Saturday, March 29, 2008

From Phuket to Pai

After finishing my diving course I made may way from Phuket to Patho, a small village near Ranong where I visited an NGO for few days.

The Thai Child Development Foundation is an NGO running by two amazing Dutch women, though I only got to meet one, Ingrid. Talking to Ingrid about how she started this project and how her life was before, it made me realized that is true that everyone has his on destiny and you have to find it. I was very happy to meet Ingrid, she opened a new window in my mind and I learnt a lot from her in only one day! She was so peaceful and very down to the Earth. She has nothing, but this wonderful project which is divided in two areas: education and social. She will start working with the Burmese refugees in Ranong soon, and who knows, may be I join her.

I spent one day with the kids in TCDF teaching some English and playing with them. It reminded me to my old times in Scouts in Burgos. But the different is these kids pay more respect and obey to the elders... These kids thank for everything you do to them, and they trust you and treat you with all their kindness. You can see that they aren't corrupted in a way for all the world things we are used to in the westerns countries. They are PURE. It was so good to see them playing together because they didn't cheat or shout to each other if they loose... they just played by the rules. And they were very happy just for the fact of playing and enjoying themselves...not rewards, not prizes...just fun.

I left Patho on Sunday... and of course I went to Ranong again..but this time I hitchhiked. Some of you may think that I'm crazy for doing it...but, it's a common thing in Thailand...I heard. And yes, it was really good. First it was an old thai man who drove me for few kilometers, and then I stopped at a police point on the road and they stopped a car to drive me to Ranong. So, there you are...quite safe, isn't it?

I made my way to Bangkok by bus... 11 hours!! I wanted to die! Well, to be honest, what I really wanted was to go to the toilet! You have to understand this, it was a 11 hours trip, only ONE stop...and no toilet on the bus... here it's my question...WHO IN THIS WORLD CAN STAY 6 HOURS WITHOUT GOING TO THE LOO?Come on... So, there you are...Miriam made stopped a full coach just because she REALLY REALLY need to go to the toilet. Here you can see how nice Thai people are... because I was the only foreigner on the bus, there were people standing on the corridor, and they all pass the message to the driver ' the farang needs to go to the toilet, please stop the bus'. Very kind... I wonder if this would had happened in Spain.

Once I arrived to Bangkok I realized that I have changed already since I arrived to Thailand a month ago. I could feel that this country is now part of me... and I'm part of it. I didn't feel as an stranger anymore. That was a good feeling.
As I'm so lucky I found this little bar close to the G.H. where there was live music! And the very best thing is...I WAS THE ONLY I got to choose all the songs I wanted to listen to...and they guys were pleased on playing for me. By the way, to show you that I'm not an farang in this country anymore, one of the guys when I came in the bar talked to me in Thai ...there you are! Well, ok, there wasn't so much light...and maybe the guy needs to wear specs... :o)

I stayed only one day in Bangkok... doing some stuff such as unlock my mobile...which was a real pain that I'm not going to describe because it's worthless.

My next step was from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (North Thailand). I had to take the train at night. I arrived to the train station at 6.30pm, the train was at 7.35pm...of course, I didn't buy the ticket in advanced...therefore I had two options: get that train in a seat (14 hours) or wait till 10pm and get a comfortable bed. Obviously, option 2.
While I was waiting for the train, I went to the toilet (I know, there are toilets on the train too, but I just wanted to go to the toilet) and I met Poo. Who is Poo? Well, she works in the NGO I visited during the weekend in Patho. Yes, I know, even in Thailand where I know few people, I get to meet them all the time.

But the best thing was the train... of course, I was the last one on getting in the train...but once I got to my comfy bed I checked who was around: bed below a mid aged lady. In front of me: upper bed: Thai guy, with a very cool tatoo on this left arm and writting in a book. Lower bed: Thai/Chinese guy reading a book. Cool. No kids around...good sleep.

I woke up in the morning with the smell of my lower bed neighbor's breakfast and of course the noise that every train makes. As soon as I got back from the toilet my dear old lady, Cluaa, offered me to sit with her (her bed had a window), and I started a very good conversation in Thai-English. We shared pictures, music, Thai massage in the hands... and to show how wonderful these people are, she called her nephew, who can speak English, to tell me that if I need to stay in someplace in Chiang Mai I could stay with her in her house. Lovely lady.

