Day 195: The Root(er) Cause

Our days in Pai were now officially numbered. After booking a bus ticket in the evening to Bangkok we only had two days left in the lazy town. Of course, Sarah and I did nothing different. We still spent the day beside the pool and went out twice for food. Over and above all it was a good day, I managed to finish my book, and Sarah managed to top up her tan. Now read on as I attempt to write a lot about very little once again.

• All night Sarah kept waking up, much to my annoyance. She suffers from extreme arachnophobia, so much so that it causes her to have night terrors. And what with the looming presence of Australia coming up, it’s been triggering them more than usual. Every time she woke up she’d use the flashlight app on my phone to scout the area for spiders. Obviously there were none in our bed, so nervously she’d go back to sleep. It was still infuriating for me, as every time Sarah woke up, it meant I woke up. After three night terrors, Sarah managed to stay asleep until 10am. I woke up slightly earlier and watched an episode of White Collar.

• When my show had finished the pair of us got ready for the day ahead, then went out for breakfast. Much like the stereotype that gets thrown about during most people’s holidays, we reserved a couple sun loungers beside the pool like the Germans by putting our towels on them. We then rode the bikes down the road to Fat Cats for our first meal of the day.

• I ordered a large tuna melt sandwich, and Sarah had the vegetable salad. We were joined once again by the friendly mother cat, and the turtle was busy doing yoga on the rock. The only thing worth writing about is the fact I was bitten three times by one mosquito. In the space of time we were sat at the table, the insect had taken blood from my back, my elbow and my wrist. I was aware of its presence when I heard it fly past my ear. It’s high pitched scream gave it away. All of a sudden I saw it come back for more when it pitched on my chest. SPLAT!!!!! I crushed it instantly, which left a spatter of my blood all across me. All I can say is I must have tasted nice that morning, as I never usually get bitten by the miniature vampires.

• After paying for our meals we returned to the pool, where we discovered we’d needn’t have put the towels down. For as long as we stayed at the pool nobody else showed up. All day we had it to ourselves. Besides updating blogs, I was thoroughly engrossed in my book. I switched between the sun lounger and the pool, but found myself staying in the pool when Sarah pointed out my chest was beginning to burn – something she’d regret mocking me for later. After a while the staff at the resort began blaring out Thai music. I don’t quite know how to describe the sound, but it’s somewhere between a dying cat and a bad X Factor audition. I’d like to say “or Cheryl Cole”, but fear that might be too mean. Honestly, it grates on me, and its often played in places you can’t get away from, for example, the long haul bus journeys. It’s definitely up there in my top ten pet hates. Unlike the long haul bus journeys, this time I had the option to leave, so I returned to the peace and quiet of our room to finish my book, leaving Sarah to soak up the sun.

• I only had ten pages remaining by the time Sarah came back. When she got in she told me the staff had increased the volume of the music, and they were also singing along to it. I was glad I left when I did. When I looked up to see Sarah I couldn’t believe my eyes. Neither of us had put any suntan lotion on before we went to the pool, I had my reasons for this.
1. I wasn’t planning on spending too much time in the sun.
2. The factor 30 we had brought my back out in spots.
Sarah also had a reason, she claimed her skin was used to the sun these days, and she didn’t need it. How wrong she was, her chest and arms were scarlet. I then pointed out to her how sore it looked, and did my best to make a fuss of it like she does when I burn, but can you believe it, she didn’t appreciate it. She can give it but she can’t take it ladies and gents. We took it in turns to take a shower, and when I got back to the room I completed my book. It was amazing to read the life story of Pablo Escobar, but it’s difficult to tell just how good or bad a man he was. The world says one story, and the book by his brother tells another. Either way, there’s no denying that he was a very rich and powerful man, and it had entertained me during my stay at the resort. When I’d finished the book the pair of us went out for fruit shakes.

• We picked the same place we ate shiitake mushrooms at the other day. Unfortunately the shakes weren’t the best. Somehow the combinations of pineapple and coconut, and mango and coconut didn’t work. We still drank them all the same, then Sarah used my phone to Skype one of her friends from home. While they spoke I used that time to take a nap on the comfy roll out bed I was lying on. There’s something about the warm breeze in the late afternoon that sends me right off. After Sarah finished her call we decided to ride into town for an early tea.

• We parked the bikes outside the Witching Well and went around town by foot. I stopped at the Gepeto stand and ordered a cone of cookies and cream. Like usual it was rich and creamy. A little farther up Sarah ordered another fruit shake to make up for the bad ones we’d just had. I say fruit shake but it was more a sweet, sickening concoction of banana, chocolate and peanut butter. I took one sip, but chose to stick to my more tasty ice cream. We knew we had to leave Pai soon in order to meet with Sarah’s parents, so we stopped in the AYA service to enquire about their buses. We ended up booking a minibus two days time. It would take us to Chiang Mai, from there we’d switch buses to a large coach for a 12 hour journey to Bangkok. With that sorted we went to the burger joint for tea. Sarah isn’t that big on meat, and felt guilty about her decision. She ordered an ostrich burger, while I chose venison. Both were equally delicious, although there was very little difference in taste between the two. For all we knew they may have sold us the same meat, even then it could have been just beef. Afterwards we stopped in the 7Eleven (something that had become routine for us), grabbed some water and rode back to our resort.

