Update: so I'm technically uploading this on the day after arriving in Laos, because my website and wifi are deciding to give me a hard time. But I did write it on the train yesterday, though.
The hardest part about travelling is definitely all the goodbyes. I just said my goodbyes to Will and Axel yesterday evening and boarded the night bus from Phuket to Bangkok. Now I'm on the 11-hour train to Nong Khai (a small town at the border of Laos). For the first time in 6 weeks, I'm alone again and I'm not quite sure how it works anymore. A lot has happened since I wrote the last time and I don't think I've even had two minutes to myself in the last four weeks. And although it is hard being on my own again, I'm also ready to get going now. And hopefully, if everything goes to plan, I'll be in Laos the next time I write.
First, let me try and rewind the completely crazy last few weeks.
The last three weeks at the permaculture farm already seems like light-years away. My days were filled with lots of work, hours of massaging, good food, too much rice wine, many late nights by the lake or in the warehouse, flamenco classes with Sophia, water fights with Will and Eden, so many goodbyes and hellos, card games and much much more.
On two different occasions, I ended up soaking wet and laughingly chasing Eden around after he got his fingers in the garden hose (with some help from Will). It's very hard getting a hyper naked two-year-old to put on dry clothes when you're dripping wet yourself.
On the 27th of June, I had to say goodbye to Marco, which was hard since he had become a really good friend. And on the 28th of June Carol and Julius left as well leaving only Axel, Will and I from the original team. We would meet a lot of good people throughout the next weeks though. On the 28th and 29th of June, a Buddhist monk came to visit the farm in preparation for Nathalie's 40th birthday. I ended up talking to him quite a lot and I think he took quite a fancy to me - we talked about cultural differences, Buddhism, his work, my belief and much more. He was really incredibly sweet and before leaving he blessed me with a bracelet and gave me two blessed gifts. I think I managed to befriend a monk! On the 30th of June Nathalie turned 40 years old. It was also a very stressful day for me. I made a KETO chocolate cake in the morning and of course everything went wrong: it was bitter because of the stevia, the frosting seperated because I didn't have a proper mixer, there wasn't really enough sun for the oven to bake and by the time I was ready to serve the cake my nose was bleeding (from accidentally ripping my piercing out when trying to wash my face clear of exploded buttercream), I was sweating and had gotten chocolate and cannabis oil on my white shirt. Poor Axel had to witness my multiple breakdowns throughout the morning. The cake turned out alright at the end though, Nathalie was happy and all the volunteers, the family and the guest gathered to sing happy birthday as I carried in the cake. It was a lovely day and in the evening the whole family (even Nathalie) came to the volunteer area for a cozy barbeque. Multiple of my afternoons I spent with Sophia by the lake, where she taught me flamenco to music on my phone and in a flamenco skirt her dad had accidentally bought too big. It was a lot of fun and Sophia and I quickly got close.
A new girl, Mariana from Brazil, arrived to the farm on the 1st of July and we quickly adopted her into our family as if she had been at the farm from the start. On the 3rd of July, we danced salsa and samba all night in the warehouse. On the 5th of July, we had yet another warehouse party, this time in honour of Claudia and Benjamin (from Argentina) leaving the farm, drinking rice wine and whiskey and dancing to music from all the different nationalities, which was hilarious. Claudia and Benjamin left on the 6th, but we weren't quite ready to say goodbye yet, so Axel and Will went with them to Chiang Mai in the morning and then when Mariana and I had finished work in the late afternoon we got Manat to drive us to the white cap on his motorbike. We had all planned to go partying in Chiang Mai in the evening since Marco was back in town as well. And that night I really started believing in signs from the universe. First, the white cap didn't come, then five different grap cars didn't come and we gave up for the time being and went to the Saturday night market in the village for dinner first. When we then finally got a grab much later Mariana dropped all of her money on the street and we had to drive back and find all the scattered notes. It really seemed like the universe didn't want us to go to Chiang Mai. But we finally got there, where Axel and Will were waiting for us. We went to a bar, where we played a loooong game of pool - Axel and I were ridiculously bad at it, but we all had fun. Marco showed up after a few hours - it was so good to see him again! - and we went dancing at Zoe in Yellow, just about the only club in Chiang Mai. We danced the night away, got too drunk, only saw Benjamin and Claudia for a second, but we had such a good night. That is, until I realized my phone and wallet was gone. And then Will realized his wallet was gone too. It was a pretty shitty end to a really good night. I cancelled my card and we took a grab back to the farm. I had a horrible hangover the next day, only amplified by the fact that I had accidentally cancelled the wrong card the night prior and had to spend the day getting everything sorted out. It is what it is though and I was lucky to be at the farm so I could get everything sorted out without having to stress and surrounded by really good people all ready to help. And when I had gotten over the worst of my hangover Will and I rode the tandem bike to the local market in the afternoon to buy the volunteers' vegetables and fruit for for the next couple of days - we had a lot of fun both on the ride and at the market. The next day Will and I went to Chiang Mai in the afternoon to go to the turist police station and getting everything sorted. And in the evening I got a mail from a Danish