Vegas, except there are fewer lights and infinitely more opportunities to sin. Lady boys and scantily clad young women crowd the streets, handing out flyers and tickets for free drinks. Giant neon signs offer what are referred to as "short-term hotels" for very reasonable prices Behavior that would normally be resigned to seedy back-alley establishments in the States is generally accepted and, especially towards the end of the night, also encouraged. To the uninitiated traveler, the entire experience is repulsive, unexpected but also admittedly curious. And while our sensibilities ultimately prevailed over the Walking Street, the entire experience is impossible for fat, white, dirty old men, (which the vast majority of the population consists of) to resist.

The next day, the four of us were finally presented with an opportunity to decompress a little bit. As we sat on the beach soaking up the Thai sunshine, there was a tangible sigh of relief among the group. We were promised a Muay Thai lesson by Enzo as well, but thinking that the experience would be very basic, we were content to relax and let our blood pressures return to a healthy level. As the sun reached its hottest, we were greeted once again by Enzo and taken on a brief taxi ride into town where the gym was.

The Muay Thai gym was fairly small and inconspicuous, its patrons, however, were not. Gargantuan men from Germany, Russia, and even an MMA fighter from the US were training hard, creating sonic booms as they hit the stationery bags with their legs and fists that reverberated along the entire street. To stumble across this scene as a first-timer is, obviously, a bit humbling. But if one has a good attitude and a decent level of fitness, it is pretty easy to get into the swing of things.

The training itself is incredibly different than I anticipated. Like any good work out, the first step is to have a good long stretch. followed by some light cardio. Enzo also showed us the basic stance, movements, and techniques that are fundamental to Muay Thai. The work out regiment itself is set up just as a bout would be. You train very hard for three minutes, then you take a one minute rest. While this may seem easy at first. At the end of an hour and a half session, the sweat poured from us as if someone were constantly dumping a bucket of water on our heads. We thanked the very amiable, and incredibly still energized, Enzo before heading back to town, crawling for our beds and falling into a deep sleep, where pleasant dreams of the sloth and lethargy that would describe my next few days danced through my head.
More to come very soon!
-Vern the Worm

Monday, February 1, 2010

Let's Get Involved

I finally got Bran to write something so now you probably won't hear back from him for another 3 months lol. So yeah we're definitely getting used to things, besides drinking (which we've all decided to take a little break from). Yesterday we laid low all day and then went to this bbq place that was 140 Bht per person and it's all you can eat and you get a big cooker pot thing at your table and you cook your own food. Delicious really! There was all kinds of meats and veggies and seafood and yum! We went with Sean, and Tome (two of the british guys we hang with) and Bam and Mai (her friend that comes and hangs out at the mansion sometimes).

So my birthday was incredible! Much more exciting than I was expecting. After I cameto the cafe and posted that last blog I was supposed to meet up with the guys on the beach, but I was in here so long that I missed them by minutes. So I went and hung on the beach for a couple hours and then headed back to hopefully find them. On my way back I ran into Tre who had a scooter, which they had gotten so we could go to Chaweng for my bday dinner, and he took me back up to the mansion. We all got ready and headed to Chaweng to get a nice dinner, but ended up having one of the worst dinners ever! It was so expensive and our food tasted like a tv dinner pizza. So we came back to Lamai and all split a large one at our fav Italian place here in Lamai (yeah I know we're eating like gringos, but you gotta cut us some slack, we've been eating rice and pad thai for a month now). After that we went back home and Steve was there to surprise me with the peeps from the mansion. They had all bought some whiskeys and cocktails and they boys found me an ice cream cake at Dairy Queen! believe it or not. So it was a great time and we all had fun.

The next day we relaxed again, and I went into town, where our friends at the massage parlor gave me all these good luck bracelets and a necklace and a ring and they got me a little cake. How sweet! They're such nice girls. We hung out with them most of the day and then it was back to the bars at night. We all kinda got separated, until much later and I found Tre and Bran stumbling around headed to the beach. We hung out for a while and then I went and said hello to my friends at the restaurant where we met Jonas (the Swedish guy). I had some curry with all of them and then headed home.