• There was still no Internet in our room. The resort was separated by three routers. Aqua 1,2,3. Each one covered a certain area, allowing each guest to have Internet in their rooms, but wouldn’t you know it, our router was down. Aqua 1 and 2 worked fine, yet ours was having technical difficulties. I mentioned this to the man before we left for our fruit shakes earlier that afternoon, to which he said “I’ll look at it later tonight”. At that time he was comfortable swinging in a hammock and looked to be in no mad rush to do anything. When we got back to the resort I asked him if he’d fixed it, to which he said “I think so yeah”. Clearly by the simple fact we still had no Internet he hadn’t, so wether or not he actually did anything in the first place was questionable. I waited with Sarah outside, where she used the signal from Aqua 2 to speak with her parents. The whole time we were exposed to all the insects. Of which there were many, including large brown flying beetles. They looked so heavy and clumsy as they flew, and they constantly fell off the leaves they tried to pitch on because of their weight. Sarah gave more clothing demands to her poor mother, and afterwards we returned to our room. For the rest of the evening we led in bed watching tv shows, eating snacks, and drinking water. I don’t know why I bother telling you this, by now you guys already know how it goes.

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Day 194: Double Dutch

Today started off differently to the others, with a phone call to Sarah’s brother. Sarah was the first to wake up this morning, around 9:30am. She took my phone off charge and began playing with it, performing one of her many checks of Facebook, whatsapp, and Perez Hilton. I woke up shortly after and started watching an animated Superman movie – for which I was mocked. During the film Sarah told me her brother wanted to speak with her. By this time it had gone 10 o’clock, which meant back home it was somewhere around 4am. Surprisingly her brother Marc was still awake, and was staying at a friends house. When my film finished I joined in on the conversations, only to be told I had lost a significant amount of weight. Charming! The purpose of the call was to catch up, but Marc also used it as an excuse to encourage his friends to go travelling with him in November. Marc had already done Southeast Asia before, and was very helpful in mine and Sarah’s build up to this trip. He loved it so much in fact that he is currently working hard and counting down the days until he comes out again. By that time we shall have been in Australia for a few months, and hopefully on the road to earning some big bucks.

The boys decided to finish the phone call when they began to see the sun rising behind neighbouring homes. And like vampires they retreated to the sanctuary of their coffins (beds). Sarah and I then got up and went about the morning routines. We’ve become highly inept at telling the time, not by using a watch, but by the heat of our room. Beyond 10:30am it’s a hot box. I think it was around 11am when we decided to go out for breakfast, mind you, the temperature outside wasn’t much better, but at least there was a breeze.

We took the bikes and a bottle of water and headed to the Witching Well. By now the staff knew our faces and gave us big smiles every time we turned up. We each had a large filling breakfast, my chicken and pumpkin crepe was out of this world. When we finished, we broke the rules and went to 7Eleven ahead of time to grab our water for the day. Sarah also used the visit as an excuse to grab a Big Gulp – it looked like Tiffany’s warning about coke fell on deaf ears. I then had the difficult task of balancing everything in the basket of my bike on the ride back. It was no good, each bump I encountered caused me to lose more and more of Sarah’s coke. By the time we got back she wasn’t happy because the coke had turned flat. Sarah headed to the pool, while I returned to the room to grab our things, like usual.

When I got back she was deep in conversation with a Dutch couple. Throughout our stay we had made small talk with them, but today we conversed with them for a good 2 or 3 hours. Like usual we covered many topics, but the most consistent of them all was that of travel. They encouraged us to go to India, telling us all the good and bad things about the place. It sounds atrocious having to catch a public train anywhere, they said people push and shove, and throw elbows around to buy a ticket, but when they’re all sold out everyone goes back to being friendly with each other. They also told us it wasn’t the nicest place to be a fair skinned, blonde haired lady, as when certain Indian men get drunk they turn a little letchy and forward. They even told us of one young girl being raped. But it’s not all doom and gloom, they said the police are very good at sorting out people like that, and amongst all the dirt and filth on the streets, there is something magical about the country. I know I’m not selling it well, and I still remain skeptical and pessimistic about the place myself, but the couple informed us you come out a different person after going there – which doesn’t surprise me based on what they told us. They went on to say they wanted to travel India for 6 months, but only stayed for 2, yet they still felt as though they achieved something in that short amount of time. The couple had been all over the world and done all sorts of things, including a road trip of Morocco, which is something I had also done. It was nice to have those guys to talk to, otherwise we’d have only kept to ourselves reading our books. Eventually they left the pool, leaving Sarah and I to entertain ourselves. I tried reading my book but couldn’t get into, so instead I played a game on my phone.

About an hour or so later the couple returned in a change of outfits. I think they had gone into town. Now they were spending the rest of the evening at the resort. By the end of our time at the pool we still didn’t get their names, but before we left, the husband brought me over a glass of Kombucha. We were talking about it earlier that day when he put a bottle of the stuff in the fridge to cool down. It tasted more like wine this time, but still came with all the great health perks (supposedly), adding to my ever increasing life span all the more. When I finished the drink it wasn’t long after that Sarah suggested going back to the room. I thanked them for the beverage and returned the glass, then we went back to our cosy cottage.

Near the end of our showers we noticed we were sharing the bathroom with a disgusting little creature. No, it wasn’t the frog, nor was it the cockroach above our heads, it was in fact a leech. Somehow a leech had made its way in there with us. It was only small, but it looked alien as it crept up the wall, stretching itself out to full length to gain more distance. I had never seen one before and it freaked me out. It looked horrible, I didn’t know what it was doing. When it reached the top of the wall it rooted one end of its body to it, and the other waved about in the air as if it were trying to sniff us out. I’m not usually one to kill things, but in this situation I felt as though it was ‘kill or be killed’. Sarah passed me a tissue, I pinched it up inside, and flushed it down the toilet. It’s not a glorious death for any creature, but I couldn’t risk leaving it and have it suck our blood during our next shower. Besides, Mosquitos suck our blood and they get just as gruesome an end, that’s the only creature Sarah and I will actively seek out and kill. With the threat eliminated, and our bodies clean, we returned to the safety of our mosquito netted bed. We must have stayed there for an hour at least, and it was getting on for eight o’clock before we went out for tea.

