Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 42 - Check Please!

Back to Kuta. Not exactly looking forward to my night in the mecca of touts, hawkers, and general money raping of tourists.

My lack of sunscreen yesterday on the snorkeling trip definitely got to me, and I feel like my blood is boiling.  Just letting the sunshine hit my skin is extreme agony.  I've drank approximately the equivalent of my body weight in water, and I desperately need to just be immersed in ice cold water. Instead, I'm boarding a boat back to Padang Bai, to then catch a minibus to Ubud, then to Kuta, where, finally, I might find myself in a pool. But that is at least 7 hours down the track at this point. Somehow, I don't think I'll be enjoying this boat ride as much as the one here.

Finally, finally arriving in Kuta, I took directions (albeit, rather dodgy ones) from some friends I'd met on Gili T to a cheap (by Indonesian standards) guesthouse that had (hurrah!) a pool! After turning down one too many back alleys to be comfortable, I finally stumbled upon Kubu Hotel. They had a room, with my own bathroom, overlooking the gorgeous swimming pool, things were looking up.

After dowsing my bright red skin in the coolness of the pool, I found myself wondering down Popies Lane I. In Kuta, there are lane ways known as the 'backpacker' district, Popies I and Popies II and all the tiny lane ways that run between them.  I happened upon a little Mexican place that looked pretty decent, so I wandered in and ordered, by the 'chef's recommendation' their "famous" Nachos. Upon the presentation of such nachos, I wasn't entirely impressed, but still managed to start woofing them down following the 7 hours of transit.  Just as I had eaten the last corn chip, my eyes laid upon something scurrying along the floor and running under the bar. Yep, it was a rat. I quickly asked for my bill.  Whilst waiting for said bill I saw two more rats, each one larger than the last. At this point I was becoming less and less impressed with the place and my meal, then I was presented with the bill.

Now in Indonesia, restaurants, bars, hotels and cafes have a nasty habit of stating a price on their menu, and then in very fine print at the bottom putting 'Not Inclusive of 15% tax and service charge'. The percentage varies usually anywhere from 5% to 21%, this place however, had slapped on 25%, with absolutely no mention of this on the menu. My bill came to an astounding amount to a backpacker (just over US$10), and I knew there was noway I had that much cash on me. I'd just come from and island and paid for my room for the night!  Fuck, what am I going to do?  With my heart pounding, I put all the Rupiah I had on the table (approximately half the amount the bill was asking for), and legged it whilst trying not to look suspicious.  Oh well, didn't really want to give my hard earned cash to a rat infested place anyway.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day 41 - Uncharted Waters

I can't think straight. I can't process a thought in a reasonable amount of time.  I'm sweating pure alcohol and running on 3 hours sleep.

Today is the day of my snorkelling trip.  It's not entirely convenient that I'm doing it the morning after another one of Gili T's notorious island parties.  The location of my demise this time was at Rudy's, a bar on the island infamous for offering magic mushrooms in every dish on the menu.  Again, the local spirits were my poison of choice.  But last night's party was bigger than Wednesday's.  And I think I know why.

Gili T was plagued with thunderstorms yesterday, my original day to go snorkeling. The weather was so bad the trip was cancelled. Activities all around the island met the same fate, and hence, the internet cafes were full and the beach was empty.  Everyone had nothing to do.  So after a day of sitting around, reading books and surfing the net, everyone on the island had a whole load of pent up energy.  Myself definitely included.  We dispelled this energy dancing the night away to the US Top 40 Chart from November 2010 (or so it seemed), getting wet in the pouring rain and watching the lighting light up the night sky.  Walking home at 4am, escorted by a rather cute Irish guy, the streets were so flooded, I thought we might have to swim part of the way.

So armed with two nescafe lattes in-a-can, and an enormous desire to get in the water, I, along with some 50 people piled into the glass bottom snorkelling boat. We made our way out to our first stop, which was a couple hundred metres off the shore of the neighbouring island Gili Meno. We all jumped into the cool, clear water and promptly forgot all about our supposed hangovers.  The conditions were perfect for snorkeling. The sun was shining, the water was crystal clear and with gentle rocking currents.  The biggest attraction at this stop was the abundance of neon coloured fish, and the bright yellow coral which seemed to catch my eye no matter where they wandered.  The second stop was somewhere between Gili Meno and Gili Air, where we were able to go quite deep, and see some turtles. Unfortunately the one I laid eyes on was fast asleep (the lazy bastard!), but was amazing to gaze upon regardless.  At the third stop, just off the shore of Gili Air, we explored a coral reef that was very shallow, so duck diving and holding our breath was not required.  Again, the neon yellow coral was prominent, but was also joined by brillant blues, oranges and greens.