The next day was the Full Moon party on Koh Phanang, which we had all planned on attending, but from the morning the guys all decided they were partied out and didn't feel like they could make it. I still really wanted to go, but I was a little nervous about heading out there alone...I knew about 10-15 people that were going, but we're talking a 30/40,000 people rager on the beach. I thought about it all day long, until about 6 pm. By then the guys were still passed out and Than was in no mood to do much, so I decided to go and see what happened. I headed into town and found the cheapest taxi to the pier and got on a speed boat without thinking about it too much. I got to Koh Phanang around 8 or so and I got a little panicked. Swarms of people EVERYWHERE filled the streets and you couldn't tell right from left. I began following a crowd, to try to find the actual beach where the party was. I weaved in and out of streets following random crowds for a good 15 minutes until I found the beach. There was already people dancing and partying and some Thai jugglers were doing tricks with big fire sticks. I started heading down the beach searching for a familiar face, which I was almost certain I wouldn't find. Not even 5 minutes later I hear my name. I turned around and it was Chris, Nick, and this guy Anthony we met on the plane to Bangkok. Ridiculous! I still can't believe I ran into those guys. We ended up hanging out all night. The party was a lot of fun and a lot less scary than anyone was expecting. Here and there you got offered something, but most people just stuck to their drinks and danced all night. We also met some other cool people. It was definitely worth one more night of craziness to see it, but the morning after I was so glad to have a boat to take me back to Koh Samui where it is peaceful. I think the guys were a little worried I wouldn't make it back, but I was very happy to prove them wrong.

We're still recovering from last week, so we're taking it easy today as well. Chris and Nick headed this way too, so we're gonna try to find them today or tomorrow and show them around Lamai. In a couple days we might try the mountain hike again to see if we can get to the top this time.

Big hugs to you all and I'm out!


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Settling Down Now

Ello Ello!!! Brando here on the blizzle blog! We've been having a blast out here and so much has happened that I don't even know where to start. The last few weeks have been quite a haze as we have become more comfortable on Samui and partying till dawn with our new island friends.

Life is good at Chuchi Mansion. Bam, the bartender/entertainer at the Mansion takes good care of us. She cooks meals for us and even makes runs to the market for us so we dont have to walk. We try to do our part as well, washing dishes and cleaning up around the Mansion grounds. And then there's Jom, better known as "Singha Mingha" who ALWAYS has a beer (Singha brand) in her hand! She's a crazy B*$%# but she's really nice and also takes good care of us. She's responsible for our drunken nights at Chuchi Station (their bar), but also reduces our hangovers as she cooks us breakfast and taxis us around town on her motorbike. Jom introduced us to Eck, a family friend I assume. He's a really cool guy and even scooted me across the island to his buddy's music shop to buy a set of guitar strings. On a regular night, we all play cards and pool, and just hang out and share laughs..they're like our Thai family :)

Looking back on the last few weeks, we've come to the conclusion that we need to settle down a little bit. I can't even count on one hand how many times I've seen the sunrise, and sleeping all day and partying all night is finally wearing on us. It hasn't JUST been a shit show, as we have met a lot of really cool people who have shown us around, and we have learned a sufficient amount of Thai so we can at least fake a basic conversation now. But we've picked up the Samui lifestyle more so than most travelers who come here and it's become somewhat of a home to us.

Before I go, I 'd like to give a shout out to Matt Coudayre, who has been bitching about the fact that I haven't written on this blog..so here ya go buddy!!! Peace, I'm out!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So It Goes

Hey Peeps!

First thing's first...Happy Birthday to Me!!! I get two bdays actually because back home it's not till tomorrow, how special haha.

