Monday, February 29, 2016

So, this last blog will cover the last two days – Friday & Saturday. As my last days in Thailand, I definitely had mixed emotions. On the one hand, 10 days is not nearly enough time here. I could easily have spent a week in Pai and a week in Chiang Mai alone, plus several days in Bangkok. That doesn’t even cover the south of the country! Jess and I agree that northern Thailand is the perfect place to hide away from the world and write a book. On the other hand, I am definitely missing Danny and home.

Travel has really morphed for me over the years. Of course, I love the adventure and discovery. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that bit. But, the manner in which I travel, the things that I enjoy and the comforts (or lack thereof) have changed a lot. I suppose this is normal as you get older. It’s been interesting to experience, though. On our last trip in 2015, I was kind of in this middle ground of feeling like an adult and wanting to avoid the party scene and loud hostel situations, yet also not quite willing to admit to it or make the changes to my travel mode. This time, however, I fully embrace my desire to pay more for comforts (ie: location and air conditioning in Pai). I also realize that Home is not something to dread or fear. Home is wonderful and comfortable; travel kind of acts as a contrast that makes one really appreciate home. This has become so much more apparent now that I am engaged and have someone to miss.

Anyway, on to the good stuff. Friday morning we had an open schedule (yay!!) and agreed to go back to the restaurant we’d had on Wednesday night for breakfast. We got up and packed some of our stuff, then headed down the road to the restaurant. It was about 9:30am, and Jess ordered Eggs Benedict, but I couldn’t resist the Massaman Curry. It felt so weird to eat that so early, but I suppose most Asian country’s breakfast fare is incredibly similar to every other meal. So really, I was just being authentic.

We took photos in the beautiful back patio area, and relaxed with our meal. Once we were finished, we went back to the hotel to finish packing and getting ready to head to the airport. Our flight was at 1:15pm, and we decided to leave the hotel by 11:30am in order to get there in time. Rather than deal with trying to negotiate a fare with a taxi, we had the hotel arrange a car for us for only 100TBH each. Well worth the extra ~20TBH to not deal with the hassle. Once we had collected all of our luggage and headed down stairs, we checked out. The hotel actually gave us each a cute cloth elephant keychain as a souvenir. I thought that was so nice!!

The car that picked us up wasn’t a taxi; I actually think that one of the hotel workers or owners probably contracted their friend to drive. But, it was comfortable and, like I said, not much more than a taxi would have likely been. We got to the airport in about 25 minutes, and dropped our bags at the counter. Chiang Mai is technically an international airport, but it is very small. From the time we walked in the door to sitting down at our gate was no more than 15 minutes. Such a breeze!

The flight to Bangkok was fine; a bit of turbulence but ultimately uneventful. Jessica was sitting across the aisle form me, and there was a Sweedish couple next to her. The man was trying to get Jessica to change seats so he could have the aisle without actually asking her to do so, and she wasn’t having it! I would have done the same thing, I think… aisle seats are prime real estate, particularly on small regional flights like this one.

Anyway, we got to Bangkok and got our stuff from baggage claim and headed to get a taxi. When we’d each landed in Bangkok before, we’d had a private car arranged, so this was our first experience with a taxi. We walked with the crowd towards the Taxi sign. We turned a corner and ran into the end of a HUGE line. It led into a room with glass walls where it split into 6 different lines. These lines all led to terminals where you told the attendant where you needed to go and they would make sure the taxi knew where to go and that they would use the meter. It was a good idea, but the line was huge and the room was packed with people. I had my big backpack on my back and my small pack on my front, and I was not looking forward to waiting in that line with 25lb or so on my shoulders. But, wait we did. The couple in front of us tried to split between two lines to then pick the fastest when ropes started. However, we edged the wife out of line when she dawdled at one point. Ultimately, it probably didn’t make much difference, but it felt like we got further! Finally about 40 minutes later we got to the front of the line and told them where we were going. The taxi driver was very friendly and we took off to our final hotel: Lebua @ State Tower.

This hotel was 5-star and was actually featured in the Hangover 2 movie. I had gotten an amazing price on, and thought that we could end our trip with some luxury. It was definitely fancy! Jess and I marveled at the beautiful fresh flowers all over the marble and glass lobby. The staff were extremely good as well. Once we got checked in, we headed up to our room. The places we’d been staying were nice, but basic. Jessica was particularly excited to be in such a nice place for our final night. We got into our room and were really floored! It was a suite, and you walked into a sitting room area. The hallway had a kitchenette and closets on the right, and big etched glass double sliding doors on the left that led into a stunning bathroom. Finally at the end of the hall was the bedroom, with two twin beds and a balcony with a fantastic view.