But, destiny had something else ready for me. It was after one hour talking to Cluaa when he woke up and with a beautiful smile said 'Good morning'. Of course, five minutes later he was the official translator for me and Cluaa. And an hour later he told me that he was on his way to Pai. Cool! That was one of my hot spots in Thailand to visit. First, because there is an NGO over there that I wanted to check, and second because it said to be one of the most beautiful villages in North Thailand. So, we kept on talking and by the time we arrived to Chiang Mai he offered me to go with him to Pai. My new friend name is Yo.
And you know when a person is right or not... and I knew he was a good person... and for some reason he was on my way. So, there I was...on the mini van to Pai with Yo.

Pai is as everybody says...a nice hippie village. Yep, very small, in the middle of a valley. So peaceful that if you are up in one hill you can hear the voices and conversations of the people in the streets. Pai has this vibe that makes people smile in the streets, and be calm.

We arrived in the late afternoon...almost sunset. He lives in a beautiful tea tree house. Not, it's not a house in the a house made of tea tree! And he has three neighbors... Hoi and Get and Connor. Of course, Connor is English. The 3 houses are in front of a garlic field, and but the time we arrived there were some people finishing to collect the garlic...good picture. Yo offered me to stay with him in his house for a few days. It's amazing how hosted people are in this country. I decided to stay with him and his friends. If there is a rule in a traveler's book is never reject the opportunity of meeting local people and living with them in their houses. So, I felt really happy and lucky.
With Yo I had amazing conversations about Thailand, Buddishm, music and his dream...going to England! How funny is that... he's been working hard and saving money to go to England, and I've been doing the same but to come here. The big difference is that for me to get a visa is really easy and for him is a real pain.

As I said, the destiny had something for me... because after a wonderful day with Yo and his friends, I got bad news from London. A very good friend of my friends Emma, Fran, Chrissy, Lou... Marie died on her sleep. I felt really sad about it. And yep, when you are far from the people you love and you know they are suffering, the pain is even worse. But, a kind person was besides me... Yo. And he was so nice and very supportive during the whole day. Although I didn't know Marie very well, it is always sad when you hear that someone so young and full of life dies. I was listening to her music that night, and just thinking about my friends back in London. Hope the suffer disappears soon, and only the good memories stay with all of you, guys.
Yo explained me that when someone dies what you do it's going to the temple and make a donation to the monks, so they will pray for the soul of that person. And that's what I did. I'm not very religious, but in that moment it was a good thing to be a bit closer to the pain of my friends. So, we went to Pai's temple and I did my donation. Then, we watched the sunset. I love sunsets.... and this one was very special, I dedicated to Marie... and to all the people who loved her. That's what I do when someone dies.

Next day we went to a water fall... very cool. When we arrived there was only Yo and me. And it was very cool to be there, in the middle of the water fall (sitting in a rock) and just listening to the water. After that, we went to a Guest house resort where Yo used to work. There it was Ben, an English man that has lived all his life in, the only English thing he has is his accent. We were having lunch with him and his little kid. And again, watching sunset... you must see sunsets here...where the sun gets red and it goes down to hide into the mountains...Just spectacular.

What's one of the worst things it can happen to someone that is traveling? Getting sick... and the best thing? Having someone to look after you. I've been one month in Thailand already, and I thought I had already passed the critical time to adapt myself to the food, the climate and all that...but not. It was the other night when I got really sick. My stomach was really painful, and I couldn't stop throwing up. Once again, Yo was there for me. Looking after me the whole night, staying awake all the time just to make sure that I had all I needed. And, not only him,but also his friends Get and Hoi. The next day he had to leave to Bangkok, and he offered me to stay in his place and Get and Hoi looked after me. I can't explain how wonderful these people are. They only know me for few hours and they have looked after me, supported me, taking me to wonderful places in Pai and treating me as a good friend. I just hope that if Yo gets to England, and he goes to London, as I'm not going to be there, you, my friends, look after him as he was me, because he really deserves it. He is the kindest person I've ever met.