I forget when we got to Samui, but it feels like it's been forever! Let's see, I think I left off at the party and the apartment. We're in tight corners but we're getting the hang of it. 2 days ago we took a hike to try and reach the top of the mountain here on the island. We followed this long path until we saw a little deviation in the road and decided to go up that way. About 5 minutes later we heard some gunshots at the top of the mountain so we got a little sketched out. We slowed down and were deciding whether to keep going or not and I suddenly got massacred by some mosquitoes within seconds. A minute later we heard a loud thump and about 5 feet from where we were standing these coconuts tumbled to the ground. That's when we decided the trees were tall enough and the jungle dense enough that we were most likely gonna get shot by a bullet or killed by flying coconuts, so I headed back down and told the guys I'd meet them back at the apartment. They reached me about 5 minutes later haha. All in all, it was a very good hike, we walked for a solid hour there and another one back. After we got back, they had finally fixed the pool, so the guys took a dip and i relaxed and showered. That night we went out to Chok Dee (good luck), a reggae bar Steve told us about and we watched the Vikings-Saints game...or rather, they watched because I tend to get very rapid ADD when I try and watch footbal :) we had a few beers and then headed to the beach. We spent a good 3 hours on the beach at night just looking at the waves and stars and appreaciating moments like that and our life. Yes...it was a very hippie moment, but those are needed sometimes. Later, we contemplated making the trek back home, but 3 of us were still pretty awake, so Than went home to get some rest and we went to 7Eleven (our fave) to get some food. Me and Trevor paid for our goodies and walked out to find Brandon, who was having a beer with a strange looking fellow on the steps in front of a restaurant. We went up and the guy offered us some drinks inside.

This was Jonas.

Jonas is a 40 year old man from Sweden who has been enjoying Koh Samui for 2/3 months for the last 10 years. He owns a house out here and owns a demolition company back in Sweden. We found out he likes America, because once when he visited he happened to see a rocket ship launch and never forgot it, and he LOVES Vodka. He loves it so much that while were there he bought us white russians and soon sent a lady from the restaurant to by a bottle of Smirnoff and a bottle of Jack for us, because we told him back home we like whiskey. After a while it turns out he works for the restaurant we were at and the whole staff knew him well...they waited on us hand and foot and kept giving us drinks and food, which Jonas paid for. After the sun rose we had 7 new freinds and knew about 5 more words in Thai. We all headed to the beach, where they kept drinking and eating like there was no tomorrow. Trevor went home, and Brandon went to call Gene about some band stuff, and he never came back. I ended up having a long, but pleasant discussion about life with Jonas, who although was very odd turned out to be a very generous, sweet man. Around 9:30 a.m. I figured Bran was lost so I went off looking for him, but I didn't find him so I caught a ride back to the apt. He eventually made it back and we slept literally the entire day and following night, which leads us to now...

Today I woke up feeling grand. I got breakfast and talked to my parents, and now I am sitting here sharing all this with you fabulous people :) And since we pretty much celebrated my birthday the other night, I think for today we're gonna hang at the neach and have a nice dinner somewhere tonight.



Saturday, January 23, 2010

We Love Samui!

Settled and not sick!

We had a rough start here in Koh Samui, but after a few days of laying low and hanging on the beach we all started recovering. Steve (that we met at the food market one night) told us about these chill apartments up in the mountains/hills/whatever they are so we checked it out and it turns out we'd be saving a lot of money if we just rented a place together for a while, and since the 3 islands we wanna see are only a couple hours away we decided to make Samui our base home for the next month. The place is nice, it's a big room with 2 singles beds and a bathroom, but there's hot water and AC, and we got a little fridge and a tv. Downstairs the owner and his friends hang out all day, there's a murky pool, but it's all good cuz we're 20 minutes from the beach, so who really needs a pool? There's also a community kitchen which we've yet to try out, but today some of the ladies that work/live up there made some amazing fried rice and chicken and a salad and they let us all join them for lunch. The walk down is a little annoying at times...it's about 15 minutes through the jungle (which is what we call it, but it's not as intense as it sounds haha) and then there's about 15 more minutes down this big road/mini hwy which is a little scary sometimes because people FLY on the roads out here. then you're on the main Lamai road where all the shops, bars, etc. are and that's usually where we hang out, eat, meet people. We've become excellent at budgeting for food. We mostly eat at 7Elevens and at night this little food market opens up in the center of Lamai and it's famous out here. It consists of about 11 karts or so of pad thai, chicken cooked all different ways, crepes, skewers, soups, and it's all delicious and cheap! A big plate of pad thai with shrimp or chicken is 50 baht. (I forgot if I mentioned it but 100 baht = $3.00 give or take) Also, thanks to some friends we met, I've been getting these 20 baht fruit shakes every day and they're incredible! They're super fresh and you can pick out of 20 different fruits or so or get them mixed.