After getting our fill of sunshine, water, amazing sights and stories, our bellies were grumbling. Next stop: lunch.  We ate at a gorgeous little restaurant on Gili Air, the smallest of the three Gili Islands, where I immensely enjoyed the Indonesian favourite, Ayum Sate (or Chicken Satay), and washed it down with fresh watermelon juice.  What is it about being on an almost deserted tropical island that makes everything taste amazing?

It wasn't all fun and games though.  On the boat ride back to Gili Trawangan, it was clear my hungover mind had made one disastrous mistake; I wasn't wearing any sunscreen, and I hadn't applied any all day. Shit, I'm going to pay for that later.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Day 39 - Drink Triple, See Double, Act Single

I hired a bike to ride around the island today. Not a scooter or motorbike of course, a bicycle.  Now, I'm not the best bicycle rider (as Dani will fondly remember from Year 11 geography camp, when I made an art out of falling off).  I don't know what it is about bikes, but I just do not feel comfortable on them.  I do not have the best balance to start with, and as soon as I wobble, I panic.  I grip the handle bars far too tightly, and constantly drop my feet to the ground when I break. So as expected, I stacked it. Twice. And this island is completely flat. Today, my excuse is my hungover state of mind.

Last night was one of the party nights on the island, this time held at the Irish Bar.  Unfortunately I do not remember much from last night.  I remember dancing to some of the cheesiest Western music, like the Spice Girls.  And drinking arak, the horrible, and clearly lethal local spirit.  I remember doing shots with random people at the bar, and discussing the topic of Asian Toilets with girls in the bathroom. I may have also swapped singlets with some French boys. But what I did take away from last night, is Gili T's motto: "Drink Triple, See Double, Act Single". Love it.

But today I got to see parts of the island I hadn't seen before, and it just keeps taking my breath away. It's just so devastingly beautiful.  The awesome turquoise ocean, the green of the trees, the peaks of the mountains in the distance, the almost unreal colour of the sky. Did I mention how much I love it here?

I realised my time is kind of running out on the island, so I've booked a snorkelling trip for tomorrow, that will take me to explore the oceans around all three islands. Fingers crossed I see a turtle (and maybe not a shark?)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Day 36 - Relax!

Today has been amazing. Really just because I'm so taken with my current location.  Swimming just off shore, surrounded by tropical islands, and misty unexplored mountains as the backdrop.

I spent the day hopping between the ocean and the swimming pool, and just generally lazing around in the sun. It was amazing, I've definitely missed having the ability to swim in the ocean.  I haven't swam in the ocean since we left the Perhentian islands, and that was far too long ago.  We did briefly visit the beach in Kuta, but the currents were too dangerous for swimming, and the extremely persistent hawkers made the visit altogether unpleasant.  Gili T is vastly different in comparison.  There were no hawkers to be seen (other than a lone man selling ice-creams, but an annoying hawker he was not), and the ocean had just gentle ripples from passing boats.  The water really is perfect here.  I think the salt levels must be high, because I found it far too easy to just lose myself floating on my back and looking up at the sky.  The sand here is white too, another thing that Kuta lacked, and I don't mean Kuta's sand is slightly yellow, it is black, and too often littered with rubbish.

Gili T is not like I expected.  I guess I expected it would be exactly like the Perhentian islands, which were pristine, and had barely any structures at all. Just a handful of bars and restaurants, a large choice of places to stay, and the odd place offering diving and snorkelling packages.  Gili T is much more inhabited.  There are hundreds of places to stay, there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from. There are hundreds of people and hundreds of dive shops.  There isn't any motorised transport (after Kuta, thank god!), but there are plenty of bicycles, and a handful of horse drawn carts.  It is just generally busier. But I am absolutely loving it here.  If I only have one calling in life, then it is swimming and lazing in the sun. I must have been a mermaid or a dolphin in a past life, there is something about the ocean that just calms my soul and warms my heart.

