Spontaneous Trips to Rotorua

Ummm… hi there. Remember me? It’s been a while. I’ve been having so much fun in New Zealand, I almost forgot to write about it! That, and it’s mostly just been me going to work and chillin’ with my pals, which doesn’t exactly make for quality writing material.

Since the last time I posted I’ve acquired a boyfriend; life comes atcha fast. He’s super cool and down for adventures so we’ve been visiting different areas around Auckland on the weekends, which has kept me busy. Last night though, we decided we’d change it up a bit and make the 3 hour drive down to Rotorua. Today.

Waitangi Day and Mystery Dorm Mates

Alright so after barely having made my 7am flight from Auckland to Wellington, I made it here in one piece and now have about 5 hours before I can check into my hostel. Grand.

Rotorua to Lake Taupo

As I have previously mentioned, it’s frustratingly difficult to get around here without a car. My fun German companions from yesterday have all checked out of the hostel, which means I’ve also lost my wheels.

New Hood

The lawd has blessed me with another job interview this morning. My life is about to become hella hectic though, because I have to move out of the hostel, into my apartment, and be at this interview… all before 10am. I groggily pack my bag, take the fastest, weakest shower of my life, and beg the front desk to let me leave my bag with them for an hour. I don’t want to pay the 5€ fee that they charge for a full day. Hell nah. They say if I’m back before noon I don’t have to pay. Sick homie, I can do that.  
I hop on the metro and essentially RUN to my interview. It’s 10:05 when I arrive and I apologize for being late but my interviewer laughs and says he felt unprepared because expected I’d show up closer to 10:30 anyway. I check, and the e-mail definitely says 10:00. Spain is too chill. I can’t imagine what would happen if you showed up 30 minutes late to an interview in Canada. They’d probably laugh too…and then slam the door in your face. 

It becomes clear about 2 minutes into this interview that they’ve already decided to hire me. Classes start Monday, so I think they’ve been like “awhhhh shit we don’t have enough teachers”, picked up my resume, and said to themselves, “sweet let’s do it”. It’s less of an interview and more of an explanation for how it’s going to work. That’s all good with me because I’m hireddddd!  17€/hour is very acceptable. It’s only 2 hours a week though, so I’m still poor. 

It’s a fun little project though, that teaches young kids after school, and is built around the idea of “traveling around the world”. So day 1, we’ll be making fake passports with the kids. Day 2, filling up a fake suitcase, and teaching colours and other vocabulary as we go. I think it sounds really fun, and it’s nice that I’ll be apart of their first time trying it. 

I go back to my stinky old hostel for the last time, so I can pick up my bag and get the hell out. Byeeeee! See ya never! 

I take the metro 5 stops to my new hood, get in the teeny tiny elevator that takes me to the roof, and I am home. It feels wonderful to take my things out of my backpack and hang them up, or fold them and place them on a self. The majority, however, go in a giant pile destined for the laundry machine. Another perk to this apartment. In suite laundry! It’s Europe, so there’s no dryer, just hanging racks, but I am not complaining at all. I don’t know how they go without dryers in Ireland or England, but in sunny Barcelona it works just fine. 

Feeling stoked on life after I’ve unpacked and settled in, I message my French boys to come hang out at the beach with me. Lindzee is in Paris all weekend so my friend group is even smaller than usual. Only Mazen gets back to me, so he comes to my metro stop, and we walk 30 minutes to the beach. Yes, that’s right, my house is 30 minutes from the beach. And the good beaches, at that. Not the super touristy ones in Barceloneta. I’m living the dream. 

I get a great photo of Mazen, who doesn’t have Facebook for it to be his new profile picture (tragic), so I will share it here. My photo skills must be improving! 


Later, we get a text from Francisco who’s doing a DJ set tonight, so we go downtown to meet up with him at his bar. He invites me to come learn how to DJ, steps away to take a picture of me doing it, but instructs me not to actually touch anything…


I’m now a pro. You can find me in Ibiza next summer. 