Now, I can say that this life is not only about money, or sex, or religion, or race... I do believe in something else...I believe in people's heart. I do believe that kindest is something that is inside us and you choose if you want to give it to others or not. I also believe that what GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND.

I left Pai this afternoon, but for sure I'll be back soon. I have to cook Spanish food for Get, Hoi, Yo and the rest of the gang. Probably I'll be back by the Thai New Year in April... also known as the 'water battle'.

Now, I'm going to Chiang Rai, where I will meet Jean again. Let's see what the future brings.
The journey continues...

I'll post pictures soon.
Take care.
Loads of love.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Primera ONG

Desde que la ONG en la que se suponia que iba hacer voluntariado decidio no admitir mas voluntarios por un tiempo, he estado buscando otros proyectos. Manana voy a visitar la primera ONG que contacte que esta cerquita de Ranong, donde estoy ahora.

Es una ONG que se dedica a hacer proyectos con las escuelas que estan en la zona. Voy a probar a conocer y si me gusta igual me quedo. Pero me gustaria ir al Norte y ver que esta pasando por alli, y que ONGs hay.

Por lo demas, el viaje transcurre con normalidad. Con muchisimo nota que las temperaturas estan subiendo y que dentro de poco empezara la epoca de lluvias.

Hoy me he encontrado con una pareja de espanoles en el autobus de Phuket a Ranong. Hacia 2 semanas que no me encontraba a nadie espanol...asi que me ha hecho ilusion.

Desde hoy y hasta dentro de unos dias estare incomunicada, donde esta la ONG no hay Internet. Asi que si no sabeis de mi estos dias, don't worry, estoy bien.

Creo que ya se pueden poner comentarios en mis articulos... hasta ahora no se podia, pero ya lo he arreglado.

Las fotos estan en Facebook.

Muchos besos y feliz Semana Santa.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dive or not to Dive

Last Sunday I left the wonderful island where I was with Jean and Angela to come to Phuket to give a try to dive. Everybody says that is great, and Thailand is a good place to get your PADI certificate. So, I arrived to Phuket village on Monday...horrible town. There is no much to do, and it hasn't got a beach...but I found a nice Guest House called Phuket Backpackers thanks to an American guy that I met in the bus station.

Last Monday was the first day I felt a bit lonely since I started traveling...I don't know why, but I missed a lot London, well...nor the city itself but my friends. But I think this is part of the journey too.. and it means that I'm passing from one life to another. When you start missing something is because you are not anymore in that situation or in that place. So, here we go...I'm not only physically far away from London and Spain, but I'm also getting farther in a mental way. And that's good, because I'm starting to be aware of my new life environment and my new routine.

I came to Kata Beach last Tuesday looking for a diving course...and by chance I met Mel, a half American half Singapore girl who happened to be a diver instructor here in Phuket. She was so nice and gave me ride to a dive shop to book my course. Then, she left and we exchanged numbers.

I started my diving course last Wednesday, my instructor is a nice Canadian girl... young and strong. Very clear when she gives me any instructions to dive. I like her, she know how to teach.
The dive thing is ok...I can't say anything else so far as I haven't been able to dive in open water yet just because I had my left ear blocked, so I can't equalize properly. But, I have to say that as a good Cancer I'm not afraid of water and I really enjoy being down there...and no problems at all with the regulator or the breathing... I feel very comfy . And I'm looking forward to complete my course. The doctor says today that I can start diving again being quite carefully. But the diving shop hasn't opened yet... let's see if I can finish my PADI course today or tomorrow.

