Posts tagged Misadventure

The Earthquake that shook Thailand

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Something felt off. Well, I felt off. But I could have never guessed what would come later, possibly in connection with the way I had felt the entire day after arriving in Chiang Mai.

And then I looked up from my sandwich in a Subway in Chiang Mai to see the glass before me shaking violently and the concrete walls of the building I was in shift back and forth.

What the fuck?” I said with a mouthful of chicken teriyaki.

I looked up and it seemed as though the world was warping, as if I was staring into a funhouse mirror as the events played out around me.

Everyone from the top floor and base floor scurried out of the building quickly, snatching up all of their belonging in a mad panic and fleeing into the streets.

Me? I just sat there completely confused and feeling on the verge of vomiting. And once the shaking stopped, it dawned on me that I had just idiotically sat inside a building while an earthquake rattled the city.

I think the reason I hadn’t gotten up to run outside like everyone else was because of that exact feeling that I had bothering me all day. And right before the earthquake it, I felt faint and near collapse — thinking I hadn’t eaten enough that day. Thinking at the beginning it was just me.

Earlier that morning I had driven back 3 hours from the northern town of Pai, through the 762+ turns up and down the mountains without stopping. I just wanted to make it back to Chiang Mai as soon as possible.

Right as I got back I started feeling a little off. I figured I had slight jitters because I only ate a small breakfast and chugged a coffee to get the blood flowing before hitting the road. But I made sure to drink plenty of water on the return route, and even after going to the café and eating an entire sandwich…nothing changed.

All day I stood or sat slamming down keys for a post on the blog, and gradually throughout the day I felt worse. It began with just a slight drowsiness or lightheadedness. and then my arms began to tingle. I felt weak. My head slowly began to give me the feeling of the spins, and my forehead felt hot.

Eventually, it got too much to bear. I packed up all of my belongings and decided to head home for the day and lay down, hoping that feeling would subside. But it didn’t.

It was about 5 minutes before the earthquake hit that I felt on the verge of vomiting. I thought I might collapse and so I hobbled down the stairs and decided that I’d try to down some more food just to see if it helped. Then, right before everything began shaking, I felt like I’d faint. My vision became a little blurry, my dizziness took hold, and I was preparing to run to the bathroom in case I had to hurl.

And then it hit. At first I thought it was me. My shoulders tingled down to my arms and into my fingertips. I thought, “Yep, stay seated Ryan, you are going to faint”

Things started slow. The windows vibrated and the walls moved and I grabbed my head with both hands to steady myself. That’s when everybody began running outside. It worsened. The glass wobbled and bent as though it’s explode and I could literally see the building dancing before me. Yet I couldn’t get up. I was disoriented and still couldn’t get my legs under me to work. I watched as the lights shook and pictures slide.

I’m sure if I began seeing things breaking or cracking I’d be able to get the energy to run outside.

After it stopped, I could see the hundreds of Thai people massing in the streets on their phone, seemingly tweeting or lining or snapping freak outs about what just happened.

And I sat there and finished my sandwich.

Not more than 5-10 minutes after the earthquake, that intense ill feeling seemed to wash out of my body. I was still a tad bit off, but I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I did hours before.

The earthquake registered a 6.3 at its epicenter near Chiang Rai north of Chiang Mai, and seemed to crawl all across Thailand down to Bangkok and into neighboring Myanmar. As I checked Twitter, immediately the social network was flooded with tweets about it. Luckily, everyone I knew weren’t injured. Just really freaked out or confused.

Throughout the night and into the next morning, my house vibrated with aftershocks. I spoke to my roommate the next morning about how ill I felt and she mentioned the exact same symptoms, telling me that she thought it was a large thunderstorm coming that caused her to feel that way.

Maybe I have “Spidey senses” one of my close friends quipped after telling her about the incident since it seemed to dissipate after the earthquake came and went.

I’ve now been through my share of earthquakes; plenty of aftershocks in Christchurch that made it feel like I slept on a water bed, and the annual occurrences in California. Hell, I was even giving an iPad class in Washington DC at my Apple Store when one hit — of course I stood there as everyone else crawled under tables.

Even though none compared to ones that have rocked Asia before, or Christchurch in New Zealand, or caused the destruction in Haiti that I observed even 2 years after, it is still pretty nerve wrecking.

I do not like the ground feeling like Jell-O beneath me.

Have you ever been through an earthquake? Ever have symptoms like mine hours before?

Hospitalized During Thailand’s Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai

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The fiery red protrusion on the back of my hand pulsated and throbbed like an angry volcano on the verge of erupting through the two dark holes in its peak — I had been bitten by a bulbous and shiny and demented creepy crawly something that could only have been birthed from the darkest corner of Hell.

No, it was a sickness. A sickness that began with a hoarse cough, like a raspy old hound barking his last warning, the shaking cold sweats consumed me more than the dry Thailand heat caused; eyes yellowed and gums bright red and bloody. I felt faint, nearly hallucinogenic, and as I stood to grab a bottle of water that the dryness of my mouth craved to consume, I collapsed.

No. No, no, no. That is all wrong.

Those scenarios above are exactly that — scenarios. Creepy crawlies and things that go bump in the night and exotic deadly illnesses were the kinds of thoughts that coursed through my brain whenever I imagined something that might land me in the hospital abroad for the first time.

I did end up in the hospital though.

It wasn’t some kind of exciting and strange insect, or disease, or motorbike accident. Fear sometimes grips us and takes over our mind. Our imagination comes up with the most irrationally movie-moment-esque mishaps, illnesses, dismemberments, and deaths. This is especially true when traveling abroad. A mysterious place never explored by your feet and eyes and mind — and everything can be amped up ten fold, whether it be the good, the bad, or the ugly side.

What landed me in the hospital? Well, if you read my post covering the recent Songkran New Year celebrations in Chiang Mai, you may already have a clue. If not, it surely isn’t as elaborate as the horror movie scenarios above, but I got horribly sick during Songkran either way.

Sick and left ill and in pain and unable to eat.

Let’s get one thing clear though…obviously I am still alive since I’m writing this. No need to fret.

So what put me in the hospital? More importantly, how was a hospital experience in Thailand?

The best way to describe my feelings toward hospitals in general is with two words; fear and loathing. I hate the smell of the hospitals, the look of them, and how people are treated most of the time, I also can’t stand going because they frighten me.

Every time I’ve been sick with something and had to go to a hospital, I’m always afraid they will drop something on me with their calm monotone doctor speech like, “Mr. Brown, you do have a respiratory infection…oh yea, and the black plague. You are going to die in five minutes.

Hospitals tend to be just like the DMV, or as I call it — purgatory. You sit there in a chair with a fountain of blood spurting out of you and all the nurse does is walk by and say, “sir, please try not to make a mess“.

Like Beetlejuice, your number never gets called.

There’s also the stress. A small version of Mr. T inside your brain punches it over and over shouting, “they gonna’ take all yo money foo!” causing you to rock back and forth holding your head and yelling “SHUT UP!”

Next thing ya know you’re in the looney bin.