Visiting Francisco of course leads us to another bar, and another, but I dip out on our way to the next. I’m sleepy, and it’s such a boys night anyway, I need Lindzee to return to me so I can have some estrogen back in my life. It occurs to me that she’s literally the only other woman I know here. Even though these guys are lovely, I need to make some female friends. 

Welcome to Barcelona! 

Landing! I’m here! It’s allllll happening. I take my time getting out of the airport, as it’s 8:30am and I can’t check into my hostel until 2pm. I’m in no rush to do anything, but I’m also not a dawdler. I follow signs to the taxi stand at the airport before I realize it’s entirely unnecessary to waste my money on such a luxury form of transport. I see a sign advertising €29 euros for a trip downtown and immediately try to find my way outta here. There’s only an escalator down to this area, not back up, and while I can see a city bus across the street, I was feeling more up to something like a shuttle. All I have is an address for this hostel, I hadn’t mapped it or anything. I talk myself into allowing myself ONE taxi ride. I’m fresh off the plane, tired, in a new place… I can take one. 

I join the queue and get assigned to a driver. He’s super nice at first but calls me guapa about 15 too many times. He gets a little weird, asking me very personal questions that I eventually can’t laugh away and have to start ignoring. He also keeps saying “welcome to Barcelona!”…what a welcome indeed. 

Arriving at the hostel is chill. I leave my backpack in a big locker so I now I am free to roam around without all my luggage. The time is 10:15am. Only 3 hours and 45 minutes more before check-in. 

I take advantage of the wifi for a bit before deciding to venture out and get myself set up with a phone. One of the first buildings I see as I turn the corner on the street, is an Orange store. Orange is like, Telus, Rogers, etc., for those of you not familiar with Europe. 

The shop attendant doesn’t speak any English, but luckily I am just so fluent in Spanish that I muster up a “yo necissito una SIM card” and point to my phone. Boom. SIM card given. She starts trying to explain to me the difference between a 10€\month and 20€\month option, but the language barrier is real, so I just choose the 20€/month because even that is cheap as hell. 

Back at the hostel, I am now able to check in to my room, which is up three flights of stairs from where I’ve left my backpack in a locker. I take a much needed nap before even pretending to go downstairs and collect my luggage. I’m beat. I set an alarm for 2 hours, and 4 hours later I wake up. 

After collecting my luggage and taking a shower I feel like a whole new person! I chat with a Kiwi guy in my room who invites me out to dinner with a crew of other people from the hostel. One of the guys is Canadian and from Montreal, and 3 others are from different parts of France, so not only do I practice a bit of Spanish ordering dinner, I also get to practice my French. We dine at a nearby strip of tapas bars with outdoor seating, but everything is so full we end up eating inside. I order something that has pesto and cheese, which turns out to be a sandwich on foaccacia. Not very Spanish, but good regardless. An American girl at our table orders gnocchi and I look at my sandwich with shame. 

After dinner we head out to everyone’s favourite shot bar. I take it they’ve been here a lot this past week. The walls are FULL of different drink names and no explanations as to what those drinks are, so we each take turns picking a mystery shot and ordering 9 of them. 

They’re not “real” shots obviously. Lots contain juice or weak liqueurs, but I know I am going to be so full of sugar that I will likely die tomorrow. 

Take me there!

Back to Reykjavik 

Our airport hotel has a shit breakfast. From 4:30-6:30 they do “cold” breakfast, and then the “hot” breakfast follows. We need to leave by 6am, so we are only going to make it for the cold food. It’s just bread, meat, and cheese. And they’re out of cheese. Wouldn’t kill them to turn on a toaster. They don’t have cream for coffee. Fruit/yogurt apparently doesn’t count as cold food. We’re not super stoked, but what can you do? 

Dad tries to arrange a taxi to the airport with the front desk, but while the concierge is calling, he decides to open his Uber app. Surprise! Norway has Uber! 

I’m a huge Uber fan, especially with all the bullshit that goes on with the taxis in Toronto. Please refer to this video of a cabbie jumping on a moving Uber. 

