gadabout gal

the adventures & chronicles of a single gal

Gobble, Gobble….

Thankful!

I’ve had an amazing year traveling and I’m truly thankful for the many friends I met along the way. Many memories, countless miles traveled and unforgettable experiences that I’ll treasure forever.

Take a moment to be grateful!
Happy Thanksgiving to all those near and far.

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Selfish? I think not.

I’ve been back in the city for about a month and I’m easing back into work.  After living a minimal backpacker lifestyle for a year, I’ve learned to live on a small budget.  Now I’ve returned to reality and it’s time to build up the bank account again.  The realization of pending school loans, a phone bill, public transportation costs and daily necessities seem to be quickly depleting my funds.  So, I’ve rejoined the work force and will be optimistic about what the future holds.  I’m committed to a different outlook on life, work and personal growth.  I’m focused on me!  Maybe that sounds selfish, but I don’t want to return to the unsatisfied, overworked person I was a year ago.  My goal and focus will remain on my next adventure.  Where that will be is to be determined, but Spain is the front runner.  Until then, I’ll channel my energies into making my next adventure dream a REALITY.

Thailand recap & my final travels

It feels good to be back!  Walking to the morning train with a steaming cup of coffee in hand, enjoying the crisp fall air and loving this city.  Since I last wrote, I finished my SE Asia travels and have returned back to Chicago.

Before leaving Thailand on October 10th I had a couple other destinations on my list to visit.  It first started with a week-long trip in Hong Kong.  An amazing city with a fabulous skyline.  I spent my days enjoying the island and my evenings at the waterfront.  I toured temples, markets and wandered around the streets.  Hopping on and off the trolley, stopping to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival in Victoria Park and watching the age-old tradition of the Fire Dragon Dance.  I also made a 1-day trip over to Macau, “the Vegas of Asia”.  Macau was a bit of challenge to navigate, I found myself lost on numerous occasions.  Only to later stumble upon an interesting place, ruin or neighborhood.  I’ve found in my travels that being “lost” can often lead to an amazing adventure.  My day in Macau lead to the infamous Galaxy Hotel & Casino in which I was reminded of the decadence and extravagance of casinos.  Many of my favorites were there;  MGM, Wynn, Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock to name  a few.  Of course I had to play a couple bucks in honor of my grandfather.  Someone that could never pass up a slot machine and seemingly was always lucky.  I, however, am NOT.  My several bucks were gone in a matter of minutes!  My day in Macau came to a close as I enjoyed the International Fireworks Competition over the water.  A perfect ending to the day.  Upon returning to Hong Kong I received several messages from concerned family & friends about the pending Typhoon that was going to make landfall in a couple of days.  Lucky for me my departing flight was the night before the airport was closed in preparation of the pending storm.

Back to Thailand for 5 days then off to Singapore with some friends.  A group of 6 wandering the streets of Chinatown, visiting Universal Studios and taking in the view from the Singapore Flyer.  I enjoyed my time with my friends and will cherish the memories of our travel together.  We’ve decided that an annual travel trip could be a perfect way for us to reconnect and venture somewhere new.  2014…Tokyo?  Well, we’ll see what happens.

Once I returned back to Thailand I quickly went to work finalizing plans for an English Camp at the school.  The camp was a great success and so much fun!  Activities that included crafts, cooking, games and lesson plans themed around specific English vocabulary.  The English Camp was a huge success and coincided with my final days at Supsathit School.  A bittersweet ending to an amazing year-long adventure.  My final evening in KPP was wonderful.  The school hosted a dinner at a lovely restaurant on the water, almost all of the teachers attended with gifts in hand.  I was overwhelmed with their love and gratitude.  I have never felt so much love and appreciation by people who I’ve only known a year.  The dinner ended with several speeches from most of my colleagues and even though many had difficulty speaking in English, I fully understood their sincerity.  Many pled for my return, tugging or really yanking on my heart-strings and as tears rolled down my cheeks my heart burst with joy.  I sat there in amazement as I recalled how quickly my Thai family accepted me.  Thai people truly are loving and full of compassion.  Their willingness to accept me with open arms and love will always remain in my heart.  They’ll ALWAYS be in my heart.  An unforgettable year filled with challenges, adventures and memories.  A year that I’ll never forget!  A year of my life that has forever changed me.  A change for the better.  Change is LIFE!  Change is GROWTH!