The balcony was locked but when the porter came with our bags, he offered to unlock it. We accepted and the porter left. When we stepped out on the balcony, it was kind of surreal! The city stretched out before us. It wasn’t night yet, the view would only improve, but it was really cool. We were on the 22nd floor, and there were still SO many above us!

We decided to relax in the hotel for a bit then went out in search of some sustenance. We had skipped lunch, and it was around 5pm when we found a bar about 0.5km away. We ordered a pizza and some cocktails. Tonight was treat-yo-self night! The pizza was decent, but we were still planning to have a nice dinner later on. The bar was owned by a foreigner; I placed my bet on Canada based on his very slight accent. We never found out since he only informed us of the happy hour specials then left. The waitress, on the other hand, spoke no English whatsoever and even her Thai was questionable; when we ordered, we said the English words but pointed to the menu which had the Thai translation. This girl had to write out the words for pepperoni and garlic in Thai letter by letter, as if she was not literate at all. It was really strange.

Rejuvinated, we headed back to the hotel to rest and get cleaned up for our last night in Bangkok! We decided to go to the rooftop bar in our hotel for a drink with a view. I borrowed a dress from Jessica, as I hadn’t brought anything too nice. We cleaned up nice!

We had to go to the ground floor and change elevators in order to access the bar on the 64th floor (!!), and there was a line for that one. As we were waiting in the line, two guys were arguing with a staff member who was playing bouncer for the elevators. Rather than checking IDs, though, he was checking dress code. These two guys were in shorts and ratty flip flops and sneakers. They were definitely not up to snuff, and were trying to beg the guy to let them in since they “came from so far.” Nope, he wasn’t having it.

When we got up to the bar, we walked out to the patio area and got a good look at the view. Amazing!! We grabbed an available cocktail table and each ordered a drink. Mine was a martini and it was 590THB – more than any other meal I’d had, and even more than some of my entire day’s worth of meals! When a couch seat opened up, we moved over and were able to sit by the edge of the patio. We took some photos and enjoyed the view. The drinks were good but horribly overpriced. We were definitely paying for the location.

When we decided it was time to find some food, we paid (the final bill adding 10% service fee plus 7% VAT… ridiculous) and left the bar, and a staff person asked if we wanted to go to the other bar. I figured, why not just go take a look? She guided us to the opposite side of the floor and out the door. This side was a bit larger and more grand. We skipped the overpriced drinks in favor of just some quick pictures, then left.

We’d originally planned on a nice dinner, but after paying the equivalent of $20 USD for a single drink, we decided we were happy enough with the type of food we’d been having, which typically set us back around $3 per meal. In our cockatil attire, we headed out on the street and got some good ol’ Thai street food. I had noodle soup, which was pretty good. As we were walking back to the hotel (not a far jaunt by any means), a beggar who had approached us while we ate on the street again stretched out his hands pleadingly. I couldn’t tell if he was blind or had a mental illness. I held up my hands, palms out about chest level and said No (once again, Jess teasing me that I couldn’t ever just ignore them), and this fool REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED ME. Not just touched me, but touched my breast! I was completely blindsided and appalled, and let out a squeal of disgust and shoved his hand off me.

After a second of shock, my mind righted itself and I realized that I do not think he did this intentionally. Of course, it’s horrifying either way, but it made me feel just a bit better to think that it was an accident. Like I said, besides being dirty, he appeared to have something wrong with him. Regardless, I was reeling and agitated. It was definitely time to call it a night!

We got to the room and spent the rest of the evening watching Bravo on TV and taking turns enjoying a soak in the big bathtub.

The night morning, Saturday, both Jess and I slept in with the blackout curtains drawn. I hadn’t been able to sleep past about 7 or 7:30 the entire trip, and it wasn’t much later than that, but it felt so wonderful to lounge in the bed for as long as I wanted. We had decided to stay at the hotel, once again, until we had to check out. We had plans for the day, but didn’t need to leave for the airport until about 7pm, so that gave us about 7 hours from check out.

