I'll always remember that wanderlust feeling the first time I went out of the country. Yes, it was in the Navy while under strict rules of where to go and how people people went with you, but it was still a magical feeling. Only a small percentage of the world's population gets to actually experience other cultures. Seeing it all in movies just isn't the same.
Our first stop was Pattaya, Thailand. Now, naval vessels, regardless of the size, typically pull up to a dock, tie the ship down and (eventually) let everyone walk off the brow and go explore. Thailand, however, didn't have a dock big enough, so we had to anchor the ship out a few miles and have little beat-up party boats come pick us up. The boats could only hold so many of us, so we waited in line for what seemed like forever.
Eventually, we were next in line. We see the little double-decker party boat come to get us, with 3 skinny, very tan Thai guys running the show. They honestly didn't really seem to know what they were doing, which made a few of us skeptical to step on. Our suspicions deemed true later on, as we passed another boat full of sailors and their boat had crashed into a bridge. Fortunately no one was hurt, and everyone had to climb up over the boat and onto the bridge to get out, which turned into an awesome story for the books!
Pattaya is beautiful, full of bars, ladyboys, and short little Thai men shoving knock-off sunglasses in your face until you by some. Of course, the first thing we all want is beer after being out to sea for so long. With plenty of bars to choose from, we choose the biggest one we could find. All the restaurants and bars are outside, which was cool. Made it feel more open. Before we got to said bar though, I kid you not, we had at least 7 different Thai guys shoving briefcases full of everything from knock-off DVDs, to lasers, tasers, flasks, and sunglasses. You can say 'no thank you' twenty times and try to walk away all you want, they literally follow you for 2 blocks before they give up. They are the worst bargainers I've ever met, too! A cheap, fake pair of Oakley sunglasses for 60 baht is the first offer. You politely decline, then all of a sudden the sunglasses are 10 baht, now 5 baht. Which is really cheap, their dollar is only 25 cents to us, but we just didn't need sunglasses.
Another cool thing was all the carts they had on the streets that had grubs, bugs and scorpions for you to eat. Fried, seared, whatever you could think of. I couldn't build up enough courage to try any, but I watched some of the guys literally deep throat a huge fried scorpion (gross!) and they thought that they were so badass...which I mean, they kind of were after doing that!
Now, when you think of Thailand, one of the question that probably pops up is, "what about Ladyboys? Is it really that bad?"
Mainly for the guys though, us girls just got to enjoy watching all the guys squirm as the waitresses flirted hardcore with them, but these 'girls' were obviously packing different stuff down there. That, and you could mainly tell because they were taller and you can just tell by their bodies too. They tried so hard, which was funny at first, but then we all had to get each others backs and nicely ask them to back off. They love them some sailors though!
Since we were only there for a few days, we tried to make the most of it. So after our night of drinking super cheap beer, we decided to go to the Hard Rock Cafe for some hangover food and figure out our next plan.
This is probably one of my favorite pictures (above), I just love the colors, the lights, and the texture, just the whole aspect. This was taken that night though, as The Hard Rock became everyone's meeting point. When we walked into the lobby and wait to be seated, there's a neon sign that said NO DRUGS OR NUCLEAR WEAPONS ALLOWED INSIDE. It was a serious sign, too! It was pretty cool though, no one was expecting to see that in a restaurant.
As we scarf down our burgers, we decide on the idea of going to ride elephants. It was one of the tours the ship found and offered to those who wanted to do it. So we take a truck/cart to what seems like the middle of nowhere. We end up at a little shack where these 3 women were making beautiful blankets. There was also some hand-made jewelry and knick-knacks as well. This was the first stop on our tour before the elephants. In order to get to them, we had to take a raft boat across a small body of water. We saw fish and other things coming up to say hi, and all the birds were curious as well.
As we finally arrive, we see other sailors already there, up in what looks like a tree house. Wondering why they're up there, we see the elephants on their way. They are so cute!! Thai or Asian elephants aren't quite as big as African elephants, and they aren't gray, they're brown. So no big ass elephants from Tarzan, sadly. So in order to get on the elephant, we had to climb up to the platform (tree house) to step on. Two people per elephant, my friend and I step on cautiously. They tell us her name is Roxanne, and hand us a bag of tiny bananas that we're allowed to feed her. (Me and Roxanne below. She was very photogenic!)
As we start our journey, the little Thai guy that is riding on the front of elephant to direct it, tells us if we want to, we can give her some bananas. so we would just hold one up in the air, and she somehow knew it was there and reached her trunk up and grabbed it so gracefully. It wasn't scary at all! She loved them too! There was 6 elephants including the one I was on, that went with us. They moved slow, just like you'd imagine, but they also (on their own) try to race each other and be first. As I tried to hand Roxanne another banana, one of the other elephants snuck up and slithered his trunk into my hand first and took her banana, swung it down to his mouth and pretended to have no idea what just happened haha! They're really smart, let me just say that.
We came to a small part of a river that we got to cross, which was really neat, the elephants loved it as much as we did due to the hot weather.
As we came back to land, my elephant decided to be different and take another path through the tall grass and veered off away from the rest to go poop haha! After we made it through the grass, we see the rest of them all in a line waiting for us, and it was literally the coolest scene!
As we headed back, with no more bananas to share, they had a dinner set up for us. Steam was seeping out of one of the two buffet lines they had set up (the other was full of fruits and desserts) and there were two long wooden picnic table to the left of all the food. They made all the Thai food you could think of, as well as fried chicken, french fries, and other Americanized food for us. It was some of the best food I've ever had! There was a little gift shop about the size of a walk-in closet that we all stopped in before we finally got on the bus and said goodbye.
Thus was our Thailand adventure in the short amount of time we had, and it was a time I'll never forget! Definitely memories to last a life time! See you on my next adventure!