A Travellerspoint blog

The Return of the Liz

How I spent four weeks feeling sorry for myself, and then decided to go to Singapore

When I last left you all, I was sounding pretty pathetic. Can't sleep, can't swim, no fun, blah blah blah. So, I took the advice of my mother, caught a flight back to Edmonton (ok, that was a whole thing including twelve hours/six movies on a flight from China and then sleepwalking through the Vancouver airport; but ok, let's call it "caught a flight"), and spent some time "convalescing". Here's a rundown of what I've been up to, in case you are wondering how a person who previously was working 40-50 hours a week, applying to grad school, doing an online statistics course, and planning a trip around the world spends 4 weeks doing nothing.

- Went to the doctor, and then physiotherapy. It turns out I may or may not have broken a rib (tip: next time you break something, don't wait 2 1/2 weeks to get an X-ray, s!*t starts to heal), but the real trouble was whatever I did to my rotator cuff/shoulder. It's been an extremely humbling experience to succumb to my body and make decisions based on pain level, actual ability, etc. rather than just how lazy I am feeling. You would think a Peds Oncology nurse would have a better understanding of how illness/injury impacts functioning, but there it is. I am counting my blessings daily that the only thing wrong with me is an injury I sustained while sailing on the Whitsunday Islands in Australia, because the fact that I got to go sailing in the Whitsundays greatly outweighs any negative outcomes of the fall.

- Joined the YMCA, as due to above, was not able to do my preferred physical activities (ie. anything that used your arms or core). This turned out to be a good thing, as some days I only left the house to go to the Y. I wish some of my friends didn't have jobs.

- Spent some time visiting with one of the great loves of my life, Aaron Goldsman. Aaron and I grew up together and then lived in Vancouver and went to UBC together, but since he has been pursuing higher education in Toronto and now Atlanta. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I have ALWAYS been out of town when Aaron visits Edmonton and thus haven't seen him in almost two years (which is weird, since it's not like I travel a lot or anything). When I found out I was going to be in Asia while Aaron was in Edmonton this year, I was once again disheartened. So, when I broke myself and came home and realized I would finally get to see Aaron, I was over the moon excited. So I spent a lot of time catching up with him, and as you can tell from the preceding ode to Aaron, I thoroughly enjoyed that.

- Spent more than enough time at Craft Brewery. They have an awesome rooftop patio on Rice Howard Way, and they make a mean sparkling white sangria. Drinking boozy fruit cocktails in the sun with good friends can cure anything.

- Celebrated the engagement of my brother and sister-to-be Ari and Faren. This was really fun and also has now allowed me to move my annoying sister nagging from "when are you going to get married, I look really good in heels" to "I want to be an aunt by the time I'm 30". They're on cloud nine (about the engagement, not so much about my bugging them. But guys, I'm gonna be an awesome aunt).

- Went to a concert on a streetcar on the top of the High Level Bridge with Lana. That was great, and if any Edmontonians are able to catch a Streetcar Show this summer, I highly suggest it.

- Started packing up my life (and throwing out a bunch of crap from my life that I no longer need) for the "big move" to Philly in mid-August. This has been fun, mainly because I've been able to use the excuse of being injured to avoid the heavy lifting. Thanks, Mom!

- Spent time with my family and friends that I will sadly be leaving in a few short months. That includes the highlight of my week: watching the athletic feats of the men (and women) of the Edmonton Jewish Baseball League. I'll let you use your imagination on that, but I can tell you that sometimes the best part of the game is going for pizza after.

And so there you have it. I've left out the obvious (binge watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black, reading, napping, eating some delicious Edmonton things, and walking to Starbucks), but I think that gives you some idea. I didn't think anything I did was worthy of a blog post, but now that I'm back, it seems rude to have not told you where I've been.

So, why AM I back, you may be thinking to yourselves. Her life isn't interesting when she's in the Northern/Western hemisphere! Well, don't worry, that's about to change! You see, the end of this trip was meant to coincide ("coincidentally", I swear) with a conference in Singapore (the International Symposium for Pediatric Neuro-Oncology), and due to the fortuitous timing, I decided back in March that I was going to sign up for the conference. One of the doctors that I work with, as well as our fantastic Nurse Practitioner, are also attending, so, you know, it was going to be a whole thing. When I decided to come home, I was particularly sad that I would no longer be able to attend the conference, a really great learning/networking experience in a field that I'm about to dive into head first in the fall.

