Winter Wonder [Thai]land, Part II

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29 of my 31 Christmases were spent in Pennsylvania with my family. On Christmas Eve my mom traditionally takes my sisters and I to the 11pm service at St. Paul Lutheran Church. We sing Silent Night lit only by candlelight and once every few years my mom sheds a tear. On Christmas morning we wake up at 8am, turn on the holiday classics, my sister bakes cinnamon rolls from scratch and we watch each other open the gifts we have meticulously selected with eager anticipation. After dinner I load up a car with more gifts and venture to my dad’s where I eat more food, sing the 12 Days of Christmas accompanied by the bells and watch my Grandma imbibe to her heart’s content. 

Not this year. 

Christmas Eve was spent at a ping pong show in Bangkok with my three Jewish friends and lots of naked Thai women. Prior to visiting Thailand I had a vague idea of what a ping pong show was, but thanks to an encouraging tuk-tuk driver who pointed out “the best and most exclusive ping pong show in all of Bangkok,” that dark alley, the stubborn bouncer, and endless vagina tricks will forever be engrained in my memory. 

On Christmas morning we packed up our belongings, said goodbye to Khao San Road, and hopped on a plane and boat to Ko Pha Ngan – home of the infamous Full Moon Party. Headed in the complete opposite direction from where my Thai trip began both literally and figuratively, I expected this portion of the trip to be nothing more than Coachella at the beach. The crowds grew younger, whiter, and drunker. The loose cotton pants and skirts were replaced with neon tank tops, fringe and body paint. I couldn’t make myself younger or whiter but I could make myself drunker to cope.  

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on christmas morning we said goodbye to khao san road and MADE our way to koH phangan — home of the infamous full moon party.

Weaving around the thousands of Europeans, South Americans, Australians, and South Africans who descended upon the island for the holiday full moon festivities I felt myself stand out. Since leaving the U.S. I hadn’t given much thought to my age. I was a 31 year old traveling with two 24 year olds and a 28 year old, attempting to blend in among an overwhelmingly young twenty-something party crowd. I struggled to feel comfortable in my own skin and it was obvious to my travel comrades. They served me a bucket of booze (because that’s how one consumes alcohol down here), gave me half of an Adderall, and told me to follow their lead as they demonstrated how to approach attractive men, kiss them, and walk away. As judgmental as I was tempted to be there truly was something I admired about their silent confidence. They were not typical narcissistic millennials relying upon their dewy wrinkle-free skin and careless naivety. They were self-assured, uninhibited, and unscathed. I observed in awe.

It took a couple of hours but I got there… some sloppy kisses, some questionably young, mostly mediocre but nonetheless exhilarating.

Koh Phangan, Thailand

Koh Phangan, Thailand

 I think between the four of us we estimated about fifty make outs. Don’t judge, you weren’t there. You don’t know what it’s like. Feeling satisfied with what I had accomplished for myself and single 30 something women everywhere, I was almost ready to call it a night around 2am when my eyes fell upon a dark haired, dark skinned Brit. He was in Thailand to study Muay Thai boxing and had the body to back that up. At this point on Christmas night I had several kisses under my black belt but none came close to the chemistry and passion I shared with this guy. We kissed under the moonlight as the waves hit our feet for almost an hour. It sounds romantic but rest assured only a few feet away from us were thousands of late-night revelers still dancing and drinking the night away in their neon.

If I had been staying in a normal hotel in the normal part of town then the next part of the story would be fairly straight forward. But of course I wasn’t, how boring would that be? As our make out escalated and it grew clear that we were both in this for the night, we were faced with the awkward discussion of trying to buy a room on the perfect storm of a night when Christmas and the full moon collided, OR make the long and dangerous trek up a rocky cliff on an unstable and uneven wooden path with no hand rails built over the ocean to reach my “ocean view bungalow.” I could barely find it sober in the daylight (actually I couldn’t, I hitched a ride with two non-English speaking locals up the mountain who took selfies with me, the crazy lost white girl, while laughing and driving), but why not attempt it with a hot guy for the possibility of sex? He probably doesn't have an STD, right? 

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Only by the grace of God, the light of the moon, and the will of the loins did we make it to the end of the path.

Only by the grace of God, the light of the moon, and the will of the loins did we make it to the end of the path. Every bungalow looked the same and the only way I could distinguish mine was by the fortuitous bed pillow hanging off the balcony. I tossed it out there before I left for the evening because it had tiny bugs covering it. I had already changed bungalows twice – once because of no electricity and again because I watched a giant salamander crawl behind the bed. A few ants on a pillow? I’ll take it, just get me to the booze! He complimented my cleverness to leave some sort of landmark. This poor, determined-to-have-sex-even-if-it-means-falling-off-a-cliff soul. Lucky for both of us it was well worth the strenuous sunrise climb. Sexual achievements: Best butt I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping with. First Brit. Second time in two months not recalling the name (achievement? Eh, sure). No clue his age and likely vice versa. He never noticed the bugs but did notice tattoo. 

The sun hung well above the ocean horizon by the time we went to sleep. I woke up a few hours later in a cold sweat wishing I was alone so I could use the bathroom the way I really needed to use the bathroom. I was also eager to return to my friends and divulge the racy details. I felt like Daniel-san attempting to please my master Miyagi hoping this would advance me to the next level in the discipline of one night stands. 

Oh Thailand, you gave me so much. Beyond the full moon romp and the cigarette smoking vaginas you brought me back to a place of peace. Even if it was only temporary, I believe I made more healing progress in those two weeks then I would have with six months of going about my routine life at home. Some might think that the opposite should be true – that we rely on the love and support of family during times of difficulty – but for me, stepping away and pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into another culture was the most effective medicine. While my heartache hadn’t completely subsided, I certainly left Thailand feeling more whole then when I arrived. 

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep  Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai, Thailand