rule number one.
NEVER pass up a $500 round trip ticket to another country. Ever.
Okay! Moving on. I was invited to go to Thailand with a bunch of strangers once upon a time and I said yes because (see rule #1.) So this is where I attempt to take the best three weeks of my life and shorten it into a blog post.
Like I said. complete strangers!! I heard about the trip through a friend of a friend of a friend and I said, "I want in." If any of you guys have been around for awhile you'll remember I went to Thailand last year too. I was DYING to go back, its that magical of a place. So after some extensive instagram background checks on each traveler, I finally decided to trust these people. Jeff arranged everything, and brought his sister Shelby who I knew from the good old days of saving lives at the lindon pool. Sarah and her boyfriend Cooper came, along with another couple Haley and Trey. Later in the trip, I'd meet Cru and Talen, two of my favorite people on this good green earth, but for now it was just us 7. A Solid group. Like definitely a crew that would have an action film based around us. Or at least a really bad reality show with a Megan Trainor theme song.
After a trip to the ER, an in n out stop -- me, being the only one of the group to have been to Thailand already, I orchestrated the in n out run. "WE NEED TO GO TO IN N OUT. DONT FIGHT ME ON THIS." I said, knowing full well our menu for the next three weeks. (hint: rice) We finally made it to LAX and boarded our 15 hour flight. I looked at Shelby and said "give me the hard stuff." she looked side to side, up, down, all around...and slipped me a nyquil. Then I woke up in China. True story.
this trip was all about:
Coming home from Thailand, I was a better person. I feel like I learned more on this trip, than I did in 4 years of high school. (granted, if high school involved riding elephants in a tropical forrest, I probably would have paid more attention.) And when I say learning, no, I didn't learn about the quadratic formula or why Abigail Williams from the crucible is a total slut.
I learned real life lessons. Every single day we were there, I had moments that changed me. Lessons that will help me out for the rest of my life. And since I'm a good person once or twice a week, i'll share these precious life lessons with you.
LESSON 1: DO NOT LOOK DOGS IN THE EYE
We got to Bangkok pretty late (it was a miracle we got there at all, after missing a flight, being stranded in China and almost losing our luggage) Everyone went to sleep except me and Shelby. We were high on life, and maybe some other sleeping pills, but mainly adrenaline. We begged Jeff to let us go walk around and after some heavy convincing and an intense pillow fight, we were out on the streets of Thailand in the middle of the night. THIS. Oh my gosh, something about being in another country and taking it all in for the first time. It's addicting, and it's the reason me and these 8 other crazy people travel so much. We're addicted. And Bangkok is the realest. People will tell you not to go to Bangkok. Theres so much to see in Thailand, that the thought of walking around a crowded city that smells bad and is infested with cats when you could be swimming in crystal clear waters, sipping on a pina colada, doesn't really make sense. But i'm here telling you to GO TO BANGKOK. This is where you get the culture of Thailand. And its freaking cool. Its dirty, it smells bad, and nearly every man on the street wants to buy you to be his wife, but like its COOL. I would go back every single time. Anyways back to talking about dogs.
There are dogs everywhere. EVERY. WHERE. And I love dogs. dogs are great. But these aren't your typical adorable puppy barn breed. These dogs are the spawn of satan himself.
We walked around for about an hour, went to a bar, and started heading home. We were honestly just wandering, not really sure how to get back when we come across a cute little puppy. Except by cute, I mean the ugliest damn thing I've ever seen, and by little I mean GINORMOUS. Shelby, our designated dog whisperer, said quietly, "Don't look him in the eye." Easy enough. We keep walking. Dog starts growling. I turn around -- "DON'T TURN AROUND" Shelby says grabbing my arm. But I do, and I see two more dogs trailing behind. HE CALLED IN FOR BACKUP. Like a scene from a movie, every 10 feet or so, another dog would come out from a dark alley and follow us. I had always dreamed of having an entourage of dogs, but in my dreams, we are always frolicking through fields in slow motion. This was my nightmare. This was illuminati type stuff. We keep walking, and I hear jeff say "Indy. Indy. Dont move." "fjasdlkfgeqwuoi WHAT" is pretty much the answer I gave him, and without turning my head I could feel one of the dogs jumping up on me. That was it. I took off. Shelby took off. Jeff ran after us. We finally got away from them, after sprinting for what felt like miles. I was always the slowest kid in P.E. but unleash a pack of wild dogs on a class of seventh graders and I would have Usain Bolt in tears.