I also met Le Trois Garcons... o qui... David, Julien and Fabian. I met them in the GH. where I'm staying at the moment. They come from Switzerland. from the French part...and they were on holidays. I had a fun night with them in the Beach club...which is a bar with a swimming pool in the middle, where Le trois garcons where playing and dancing. The bartenders just loved them so much!! And the forans were taking pictures of them all the time. Then, they tried to speak Spanish... well, David is Spanish actually, but was born in Switzerland and has lived there all his life. But Fabien and Julien where trying their best to speak Spanish...and they were like a's really nice to be with friends that they have such a good connection between them, I could see that they have known each other for loooong time and they really love each other, despite the fact that they were taking the piss all the time...boys!
I had a great conversation good Fabien on Thursday night...he's been traveling a lot, and was volunteering in the Burmese frontier eight years ago. He told me that he realized that in this world everything is about money...well, I already have the hope that is not like that. But, that's the reason why I'm doing this find the truth...or at least to have more knowledge about this world, then have my own opinion about the truth.

So, since the guys left I have spent two days in the beach...doing absolutely nothing...just resting, listening to music (great stuff in my ipod...thanks to the Brownlow guys!!!!) and getting tan. And I can tell you that now I'm really tan...almost as tan as when I came back from Greece last summer.

And last night Mel, the instructor girl, invited to a party at her friend's house... it took me a while to find the address...well, I can't lie to you... I GOT COMPLETELY LOST! And, I walked for almost 2 hours to find the house...I was there only once...the first day I met Mel, and also at night you all know 'todos los gatos son pardos'. But finally I made it...and I found such a nice bunch of people!!! The house is like the Brownlow family house...everyone hang around...and there are always people staying...funny, they have now a Japanese girl visiting... although she is lovely she hasn't got Natchi's smile.
So, there I was...with many Americans, an Scottish girl, a Welsh guy, Aussies.... and some Thai guys.
Most of them they work here as diver instructors or teachers. But there was a couple that just hang around... thai vibe.

I was talking to Carol for a while about volunteering...she told me about a place in Laos, a farm, a very special place to volunteer. I may go there for a month or two to see how it's like. Well, I haven't mentioned yet that I'm not going to Childlife anymore, they are doing an internal reorganization and they don't want more volunteers for a while. Therefore I'm looking for other projects. Angela and Jean have been doing some research for me and I think I'll be able to find something the next few weeks. In fact yesterday when I talked to Carol she said that there shouldn't be any problem to find a place either in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia. So, I'm quite positive at the moment.

Well, so now I'm in Kata beach, probably I will get my PADI certificate tomorrow and I'll be heading North by Tuesday.

Thanks for all your messages and emails... I'm really happy to know that I have very good friends that love me as much as I do love them.

Loads of love.
Muchos besos,


Friday, March 7, 2008

Thai Peace

It's been a week or so since I arrived to Thailand. Bangkok was so shocking for me... I didn't expect such a big is a complete chaos!! But once I got my feet out of the G.H. without the rucksack and in soft clothes...then, it was much easier.

Bangkok is like a big market...everything is for selling...and everything happens in the streets... Even women sweing in their Singer machines... A lot of food...all kind of food...meat, sweet, vegetables...everything! I haven't tried all yet...but I will. I've been very careful with the food so far, just trying not to be sick the first few, then my body will get use to the food and I could eat everything. You know how much I like food... :0)

I visited the Grand Palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddha...quite impressive...very nice. I really liked the art and colourfull... Chinatown! Wow...I think is the biggest chinesse city outside China... you can get a good tasty chinesse food there for few baths.

But if you really want to see a big market..then go to Chatujak on the weekend...there you can buy from clothes, to paints, food, carpets, and beautiful dogs! It's a very lively market.

I have met quite few people so far...some Spaniards...really nice people, from Barcelona but living in Ibiza...they gave few tips for Laos...and a meditation place in an island (I can't remember the name now...but, don't worry I wrote it down on my notebook!). And thena I met a French guy...this was funny. I met him three times in the same, the last time we met we decided to have a drink's pretty unsual to meet someone for three times in Bangkok. It was really nice to meet him. He's been travelling for a year in South East Asia and South America...and now he's going to spend few months in Burma...he says it's a wonderful country...maybe I go.

And about Thai...well... I think by the time I leave I may be able to say hello, bye, thank you and how are you with a very good pronunciation...but far from understand anything!! It's so difficult! But I like to listen to them when they talk...

