Friday, September 24, 2010
Day # 24 (A Travel Story)
Traveling with 5 good friends, we vacationed a few years ago in Thailand.
Most of our vacation was spent in 4-star hotels and resorts, but several days were planned to be spent trekking ("backpack-on-your-back" style) in the mountains of northern Thailand, eating and sleeping with the native villagers. It truly was a WONDERFUL, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience first hand how these remote, friendly, humble people live and work and play.
Buuuuuut, my friend Leah and I had never done anything like the this trekking before, and were a little nervous about "what to pack"?! We knew we needed clothes for three days (for uncertain and potentially very changeable weather conditions), changes of shoes, as well as hats, sunscreens, insect repellants, first aid kits, cameras, the usual other "necessities" and toiletries, and a few small gifts and toys for our hosts and the village children. Ever optimistic (hahaHA!) I also actually even packed a little make-up: a sample size mascara, 2 lip-glosses, and a few other very small products. My thinking was, "Just because I am in a Thai jungle doesn't mean I can't at least make an attempt to look my best!" (-- yes, yes, you can start laughing now!)
So, with (heavy, bulging) backpacks packed, we were on our way. Then our guide asked us if we had packed towels. As in bathing/swimming towels. Big eyes and shaking heads all around, none of us had thought to bring towels. "OK, then, " he said, "we'll have to stop at the market and buy them there."
Well, have you ever seen a Thai market? It's not a Target, that's for sure. And the Thai version of a towel? They are small... like the size of a small hand-towels (really!) and paper THIN -- and I don't know WHAT they are made of, but they felt like they would repel more water than they would absorb. But whatever - the guide said we needed them, so we all got them. It was a little chaotic at the market, but finally we were officially on our way.
In case you are wondering about this trek... it truly was an amazing experience. One day we rode elephants, and one afternoon we floated down the river in bamboo rafts that we made ourselves that morning. But I am also here to tell you that the trekking itself was no casual, leisurely, nature stroll -- it was an intense HIKE, up and down the mountains and across various uneven terrains, through creeks and streams, and all under the blazing Thai sun. Even though I was in fairly good shape, it was grueling!
The blasted backpack quickly became the BANE of my existence. I. HATED. IT. It was soooooo heavy. Believe me, it wasn't long before I was digging through it to see what I could throw out to lighten my load. (YES, the mascara, lip-glosses and make-up were the first to go!)
Leah was struggling under the weight of her backpack, too, and we were both cursing them with every step. (In their defenses, our husbands did carry our backpacks for us a fair amount of the time, but not ALL THE TIME!!!) But finally we got through that first day of trekking, and arrived at our destination, excited and happy to be sharing this experience with such good friends.
Later, as we were getting settled into our night's accommodations (a Thai family's VERY rural village home), we sat down, rooting through our backpacks for our sleeping clothes. Leah pulled out her new "towel", and then, perplexed, proceeded to pull out a second one. "What's THIS???" she shrilled. I looked over and said, "Oh... that's my towel. How did you get it?" (Obviously in the chaos of the marketplace that morning, somehow my "towel" ended up in her backpack.) Anyway, with nerves frayed from sheer exhaustion, my normally low-key, usually-quite-amiable friend went nearly ballistic. "I HAVE YOUR TOWEL???" she shrieked, "YOU MEAN I HAVE BEEN CARRYING. YOUR. TOWEL. ALL. DAY????!!!!!"
Honestly, I had no idea until that moment that it hadn't been in my own backpack all day, and I had nothing to say in my feeble defense except a very sincere (albeit unaccepted!) apology.
Yes, I swear it's all true... a close and dear friendship for well over 10 years, and it all almost all came to a screeching halt that evening in northern Thailand over something the size (and weight!) of a WASH CLOTH!
But, just so you know, by the bright light of early morning, we were fine again, and we thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our vacation together. In fact, we traveled together again last year to Costa Rica. Another great vacation; and you can read about it HERE.
OH, before I close... here are a few more pictures from Thailand:
Leah and me, enjoying a snack from a street vendor.
THIS is a Thai market. As you can see, nothing like Target! ;o)
Another market, the famous Floating Market. Amazing!
Back on Terra Firma -- YAY!
Rafting down the river...
And here are a few more (random) photos of our Thailand vacation. And although it is ONE HECKUVA LONG plane ride (we just about had to knock my husband OUT!) -- it is soooo worth it. The scenery is breathtaking, the people are friendly and beautiful, the architecture AMAZING, and the food -- well, the food is simply To. Die. For.
We definitely hope to go back again one day.