I've been back stateside for a good bit now, but it's my plan to blog retroactively about my trip, picking up where I left off in the cave. Thank you to those of you who have complained about my laziness. It shows you care.
To orient us, here's my final itinerary:
April 14: Arrived in Bangkok on EVA Air. Instead of daring the craziness of the capitol (the one warranting the travel advisory), I flew north to Chiang Mai on Thai Air. Here I took a cooking class, experienced my first Thai massage, cuddled a tiger at the Tiger Kingdom, went bowling and wandering about with other Spicy Thai hostel guests, and participated in the water festival Songkran.
April 17: Took a 3.5 hour minibus to the mountain town of Pai. Rented motorbikes and toured the countryside's hot springs, waterfalls, and caves, and in the evenings we patronized the outdoor bars and fire juggling shows.
April 19: Rode a local bus to Maehongson. Stayed at Jongkham Guesthouse near the lake-- the most inexpensive lodging of my trip at 175B a night ($5). Via motorbike again, visited the NaSoi Long Neck Village, a waterfall, and the Fish Cave (the site of my Burn), plus some random exploring and getting lost. Here too I rode an elephant and bamboo rafted down the river.
April 22: Flew back to Chiang Mai on Thai Air. Spent another night at Spicy Thai. Gorged myself at a ridiculous buffet, motorbiked up to the Doi Suthep Temple and a waterfall, went to Baan Kingkaew Orphanage, took a tour of a printmaking shop.
April 24: Took overnight sleeper train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
April 25: Arrived in Bangkok 7am. Found our way to Khao San Road. Failed to meet up with Taew, a family friend. Wandered through a Red Shirt Rally, past the Grand Palace, about a day market, onto the National Museum grounds for a youth musical show. Met friends from Chiang Mai for a night on the town. Played frisbee with the local frisbee team, the Soidawgz; afterward they took me out for a big seafood dinner.
April 27: Flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Bangkok Airways. Quarreled with a taxi driver, watched the sunset from a temple top, mis-attended the Angkor Night Festival, toured the temples by tuk-tuk, visited the Landmine Museum, shopped the night market, experienced fish massage and Khmer massage, went horse-back riding.
April 30: Flew back to Bangkok. Spent the night back on Khao San Road at the D&D where the staff was horrible to us. Took a minibus at the crack of dawn to Chumphon and took the ferry to Koh Phagnan.
May 1: Arrived on Koh Phagnan. Went to Half Moon Party in the jungle (the island is famous for its Full Moon Party on the beach). Snorkeled with sea cucumbers (aaah/blech), learned about Irish things from my new friends.
May 4: Took the ferry to Koh Tao. Investigated diving outfits and chose Seashell Resort for my SCUBA certification course. Swam with a whale shark!!
May 9: Eventually made it to Ton Sai via overnight barge/minibus/boat/crazy hike. Explored with new friends: hiking, going to the beach, playing volleyball, watching monkeys, rock climbing.
May 12: Left Ton Sai to catch a flight from nearby Krabi. Arrived in Bangkok. With assistance from bilingual friend, met up with Taew (!), who played tour guide for the night.
May 13: Left Bangkok for Los Angeles. Yay trip!!!