Well, "un"fortunately, I couldn't get a refund on the conference. This lead me to thinking: I've already paid for the conference, I have a flight home from Singapore that I haven't cancelled yet, I have a place to stay during the conference, and oh, look at how many Aeroplan miles I have! Also "un"fortunately, the only ticket I could get on points got me to Singapore on the 25th, so I'd have to spend a few more days in Singapore before the conference. All this combined was much to good to pass up, so here I am, about to embark on the yet another 24 hour travel day (my iPad is loaded with TV this time, don't worry) in order to get some more Asia, some more humidity, some awesome food, and a lot of learning.

If you think I've been bit by the travel bug, you may just be correct.

Yallah bye!

Posted by Flanilandlizard 16:03 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Under the Night Sky

I spent the next 5 days in Koh Phangan. Read: I spent five days on a beach that doubles as a constant epic party. There are no photos to be had. Nor stories to be written on this blog. That being said while I was there my wonderful cousin Ari got engaged to Faren and so I made sure to have a couple extra buckets on their behalf. You may look at a photo of them to represent these five days.

I am now moving on to Phuket to recover.


Posted by Flanilandlizard 15:59 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

My New Pets

Back in Chiang Mai things were business as usual at Spicy Thai as I reconnected with Nicole and Dave. Since they had just finished a two day trek Saturday night we kept things low key with one of the 1800 movies available. Not joking. Everything you could ever want to watch at your fingertips.

Sunday morning Nicole (Trip advisor) led us on a walking tour through the walled city. We visited a couple of temples first. Now at this point I am mostly over temples because I am finding them all to be much too commercialized without much substance. But it had been a few days since my last temple visit so I gave it another shot. Unfortunately I had also dropped off every piece of clothing except one strapless dress to be washed (better planning would have led to a less dire situation) and so I couldn't actually enter the temple. It was lovely from the outside (read: it looked the same as all the rest).

Next up on the walking tour was a visit to the women's prison where convicts have been trained to give Thai massages. This wasn't as good as the one I had in Chiang Rai but mostly I was super curious what my girl had done wrong. I especially don't want to meet any of these girls in an alley.

And then came the highlight of my day. Now for years I've been quite the lion fan. But today I went to play with tigers. And of course I paid the little extra to play with the littlest tigers. This was the most fun ever. Luckily you will all get to meet my baby tiger as I stole this little nugget for my forever keeping.

Elated from my tiger experience I went back to the hostel where capacity was down to a solid group of 12 as the hotel typically closes through the month of June. And so our happy little family had all the best intentions of making it to the famous Sunday night market but instead found ourselves experiencing the Chiang Mai night life as led by our trusty hostel worker.

Since the purpose of returning to Chiang Mai was to go on a trek I booked myself a one day snap shot adventure for Monday. The morning started with a visit to a butterfly sanctuary. I'm not exactly sure why. But it was nice. They were flutter-y.

I then went to visit the long neck and big ear hill tribes. The situation was quite sad as they traditionally live closer to the Laos/Myanmar border but they have come down close to the city to set up a mock village for tourists so they can make money. It sort of felt like being at a people zoo. But they were all very generous and happy to show their rings. Note: these rings are WAY heavier than I expected. They start adding rings at age 5 and get a new one every year.

And then came the big highlight of the day. The ephalent camp. I wasn't sure what to expect as many people had told me how badly treated the elephants were on their tours and how little they actually interacted with the animals. Luckily for us we spent about half an hour playing, dancing, and getting kisses from the elephants before taking our ride. They were cute.... But they were no tigers.

After a quick lunch we went for a "trek" (half hour walk) through the jungle in a rainstorm to get to a waterfall for a quick swim/mud rinse.

Cleanish we headed over to the river for bamboo rafting. This was essentially sitting on a raft made of bamboo as we drifted very slowly down a river with two Thai guys yelling at one another to stop steering wrong.

Upon returning to the hostel I got super cold, then super feverish and had an 8pm bed time to recover for the inevitable ridiculous that my next few days in Koh Phangan were going to bring.


Posted by Flanilandlizard 21:30 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Off the Beaten Path

Back in Vientiane I met Melinda who is currently teaching English in Chiang Rai. Since I had already considered heading up there to do some trekking and climbing it seemed like a pretty good idea to go somewhere I already knew a local. And so Thursday morning I headed to CR with big plans. Unfortunately when I got there it was a ghost town. Due to low season, plus decreased visitors with everything that's been going on I had a rough couple hours of rejection by travel agencies and hostels saying no tours would be running, no cooking classes and no rooms to stay in. And so caught in a downpour and feeling pretty defeated I was ready to call my visit to CR a write off when Melinda called for me to come over.