Okay, some of that is a little over-exaggerated, like the nurse calling you “sir” but I digress.

So what happened to me in the Songkran Festival?

Before coming to Thailand, I’d say I had a tad bit of bad luck with injuries or illnesses. At one point, my work was calling me bubble boy because so many illnesses or injuries had hit me in a row, and majority of the time I didn’t have health care.

For me to go six months without a doctor visit (though I have picked up some antibiotics for a cold from a pharmacist) was a pretty good streak.I guess it couldn’t last forever.

The pains began after the first day of Songkran, but worsened. By the third day it was a slicing and burning sensation in my stomach. I hadn’t eaten anything in two days at that point — I had tried to but it hurt too much.

I decided to cave. I put off going to the hospital for a few days because I’m stubborn, but once the festival subsided I knew I had to.

I guess caving is better than dying!

The dreaded hospital visit

The hospital I ended up at was Chiang Mai Ram hospital, located near the north-west corner of Old Town outside of the moat. To many, It’s known as the “expensive” hospital, but at this point I knew the location and I just needed to go.

I half expected the place to be a little dirty and outdated and swarming with ill foreigners.

The inside was like all hospitals; buzzing florescent lights, neutral white walls, and the occasional gaudy floral wallpaper slapped on them so your eyes don’t drown in negative space. But, to my delight, it was surprisingly empty. Normally when you go to a hospital in the United States, it’s like you are fighting through a battle to just get noticed. Not here, I was the only person to step up to the counter.

Hello sir, what’s wrong?

I informed the delightful woman behind the counter of my symptoms; severe stomach pains, headache, achy joints, and weak muscles — and then she asked me to go to registration.

Once there, I had to fill out a tiny registration form, have my photo taken, and I was already on my way to the waiting area with a cue number in hand. Done in 5 minutes. All the while she was calling me “Mr. Brown” and “sir“.

In the waiting area, one with just a handful of Thai people, I sat expecting it would now be a much longer wait. Soon after I sat down, a nurse walked around passing out juice to everyone, giving me an iced juice and a hot tea…just to give us a refreshment while we wait. Hell, I wasn’t even done with my juice and the next thing I know I’m being called into the office!

The doctor, an older Thai woman who didn’t speak English well, was still able to speak clearly enough when conversing with me. She had me lay on my back on a couch and squeezed my lower abdomen. She moves fast I guess! I never knew the tickle maneuver was a way to diagnose an illness, squeezing different parts of my stomach and abdomen asking me to inform her of where it hurt. I just hoped she would stop before I either began to giggle.

After a couple of minutes, she diagnosed me.

You have bad intestine infection. Did you go to Songkran?

I told her I had been to the festival water fighting and I felt sick the next day.

Oh. Songkran water bad. Very bad. Make you sick.

That brown, murky moat water that I had been sprayed with in the eyes and mouth in during Songkran, inadvertently gulping down a gallon of it, is what caused the infection most likely.

After she prescribed me medicine, I went to the pharmacy counter inside the hospital and waited for my number.

My bill? $2,000 baht or around $60.

Okay, I’ll admit it…I don’t have travel health insurance. Why? Just as in the States, I don’t have heaps of money to drop on it. Though once I begin my English teaching job I will definitely be making that investment!

2,000 baht is my budget for 3 days, and the was four times cheaper than what I would have paid at home. It’s wild, I always hated and feared hospitals, but my experience at the hospital in Chiang Mai was fine. In and out in nearly an hour and along the way calling me “sir” and being incredibly kind.

The after effects

A few days after going to the hospital while on 3 different types of pills, an antibiotic, and an electrolyte powder to drink, I was feeling a little better. For that few days after I still couldn’t eat most solid foods. The intestine infection, which has symptoms like something I’ve had in the past in my stomach, makes it painful to eat things like breads, cheese, meats, or vegetables. Oh, and anything acidic. So basically I had to stick to eating rice soup — what I now call “gloppity gloop” after having it 7 times that week after.

And to think all of that came from a little fun during the Songkran festivities in Chiang Mai. Next time I’ll make sure to get some goggles at least.

Hospital Info for Chiang Mai

Note: Make sure to bring your Passport, they will need this to process you.

Chiang Mai Ram – 8 Bunrueang Rit RdMueang, Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, Thailand (north west corner of the moat)

Have you ever been sick or hospitalized abroad?

Celebrating Songkran in Thailand, and Why I got Sick and Tired of it.

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Have you ever heard of Songkran? If not, you’re missing out. Songkran is the biggest water gun battle in the world — imagine World War III but with squirt guns and ice-cold buckets of H2O.

If you have partaken in this end-all-be-all New Year celebration or have seen evidence of this epicness, you know exactly what it entails.

If it was so damn awesome, how could one grow annoyed by Songkran in the country of smiles under the 100° heat of the sun? Depends solely on the outcome of the battle, and your patience after the first day or two of it.

For me, Songkran in Chiang Mai began as a childlike love. In the end, I was more keen to loathe it. And I couldn’t stand going outside to sneak around the streets for food.

Just to make it clear; I did not, at all, dislike the underlying celebration of Thailand’s New Year.

The beauty of Songkran is the massive celebration of the end of Thailand’s dry season where water flies wild and Thai people bless the entire population by splashing water on you. Also, obviously, it has become a freakin’ massive party with throngs of foreigners running amuck. Myself included.

Where did I decide to take part in this water battle to end all water battles? Chiang Mai, the epicenter of Thailand’s Songkran celebration.

So how is it that I, someone who had been giddy at the prospect of living a childhood delight of water gun fights in summer, except on a city-wide scale, actually dislike it in the end?

Well, there are aspects of both sides I liked and didn’t like, but it was a cumulation of misfortunes in the end that brought down my battle morale.

Let’s start from the beginning…

My good pal Zach and I knew that we wanted to be in Chiang Mai for the Songkran festival, but last-minute took off to Bangkok for a Thirty Seconds to Mars concert an faced an approaching visa run.

To keep a grueling mis-adventure short, we took a bus to Cambodia to get stamped, checked out Angkor Wat, and then came back. What we didn’t know was that flying from Siem Reap would be about 10 times the price than to cross overland, so we were forced to take a bus back to Bangkok, and a late night bus from there to Chiang Mai.

Within that three-day span, the total time spent on buses would be over 36 hours, with a combined 6 vans and 4 buses in the mix.

By the time we reached Chiang Mai on the day before the Songkran festival began, we were well beyond exhaustion. But alas, we were still stoked to prepare for battle and jump right in.

Even though some splashing had already taken place on the 12th (rumblings that it was mainly farangatangs or douche foreigners) the real celebration is held from the 13th-15th. So we basically slipped into a coma the night before to get our energy back for the next day.

And so the madness began.

Songkran Day 1: Arm Up!

Zach and I took to the streets as the battle cries were already ringing through the hot stagnate air, the sound of dubstep pounding loud in the distance were the war drums of the day. We were unarmed in the beginning, searching for a way to make it to a stand to purchase a worthy weapon of water, but as we made it to the moat near Chiang Mai Gate, we could already see chaos had engulfed the city.