There was no moon in the night sky to guide us, which made the ride to town particular scary. It was so dark that we were practically invisible to passing traffic. Whenever we saw the occasional cyclist ride by without any lights, we couldn’t see them until we were right on top of them. Thank goodness for the flashlight app on my phone, I used it to guide us like Gandalf and his magical staff. The flies were back on the bridge again, but they weren’t in such great numbers this time, I think I only hit the odd one or two. We chose a completely different place than usual to eat, as our first choice was closed for the night. At first we thought it might have been because of the late hour, but they were probably just having the night off. I don’t recall the name of where we ate, but the Massaman curry I ordered and the chicken kebab Sarah had were both delicious. It was the first time I’d seen Sarah eat something and make such a mess around her face.

Like usual, the food was pretty cheap, it came to just over £4 for both dishes and our drinks. We then took a little ride around the town. I took my bamboo cup with me and doing so reduced the price of a refill. This time I ordered an iced tea, and chose the panda anus option… Sorry, I meant to say Pandanus. I enjoyed it to begin with, but it became very difficult to enjoy when Sarah said it tasted like the smell of our bathroom. I’m not usually one to be put off food or drink, but that description did it. I then had to pretend it was milk, as it also shared a similar taste to that. I managed to drink the whole thing by the time we reached the ice cream stand. I ordered a really tasty vanilla blueberry cone, then had the difficulty of riding the bike while eating it. Fortunately for the pair of us we didn’t encounter much traffic on the way back, but we still needed the flashlight app to see where we were going.

We made it back to our resort about 9:30pm, and unlike the day before, our bathroom and bedroom were free of visitors. After cleaning our teeth we got ready for bed, and finished the day with a series of tv shows in the confines of our sweaty little hot box.
“Just like every other bloody night Ben”.
By now that must surely be what you’re all thinking. Well I’m sorry my life has stopped being exciting, but you try writing something about nothing each day!

Day 193: The Princess And The Frog

Another day, another dollar (spent) was the story of today. Like usual we left the resort twice. Once for breakfast, and again in the evening for tea. The middle part of the day was spent by the pool. There was a slight bit of excitement when we left town later that evening (but I’ll get to that), and the mystery of the Peeping Tom frog was finally revealed. If you wish to find out how, please read on…

• I woke up before Sarah this morning, as I knew I had some work to do. I was far too tired the previous evening to do any writing, I couldn’t think straight let alone compose a blog post, so instead I did it first thing. By the time I finished Sarah was awake. We led in bed for a while, where I listened to Sarah complain about the heat, before deciding to go out for breakfast.

• We rode the bikes to Fat Cats, where we were joined by one of the cats at our table again. It turned out this particular cat had just given birth, and one of her kittens was roaming around the decking we were sat on. The poor thing was so small, it was no bigger than Sarah’s hand, and could barely lift itself up. It’s eyes looked very sore, and because it was so young it meant its eyes hadn’t opened yet. It looked so weak, so we made the point of mentioning its presence to the restaurant owner in case it strayed from the litter. The lady told us it was ok but suffered with eye trouble. I don’t know why we worried about it so much, as the mummy cat kept a watchful eye on her offspring. Occasionally she licked its face, and when the tiny kitty walked off the edge of the decking she was quick to jump down and pick it up in her mouth. The food was amazing once again. In the background was the husband of the owner, he was making a fire with two friends, and they were working together to make bread and brownies. We didn’t see the fruits (or brownies) of their labour, as by the time we finished our food they were still cooking, but it smelled delicious.

• After riding back to the resort we stayed by the pool all day. Much like we’d been doing all week. I couldn’t be bothered to sit in the sun to try and get a better tan than Sarah, she was already winning that battle, even though she can’t see it herself. I am practically white again now, I don’t know why my skin won’t change colour. I spent a good 3 hours reading in the pool that afternoon as it meant I could be out of the sun and wouldn’t need to put on any sun tan lotion. At one point when I hopped across the hot decking to a lounger one of the boards broke under my feet. All along we thought the boards were made of wood, that wasn’t the case, instead what they were actually made of was slate. Because of the extreme heats, and nobody spraying them with water to keep them cool, the intense heat of the sun causes them to expand and crack, much like the concrete roads. When the pressure from my foot pushed against a weak board it shattered into three pieces. Fortunately I didn’t get hurt and I informed the people at the resort, but they didn’t seem to care. I led the broken pieces horizontally across the gap, to prevent anyone hurting themselves, before jumping in the pool where I remained for the rest of the afternoon.

• Like usual I returned to the room first, I had a quick shower, then shortly after Sarah showed up. We watched some tv before going out for food. It was still light out by this point, so the ride into town was pleasant, and we got to enjoy the same picturesque view along the way. Instead of choosing the Witching Well we parked our bikes up outside and walked around town. I hadn’t done this yet since our arrival in Pai, and seeing as we weren’t eating food right away, I stopped at the Gepeto stand for a delicious scoop of vanilla and blueberry ice cream. We then did that slow shuffling type of walk you see old people do as we passed the many shops and market stalls, before finally deciding on somewhere to eat.