LESSON 2: HUSTLE OR GET HUSTLED
Bangkok will teach you a lot of things.
It will teach you that the tuk tuk drivers will scam you harder than a caucasian housewife in the PTA.
It will teach you that bargaining is a skill, but a skill that can be learned and even mastered. My favorite move is to set your price, lock eye contact, and then walk away. And just like every boy who rejected me when I had braces and a bowl cut, they'll come running back. They always do.
It will teach you that Khaosan Road is one of thailands greatest treasures. One of the reasons I love Bangkok so much is because of Khaosan. Its this street in central Bangkok with markets and food lining the entire road. Its a backpackers dream. Cooper and Trey ate scorpions, we all hustled our way into cheap knock off designer brand clothes, and this was the first night we discovered that there is a massage parlor every 20 feet.
On that note, Bangkok will teach you to be very specific when asking for a massage. (Lets just say Jeff left feeling a little 'violated.')
LESSON 3: ALWAYS ACT LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING
We spent almost an entire month in Thailand and this night is still the one I come back to and try to remember, because it was one of my favorite memories of my entire life. It was our second and last day in Bangkok, and all of our plans had fallen through. We had trouble checking out of our hotel so we had a late start to the day. Then we paid a taxi driver to take all seven of us to the floating markets, but an hour and a half into the drive, we started to realize he wasn't taking us there and we got scared so we dipped, haha. We tried climbing an abandoned tower, but there were police and barbed wire fences stopping us. Nothing was working! We had done so much walking and driving that day and suddenly it was 7:00 and we hadn't seen anything. We were all a little bit discouraged, just walking aimlessly around the big city. We were in a super nice part of Bangkok, where I imagine Chuck Bass would stay if he was passing through. We stared at the sky scrapers above us imagining what it would be like to stay in one. Then, it hit me. "Lets sneak into a pool."
You can tell a lot about a person based on their reaction to "Lets sneak into a pool."
And when every single reaction was, "hell yeah"
I knew I was with a good group of people.
We picked the tallest and prettiest hotel we could find, and hopped on the elevator with our hopes and dreams. We all had backpacks on, we were all dirty and sweaty from walking around all day, and none of us brought swimming suits. And this is where I taught my friends a little lesson for a change. Walking into a five star hotel with heavily staffed security guards can be intimidating. Everyone was nervous and no one really thought it would work. So I told them to follow my lead, and I said "The key to life is to always act like you know what you're doing."
So we got up to the 20th floor, and met face to face with a security guard. He put his hand out to stop us, or to check for our room keys, I dont know. My heart sank, and in a last ditch effort to act cool and collected, I bowed to him. Yep. we all did. We bowed our heads and put our hands together. I almost burst out laughing because this was so ridiculous and so obviously not going to work. But we kept walking, like we knew what we were doing, and he just bowed back and pointed to the pool. We tried not to laugh, but we were definitely all thinking the same thing. "That worked???"
We walk in to the swankiest infinity pool my eyes have ever seen. It overlooked the city and at night the view was absolutely breathtaking. The boys swam in their shorts and the girls swam in their underwear, but hey, WWJD??? (what would jay alvarrez do) We ordered smoothies and sat there for hours, talking about life. I remember Sarah and I at one point saying,
"Look at us! We are sitting on a rooftop pool in the nicest hotel the middle of Thailand. How is this our life?"
I felt so incredibly blessed in that moment, but also proud of myself. I work really hard to play really hard and for me, its those moments that make everything worth it.
LESSON 4: ALL GOOD THINGS HAPPEN IN KRABI TOWN -
Krabi was the first real stop on our trip. Its down south on the coast, and upon first glance, it doesn't seem too promising. I speak for all of us when I say we weren't too excited for Krabi. But one day, spent on the most beautiful beach in the world and we were sold. (This is when Cru and Talen flew in and joined the squad.) We took a boat Railay beach on our first day there, my personal favorite. This one was so memorable, probably because it was the first one, and because it really is the most beautiful place I've ever been. Its so stunning, its almost hard to process. You want to take pictures, but you know the pictures won't do any of it justice. So you just stare and try to engrave it in your mind because at that moment, you're there and its real and its absolutely unbelievable. Thats the only way I can describe it.