We enjoyed every possibly moment of the air conditioned luxury before heading downstairs at 11:50am. At the desk, the porters asked if we wanted to store our luggage, and we happily handed it off to them. We left the hotel and before we got to the sky train station, we stopped for lunch. I’d found Nalin CafĂ© on TripAdvisor and it did  not disappoint. I’d been waiting for my “WOW” meal (well, outside what I cooked myself in Pai), and the Pad Thai here was definitely it!!! So delicious. Our spring rolls were also wonderful and fresh. We were now properly fueled up and ready to hit the Chatuchak market once again.

We took the sky train to Mo Chit like old pros, changing trains at Siam with ease. You’d think we’d been here before! We got off the train and headed into the throngs of people crowding the vendors that lined the street. We spotted some fresh pomegranate juice being sold, and grabbed two bottles for refreshment in the mid-day heat. Since we’d been here before, we knew exactly where we were heading: Section 7… the Art section.

I’d spent the last week dreaming about the art I’d seen at the market, and one artist in particularly. I’d talked with Danny and had decided to get at least one, if not more, piece. I would have to bring it home without a frame, then have it stretched in Austin. But, the price was too good to pass up and I was enamored with it. 

The artist recognized me, I think. I asked about the price of three pieces I particularly liked, and checked the dimensions against the walls I was considering hanging them on. I then asked him if he would give me a discount for buying multiple, and he agreed to 20% off. I did some calculations and decided to buy three. It would set me back just under $500 total. I was/am SO THRILLED with these purchases… Not only is it beautiful, but its actual art. Not a print, not an Ikea reproduction. This might be one of the most adult purchases I’ve ever made!

The artist and his assistant told us to come back in 30 minutes while they prepared the canvases and rolled them into a canister to be transported. I was going to check the canister as one of my bags, rather than spend money mailing it. So, for about an hour or so, Jessica and I prowled the market for last minute items we wanted to pick up. I got a few more gifts and an elephant card-holder I’d seen my hotel use that I was now obsessed with having for my office. We picked up my box containing the three canvases and headed back to the hotel. I really wish I’d have just broken down and gotten either a tuk-tuk or a taxi to the hotel, because that box made the sky train quite miserable! But, I finally made it, hauling an almost 5 foot long box along. I suppose the benefit was that no one crowded me for fear of getting whacked by my parcel.

At the hotel, we stored our recent purchases with our luggage and cooled off in the lobby for a while. Around 4:30 we headed to an early dinner at another TripAdvisor recommendation, but this time for one last Thai curry. My red curry with chicken did not disappoint! I am proud, also, that I can handle authentic Thai food ordered “spicy”! I sometimes think that when I order spicy in America, what I get is somewhere around medium for what the same meal would be in its home country. However, I realized on this trip that nope! I can actually handle real spicy.

We finished up our delicious last supper and trekked back to the hotel to change for our flights. We had both strategically packed so we’d be able to access our plane outfits (yoga pants, a comfy t-shirt, and a sweater for me) without completely unpacking. We made use of the clean bathrooms at the hotel and got ready to get our taxi. We left around 6:20, earlier than I’d planned, but it was fine because there was quite a bit of traffic. We got to the airport around 7:30 or so, and since Jessica couldn’t check in for her flight online, this was perfect timing.

I dropped my bag off and had took my box of art to the oversized luggage drop off point. No extra fees – yay! Jessica had to stand in a big line to check in, so I, like the wonderful friend that I am (heh heh), waited with her. When she got to the counter, I noticed a sign advertising seat upgrades for only $15 USD. I pointed it out to her and she decided to go for it, so she’d have the front row. Turns out it was a great investment, since she had the entire row to herself and was able to sleep the entire flight! Lucky girl!

We got through security and headed towards my gate. Again we were disappointed not to be on the same flight to Incheon, since that was where my layover was. We got some gelato near the gate and I spent the rest of my Thai Baht on two scoops. It was crazy how perfectly my finances worked out – I literally had just a few baht left in coins, and gave that to Jessica before we said our goodbyes.

Saying goodbye at the end of a trip like this is always bittersweet. We face the end of a break from reality, but the prospect of future adventures. What was particularly weird was that the next time I see Jessica, I will be MARRIED. This blows my mind!! She will be staying in Korea for a third year, and won’t be coming back to America before 2017. By then, I’ll be a married woman. Absolutely crazy. We said our goodbyes; no tears were shed. We are old pros at this by now. We’ll see what our next adventure is together. Life is full of changes and who knows what will happen by 2018.

