Editor’s Note: My friend Jill stayed with me a couple of weeks ago, and I asked her to write a guest blog entry to talk about her own traveling experiences. This wasn’t quite what I expected, but I thought I would share it with you anyway. Enjoy!
Hello to all followers of Hannah’s blog page!
As a guest blogger I would first like to give a big THANKS to Hannah for a.)letting me stay in her wonderful Bangkok apartment for a week and b.) making me feel incredibly guilty about putting zero effort into creating a blog to document my past 5 months of travel!
I can’t say how much of a relief it was to see Hannah, clad in Teva sandals, a cheery tank top, and casually tied fisherman pants (the tricky ones that I still don’t know how to tie) appear magically out of the hustle and bustle of the infamous Khao San Road. There she was – calm, collected – taking absolutely no notice of the prodding wooden frog ladies or the constant unpleasant ping pong popping noises (this noise is a vendor’s way of advertising a “ping-pong” show, which is a performance in which Thai women do extraordinary things with ping pong balls shot from their nether regions). Anyone could tell she was no novice to Bangkok and I was more than happy to follow her away from the chaos to what turned out to be the best vegetarian/vegan restaurant I have ever been to.
One thing I observed quite quickly during my stay is that Hannah is truly making the most of her overseas experience. There is a massive “Tesco Lotus” (similar to a Fred Meyers or a Wal-Mart) only a few minutes walk away from the office building as well as her apartment. It has an enormous food court that sells just about anything a homesick American could crave, want, or need to avoid. In the evening time, when we were both craving ice cream (surprise, surprise!), it would have been so easy to stroll over to Tesco and indulge in magnificent Dairy Queen waffle cones. Instead she lead me the opposite direction. A short while later, we arrived at a small nighttime market, overflowing with tables and tables of fruits, vegetables, unidentifiable meaty objects, and some very noisy Thais. In we pushed, and minutes later we emerged carrying delicious 10 baht (approx. $0.30 USD) coconut ice creams that would put Dairy Queen out of business.
Later, when again the sterile, glowing food court seemed like a practical solution to a hungry stomach- Hannah steered me out to the crowded street, over to her “soi” friend…also known as the Pad Thai Lady! As Hannah cracked jokes, ordered us pad Thai (with no shrimp, no sugar, and only a little chili) – ALL in Thai I might add – I found myself in awe at how well, and how quickly, she had managed to adjust to Thailand.
It would be so easy to spend the days working at the office, relaxing by the serene pool, working out in the air-conditioned gym, eating at the many Tesco Restaurants, visiting the occasion cinema…the list goes on and on.
But that’s not Hannah. Instead she chooses to adjust. She puts her time and effort into learning Thai, teaching a young Thai girl English, visiting shrines, temples, crazed markets, and exploring places that aren’t the tourist “norm.”
I feel so lucky to have stayed with Hannah and as I write this blog post from a ridiculously touristy café in Bali, I’m still smiling while thinking about our mass consumption of Rose Apples, our fearlessness in risking going out during a possible protest, talking with Pad Thai Lady about our fatness, and like any other homesick Alaskan, discussing good old XtraTufs, Bristol Bay, the Homer Spit, and of course Salmon!
I couldn’t have asked for a better host and my advice to all you “blog followers” is: Go visit Hannah for the real Bangkok Experience! Kap-Khun-Ka HANNAH!!!!
Thanks, Jill! Miss you already!