Monday, March 16, 2015


Gorgeous view of the mountains in Pai
The resident tortoises at the Thavorn Resort in Karon Beach
No, I'm not lying in a ditch somewhere in Thailand, I'm alive and well! The idea of blogging after such a long silent spell has just seemed daunting, but I've come to terms with's time. What's that saying? You pooped your bed and now you have to lie in it? Something like that.

HAHAHA at this sign-off on the last blog, whoops! "I promise to cover all of these in my next blog, which shouldn't take as long to get up since I'm done with trips for a while and back to real life." Yeah right Sarah, ya big liar. 

Anywho, rather than try to recall all the events of the past 3 months, I'll touch on some highlights and then we can just move on from there, deal?

Random sunset photo from Surin Beach
When we last left off I was fresh off a full moon party and a weekend in Krabi,  which was quite some time ago. Here's a short list of a few things that I've done since:
• Christmas visit with the family
• New year's in northern Thailand (Chiang Mai and Pai)
• Bungee jumping in Kathu
• Phi Phi island
• Krabi round 2
• Coral Island
• 2 school trips
•  Lots of new Phuket beaches!
• Jungle trekking in Khao Sok National Park

James Bond Island
So rewind about 3 months and we've got the Schneiland Christmas vacation (see what I did there?). That's right, the whole clan made the not-so-short trip to SE Asia. Although I still had to be at school for several of the days during this visit, I was able to hang out with them quite a bit. The Schneiders, minus Sarah, stayed at a really nice resort in Karon Beach called Thavorn Palm Beach Resort. It was about a 20-30 minute ride away on my motorbike, so I was able to see them after work and stayed for that weekend. Our most fun-filled, adventurous day was Saturday—to say it was jam-packed would be an understatement., stay tuned.

Botttom: Taowee and dad bonding over his
Marine Corps jacket
Top: Kayaking through the caves
On Friday, the fam came to Phuket Town to see my condo and my school and grab some lunch. When the hotel van dropped them off at the wrong condo, we called upon my good friend and taxi driver, Taowee, to help shuttle everyone to the correct location. I met Taowee one of our first weekends in Phuket when he drove myself and a friend to Nai Harn Beach. Taowee is a  Renaissance man, he not only drives taxis, but he also arranges day trips. Our family had been wanting to arrange something, and Taowee was more than willing to help us out. Before we knew it, Taowee had set us up with a trip to Pang Nga, where we would go to James Bond Island, go kayaking amongst the sea rocks, eat lunch at a floating fishing village, go elephant trekking, ox cart-riding, rubber tree tapping, get fish pedicures and go to a fruit one day. I know what you're thinking, there's no way you can get all of that done in one trip. That's what we said! In fact, we had quite the comical vision playing out in our minds, where we would jump off the back of a moving elephant into an ox cart, which would take 3 steps through a fruit garden and we'd be whisked off into a kayak, etc. Amazingly, we fit everything in. The day was fun-filled but exhausting. The kayaking was probably one of the best parts of the day. We would lay down on our backs in the kayaks and barely squeeze under some stalactites only to enter a sort of open water cave.

A beautiful display of Chinese lanterns we stumbled upon in Chiang Mai
View from our hostel in Pai
A shot from the back of the pickup driving
through the mountains
Before we knew it, the family vacay had come to a close. Coincidentally, my family was leaving the same day I was leaving for Chiang Mai to meet up with some friends for New Year's. I actually got to see them in the airport before we both left, just happened to be walking by! The plan for New Year's was to fly up to Chiang Mai for a night, then head further north to Pai for a few days, and briefly back to Chiang Mai before returning to Phuket. We met up with a bunch of girls we'd met during orientation—the same crew that we  met up with for the Full Moon Party. We had an early bus the morning after our late arrival in Chiang Mai, so we didn't do anything too crazy that evening. The drive to Chiang Mai is famous for its curves (just like me....juuuuuust kidding!), 762 curves to be exact! The mountainous drive was a bit intense, but the views were beautiful. Pai itself is amazing. The mountain views are gorgeous, the food is delicious and the people are really nice. Perhaps one of the best days in Pai was when we set up a little travel excursion with a man named Chai. Chai has packages of trips that he sells that go to several places in Pai. We, however, only wanted to go to three: the lookout, the canyon and the waterfall. Chai made some arrangements
Chilling in Pai Canyon
and he was to pick us up early the next morning. Sure enough, he showed up with his pickup truck. We piled in the back (safe, right?)  and we were on our way. The waterfall was nice, not Niagra or anything but pretty cool. After the waterfall we went to the viewpoint, it had an amazing view of the mountains *please see photo. Finally, we headed to the canyon to do a little hiking and watch the sunset. I wasn't sure what I was expecting with the canyon, but this thing was crazy! Steep drop offs, narrow, 1-foot winding pathways, vertical rock climbs—honestly a safety hazard that would never exist in America without sizable guardrails...but mai pen rai! The sunset at the canyon was gorgeous—definitely somewhere I would go again before I leave Thailand. However, one of the best views of the day was from the back of that pickup truck. Driving through the winding mountain roads, there were some amazing views. It didn't hurt having the mountain air whipping through your hair to add to the ambiance.

At the village party!
On our way back from the canyon, Chai asked if we would like to go to a party in his village. Apparently one of his friends had just bought a house and they were having a big, celebratory house-warming party. Chai also informed us that he had never brought any "farang" (foreigners) to his village before.  We had nowhere to be, so we thought, why not? The villagers were quite intrigued when Chai pulled up with 7 white girls. As soon as we sat down the beer started coming, followed by numerous plates of spicy noodle salad. One particular table of Thai men enjoyed visiting our table, asking for kisses on the cheek or poking us and running away. I was even asked to dance, and, not wanting to be rude, agreed! We took quite the turn on the "dance floor" in front of the karaoke stage. Did I mention this party had professional karaoke? Talk about a legit house-warming party!

Inside of the caves in Pai
The next day we tagged along on another trip with Chai. He was taking a couple to some caves, so we went along for the ride. The caves were a bit of a drive, and we didn't account for the cool temperatures in the mountains that evening, so the truck ride was slightly less pleasant. The caves were really neat though; we entered on bamboo rafts and then, once inside, disembarked to do some exploring. The caves have all of these steep, somewhat sketchy staircases built on the sides so you can climb up and explore some of the different areas. The cave guide was extra excited to show us the caves famous "boob". Yes, that's right, a stalactite that has formed to look like a woman's breast. It's their favorite feature to show. On the way home from the caves, we stopped to watch the sunset. We were actually so close to the Burma border that we were actually looking into the Burmese mountains.

Susnet at the Burma border

When it came time to leave Pai it was pretty rough...who wants to leave friends and great food?! Lyndsay, the other Phuket teacher, and myself still had two more nights in Chiang Mai. One of those nights we got to go to the famous Chiang Mai night market. This market is set up on the weekends and is HUGE. It covers streets and streets with art, food, music and performances, jewelry, clothes, basically anything you could want. We did some damage that night, and I think our wallets were happy we were returning home the next day.

Ok, this is getting lengthy. I will have to touch on some of the other highlights from recent months in my next post. I'll leave you with some bungee jumping photos; we did this on a whim, deciding the night before. The jumps was 50 meters, which really wasn't as high as I was expecting (although mom, you would still hate it). This bungee jumping place is in Kathu, a town not far from Phuket Town, which also boasts a nice little waterfall that we visited. You jump off the platform over a lake, with an optional "dip" at the bottom...I didn't opt for that. It was a fun time!