I remember Shelby and I sprinting into the ocean, and everyone following behind us. We came up from out of the water and looked at each other and said the same thing. "ITS SO WARM!!"
We swam around for hours, climbed some rocks, laid on the beach, and I said to Haley, "I have never been more content in my whole life." and I was serious. That right then and there was pure bliss. I did not have a care in the world, and my heart was so full. I wish I could bottle up that feeling I had that day because I had never been so happy.
The next day we went on a four island tour, did some yoga with a 69 year old legend named Andre, discovered on a tiny boat in the middle of the indian ocean that Donald Trump was our president, and all got sunburned. Really really sunburned.
The next day though, was in the running for one of my favorite days of the trip, and maybe of my whole entire life if i'm being super dramatic. This is the day that we discovered the best form of transportation. SCOOTERS. I would do just about anything in this world, to go back to Thailand right now and ride a scooter around Krabi. Everyone in Thailand rides scooters. And theres no rules of the road, no speed limits, no cops, so its safe to say I almost died on average 9 times an hour. Me, Shelby, Cru and Talen quickly became best friends and would weave in and out of traffic trying to race each other. I was so scared at first because Talen has zero concept of safety, but I eventually realized how much fun we were having and let myself enjoy it. We ended up just riding around because we were all having so much fun. It was our favorite thing to do, and after four days we finally learned our way around.
The fighting gyms, lady boy bars, pancakes and oreo shakes at the night market... Krabi has my heart.
LESSON 5: MOST PROBLEMS IN LIFE CAN BE SOLVED BY DIRTY DANCING
Put this on my GRAVE. I'll say it a million times but what made this trip was the people, and the people KNEW HOW TO DROP IT LOW!! We planned our trip in November for a very specific reason. The full moon party. Its essentially the biggest beach party in the entire world. Stretching across the beach in Koh Phagnan. We were all so tired, taking an 8 hour boat ride to get there, but it was well worth it to see Cru booty poppin on the population of Thailand all night. This party was CRAZY. I knew a handful of Mormons from Utah were going to be quite overwhelmed so we decided to make alter ego's. (as one does before a rager.)
Sarah aka DEBBIE
Debbie likes Bella Thorne, Asian Pop and watermelon vodka. Hates women's rights.
aftermath: Debbie held her own and let loose for most of the party, whipping and nae nae-ing into oblivion. But deep down she's still Sarah Rae Mayne who likes to go to sleep at 10:00. Party ended early for Debbie. Sarah doesn't talk about Debbie anymore.
Indy aka BECKY
I transformed into Becky that night, and she's a girl I don't get along with, but I definitely respect to some degree. Becky is the Alpha Phi president. Looking for a sugar daddy. Voted for Hillary because she's a woman.
aftermath: Becky threw hands with the french girl wearing the same crop top as her. Becky got her weave ripped out. You'll be hearing from Becky's lawyer.
Cooper aka LENNY
Lenny is the gay friend. Lenny doesn't like being labeled.
aftermath: Lenny was wild at the full moon party and went full EDC mode. Lenny stole Becky's flower crown. Lenny argued about foreign policies with a guy having a seizure. Lenny's grandfather was disappointed at his obscene snapchat story.
Shelby aka STEPH
Steph still believes in Santa Claus. Steph lives with her 50 year old boyfriend Marco. Steph is still has hopes be on Disney Channel.
aftermath: as we all knew she would, Steph pulled out all the stops. She dabbed. She twerked. She flipped off of a balcony and almost killed 15 people. She is what she always is. The life of the party.
Jeff aka BRAD
Brad is a frat guy. Brad has two middle names. Brad has a YOLO tattoo.
aftermath: Brad released his inhibitions that night and made his mother proud. He won the pull up contest, and got the numbers of 5 very cute lady boys. We didn't tell him.
Haley aka BRIT
Brit names her plants. Brit only wears clothes made from recycled products. Brit leaves hate comments on Kylie Jenners instagram. She wants to talk to the manager.