So we've been meeting the locals and making some friends! The other night me and Trevor came down to get some food and met group of 4 Canadians and 2 South Africans that were all hanging out around Thailand like us. They were all in their 20's so we started chatting and it turns out they were headed to this big beach party that we had seen advertised all around town for a few days, so we went with them and ended up running into Brandon and Than who had been in the room all day and wanted to get out. It was a really fun time and the guys we met turned out to be really cool so we got their information since we're all gonna be traveling in the same spots for the next month or so. The party went on until 7 am and we all watched the sun rise over the ocean. Than and Trevor met some very nice Thai ladies and hung out with them the rest of the night.

The next day was a little rough but we met up with 2 of the Canadians and walked around all day. We went to go the grandfather and grandmother rocks, which are an attraction here in Samui. They're these big rocks right on the shore that are shaped like genitals, supposedly of two spiritual leaders that lived in Samui in ancient times. We swam in this little lagoon formed by the rocks for a while, then headed back into town and got some food. That night we met up with them again, because they were headed out to Koh Phanang the next morning for the half moon party. Our other friends from the party are also out there now, and the party is tonight, but we're gonna meet up with them in a week or so for the full moon party. Chris and Nick are supposed to be heading down south too, so hopefully we'll run into them too. Last night we met up with Steve again who treated us and a couple of his friends to this big Thai dinner in this little local restaurant. I don't even know what we ate but it was all very good, as most of the food we've had has been.

Overall we're having a really good time! The living arrangements are a little rough at times since there's 4 of us in a room, but it's worth what we're saving and it hasn't been so bad at all.
I always try to tell the guys they should post something too, maybe they'll crack soon lol. Love you all!


Clip from the We <3 Samui Party

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bumpy Ride

So...we made it exactly a week without going to jail or catching anything and we thought we were golden...until we got on a bus ride down to Koh Samui.

So we were in Jomtien for a few days and we took a day trip out to a nearby island, Koalarn. Once we got there it was this gorgeous, little pristine floating rock that you could easily circle in a 20 min car ride. We rented a couple scooters and rode around the 5 public beaches and spent the day soaking up the sun and totally envying our friends and families back home in the 40 degree weather :P (kidding...but really) So after that we decided Pattaya beach and Jomtien were really not our style anymore and we wanted a REAL beach, with real white sand and real people, so we packed our packs and headed back to Bangkok early the next day. In Bangkok we immediately booked a bus and boat combo to Koh Samui island down south. We had a 3 hour stop at the bus stop, so we took that time to mentally prepare for the 12 hour ride we were about to embark on. I also found a decently priced camera and we all got some food. Me and Bran found something resembling an asian fast food joint and just got a basic meal; let's just say it was difficult to call that food. Tre and Than grabbed some rice and chicken outside at a street cart. We got on the Bus and it didn't take long to realize the ride was gonna be rough. No one's food had settled very well and the bus staff must've had some serious body temp issues, because they blasted the ac and everyone was freezing! We spent the next 12 hours wobbling around through potholed roads with the polar temperature, bad snacks, and a soundtrack of "Fast & the Furious 75" in Thai. In the middle of the trip we got stopped to eat at this road stop with tables and some kind of curry or something literally on the side of the highway, which we all passed on because it was 4 am or something and we were miserable. After that it was all kind of a blur. Than spent most of the remaining ride in the bathroom, I got motion sickness and had to focus on not yacking for 4 hours, Trevor wasn't feeling so hot either, and Bran was the only only who somehow managed to sleep most of the ride. We finally got to our stop where we had to get on the ferry to get to the island, and we just pulled it together. Than was getting worse by the minute. I had read up on the whole section of Koh Samui in the "Let's Go Thailand" book (which I highly recommend to anyone traveling anywhere) and I knew where we should look for a place to stay the minute we got off the boat. We finally docked and the minute we got to the area we were looking for Than needed a hospital so I went with him on a search for one which turned out to be very difficult to find for some reason. We were there for an 2 hours or so which gave me time to breathe and mellow out my nausea. They hooked him up to an I.V. to hydrate him, because he couldn't even hold down water and they told us he's be in there till early afternoon. I headed back and we found somewhat cheap bungalows on the beach, which we had to wait 5 hours to get checked into. By the time Than made it back we all passed out and slept through most of the evening.