• We recalled seeing a burger joint which sold rare and unusual meats. Crocodile, ostrich, wild bore, and venison being just a few of their options. Seeing as I’d never tried it before I ordered the crocodile meat. I hoped it was all above board and I hadn’t eaten something bad, I know the use of their skin in such things as clothing and handbags is illegal, I just hopped it wasn’t the same for meat. Id feel awful otherwise. Just for blog purposes I feel as though I should explain how it tastes, and what’s done is done I guess. The meat was very light in colour, it fell apart quite easily, and unlike a beef patty it didn’t drip with fat. If anything it was a very tidy burger to eat, even when the chunks fell onto the plate below it didn’t cause a mess. It was actually a very tasty meat, unlike any I’d tried before, and to answer the unasked question, no it didn’t taste like chicken.

• Sarah chose to eat street food instead of going to a restaurant. She only ordered one cooked dish, a serving of pasta with vegetables. The fruit shake she ordered when we arrived in town filled her quite a bit, although I’m not surprised given the fact it contained a whole mango. Sarah also stopped for a Gepeto ice cream on the way back to the bikes, and I was the gentleman allowing her to eat it as I pushed both our bikes through town. Which was very difficult seeing as I had a basket full of 7Eleven goodies. When we reached the end of the road we saw a horrendous sight indeed.

• All week, around 7pm, there were swarms of flying insects around the lights of the bridge. Well tonight was slightly different. They were still flying around the lights, only word must have spread, as there were now literally thousands of them swarming together. There were so many in fact that the small restaurant at the end of the bridge had to keep their lights off to avoid attracting them. We stopped at the corner of the street for a while so Sarah could finish her ice cream. As we waited we saw various vehicles driving through the buzzing clouds. Whenever the cars came you could see the insects in their headlights, and you could hear the ones on the ground being crushed under the wheels, that’s testament to how many there were. We assessed the situation based on the reactions of the people on scooters and push bikes. They didn’t seem to impressed. In the end we just had to go for it as there was no other way back to our resort. It wasn’t too bad, we found if we stayed on the side of the bridge with no streetlights we were fine. When we reached the other side I took a picture of the crazy sight, unfortunately I don’t think the photo did it justice. We then managed to get back to Aqua safe and sound, and bug free.

• The craziness didn’t stop there though. In our bathroom we were joined once again by our frog friend. This time however, he wasn’t on his usual beam (we’re presuming it was a he, just go with it). Instead he opted to sit on the edge of the toilet seat, almost as if we’d caught him in the middle of leaving us a present. Obviously this spectacle freaked Sarah out, at night she’s scared of her own shadow, so seeing a frog on the toilet startled her to say the least. As I walked closer to scare him off, it was in that very moment I learned how he’d reached the beam each day. He could climb walls! As I approached, he leapt from the seat and stuck to the wall (causing Sarah to scream out), and in true princess fashion Sarah demanded it move farther away so she could use the toilet. I moved even closer, making him scale the wall and jump to the shower pole, before leaping one last time to the outside wall to freedom. We took photos of the whole thing then returned to our room.

• Even there the madness didn’t stop. As I climbed through the mosquito netting surrounding our bed, I felt my hand hit something. Somehow I had managed to knock a baby gecko (that was climbing the net beside me) to the netting in front of me. After some chasing around I managed to get it into a Pringles pot and took it outside. After typing up this blog, Sarah and I watched an episode of “The Mentalist”, then called it a night. For the first time in a while we were able to go to sleep before 1am. What a treat.

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Day 192: Ben Norris The Immortal

Today gets its title for the simple fact I consumed a variety of drinks, all of which offered various health benefits. Not only that but I think it has a nice ring to it. I shall explain what each one does over the next few paragraphs. In terms of doing stuff, again, we didn’t do much. I’d say it was safe to presume we’ve become creatures of habit. There is certainly a pattern emerging with the things we do: have breakfast, chill by pool, go out for tea. That’s basically it. Now here’s what little else happened on the day I became immortal.

• When we eventually got out of bed, we decided to check out the restaurant Tiffany told us about the previous day. I call it a restaurant, but in Pai that’s a very loose term to throw around. By restaurant what I actually mean is a small open building which looks more like somewhere you’d go to chill out, rather than your Jamie Oliver’s and Rick Stein’s glorious establishments. Fat Cats was the name of our eatery, they sold very nice food and an array of health based drinks from ginger to chamomile. As we sat down we were joined by two cats that led around our table, it was then I understood where the place got its name. Beside us was a large flower pot filled with water, inside was a tiny baby turtle swimming freely, occasionally climbing on the rock to do some yoga.

• We both ordered a simple tuna melt sandwich and a couple fruit shakes. While we were waiting for them to arrive I began flicking through the menu. Near the back was something called Kombucha. This magical drink sounded like the elixir of life, as it claimed to have amazing healing powers. As well as being a great immune system booster it also said studies found it played a great role in fighting cancer. Obviously we were both skeptical, but I ordered a glass all the same.

• The drink itself is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea that is used as a functional food. Sometimes referred to as a “mushroom” or “mother”, the kombucha culture is actually a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY: symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). As strange as it sounds, it was nothing compared to its taste. The flavour sat somewhere between sangria and vinegar, and it tingled my tongue with each sip. Oddly enough it was both endurable and enjoyable. After drinking the bright red liquid and my healthy mango fruit shake, I was off to a great start, I’d probably already increased my life expectancy by at least 5 years.