policeman working in Chiang Mai, informing me that my wallet had been turned in. So of course Will, Mariana, Axel and I had to celebrate with rice wine and late night talks by the lake, getting tipsy and going to bed way too late. That night Will also convinced Mariana and I to go with him and Marco to the full moon party in South Thailand on the 18th of July, and over the next few days we managed to convince Axel to come as well. On the 9th of July an Italian guy, Fabio, and a Bulgarian woman, Zlatina arrived and we quickly befriended both of them, welcoming them with an evening by the lake on the 10th. I spent my days working hard and the massages became increasingly difficult and exhausting in the last week as I discovered some deep pain on Nathalie's sciatic nerve. I thankfully managed to unravel the pain just before leaving, and on my last working day, Nathalie was feeling almost entirely pain-free and better than she had in months, which was a really rewarding way to leave. Most days Milky (the extremely aggressive male goat on the farm) managed to escape and everyone had to try and catch him, which always proved a challenge, since he was mainly the one doing the chasing. It made for a lot of good laughs though. On one of my last days on the farm I made a blueberry cake and tea and went for a lovely picnic with Sophia, Will and Mariana under the mango tree by the greenhouse. Small moments like that one is probably what I'm gonna remember most from the farm. On mine, Mariana, Axel and Will's last working day I finally caved in and made Will, Mariana and Axel the breakfast in bed the boys had been begging for for weeks. Nathalie was really energetic and made a delicious lunch for all the volunteers. I made vegan burgers for dinner that quickly became a crowd favourite and we had our last warehouse party with Fabio and Yassin having a DJ-off. It was a really good day.
The following day (on our day off) Mariana, Axel and Will all came with me to Chiang Mai, on our way in the white cap saying goodbye to Nico and Juliana from France. We went to the police station and got my wallet back, then to the mall to get me a new phone and SIM-card and then spent the whole day walking around, in the evening taking the last white cap back to the village, having a drink at the local bar and meeting up with the others at the Saturday Night Market.
I walked around with Sophia, trying to spend as much time with her as possible before leaving.
And then Will, Axel, Mariana and I celebrated our very last night at the farm by drinking rice wine by the lake and talking. It was a really nice ending to the five weeks there. On Sunday we packed our things, cleaned our rooms and tents and said goodbye to everyone. Xavier and Nathalie thanked me a lot and I gave Yayai the biggest hug. And then we were off to the white cap in the back of Manat's pickup truck with Eden and Sophia. It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to those two. Sophia kept saying how much she would miss me on the ride there and when we hugged goodbye both of them cried. I can't imagine how hard it must be for those children constantly getting close to people only to watch them leave a few weeks later. It was hard saying goodbye to Nathalie and the children, after having really become close to them. But it was also the right time to leave the farm, and it was much easier to leave together with the others rather than alone. In Chiang Mai, we checked in to our room, met up with Will's friend Josh, stayed by the pool and later met up with Fabio and Zlati, who came to party with us for the last time. This time we left everything at the hostel before going to Zoe in Yellow. We had a really good night, and by the time all the clubs closed at midnight, we still weren't ready to go home. Luckily a Thai woman Fabio had befriended new an underground club close by, and after getting burgers we followed her down a quiet alley and into a completely empty bar. It looked like there was nothing there until the bartender pointed to the CCTV where one of the cameras showed a huge room filled to the brim with dancing bodies. 100 bath (20 kr) later we were let through a back door into a giant dark room, where the music was deafening and everyone was dancing. We stayed there until it was closed down at 2 am, before going back to the hostel to talk and then say goodbye to Fabio and Zlati. The following day we spent hungover in Chiang Mai, before embarking on our two-day journey to Koh Phangan.
We took a night bus to Bangkok on the 15th, where we surprised Marco, who didn't know that we were coming.
We met up with one of Axel's friends and spent the day going from one food place to the other, all sweating ridiculous amounts from carrying our heavy bags around in the burning sun.
In the evening we set up camp on the sidewalk at Khao San road and laid down for a group nap after sampling all the delicious street foods.
The way people looked at us, you would think we were criminals or homeless druggies, but the cosy moment was worth all the stares. Then we boarded our second night bus of the trip, this time to Koh Panghan, only waking up around 1 am to eat our included dinner at the roadside restaurant and market.
We arrived at Chumphon ferry pier on the 17th of July and took the ferry to Koh Phangan island and then an open bus to the Haad Rin area on the southern part of the island.
We checked into the very peculiar hostel 'the Nomad House', that was like an abandoned labyrinth. Its location was great though, it had a pool and the 8-person dorm Axel and I had booked was empty most of the time, so, all in all, it wasn't too bad.
We quickly met a really good group of people: Claire from New Zealand, Tammy from South Africa, Katherine from Ireland and David from the UK, whom we ended up going out for dinner with and spending the night drinking and talking with. And so the evening before the full moon party turned out amazing as well.
Our three days in Haad Rin were spent eating a lot of good food, drinking a lot of alcohol and walking around the little lazy town whose only purpose seemed to be the full moon party.