Haha, alright but there's always a calm after the storm and we're a little bumped and bruised but in much better shape now. Koh Samui is also a little slice of heaven and we've decided to mellow out and chill here for a bit. Yesterday we rented some scooters for the day and toured the whole island. We checked out a pretty sweet waterfall and are planning to go back and see another one that requires a supposedly intensive hike, so we'll do that some time soon. Then at night we got some food and met this guy Steve who's an ex marine from Cali who has found a second home here in Samui and spends his years back and forth. He was a cool dude and gave us a TON of info on the islands and just tips for our trip in general. He also proposed the idea for us to rent a house/apt here on the island since we'll be in this area till Feb or so, just so we can have a spot to come back to while we take small day trips to surrounding islands. Also for the convenience of saving some cash on living arrangements, because so far that's been our biggest expense. So actually today they called Steve up and while I've been here they might've already met up with him so he could show them a few places to consider.

The island's very chill though...definitely a little touristy, but thanks to the book we picked a calmer spot, more backpacker friendly. LOT'S of Europeans, but that's sort of expected most places around here, and a ridiculous amount of suit shops, which seem to be the happening biz here in Thailand. Suit stores and 7Elevens...there's literally one every 5 feet and sometimes 2 even. We've found them to be very convenient for our budget though, because they have ramen and snacks for less than 30 cents total, so in a way our diet hasn't changed much from the college one we have back home lol. On the other hand...some of the freshest, most delicious fruit I've ever tasted can be found for 50 cents on the beach. Thai vendors walk around and slice it up for you right there and it's unreal.

What else, let's see...besides the waterfall trip, there's a few other things we might check out...apparently there's a pretty good water park and zoo out here and there's snorkeling and diving available. we're looking into those...there's elephant trekking available too about 10 mins from our hotel, but I'm not particularly stoked about that. Honestly, I don't know how fair it is to those guys to strap chairs and people on their back all day long. We saw some of them when we checked out that first waterfall, and they had a baby one chained up by a tree, and he did not look like he was digging it. I daydreamed for a sec about sneaking in at night 007 style and freeing him into the wild :)

Alright, I better go find my partners in crime...not to mention this internet cafe visit is probably costing me more than my hotel since I've been here what seems like 5 hours.

Oh yeah! I finally got the Skype thing down I think, so if you have one, definitely look me up! It's GiuGiu115 or I think you can just look up my name. I'm gonna try to see if I can get a video or pic up on this thing. Brandon and Trevor have one too, and I'm not sure if than does, but I think he might.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Second Stop...Jomtien Beach


Greetings from Jomtien! We finally got out of the craziness that was Bangkok. Our last day there we visited a few temples and sites and rode in tuk tuks which are pretty much gangly scooters with some sort of body mounted on with 2 seats to fit passengers. Riding through Bkk traffic was definitely an experience and so was getting ripped off by the tuk tuk driver; They get comissioned from these middle eastern suit stores to bring their passengers there in the hopes that they'll buy stuff. Well, we wasted time going in there and I got my camera stolen :( (or so we think) but that's ok, we still had a good time, the temples we saw were the ones with the lucky buddha and the sitting buddha. Both were super chill and quiet with these elaborate murals on each wall. We also checked out a temple on a little mountain where you climb stairs to the top and you can see all of Bkk. That city's HUGE! It could fit at least 20 Denvers.