Last night I met some fun people. I met Hannah and John, a sister and brother, from London, who were in Indonesia for just 3 weeks (on holiday). Unfortunately it was their last night on the island.  They introduced me to Simon and Angie, another brother-sister team, this time from Scotland.  Angie was a lawyer, and is now a backpacker, she has been travelling for a year now, and has no sign of stopping. She said she will simply stop when she has had enough. Lucky her! I said I would stop when my bank account is empty.  Simon was just visiting Angie on her travels, whilst on his holiday.  They introduced me to Aaron from Norway, who was travelling through Australia and Indonesia before he has to do his uni exams.  He said there was no better place to procrastonate studying than on a tropical island on the other side of the world. I couldn't agree more.  We all had a lovely dinner at a seaside restaurant called Scalywags, where you pick your meat or fish (from a selection on ice), and then they BBQ it for you.  We followed this with drinks at the Irish bar, which was of course on the beach as well, where we had beers and cocktails and shared experiences from our various walks of life.  I couldn't have really asked for a better start to my time on Gili T, the island that has truly stolen my heart.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 35 - I'm on a boat!

I've learnt a lot about myself on this trip. Like, my love for buses has a limit.  I've also discovered I really kind of love boats, maybe even more so than buses!

I'm writing this as I catch the slow boat from Padangbai to the Gili Islands.  Which is really a very peaceful journey. It's certainly beating the 3hr bus ride that preceded it.  I'm sitting at the front of the boat, with the wind in my hair and the slow rocking of the boat calming my mood.  The sun is shining, I couldn't be happier.  I was just sitting here, contemplating my life and the direction it's taken. As you do when you're deliriously happy and have a 5 hour boat ride to pass by. When it occurred to me, this is the only thing I have to do today; get to the Gili Islands. That's it.  I don't have to cook my dinner, clean my bathroom, or be anywhere at a particularly horrible hour tomorrow morning (it's a Sunday - I think?). I don't have to commute to some outlying office, and sit in front of a computer all day. In fact, I can do whatever the fuck I want.  All I really have to do is enjoy my life, and every single second of it.

The past week I've spent in Bali, mostly around the Kuta area.  If I had to sum it up for you in one word, it would be traffic.  The amount of time we spent in traffic was outrageous.  Having been to Bali once before, I didn't expect this at all.  However, that was 4 years ago, and only shortly after the Bali bombings, when the bottom fell out of most of the tourism industry.  It seems everyone has certainly gotten over it now, because there are Aussies everywhere.  Taxis are everywhere too. One taxi driver hilariously noted "Taxis be like mosquitoes! They be everywhere! Have to swat them away".  Part of the problem of course, is the lack of a public transport system, and the hodge-podge of the road network. So many roads are one way its ridiculous, big long highways only going in one direction. Then there are tiny little lane ways that accept traffic in both directions, but certainly don't have room for cars going both directions at once.  This was astonishingly presented to us when, at the end of one miniature lane way, our taxi played a serious game of chicken with an on coming four wheel drive.  Brave taxi.  Of course we had no say in the matter. Eventually the four wheel drive had no other option but to reverse into traffic on the main road he had just left. That is the craziness of traffic in Kuta.

The taxi drivers are just as crazy as the traffic actually.  This was made crystal clear to me on the night when Mum and I jumped in a taxi to take us to our next hotel (we moved when Dad, Elle and Gael all had to fly back to Perth).  It was about 11pm when we jumped in the taxi, and told the driver where we wanted to go.  We battled the traffic, as usual, until our driver took an unexpected turn down a small alley way.  Thinking we must be taking a short cut, I didn't think much of it.  Then the driver stops the car, and puts the handbrake on.  Now I'm really shitting myself. There are no other cars, or even any streetlights down this lane way. I can hear my heart pounding in my chest as Mum reaches for my hand and squeezes it. The driver takes his seat belt off, turns around and says "just a minute".  Mum and I look at each other with terror in our eyes. What the fuck is going on? I turn around, and see the driver run into some nearby bushes. Then he undoes his fly. The driver is taking a leak! Huge sigh of relief. Then I see the meter tick over. The cheeky bugger left the meter going!

Another thing that is everywhere in Kuta? Rats. Yep, big tasty rats.  Mum and I were having coffee at a little place called Kopi Pot. Cute place, nice big garden. In fact, we'd had dinner there just the night before.  On this occasion however, we sighted not one, not two, but three giant rats. And oh how we loved the dinner last night. Shudder.

So whilst I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my family, I'm delighted to be escaping Kuta. The Gili Island I'm headed for is Gili Trawangan, or Gili T for short.  It has a reputation of being the 'party' island out of the three Gilis.  But it is still supposed to have a pretty relaxed vibe.  There are no scooters or cars on the island, or any other kind of motorised transport.  The water is supposed to have excellent visibility for snorkeling and diving. Sounds like exactly what I need.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Day 29 - Bagus Kali!

