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January 26th 2012
Published: February 20th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Nothing is more exciting living abroad than having someone you know from home come visit! It's was so great being able to share my life here in Thailand with a friend from Austin, Texas. Leslie went to McCombs with me (the business school at UT) and served as an officer with me in the Women in Business Association (WBA). Leslie just graduated in December and before her amazing job starts up in NYC she is taking the world by storm and going everywhere. We arranged to meet her at the airport that Friday evening. It was so strange being in an airport, it gets my travel blood pumping and I just wanted to get on a flight and go somewhere. This trip to Thailand has been the longest time I've spent in just on foreign country. It took some time before we could find Leslie among the crowded Bangkok airport but we managed it. Without the ability to call someone it's almost like finding a needle in a haystack at that airport.

For Leslie's first weekend in Thailand, Erika and I, planned a trip to Koh Samet. Luckily, we had a three day weekend to enjoy. Koh Samet is a small island just about 2 1/2 hours away from bustling Bangkok. We left the next morning and took our usual method of transport, a van. Leslie kept telling Erika and I that she didn't believe we were taking her to a beach, she was going to have to wait till she saw it with her own eyes first. She started believing us once we arrived to the ferry port and the island was in plain sight.

Koh Samet is a national park for Thailand so there was an extra fee to enter. Foreigners pay more than locals and if Erika and I had our work permits we would have been able to get the local price. Too bad all our school work is done on Thai time and we'll probably only get our permits with a few weeks left to work here. The fee was only about 200 Baht (about 7 usd) so nothing too horrible to really complain about. In hindsight, we found out that our hostel wasn't even in the "technical" national park and we didn't really have to pay the fee in the end. This is just another tourist trap.. They see tourists come into the official gate of the national park with bags those tourists get charged, but if you have no bags you can pass through those gates with no worries. We paid our park fee when we purchased the ferry tickets.

Our hostel was really nice. The island has one main dirt road and from the ferry port our hostel was located to the right whereas the national park gate is left. The hostel was right off the water with great views. The owner was Australian and has had this hostel for about 6 years. He's married to a Thai woman and they have an adorable 5 month old baby who gets to hang out behind the bar all the time. A funny sight to see. The room was normal for Thailand, no a/c, screen windows, fans, shower/toilet combo bathroom. It was perfect.

The beach was much more crowded at Koh Samet than it was at Koh Chang. Mostly due to it being so close to Bangkok I'm sure. There wasn’t much to do on this island but lay on the beach and enjoy the rays and the cool water. So that's exactly what we did. We rented motorbikes and everyday that weekend we headed to the beach, had some delicious island food, and enjoyed relaxing. The roads weren't exactly in the best shape and this is an understatement. There were pot holes everywhere and driving mopeds on this road was a challenge. I didn't even want to attempt but rather I left my life in the capable hands of Erika who battled all the potholes. The island transformed it's character at night and became a small little hot spot for partying. There were pretty amazing fire shows that were the best I've seen yet. Actually, I believe Koh Samet is a little obsessed with fire.. You could jump fire-rope, do fire-limbo, and enjoy these awesome fire shows every night here. A weekend trip to the beach cures any aliment and we all returned to Mahachai worry free and sun kissed.

Leslie came to school with me on Tuesday. The best day to have a visitor.. I only have two classes the entire day and am done teaching by 11 am. The kids really enjoyed having a new foreign face in the room and grilled her with questions. It was a fun day for us all. After the classes, I played hookie for the rest of the day and headed to Bangkok with Leslie to check out Wat Arun before her flight to Chiang Mai (no need for her to stick around Mahachai while I work all week!). Transport was exhausting that day. We took a van to Bangkok, jumped on the bts rail, and took a taxi boat to the Wat. We could only see the Wat for about 45 minutes before we had to make sure to head back to have her make it to the airport on time. Turned out she missed her flight anyway but was able to change it for a small fee. Lesson learned.. The airport express line on the BTS only runs every 30 minutes.

During the week, Leslie was going to be having fun with tigers and elephants in Chiang Mai while I got to stay at school but I had Saturday to look forward to. Leslie would come back and that night we would go party it up in Bangkok. I had yet to really experience a real club in Bangkok. Koh San Road doesn’t count. We planned
Got a light?Got a light?Got a light?

They really liked to show off their limbo skills :)
on partying in the RCA area of Bangkok where it's a street full of clubs. Kind of like Austin's 6th street but clubs not bars. We went to Route 66 and had a great time. It felt good dancing on a dance floor, we haven't gone out like this at all since being in Thailand. Route 66 is a crowded club with very good DJ's. The more the DJs drank the more they sang along though so they got annoying as the night progressed. We were sad to find out that bars/clubs must shut down shop at 2 am. Just like in Texas!! I was so disappointed! Come on Bangkok! Guess after clubs they want people to head over to the go-go bars and such…

Leslie stayed till Thursday the next week and explored Bangkok while I was at school. She would come back at night to tell me what she saw and I would tell her how my teaching day went. Overall, I had an amazing time with her and loved having someone from home get a taste of my life here in Thailand.

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