Aftermath: Brit sprained her finger while taking a picture for a group of body builders. Brit is suing them for damages.
Trey aka XAVIER
Xavier. He only drinks mojitos. Lana Del Rey is his "Queen." Only shops at forever 21. Will destroy your mom in a political debate on facebook.
aftermath: Xavier surprised us the most. We needed to settle him down a couple of times, and had to run after him and keep him from "Jujuing on that beat" in every dance circle.
Cru aka HANS
Hans joins us from Frankfurt Germany. He doesn't speak english, but makes up for it in body language. He loves to dance.
aftermath: Hans really stole the show. There was not a pole in the vicinity that he did not claim territory on. He was a viral sensation by the end of the night, signing autographs and taking selfies with adoring fans.
And there you have it. In squad we trust.
The message I hope you got out of this lesson, is to be who you are. And if you can't... be becky, hans, xavier, bradley, debbie, lenny, brit or steph. Cause they're really fun.
LESSON 6: BE OKAY BEING ALONE
I didn't read the fine print in preparing for the trip, which probably read "This is a couples trip and you will spend at least three nights crying in your hotel room about how no one loves you."
Cooper and Sarah. Haley and Trey. Shelby and Cru. Talen and Jeff. (those two had girlfriends back home lol but I do think they would be a cute couple? maybe? moving on.) I was surrounded by lovers, and dang cute ones at that. The ones you pin on your pinterest boards with the caption "GOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLSSSSS" and its definitely on pinterest so know one will know you un ironically used the term "goals." They were all in love, and they were all RUBBING IT IN MY FACE. It wasn't always that way. once upon a time at the beginning of the trip I had a best friend named Shelby. And another best friend named Cru. Cru was the only single guy on the trip and Shelb and I were the only single girls. We were in paradise, so chemistry was bound to happen. In terms you would understand.... Cru gave his final rose to Shelby. Leaving me with the tour guide. (In his defense, I would choose Shelby over me too. She has abs.)
It was a highlight of the trip for sure. Seeing their romance blossom. Me, Cooper and Sarah had a kick out of it, and pretended we were producers of The Bachelor franchise, having producer meetings every couple of hours to decide if they were going to make it out in the real world, or if it was just a fling in paradise.
I'll let them tell you how that played out.
LESSON 7: FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT
Our trip was constant go go go. It was nice because everyone was really chill, and went with the flow. But we did stay on a new island almost every single night which got exhausting. One particular night, we got to the island later in the day and we all wanted do go do something fun, but also relaxing. "If only we were at a fancy resort."
It didn't take long from that point, for Sarah to google the directions to "Nearest 5 star Resorts"
We headed out with our scooter gang, swimsuits on, barefoot, tired, but ready for adventure. The ride to the Four Seasons was about an hour long, and we got lost in the forrest in the dead of night, chased by rabid dogs for a couple of miles, but we finally made it. "Fake it til you make it" I kept saying to myself. We had experience with sneaking into hotel pools so we were all a little full of ourselves. Thinking it would be a piece of cake, we roll up with our scooters, and are welcomed by several shocked and confused resort staff. We get off the scooters and Joe, the sweetest angel of a man, walks up to us and asks us what our room number is. Cooper steps up and says with such conviction, "We need to go to room 113. Yes 113." We all nod.
in the best english he can, he says "Ummm.... we dont... have room 113?"
WAY TO GO COOPER.
I'm about to hop back on the scooter and cruise back to Krabi out of secondhand embarrassment, when I think of an idea. An idea that I knew was too crazy to try, and at the same time too crazy to pass up.
"I'm the blogger." I told him. Looking at my friends, and trying to silently communicate with them to follow my lead.
"I have 10 million followers... I'm here to check out the resort and write a review."
I waited for Joe to call for security. But instead, bless this man, he just nodded and said "Yes, yes of course, this way please." And led us to a lavish waiting room while we waited for our private golf cart to give us a tour.
We had another moment of "Wait that worked???" but quickly hopped back into character. This time, we were more sophisticated than our beach party alter egos. Think more along the lines of, Rebecca, Stephanie, Bradley, Leonard, and Deborah.
