Good Thaimes

“You can either watch the movie, or you can play in the movie.” Nui

Hey all,

Got back from Thailand late last night; just in time to keep on track with a monthly post. Easily one of the coolest trips I’ve taken: good food and great people, and some climbing and beautiful views. I’m excited to write this post and share some of the things we did and saw. Also, I think I’m finally getting used to WordPress, as my pictures are no longer just thumbnails, small victories.

Bangkok

We stayed at iDeer hostel in Sathon. It was a nice place and within close proximity to some cool things to check out, one of which was a sky bar that provided great views of the city. Mango the cat and Ralph the dog definitely were a great addition to the environment, although Mango had it out for sensei and clawed through his possessions on several occasions. Luke felt the need to express his dislike of the cat to the cat but to no avail because  it was, in fact, a cat and not a human.

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Really beautiful Buddha statue at Wat Pho

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Reclining Buddha has to custom order his Skechers

We were able to checkout some cultural sites in the city, the most memorable being Wat Pho temple. It had a massive reclining Buddha and some really beautiful architecture. Compared to temples in Japan, Thai temples are extravagantly colored and feature much more gold. 

We were only in Bangkok for two nights to and so we had to check out the infamous Khao San road. The insanity that persisted exceeded my perceived notoriety of Khao San. It was a giant party with bars, clubs, live music, and not to mention shady offerings that were ubiquitous throughout the stretch of the road. We did some drinking at a safe distance from the madness at a little bar with great music before plunging into the vortex of chaos that set me several years back on my pledge to cut down on dancing. I wore through the twelve dollar Birkenstock knock offs that I had purchased earlier that afternoon in just one night.

Krabi

In Krabi we stayed at the Laughing Gecko Bungalows. The owner Nui introduced himself with the quote at the top of this month’s post. It really set the tone for the trip and reminded us why we were all there. The accommodation was simple and perfect. It is one of my favorite places I have stayed on any of my trips. Nui is cool as hell.

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Deep water soloing. I’m the pale one off to the right.

On the first full day I was able to go deep water soloing off the coast of Tonsai with the crew. This is something I have always wanted to do, and while it was a little crowded and there were a few clowns lacking the possession of any climbing etiquette, I had a blast soloing routes and jumping from the finish into the ocean. It’s definitely a little wild climbing without ropes, as the higher you go the higher you need to jump down into the water. My buddy, Ryan, went up about three stories. I was sure he would down climb a bit before jumping, but out of nowhere the madman leaped from his position–leaving enough time in the air for me to play a terrifying Beethoven concerto on the violin–and hit the water. He survived. One particularly pale fellow clung trembling to a route roughly three feet above the water as the sun cooked his back. After enough people screamed, “Jump, man!” and, “You’re frying! You need more sunscreen!” he jumped screeching into the water. When I look at my own sunburn in the mirror I think of him and pour some aloe out.

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Looking out from Phra Nang.

Everyone but Ryan and I went on an island tour on the second day, leaving the two of us go full Thelma and Louise on several beaches. A series of game time decisions led us to Phra Nang beach, a small but beautiful beach that offered cave exploration and some great boulder routes. We gallivanted around here for a while and swam five minutes to another island. Some guy told us to get off a resort and I’m convinced it was my mustache that gave away our otherwise flawless high-society disguise. Either that or the Bangkok-beaten “Birkenstocks” that were hanging from my feet. Around noon we decided to catch a boat to Railay for some lunch. Once we reached the island we crushed some shawarma and made for a lagoon that we had heard about.

If Japan has taught me anything it is that monkeys should be feared. Before reaching the trail to the lagoon we came upon some monkeys. I made no eye contact and kept going, but several other travelers decided to approach the situation differently. One woman got down to eye level with this pretty big monkey that I thought I could probably take but not before losing a finger and at least 3 pints of dignity. As she went to snap a photo the monkey palmed the camera, dazing the woman, and then snagged her water bottle and bolted. As he retreated to the safety of the canopy he screeched something that could probably be translated as, “Not this time.”

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A portion of the descent to the lagoon

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A look at the lagoon.

The lagoon was the highlight of this trip for me. It was challenging to get to; we had to descend a few steep, polished drop-offs on fixed ropes, but the approach was half the fun. Ryan mentioned that the lagoon was one of those things you always see maybe on the internets but never expect to experience. We swam out into the middle. The shape of the enclosure resembled an eye but one person down there insisted it was “elpisical”, a butchered word that reminded me that as long as three dudes were on consecutive ellipticals at any given time, it was okay to hop on. We bouldered a bit more and then met a friend for a drink before heading back to the bungalow to exchange stories and eat an amazing dinner cooked by Nui.

 

Now, on the last morning I decided it would be fun to take a Muay Thai lesson. It’s not like you sign for anything in Thailand– no waivers or slips–you just sort of show up or reserve a spot, and so that fact alone should have foreshadowed the beating I was going to take. I showed up with Judy Cruise and almost immediately got in the ring. I used what little I knew from boxing and such and tried to keep up with the instructor, Bon. Well, Bon essentially kicked the hell out of me, smiling and encouraging me the whole time. Meanwhile, I didn’t see Judy getting front kicked in the chest or swept or punched in the face. No, I only caught glimpses of her laughing as she continued on with her enjoyable training. We finished with some sparring, which was not so much sparring as it was a display of Mortal Kombat if one dude left to go to the bathroom and his buddy un-paused the controller and went to town with a series of kicks, knees, and elbows on the defenseless character. It was type two fun for sure, pushing on type three if that’s such a thing. But I really enjoyed it and Bon was a good guy, as I know he was only going at about a quarter of his capabilities, if that.

I should mention that I have become really fond of Chang beer. Some might say it’s the Bud Light of Thailand, but I would argue that it is the Pabst Blue Ribbon of Thailand, and I believe that argument is strong and worth making. I’m not a huge beer t-shirt guy, but I had to buy a chang-top because this is a product I believe in. Chang, Chang-ing the way you look at things.

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Kickin’ it with Nith

Those are some of the highlights. There are a lot of other stories, some of which I’ll put into writing and the rest of which will go into the vault–unlocked only by Changs.  We made some great friends in airport security lines and on crazy boat rides who joined in and added to the fun. Thailand definitely recharged the batteries and I would say gave me a fresh perspective on what I want to do next. It was great to do some climbing, and with the weather getting nicer in Japan I’ll be able to get back to training harder for some harder climbs and I won’t have to pump myself up as much to get the motivation to write.

Other than that, Incubus was sweet. We got close enough to scream “I love you, Brandon!” to make Brandon Boyd uncomfortable. The opening act was god awful but nearly every Japanese person in the crowd knew each synchronized dance move. I tried but it only led to a beer retrieval shame moonwalk.

The cherry blossoms are in bloom and I’m looking forward to checking them out when Nith comes over to Ashikaga next weekend. A few more months in Japan which means a new adventure is on the horizon. Whether or not that horizon is Jade or not is yet to be determined. If you get that particular joke then I’m excited to have a beer with you in a few months, and if you don’t then let’s have ten beers and I’ll explain it. Thanks for following, all, I love to share my stories and to hear yours.

Jon

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