Quite obviously, there was a slaughter of water everywhere. People running and shooting at others. Trucks filled with water barrels and manned by feindish Thai bucket-chuckers hurled water with insane accuracy. Whether you were on foot, or in a car, or on a motorbike, you were targets.

Especially if you were dry…

And being that we had come into the fray unscathed and unarmed, we were now in the crosshairs of everyone. Drenched in 2.5 seconds flat to the smiles from those who walked up and casually dumped a bucket of ice-cold water on our heads — inducting us into the battle.

With now rocket-like nipples from the shock of the cold and an eagerness to join in, we snagged our weapons; The Super Shooter 5000, and began our own mercenary-esque water gun mission.

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We winded our way through the street wrought with H20 destruction and every step along the way engaged in skirmishes with foreigner and Thai alike. Though, warning to would be future Songkraners, watch those cute little Thai kids — their fun smiles are evil smirks as the lure you in close just to shoot ice water colder than the arctic in your face.

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Finally we arrived at the main battleground — Thapae Gate at the east end of Old Town and a place that was now a sea of saturated, drunk, foamy, raving madmen and madwomen.

The shock of how absurdly wild the gate was had yet taken hold before we rushed in to join the battle, spraying everyone along the way who crossed our paths.

This — this was my childhood dream!

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That was when I encountered my first annoyance.

As Zach and I squeezed our way though the raving crowd beneath a high stage spewing foam and the fire hoses showing down on us, some Thai people began rubbing my face and arms with this white paste. This paste come to find out, is normally talc powder mixed in buckets and wiped on people as a blessing, but this white paste was no blessing at all.

They touched my face out of nowhere with this paste, completely throwing me off in a “what the fuck?” kind of way, but I figured it was something of a ritual for this celebration and Buddhist holiday. As we made our way into the open street battling along the way, I began suddenly wondering why my back, arms, and forehead were burning. And since nearly everyone targets faces with super shooters like mine, the white paste began dripping near my eyes.

It felt like sulfuric acid.

My eyes were on fire and it burned worse than accidentally brushing your manhood with icy-hot after pulling a groin. Been there, done that. Okay, maybe not THAT painful, but up there. I was rushing to wash off my face, and at the same time my arms and back felt as though I had searing sunburn.

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(just a random example, maybe hers was talc?)

Turns out, instead of the normal talc powder, some company was trucking around throwing out bottles of “cooling shock” menthol powder that people were smearing on everyone. And also began sneaking it into the barrels of water to shoot.

It felt like a big practical joke. Why not stick to the classic non-burning talc powder?!

Though it was annoyance, it was just a small one. After that I made sure to avoid that shit every time a smiling Thai with a bucket came to rub me down with that white molten lava.

Now that my eyes were working again, it was back to the gnarly water battle and cause some ruckus.

Shortly after arriving, we met up with Hannah and Adam of Getting Stamped and Amy of Throwing the Bowlines blogs and formed our A-team. One side of this street faced off against the other side of the street in skirmishes, and trucks crept through hurling gallons upon us.

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Oh, and the swat team showed up with guns.

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We had battled all morning, so we all agreed it was beer O’clock and we all deserved an ice-cold Chang. We went over to one of the few places selling beer nearby and that is when we ran into another annoyance.

Before I knew it I was under the soaked and dirty arm of a great big Maori dude who was raving about some drunk nonsense. While I had been buying my beers, it seems the rest of the group had been drawn into a conversation with the rowdy herd of rugby players. A few Maori, a few Aussie, and a few Samoan. Even though I was excited to blurt out I everything I loved about New Zealand, I was also weary of the big raging bro type as well. Seriously, all they talked about was Wrestling and insulted each other.

Soon we found ourselves in a fierce and sloppy game of flip cup with everyone, pouring pitchers and slamming cups. Funny thing is, it wasn’t the people from the U.S.A. that were pumping fists and yelling “Murica!” but the group of rugby players strange enough. Actually not strange.

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Since we were playing flip cup amongst the chaos of Songkran, it was an often occurrence that someone would be spraying water at us, which inevitably ended up in the beers we were drinking. And drinking. And drinking.

After a few games and a few pitchers of Chang spiked with moat water, the “bros” were getting quite rowdy, a tad pushy, and a bit confrontational, so we decided it was time to exit the scene.

The sun had begun setting and clouds gobbled up the last bit of daylight, and since we were still in sopping wet clothes, the shivers took hold. It got freezing. At one point I glanced to Hannah and she had blue lips and looked as if she would freeze solid in her place.

As we waddled back to their place to dry off, people were still battling in the darkness and drenching us with buckets. We all tried desperately to dodge it, but inevitably we took more ice-cold buckets to the face adding to our cold misery.

Tired, but all agreeing that it was one of the best festivals we had been to.

Finally in the comfort and protection of an apartment, we all relaxed and dried off a bit, decided that dinner and drinks we in store for the capstone of the first day.

Songkran Day 2: Defeated.

I woke the next morning with what I could only assume was a hangover since the A Team had all gone out for a bit of drinking after drying off that night. Knowing that we had drunk more beer throughout the day before than water, and that I drank some whiskey after said beer (breaking the liquor before beer rule), I figured that could be the only cause.

Well, little did I know that wasn’t why my stomach felt so wretched and painful.

I was reluctant to get out and into the water war again but my buddy Zach dragged me along, even with my abdomen having an uncomfortable pain and slight burning sensation. I had forgotten my gun at the flip cup table the day before, so I zombie walked to a stand to buy another, all the while with a hand on my stomach.

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(not feeling well)

Already I could feel my attitude was changing. I was not in the mood to frolic about spraying water and getting soaked, but more-so to stay in bed all day. We went back to Thapae Gate where we fought the day before, and just as then, it was madness.

This time we stayed closer to the refill stations because I wasn’t feeling so mobile. Also so we could have unlimited ammo. But, looking into the refill stations, I realized that all of the water everybody had been spraying around was this brown murky liquid pumped from the moat.

Though it was seriously nasty looking, not many seemed to care, and everyone went on with their battle business full on fury.

Some even were scooping up the stagnant and dirty ankle high water into buckets or sucking it up into their guns and hitting people in the faces with it.

Myself included as victim of a street water bucket.

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And though it was hilarious running around and shooting water guns at people, the amount of times I was sprayed full blast with dirty water into my eyes and mouth eventually took its toll.

It didn’t take long for Zach and I to lose each other in the chaos, but it was time for me to raise the white flag and quit for the day.

Except that wouldn’t be easy at all.

I was at the east end of the Old Town, which meant to get to my house behind the airport I would have to walk through the entire Old Town to the west side. That wouldn’t have been bad, but I was cutting straight through more hostile territory, and sure enough I’d get soaked.

And soaked I got. It was cloudy again so I was shivering and my mood had turned to grumpy and my stomach was killing me and every time I was shot or splashed, I wanted to yell. Mainly, I just gave the death stare.