The driver rolls up in the same car Dad drives at home, is friendly, and takes us quickly to the airport. 

not used to riding shotgun

It only costs 90NOK ($14). This is huge news. It just occurred to me that I haven’t been listing costs much on this trip, but I can tell you Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and our taxi the night before cost almost 4x this amount. Seriously. That’s in a metered cab, just to an airport hotel.

Conclusion: Uber is life. 

Download the app and use the code naomil153 so we both get a free ride! It’ll change your life. 

Fast forward: we arrive in Reykjavik. We find a cute spot for lunch down by the harbour called the coo coo’s nest. It’s a simple little (very little) café with good sandwiches and a nice atmosphere. 


Sev and I are going off on our own to stay in a hostel for our last couple days here. Sev has never been to one before, and they’re always a good time so I figured it would be a fun way to stay in Iceland. We did just sleep on bunk beds last night after all. Why not share a room with 8 other people too? The hostel is super cool; it’s set up in an old cookie factory right on the coast in Reykjavik. It’s huge and industrial. Hipsters everywhere. 
We settle in and have a pint at the hostel bar where we meet some Americans who are here on a semester abroad. Later, Sev and I head downtown where we find a bar that we visited back in 2012 when we visited Iceland for the first time. Sev was 16 at the time and was somehow served a beer, so we still have a picture on Facebook of him with his “first” drink. We do our best to take an identical photo for comparison’s sake. 

2012
2016

We meet up with Ma and Pa again for a nice dinner at Apotek where I have some perfectly cooked octopus and a salmon dish that uses tea-infused barbecue sauce. Super fabulous. 

Back at our hostel, the bar is packed and everyone is jamming out to some live music. I knew we picked a good spot. Our American friends are down the street at another bar and are going on a full on night out, but I’m old now and feeling really tired. We’re getting up at 8am to drive the south coast of Iceland, so instead of sleeping in the car all day I decide to call it a night and go to bed early. Sev is much younger and cooler than I, so he goes out. I will live vicariously through his stories tomorrow. 

Kampot to Phnom Penh

I wake up early after a pretty lame sleep. I don’t sleep solidly for more than two hours at a time which isn’t really fun. It’s time for us to leave Kampot. It’s been a time but there’s so much more to see in Cambodia! Something about Naga House makes people want to stay longer; we aren’t the only ones who’ve extended their stay by a couple nights. Some people have been here over a week! We’ve got to escape today or we might never leave this riverside hostel.

I go down to reception and book Tamara and I both a bus up to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. I take one last dip in the river, order some breakfast, and say goodbye to Ilpo as he sets out to hitch hike his way to Sianouhkville. Sigrid joins me for some early morning food as well, then we head out on our scooter in an attempt to find the cheap fruit market. We fail miserably and can’t remember where it is, but we do find and stop at the used book store. I’m in need of a new book after finishing mine and giving it to Romain.
I don’t find anything that speaks to me, and decide to wait for something better in Phnom Penh.

When we get back Tamara is awake and I let her know about our tickets to Phnom Penh. We had meant to book them yesterday but got caught up being too lazy and playing Kampotopoly.
We’ve got a couple more hours to kill before we need to pack, as our bus doesn’t leave until 1pm. We spend most of the morning chatting and looking at a map of Cambodia, trying to figure out if we can meet up with Devin or Sigrid again along the way, but I’m sure we will.

I really hate goodbyes, but when it’s time to leave I hug Devin and Sigrid and wish them well. We hop in a tuk tuk that takes us directly to our mini van and we start the three hour drive to Phnom Penh. Tamara fills me in on the rest of the night that I missed when I was sick, but it doesn’t sound like I missed too much at all. Phew. FOMO avoided.