We were taken to the private beach and given premium seating at their world class bar. We ordered the only thing we could afford which was three measly tacos. (20 us dollars well spent after three weeks of rice and curry)
We even came back the next day to lay out on the beach at sunset. And it was the most relaxing two days of my entire life. We all vowed that we would be back someday. And we wouldn't have to lie to get in this time ;)
LESSON 8: DON"T GIVE CRAZY THAI LADIES YOUR PASSPORTS. AND DON'T SNAPCHAT THEM.
This story will live in infamy. The day I almost got whooped by an old Thai woman.
In Thailand, and many other places in Asia (i'm not sure if they do this in other countries) You have to give business owners your passports to book hotels or scooters. Its the worst rule and we tried to get out of it a couple of times just because giving someone your passport is never a good idea, right?? But three weeks and we had never had a problem with it so we just kept hoping for the best. The final day of our trip we went to return the scooters. We had three of them. Cru was scammed a couple hundred baht for a tire that was already flat, and Jeff ended up paying for several scratches that were already there. It was ridiculous but we were in a hurry to get home and this lady was craaaaazy. Like Becky, Brit, Steph and Debbie crazy. But probably also worships the devil. We'll get to that in a second.
Sarah and Cooper went to return their scooter about an hour later, and Cru hopped on the back of theirs to keep them company. They get up to the front, and the crazy lady says we owe her 5000 baht for having three people on a scooter. We were LIVID. This was the end of the trip, and we had spent all of our money on oreo shakes. 5000 baht is about 150 us dollars and we definitely didn't have that.
Arguing with Thai people is also hard, because you can't properly insult them. This is one of those moments that I wish I had the gift of tongues because I had some strong words i'd like to exchange with this woman. We attempted arguing with her, ran out all of her customers, which only made her more mad. After about an hour, we realized our options were limited and we had a boat to catch. So we reluctantly pulled out the money only for her to say, 'I don't have passport.'
WELL WHERE IS IT!!!
She calls her boss, while making sure we see her drag a machete on the ground (i'm telling you this lady was next level scary. like mad max meets blac chyna) She tells us her boss has the passport and it will take an hour for him to come. We freak out saying our boat leaves in an hour which just excites her and brings her to a fit of laughter. She tells us to leave and come back in an hour but me, being a walking entity of sass, I decide to sit right in front of her. I was going to get to this woman if it was the last thing I do. I tried all of my usual tricks. The stare down. Whispering and pointing. Eye rolling. Crying. Verbal intimidation. This was just fuel to her fire. She was eating this UP. We were putty in her hands and she was giving Joanne the Scammer a run for her money. I was running out of ideas, and I thought to myself, "Well at least this will make for a good vlog." So I pull out my phone and start filming her on snapchat.
"This girl just scammed us out of all our money" I said laughing.
She laughed a little bit, and right before those 10 seconds were up, she LUNGED for me, pulling my air and reaching for my phone. Suddenly this turned into an episode of The Real Housewives of Koh Samui and I was scared out of my mind. I stood up and hid behind Cru, everyone screaming at her. She had the eyes of SATAN and was flipping tables, throwing beer bottles and tire irons, trying to come at me. I couldn't tell if she was mad that I was filming, or just mad that I didn't give her the puppy filter but she was furious. This is what really set her off, and while yes, I almost died right then and there on the side of the road in the ghettos of southern Thailand... all this commotion revealed our passports in her pocket the entire time. Cooper while using explicit language, grabs the passport from her and hands her the money (this chick had a machete guys YES WE GAVE HER THE MONEY) and we dipped. I was shaking with rage, fear and adrenaline, and asking siri how to say some bad words in Thai.
We ran down the street as fast as we could, thanking god above for our passports, and our lives, and a viral worthy video that would surely put us on Ellen.
Until I accidentally deleted it.
"Should we go back?? Just for the video???"
LESSON 9: GET IN THE OCEAN IF IT ALL GOES WRONG
My last story is one of my favorites, and probably the most important lesson I learned on the entire trip. Our last night on the island, we are woken up out of a dead sleep to Jeff screaming "UM WE HAVE A PROBLEM."