When I finally reached the other side of the square, I saw the road was at a complete standstill in traffic like it was a parking lot. I managed to find a songthaew (truck taxi) nearby going up the street I needed to and hopped in. When I asked him to take me to “Wat Pong Noi” he repeated it and nodded his head to assure me he knew. Which he didn’t.

This happens quite often in fact and isn’t a big problem ever normally, but when we arrived at the completely wrong place and I told him where i actually needed to go, he upped the price 100 baht. Even though we were 75% of the way there and away from the celebration. I thought, “Fuck it” to myself and just wanted to get home.

That’s when the real pain hit.

That entire night at home the pain in my stomach grew from just uncomfortable, to occasional shooting pains. For the rest of the day I dared not move, just sleeping on and off hoping it would be gone by morning.

Songkran Day 3: The End is Near

The pit in my stomach was bottomless, but I had no appetite at all. I hadn’t eaten anything other than a ham and cheese toasty the morning before, but at that moment I didn’t even think I could stomach anything.

The headache was beating in my head. I had body aches and it hurt to move. My eyes hurt if I closed them too tight. I was going to the bathroom every 30 minutes (sorry, but details are details).

That day we were supposed to meet up at Hannah and Adams place for her birthday celebration, and though I struggled to move, I knew I wanted to at least say hi. Getting there would obviously be the most trying part I thought, but luckily my new roommate allowed me to borrow her mountain bike into town.

After biking down the freeway and nearly running into a car door after a guy decided to get out of his vehicle without looking, I made it to their apartment moderately dry. It was cloudy that day luckily which made the bike ride in my weakened state a little better. But I could feel myself internally cursing every time someone attempted to soak me.

We relaxed a bit and I couldn’t help but gobble up the marvelous looking ice cream cake she had at her birthday which caused me even more pain.  Soon the A Team was aching to go outside for a fight on the last day of Songkran after a few jello shots.

Me? No desire to at all. But I did tag along because I wanted to help Hannah have a good birthday.

Immediately I regretted going outside. It was still cloudy and now even more people were out in force, guns loaded. We walked down a seemingly small Soi which then became a busy party street and no sooner did I mumble “fuck my life” did I get 3 ice-cold buckets of water on me.

I should just steal a baby and walk around with it, they wouldn’t splash a baby!

Along the way to avoid getting sprayed, I faked entering into cafés as a maneuver around the bucketeers along the road. When we came to Maya mall where there was supposed to be a concert going on, it more looked like a scene out of the movie Waterworld. Speakers blaring and thumping, fire hoses spraying, and people battling it out in close quarters.

Looked like one helluva party, and I didn’t want any part of it.

I’ve gotta’ get some food in me” I told the group, and parted ways to find something to eat. Even eating white rice pained me, so I decided to go grab my bike and retreat back to my house.

I avoided everyone at all costs. Down back alleys and small streets I walked down, often hitting dead ends. When a group of people armed to the teeth would be marching down a side alley that I was on, I’d retreat and pretend to be looking for something in my bag around the corner.

I managed to make it to the bike dry and hurried on my way, dipping, diving, and dodging crowds and taking back roads all the way home. And I only managed to get a splash on the leg.

Feeling weak and having cutting pains across my stomach, I decided I’d go to the hospital and get checked out the next day.

The Songkran Sickness

The way to the hospital the next day was completely dry which I was so very happy about. After seeing the doctor and her doing a standard tickle the tummy procedure, she deemed that I had an intestinal infection.

Oooh, Songkran water very dirty. Moat water bad. Very bad.

Ahh” I said.

After the stomach problems had lasted a couple of days I figured it was from chugging the water being tossed around since we were hit in the face so much. I had even heard rumors from other Thais that there were articles written about how bad the moat water was this year. But all the while it was used, and it made me terribly sick.

2000 baht later, I’m on three types of pills and I cannot eat solid foods for 3-5 days. Numerous people on my Facebook commented on their own experiences getting sick or knowing others that had — from stomach issues, pink eye, fevers, etc.

From Love to Loathe?

I can say a few things that are true. Yes, I was utterly annoyed by the festival by day three. I had gotten very sick from the water battle. Some things that were small annoyances were amplified by me being ill.

READ: Hospitalized During Songkran 

But did I actually get sick and tired of Songkran?

While I wrote about this epic festival and looking back on it, I realize that I didn’t really dislike it, I just had a bad personal misfortunes that compiled and one BIG one which caused me to not enjoy the rest of it.

More likely, I got sick and tired from it, not of it, and that made me hate everything at that point. But there is no way I could hate a water gun battle. Especially celebrating with people like Thai people who love to have a damn good time! I can truly say it was one of the craziest New Year celebrations I’ve ever been a part of, and that it was one wild party. Everyone should experience this unique cultural celebration in Thailand.
I know full well that if I was 100% healthy, the small annoyances mentioned that piled up wouldn’t have bugged me one bit.

But this water warrior went down early in the fight, and being sick did not allow me to truly love it.

I really don’t know how some survive the 3-5 days of celebration really. This was the biggest party I had ever seen and I was out by day 1. It’s like Thais have a super human Songkran gene.

Or just a lot of M150.

Some things to remember for Songkran

    • Being prepared with goggles or glasses to prevent water getting in my eyes.
    • Not drinking beer that had water accidentally gunned into it.
    • Not viking roaring when I shoot so I don’t get water in my mouth.
    • Avoid the moat.
    • Get much more proper rest before and during.

[x_alert heading=”SIDE NOTE:” type=”warning”]Songkran isn’t solely a water gun battle and party. There is a lot of cultural importance to the festival; parading important Monks images to be blessed by all, washing away the “dirt” from the past year and praying for good fortune, inviting the rainy season and fresh crops, and more. Unfortunately, it has become in the larger cities just one big Spring Break like party (with partial clothes on) and I’m bummed I didn’t get a chance to see the calmer and more culture based side.[/x_alert]

HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED SONGKRAN? Would you Want to if Not?

 

Mis-adventures of travel: That time I was a stripper, sang karaoke in a whorehouse, got in a knife fight in Haiti, and more

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There I was…staring at the gray lint from the inside of my pocket with a peppering of beach sand, a beer bottle cap,  and twenty New Zealand dollars  in my palm — my bank account had a dismal twenty-six U.S. dollars in it. Reality came over me like a mule hind-kicking me in the gonads, I had completely run out of money in a foreign country and my travel noob ass was just realizing it.

Or that time I came back into my hostel room to find the bare bottom of a man grinning vertically at me from my own bed like a cheeky peekaboo from beneath the blankets.

Or that time I time I found myself unknowingly sleeping in a run-down whorehouse on the east coast of the United States that was owned by a one-legged, one-eyed, toothless prostitute pirate ironically named lefty (he was missing he left arm, cruel nickname…)

Or singing karaoke, Living on a Prayer obviously, in a whorehouse in Maui Hawaii naively thinking it was an actual karaoke bar.

Or when I found myself and the film crew on the cusp of a knife fight at a Haitian whorehouse in Cap-Haitian when all we wanted was a hotel room.