• We left our bikes in the shade the whole time, as the day was even hotter than the previous, and sitting on a scolding hot seat isn’t fun for anyone. After settling the bill Sarah and I returned to the resort. We grabbed the necessary items from our room: book, iPod, kindle, towels, as well as applying the all too important suntan lotion. We then spent the whole afternoon in, and by the pool. It was a lot easier to read a book in the water, because as I’ve already mentioned, the sun was unbearably hot. I managed to read another two lengthy chapters of my book, and occasionally led in the sun listening to podcasts. From 3pm – 5pm the sun was a lot more bearable, as not only had it sank in the sky somewhat, but the white clouds floating gently by created shade on the ground. After grabbing a couple Cokes for the pair of us I returned to the room, leaving Sarah to sit by the pool chatting with her sister and niece online.

• When Sarah came back, we (by we I mean Sarah) began looking at flights to Singapore, as we would be meeting her parents there on the 9th of May. And seeing as it’s 1,642 miles from Pai to Singapore it would certainly be quicker to fly. Although, we’d have to travel some distance to Phuket first in order to catch said flight. While Sarah was looking at various flights I looked at clothing sites, and did google searches for discount codes (which I think you’ll all agree is much more useful). It was then I made the discovery. Last summer I missed the opportunity to buy a nice pair of burgundy cotton shorts. They were available for a limited time, then they disappeared from the shops forever. At least that’s how it seemed. Now, on a particular shops website, they were back, and were only available in my size. I immediately added them to the basket and just had to wait for Sarah to see if she wanted anything as well. She didn’t get around to it immediately, and instead we decided to go out for tea.

• It was the latest we had left it to go into town, around 7:30pm. It was very dark out by that time, so to stay illuminated and allow passing traffic to see us, I set the torch app on my phone to flash mode. We were going to eat at the Witching Well as soon as we arrived, but Sarah saw that the beauty salon was free. She asked if it was a good idea to get a pedicure before food, to which I agreed, then I wandered back towards Pings Burger Queen. God bless her, she was there for me in my moment of need. Their food must be good, as it attracted the attention of a local dog as I stood outside the salon eating. When I finished I went inside to join Sarah, then it wasn’t much after that the lady was finished with her feet.

• Because I had the burger already I only ordered a tuna sandwich. We both enjoyed more fruit shakes (increasing my life expectancy some more) then afterwards we took a walk around town. Pai seemed busier than the other night, which probably meant a bus load of people had just arrived. We stopped in the 7Eleven for our usual pre-bed water purchase, adding to the healthy lifestyle even more. Outside the building I noticed the crazy tea guy had moved his stand. During our last visit he was tucked away around the corner, now he looked to have bought a prime location for his business.

• This was a guy that dressed up each evening in a funny costume. Usually a black fluffy bullhorn hat and large red framed glasses (kind of like Elton John’s star shaped ones). There looked to be a new addition to his stall, the banner on the front. It now had a large image of both him, and what looked to be his colleague, on it. As well as all the various flavours of tea they sold. You could order different sized cups for your tea, the largest being a bamboo tube converted into a cup. If you brought this along on your next visit it reduced the cost of another drink. To add to my ever increasing life expectancy I ordered a large bamboo tube of ginger tea. I don’t know why, probably because I read of its health benefits at Fat Cats earlier that morning. It made the ride home very difficult, not only did I have two large bottles of water in the basket on the front, but I now had to ride one handed, with the free hand clasping onto a tube of boiling hot tea. I don’t quite know how my grandad used to eat crystallised ginger, I know it’s good for you, but it doesn’t taste great, and each sip of my drink burned the back of my throat. We had to stop halfway for me to finish it so I could ride the bike properly along the dark lanes. It was in that moment I wished I’d bought the iced tea instead, but I couldn’t complain as by now I was probably invincible.

• When we got back to our room we booked the flight to Singapore, it came to £110 for the pair of us. If all went to plan we should arrive at the same time as Sarah’s parents. I then looked on the website for those shorts, and encouraged Sarah to look for something so I could go on and order everything, but once again the shorts were gone. In that small space of time the shorts had sold out, it was obviously not meant to be. Sarah then promised she’d do her best to scour the Internet and find another pair for me. To finish off our day we watched the annual British tv show “The Big Fat Quiz Of The Year”. This was a quiz show (if the title didn’t give it away) that aired in England at the end of each year. It was basically a satirical look back at the years events, and involved three teams of funny celebrities answering questions posed to them by British comedian Jimmy Carr. As always it was hilarious, and quite informative for us, as we missed the last three moths of 2012 because of this adventure. We then went through the evening rituals, and by the time we decided to go to sleep it was somewhere around 2am. Don’t tell my mum, as that’s at least 6 hours past my bedtime!

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Day 191: The Devil Wears Primark

It was business as usual for our two favourite travellers. They spent the whole day beside the pool enjoying the company of the warming sun. Other than leaving the resort for food that was all she wrote really. As it is often written, should you care enough to read about the smaller details of the day, please carry on.

• There was no messing about this morning. We got up straightaway, no watching tv shows, no chilling by the pool, we went for breakfast without a moments hesitation. After the morning rituals and getting dressed we stepped out the door to locate the resort’s push bikes.

• When we got to the entrance of the resort we noticed the Australian lady coming back from a shopping trip. We later learned her name was Tiffany, so to put a name to a face I shall refer to her as such from here out. Tiffany looked like a typical shopaholic character, the sort you’d find in a hollywood movie. In each hand she had at least 4 large bags of materials and trinkets. When asked, she told us that wasn’t even all of it. Before we set off we asked Tiffany if she knew of any good places for food. She recommended one restaurant, but unfortunately they were closed on accounts of recently losing a family member. So instead we chose a rival place beside it.