We meet an Australian girl when we’re getting off the bus in the capital city. We share a tuk tuk with her down to the river where all the hostels are located. She has booked into a $5 dorm room, but Tamara and I are craving a bit of our own space and have heard there are private rooms at another hostel for $6. The private rooms at this hostel start at $14. We continue on to find cheaper accommodation.
When we get to our recommended $6 accommodation, we are told private rooms start at $8. Argh. I try to make pals, joke around and do some bargaining, and I even mention that a friend stayed here for $6, but the best they offer is $7. Fine.
We are shown to what I assume must be the shittiest room in the entire building. With only one pillow, two fans, and no mirror in the bathroom. We commit to it, but later I figure that paying $8 would have probably gotten us a considerable upgrade. It’s kinda too late now, and like I always say, I can sleep anywhere. On the plus side, the 50 cents we’re saving per night is like a whole 1.5L bottle of water that we can have later!

We head straight up to the rooftop bar where we can have wifi and food. I get a mixed fruit juice that has carrots and pineapples in it, and I am in love. It’s a struggle not to inhale the whole thing in one go. By 6pm, and after a disappointing sleep last night, I am exhausted. Tamara and I go back to our sad little room and take a nap.
By nap I mean we sleep for two hours. The only reason I wake up is because my daily 8pm alarm goes off. God I hope this doesn’t ruin my sleeping pattern for later.

I wish I could put into the words the texture of my arm right now. I have approximately one million small bumps covering my elbow and
stretching midway up my upper-arm. To the naked eye it looks relatively normal, but to the touch I am a lumpy mess. It only itches on occasion and I am perplexed as to what possibly could have caused this. I throw some tiger balm on it and hope for the best.

We sit on the rooftop bar of our hostel until midnight when we decide it’s time to sleep. Tomorrow we have a heavy day of sight seeing and I want to be well rested.

Island Sunsets and Swiss Burgers

The first thing we do when we wake up is to find some food. We find a small restaurant down the street with decent prices, and each order a plate of “seafood noodles”. The plate comes full of vegetables, squid, and shrimp, which are cooked to perfection. It hits the spot.

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We spend the rest of the afternoon lazing around on the beach. We are the only people all afternoon, besides Claudio, the Italian pasta cook who made us dinner last night. He comes to join us mid-way through the day. We’re craving more fresh fruit but pretty far away from anywhere we can do some shopping, so Claudio offers to drive us down to the market on his motorbike. He was going to pick up some more fish anyway. Awesome!

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He can only fit two of us on the bike, so Tamara decides to stay back and trusts me to pick up a good selection of fruit and veg. We’ve got a pretty regular order now; mangoes, bananas, pineapple, carrots and cucumbers.

Getting on Claudio’s motorcycle feels less than stable. It’s old, and every bump in the road makes me wonder if a piece of the bike might just go flying off. We make it into town alive but I hang on for dear life. We buy a whole lot of different fruit, including some stuff I’ve never tried before, and Claudio picks out a big red fish. Neither of us know what kind it is, though. We stuff all the fruit in my backpack, including an entire watermelon, and tie the bagged fish to the back of the motorbike to drive home.

When I get back, Tamara and I enjoy a delicious mango and try the mystery fruit. It’s red and shaped a bit like a bell pepper, but much smaller. It tastes like an Asian pear and is quite refreshing. I still don’t know it’s official name.

For the sunset, we walk back down to the beach. I make sure to bring my camera this time. Devon, a fellow Canadian, joins us as we climb up the rocks for the fabulous sunset and we all chat away, exchanging travel stories. He’s been traveling for almost a year so far, and doesn’t plan to be back in Canada for at least another two. I always envy these people who just leave everything behind to go wherever and do whatever they want for such incredibly long amounts of time. It’s so cool, and I think a lot harder than it sounds. Living in hostels for three years wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but the things you would do and see in those three years would make it all worth it I’m sure.

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After the sunset we’re all hungry, so Devon drives us into town on his motorcycle, which is much sturdier than Claudio’s. All three of us squeeze on and drive ten minutes into the centre where we find a place called “SwissFoodViet” who’s sign boasts to have the “Best Burgers in Town!”.
I don’t know when burgers became a Swiss dish, but we all want to indulge in a big juicy burger anyway. It just happens sometimes. We all get a burger with Swiss cheese, which I guess kinda makes them a Swiss restaurant? They taste incredible. So far the food in Phu Quoc has been amazing, but I make note that I should be eating more seafood and less burgers because I’m only on this island for another couple days.

