Hangovers and headaches

I woke up in the morning, curled up in a ball on my bed.

I looked to my right, Katie and Isabelle were just waking up, too.

My head.

I sought to put together the pieces from the previous night.

Whiskey and Coke bucket. Chang Beer. Which, apparently, is super strong. Dancing at the reggae bar. A 20-year-old drunk dude propositioning me, then telling me I lost my chance when I rolled my eyes at his scrawny, backward baseball cap, shorts well under his ass, ridiculousness. Thai children selling flowers. Getting paid to kick guys in their crotch. Walking over to another bar playing lots of popular music from 2006. Meat-on-a-stick. Faceplanting it into my bed.

“Where are my shoes?” Katie asked, sitting up.

Yeah. It was that kind of jet lagged, whiskey bucket-drinking night.

The three of us groaned and decided a proper Western breakfast full of grease was in order. But first, we needed a fruit shake.

Across the street from Little Bird was a market, so we all went over there and ordered delicious sweet fruit shakes. Katie ordered a super refreshing pineapple and lime; I opted for pineapple and dragonfruit.

The market

We sat at breakfast, trying to get over our hangovers with not so much luck. I had some prescription painkillers I had brought for just such an occasion, so Katie and I each popped one, feeling better within minutes.

Still beat from the night before, we returned to the hostel for an afternoon of lounging mixed with napping.

After a couple of hours of doing nothing but recovering, I decided it was time to take advantage of the cheap price for a massage, so Isabelle and I headed out — she to meet a friend, and me to indulge in the second massage in 24 hours — one for my head to help ease the headache I felt creeping back.

The two of us walked down the moat towards Taipei Gate, walking through the set-up of the Sunday market.

Colorful clothing. Adorable moleskin journals. Food. Avert your eyes, D. AVERT.

I trained my eyes on the cement.

“Isabelle, we can’t walk through here right now. If we’re doing this tonight, I can’t be tempted to shop right now,” I explained.

We changed our path and ended up walking right by Elephant Nature Park’s local office.

“Can we stop in here real quick?” I asked her. I wanted to make sure I was all set for the morning.

As soon as I walked in, five dogs ran up to us. One with three legs. Rescued animals living in comfort at the beautiful park office.

A clear indication of what I was up for at the park. 

I met with a representative, signed some papers, paid my balance, set up my pick-up for the morning, then we were off.

Isabelle and I found a nice massage place down the road from the office and it’s where I decided to stop to get  a head massage. She headed off to meet a friend and I changed into comfortable pants and laid down to fight the hangover that surely was only antagonized by the jet lag I was sure was still pulsing in me.

For an hour, I succumbed to my masseuse, letting her ply my body and put pressure on my head.

“You okayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?” She would ask from time to time.

My response would always be a content smile.

A wat against the thunder clouds

When it was done, I sat with my masseuse, drank some tea, then grabbed Isabelle so we could go walk back, weaving through side streets and Wats, to meet Katie at Little Bird and head over to the Sunday Night Market.

Asia Blog Thailand Travel

Fight the jet lag, drink whiskey

I rubbed my eyes.

Holy. Crap.

Katie had just walked into the room.

Suddenly, the exhaustion which had overcome my body melted effortlessly away.

“KATIE!!” I jumped out of bed and ran to her. “Oh my god!!”

“Surprise!” She said, smiling as we wrapped our arms around each other.

I held onto her for a moment as I let the rush of emotions come over me. It was just about a year ago we had met in Bosnia. She was a Travel Friend who had morphed into a Real Life Friend, someone who had stood by my side the past year as I moved to Las Vegas, went through my challenges of re-entry. Katie was one of my fiercest supporters. We had planned to meet up in Thailand months and months ago. When I had initially entertained the idea of volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park, I had sent her a message to make sure she’d be nearby since she was moving to Asia in June.

And now, here she was. In Thailand.

I turned to Isabelle to explain to her my excitement over the new girl in our dorm room.

Turns out, Katie had this planned for awhile, but due to torrential flooding in central Thailand, she wasn’t sure if she was going to make it in time to catch me that night.

Good thing that jet lag smacked me in the face.

“Well,what are you doing? Get dressed!”

I floundered.

Tired. Tired. Tired. Katie. Reggae Bar. Thailand.

“Um …” I began. “I am so tired.”

“No excuses. Let’s go out.”

Conversation done.

Isabelle whipped my hair into something presentable. I pulled on leggings and a LBD. Then, we were off.

Katie and Isabelle hit it off pretty immediately. Within the first few minutes, we were all having the girl talk that takes some people years to grow comfortable with.

Because of Little Bird’s close proximity to a little enclave of bars, it was a nice and quick walk in the oh-so humid September air. This backpacker/Westerner joint was packed to the brim. Fortunately, one of the girls who worked at the hostel had already set up shop at a little wooden table and benches, so we joined her group.

Then, my demise was placed in front of me.

Object is much smaller than it appears. Don't be fooled. It's a bucket.

The whiskey bucket. Well, whiskey and Coke.

A terrible concoction for anyone who is trying to overcome jet lag.

I turned to Katie, a look of doubt crossing my sleep-deprived face.

“Welcome to Thailand,” she said, smiling, handing me a straw.

Asia Blog Thailand

Hello, Chiang Mai

“There’s a smell to Thailand,” my seatmate from Narita to Bangkok had explained to me upon our arrival to the country, and before we walked off of the plane and down the stairs to the tarmac. “I don’t know what it is, but it is distinct. And I love it.”

We walked towards the door and the first thing I was struck with was overwhelming, hair-frizzing, awful humidity.

Being a desert rat makes you forget all about that damp air.

Then, I was struck with the smell.

It wasn’t all pretty and sweet, the way my seatmate had made it out to be. But, it certainly was distinct, and not in bad way.

The air was a mix of spices, diesel and rain. That’s the best way I can describe it.

Oh, and interesting.

After an uncomfortable night at BKK, I was five pegs above excited when we got to board our jet from the capital to Thailand’s second largest (yet, seriously smaller) city, Chiang Mai.

For the duration of the quick flight, my eyes sat glued to the ground below.

This is Thailand. I am in Thailand. There is Bangkok and the skyscrapers. There are gorgeous, lush mountains. There are vast fields of green farmland. There is Chiang Mai.

The view from the mountains of Chiang Mai

All of the aches and lack-of-sleep deliriousness was at bay as we landed at my final destination. After nearly two full days of traveling and four flights.

With a burst of energy, I departed the plane, grabbed my backpack, cleared my declaration (um, nothing in my bag), and bounded to the cab window to get my ride to Little Bird, a suggestion from Katie. It was the place we had decided to meet after my time at the Elephant Nature Park and then my two nights of bliss at the Rachamankha Hotel.

Eyes-wide, I watched as the cab driver navigated the crazy streets of the city, competing with red cabs which are really pick-up trucks with covers over their back and two benches facing each other, tuk tuks, motor bikes and cars.

Along the way, he pointed out, in near perfect English, the major landmarks — the old city and it’s walls, the moat (yes, a real, live moat) and more.

Chiang Mai wasn’t what I had imagined, but with the abundance of tropical flowers and green foliage, I was happy.

A street in Chiang Mai

We pulled up to Little Bird and I got out of the car. Like most places in Chiang Mai, a large portion of the guest house was fairly open, save for a roof.

“Heya,” I said to no one in particular, but everyone under the roof, as I grabbed my belongings and headed to check-in.

I was way too energetic for just getting off of such epic travels with little (and uncomfortable) sleep, especially at 8:30 a.m.

But, I didn’t care.

I was in Chiang Mai!

Asia Blog Thailand