• They had a decent selection of food to choose from, and I had another case of eyes bigger than the belly. I ordered a pad thai and a chicken sandwich, but when my pad thai arrived it was heaped on the plate. It was a huge serving. I sent Sarah back after she finished her meal so she could sunbathe by the pool, otherwise she’d have had to wait for me to finish. I couldn’t eat the whole sandwich and instead picked out the filling, and on the sly, threw some to the restaurants dog sat at the entrance. When I finished I paid our bill, leaving a tip for their hospitality, and rode back to our resort.

• The rest of the afternoon was spent beside our pool. To remain cool I hopped in and out of the cold water. I enjoyed another chapter of my book, and listened to podcasts in the sun afterwards. At one stage Tiffany came by to say she was leaving Aqua. We gave her our contact details, and she told us if we reached Adelaide that her door was always open for us. The next people to leave the resort were the Swedish couple, they felt the need to tell everyone they were off to Laos. Perhaps they thought because Tiffany said goodbye they were obliged to do the same. When the swimming pool area was mostly shaded we returned to our room.

• We each had a shower to rid our bodies of the sweat, chlorine, suntan lotion cocktail, and to our surprise we noticed the frog had returned. After we got dressed we decided to go out for tea. I don’t think we got any farther than the pool area before Sarah’s sister began messaging her. She told her how they’d reached Bristol and were ready to hear Sarah’s requests for what clothing she wanted. Seeing as there wasn’t many places with wifi in town, we stayed by the pool for half an hour.

• Sarah sent constant messages back and forth, skyping when things became unclear, and got them to send photos of clothes to better see what was on offer. She had a shopping list in mind after spending the past couple days on various clothing sites. While the messages were exchanged I grew quite bored as I sat twiddling my fingers, so I suggested she continued her demands back at the room. Somehow I ended up having some clothes bought for me, 3 v neck t shirts were coming my way. I was easy to buy for, whereas Sarah was picking clothes for every conceivable situation: job interviews, day to day, nights out, rough clothes, you name it she requested it. Kind of like a barbie doll with various outfits. Back in the room we put tv shows on while Sarah’s sister continued sending images through. Eventually her family said they were going for lunch, giving us an hour to go to town for tea and return.

• The bikes were still available, and we got to ride to town through a picturesque scene. It was of the setting sun behind the green fields. I had to stop and take a picture of it, and it came out remarkably well. We ate at the Witching Well again, enjoyed a tasty dinner and even better dessert, cappuccino cheesecake. It was amazing and helped fill the small hole I had after my main meal. We then rode to the 7Eleven like usual, only this time we grabbed snacks for any hunger pangs that might visit us later. By the time we got back to the resort an hour and a half had passed.

• Sarah continued from where she left off, and discovered her sister hadn’t managed to find any of the clothes she wanted. They were either sold out or not in her size, isn’t that always the way with clothes shopping. I always found that returning from the shops empty handed set me off in a bad mood for the rest of the day back home. Especially when I had something in mind I wanted to get. I could sympathise with Sarah, although that wouldn’t help her Australian wardrobe problem. After her family left the shops we spent the rest of the evening watching tv shows and picking at our snacks. Just when we were about to go through the evening rituals to conclude our night we had a problem. We couldn’t get into the bathroom.

• The door had a lock either side. On the inside was a latch which would be looped into place to lock the door. This latch must have been in an upwards position, and after we closed it behind us last time, it must have dropped down and locked us out. Fortunately I was able to think on my feet and remembered there was a small unlocked widow around the other side of the building. It couldn’t have been any bigger than 2 foot by 1 foot, yet somehow I managed to squeeze myself through it. Both simultaneously impressing the hell out of Sarah, and solving our problem. I didn’t brag or let on that I was also impressed, but I really was. I don’t quite know how I managed to squeeze through, let alone not break anything. After my skills as a contortionists were exposed, we cleaned our teeth and the such, then returned to our bed for some blissful sleep.

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Day 190: Welcome To The Good Life

Ok then, there’s not really any introduction needed for today’s post. It was another lazy day for the pair of us. We didn’t visit anywhere exciting, and we didn’t do anything of worth. But more so I can look back and remember what we did, here’s what happened.

• Seeing as I didn’t get to bed until around 3:30am that morning, it was no surprise that I’d didn’t wake up until 10:30am. Because it was sunny out Sarah didn’t want to hang around and watch any tv, she was adamant she was going to the pool straightaway.

• As I’ve said before, I’m not really a fan of lying in the sun, so I dragged out the process of joining her. I faffed around in the room for a while, and by the time I got there, Sarah suggested going for breakfast. We returned to the room to grab our wallets and put on appropriate clothes for town. We then asked the guys at the resort if we could get a free lift there. It was far too hot to walk, although, the temperature in the back of the large black 4X4 wasn’t much better.

• We chose the restaurant “Good Life”. These guys were all about healthy living, and if you so wanted, you could buy wheatgrass shots. Although I’ve been told they make you run to the toilet as they act like a scrubbing brush for your insides. Their food wasn’t as good as I remembered, last time we were in Pai, the food was so good it cured my hangover. However, today was a different story. The baguette was really hard to eat, the bacon was overcooked, and instead of giving us the hash browns we ordered, we had strange potato cubes in their place. I found myself agreeing with Sarah’s point even more, perhaps we only found it good last time because we visited Pai so early into the trip. There were no seats inside, so we sat on the one free table outdoors. Beside us was another table with four people sat around it.