Or selling my pride to become a freelance camel jockey.

Or my first run in with police in Thailand. Oh yeah, and the second run in with the police in Thailand.

How about the epic (failed) attempt to last-minute hitchhike from the north island of New Zealand to Christchurch on the south island…

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…how about that time I was a stripper on a cruise ship? Is that an eye-brow I saw perk up?

These my friends are just the tip of the nipple when it comes to the mis-adventures I’ve found myself in while traveling — sometimes these epic fail-tales have evolved from poor planning, being a once amateur travel, careless frolicking and meandering without checking my budget or surroundings, or just the three haggard bitch-fates wanting to take a piss on my string of fate for a good cackle.

Whatever the reason for ending up in these situations or the end result, I have survived to re-tell these absolutely whacky and  100% true stories with you for the sole purpose to laugh at my misfortunes. And hopefully learn from them.

Ah, forget learning a lesson, just come have a laugh with my as I recount the stories and laugh with you — even though at the time I may have been fearing for my life or cursing myself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Since the month of April begins with a day dedicated to fools, this entire month I will be re-visiting all of my past or recent mis-adventures where I was the fool.

Are you ready for this? These stories will be no-holds barred — no titillating, tantalizing, or terrifying details held back.

So make sure to stay tuned to this blog. Grab a coffee or beer or…if you must…a health shake, make sure to grab a diaper as well because you may tinkle a bit from laughter , and prepare the cold shower for after. Maybe even a smoke.

It’s gonna’ get dicey this month…

Keep up to date by signing up for my newsletter to find out when a fail-tale drops, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well for funny travel photos this month!

 

The Fight in my Hostel in Pai, Thailand

There was a fight at my hostel tonight in Pai, Thailand.

An older Scotsman (45ish) who has been staying at the hostel for the past 6 months has grown a kind of “I run this place” ego over every other traveler and backpacker, as well as grown a disdain for humankind — which usually seeps out after a few glasses of whiskey. He always loftily tells tales, true or tall tales, about such things as being let off by police for having the highest ranking shaman of a country come to his rescue, or sleeping in caves for weeks in the wild when he feels such immense hatred for people, or other things like being so well-known that even the FBI questioned him because they thought he was an agent of some sort.

Well, the past couple of nights his disdain for people who are “utterly disrespectful of the universe and disgraces to humankind” has been oozing out each time he stumbled about the great campfire — once usually made for communal seating and sharing stories and drinks, but of late empty and quieter than the crickets in the bush.

One night, a chap walked up behind him and slung an arm over his shoulder in a friendly gesture and the guy proceeds to shove him off, tell him to “fuck off and leave the hostel” lest he “fuck him up” and slapped him in the face. The other guy seemed to be quite the pacifist and apologized for what I observed to be no wrong. And if it was me in his shoes getting slapped, well, I don’t go looking for trouble, but if it slaps me in the face you can be damn sure there will be trouble.

Either way, later that night the higher than human kind man with the whiskey dragon breath stumbled about at 4:00am shouting out into the night sky, “I’ll fucking kill all you mother fuckers. You are disgusting. A disgrace! All of you!

In the morning, my friend who is traveling with him saw the whiskey breathed hollering higher than human man who came and sat with him at the coffee table. Both ordered coffee and my friend made small talk as he was completely unknowing of the latest events. My friend had asked, “Did you hear that crazy person screaming and shouting outside last night? Something about killing people and stuff

The man sipped his coffee and grumble, “If I would have heard some ignorant piece of shit shouting that late at night outside, I would have walked out and kicked his ass. People have no respect.

Seems as though the man had no clue it was him. Ironic how he became the piece of shit in his own mind and never even knew it…

Well, tonight as the lot of us watched Game of Thrones season 1 on the upstairs balcony (season 4 is coming, we HAVE to recap…) everything seemed to be a chill night.

Until the shouting began.

All we heard was commotion — some ruckus of shouting we couldn’t understand. but as we ran over the opposite railing to peer down to the origin, we saw higher than human kind whiskey breathed hollering ironic man with his dukes up toward a much younger and larger backpacker.

Other backpackers scattered away from the fire, and another guy who had probably almost fought him in that instance as well, was dragged away from the scene.

Though I couldn’t hear, it seemed that words and threats were made by the older guy, while the backpacker who probably did nothing to rightfully offend him, stood his ground. It was on the cusp of a fireside brawl until the owner of the hostel, one who has allowed this man the courtesy to stay long-term, forced him back to his bungalow.

Saw that coming…it was just a matter of time…” A girl said out loud to the group as we walked back to watch Game of Thrones.

It was just a matter of time. Not a matter of time that some young backpacker would purposely pick a fight, because nobody has, but a matter of time until this guy who perpetually gulped down bottles of whiskey per night and spoke about how everyone is driving the world to shit, picked a fight with someone.

And if he is allowed to stay, he will no doubt pick many more fights and may have the brawl he’s been itching for…but it probably won’t end up good for him.

All in all, this man who holds the world to blame for destroying it, who complains about the lack of respect, and who states just how disgusting we are through whiskey breath and wobbly steps — is a perfect picture of the monsters that he sees through blurry eyes.

How I survived the bumbling bus from Bangkok to Phuket

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There was a point somewhere between hour 8 and hour 10 that a small insanity took hold of me. Or at least it seemed so.

A fourteen hour bus from Bangkok to Phuket would normally be manageable. If surviving a 99 hour train journey across the United States was possible, surely this would be a walk in some metaphorical park.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai had already been done, a trip about 12 hours, except there were factors that kept my already zany brain from falling down the rabbit hole.

Somebody to talk to. A book to read. Technology to scour.

All of these which I did not have this time when I disembarked Bangkok on a packed bus.

The journey would begin with one misadventure, but it wouldn’t be the end of it.

Snafu #1

Because I am still a noob when it comes to 24 hour time, I received a ticket that read 18:00 and idiotically thought that meant 8:00pm. I was tired, that is my excuse. In a panic I rushed to the counter and stated that I had asked for an 8:00pm ticket and was given the wrong one (which is actually what I asked for) and after some talking, they kindle issued me a new ticket.

After boarding and claiming my seat, I decided to just close my eyes and sleep through the night since I had no other entertainment at hand, and my leather journal was not inspiring me to write since they turned off the lights.

Sanity Lost?

At dawns annoying light my eyes peeled open like a bandaid tearing off skin. Though contortionist might seem like a talent or hobby given how many unconventional places I’ve discovered I can sleep, the body never gets used to unfolding itself from pretzel-like state.

The sunrise ignited the rolling hills and small mountain tops. Morning mist hung over the thin pencil like trees had tufts of leaves at their tops like truffula trees out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Finally out of the concrete jungle and into a real jungle. And it was clear I had no clue where the hell we were.

The bus bumbled and barreled like a drunk Brit down rocky roads that snaked through the lush pencil trees and palms.

With my American ignorance ruling the thought process, I half expected to see thatched roofs and bamboo houses abound. Maybe it was hope and not expectation.

