The ground was covered with white crunchy snow, the air was cool and I could see my breath. It was 5 a.m. and our bus had just pulled into the station at Erlien, China. As I stepped off the bus a jeep driver approached me.
“You need jeep?”
“Yes, I go to the border.”
“Okay, 20 RMB.”
Ah, a Chinese sleeper bus, they are complete heaven -well as heavenly as a bus can be. The bus is divided by two aisles and contains three rows of what I call, sleeping pods. Each row of sleeper pods are set up like bunkbeds and gives the bus a dorm room kind of feel. When I took a sleeper bus from Jinhong, China to Kunming, I was beyond excited when I boarded the bus. Well, after I had to shimmy down the aisle.
One of my favourite things to do in Asia is visit local markets whether they be food, clothing, souvenirs, marriage of birds. There is something wonderful about wandering through local markets. It’s a glimpse of local life, it’s trying local foods and sometimes it involves locals trying to scam you- but for the most part it is a pleasant experience.
Find me a find, catch me a catch…
Finding the unique and bizarre has become a kind of side quest during my travels. My general philosophy has been, If it looks different and interesting, I must know more! This sort of side mantra has served me well. There’s a boat that travels from Northern Thailand to China? Hell yeah, I’ll go. Kunming has a bird market? Sounds kind of interesting, I wouldn’t mind checking that out. Every weekend older parents flock to Green Park and look for future mates for their unmarried children by sharing photos, posting signs and looking through catalogs? Say Whaaaaat?!
Let me tell you, arriving by boat in the middle of nowhere when it is pitch-black outside is completely different from landing at an airport. Unlike ports in North America, in China docking your boat or ship involves a buddy system of sorts. There is usually one dock and 4-5 ships trying to unload. Instead of waiting for their turn (this is kind of a foreign concept here), they dock against one another. When we arrived in Guan Lei, we were boat number 4 and docking against a freighter was a bumpy experience.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a slow boat, but it was a boat!
My mind had drifted from the bumpy bus ride through the mountains and dirt roads of Northern Thailand. Most of the locals I had spoken to in Chiang Mai were confused when I asked them about the boat that sailed from Chiang Saen to China. While some travelers would have taken that as a sign that the boat was just a myth, I took it as a sign that if the boat did exist, it would be a unique experience. My mind was racing. For 5 hours I sat in my seat and thought about what the boat would be like. Would there be a lot of travelers? Is it running or was I wasting time and money traveling to Chiang Saen only to find out that the boat was a myth. The possibilities were endless and I thrived on them. My quest to know was almost as thrilling as the idea of traveling to China by boat.
Looking for the Mongolian Embassy in Bangkok was like walking through a maze, especially when you add in the fact that I had no clue where I was going. But once I found the Embassy, things were surprisingly easy. I rang the buzzer, stated that I wanted to apply for a visa, filled out a form and was told to come back three days later. In a way, it was almost too easy.
Hearing those two words come from the mouth of a 12-year-old girl from the Congo was heartbreaking. She is a beautiful girl, with an easy-going personality, generous smile, and an infectious laugh.
*Note: Sorry guys, but the above photo is about as masculine as this post is going to get. You may want to leave and turn on ESPN!
When the cats I’m watching woke me up at 5 a.m. today I decided it would be a good day to go out. I had stayed in most of yesterday trying to catch up on some writing and emails and I thought I might go crazy dealing with their mood swings. Yes, cats have mood swings. One minute they’re resting, the next minute they’re reenacting Jason Statham’s Death Race.
My plan next month is to travel to China, Mongolia and hopefully Tibet. I thought that applying for a Mongolian visa may be easier in Bangkok than Beijing, so I looked up the Embassy’s address online, grabbed my bag, camera and passport and headed out the door. By the time I stepped onto the BTS headed for Ekkamai Station I wasn’t feeling very well. But, I thought it was due to lack out sleep so I ignored it.
Half a kilometer up soi Ekkami and I started to get pains in my side, then the cramps started. How could I have possibly forgotten that it was that time of the month? The combination of heat, humidity, urine soaked sewers, fried foreign food and dehydration were enough to make me feel sluggish and sick. The walk from the Ekkami station to soi 22 was long, way too long. After finally finding the Mongolian Embassy and applying for my visa I was desperate to get back to the apartment.
I downed 1/2 litre of cold water in a matter of minutes and slowly made my way back to Victory Monument station on soi Rang Naam. I was 30 feet into the mall when I decided to go to Sweenten’s, an ice cream shop in many malls in Thailand. I need sweets, stat (I’m not usually a sweets girl, I’m normally a savory one). Sitting in the booth and slowly eating some sticky chewy chocolate ice cream -that was the name of it, seriously- with hot fudge, whipped cream and chocolate chips. It was pure heaven -everything my hormonal body could have possibly needed at that moment.
As soon as I arrived back at the apartment, I changed out of my sweaty clothes, washed and put on my pj’s. The cats seemed to have calmed down a little -I hope it’s because they sense that my hormones are on edge and their life could be in danger, haha- which is good. Now that I’ve popped some super strength Motrin I’m starting to feel a little better. Hopefully after a short nap I’ll be ready to go out and conquer more of Bangkok.
Do you know what it’s like to be in the bathroom, on the toilet and trying to insert a tampon only to have a cat’s head pop up between your legs? I do… 🙁