So, number one on my bucket list is to go to Thailand with my daughter, the honorary travel agent extraordinaire because that place kinda scares the bejeebers out of me and she plans everything. Wanted to see how other international B&Bs fare and perhaps connect with some, learn their tricks, meet other Canadian travelers and hype my business, and especially to shoot a thank you video to all my international clients from Airbnb.
You're all familiar with the Annual Christmas card? It's full of glowing perfect families doing magically happy events, their kids getting only straight A's in life? God himself comes to them for advice on how to make the world more perfect? Well, as Christmas is fast approaching, I will give you two stories of the same road trip to Thailand to see my daughter and spread the word about the B&B and to take Thai cooking classes and massage courses. The story is very late due to much traveling and many activities and so this is the first story...
Hi everyone, I just came back from Thailand and it was amazing. It was hot and sunny every single day but one but the rain was so refreshing we all loved it. We played in waterfalls, hiked the Thai grand canyon, spent half a day playing with and washing elephants, had our first fish spa were the fish nibble at your feet, received Thai massages almost every day, took an amazing Thai cooking class and now I am a chef, and then went on to add Thai massage to my repetoire. Is there anything I can't master? We had the wonderful fortune of being in Chang Mai when both the spectacular lantern festival was on AND the Lei Ping festival where they place flower offerings in the water. Both, so magical. Finally, we scuba dived and took to it like the proverbial "fish in water". Every moment with my grown 20 something daughter was delightful, full of laughter, memories and so magical. Merry Christmas one and all.......Cathy from Spoiled Rotten Bed and Breakfast.
Now do you want to hear ...The Rest of the Story?
Try to imagine being invited overseas to see a daughter who has been MIA travelling in Asia for five months; you miss her terribly and she presents a flight of only $500 to go visit her while I'm on a somewhat fixed income and the season is low. Well, after the excitement settles, and the research is done, you realize that it's going to be so much more, but you can't get the idea out of your head now because Thailand is still #1 on the bucket list and you miss her terribly. The flight may be pricier but it's for a good cause because she is on a hostel budget and you'd like to treat her occasionally. I'm learning that nothing is ever that easy or that cheap in life so I pour myself a glass of wine and pay for the flight.
Oh I know there will be compromises in where we stay and how often we will eat grunge food, or how many puppy dog faces I can endure. At the end, we both hemorrhaged money, her maxing out the $13/day travel budget, (I mean seriously, who can travel on $13/day in 5 star resorts), and me refusing to live in poverty one moment longer; poverty by my standards is settling for no air conditioning in 35-40 weather and not seeing the sights I came so far to see. And so I was rewarded with memories and an empty wallet full of baht invoices that after calculating the conversion, is pennies in the first world. She knows that I know that she knows more Thai than I do and she is in charge of my happiness but don't tell any New Agers you will meet, and they are many on the roads in Buddhist land, lined with monks and hippies.
Next, you realize you haven't really thought this through carefully enough. This is your first offspring just fresh out of being a teenager who is still in the young adult stage, still finding herself and you are going to spend 17 days with her??? As I reach for a larger glass of wine, I reassure myself it's still for a good cause. You never know when she is coming back. Sure, your travels will be full of all nighter buses (dear Lord), stopping at 3 am rest stops for lunch, in still 30+ steamy weather that is never going to let up, encounter no toilet paper in the standing-on-the-toilet floor-seat and missing the mark on more than one occasion, or worse, wrecking your clothes. Oh it's a joy for this 55 year old hot flashin' menopausal B&B owner, and there is no end in sight.
You see where this is going? No more Christmas spin job, cover up. BTW, Merry Blazin' Christmas.
It's travel day, and a little ironic because I finally have my new tablet on the day before I leave and I have no idea how to use it to entertain myself. It's merely a 3-4 pound doorstop/anchor.
I will be in transit for 25 hours but I'm one of the few people I know who enjoys institutional food like in a hospital and planes. I anxiously await its arrival and then I turn the Hoover on and inhale it, no matter how many meals I have already eaten that day but I will pay for this lack of willpower. Your body knows when it's on vacation... don't kid yourself. It's been listening to you talk about this vacation ad nauseum but if you listen carefully, you will hear your body chuckling evilly as it begins commencement of shutting down and turning whatever you cram into it into concrete starting from when you arrive at the airport 'til days after you return so you might as well resign yourself to this and just eat but don't forget your buffet pants.
Waiting for my flight. I realize I have such a long haul ahead of me and I'm not sure I will ever see food again. Must conserve my snacks. Already it's been 20 minutes and I've run through almost everything I brought. If you've never traveled thru different time zones, across the ocean, it really screws with you. The airline staff have you for 14 hours. You leave at 3:30 pm on one day and arrive a couple of hours later at 5pm the next day. I got supper at Odarkhundred and they told us to close the windows even though its still a bright and sunny day. Really screwing with my mind and the shades must remain closed until hours after the sun has risen so as not to awaken the sleeping mobs who, if they know anything about jetlag, should be trying to stay awake and acclimatize to the 12 hours difference. We get off the plane and it's dark AGAIN so I'm really sun deprived but don't you worry; Bangkok will fix that.
In Beijing, I met a fellow Canadian traveler who agreed with my idea that he should host us as couchsurfers while in Chang Mai. Sadly, I sent many emails and none were returned. My daughter patiently asked, "did you ask to freeload or did he offer?" She is all wise and annoying. And then I remembered that I forgot to pick up the thank you small containers of maple syrup from Canada that daughter asked for (she asks for so little) so I purchased 5 slightly larger and grossly overpriced ones from the Beijing airport, of all places. While wrapping each one, the clerk looked at me skeptically and asked with attitude, "don't they make these in Canada where you are from?" Doh!! The utter shame of it all as I added these 50 pound glass weights each to my already heavy but manageable sack.