Instead, the buildings that did spring up in breaks of the greenery were still very much city like. All concrete and steel besides the occasional wooden structures darkened by time, rot, and moss.

Even those were luxurious mansions compared to what you might come across in West Virginia.

And though I was winding through thick jungle, there was still advertising everywhere.

We were halted at one of the numerous military checkpoints along the journey and a soldier was standing at attention beneath one such advertisement. It was a billboard of a sexy Thai woman (but you never know here) which seemed to be selling feminine products.

At one point during the brief inspection, the soldier glanced over his shoulder and seemed to give her a one over as if checking her out. Or maybe checking to see if she was impressed by his soldier-like stature.

Partnering with the military for advertising? Someone somewhere is something of a genius. Why doesn’t the United States do this to fund our own? Viagra ads slapped on war ships with the slogan, “Get that cannon firing again!” or Trojan ads on tanks with, “Sorry Clint, sometimes a magnum isn’t big enough. Pull out the Abrams tank condom

Payment to me for these ideas is fully expected if used.

Prison Transport

After the scenery became repetitively beautiful I turned my search for amusement to the inside of the bus were sunlight danced off the bobbing heads of other passengers.

The seats were numbered like a prison transport. I was number 19, though I plopped my bag in number 20 so I would have it all to myself.

Number 24, dressed head to toe in military garb, blasted Celine Dion aloud on his phone. I wondered if he would give up his man card If I were to ask, or would it be lost in translation?

Number 17 was boring. Directly in front of me. Never changed position of his or her head. I was aching for something like a nose pick from ’em. Nothing. Just that fine black Asian hair bobbing to the jolts of the bus.

I wondered if number 6 would ever stop snoring, and if I licked a gummy bear and tossed it, maybe I could get it stuck to their face. That’ll stop the snoring for sure.

A stench of fart crept up my nose and I wondered if it could be number 14 in front or perhaps number 30 in the back. Maybe it was even number 17! Sneaky.

It seems as though number 21 and 22 were choco-haulics with chocolaty treats strewn over both of their seats. The thing is, I never saw number 22 there. Number 21, watch out for the diabetes! I bet his favorite movie is “Chocolat“. Such a good movie!

Pen break for tinkle time.

Damn, every word in my journal should probably not be translated onto the blog. Number 24 can have his man card back for my use of the word “tinkle”.

We pulled into another depot with just a long building made of wood and clad with rusted corrugated metal to establish any presence of life there.

A Thai kid in a yellow jersey stood outside with a flat soccer ball held in his teeth stared at the bus like a lost pup. Kids do the darnedest things these days — I blame it on television. Probably Scooby Doo.

Mindless Meandering”

For hours after we did that meander word that writers use when they don’t know how to describe the act of passing through an area. We meandered along as the sun-baked my face through the window. Of course I had to pick the seat with no curtain. Palm leaves slapped against the bus while meandering along and I thought to myself, “someone oughta’ trim those. Who’s in charge of park and maintenance out here — we need to have a chat.”

A truck crept by us and to my utter childish delight, a giant marshmallow man, like the one from Ghost Busters, adorned the roof. Oh how amusing little things are on a long bus journey.

By the way — if you were wondering, number 17 with the bobbing head of fine Asian hair turned out to be a man. The great bus mystery solved.

The jungle opened up to reveal a large town ringed by low trees and surrounded by mountains. Mounds of dirt with a freshly dug ditch lined the main road we rolled through on, lined with cobble stone sidewalks, with Thai workers laying into the ground concrete sewage pipes.

The road was actually the nicest I’ve seen in all of Thailand; smooth and newly paved asphalt led us through the dust and dirt that had been kicked up from the enormous amount of construction happening — making it feel as though we passed through an old west town in the United States. The buildings with clay tile rooftops and arched windows cemented this feeling even more of a town that seemed to belong in San Diego.

After leaving that progressive and clean southwest town in the middle of Thailand, we were back and bumbling through the jungle. Pinocchio Restaurant flashed by my window in a clearing of trees followed by a sudden moment of confusion. You think America invades everything? Italy has Pinocchio Restaurants in the heart of the Thai jungle.

Further down the road another moment of confusion slapped me in the face; I spotted a Toys R’ Us at one of the middle-of-nowhere bus stops. It had to be legit because it had the backward “R” and all. The store was nothing more than a half collapsed metal shack, and I thought to myself how far down on hard times they have fallen since beanie babies, razor scooters, and Pokémon.

Khao Lak

We pushed further south, now edging closer and closer to the coast. Khao Lak was the next town we passed through, and by the time I realized we were there, we were already left it behind us. From what I saw I liked. Green hills lush with trees climbed high all around the town which was situated between the base and the water. Just one row of buildings; all small and colorful shops or hostels on either side of the street completed it, and there was barely a soul around the clean streets.

The bus slowly crawled up a steep hill, gears grinding on a newly paved road leaving Khao Lak behind. I hoped I would make it back someday before it loses that peace and quite; new roads always bring new noise and nonsense.

Farm land sprung up as the mountains fell to become hills and the trees shrunk in size — and finally those thatched roof houses sprung up to my delight. Buildings made of bamboo with black molded thatch from the moist south. Fields of newly sprouted vegetables in perfectly parallel fields. And bush sculptures? The bush sculptures were freakin’ random.

Massive swaths of farmland were covered in those truffula trees; though now they weren’t popping their tufts of leaves above the palms, but were aligned in to give an illusion of endless corridors of them. Corridors of trees that eventually hypnotized me into a deep sleep.

Snafu #2

Hello! Hellooooo!

A small Thai woman poked me in the arm and sprung me from my slumber.

You leave now

This is Phuket?” I said with my slightly grumbly voice.

Yes yes, hehehe” The woman giggled at my apparent confusion and disorientation.

I had finally made it to Phuket, with my melting mind still somewhat intact. But I still had to make it to the dock in time for my ferry, which would prove to be yet another mis-adventure.

Motorbike and taxi drivers hounded me like rabid dogs with “100 baht to town!” as I finally got of the bus and found the rest of my luggage. I waved them away with a confident “no” in Thai, “Mai krap” because I had done my research preemptively and knew that I could score a local songthaew truck for 20 baht to the ferry.

Yet, sometimes attempting to be clever can come back and bite you in the ass, or lead you the opposite direction. In this case — my destination, the ferry terminal, would elude me.

I turned on my iPhone, and with 4% battery left, looked up directions to the terminal so I could follow along and make sure I didn’t fall off course.

The songthaew, a large pink truck with two benches in the back, pulled up and I approached the driver.

Does this go to the ferry terminal?” I asked. The driver did not roll down his window, he just waved me back as if to tell me, “Of course you idiot.”

In the back of the truck, a woman sat collecting the fare and asked where I was going. I showed her the name of the ferry terminal, she ripped a small paper ticket, and I handed over 15 baht. When I asked her again for reassurance where we were going, she smiled and nodded. And I figured she would have known a main ferry terminal in town — but turns out she didn’t have a clue.