I'm now in an island in the Soouth...beautiful spot...few people, good food, not much electricity...only one computer with Internet and nice people. I have spent my days reading...eating, swimming....SLEEPING!! Just a few days I'll be back to BKK and the heading to North to volunteer.

I met Jean and Angela 3 days ago...and it's been so nice to be with friends...but I'm also happy on my own. This is something that I'm enjoying a lot from my journey...being on my own.

Due to the basic resources that this island has...I can't post my pictures...but I will do it soon.

Loads of love.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Desde Tailandia...

INCREIBLEEEE!! esto es todo lo que puedo decir de Bangkok.
Es totalmente diferente a cualquier otra ciudad o sitio en el que haya estado. Es caotica, sucia, tranquila, desorbitante, se mezcla lo moderno, con lo antiguo, la adoracion al rey, los canales, el rio enorme, los coches, los tuk/tuk, los turistas, comida en la calle, por el dia, por la duerme...sonrisas, manos que se juntan a la altura de la cara para hacer una semi inclinacion con ellas diciendo 'hola, adios, gracias'.
Puedo estar horas sentada en un banco con los ojos bien abiertos, para no perder detalle de las vidas que pasan por delante. Todo se vende, todo se compra, todo pasa en la calle...en los mercados que se esconden del sol abrasador, en esas callejuelas que no tienen fin y que dan a calles principales donde se coloca un horno, una mesa y comen... que rica esta la comida tailandesa!

Puedes ir de un lado a otro de la ciudad en tuk-tuk, en taxi, por el cielo en el Skytrain, por el canal en una barca a motor...en el metro mas moderno que he visto hasta ahora. Puedes coger un bus con aire acondicionado, sin aire acondicionado... lo tienes todo. Bicis, motos, furgonetas...los semaforos son parte de la decoracion de las calles, pero no tienen ninguna funcion... cuando llegas el primer dia estas parado durante una hora en frente de uno esperando a que se ponga en verde, luego te das cuenta que es cuestion de cruzar...ya pararan. Espero. Sino me recogereis hecha pedazos.

Los atardecederes son espectaculares...el cielo se pone rojo, hay como niebla de la gente lleva mascaras a lo Michael Jackson y cuando cae la noche Bangkok sigue su ritmo...gente, comida, turistas, musica, prositutas, alocohol..

El mercado de Chatujak (perdonad mi spelling) es inmenso. Se vende de todo...hasta cachorros de las razas mas exoticas que puedes imaginar. Caminando por el mercado me encontre al primer espanol del Barcelona, of course.

Y por supuesto ya he tenido mis primeras concidencia...fue el domingo cuando iba para el mercado, vi a un chico occidental en la parada del autobus...el cogio el bus, yo me quede fuera del bus por pava...pero luego le volvi a ver en el mercado...un mercado enooorme, como cualquier zoco de Marruecos...y finalmente por la tarde fui hasta Patngong en la otra punta de la ciudad...y ahi estaba mi amigo.
Encontrarse tres veces a una persona en un dia en BKK bien merece sentarse a tomar algo y al menos presentarse...frances, viajero....ojos azules. De nombre Renan. Muy divertido...un tio muy rastas, ni rollos espirituales, ni na...simplemente, escucha, aprende...y me dijo un par de cosas que no olvidare durante este viaje...Come despacio y la otra me la guardo para mi.

Desde el martes estoy en una isla al sur de Tailandia, me encontre con Jean y Angela y estamos en un bungalow precioso mirando al mar... Comer, dormir, leer, escuchar el mar, escuchar los miles de sonidos del bosque, pensar...disfrutar del silencio. Es una isla tranquila, apartada, preciosa...con gente maravillosa. Eso si, los mosquitos se han cebado conmigo...y me han acribillado...dice Jean que tengo que dejar de comer chocolate...uuuy! Prefiero vivir con el Afterbite pegado al cuerpo que dejar el chocolateeeee!!

En unos dias iremos a Bangkok y de ahi rumbo al norte... Mae Sai espera.

Me encantaria poner fotos...pero estoy en una isla donde la electricidad e internet son algo muy escaso...asi que subire las fotos cuando llegue a BKK.

Mil besos...espero que todos esteis bien.