And did you know China blocks all social media on the internet? Didn't matter, there was no possible way to get Wifi from ANYONE! Worst airport on the planet to kill time. Longest 6 hour layover in my life but a clean brightly lit place. I did learn how to say thank you because everyone was so polite on the flight and I verified it with a fellow Chinese passenger.
After seeing her MOM sign in a line of taxi drivers in Bangkok, I proudly tried out my new gift for languages and Daughter had the audacity to laugh hysterically saying, "Mom, you are a Canadian saying thank you in Chinese to a Thai person." I hate learning languages and offspring but it's so wonderful and weird seeing a bratty spawn of mine greeting me in another part of the world, even if it is for a 3rd world vacation. And I can't fault her the mocking tone; she comes by it honestly thru her mother's genes.
The next 24-36 hours were rough, let me tell you. Since the rail line was closed minutes earlier, we had to take a cab and after many bad starts, and drivers turning around and refusing to take us after all, we were dropped off sort of kind of near our hostel. It was a hike. The heat is crushing and while Chang Mai is large, it only has 2 million people. Bangkok on the other hand is small and has 14 million sardines, and they are all on the streets sweating along side of me, hawking their wares while their raw meats sit in the sun with flies feasting. What 7th level of hell have I entered? Good segue for the hostel I CHOSE! She suggested some A/C ones I would have loved but no, you know me, I don't need anything fancy.
The Overstay Hostel arose from hell, providing A/C in the cheap dorms and since we "upgraded to a more expensive private room", (oh that phrase amuses me), we discovered the room is neither an upgrade nor private nor air conditioned. The curtains only covers much of the window so changing is next to impossible in this crematorium which sadly is not hot enough to kill the bugs. Sigh! Right up there with the Bates Motel in Texas years ago. When viewed on line, it was artistic. Every guest is encouraged to write on the walls their passages and drawings. It is this creativity that I liked enough to suggest we stay there instead of the fancier ones. Daughter was over the top, dying to go but knew her mother better than mother knew mother. It's killed me that I would have to return again one more time to this fine establishment to pick up some luggage. I have not been on the road for five months like she has but hell is still hell. Stop laughing. Daughter will probably volunteer there one day as she thinks the place is charming and has a "great vibe at this hippy grunge hotel". The apple DOES fall far from the tree in this case but I digress. The room door locks from the outside and the doors are 6" off the ground. The cats runs the place so they keep slipping under the door and lounging on my fetid bed which has no blankets. It's hotter than Hades in this room but I am blessed with a sleeping bag liner made of silk to crawl into so bed bugs don't join me. The satin is sweltering but urgently necessary for my peace of mind. As I brush my teeth, a cockroach runs over the sink- I scream but I'm really not bothered by them, just surprised. It is here that I am blessed with a unique shower/toilet room. In Thailand, most bathrooms are wet, meaning there is no toilet paper, just a "bum gun" which is like a kitchen sink vegetable hose. It's impossible, I think to clean yourself without soaking EVERYTHING in the room and then stepping in it. There are no hooks or shelves and the ceiling tiles, or lack thereof are decor horror movies are made of. The shower is directly over the toilet; not quite the luxury this princess has been used to in her two person first world country soaker tub. Of course there is no one to complain to as they are all twenty something and think this is normal. In the kitchen, by the bar, are the multiple kitty litters that are steaming in this always 30+ weather and vile smells rise from them. Not sure how often they are cleaned but I certainly couldn't be cooking my meal in this proudly Vegetarian shared kitchen. Oh when did I become a Holiday Inn camper? I can't say I didn't know this when we booked but there are drums and musical instruments in the bar below our deluxe room and people randomly play up until 5:30 am. It's ok though because the roosters have been crowing for an hour already. I know, I know, I sound like such a complainer but I'm not. These are just observations by a saint of a wise older traveler.
At one point in the day of wandering and eating off street carts, I may have casually inquired where our next destination was and how soon I could run screaming from this place that no one rates well on any travel site. Daughter, being quite intuitive, and probably hating the congestion herself but too proud to say so, agreed to our rushing like mad women back to the paid for room (who cared at this point), furiously packing up, getting out of Dodge and just making the red-eye bus to Pai, with moments to spare. Pai is a heavenly quaint town which can only be accessed thru hellish winding Tofino like roads, always under monstrous construction. Minivan taxis have their own siren as we pass every blind corner, and there were hours of blind corners and whining alarms. Of course there was a language barrier and we had paid for the rip off bus to leave us in the middle of nowhere to be picked up at some point. Oh, it wasn't so bad, I consoled my daughter. She's such a fussy traveler. I learned later that she had taken two gravol and slept the 12 hours uninterrupted. One gravol is enough to put me out, but it was rough. We arrived and walked thru the quaint streets out towards the country to Join the Pai Circus!
What I learned from traveling to Thailand:
1. I'm too old for this shit. :) and
2. Bed and Breakfasts don't exist here. They call them guesthouses and they are nothing like in North America. Business trip gone awry; not a great start.
3. I had to reassure my daughter that it's all good and she should stop complaining so much. We're staying at an actual Circus!
|Our deluxe room. No blankets, bathroom or a/c.|
|Taxis that don't close their back doors so anyone can fall off the benches. Scary.|
|Country roads were always under construction and very winding.|
|The on the floor toilet without a seat. I never knew which way to face. Never any toilet paper.|