Ubud. What a charming little town it is.  Ubud became famous after the book/movie 'Eat Pray Love' (which I myself have yet to read, but this town has inspired me to get a copy), but it doesn't seem any worse because of it.  I only had a couple of hours here, but it was more the vibe of the town that I loved.  It had a similar vibe to that of Pai, in Thailand.  These little towns are small enough to explore in a short period of time, but large enough to be interesting. I guess quirky might be a good word to describe them.  But generally, there is just something quaint and intriguing about Ubud, that sparks a curiosity inside me. Questions arise in my head like, how does a town get such a cool vibe like this?

Being in Ubud instantly calmed me.  Maybe it was just the fact I was no longer stuck in the endlessly frustrating traffic (all the way from Kuta!), and was out of the confines of a minivan. Or maybe it was the town itself.  Maybe it was being surrounded by my beautiful family, but not in the endless chaos of Kuta. I didn't have enough time there to find out, but I do know that I want to visit again. Maybe on this trip, maybe on another one.  But, what I really loved, were the lotus flowers we stumbled upon.  We were having lunch in a restaurant amongst the rice padis, when we spied ginormous lotus flowers. They were as big as my head! (And I have the photographic evidence to prove it!).  So that was my brief, but lovely, encounter with Ubud.

Elle and Gael were struggling today.  They were as tired and hungover as a backpacker awaking on Bondi Beach.  Last night the three of us went for dinner and drinks to celebrate being young (me!) and them getting engaged just the night before.  We had a wonderful dinner on the backpacker street of Popies Lane II, where we got free shooters (that were called arak attack - the local spirit is arak), sipped cocktails, and learnt the expression bagus kali! Which is local slang, and literally translated means very good, but its such a fun thing to say, that it really turns more into awesome I think. After being kicked out of the restaurant at closing time, we hit the main drag to hunt down more delicious Bali Moon cocktails.  Still struggling with the lack of sleep after my massive transit day (read:no sleep for 36 hours), and nursing a residual I-fell-off-a-ute migraine, I had to call it quits and find a bed before I collapsed into a comfortable looking corner (and they were all starting to look comfortable at this desperate point).  Elle and Gael were still on the high of the previous night, and so deliriously happy, that they obviously wanted to continue on. And so the story goes, stay out to 5am, reap the consequences.

So tonight we left them to their own devices, and Mum, Dad and I made our way down to Jimbaran Bay for dinner.  Now I don't know the history of Jimbaran Bay but it sounded far too Australian for somewhere in Indonesia. Like somewhere you could find really good wine in the southwest of WA, not a beach in Bali.  Regardless, we battled the relentless traffic, and made our way onto the beach.  The set up of Jimbaran Bay is that all the restaurants have tables on the beach, and most of them sell only seafood, and by weight.  Let me just say that the prices are quite ridiculous.  The seafood was obviously fresh, but lacked any sort of enhancement, flavouring or sauce.

But it wasn't the meal that I loved at Jimbaran, it was the four man band who wandered among the tables and sang for us.  When they arrived at our table, they asked us where we were from, and as soon as we confirmed we were from Australia, they broke into an awesome rendition of The Last Train Out of Sydney, but instead changed a few of the words around and sang The Last Plane Out of Sydney.  It was hilarious, I loved them and their energy, so I just had to get up and dance.  Once they were done I said bagus kali! And they were suitably impressed I knew some Indonesian slang.  Even though the food was not impressive, I went back to the hotel happy from Jimbaran Bay.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 26 - In transit

Today is a transit day for me.  I'm currently sitting in the Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal, which I'm disappointed to report is basically outside.  Meaning I'm currently dripping sweat all over my laptop because there isn't any sort of temperature control. I'm on my way to Indonesia.  I left Pai at 9am this morning and will arrive in Bali at 11:30am tomorrow. That's just over 24 hours in transit - lucky me! I caught the local bus from Pai to here, which was actually quite pleasant, the bus wasn't full so I could stretch out a little and I slept most of the way.  If the bus was full however, it would have been a different story entirely.  There was no aircon, the floor was made of wood, and the windows were extremely difficult to open and close.  I like to think I have relatively long legs, but I am definitely no daddy long legs, and even my knees were excruciatingly close to the seat in front of me.  Hence why I sprawled out and my dangled my feet into the aisle, to many stares from the Thai's around me.