Is It Really Over?

Today is my last day here in my home of Kamphaeng Phet. It seems like the last few weeks were a blur. Traveling to Hong Kong and Singapore, returning to teach at an English Camp and squeeze in many goodbye coffee, lunch and dinner dates. I sit here in my favorite coffee shop, Chai Bakery, for my last Cappu Yen (Iced Cappuccino) reminiscing about the countless hours I’ve spent here doing lesson plans, enjoying several good books and spending rainy afternoons with a sweet treat and great coffee.

The last few days have been tough. On numerous occasions I’ve gotten teary eyed as I said my goodbyes to my little students. I cried at the closing ceremony of the English Camp while fellow teachers and a student made speeches of gratitude for my commitment to the school over the past year. I was asked to say a few words, but the only thing I could get out was

I love you all and I’ll see you again!

. I was then promptly asked to make a promise and even shake on it that I’ll return sometime in the future.

Thai people are truly compassionate, caring and generous. I’ve been so fortunate to have been fully embraced by their love and I know I’ll always have a home here whenever I return. One of my friends recently said,

The hardest part of traveling is saying goodbye to all the great people you’ve met.

I told her the same thing I told my students,

I’ll see you again next time.

BRB

I’ve just returned from Hong Kong & Macau, tomorrow is my last day of classes and I’m off to Singapore for a long weekend. I’ll catch you all up when I return 🙂 I’m trying to squeeze a few more adventures in before I return in just a couple weeks.

Wow, where has the year gone?

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Numbered Days

17 days until my Hong Kong adventure for 5 days.

Back to Thailand for 5 days, then, off to Singapore for a 3 day weekend.

Return to Thailand for my final 10 day fling.

If you’re adding…. that’s 40 days until I’m on a plane back to the good ‘ole USA.

Respect. Adoration. Love.

Kneeling before the one woman who is always there for them.  It’s their mother, an aged grandmother, an aunt or family friend that has come to be honored today.  I’m teary eyed as I witness this beautiful demonstration of adoration and love. They offer handmade cards, flowers and hugs to show their gratitude.  A simple gesture, but with the utmost respect for the one person that wipes away their tears, gives them encouragement and will always love them unconditionally.

We celebrate the Queen’s Birthday in a couple of days, as well as, Mother’s Day.  Today we celebrated early at school with a ceremony and an assembly.  We began the day with an offering to several Monks.  Parents joined their children with bags, baskets and boxes filled with food for offering.  Rice bags are loaded with food, most of which the Monks gift back to the school.  Then, a short ceremony which included songs, gifts and speeches of thanks to the many that provide for us.  I sat there in reflection of my own relationship with my mother, grandmother and aunts.  I’m so thankful that I have a supportive family and the most supportive mother.  RESPECT. ADORATION. LOVE, all of which I feel daily for the one woman in my life that has ALWAYS been there for me.

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76 days…

It’s hard to believe…. Time really does fly when you’re having fun!

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Who’s checkin’ me out?

What do all these places have in common?

United States, Serbia, Taiwan, U.K., Poland, Pakistan, Malaysia, Brazil, France, Bahrain, Germany, Singapore, Norway, Russia, Italy, Estonia, Vietnam, Philippines, Zambia, Sweden, Myanmar, India, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, Cambodia and Thailand.

You!  It’s fascinating to see where you’re reading from, stay tuned!