Apparently we missed something in planning our trip and gave ourselves an extra day. We thought we had one more day on the island, but Jeff happened to be checking the flight itinerary and realized we were actually supposed to fly home in a couple of hours. We scrambled to pack and figure out the quickest way to get back to Bangkok, when we realized we had to let the other people in our group know. The only problem is we had no idea where their rooms were. We were staying at a resort with little huts for condo's and there were hundreds of them. We woke up Sarah and Cooper and set out on a journey to find Haley and Trey. It was one of the most stressful nights of my entire life, we literally had to walk around the resort in the middle of the night and knock on every single door because they weren't answering their phones. The situation was so bad, it was actually pretty funny. Jeff sent Shelby and I to look for them on the beach, and we were happy to get away from angry hotel guests getting woken up at 2 in the morning.
We were walking on the beach, frantically searching and expressing how annoyed we were at everyone and how stressful the situation was, ect. We looked for about 30 minutes when we decided to head back. All of the sudden it started pouring rain. A good old Thailand downpour. It seriously rains harder there than anywhere I've ever seen, and mother nature was really showing off that night. Shelby and I looked at each other and said "REALLY???." as if it couldn't get any worse.
Then we started laughing. Like really hard. This was too much. It suddenly hit me that this was our last night in this beautiful country. "This sucks, but someday we're going to wish we were right back here on this beach." Shelby said, speaking some serious TRUTH. We both knew it. Our problems were so insignificant and everything was going to work out.
"We need to run in the ocean. " I said. She didn't even hesitate to grab my hand and sprint out as fast as we could, like we had done two weeks earlier for the first time. We ran out there fully clothed and danced and played in the ocean for what seemed like hours. That was a moment where I tried as hard as I could to hold on to it and cherish it. Because Shelby was right. We were going to miss this someday.
LESSON 10: ITS ALL ABOUT MOMENTS.
I went on a trip to Thailand with 8 strangers. And by the end of the trip I would have taken a bullet for any one of them. I've always said that the best people you meet in life are the people you meet at concerts, and on road trips. I couldn't have hand picked a better group of people to travel around the world with. (I mean maybe, like rihanna.) We were in the most beautiful country in the world, living on the edge every second of the day for three straight weeks, seeing and experiencing things people write stories about. And none of it would have been as amazing if I didn't see and experience all of it with all 8 of those people. I hold those three weeks so close to my heart. Sarah, Cooper and I used to have "Family Home Evening" every night, and I would go sit on their bed in their hotel room and we would just talk. For HOURS. Every single night. About life. About love. About memes. About everything. I woudn't trade those moments for anything in the world. I would do anything to be back in Krabi, having Talen give me pep talks and trying not to die on the back of his scooter. Or Cru and I singing high school musical at the top of our lungs the entire ride home from the four seasons. Or telling everyone we met that we were Polygamists from Utah. The warm water, the tuk tuk rides, the awful hostels, the 15 hour plane rides. I would willingly walk back into the crazy scooter lady's shop, alone and unarmed if it meant I could relive those last couple of weeks in Thailand with my favorite people.
So the last lesson I learned while I was in Thailand, is so priceless, not even all the baht in the world could buy this advice.
Life is all about the little moments. And the people you're with when they happen.
The moments that over time, shape you into the person you become. I experienced countless 'moments' on this trip and it wasn't something that I'll look back on someday and wish I had enjoyed more, or that I didn't take for granted. I was so aware the entire time, how special each moment was. I remember we were cruising in Krabi one night, my hair was flying in my face I was holding hands with shelby on the scooter next to me, I was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down my face and flying in the wind behind me. we were going way too fast, and I was so AWARE. I was aware of how perfect life was for those two minutes. I was still the exact same girl, I still had my demons, my struggles, my pain. But for that little moment, everything made sense. This is what I want to remember. This is what life is all about. And that is why I travel.
If you read this far, I'm HONORED!!! My posts are so long, and I try to cut them down but ultimately I need to remember these things so I hope you understand. I love sharing things with you guys, even when I get all deep and dramatic like I did in that last paragraph. Watch my video up top, and leave a comment on my instagram if you read and watched!! It seriously means the WORLD to me to have feedback and I'd love to hear from you guys or answer any questions about videos, advice, or the best curry on the south side of Thailand. After all I'm practically an expert now ;)