So yesterday we left and got on a bus to Pattaya, which is much crazier thank Khaosan Rd. and three times as filled with prosties and lady boys haha, oh yeah you get used to them around here, no matter what city you're in. But Jomtien beach is only 15/20 mins away from Pattaya and it's MUCH more relaxed. The beach isn't the best, but it does the job. We found a little guest house, beach front, with ac which is always nice. The shower and toilet are in the same place so the whole bathroom gets wet when you shower, but we got a pretty good deal! The crowds are a bit different too, it's full of old europeans and barely any young people, but it's still a good spot. Last night we met up with Enzo (my mom's old friend) and his girlfriend and they took us to "Walking Street" which is where all the craziness is in Pattaya. We walked around and saw all the clubs and stores and then headed back because we were pretty beat. Today we laid on the beach till the afternoon and then Enzo took us to a Muay Thai gym and the guys did an hour and a half of Muay Thai lesson, which knocked them out. P.S. Muay Thai is Thai kickboxing. We'll have pictures of that up too sometime soon. Sadly we're at a disadvantage on cameras because I lost mine, and Bran didn't bring a usb cord to upload pics :/ But we'll try to figure it out soon.

For now the plan is to stay in Jomtien for a few more days, then check out 2 of the islands around here, one is a day trip and the other is a bit of a longer stay. After that we'll probably start heading south and island hop until we get to Phuket. On that note...it is like 90 some degrees here and we send you warm thoughts while you're enjoying the winter chill :P j/k 


Friday, January 8, 2010

Vegas wishes it was as crazy as Khaosan Rd!!!

Hey guys!

First post! I'll get right on it and give you a breakdown of our trip so far. Tues morning, fresh and ready to go...little nervous, but extremely excited. We make it to San Fran where we have about an hour till our flight to Seoul and we find out there's a sudden security checkpoint with a line that pretty much extends halfway through the airport. Thankfully we make it JUST in time to our next flight with not a minute to prepare for the 11 and 1/2 hour flight up ahead. With a nice combo of Xanax for Bran and some complimentary Asiana Airline brews we make it through the flight. We meet Faron...CRAZY guy from Wisconsin who's traveled Thailand and back a good 4 times. Having no accomodations for the first night in Bangkok we decide to spend our first night with him on Khaosan Road. When we finally get to BKK we don't even know who we are. We leave the airport with Faron and really quickly figure out that we underestimated the heat out here, and that Faron may be our savior. The guy speaks a rough but very good Thai and get's us into a Taxi and soon to our hotel on Khaosan, where we can leave our bags but have 8 hours before check in time.

Khaosan is like Bourbon St. on crack! crazy signs and people EVERYWHERE! Colors and lights...people of all shapes and ethnicities...little food carts with strange noodles and fruits that look and smell absolutely heavenly. We head to a small restaurant familiar to Faron and the boys grab some beers. A severe case of jet lag keeps up from really soaking things up the first night we are there. The rest of the night is a blur we walked the few blocks surrounding our area and tried to make it till morning. Finally around 7 am they let us go upstairs and chill by the pool. We fall asleep as the sun rises and FINALLY get our room.

Since then we've gotten our rest in and have visited some other areas of BKK like the mall, which is 7 stories high! The food is deliscious and super cheap. The guys also had some tasty grasshoppers, except bran's only made it halfway down his throat :) Yeah...I wimped out because these were more like mutated beasts that were bigger than my face haha. Besides that we're livin' the dream! We found Chris and Nick and have been hanging out with them these past couple nights, along with our new friend Stefanie from Switzerland and a few more colorful characters walking around. Today we're gonna go see some temples and tonight's our last night on Khaosan and we're off tomorrow to Jomtien Beach where we're gonna stop and visit a friend of my mom's and he's hopefully gonna fill us in on some Thai must-see's. Hope you're all doing great back home and we miss you lots!