We stop for an ice cream on the way home, and have a relatively early night. Tomorrow, a group of people in the hostel are leaving, and Tam and I plan to do some trekking or motorbiking around to explore the island. There is a huge spider in our room and Tamara bravely murders it with a water bottle, which I highly appreciate.

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Okay, so that’s not the spider from our room…but it was in the bathroom which still counts. Our room spider was much smaller, but still creepy.

Giant Demon Spiders

A friend I met 5 years ago (why am I so old?) lives in Switzerland, so I haven’t seen her in a long time! As fate would have it, she has planned a South East Asian backpacking trip that lines up with my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, so obviously we’re meeting up! She’s been stuck in Bangkok for a few days working out her Vietnamese Visa, but is expecting to arrive in Hanoi tomorrow.

I hang out in the city and wait for her, but am having a bit of trouble figuring out what to do with my time here. I don’t want to hit any tourist spots yet, because there’s no sense in seeing them twice and I’m sure she’ll want to see them all too! I plan to wander around the lively streets of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake like I did yesterday; absorb some more Vietnamese culture. Maybe I’ll find a new spot, who knows where my day will take me!

While walking down the street I meet a guy from Ghana, who’s living in Vietnam on a soccer contract. We hang out around the lake and go for lunch, which he offers to pay for. I usually like being an independent lady and buying my own stuff…but when you’re on a budget of $15/day and you’ve just paid $100 for an entry visa…you do what you gotta do. I’m just used to being around backpackers whom I would never expect to pay for anything of mine because we are all equally 100% poor.

After a long afternoon of walking around Hanoi I feel like just relaxing on my own. Maybe taking a nap? I think months of living at home had turned me into a semi-hermit. I leave my new pal and head back to the hostel where I take a cold shower, which only effectively cools me down for a total of 0.5 seconds, and then have a little nap. It’s a lazy kind of day.

In the evening I hop across the street for some dinner. There’s a restaurant that serves both western and Vietnamese style food, and it’s indoors/air conditioned which means I don’t have to risk getting soaked by any potential rain again. There’s been a giant grey cloud threatening the city all day. I sit alone by the window.

Shortly after I get my $0.50 beer, I am provided with some entertainment when another traveler tries to enter the restaurant but really struggles with opening the sliding entrance doors. He pushes and pulls like 5 times before he sees me pointing to the arrows on the door that signify the side to side sliding motion. He makes it inside, what a champion. He’s eating alone too, so I invite him to join me. He’s from Manchester, UK, and is the spitting image of my friend Tom, who I traveled with in Australia last year. Tom was also from (basically) Manchester. Weird!!! Same same but different. Later, a girl from his hostel walks in and sits with us too. I forgot how stupidly easy it is to meet people here. They’re leaving in an hour for an over night bus to Sapa, so they aren’t in my company for very long.

I go back to my hostel and prepare to have an early night, because I’ll be getting up relatively early to meet Tamara. Instead, I meet an Argentinian dorm-mate of mine, and we go out for a beer. We find another sweet “happy hour” deal and sit on a balcony. I’m 90% sure our waitress is drunk. She’s the nicest thing ever, and seems excited to be practicing her English…but definitely tipsy. She talks to us all night.

When we get back to the hostel, I’m casually settling into my bed when I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. In the corner of the room, directly across from my bed, there is an absolutely gigantic, hairy, demon spider on the wall.

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I will never sleep again. I try to keep my cool but draw everyone else in the room’s attention to it, and then immediately go get someone from front desk. I couldn’t have it disappearing while I stepped out to find rescue.
Our front desk guy comes into our room with a giant broom, climbs up on a bunk bed, and just smashes the beast without remorse. It tries to escape and run away. It’s an epic battle for the history books, but the front desk staff prevails. There’s now a huge curled up spider carcass on the floor. He comes back a little while later with a plastic bag and throws it away. Back to the depths of hell for you, spider beast.

