>Year end…already??

>

Starting with an LTC trip right around Halloween and following through to a 20 day Southern Thailand trip, my co-leader Colin and I had a few months of adventure ahead of us!
Coolin and me doing what we do best. Standing around lookin good 😉

We did a bit of temple hopping around Siem Reap, posing with some Apsara dancers at Bayon temple.
What horrible beast could be coming out of that door?!? I don’t know, it was Halloween gimme a break. Normal pictures are boring.
We managed to make it to the Loy Krathong festival in Nong Khai, where you make these elaborate boats out of banana leaves and flowers, put either a piece of hair or nail clipping to symbolize something about yourself that you want to let go, and float it on down the river to cleanse yourself of that which you don’t like about yourself. Neato.
Here’s to crossing borders successfully and finding ATM’s (and beer)!
We swung by the party spot in Laos (river tubing in Vang Vieng) and decided it was time for a drink.
There’s no escaping the roving 26. The bar just let me take it and pour into people’s mouths, how cool is that?
What goes around comes around!



We had a few daredevils on this trip, including Rob shown above and Shan who went on one of these swings while chugging a beer. Impressive.
Of course we had to swing by the Chiang Mai zoo and give props to my brethren. If you look closely you can see that I’m wearing my panda family shirt (courtesy of Jemma) and my panda shorts (bought for me by Janelle, Kaley, Carmen and Sharen in my group). What a thoughtful bunch!
Heading out on a jungle trek with my good buddy and everyone’s favourite guide: B!
Only I didn’t feel like carrying a backpack on the trek, so I tried out the timeless hobo stick. Next time I’ll pack lighter. I’m moving towards phasing out the bag completely.
A sweet secret waterfall pool that you have to climb across and down some sketchy rocks to find. We are a few hundred feet up from the bottom of the waterfall and loving every minute!

For some reason B let me guide our raft this time, which almost ended us up in a rock wall. Other than that minor slip up though, we made it unscathed!

So FINALLY after 6 months of working out (not in the gym way) in Thailand, Ryan was convinced to join me out here for an adventure! When they got news of this, Dennis and Seabass booked the trip as well and flew over from Australia, and Ryan managed to sign on Mikey G from our California days as well. Two good friends Christopher and Sophie from Germany were also in Thailand at the time, and Honza from the Czech Republic was going to meet us in a few spots as well! Even without a group, we would have had a good time…but with the crew we had, it was nothing short of legendary!!
Reunion in Bangkok!

Shortly thereafter Ryan got pick-pocketed and lost his passport…but not to worry, he had this completely accurate passport photocopy! Looks just like him, don’t it?!
Mini – Tubingen reunion mit ze Germans!!
We started out straight at the floating bungalows in Khao Sok, where all sorts of shenanigans ensued.
Such as makeshift Seabass diving boards.

Dennis might regret that one.
Seabass put it to our guide Yaya with a lake in the face…with Ya’s consent, of course. Nobody can force that jungle man to do anything!
Then we encouraged a “shotgun-a-beer-and-backflip-off-the-dock” competition, which wasn’t really a competition at all. It was just fun and really cool.
Family photo! Resulting in a sinking dock.
Ryan got stranded on a tree in the middle of the lake. Mischievous Dennis…
Coolest flag ever. Onwards rasta people!
Then we headed back to the jungle to meet up with the other two F&E groups and have some massive parties! One party in particular took a bit of preparation: the famous JUNGLE PARTY!
Our jungle party theme was goth…can you tell? We kind of intimidated the other groups.

TWO bald topless Asian dudes?? Which is which?!

Freaky deaky.
But our stony faces deteriorated rapidly…there’s just too much fun to be had!
We squeezed in some river tubing while we were there too.
Look like fun? Oh it was.
Ryan likes licking giant Cicadas.
After chilling in the jungle we headed to Koh Phi Phi, party central of Thailand, with some of the best fire shows in the country! Including fun (and definitely not safe) stuff for tourists, such as fire limbo, fire skip rope, and leaping through flaming hoops. Yeah.
Go Jessi! If she makes it through, she gets a free shot. …and if she doesn’t!? *Woof*
Ryan got up for the fire skip rope and won a whole free bucket! Holy crap! I only won two shots =(
Phi Phi is also famous for it’s epic scuba diving. Those courses sure came in handy, eh Ryan?
We also found a nice sunset that kind of looks like the F&E logo…so of course I had to pose with it.
Next stop: Railay! Rock climbing, abseiling, intense hiking, white water rafting, cooking courses, and some of the best beaches in the world!
A lagoon hike (more like rock climbing without a rope!) that Ryan and I braved at Mikey boy’s insistence. Insanely beautiful lagoon enclosed on all sides by limestone cliffs.