• Guess who was back with a brand new rap, the mental meditation man. I don’t know if anyone can remember this, but this was the guy we wasted an hour of our lives listening to when we took part in one of his meditation classes. He was still at it. There was a woman sat with him, and I found it increasingly hard to keep my mouth shut. Somehow I did, but with all the garbage that was coming from their mouths, I really wanted to correct them. He was still going on about awareness, telling the lady how to heal her shoulder whenever she felt pain. He’d say to her “focus all the awareness into your shoulder”.
“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!?!?”
Their ridiculous notions didn’t stop there. The lady then said,
“I was planting my flowers the other day, but I was so angry that I worried I was putting angry energy into them and they wouldn’t grow promptly, so in its place I tried to shift the anger into love”.
“LIKE WHAT SORT OF MOOD YOU’RE IN REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE TO THEIR GROWTH!! THEY NEED SUNLIGHT AND WATER, AND THE OCCASIONAL BEE TO POLLINATE THEM!!!!”
The one thing that made me really want to shout out was when the lady said,
“people make fun of me when I say this, but I know a guy who can heal any ailment you might have”.
“I KNOW PEOPLE LIKE THAT TOO YOU FRIGGIN FRUIT LOOP, THEY’RE CALLED DOCTORS!!!!!!”
Oh, and the amount of times I heard the word “chakra” mentioned was unbelievable. For all I knew they could’ve been talking in code about a drug deal.

• Now I’m not saying people shouldn’t believe in things like this, it’s a free world after all, and if we were all the same it would be a boring place. But I think it’s funny how people can make correlations between visiting a “healer”, and actually getting better. For example, someone suffers from a cold all week, so on the 7th day they make the decision to visit a “healer” to get rid of it. On the 8th day they wake up in the morning, and voila, they feel better again, chances are that was just a coincidence. When in actuality their own body had finally built up the antibodies to fight off the illness. It’s just a little absurd to think that a man or woman waving an incense stick around with whale music in the background can heal you quicker than prescription drugs. If you’re sick visit a doctor for heavens sake, no amount of crystals and meditation will cure cancer, that’s all I’m saying. But like I said, we’re all free to believe what we like. I mean I like Batman and comic books for goodness sakes, and I’m almost 25 years old. Not to mention I’ve ordered a Pokemon game for my birthday. Perhaps I should see someone about me being a man child, maybe a witch doctor, they’re not crazy right?

• Shortly after listening to the couple from “one flew over the cuckoos nest” we were joined by a very cute puppy. It looked to be a young Doberman Pinscher, but given the various breeds around town it was very unlikely. It was a very playful pup and chewed anything insight, from bottle lids to cigarette butts. In the end Sarah threw down some bread to distract it. It was more interested in the puppy sat on the chakra ladies lap though. She claimed her dog had a very similar energy to her, whatever that means. Although, looking at her little fluff ball (the dog I’m talking about) it looked like it thought she was crazy too. She then put the puppy in the front basket of her push bike and rode off. After paying for our breakfast we went to the 7Eleven where Sarah grabbed a Big Gulp of coke. We then walked back in the blistering midday sun.

• By the time we got back we were very sweaty, so the pool was a god send. Sarah went on ahead while I returned to the room to grab our things. I returned, some 10 minutes later, to find she had made some new friends. There was a Dutch lady led on a sun lounger soaking in the sun, and another lady from Adelaide, Australia. It was this woman Sarah was conversing with, I joined in halfway through. We covered various topics, and explained to her what sharing a dorm room was like. She didn’t know how we did it, saying it would be her worst nightmare. That was the perfect time to tell her of the drunken Brit from Chiang Mai. By the end of the conversation we still didn’t get her name, so “she” will have to suffice for now. The lady explained to us how she’d set up a business back in Australia selling small decorative items. She was a stylist, and came to Thailand to buy small, or big pieces, to sell in her shop. At one point the conversation shifted towards the Big Gulp in Sarah’s hands. You should know that Sarah has the best teeth I have ever seen, and I don’t know how. She has never had any removed (other than the wisdoms) or any fillings. She drinks coke like its water, and even swishes it around her mouth before swallowing. She claims it’s like the dirty penny effect, should you put the coin in a cup of coke eventually the liquid erodes the dirt and you’re left with a shiny penny. But after our new Australian friend warned her of the downside to coke, it looked as though Sarah might stop drinking the stuff. She told Sarah how she had some friends back home who used to drink it all the time, mostly diet, and their teeth had turned yellow. We explained how Sarah’s teeth were great, and then she dropped the one word no woman likes to hear “cellulite”. She said how all her friends that drank the stuff ended up with lots of cellulite, mostly around their thighs and stomach. Sarah let out a loud whine, then looked at the coke in her large cup disappointedly.

• Shortly after that, the Australian lady left us and we remained by the pool. I read another chapter in my book, and we were eventually joined by that couple from the truck in Chiang Mai. Remember, where the guy was punching above his weight. They’d been staying at our resort for the same amount of time as us. Now they were down to their swimming costumes it was even more evident he was out of her league (if there is such a thing). I later discovered that Sarah agreed with me on this point, only after she brought up the subject. We presumed them to be Swedish, the girl had really thick blonde hair, a slim build, and really large breasts – Sarah’s words not mine. Although, Sarah was more focused on the girls hair and waist, whereas I was… Ah hem. When the sun had disappeared behind the trees I returned to the room, leaving Sarah with her girl crush and the tubby man.

