I am writing this entry today because I have been feeling a little bit down lately and I wanted to share my story with you. I will not provide names or gender, so this person will be called “this person”…
If you know me, I come across as a very outgoing, happy person who always have something to joke, rave or exaggerate about the good things in life, but the truth is I am not an open book with my feelings, I rarely tell people how I feel.
I recently reunited with an old friend, someone I met almost 30 years ago and someone I thought cared for me and my family. This person was kind to me, we spoke over the phone sometimes weekly, sometimes several times a day and I opened my heart, I cried, I laughed and this person made me feel good and sometimes even better about my weakness and strengthens. In return I was also emphatic with all the problems this person was facing, I listened and gave my advice and deeply cared for this person and the family.
But my world came apart after discovering pretty much everything I was told was a lie. This person was not who I think it was.
Needless to say I was humiliated, taken for granted, lied, laughed at and insulted and in short made me realise how vulnerable I can be, I felt like being naked in front of a crowd.
But also, how vulnerable must be this person to create a parallel world that does not exist? Does this person feel hurt? I guess I will never know.
I hope, truly hope this person is aware of the damage it did to me and to my family.
Thankfully photography is a healer for me so I can easily express my emotions and get those feelings out and realise for once, that it’s OK to feel vulnerable, because after all ,we are all humans: We grow and learn from hard times. Vulnerability can make you stronger after all.
…And I hope you read this…
Oh, well… what can I say, did we love Thailand! Oh, yes. We experienced an amazing and culinary culture, lovely people, so they say it is the land of smiles and fabulous food and is all true!. But, as we seem to be very adventurous, we, again, ran into troubles!… keep reading…
We spent the first days in Bangkok, visited a few of the temples, Wat Arum, Wat Pho and the Royal palace. But how did we get to visit them? We used Tuk Tuks and contrary to some people telling you not to do it because of scams, we actually never got scammed. It was fun I have to say, as the Tuk Tuks are pretty small, my husband rode it sitting on the floor and hanging on for dear life! It was actually fun riding them in the busy Bangkok streets, with cycles riding on the wrong side of the street and the Tuk Tuk going thru red lights. But yes, believe me when I say it was fun regardless of how dangerous it was, have we actually gone mad?
The day before we left Bangkok, we went to the old capital of Siam, the old city of Ayutthaya with our superb guide Thip-Ahphorn. The history is actually quite interesting but horrific at the same time. By the 16th century it was one of the wealthiest cities in the east but by the 18th century it started losing control over its provinces and it went to war with the Burmese, 40,000 troops attacked the city, burned it to the ground, and the kingdom was ruined. The results of the burning is still visible today: the destruction of the Buddhas is actually horrific, they were decapitated. One of the decapitated Buddhas in the temple of Wat Mahathat landed at the base of a tree and nowadays is one of the most photographed features as it is very impressive how the tree grew around the face of the Buddha.
Now, what was super exciting during this visit was the fact that it coincided with the visit of the Royal Princess of Thailand and we were invited to sit and wait for her. There were people dressed in her royal colours. We were not allowed to take pictures, but we could feel how the Thai people adore their royals.
On our 5th day we based ourselves in a beautiful island in the middle of the Andaman sea. We were extremely lucky to avoid the crowds, have the beach for just ourselves and witnessed amazing sunrises, we visited hidden lagoons on a long tail boat and kayaked. It was relaxing, it was pure bliss.
But we needed a little bit of more excitement, so we moved hotels and went to the Krabi coast, from there we took the famous tour to the Phi Phi islands. Little did we know what was going to happen… the sea was choppy, it was bad… so bad the tour operator should have cancelled the tour. The tour was exactly the opposite of what we called an enjoyable day, it was crowded, the food was bad and contrary to our beliefs, we visited the famous Monkey island. I felt so sad for the poor monkeys being invaded by tourists, chasing them, leaving rubbish there. In return the monkeys were attacking the tourists and this comes at a cost… each tourist bitten there, must have the anti rabies vaccination. We were not attacked, but we witnessed what mass tourism can do to a natural place, it was horrific. If you read this, please do not go there if you have a love for nature, far better to just leave nature undisturbed. And yet, the worst was to come, like we have a sense for adventure and we love danger, lol, just joking!