I headed over to her and her boyfriend Tom's place where they promptly helped me find a nice hotel around the corner from them and arranged our night's activity. They turned my day around so quickly I am eternally grateful. We headed to hang out with some of their friends in the evening and I went to bed feeling much better about the situation.

Friday I was again determined to make the most of the day so after technical difficulties meeting up with a friend to go visit some waterfalls I made my way to Boomerang to get in some climbing.

Feeling sore from my climb I hit up one of the many Thai massage salons to relax a bit before heading out for the evening. I don't understand how these little Asians are SO strong. I'm seriously starting to question what I'd do if cornered in a back alley.

We went to Happy Face bar (I think that's what it was called) where Tom and his friends play in a band each week and most of the other expat teachers hang out.

Saturday morning Melinda, Tom and I decided to re-approach the waterfall situation. Which meant that first I would need to learn to drive a motorbike. And so Tom gave me a quick 10-min lesson (he told me I'm not allowed to call it a crash course) before heading over to rent my very own bike. It was blue and fast.

And so off to the country we went and my entire trip to Chiang Rai became completely worth any frustration. Rolling through the mountains, surrounded by lush jungle, rice fields and tea plantations it was no wonder they love this place so much. The hike up to Huey Kaew waterfall was a bit of a climb but as with most of these waterfalls more than worth the effort.

After the falls we went for some epic banana pancakes that Melinda had been talking about since before I got there and they totally lived up to the hype. It also helped that they were at the top of another hill with a great view.

And so marked the end of my visit to Chiang Rai. It was an awesome few days to be off the backpacker circuit with people a bit more settled and less transient. Melinda, Tom and all their friends welcomed me with open arms and I don't doubt we will reunite in the future. And now back to Chiang Mai!


Posted by Flanilandlizard 11:12 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

We love Ladyboy

While flustered in the Laos airport I ran into Nicole, a girl I'd been in hostels and hanging out with throughout Laos. She convinced me spending a night in Chiang Mai before heading to Chiang Rai was a good idea. And right she was.

Upon landing I met James from Grand Prairie on the tarmac. When we got to the visa desk he hadn't filled out his intended place of stay on his arrival card and so instead of being haggled I told him to just write the place I put ... which as with all my landings is the second Lonely Planet option whether I intend to go there or not. Well, a lot of help I was as the customs agents had never heard of the place and haggled him anyways. Lucky for me they'd already figured it out with him and so were perfectly nice to me. I'm not sure why he continued to think following my lead was a good idea but alas James, Nicole and I all headed to check into Spicy Thai.

Here we added Dave (England) and a German girl who at no point ever told any of us her name - I know you're shocked. More Brits and Germans- and we made our way to the centre of the city for some food.

Due to my earlier waterfall debacle I hadn't eaten since my 7am breakfast and was now in full hanger mode. Lucky for me our tuk tuk driver let us out at the entrance to the walled part of town where the military were all gathered. Don't get worried. No protesting here. They were doing karaoke. With rows of chairs and people watching. Glad to see their military hard at work.

After a casual supper we went over to the night market to bargain for ray bans, Tiffany bracelets, cell phone cases and a million other things. This was our first encounter with the lady boys as they made their way over to greet us and invite us to the free cabaret at 9:30. So we took some pictures, had some laughs and carried on.

Tired of the market and committed to going to the cabaret we decided it was the type of thing we should probably do with a little beer in our bellies so we split a tower and had an intense conversation politics, acknowledged we had just had an educated conversation, then made our way to the show.

I don't have many words to describe this. Mostly just a lot of questions. Like how are they so feminine, how do so many truly look like women, why are they so attractive and on and on.

Once the show was over we headed back to the hostel for curfew which is currently 12-4am in northern Thailand.

For those reading this and wondering about my safety in being here I promise that I am being smart about where I go. My trip is registered with the Canadian government and at this time they feel it is safe for travellers to be here as long as you follow curfew and don't go looking for protests. In four days the only military I've seen were those doing karaoke and it's sort of nice to have a bed time. As of today the curfew is lifted on the Islands which is my next destination so for the moment I'm comfortable being here but if I feel that changing I will make my way to somewhere else on the SE Asia map.


Posted by Flanilandlizard 11:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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