Soggy Shopping Bags

This past weekend I enjoyed a long holiday weekend in Chiang Mai.  I departed KPP on Saturday morning on the bus so I could take advantage of the 4 days off and revisit one of my favorite spots.  My agenda really only consisted of 2 things:  SHOPPING for gifts and satisfying my Mexican Food Craving.  Other than those things, I didn’t have a plan.  I checked into my hostel in the early evening and quickly headed out for some dinner.  My hostel was located near a Night Bazaar I had been to one other time, so I was glad that I would be in close proximity to some bargain shopping.  By bargain I mean, less than $1 for hand-embroidered pillow covers, totes made from recycled vintage fabrics for about $8 bucks, clothing items for $2-3/pc and the list goes on and on.  I did some preliminary scouting of goods from different vendors to get me best pricing and decided I would return on Sunday or Monday to purchase the items.  Besides, I still had a couple of days of navigating new places, so I didn’t want to splurge right away.

Since mornings are calm in Chiang Mai (the city doesn’t really get going until 10:30 ish, or even noon) I wandered the quiet streets in search of new coffee shops or quaint cafes I hadn’t tried yet.  Of course, I did have to revisit a couple of my  favorites.  I also had been battling a sore throat/cough since I arrived, so I didn’t want to overdo it with the adventuring.  Basically,  I had the perfect “excuse” to just relax in the mornings with my cappuccino and a good book.  My afternoons and evenings were spent wandering the many stalls of the Night Bazaar, Sunday Walking Street and various boutique shops.  After a while you do start to see the same things, but occasionally you find something new. By Monday evening I was able to check shopping off my list.  I returned to my room with several bags and some treats for my Co-Thai teachers too.  Tuesday I would make my way back home with many goodies and gifts for my pending departure in October.

Tuesday morning I got up, checked out of my hostel and grabbed a ride to the bus station.  Now,  I fully understood it was a holiday and many people would be traveling/returning home after their long weekend too.  What I did not expect was the smirks and snickers I received from the many ticket agents.  Agents hailing from their counter, “Bangkok”, “Bangkok, leaving now.”  Well that was the right direction of travel and since my town is literally half way between CM and BKK,  I requested a ticket. ” Kamphaeng Phet, please?”  Quickly, I’m told “SOLD OUT” with a smirk and a wave of the hand to move on.  On the couple of instances when I received a “Yes” I clarified where I would be dropped off.  The response, “the highway”.  Well, I had learned before that some companies will literally drop you off on the highway to avoid going to the actual Bus Station.  Well, the so-called “drop off” spot is not anywhere near the Bus Station, so that was a definite NO.  For bus companies, their objective is to get the largest chargeable fare with the least amount of inconvenience.  In other words, if they can fill the bus with only passengers for a direct bus to Bangkok, they bi-pass all other passenger destinations and tell you it’s “SOLD OUT”.

So, my 4-day holiday turned into a 5-day since I couldn’t get a return ticket until the following day.  The one thing you realize traveling is that you just deal with the change, smile and move on.  I was able to locate an inexpensive hotel near the Bus Station so I could just walk over on Tuesday to catch my bus home.  I awoke Tuesday morning to torrential rains and flooding.  My first thought?  All the textiles I purchased were going to get soaked!  I had 3 shopping bags and my small pack with my clothes and toiletries.  How was I going to get to the Bus Station and not get drenched?  I walked downstairs to check-out and I looked out to a street flooded with about 16″ of water.  The Bus Station is only about a 3 minute walk, but with the amount of rain coming down I knew I’d be a drowned rat upon arrival.  I wrapped my textiles in plastic, covered my shopping bags, rolled up my pants to above my knees and set out for a wading adventure.  I tried to quickly make my way, but almost lost my shoe a couple of times.  Wading through water in flip-flops isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when you aren’t able to see what you’re walking on or in.  As I get closer to the station, I decided to take the quickest route.  A straight shot through the parking lot and I’ll be to the front of the station and under cover.  Well, apparently the parking lot must be at the lowest elevation point because at one point I was wading in knee-deep water with my bags held above my waist.  I reached the entrance, rung out my pant legs and walked to board my bus.

I boarded my bus with soggy shopping bags in hand and wet hair.  Luckily, I had a towel packed so I attempted to pat dry my hair, dry off my soaked legs & feet and remove my drenched hoodie.  I then settled in for my damp 6 hour ride home.

Oh, and if you’re wondering… not a single drop made it to my treasured textiles.

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