it's easy to forget what happened on this island a little more than a year ago when you're an american. it's amazing how we can turn our worries and our hearts off with the flip of a switch. if we decide we've seen too much, we just turn off the TV.

but the people here aren't so lucky. and they haven't forgotten the "big wave" that swept over this tiny crescent of sand. they have stories to tell.

the woman in the massage shop who lost her husband told me her story. she grabbed my wrist and pulled me to her and made a swirling motion with our bodies. it was as if we were tumbling in the sea. two people together. but when the wave receeded she was alone. her husband didn't make it.

or the french man who came to this island one last time to put the images of bodies lined up on the beach out of his mind, forever. he can't seem to forget. the smell, the dead pregnant woman, the lives that ended here. so he came to put those old ghosts to rest. but can any of us put those ghosts to rest?

some thai people won't even come to phi phi island. they think it's full of ghosts. they're right, i can feel them.

truth is, i guess i have some old ghosts of my own.

when the other masseuse told jana that she ran up the mountain to escape the tsunami and said in thai, "on the mountain, thai people and foreigners we all the same, we all cry. everyone was the same up on the mountain" i wondered...where did all the ghosts go?

and are they all the same?


happy birthday amber!

it's my sister's birthday today. i bought a phone card. it doesn't work. i tried another phone. still nothing. another phone. nothing. i'd try every phone on this island if i had to. just to wish her happy birthday and hear her voice.

no refunds, no connections.

that's how i feel tdoay. but yesterday was my day of tears. so i'm not allowed anymore. don't worry though. the sun has soaked them all up. at least for now.


smile, nod, "pants off please"

what i'm about to tell you may shock you. those prone to blushing (paige) may wish to turn away. mom, dad, if this is the first time checking my blog, I apologize. I know this is not the girl you raised me to be.

so, we leave chiang mai today for the south of thailand, where we intend to live out the remainder of our trip lying on the beach, drinking mai tai's and getting massages. in preparation for this i decide i want to get waxed. you know, waxed. so, we go into our favorite massage parlor, where jana and anne both had cute thai boys rub their feet. we like the place. it's nice, neat, smells good.

but still, i am nervous. i've never done this before. jana and anne coach me, tell me it only hurts for a second. they tell me they'll be down the street at a cafe. I grab jana's arm. "make sure it's a woman" i say in desperation. she says something in thai to the boy behind the counter. "chai, chai" (yes, yes) he says.
i think it's all sorted. i try to relax. they leave. they laugh.

the boy motions for me to come upstairs. i follow. he has a rice steamer and an old tin can. he is stirring the wax. the woman smiles and nods and motions for me to take off my pants. i smile. i look at her, i look at him. he's still stirring the wax in the old tin can. i look at her again. she nods. i am freaking out.

i stand there. i am not smiling anymore. he turns to me. smiles, nods. "pants off please" he says in broken english. i shake my head. "it's ok, i do, i do before." oh my god. this cute boy is going to see my unruly "bikini area." i want to kill jana. what did she say downstairs?

but jana is long gone and so is my inhabition. i am in thailand afterall. so, i do the unthinkable. i take off my pants and get on the table. i lie down. i close my eyes. i think this could be the most embarrasing thing that has ever happened to me. or is it?

the wax is hot. i wince. "too hot?" he asks. "chai" i say. he blows on it slightly to cool it. he HAS done this before. still i can't believe this is me. on the table. legs spread. in only my underwear. i put my hands behind my head and take a deep breath. i whisper "jai yen yen" which literally means cool hearted, or i'm chill, chill. "you speak thai?" "mai chai" (no) i say. or do i?

monks and prostitutes

how is it that in such a beautiful country my mind wanders always to the ugliness of injustice? poor young thai women must become prostitutes to survive while the poorest young thai boys get to enter into the highest religious ranks. novice monks. they wear orange robes which makes them unmistakable. the prostitues aren't recognizable. but when i see an old white man with a young thai female i know who she is. thailand is beautiful and sad all at once. it's beauty lies in the mountains and in a million little things. the flowers. the rivers. the rice fields. the people. the rain. it's amazing this much beauty exists in one place.

i have so much more to say, but can't.

these photos will give you a peek of life here. faces, color, anne always smiling. we are having the time of our lives. i haven't laughed this much in a really long time. it feels good. we have taken a 13 hour train ride (with only one bottle of wine) to the north. we've gone to an orchid farm, we've been to many, many markets, ridden an elephant, taken one crazy bamboo raft down the river, hiked to a hill tribe, taken an all day thai cooking course, and yes, the massages.

we leave chiang mai tomorrow for the southern island of phi phi.
much more to come...


is that a rooster?

it's 2:45 am. jana and anne are sleeping in the bedroom with the air-con on (that's short for air conditioning). out in the living area my skin is sticky just sitting still. i get up to look out over the balcony and i love the way it feels to walk barefoot on the teak floor. even if my feet get black from the soot that covers everything in this city. bangkok is intruiging from up here on the 7th floor. city lights, thick air, dogs barking, and did i just hear a rooster? yes.

i'm another place.

i forgot how good it feels to be a forang (that's foreigner in thai). slightly giddy, slightly curious, and slightly more aware of myself. tomorrow i will feel the effects of the 20 hours of travel, but tonight i'm content to sit here.

being aware.

in the morning, we'll be up for yoga at 9:00, then to a place called RAW for brunch, then to an exhibit, and then off to Chiang Mai for an overnight train ride to the north of Thailand. we'll be staying at the
  • gap house
  • for the next several days. thai cooking classes, trekking, bamboo rafting, and of course the massages i've been dreaming of. sweet jasmine dreams....



    my first time with a master's degree.

    my first time as a "matron" of honor (in my sister's wedding).

    my first trip to a radiation therapy appointment with a good friend.

    my first time out on the water paddling this summer.

    my first sunburn of the year.

    my first trip to Thailand!