Sunday, July 10, 2011


So I'm sitting at a laundramat in Chiang Mai, Thailand doing my laundry for the first time since I've started my travels. Tomorrow we head out on an epic three day journey to get to Laos. It's going to take approximately three buses and two boats for us to cross the border and make to Luang Prabang, Laos. Should be interesting!!

Hera and I are just wrapping up a two week trot through pretty much all of Thailand. We started way down south in Phuket and then took a 14 hour bus ride to Bangkok. Then after one night in Bangkok we took a 17 hour sleeper train to the beautiful northern city of Chiang Mai. It feels like we have done so much. We went snorkeling, laid out by the beach, laid out by a pool, went to a national park, took a cooking class, explored each city we were in by foot, went to a lady boy gogo bar, took a tuk tuk that drove on the other side of the rode (meaning opposite of traffic), and ate the best street food in the world. We have done incredible things and it still feels like our journey is just beginning but what I want to tell you about is what, in my mind, is probably the most amazing thing you could do in Thailand... Visit the Elephant Nature Park here in Chiang Mai.

Hera and I just spent the last two days feeding, walking around with, bathing, and learning more about elephants. This experience is still rocking my world and I really did not want to leave.
As many of you may know, here in Thailand the elephant is worshipped and pretty much put on every and anything that represents Thailand. People here have elephants like they have pet dogs. Literally though, elephants are put under the same category as livestock (ie, cattle). Any harm done to an elephant has minimal consequences. Many elephants are used for shows, riding/trekking through the jungle, begging in the streets, and formally used for logging. Little do most know is that a majority of these elephants are treated so terribly. In order to train these elephants they go through an excrutiating process called "crushing" which is an appropriate name because they literally crush the spirit of the elephant in order to have it listen to its owners.
Okay, I know, blah blah blah right? I could talk about this forever and I'd love to do it in person but I'll cut to the chase.
There is this Elephant Sanctuary that was started up by one woman. She takes on all and every kind of handicapped elephants. We got to play with ones that have broken backs, legs that were blown by land mines while logging, blind, mentally unstable, and really, everything across the board. They were all this way due to mistreatment by their owners in the past.. This place is seriously incredible. It is full of wonderful people and it is a place that is truly filled with compasssion.

I kind of have to cut this short because my time is running out on the computer and my laundry is almost done. But after leaving that sanctuary my heart feels a little more full and I hope that I could return again to spend a little more of an extended period there.
Moral of the story is that you should think twice before mounting an elephant or paying money to the owner to see it do silly tricks.

ahh.. i am so in love with elephants!

I will leave you with some pictures. The first two is actually from Malaysia but the rest is Thailand.

pad see ewe later, crystal

Monday, July 4, 2011

Malazin' Around...

Okay not really. Malaysia was kind of everything BUT lazin' around.
But first I must apologize because this post is going to lack pictures and it's kind of late seeing that I'm half done with Thailand now. But honestly, you think I really want to sit around in front of a computer while I'm in a beautiful new country? (actually, I don't mind it because the internet places are always air conditioned.. and man is it HOT here)

So Malaysia!! It was finally time to meet up with Hera to start our adventures. Our first bridge that we had to cross was meeting each other in the airport. I was arriving about 9 hours before her and we had no form of communication besides a "okay... I'll see you at the airport.. I hope"
I arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at around 9:30 PM and so I had to pretty much lurk around the airport until 7:30 AM when Hera arrives. I went in an out of sleep on an airport bench and finally it was time for Hera's flight to arrive. I stood at the arrival area where all the friends and families reunite happily. While anxiously waiting at the front of the crowd, I was picturing Hera and my reunification. I imagined myself seeing her first and yelling "HERA!" while waving and smiling. There would be squeeling and hugging and just an utter relief between the both of us that we found each other with no problems...
So I wait and wait and pace back and forth because I see no sign of Hera. It's probably already been two hours since her plane has arrived. At this point I'm kind of starting to get a litttttlleee nervous. Something doesn't really seem right so I awkwardly ask some airport person.. "Is this where AirAsia arrives?" and of course she says no and tells me that there is a WHOLE DIFFERENT airport that is 20 minutes away. And as soon as I started cursing to myself I hear a, "CRYSTAL!" heehhehahaahaaaaa! Hera found me!

Haha anyway, Malaysia was fast. We only gave ourselves five days in Malaysia which only reassured the fact that you should never book stuff in advance, just in case you want a few more days in a place that you fall in love with. We hit a different city every night that we were there and it felt like it was go, go, go. Our last night was on this amazing island called Palau Tioman.. I totally got my burn on. :)

Right now we are passing through Bangkok to get to Chiang Mai. We are meeting tons of travelers that are putting Hera and my two months to shame- it's amazing! We are both healthy and well (for the most part) and I am truly getting my fill of curries, Pad Thai, PadSeeEwe and TomKha... I think I could bleed coconut milk now. But that's for my next blog about Thailand. I will try to put up pictures.

Pad See Ewe Later!