Will I sleep tonight? Will I ever sleep again with a bug net? Prob not. What if he had a big spider family? What if he was just the BABY and his larger, scarier spider parents are going to seek their revenge?

“Mom Guesthouse”

I wake up to someone rapping outside my door. And not like, rapping along to some Jay Z or something that’s already been produced, but just free stylin’ without any music.
It was awful. He kept rhyming swear words by changing the way he pronounces them…. and taking a long time in between versus to think about it. Extremely bizarre at 7am, BUT I am in Bangkok so I shouldn’t be surprised by this.
I lay in my rock solid bed trying to fall back asleep, and reading my books when I can’t. At 10 I decide it’s time to venture out into the world and look for a clinic. My ankle is a god damn mess.
It takes me about 2 hours of wandering around Bangkok before I find something. I keep asking shop keepers and wait staff at restaurants I pass by, but they either don’t understand what I’m asking, don’t know where it is, or don’t care. Some point in various directions and I follow their advice but I find no clinic. I even come across a street sign pointing me in the direction of the “Bangkok international clinic” which is exactly what I need, but when I follow the signs I still end up lost. Finally I do manage to stumble upon it, WAY further down the road than I ever expected it to be. Whatever. I’m here.

The doctor is very nice and cleans my ankle for me before bandaging it up and telling me to return again tomorrow. They give me some antibiotics for the infection as well, which is awesome because I need this thing to heal STAT. I have already accepted that I’m going to have a scar, but I don’t want a nasty scab on my ankle for my first few weeks in Australia either. Unfortunately that is my fate.
The good news is that when I ask her about my leech bite, she laughs and says the head is not lodged in my ankle (MOM!) but that the small bite wound was infected by my ankle. It should go away quickly with the antibiotics. Thank the baby Jesus. I really didn’t want to cut off my foot.

I return to Mom Guesthouse (what a name) where I have to sit in the hallway on the floor in order to charge my dying phone. They didn’t find it necessary to add any sort of wall plugs to the room I’m in. Not a one. The one thing this place is good for though, is wifi. It’s free and fast and doesn’t cut out every 10 minutes like some of the places I’ve stayed. So that’s a plus. I hang out in the hall until my butt is numb from sitting on the hardwood and decide that my phone has charged enough for now. I go back to my room and rest my ankle while I finish reading the mystery/thriller novel that Ilona had been given by one of the girls we met on the slow boat. It’s called The Executioner if you’re interested, but I don’t really think I’ll be reccomending it to anyone. It was okay, but I also haven’t read very many mystery novels.

When I’m done reading, I decide I should probably go back out into Bangkok to find some food. I only have a few Asian meals left so I want to make it a good one, but there’s so many choices! Street food stalls are abundant on Khosan, so I make a couple of stops instead of choosing just one. I buy some watermelon, which comes in pieces inside a small plastic sac with a long, thin wooden stick for cutlery. I eat the watermelon on my way over to another food stall where I buy spring rolls, which are ungracefully cut with big scissors into smaller pieces before being placed on a plate, so that I can eat these too, with a thin wooden stick. Finally, as I walk around I decide on pad thai, which I knew I would all along but thought I’d take a look to see if anything else caught my eye first. I order a pad thai with chicken and watch as they fry it all together in a large black wok right there in the street. This one, thankfully, comes with a pair of chop sticks instead of a thin wooden stick. That would take far too long for me to figure out how to eat.

I take a look at some of the street stalls on my way back towards my guesthouse, because I would really like to purchase a painting before I go. Now is the time to do it, because I wont have to worry about it being crumpled in my bag while I tote it all over the place, but I only have 1000 baht left, and do not want to have to use an ATM again until I’m in Australia, so I decide to save my money for tomorrow.