Let me break it down for you.  I took the 9am bus from Pai, arrived at Chiang Mai at 1pm. I then booked a bus to Bangkok that leaves here at 4.30pm.  That bus should take about 10 or so hours, so I will get to Bangkok around 3am.  From the Bangkok long distance bus terminal I'll hop in a taxi to BKK airport, and board a flight for Bali at 6.15am.  Then finally I will arrive in Bali at 11:30am. Shudder. Bright side; I don't have to (or rather, am stubbornly refusing to) pay for accommodation tonight, and by this time tomorrow I'll be within walking distance of both a swimming pool and a beach, something I haven't had since I left the Perhentian Islands, 19 days ago.  I am also immensely looking forward to the 5 star resort I'll be staying in.  Doesn't sound in line with the first leg of my trip does it? That's because I'm venturing to Bali to visit my family for Easter, so 4 nights of pure luxury.  Then I will come crashing back to earth when I'll be once more joining the backpacker trail, with 12 days flying solo in Bali.  Yep, I've left Tom behind in Thailand. I'm sure he'll survive without me for three weeks, even if it won't be quite as fun :P

I am a little apprehensive about my impending solo travel.  The few times I've travelled alone in the past have not provided me with warm fuzzy memories, rather a few tragic tales instead.  (Example: losing my big toenail, in Paris, at the top of the Eiffel Tower, and receiving only horrified and disgusted stares rather than actual help). On the flip side, I am looking forward to having my own space back for a little while.  Coming from living by myself in Sydney for a year has not exactly well prepared me to share my space with at least one other person all the time.  I've never really been a great sharer anyway, which I'm sure my sister will attest to.  I figure I'll just be starting to get a little lonely and then it will be time to return to Thailand and meet up with Tom again. Who, despite all the ups and downs that travel provides, has been an amazing travel buddy so far :)

Last night, being my final night in Pai, and my last night in Thailand for a while (tonight doesn't count because I'll be stuck on a bus!), we all decided to get dressed up, and go out for dinner and dancing.  Tom lent out his entire wardrobe, and all the boys got dressed up in collared shirts, and even bow ties! Tom made the comment that it felt like we were going to a school dance, it kind of did.

Our night started at Country Pai restaurant, whose menu was like a book, and had everything imaginable listed, from 13 potato dishes and 18 'spicy salads' to western 'delights'and of course every Thai dish under the sun.  We all needed some liquid courage, so our entrees were SsamSong whisky and cokes.  For dessert we moved to a bar offering buy-one-get-one-free cocktails, where we waited out the evening rain, and much more courage was gained.  From here on in it gets a little hazy.

We had grand plans to end up at a 'Rock and Roll Disco' we'd heard about via flyers on the street, however, upon arrival at such "disco" it was clear why they invited BYO.   Needless to say, we didn't stay, and with a group of 15 or so, we were bringing the party with us wherever we ended up. Finally we settled on a Reggae Bar on the outskirts of town.  It was a charming little place, but clearly not used to such clientele.  This was especially evident when the band became a little flustered after their fourth song (which we had all joined in on with bongo drums), and over to the iTunes DJ it was.  We danced the night away to a strange mixture of reggae and cheesy pop songs.  There was an MJ track thrown in, when everyone pulled out their break dancing skills. It was a great night had by all, Tom and I know how to start a party!  Even if I am paying for it in hangover and speech impediment today.

Day 24 - Dizzying Heights

I'm scared of heights.  Yep, surprised me too.  Trust me, its not something you want to find out the hard way.  I found out today in fact. Let me paint the picture for you.

We're at Pai Canyon. I'm perched on a rock that I'm pretty sure is limestone, and it feels insecure. Slippery. Like at any second I could lose my footing and fall to my death. My body goes into panic mode. I am literally paralysed with fear.  My legs start shaking and I feel like I cannot go on. Im stuck on this rock and my body won't work.  Hot, steamy tears spring from my eyes and roll down my cheeks.  This is not the first time this has happened.

Let me digress for a moment.  The first time this happened to me was on this trip also, we were in the Cameron Highlands doing that massive hike.  We were at the point when it really changes from hiking to climbing.  The ground is wet and muddy.  The branches are mossy, slippery and never entirely secure.  I've slipped about four times now and I'm stuck in a little crevice and cannot move.  My body is in panic mode. I can't breathe. I can't do anything to make my feet move.