Apres that we did a cave hike over the beautiful Phranang beach.

Which took us to this cave with a spectacular view over West Railay beach…which we then abseiled out of into the jungle below.

What a brave mountain climbing man!

We got the opportunity to visit a local school and play some games with the schoolchildren. That one in the front is Dennis, in case anyone was confused. We almost lost him there, he fits in so well.

Relay race!

I’m gonna WIN!
Sunset in Railay. Ooooh, ahhhhh.
For our last stop, we head to Koh Phangan for the infamous Full Moon Party. We stay on a little slice of paradise called Haad Yuan beach. See for yourself.
This may be my favourite restaurant in Thailand: Bamboo. Nice view, eh?
A cuddle puddle over at Eden bar.
Getting pumped up for the FMP!
Full Moon partaaaaaaaaaay into the next morning!

FINaLLY the bet to wear the panda hat for 2 months comes to a close! Jeff gets a case of beer and is happy. Joel challenges Jeff to wear the hat for 4 more months. Asshole.
Back to Bangkok and Ryan picks up his new passport safe and sound. I told you not to worry Momma! It’s a sad goodbye, but a happy “See ya later!” I’ll see these boys again in a week!
With the big party over, Dennis and Seabass are heading up north to Chiang Mai, so a few of us decide to tag along with them! We took a Mahout training course, where you learn to command and ride elephants and do various tricks.
Now THERE’S a trick! Who knew this was even possible?
We feeded them…
We got picked up by them…
We got some elephant hugs…
And don’t forget the elephant smoochies (that felt kind of like a vaccuum)…
We used them as convenient seating…

We learned to mount them…
And command them using a combination of Thai phrases, foot and body movements, and a dull hooked tool. My elephant was the best, her name is Va. She is a very polite elephant, and can say “ka” when you give her bananas. (Ka means thank you in Thai)
We rode them around the property…
And then had a giant waterfight using the elephants’ trunks as weapons! Nak nak nak! BOW BOW BOW! Jenna took the first one right in the head!

Seabass got a good one in the face, and I did too as I was yelling “Bow bow!” which resulted in a wave of elephant nose water down my throat.

No day is complete without an elephant turd fight. I got a nice wet one in the head, care of Seabass, so for some reason I decided it was Jenna’s turn!

Group shot with our new buddies.
Seabass decided it was now time for Dennis to learn how to ride a motorbike, since they were planning on driving Vietnam in a week (probably one of the most difficult places to drive in SE Asia) and Dennis at this point could still barely ride a bicycle. Good idea, Seabass. I hope they make it out alive to come back and visit someday!
What, were you expecting some deep and inspiring thoughts in this post on the significance of closing one year and beginning another, based on the title? Well…it took me long enough to write THIS, okay?! What’s the big deal with years anyway? It’s just another measure of time. Do we have new month parties? Well…I guess that COULD be the Full Moon party…but we’ll ignore that since it’s just an excuse to get drunk (kind of like New Year’s?). Perhaps it’s because the year is the most significant measure of time relating to the span of human lives…is that it? If you were some sort of super being you would probably measure your age in decades or centuries, and each new year would probably be much less noteworthy. Babble babble babble…although the new year is a good reminder for us to reflect and think on your past deeds and how you could have done them differently (preferably for the better). A good REMINDER…if this is the only time this year you have done this, you need to smarten up and do it a bit more often! Who needs New Year’s resolutions? We should be making New Day’s resolutions! Each and every day you can work to improve some part of yourself in some small way, and each day you will be the better for it. Abe Lincoln agrees with “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday”…and if Abe Lincoln doesn’t think much of you, you must not be very cool!
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