when i arrived in old town i was dropped off at mango house, where the manager (a beautiful thai girl named tan) greeted me. i told her i was there to meet susanna. and she instantly grabbed her cell and gave susanna a call to tell her i had arrived. minutes later susanna arrived to mango house on a motorbike and greeted me with a huge welcoming smile. she told me to hop on to her motorbike. two problems...1)im not tiny and the bike was, and 2)i had my massive pack on my back as well. but needless to say, i made it in one piece to susannas home. on the drive down the main street in old town we past a sign that read 'sun longtail boat tours' she explained that when she moved here, she married a local thai man, and they started a long tail business together. which she still runs. when we arrived at susanna's thai style waterfront home, i was in awe. i could not have ever imagined that when i was in thailand i would have the pleasure of staying in such a beautiful home, right on top of the sea! her house is in the shape of a rectangle and is built on stilts atop the seabed. so when the tide was coming in, i could hear and see the waves crashing beneath the floor boards!
old town market
during my week with susanna i got accustomed to her thai lifestyle. every morning i would go into town and buy a 40cent breakfast from a muslim-thai woman, i also got to test out driving a motorbike for the first time, and driving on the 'wrong' side of the road! and one night susanna's neighbour meow (meow is thai, meaning cat) came over to set up a fishing line for me. it consisted of a washed up old sprite bottle with a bit of twine wrapped around it, with a shrimp secured to the hook at the bottom. that night i caught a fish!!! when i felt a tug at the line i yelped, which meow understood as the universial sign for 'i think i've got something'. he came over and helped me reel in a catfish!!! so needless to say, my stay with susanna was amazing. i even taught her and some locals to shotgun! hhah she was a natural. susanna was another one of those couchsurfers that i knew i would see again. after my stay on koh lanta came to an end, i flew back to bangkok, where kirsten had agreed to let me stay for two days before my flight to...AUSTRALIA!!!
when i arrived to koh lanta, i was dropped from the big night bus with the other passangers. we were dropped at a small travel agents shop to wait for mini buses, which would take each passenger to the island they are headed to. everyone was wearing colored stickers so that the thai men driving the mini buses could distinguish who was going to what island. as i looked around i quickly realized i was the only one with an orange sticker. all the other backpackers i was standing with slowly got picked up by mini buses heading to koh phi phi and phucket. phi phi and phucket have the image of party destinations, that receive a lot of young travelers seeking out cheap booze and full moon parties. i however was looking for something different. i wanted to drown in relaxation. i wanted to spend days on end rotating from sleep, eat, swim, read, repeat. i wasnt in the mood to party till i puke. so koh lanta, thankfully has turned out to be perfect for me. when my ride finally did arrive, it was not a minibus. a tiny red pickup, with a toothless old thai man, who spoke no english, drove me to my next stop. i had booked five nights at a beachfront "resort". since im here in low season everything is a little cheaper than it will be in a few weeks time. so i paid 1500baht for five nights, 1500baht is equal to 50canadian dollars. for that price i got a bungalow with a fan, i skimped on the aircon. it was definitely for the budget mindset, i wouldnt recommend it for mom and dad. but for ten dollars a night, i could make it work. the beach was just a few steps from my front door, and i spent those five days reading and eating...just like i had planned. i even befriended i local restaurant owner who is a muslim-thai named luke. he helped me arrange a day trip of snorkeling! so one day i went out to a tiny island called koh bida. i was thrilled when i boarded the boat that they handed out sea-sick pills. but i was prepared and i brought my own, which they found hilarious. i loaded up on my drugs and passed out for the two hour ride to the island. when i woke up, i found out that three of the other people on the trip were puking off the side of the boat...seeing as how that is usually me, i felt like a champ! when i jumped in the water i was instantly blown away by the mass amounts of electric colored fish surrounding me. i felt like i was on the set of finding nemo. but later that night i realized i forgot something important while i was out that afternoon snorkeling. i forgot that my butt was facing the sun all afternoon . needless to say, for the next couple of days i dealt with a burnt bottom. the following day i befriended a fellow backpacker from canada, and four blokes from england, who had just arrived from malaysia. we spent the following days basking in the sun, and sampling bucket drinks, and banana spring rolls! on tuesday we headed off in separate directions. this was the day i headed off to meet my next couchsurfing host, susanna.
so im in thailand. i never thought it would be possible to sweat so much. when i arrived in bangkok after a lengthy flight from istanbul to abu dhabi and abu dhabi to bangkok, i was pleased to experience smooth transportation from the airport to my new cser's apt. her name is kirsten and she is from australia, but is teaching english as a PE teacher in bangkok. since i arrived in the morning, kirsten was at work. which led to me dropping off my luggage at her building, and proceeding to tour around bangkok all by myself, and jet-lagged. when i began to wander from kirstens apartment, i was culture shock. everywhere i looked it was a bussle of activity. and the street food was cheap and EVERYWHERE! unfortunately they cook with lots of oyster and shrimp here, so i couldnt order any of it, because i cant eat shellfish, and they dont have menus, or speak english! and i couldnt get over how smiley everyone was. i felt very comfortable walking alone there. the first thing i did was find an air conditioned mall, and got my first thai massage. it was amazing, and for 6bucks an hour, i knew it wouldnt be my last. when i met up with kirsten that night, we went out to dinner, and i got to meet some of her friends from work. over the next fews days at kirstens place i learned to navigate bangkoks 'skytrain' with precision. the skytrain is a subway like car that was built to reduce congestion on the streets. which is why it was built a top the city. when you ride it you feel like you are at disney world. on my second day there kirsten surprised me with a vip ticket to the thailand open! i was thrilled to spend an afternoon watching the pros play tennis in thailand. i was also lucky to be there over the weekend which meant i was able to attend the famous JJ market! one of my previous couchsurfers warned me to get a map before i went because its like a maze there. he was right! but my navigation skills are horrible, so i just let myself get lost and asked for help when it was time to go. i hit 'time to go' after purchasing thai silk robes, handmade chop sticks, and delish spring rolls among many other souvenirs that i had to lug to the post office to send home the next day. one of my previous couchsurfing hosts from switzerland (marco) had been to thailand last year, and he recommended that i check out a small island called koh lanta. koh being the thai word for island. i went to a travel agent near kirstens apartment and checked out prices. and that very day i booked a night bus to koh lanta! i had lucked out and there was even a couchsurfer on the island who agreed to host me for a couple night when i was there! so i said goodbye to kirsten and caught a 19 hour bus ride to koh lanta!!