25 and alive in thai

July 6th- Sukhsant wan keid! (Happy Birthday)

The day began with a video call to mom and dad, sister and nieces. Their day was ending as mine was beginning. It was our first call since I left and it was great to see their faces. It also made me miss them that much more. It was hard to grasp spending my birthday without my family. The 2nd birthday in 25 years. As my 21st was spent in treatment. But what a beautiful transition from 4 years ago. Treatment to Thailand. It brings tears to my eyes to think I am 25 years old and traveling Thailand, I never would have imagined doing this for my birthday. As much as I wish I could have my family and friends with me, I feel whole inside knowing I was capable of following a dream. Thanks mom, dad, and my siblings for being so supportive and believing in me. I miss you all, and my 4 beautiful nieces.

So, I treated myself to breakfast at my hotel, French toast, eggs, and fruit. The best french toast I have ever had. Homemade rolls turned into french toast, and the fruit was so fresh and delicious. I was in heaven. I met up with the girls I had met yesterday and we rented scooters for the day! We were all very nervous to drive them, there are pretty much no rules to the road and no speed limits. We shared our fears but pushed through and started riding those babys! It was so much fun. We rode out to the Pom Bok waterfall hiked a small hill, crossed a sketchy bridge and found ourselves emersed in caves, and rock walls. There was a gorgeous waterfall and swimming hole. I swam out to the waterfall and let the water pound against me as I tried to climb the rocks. It felt so good to tilt my head back and have the cool water pound on my head. (weird I know). It sounded like thunder coming down. I have never swam into a waterfall like that. Until now. I was swimming in waterfalls in Thailand to ring in being a quarter of a century and I couldnt be happier. I watched some guys climbing the rocks to jump off into the swimming hole, rocks in here are incredibly slippery. In fact, I am finding a lot of things here are slippery. I followed suit and climbed up these rocks, only to climb a little higher than I needed and adrenaline kicking in. Of course, my heart was racing, my hands were shaking, and I felt stuck. I turned around to see, and really I was not that high, but the only solution was to finish climbing and jump, I could not just climb back down. The chances of slipping and falling on the rocks below were to great to risk. A gentlement from england I believe, coerced me into pushing through the fear. He guided me with his adorable accent on where to step. I eventually was able to climb to the right spot only to freeze. I love the adrenaline rush, but I find like many things, if I think to much my head gets in the way of taking action. It took some breathing and a lot of cheering from the many foreign views ( I am pretty sure some people got photos and videos that I will never see). In the blink of an eye I jumped. It was stunning, wonderful, fullfilling and exciting. I loved it. I mean I didnt come to Thailand to stop when I got scared. I didnt come to Thailand to let fear control me. I dropped the rock and jumped (Jillian and Rachel understand that metaphor ;).

On our journey back to town we stopped along the road at what is called “The Land Crack.” A local farmer, has opened up a seating area for tourist to stop at upon their return from the falls. The name comes from a phenomenom that occured in 2008. This farmer awoke one morning to a giant crack in his land. Over the years the crack grew larger and larger. We walked up to witness this and what a site it was. The strangest thing with no explanation to this day. This was devistating for this farmer and his family for he could no longer farm his land. (Farming is how almost all of the locals provide for their families here) When you stop in he greets you with Roselle iced tea that is incredibly delicious. He has you sit in the common area that is created with stumps and wood and bamboo. He brings out freshly farmed peanuts, bananas, banana chips, potatoes and something I am unsure of the name but it resembles large bean pods, covered in a dark gew. I tried it and it was very sour. He also brings out homemade jam. He does not ask you to pay, but does request donation to help support his family. It was such a great experience and shows how giving and kind the thai culture is. He was the sweetest man. It is amazing to witness how resourceful and creative the thai culture is. As we left the “Land Crack” we met two girls traveling to the Pai Canyon, so we tagged along. The Canyon was once again breathtaking and amazing. What a different change of pace, we were just swimming in waterfalls and now we were standing above Pai on what appeared to be a desert canyon. We hiked around but the paths are small and narrow and not to mention slippery. It was gorgeous to jsut look around and embrace it all. Very similar to the grand canyon experience I had during Christmas. Something beautiful and unique here is everything is very untouched. Though there is garbage left from tourists that visit, which saddens me. There is not anyone at a booth asking for you to pay them to visit these natural places, there isn’t anything being built or renovated.
We arrived back to town and split up, I went to grab some late lunch at Good Life cafe and met a woman from Lithuania outside the cafe. We chatted about green juices, health foods, and travel. She had recently arrived in Pai and at one point I shared with her it was my birthday. She agreed to meet up later to hangout and celebrate. I decided to take off on my motorbike to watch the sunset. I had no destination and an open road to myself. I cruised passed villages, farms, farmers still hard at work. The locals smiled and waved as I drove passed with a giant grin on my face. I stopped for some pictures, took in the breath of the sunset and could barely grasp that I was 25 standing in the middle of Northern Thailand and not a wisp of loneliness was near.

Later I met up with Alina, the woman from Lithuania, I had decided to try some squid and asked her to join at which point she shared with me she was vegan. I loved it, and she was totally supportive of me being adventurous with the squid. We walked and talked and head to a hangout spot I had heard was a lot of fun. The name: Edible Jazz; the vibe: chill, relaxing, and live music/open mic. We ordered fruit smoothies and talked the night away. We had made plans to get bikes in the morning and cycle to a waterfall. I was really beginning to find my place in Pai, and in traveling solo. I can meet new people and build new relationships. This is happening, this was happening. The best present I could give myself is the ability to expand my social skills (besides being in thailand). Well one of the best, I think it is the beginning of many gifts on this journey, I am just so exctatic to have met her! We made our way back to our rooms for the night. And my Thailand birthday came to an end. It was perfect. My heart was happy, my soul was happy. I did find myself telling people it was my birthday but I also found myself forgetting, and not needing to make it all about me.
I turned 25, feeling incredibly alive, all in Thailand. I can dig being a quarter of a century.

PomBok Falls, Thailand
Pai Canyon

Pai Sunset

My friend Alina

Love Always,
Alicia

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