For now, my next international trip should be my honeymoon in St. Lucia in December! Not sure how I’ll handle blogging that one, but I’m sure I’ll have something to update. J


Postscript: On my flight from Bangkok to Incheon, I sat in a row across from a Caucasian family with two small children; one newborn and one 2-year old. The 2-year old was so incredibly friendly, he kept giving me high-fives. He couldn’t sleep and I could tell his parents were exhausted. I ended up holding him on my lap for a bit and letting him play with my tv screen. (With the parent’s consent, of course!) His name was Caleb, and his parents were from Georgia but living in Uzbekistan now for the husband’s job. They’d gone to Thailand a month ago to give birth to their newborn son, Landon. Caleb basically made my day J I hope my child is that sweet one day!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Chelsea with the Elephants!

Well, yesterday was the day… the day we’ve been waiting for for months and months! It was the day we were to meet the ELEPHANTS! This was something both Jessica and I agreed was one of our top priorities to do in Thailand. Our main bucket list check box to complete before we would leave the country.

As I was planning our itinerary, I did a lot of research on where we would spend our time and, more importantly, money to be with the elephants. I’d heard a lot of negative stuff about elephant “conservation” companies, who tout rescued elephants but do not actually care for them or treat them properly. The elephant population in Thailand is decreasing at an alarming and unsustainable rate, and I wanted to be sure my money would be going to an organization that was not only humane and with rescued elephants, I wanted to find the best one.

I looked into several options in northern Thailand, and eventually settled on Patara Elephant Farm. Their websit was extensive and gave a lot of information about their mission, their priorities, and their aim for each person’s visit. I liked that they advertised their service as “Elephant Owner for the Day” instead of “Elephant Riding” or something of that nature. They touted a wholistic approach to your visit – focusing not only on spending time with the elephants, and riding them, but also learning about their healthcare needs and efforts to avoid extinction.

I made a reservation for us online, and was happy that we didn’t need to pay a deposit. It was particularly surprising since the experience was so expensive – by far the most expensive thing we did on our entire trip. But, we got picked up at 7:45am from our hotel by a van with two other girls and one staff member from Patara. The drive took us out of Chiang Mai and into the nearby mountains. We passed a lot of resorts, and I can see why; the area was absolutely stunning. It was probably more beautiful than the road we took to Pai.

Around 45 minutes after being picked up, we rolled onto a gravel road. There were no signs, and it felt a little sketchy. No one told us anything, really… the driver just opened the door and gestured for us to go to a small gazebo near an open dirt area. We walked over and a staff member finally told us to put our stuff down, that the elephant and baby would be coming over soon.

A minute or two later, sure enough, we got our first sight of elephants. They strolled down the dirt road and came into the dirt clearing in front of us. The staff said we could go “play” with them, and even helped us take pictures. More people arrived after us, and there was eventually 16 people together. They encouraged us to approach the elephants, take pictures with them, and even play with the baby on the ground. The two girls who had been in our van, at the staff’s direction, sat on the ground and the baby elephant came up to them. It looked great at first, then the baby elephant proceeded to CLIMB ON TOP OF THEM. It was partially horrifying, and partially hilarious. The baby elephant was only playing, not trying to hurt them, but even the baby is pretty big and HEAVY. It climbed so much on top of them, knocking them over, that it wound up with all four legs on the ground with the girls pinned under it. It probably sounds more horrifying than it was. I mean, I’m sure they were scared, but we were all kind of laughing in a “is this really happening?”/”should someone interfere?” kind of way. The trainers were all laughing and finally helped get the elephant off. The poor girls who got trampled were completely covered in dirt and all I could think is “Thank GOODNESS I didn’t volunteer for THAT!” They weren’t hurt at all, just a little shocked I think.

The elephants were having some breakfast; because they eat huge sugar cane poles, bamboo shoots, and massive bunches of bananas, it was kind of scary to get near them while they munched away. It was so cool to see them eat though! Their trunks are so dexterous!

After taking a bazillion pictures with the elephants, the trainers led the elephants over to a water hose and they filled up their trunks and sprayed the water into their mouths. It was incredible to watch!!! This was obviously not their first rodeo and they knew what was up. The little baby elephant even nursed the mom while she was eating (after playing with the humans, aka knocking them over!).

