People back home were afraid for me.
Thailand was in the midst of military unrest. You couldn’t wear yellow or red lest you be considered on one side or the other. The news showed what was happening and how people were being injured. Having recently watched No Escape with Owen Wilson, which takes place in Thailand’s neighbouring Malaysia, I’m sure people back home were imagining something similar to that kind of unrest.
But no. That wasn’t happening where I was. And it wasn’t as bad as all of that. If it hadn’t been on the news, we’d have no idea that it was going on. We lived far from central Bangkok and would have to take a bus and skytrain to get there. I did see military police on our way to work but they were set up there as a precaution and only in one small area almost as a checkpoint. It wasn’t threatening or worrying.
Still, people (i.e. mom) back home worried. And matters weren’t helped when a military coup was put into place.
Because we were the responsibility of the University of Winnipeg, we had to be taken from Bangkok as a precaution.
Pros: planned 3 day trip extended to 5 days!
Cons: we would be arriving back to the city to teach right away, having only seen our students once. Any teacher knows that the first week is vital to setting a classroom ‘mood’. We missed out on that first week and students barely knew me before I had to teach them full on while setting that ‘mood’.
Off we were carted to Hua Hin for a 5 day holiday.
Being there less than a month, I was still a snob. The nearby beach was too dirty and fishy for me, so I stuck by the pool and explored on my own.
The resort town was right on the water in the Gulf of Thailand and was surrounded by rocky hills/mini mountains that were exactly the image of Thailand the paradise.
One day, I decided to go adventure towards one of these mini mountainous mounds. Knowing my destination, I took random side streets and turns until I had the hill in my view.
As I got further from the town centre, I started to feel uneasy. I’m usually a lone traveller and so have pretty thick skin on the outside; inside I’m often shaking like those little chihuahuas. Fun fact about me. But I started to actually feel like I was alone as I walked. Was my dress too short? Would a lizard attack? Something worse?
A lady stopped me as I was heading towards the mountain. She was very friendly (of course) and asked about me in broken English. Before I went off, she told me to be wary of wild dogs who were in that direction. Thanks, nice Thai lady.
I wandered a little further down, but felt too isolated and, now, afraid of wild dogs. So I turned back. Managed to find my way back to the hotel quite easily.
I still wanted to adventure though.
A bunch of my peers were planning a trip to Monkey Mountain, so I jumped on that bandwagon. Monkeys? Mountains? Marvelous!
Despite appearances, it wasn’t an ACTUAL bandwagon. A songthaew. It was my first time on one and can verify it’s the best way to travel!
Sun was shining, as is the norm in Thailand. This is also where my obsession with sunscreen began. Despite applying and reapplying sunscreen that day, I was severely burned. Clearly I didn’t get the memo that your skin should be dead dry when reapplying.
First stop: monkey mountain!
The songthaew crept its way up a series of thin, winding, perilous roads until we eventually made it to our destination.
Monkeys were everywhere and immediately took our places on the songthaew as we wandered. They were everywhere and completely terrifying. If I could avoid getting bit and having to get a rabies shot, I would call it a successful day.
We were near the water, of course, so I strategically made my way through the barrel of monkeys, staying far from the biggest and tiniest monkeys (what’s another word for monkeys? If they were cats, I could say felines; dogs, I could say canines… what is it?!).
The water was welcoming and blue, and a mermaid watched over the area. I was ready for our next stop: the beach!
And what a beach.
A blue sky with few wispy clouds, warm water. WARM water! Thailand essentially ruined me with its warm ocean water. I can’t go into the water at a beach in Canada anymore. Far too cold. I like to be warm.
The sand was soft and burned my feet as we all searched for the perfect spot. Sunscreen was reapplied (to my sweaty skin smh). And out into the water we went.
Then, while everyone else was chilling on the sand (and later moving into the shade), I went exploring the nearby mountain. I wanted to get to the top. How high could I get?
I followed the paths that were already made and led to the top where a white Buddhist statute towered over us all.
Again, I was alone. Rustles in the trees didn’t help this feeling. I think I saw a peacock (do they have peacocks there?) or some other animal and was hyper-aware of the possibility of monkey attacks.
But no monkeys attacked. Fortunately?
Getting to the top wasn’t enough. I wanted to be somewhere off the beaten path, and that’s where I found an opening. A cliff that offered an unbelievable view.
Those little black dots on the sand? Our towels and belongings. I had to get down there soon as the tide was moving in.
I sat on the cliff a little bit before venturing back to sea level.
When there, I moved into the shade and reapplied my sunscreen on my already-red skin. Sand. Sand everywhere.
Next was food and a bikini purchased from a lady walking along the beach selling them.
Soon, it was time to go back to our hotel.
I’ve always loved the nature side of things over the urban. This adventure away from the hustle and bustle of Hua Hin regulars seeped into my soul and is really the only thing I remember from that 5 day trip. There were other beautiful things, but not like that.
When it was over, we were carted back to our apartments to get ready for full time teaching and classes.