The songthaew pulled up to a market and the ticket woman turned to me and said, “Here

Where is the ferry?” I asked, and she pointed to a street sign. And of course that street sign had the same name as the ferry terminal.

No no, ferry to Koh Phi Phi” I said.

No, no songthaew from here, you take taxi

And I cursed in my head. I thought to be clever and take the local mode of transport, but somehow I had been taken to the opposite end of town to a market with no songthaew.

I hopped out of the truck and looked around, trying to get my bearing and find some way to get there. The ticket woman called out to a gentleman who ran over and said, “Taxi to ferry 100 baht”

Right back where I started.

I shook my head and told him it was too expensive, and began to look around for some other way.

Okay okay, 60 baht

50 baht and I’ll go” I countered, figuring I wasn’t going to get much lower than that, and thankfully he agreed. At that point I just wanted to get to the ferry finally.

I don’t recall the driver’s name, but I do know that he had barely more teeth than a babe, which means that his constant smile as he drove me toward the terminal was bigger than most. We made small talk on the ride. He told me about his six children; four boys and two girls, and commented about his love for Manchester United after I told him I was from Washington D.C.

Though I’ve never known many fans of Manchester United in Washington D.C. I nodded and smiled.

Just a short ride through the busy port town and we pulled up to the terminal. He flashed one last big toothless smile and drove off.

I had survived a fourteen hour bus ride from Bangkok to Phuket with no electronics, no book, and nobody to talk to. And though, as you can tell by reading my observations jotted down in my journal, a bit of sanity was lost — I still arrived on time.

Now, I just had to survive the three-hour ferry ride which turned out to be extremely rocky. That story of passengers hurling their brains out may or may not come another time.

Have you ever had a similar long distance journal with nothing to keep you sane? Or a similar misadventure?

 

 

Travel Misadventures.

welcome-to-fail-signWelcome friends to the ongoing (mis)adventures of Ryan and his trusty chucks!

Travel is filled with blissful moments of self discovery, awe-inspiring sights, nature to behold, awesome adventures, dances of extreme emotions, budding friendships, and exposure to amazing cultures around the world.

Travel is also filed with epic fails.

Admit it, we all do quite stupid things sometimes — and other times, the fates just want to have a laugh at our expense. Here is where I leave my humility behind, and share my laughable travel moments.

“I’ve done a fair share of stupid things in my life, a couple of which should have put me in the grave. But here I am, typing away as if I had a brain.” – Craig Wilson

 

Let the (mis)adventures begin!

 

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Read – Stranded in the Caribbean Sea in Haiti!

It began with a slight pitter patter, which soon turned to a stuttering putter, which became a grinding ‘grrrrrrr’, which led to a finale with a ‘KINK CLUNK’, followed by silence. We were dead in the water in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

 

toronto-flood

Read – Escape from flooded Toronto!

Sometimes, when it rains it pours. And other times it pours 90mm in an hour and shuts down an entire city! While waiting for my bus to leave Toronto, a freak storm struck the city, closing it off from the world.

 

Read – Why Travel is Great, and Full of Shit. And why that is Okay.

Travel is filled with shitty moments where we aren’t sipping wine on a beach, but in the end it’s all apart of our journey exploring the world.

 

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Read- Nightmare before Christmas: Santa stole my Camera!

There were no other backpackers checked into the hostel and some of the others from the bus had been sitting around on the balcony. Nobody could have stolen it. Nobody except SANTA!

 

 

SOS! Stranded on the Caribbean Sea in Haiti.

Oh shit, is that bad?” I said, sitting up and eyes wide.

It began with a slight pitter patter, which soon turned to a stuttering putter, which became a grinding ‘grrrrrrr’, which led to a finale with a ‘KINK CLUNK’, followed by silence. The propeller had stopped, and we were dead in the water in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
Broken down boat in Haiti

Nah, we’re all good man” Vick re-assured me.

Well, we weren’t in the middle of the Caribbean Sea per-se…but as the Kapitèn Bato, or boat captain, yanked the boat engine rope over and over with no rewarding roar of an engine starting, it seemed as though we would be stranded east of Tortuga in Baie de l’Acul for an un-foreseeable future.

At least that is what my comically disastrous mind immediately started coming up with.

Scenarios involved a Gilligan’s Island-esque existence, or possibly man-eating sharks swarming our boat which didn’t exist when we were swimming in the water earlier. Or what if a freak storm were to hit! I would have no volleyball available to be my best friend…

Actually, maybe we are fucked!” Vick said, then proceeded to laugh.

Truth be told — our rickety water taxi; built of weather-worn planks and corrugated metal roofing, had broken down off the coast of Northern Haiti and our “captain” had no tools with him.

And we had no cell reception of course.

View Larger Map

The day had begun as all cliché island adventures do: The sun was bright (of course it is, it’s the sun!) and the azure Caribbean water was calling us (of course it was, it’s blue…and it was freakin’ hot!)

Our motley crew; David, Vick, Mike, and I, were just coming to after a night of Prestige…the beer. There was nothing prestigious about us at that moment as we licked our dehydrated lips, grunted as we picked ourselves up off the beach chairs where we had passed out, and chugged water vigorously.

We had a meeting with the mayor of Cap-Haitian that afternoon, but chillaxing in the private beach cove called Belly Beach had been so much damn fun that we needed one last day to explore the area before leaving. We were on Haitian time anyway, and surely the Mayor was of course, so we could take our time cruising a bit.

After grabbing some of the typical finger-lickin’ grub of Haiti, fried pork and plantains, Vick was able to convince a boat taxi driver to spend the day with us taking us around the coast. Just like taxi drivers in big cities, they hate leaving their “jurisdiction”, but a few extra buckaroos is always enough to change minds.

TIme to cruise the Caribbean baby!
 Photo Feb 25, 4 36 27 AM

Photo Feb 25, 4 42 30 AMSometimes the fates can be assholes, and maybe I should have taken this as a sign. It was kind of like an “Au Revoir suckers!” before we even set off.

But we didn’t expect anything to go awry as our boat slid off the beach and the engined roared up to take us out into the open waters. Actually, more like a lawn mower sounding when it turned on, but whatever!
Photo Feb 26, 1 40 30 AMWith the wind blowing in my hair (of course the wind was blowing through my hair, we were moving!) the boat zipped out into open waters and we were finally going to get to tour the coastline.

All jokes aside, I gotta’ admit to you – The waters around Haiti’s coast are kind of mind-blowing. They really are like looking through a thick piece of glass.
Royal Caribbean HaitiWanna’ play chicken? I think not. The cruise ship was in port near Labadee and people darted around in the distance on jetskies.
I'm on a boat! In HaitiI mainly stuck to the bow of the boat marveling at the scenery while our boat driver explained a bit of the area.
Old ruins in HaitiAlong the coast it was common to see little outcrops of ruins from clubs or resorts that once was. It looked like an utterly amazing spot to relax, but Haiti’s tourism has yet to recover.
Photo Feb 25, 4 41 42 AMRazor sharp rock outcroppings line the coast in many places, I’m guessing from some sort of volcanic activity?
Exploring Haiti's North CoastI’m on a boat! It was crazy chill cruising around, and at that moment I was totally diggin’ the rickety boat. But that wouldn’t last of course.
Jurassic Park like Island in HaitiTotally looks like Jurassic Park huh? We all at this very moment started singing the theme song at the same exact time.
Swimming in the Caribbean
All was fine and dandy. We were swimming in the warm waters off the coast before heading back. I mean, look how freakin’ happy Vick is…and this is his own country!