After that we were supposed to navigate to Maya Bay but because the seas were too rough they took us to a lagoon for a swim where it was calmer, we spent about 45min there. After the lagoon, we started sailing back. The sea was rough and the waves were 2 to 3 meters high and nearly as big as the boat. Then suddenly we got struck by a giant wave much bigger than our boat. One of the waves destroyed the windshield of the boat and the roof started falling apart. Two people fell in the boat, one of them was my daughter and the force of the wave ripped one baby out of her mother’s arm. The fast action of the tourist sitting next to her saved the baby’s life by not allowing the baby to be flushed overboard. People lost shoes on the boat, the flooding destroyed my camera and I imagine it destroyed every piece of equipment everyone else had. My family and two other tourists who are all excellent swimmers, decided to put on the life-jackets because we were terrified. None of the crew members suggested to put on the life-jackets, not even to the people who could clearly not swim or even to save their children in case they went overboard, until I suggested that the others put them on. We continued the journey but the weather was so bad, we had to make an emergency stop at Chicken island, we were there for about 10-15 minutes. People were panicking, screaming and praying but the guide was laughing as if it was a normal thing to happen. I’m still trying to figure out if the guy acted this way as not to make the people panic even more. He certainly maintained composure but what was happening was not normal in any navigating conditions.
When we came back to the hotel, I realised what we had gone thru and the negligence of the tour operator, who put financial gain before people’s safety. For a starter, no one was warned that there were weather warnings. The warnings were so serious they had been published in a newspaper the day before the tour. The authorities warned all ships to proceed with caution, and small boats to stay ashore. Considering they still thought it was OK to go out and that there was not a policy of wearing life-jackets, we could have all died, and I’m not exaggerating. From this point, all the photos were made with my mobile phone which survived the ordeal
Next day, we decided to have a very quiet day by the pool, we were drained and I was super sad I lost my camera, yet extremely happy to be able to tell the story and we continued our adventure.
Two days after the last episode we went to the jungle in Khao Sok national park. We spent two days in a super environmentally friendly hotel which had tree houses and I was extremely happy to see that the monkeys there, were the ones chasing the humans and not the other way around. As a matter of fact, on the first day, we could not enter our treehouse as it was under attack by 8-10 monkeys. They were trying to get inside and I’m unsure what items they wanted to take as per specific instructions from the receptionist, we didn’t leave any food or toiletries outside. It was funny seeing the alpha monkey giving directions to the little ones, it was very clear who the boss was!
Next day we visited a sanctuary for elephants. They only keep three elephants who were rescued from horrific conditions, one of them had been made to work for tourists her entire life by doing handstands, how sad is that? Until her limbs went so bad, she cannot walk properly. There was another elephant which was the youngest one, that had been working carrying logs and was involved in a road accident. She spent years in rehabilitation and is still suffering a moderate amount of pain. But the good thing, is that these elephants are now receiving the care they need on a daily basis, they get to see a vet once a week. It was humbling to see the hard work they put into the elephants making them feel comfortable. These elephants cannot be released into the wild because they could not survive.
We finished our trip celebrating our 20 years wedding anniversary as well as the birthday of my daughter on the same day at the beautiful man made lake reserve of Khao Sok National Park , Cheow Lan Lake and we felt like we were living in the Pandora world from Avatar.
Now is your turn... Have you been to Thailand? What were your experiences like? I am curious and would love to know all about it!
Why am I getting nervous? Well, I'm off for holidays again. My last photoshoot for this month is scheduled for tomorrow and I'm certainly looking forward to it, and then I should start packing my suitcase.
But I'm really nervous of the unknown, traveling to a country where I don't speak the language is hard on anyone. Been learning a few phrases and getting worried of saying something really wrong! I really do not know what to expect for the next 20 days. I feel butterflies in my stomach every time I fly somewhere new, and I wonder if I booked the right place, and much more now after our holiday in Morocco and click here to read the blog if you want to know how it went for us, you will understand.
Well, this holiday wont be as crazy as the last one, but certainly there will be loads to learn from a new culture and our first time in Asia!
Am I looking forward, oh yeah! Stay tuned for the update....
Can you guess where are we flying to?
Here are a few unrelated pictures of our last holiday in New York last year, and also dreaming of going back one day.