• When Sarah came back we watched some tv shows, and after that we showered. In our bathroom, and I am still confused as to how this happened, there was a frog on one of the support beams. There was no way the frog could have jumped that high, and there were too many smaller beams blocking his way to have walked there. The only thing I can presume was that it could grip to surfaces like the geckos. I took a picture of the odd event to show you guys, then returned to the room to get dressed.

• It was significantly cooler in the evenings so we took a stroll into town for tea. As we reached the bridge there were more flying insects than ever around the lights, so to avoid them pitching on us we ran across the bridge. Probably not the best idea, as they ended up smacking into us the faster we went. In town Sarah made the decision of where we ate. She chose the Witching Well again, and we both had delicious belly filling food. Afterwards we walked around town, where we discovered it was completely dead, compared to last time at least. It must have been low season, as the majority of the shops were closed, and there were hardly any travellers browsing the market stalls. Back in November of last year the streets were alive, now they were just a poor reflection of that time. Sarah was tempted to get a pedicure, but decided to skip it when she discovered she’d have to wait half an hour. In the end we grabbed a bottle of water in a convenience store and returned to our resort.

• We went through the evening rituals as usual, with Sarah being scared of her own shadow as we left the confines of our room to walk around the back to the bathroom. The frog had disappeared by now, leaving me even more baffled as to where it went. When we got back into our room and into bed, we decided to watch a movie. Because of the late night I had the previous evening I knew I wasn’t able to stay awake for the whole thing. I struggled to keep my eyes open all the way through, and missed the majority of what happened. In the end I gave up and fell asleep, leaving Sarah to stay up reading her kindle when the movie ended.

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Day 189: Long Live The Queen

When I awoke the storm was still going on. Obviously when it’s horrible out you don’t usually feel like doing anything, fortunately we didn’t have to. Sarah couldn’t get back to sleep because of the sheer volume of noise outside, and when a few water droplets fell on the pair of us, that was it. We were up for the day.

• Thankfully it was only those few droplets that came through, but given the amount of water falling from the sky I was surprised. I wrote the previous days blog, then we led in bed watching episodes of New Girl for over an hour. Our stomachs let us know it was time for breakfast, and after a couple showers we did something about it.

• The two bikes were back again so we used them to ride down the road. We didn’t go as far as town, instead choosing to stop in a small place not too far from our resort. The menu wasn’t big, but we managed to find something we liked. We ordered an unusual dish, fried shiitake mushrooms with chicken. It came served with salad and bread, and was really rich in flavour. With the rumbling in our stomachs sated, we rode back to our resort.

• It was around 1:30pm by the time we got back, and for the majority of the afternoon we watched more tv shows and films. By the time we got around to leaving the room it was close to 6pm. By chance, the two push bikes we’re still available. Not wanting to walk, we decided to take them out for a spin.

• One of the two girls we met the other day warned us of a black dog which hid and attacked bike riders. She said it didn’t mind walkers, but had a deep set hatred for the two wheeled vehicle. As we came around the brow of the hill, we spotted a black dog resting on the roadside. We immediately squeezed our brakes and passed by slowly, but the dog didn’t bat an eyelid. Clearly this wasn’t the dreaded Sirius Black lookalike. It was still relatively light out at that time, and the temperature was just right for a ride. We didn’t even break a sweat getting to town. Seeing it was a Monday, it meant my waiting time was over, and there was only one place we could go to eat.

• Ping’s Burger Queen… God bless her and all that worship her. Straight away I ordered two burgers. A BBQ beef and a chicken and bacon. My eyes may have been bigger than my belly, as I didn’t think that would be enough and ordered fries along with them. Sarah was sensible, only ordering the one burger with chips. As great as it was, and believe me, it was amazing, I couldn’t help but agree with Sarah’s point. Of course I didn’t tell her I agreed, instead I rolled my eyes. Sarah seemed to think the main reason we liked Pings so much before was because we visited Pai near the start of our journey. Up until then we had only been eating Pad Thai, and fried rice. Pai was the first place we’d been that sold westernised food, and it doesn’t get much more westernised than a mouthwatering burger. So in summation, as nice as it was to visit Burger Queen again, and as great as their burgers are, it wasn’t the same as the first time around. I still left with a belly full of food though, and I regretted not asking for a pen to write on their walls, to add to everyone else’s kind words about the place. Had I received a pen I would have written something like this…

“Forget milkshakes, it’s Ping’s Burgers that bring all the boys to the yard”.

It’s not the wittiest thing I could’ve written, but it was the best I could come up with at the time. And it sure as hell would’ve beaten the simplicity of writing just my name, like so many others had. Sarah was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write on the wall when she went with a friend of ours during our last visit, and she rubbed it in my face by spotting it out to me. For the time being, Ping had done it again, we left feeling satisfied. The pair of us then wandered to the 7Eleven for some snacks and water. The big gulp I purchased may have been a mistake, I felt sick by the end of it.

• We returned to our bikes which we left outside of Pings, with her royal guards keeping watch (that’s a joke, there are no guards). I put all our items in the basket on the front of my manly looking lady framed vehicle, and we rode back to our resort, being careful not to get hit by traffic on the dark lanes.

• Back at our room Sarah made yet another Skype call to her family, making her dad wake her niece from her slumber. The poor girl didn’t look too impressed with Sarah because of this. To make up for that, Sarah played videos of what’s considered children’s entertainment these days. How children watch it and don’t freak out is astonishing, the characters are damn near terrifying. There is one show called “In The Night Garden”, and the characters on that show are the stuff of nightmares. After the call we watched a couple more tv shows, before watching a movie called “The Prestige”. Sarah then read her kindle, while I shopped around on eBay for birthday presents for myself. Sad I know, but very fun.

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