I come back to the prison cell of a room in Mom Guesthouse where I pick up where I left off in Life of Pi. What an appropriate novel to be reading on my travels!
While I read, the silence in my room is frequently interrupted by horking guests outside in the hallway and in the washroom next to me. Charming. I have noted that if theres one thing I truly hate it’s people who hork. I don’t think I find anything more offensive than when I’m walking down the street and a man horks in my pathway. Please refrain from making that awful noise and spitting where I am about to put my feet, until I have passed. I say ‘man’ because I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a horking woman. Not yet. I am sure they exist, but it’s definitely something I see A LOT of men doing as opposed to women, and not just abroad but back home, too. Though it’s much worse here, and even worse in India. I just don’t understand the point of it at all, but I digress. I just can’t help but wonder ‘WHY’, and then hate it.

I leave later in the evening to visit the Wat Pho Temple and Grand Palace, which I read on trip advisor as being even more beautiful at night. I leave around 8:30pm. If theres one thing I have learned as a backpacker, it is that taxis and tuk tuks will always, ALWAYS try to take advantage of you. When they see a white tourist they try to charge as much as they possibly can. I have no idea how much it should cost me to get to this temple because I don’t even really know where it is, and therefore decide to ask a couple tuk tuks about a price and try to haggle to see what the best deal is before actually choosing one. I must ask 6 different tuk tuks or taxi drivers what the cost would be to get to Wat Pho Temple, before finding one who will take me for 50 baht (which honestly still seems a little bit pricey, but it’s better than the 100 I’ve been quoted numerous times).
I hop in the tuk tuk for a 3 minute drive down the main road where he turns off onto a dark and quiet street. I’m a little sketched out, but I’m still not far from the main road and he seems like a nice man. He pulls over and points at a gate on the side of the road and says “Wat Pho”. I pay him his 50 baht and get out. There is a security guard having a cigarette outside the gate and I ask him how much the entrance fee is. He points at the sign informing me that Wat Pho Temple closes at 6pm. I am too late.
Why not even one of the taxi drivers I asked to take me to Wat Pho thought it would be helpful to mention that it’s actually closed, is beyond me. But now I am here so I try to make the best of the 50 baht useless tuk tuk ride. I kindly ask the guard if there is any way he would let me step inside the gate walls and take some pictures and he is kind enough to let me. When I am finished I ask him where the Grand Palace is, because I’ve heard that they’re very close. He points to the end of the street, where I can see some lights still on outside another gate, and smiles at me. I try to confirm the fact that it is still open and he nods. I make the short walk down to the gate, which is obviously not open. I don’t even know why I tried. I’m not even sure if this is the Grand Palace. The guard was extremely nice, but he didn’t speak a word to me. Just a lot of smiling and nodding. Oh well. I take some pictures from the outside, across the street where I can get a shot of the temple or the palace or whatever it may be, sitting behind a relatively low gate wall. It’s quite classic Asian architecture, with pointed tips on its roof top and gold trim. But it also features a beautiful brown and gold shimmer on portions of the building. In the night sky and reduced lighting, in combination with the gold trim around the edges of the palace/temple, it is absolutely stunning. I snap some photos on my new camera and take one with my cellphone as well. I’m hoping I can later try to mark my location on Instagram and have it give me options for where I actually was. I have to assume it was the Grand Palace. However, the other day when returning from the Siam mall in a tuk tuk with Ilona and Carrie, I had pointed at a building covered in sparkling lights and giant photos of the King on display, and asked if this was the Grand Palace. Carrie informed me that it was the train station…where I have been twice before. So who knows where I could have been tonight. The pier?
I find another tuk tuk who tries to quote me 100 baht to take me home, and I am sure that I still over pay when I talk him down to 50. I don’t care, I just don’t want to walk.

I get back to my guesthouse and walk upstairs past fellow backpackers pre-drinking before going out to the madness of Khosan road. I wish I had the energy or the desire to go out to the street party tonight, but I simply do not. I am more than ready to leave Bangkok tomorrow, and I look forward to packing my bag, maybe trying to re-visit Wat Pho temple when I know it is open, and then getting on my plane to Sydney.