Eventually, the staff called us all over to the gazebo and briefed us. Up until this point, the experience felt a little weird (although cool!) since the staff hadn’t really told us anything or explained the day. Now, though, someone who looked in charge gathered us together and told us about the organization and what we should expect. Basically, he reiterated what I’d read on the website: that Patara not only rescues elephants, but cares for them AFTER rescue. They get the elephants healthy and then promote reproduction and healthy living. I really enjoyed hearing this and felt even better about our day. Their brochure states that you will do 10 things with the elephants, and riding the elephant is only part of it.

Another thing I really liked about this place was they provide a professional photographer, so I didn’t even bring my camera with me. However, I realized that the photographer could only be in so many places, so I used my phone to take some pictures. I really wish I’d brought my camera, though, to have better quality and control over what photos I got. Anyway, Jessica and I agreed that we would not worry about photos (as long as we felt like we got at least a few!), and just enjoy the experience.

After our briefing, we were split into two groups. Luckily, Jessica and I were in the group that did NOT include this French family with two small children. They seemed super nice, but the kids didn’t speak any English and the parents were translating the entire time. Plus, kids just slow things down ;)

Well, we were finally ready to meet our elephants! Before we headed out to find the elephants, we were each given traditional garb – riding pants and a frock type top. Very stylish! We were each assigned to an elephant, and both Jessica and I ended up with a mother and their babies (I had a mother + baby, Jessica had another mother + baby). My elephant’s name was Buantong (it took me about 10 tries to get the pronunciation down). In order to first make friends with the elephant, we were going to feed it. We were each given a basket full of sugar cane pieces and bananas, and instructed us to tell the elephants “BON” to open their mouths and praise them with “DeDe” (good girl or good buy). I walked out to my elephant, which was intimidatingly huge. They obviously are used to the basket of food, because Buantong was very good about opening her mouth when I instructed, but eventually got impatient and started sticking her trunk into my basket and grabbing the food. I started to just put the sugar cane on her trunk, where she held things. Her baby, Aryang (I think), was very greedy and never even waited for me to feed her, but instead just kept grabbing the food right out of the basket. I did praise them, like I was told to. They were so incredible and sweet! I loved getting to intereact with them in this way.

After we went through two baskets, the group reconvened. We were then taught about the four signs of an elephants health: 1) eating and drinking 2) sleeping 3) ears 4) eyes.

      1)    Eating and Drinking – the elephants are basically always eating. They eat a lot of bananas and sugar cane and bamboo. Their food moves through them quickly, so they poop about once an hour. They even showed us what healthy poop looks & SMELLS like! They picked up a piece of dung and broke it apart. It was basically all grass-like fibers, and it smelled super mild, like grass a little bit. Their poop is also very watery; when you squeeze it (yes they squeezed it in front of us), water comes out. A healthy elephant should be eating a lot and drinking a lot with green/yellow fiberous and water poop.
      2)    Sleeping – an elephant should sleep lying down on its side. You can tell if it is sleeping correctly because it will have dirt on its side. An elephant shouldn’t sleep standing up.
      3)    Ears – a healthy and happy elephant will flap its ears a few times per minute. If he is in a mad mood or aggressive, his ears will be out for a long time. When you approach the elephant, you should do so from the side instead of from the front, which is seen as aggressive.
      4)    Eyes – Elephants do not have tear ducts, so their “tears” flow constantly. They should always show some tears below their eyes.

After learning about this, we learned how to brush the dirt off the elephants. The dirt is good for their skin, to protect it from sun and bugs. They will actually throw dirt on themselves. However, sometimes it should be brushed off to help their skin stay healthy. We each got a palm-frond “brush” and were instructed how to brush them off by slapping them with it. It felt a little mean, but I don’t think the elephants could even really feel it. My elephant was particularly dirty, so my trainer took the elephant to a pool.

After watching them play in the water for a while, we gathered back together and learned about the various ways to mount the elephant. We would be riding them bareback, so we had to learn how to get up without steps or anything. Basically you can get up on the elephant’s leg or trunk. The elephants know a command that tells them to hold up their leg, which you can put your foot on and hold their ear and haul yourself up. Alternatively, they will put their head down and you can get up on the head, but then you have to turn around, because you’ll be facing the back of the elephant.

I was pretty intimidated to try and get on my elephant, as she was so big! But, when my turn came, I put on a brave face and stepped up to the elephant. She put her leg up at my trainer’s command, and it took a second to have it steady. I put my right foot on it, grabbed her ear with my right hand, the lone rope around her chest with my left hand, and hauled myself up for all I was worth. I got about halfway up and my trainer had to push my foot up to help me get up the rest of the way.