On the night of the infameous full moon party our group started the evening at "our table" at the hostel, Clair, Tammy and I making sure everyone got body painted (as is a must for the party).
Picture: Claire, Chris, David, Tammy, Katherine, me
At around 11.30 pm we all went to the completely packed beach for the party. And as soon as our feet hit the sand everyone dissapeared from each other and I would spent a good portion of the night looking for Axel, Will, Marco and Mariana, while never spotting any of the others even once. Will, Axel and I managed to keep together for most of the night though dancing to whatever genre of music the bar was playing. Sometimes we danced to rock, sometimes to pop, sometimes to trance or electronic music. We kept dancing until sunrise around 7 am, where we took a swim in the ocean before making our way back to the hostel. Some people in the pool urged me to jump in and I talked to them for a while before Axel and I went to bed. I woke up around 11 am still drunk and went for a walk and breakfast, later joined by Axel, before going back to sleep again. This time around we managed to sleep until 5 pm. We joined the others at "our table" for a while before going to the beach for sunset and then back.
We ended up being a big group of people who went for a very late Italian dinner in celebration of Kathrine's birthday.
On the 20th of July we packed our bags, said sad goodbyes to our new friends and jumped in the back of a pickup truck that took all five of us to the 'no name bungalows' at Haad Salad on the northern part of the island, were we had booked a bungalow by the beach together.
We had a Mexican day eating lunch at Little Mexico and drinking Tequila with hot sauce, before watching the sunset from the sea until it got too cold.
On our second day in the bungalow, I was feeling really sick and nauseous, something that had been sneaking in on me for the last few days, and I ended up sleeping through the whole day (while also being convinced by Will to join him and Axel in Phuket). In the evening Axel and Will stayed in with me, getting food from 7-Eleven and watching 'Get Out' in bed, while Mariana and Marco went partying. And as fun as partying is I think that was one of my favourite evenings we had had since leaving the farm.
The next morning we said our goodbyes to Marco and Mariana,
Picture: Marco made us all friendship anklets before spending the day on a ferry and two busses, arriving in Phuket around 10pm and checking in at the Neighbors Hostel, where we fell asleep instantly. I kept feeling sick in Phuket, but it was also my last days with the boys, so I hauled myself out of bed on the 23th of July and got the most out of the day. We met some really nice people at the hostel and ended up renting three motorbikes for the day with a Spanish guy, Miguel. I rode with Axel and I quickly fell in love with this mode of transportation. I'm now determined to learn how to ride one myself.
For the better half of the day it unfortunately poured down and so we hadn't made it much further than one temple by lunch time, having to keep pulling over and waiting for the downpour to stop.
At 2 pm it kept raining heavily for so long that we decided to get lunch at a roadside restaurant while waiting out the rain.
When it finally cleared up Miguel decided to head back, while Will, Axel and I continued to Nai Harn beach, where we spent the entire afternoon playing in the waves.
We drove to the Promthep Cape and climbed all the way out to a cliff, where we sat down for a beautiful sunset.
We drove all the way up the coast to the Kata area before driving back to the hostel. There we met up with Miguel and went for dinner at a nearby night market, before taking a grab to the Patong strip, which was an absolutely mental party street filled with people.
We jumped from bar to bar, dancing the night away and spending a good amount of time talking in a strip bar.
We ended the night in a crazy high-end club, that luckily had free entrance.
I felt horrible the next day, the alcohol has definitely not helped my nausea and so I had a lazy day of doing little more than eating an amazing breakfast with a really nice guy named Lukas (from England) at 'the vegan table',
watch movies in the common area and then go to a street market in the evening with Will and Axel, celebrating our last night together by filling up on delicious street food.
We went for a cosy evening stroll down a cute European-inspired street afterwards
and ended up getting dessert from a waffle stand inside a walking street.
We went back and watched movies the whole evening. And now I'm sat (as the only non-local in the car) on an 11-hour 3rd class train ride from Bangkok to Nong Khai, where I'll arrive around 5.30 pm tonight. From there I'll take a bus to the Friendship Bridge, cross through immigration easily (hopefully) and catch a bus to Vientiane. Yesterday was spent packing and walking around the old town of Phuket, just enjoying my last day with Axel and Will before hugging them goodbye and boarding the overnight bus to Bangkok. I know I will se Will soon again in Vietnam, where he is going back to work, but Axel is more uncertain and Marco, Mariana, Claire, David and so many others even more so. I guess that is both the curse and blessing of travellers. While you might find yourselves accidentally crossing paths again somewhere unexpected, you might also be visiting their hometown only to find their house empty. But though I'm sad to leave Will and Axel, who have become very very close friends, I'm also happy to be on my own again, ready to start exploring solo. And something Will said to me a while back on the farm really stuck with me: "if you only stay in one place you will never know if the next place is just as amazing or even better". So I continue on my way through South East Asia, and hope that I'll find places and people just as wonderful as the ones I've been lucky enough to get to know over the last few weeks.