So, back to the rock in Pai.  Tom comes over and counts me through my breathing. A technique he showed me when I fell off the ute, and is supremely effective.  It did not work so well this time. I could barely get the air down my lungs.  Tom made the comment that I dealt with  "falling off the back of a truck" better. It took a minute or two, but I finally regained the ability to breathe, stopped my legs from shaking and was able to continue on. I clambered out of that canyon as fast as I could and still feeling a bit shakey, sat in the shade for a minute.

In both of these circumstances, Tom has helped me to calm down and carry on.  In the first instance, I put it down to being extremely dehydrated and underfed.  I was embarrassed about it, and so put it out of my mind.  In the second instance it was worse.  It was scarier, and I had no logical explanation for what happened. I wasn't dehydrated, I wasn't hungover, I was fucking scared.  It sounds funny to say, but it scares me how scared I was.  It is a weakness I didn't know I had.  And I don't like weaknesses.  Not unless they involve say, chocolate or sex (hey, or both!). This is something I'm definitely going to have to work through.  But I will.  By the end of this trip (and with heaps of Tom's help) I'm sure I'll be rock climbing over the scariest of peaks.

After that ordeal, it was onto the waterfall! Or rather, a waterfall, as Pai has many, many waterfalls.  We scootered to one yesterday as well in fact.  The problem is, I don't remember the obscure names of these beautiful waterfalls.  But yesterday's waterfall will be known as the Waterfall of Lost Possessions.  Mallery lost her sunglasses when they fell down a particularly steep rock, and Tom lost his glasses in the pursuit of a piece of tropical fruit.  His efforts were infact fruitless (pun intended), as when we cracked open said fruit, that he had worked so hard to reach, it smelt like moldy soap, and tasted even worse. But today's waterfall wasn't so bittersweet.  The water level was really low, so we couldn't really swim, but it was so nice to cool off under the pounding water, and I could feel it realising all the tension in me after the canyon.  So I'm calling today's waterfall the Waterfall of Therapeutic Powers, because it instantly made me feel so much better.

So that's day 3 in Pai.  Tomorrow is my last day in Pai, hopefully it won't have me pushing the panic button quite so vigorously.  But who knows what adventures tomorrow will bring? That is the beauty of travelling.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 22 - Pai Retox

Today I have been travelling for 3 weeks. It feels like it has gone really slowly and really fast all at the same time.

We are currently in a charming little town called Pai, which is just northwest of Chiang Mai.  Our 4 hour bus ride to get here was an interesting one. We were on a minibus, which is like a cross between a proper bus and a minivan, which was very temperamental.  At one military checkpoint, the bus wouldn't start up again.  The driver, being the excellent driver he was, just continued to crunch the gears until he finally got it started again.  I'm not sure we changed gears at all after that, but the endlessly winding road meant we didn't particularly need to.  And we made it all the way without having to change buses!

Myself, Tom and four other guys are all staying at Paiburee Guesthouse, in a treetop bungalow.  Yep, I have a Pai Treetop Family! The other four boys are; the 3 Swedes, Jonathon, Roberto and Tobias, and, a token Englishman; Joshua. Our bungalow is basically just one big room, with 6 mattresses on the floor (almost like one big bed), and a roofless bathroom attached.  Which I call 'Alicia's Dressing Room', but boys being boys, call it 'The Poo Courtyard' instead.  Exactly, what the fuck was I thinking sharing with 5 boys?!  But our bungalow does have an awesome balcony, which is nearly as big as our bedroom. So this balcony meant Tom's rooftop bar in Chiang Mai has transformed itself into Tom's treetop bar in Pai. This time with hammocks!  How rude of me, I forgot to mention our other roommates.  They don't chip in for the room, and they make lots of noise, especially when I'm trying to sleep, but they are definitely staying with us.  They are the hundreds (sometimes it feels like thousands) of cicadas.  Hey, at least they aren't mosquitoes!

The original idea was to come to Pai, chill out, and detox from all the drinking and water fighting that was Songkran.  It is clear already this is not going to happen!  Tonight we found  Rasta Art Bar and Don't Cry Bar, which basically make up one big bar. Rasta Art Bar has a stage and live music, while Don't Cry has a bonfire, fire twirling and half price buckets! Together, they have everything you could want.  Tom jumped in on the fire twirling again (he's really getting good!), and then it all got a little hazy after that (half price buckets!).  But I do know that a good time was had by all, and I'm loving Pai with my treetop family!