February 2015 Travel Summary

I will not, I will not be so late in posting February’s statistics! In the last days of February, I’ve been making my calculations and formatting this post, so that it is ready to be up at a reasonable date… yay!

Countries visited: 2 – Philippines, Thailand

Cities/towns visited: 10 – (5 in the Philippines) Port Barton, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Oslob, Manila; (5 in Thailand) Bangkok, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Chiang Mai, Pai

Types of transportation taken: 23 – (13 in the Philippines) crazy bus-jeepney, tricycle, plane, taxi, overnight sleeper ferry, small ferry, habal-habal, scooter, fastcraft ferry, local bus, RORO boat, pedicab, multicab; (10 in Thailand) BTS, bus, MRT, sleeper train, sorngthaew, ferry, taxi-truck, motorbike, kayak, plane

Best experience: I could only narrow it down to two–

1. Listening to the band perform at Boy Blues Bar in Chiang Mai, Thailand — Boy Blues Bar is very arbitrarily located in an elevated open-air space above the center of the Night Bazaar. The four-person band plays improv jazz, rock, and reggae. They and the people who joined in with their jamming with first-rate professionals. With Boy Blue (aka Thai Jimi Hendrix) fronting his band with his blissed-out pearly-white smile and great people in the audience, it was probably the best live music show I’ve ever attended.


2. Driving from Chiang Mai up to Pai on a motorbike. 139 kilometers. 762 mountain curves. Exhilaration. Beauty. Living–in real time, in the sting of the wind on my arms, in the sweat on my back, in the heat of the sun. So. Good.


Worst experience: Wow, nothing springs to mind; I really had to dig deep for this one. There was this one taxi driver in Manila who just gave me a bad vibe. I felt like he was constantly looking for ways to rip me off, and then when he couldn’t (because I was paying attention), gave me crap for not tipping him. Mister, why would I tip you for your terrible driving?!

Most…Interesting Experience: 15 minutes after my friend and I had left Chiang Mai on our motorbikes on our way to Pai, we got pulled over in an arbitrary police checkpoint.

“Can I see your license, please?” the cop asked.

“Um, I don’t have mine,” I replied. Correction: I don’t have a motorbike license. In any part of the world. As is typical of many backpackers in Southeast Asia.

“Oh, I see.” The cop pulled a frowny face. “Well, you have to go to the police station right now to pay a fine of 500 baht. Yes, 500 baht. Or, you can pay now, and you can go.”

F***! We had been pulled over in one of those random police stops where you basically have to bribe the cop to overlook your licenselessness. Sigh. I pulled out 200 baht and handed it to the cop, who said “Okay” and let me go.

Most Disappointing Experience: I guess I’m not all that into Thai massages. And spas. I don’t think I appreciate them the way I should!

Favorite place: Chiang Mai! It’s the rare traveler who doesn’t love this amazing, laid-back city, with its colors, temples, markets, lip-smackingly good food, friendly people, interesting alleys, and unique cafes. I could easily envision myself living here for a few months, renting a room long-term and being a digital nomad (like many people come to Chiang Mai to be).

Chiang Mai for me was colors and cafes.
Chiang Mai for me was colors and cafes.

Favorite food: Again, I couldn’t pick just one–

1. All the street food (okay, and restaurant/cafe food) in Chiang Mai (and Pai, which had similar offerings!). I seriously couldn’t go wrong with anything.

2. Everything on offer at Om Garden Cafe in Pai. Their portions were generous, their prices reasonable, and, um, just look at this fresh strawberry pavlova:


Expenses breakdown:

Transportation (exc. Flights) $194.37 15%
Flights $300.03 23%
Accommodation $231.29 18%
Food $304.63 24%
Other $263.12 20%

Total spendings for January 2015: $1,293.72*

Average per day (including flights): $46.20

Average per day (excluding flights): $35.49

(* Numbers may not add up exactly due to currency conversion rates and rounding errors.)

Sigh. Yeah, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stick to my $30-a-day budget in February. In addition to the flights, Thailand is simply more expensive than the other countries I’ve traveled around on my trip, its tourism industry having been long established. I was also traveling with people in February, which usually motivates me to partake in more organized activities that I probably wouldn’t have done on my own.

Theme of the month: Reevaluation

In the beginning of February, I was beat. I had been blasting around the Philippines (not a country that you can–or should–blast around, really) and was tired, tired, tired. In fact, it took me most of the month to recuperate. I was antisocial in hostels (bad Steph!) and wanted nothing more than to get a private room and NOT TALK for a few days.

In the midst of this exhaustion, new thoughts began creeping in. I wanted to stay in a place for longer than a few days at a time. I wanted to wring my brain again in different kinds of work.

After I recuperated from the second half of January, I set about looking into job opportunities for this summer and beyond. Man! This is the first time that job-hunting has actually invigorated me, instead of making me feel down. I’m still not sure yet where in the world I want to be this summer, let alone for my next job, but it’s good to be stretching that part of my brain again.

Looking Forward

Taiwan for a few days of family time, Hong Kong for a week for a job, and then I’m going back to the States for the first time since 2013! I have no desire to live in the States in the near future, but it’ll be good to be back for a few weeks, get some things done, prepare for the next chapter of my travels. This spring be bringing great things, my friends.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Vince Ciricola says:

    Even if the casual reader of your blog doesn’t know the value of the Baht, I’m sure almost all of them would cough up 200 Baht to that ne’er-do-well traffic cop to avoid the possibility of being detained in a Thai hoosegow 😉

    Re taxis, I have an aversion for using them, because unscrupulous taxi drivers are inclined to take advantage of a passenger unfamiliar with the locale; as happened to me recently. As always caveat emptor!

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