But all would stay at such gleeful levels. After diving for a bit off the boat, we all boarded and realized it was getting WAY late, and we still had a meeting to make it to!

And then it happened. Or began to…

It took our boat driver a few pulls to get it started this time. At first I didn’t think much about it, but as we continued on I kept seeing the driver fiddling with the engine.

We started cruising closer and closer to the coast because I’m guessing he knew something was wrong.

Then, with an orchestra of mechanisms failing, the engine grinded to a halt.

There wasn’t much around us at all, just some huts in the distance with smoke from cooking fires rising into the air, and far off silhouettes of boats out of yelling range.

Boat in Haiti with CraftsThis guy paddled up to us with an assortment of handmade souvenirs, but alas, I don’t think a small carved paddle would help us out of this one.

At this point I had nearly bitten off all of my nails. Our two other Haitian friends were completely relaxed and chatting, but I was thinking up the worst ends to this dilemma as possible.

Suddenly the driver got the engine working again, and our little boat that could began cruising again!

And again the engine failed.

Haitians repairing an engineLuckily for is this time the engine happened to fail close to a stone landing. Our driver let the boat drift over to the landing tied up the boat.

From the top of a hill a few Haitians called out, and the driver called back. Then a gent came strolling down the stairs and to the landing.

It’s amazing just how Haitians up and help strangers out, but as I’ve said before, it’s a quality I noticed all over Haiti.

They hoisted the engine onto the landing and the presumable owner of the house broke out his tool box. I have no clue what was done, but it seemed after a few trial-and-error experiments and the engine back up and running!

And though I was still pretty skeptical of our boat’s ability to get us back…I let out a HUGE sigh of relief.
Boat to LabadeeBut with sights like this would it be all that bad to get stranded here?
Sunset on the coast in HaitiAs much as I love a life untethered, I wasn’t ready quite yet to play Survivor Man on a random island near Haiti.
Sunset over LabadeeThough we didn’t make it back in time for our meeting because of that unexpected mis-adventure, getting to cruise along the coastline of Haiti was a damn good time, and is exactly one if the reasons why I fell in love with the country.

Not the breaking down part…the beauty of course…

Ever had a mishap like this one? Share your mis-adventure!

 

Mission Impossible: Escape From Flooded Toronto!

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It was when I was drying my chucks with hand dryers, whilst standing barefoot on paper towels so not to step foot in the nastiness that is the basement bathroom of Toronto’s bus station, when I knew it was going to be a long freakin’ night.

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Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes, and she picked the night I was leaving on my bus back to Washington D.C. to have the mother of all mood swings.

The train station lay dormant, flooded with knee high water. The roads were shut down in parts of the city from flooding, flights were halted, and most of Toronto was consumed with blackness.

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Kinda’ sounds like an ‘End of the World’ Roland Emmerich film. But no, this is what happened to Toronto in a mere 2 hours as a freak storm whirled into the city, bringing with it 90+mm of rainfall and umbrella inverting winds.

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Hence why I was in the bathroom attempting to change out of my sopping wet clothing and trying not to touch the piss covered floors like hot lava we played as children. Except this was WAY more difficult.

We had been strolling around the Kensington District of Toronto to try and fill my last few hours with a neighborhood I had heard so much about. When we started toward Kensington, the sun was beaming hot, and fluffy white clouds dotted the sky. Not foreboding at all.

But soon enough after getting to Kensington and poking into few of the hippie stores, dark clouds began to creep in.

That doesn’t look to happy” I said looking at the sky, but it wasn’t until we saw dresses blowing sideways on hangers that we decided to find shelter.

I still had a couple hours left until my bus was scheduled to leave, so as the rain drops began falling and the clouds swirled above, we ducked into a Chinese joint for quick bite. And to hopefully last out a quick shower.

But we would come to find out, this storm wasn’t just an ordinary summer thunderstorm, but a shitstorm coming to destroy all hope of me getting home on time.

Oh looky there, the rain is sideways

We were done and out of time, but the storm hadn’t let up, it had worsened. All cabs were taken, and the cab phone numbers were jammed, so we were going to have to hump it through the pudding rain back to the bus station.

Umbrellas were no use, the rain was flying at such an extreme angle that it soaked us completely from head to toe. After walking a block or toe and realizing that our camera and laptops were at risk of being destroyed, we sloshed through the already 6 inch deep water in the streets and hopped aboard a streetcar.

And that is when my mission impossible began. I did not choose to accept it, but I had to take it nonetheless.

7:45pm rolled around and still no bus. Tweets were flying in left and right about the #TOflood and #TOstorm, with people sharing images of the unbelievable craziness that ensued after the storm hit. It had calmed down to a drizzle now, but the aftermath was still apparent.

Even Jack and Rose couldn’t fight the Titanic sized mess.

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(photo via Twitter-verse)

9:00pm came and went, with still no sign of the bus. Everyone in line was fast growing impatient, and Megabus had no answers to give. I sat patiently and quietly knowing that bitching wasn’t going to get me anywhere, but I’ll tell ya, sitting on concrete for a few hours sucks!

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9:30pm

A rep from Megabus finally strolled over and gave us bad news, news I figured was coming after seeing the photos.

The bus is stranded on the flooded freeway and can’t go anywhere,
traffic is at a standstill. We don’t know if the bus will be canceled or not.

And then came the uproar. People began bitching and freaking out as if it were possible to just fly over a shut down city to us. I didn’t bitch, but I was growing wearing of waiting and I just wanted to know if I had to stay or go.

10:30pm

1 hour, the bus will be here in 1 hour, it’s making its way across the city

That hour came and passed as well. At this point I was slouched over my bags, aching and tired. And no bus came. One lady who was about to lose it yelled out to the guy giving us updates.

The bus was stuck at a closed off road, 15 minutes, it’ll be here

11:45pm

And finally it did. We all eagerly piled onto the bus, relieved, but 4 hours later than we had thought. We slowly made our way through the dark city and toward the United States.

But of course the fun didn’t stop there!

Why is it that I made it to Washington D.C. At 4pm the next day?

Border Control crossing into the United States of course took their sweet time, and decided to question me for 20+ minutes because they didn’t believe who I was.

And then in Buffalo the bus driver that was supposed to switch with the Canadian one was an hour late.

And we made made two 30 minute pit stops, as well as stopping every hour because out bus driver had a small bladder.

Talk about purgatory. I thought it would never end, but it did after 5 hours of waiting and a 14hr bus ride.

How about you, have you ever had a trip from hell like that one?

(Disclaimer: most photos were taken off of Twitter posts from others)