Finally up, I was up! It felt so HIGH and unsteady! We were supposed to sit far forward on the elephant’s head, not the neck, to be the most comfortable. Our knees were to go notched up behind the elephant’s ears, with our feet back on its neck. It was so high up, I was definitely nervous! There was basically nothing to hold on to, either, as the rope was so far behind me. My elephant started to take off towards a trail, and my trainer was no where to be found. I started to freak out, spotted my trainer, and yelled at him to get over here! I was so annoyed that he was not staying near me. Finally I got him over and we started down the trail, leading the pack. The trail was uneven and had some inclines (lean forward) and declines (lean back). At one point, my trainer actually got up on Buantong with me, but sat pretty far behind me. I was glad he was there at one point when Buantong walked towards a half fallen down bamboo rod which would have clotheslined me, had my trainer not hacked it down as Buantong stopped for a snack.

We had walked about 20 minutes, and were on a pretty steep decline. My trainer kept falling further towards me, and I realized that he was nervously laughing and talking in Thai to another trainer. This continued on for several minutes before he said “You okay” to me, and another trainer said “can he get down?” I said of course (I never wanted him up with me anyway!) and he jumped down. It was definitely kind of awkward, but I know he was super uncomfortable about it.

As we walked through the jungle, it was so surreal. It was absolutely gorgeous and I couldn’t believe I was riding on an elephant! She was impressive, too, as she could follow the path, no matter than terrain or sharp turns. Buantong was a trooper.

We finally got to the end of the trail as it intersected with a road, and Buantong easily stepped over the barrier and we crossed the road. There were some Thai kids on motorbikes that were coming out of the area we were heading towards who stopped to watch us. It was really cool; I was proud to be badass enough to be doing what I was doing! We headed down another path on the other side and some other elephants came into view, and another group of tourists with matching riding attire. I was happy to be with my group, as there were fewer of us and I felt like we were having a more legitimate experience.

Another five minutes and we were at a natural pool. I think in the rainy season, it would be a waterfall, but as we were well into the dry season, it was mostly just a pool. We dismounted (gracefully of course) and waited for the entire group to convene. Next it was time to bathe the elephants and scrub them clean!

The elephants were seriously enjoying the pool, lying in the water and spraying themselves. We got in our bathing suits and were given scrubbing brushes and got to work. The water was cool and felt wonderful (although it wasn’t very clear!). We took some more photos in the water, then got out to have our picnic. We had about an hour to eat, relax by the water and in the tree hut, and rest. We all got to chat together and there were some interesting people in our group – and the most Americans I’d seen in Thailand thus far! Two girls from New York, a mom & daughter from Jersey, and a couple from Canada. The mom was hilarious beucase throughout the day she had been obviously quite nervous of the elephants, but what a trooper!!! She was awesome.

After the break, we re-mounted our elephants and had a short ride to the top of the waterfall area, near the road. We got off and took final pictures and said goodbye to our elephants. I was so sad to leave them, but what an amazing time we’d had! We piled into the van and headed to the main office. We turned in our riding outfits and received our cd’s of professional pictures. We got to see the pictures on an ipad while we waited, and I wasn’t too impressed. I really wish I’d brought my nice camera. But at least I got some pictures with my phone J I’ll be able to see the pictures when I get home and get to a CD drive.

They took us back to the hotel and I couldn’t believe we still had so much of the day left! We rested a bit then headed out for dinner and exploring. We walked back around the wat I’d found the night before so Jess could see it. Then we explored some shops, and finally I decided to get a massage. I opted for a package that included a foot massage (30 minutes), Thai massage (1 hour), and back/shoulder massage with oil (30 minutes). It was divine!

At this point, all of the “big” items for our trip were completed. All we have left is a travel day on Friday and a market day on Saturday before departing for home that night. I can’t believe it’s almost over!! I am bittersweet about leaving – I could totally stay here for months!! But, I really miss Danny. I don’t look forward to going back to work, but I am really ready to get back to my own bed. I am also sad to leave because I don’t know what my next big adventure will be. Danny and I are planning our honeymoon, but that is a very different kind of travel. It will be much more relaxing and focused on US, rather than on adventure. After we get married, things will be different with finances too. So, I am just… sad.

No matter what, though, I will never stop traveling. Of that, I am sure.


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