Today I left Pai, and I'm not too sure how I feel about it. When I travel, I only fly with one way tickets. I have loose plans... guidelines that are completely open to interpretation. I hate feeling rushed or tied to deadlines. Unfortunately, overstaying your visa in thailand isn't as acceptable as it is in Cambodia- it's expensive, and if too much time passes then there are serious consequences. So, in Pai- with an amazing group of individuals who truly know me, understand me, and fill my days with love and laughter (especially the Dutch, who have me keeled over, clutching at my sides because im laughing so hard)- and I'm simply not ready to leave. We had an amazing Thai dinner followed by a night of drunken debauchery in town- singing and dancing, laughing and hugging- and taking loads of photos to document the good times. We stumbled into our huts a bit after 3am, then were up before 8am so we could say our goodbyes to Ramzi. Ooooohh RAMZI. Ramzi is from Germany. He has been studying in Bangkok for the past several months, and he is one of the funniest motherfuckers that I've ever met. The commentary that went on between him and my darling dutch Linda literally made me laugh until I couldn't breathe. They just bantered back and forth- all day and all night, every single day. A touch hungover with far too little sleep, we all headed to our favorite breakfast place in town, the Witching Well, for strawberry smoothies and mushroom curry crepes. Claire, Ramzi, Mick, Linda and Myself....recapping the night, looking through photos, reenacting moments and watching videos. Let me tell you- Mick has turned me onto making videos...and they are BRILLIANT. Photos are good but videos are great- they really help you to relive the moment. Mick is always making videos- combinations of photos and videos, with music behind them, of all the places that he goes. When I get home I'm going to start-- the movies bring you to tears ( of happiness ). We headed back to Ramzi's hut so that he could pack...and then out came our bottle of Thai whiskey. 10am and we all had some hair of the dog. Perfect. Again- an hour of paralyzing laughter. Shouting and insulting one another in Dutch, German and English. Ramzi left us, and then the 5 became 4. But not for long, because Dean joined us shortly thereafter. Dean is another amazing human being that I've been blessed with meeting this past MAGICAL week in Pai. He's been living in Pai the past 5months- training 6 hours a day, 6 days a week in Muy Thai. He's kindof taken Mick under his wing and is helping him find a place in the training. Deans life has been one hell of a journey, but he's come out on top, with a passion for life that matches my own. He has the most beautiful eyes that you've ever seen and a smile that makes YOU smile. Our group decided that it was too hot for anything other than swimming, so we headed to FLUID, the local pool. For 60baht ($2usd) you get to swim in the big, refreshing pool, a nice mat to lounge on the grass with, and use of the gym as well as table tennis. It's a nice way to spend a sweltering hot afternoon. We ate some "proper wedges" (for those of us in America, French Fries!), swam, relaxed, read and swam some more. We decided on Thai food for dinner and all went to Na's for some ammmmazing curry. On our walk there I had a lump in my throat. The pit that had been in my stomach for the previous two days wasn't going away- it was getting worse. Leaving Pai didn't feel right, Leaving my friends didnt feel right, and leaving Mick felt downright wrong. As we made our way to dinner I fought back tears, struggled to swallow and breaths were staggered with the millions of emotions that were pumping through me. It was like I was trying to breathe without lungs. I've never had an anxiety attack before, but I'm pretty sure that I experienced one tonight. Dinner was delicious, but my mind was somewhere else. We stopped for dessert and I couldn't hold it in anymore. The lump in my throat was overbearing and painful, i began to cry big tears that had a mind of their own and I literally couldn't breathe. I was so focused on just taking slow steady breaths that I nearly fainted. Holy fucking Christ, what the fuck is going on?!?! It scared the shit out of me- I've never reacted this way before to anything. Got it together long enough to make it to the bus station and say my sad farewells. I hated to leave Linda but we'll be meeting up again in Laos a few days from now. Still, leaving her, even if only for a few days- feels really awkward and awful. Dean is someone I will definitely be crossing paths with again, so we simply said "I'll be seeing you". Claire, always taking care of everyone despite being the baby (19) gave me the hug that I needed and then Mick. Oh my oh my oh Mick. Two weeks feels like two years. The universe has a way of giving you just what you need- and the universe gave me Mick. Yeah it didn't work out the way id perhaps dreamt it up in my head, but perhaps its better this way- we don't always know what's best for us. Mick has helped me to heal- leave behind the fucked up year Ive just endured and start living again. I can't pinpoint what exactly it was about him- what he said or what he did specifically, but just being around him made me happy, and brought on a sense of peace and safety that I haven't known before. I hated leaving him, and as I'm in the van headed towards Laos I just keep telling myself that all is well and that this is for the best. But honestly, I'm quite sad. I can't stop crying. It started as we pulled away and it continues now- well over an hour into my journey. Still struggling a bit to swallow and breathe- but I guess that what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger.
This is why I travel. For moments like these and people like this. People that make you excited about living and breathing- people that inspire you to be more, see more, and EXPECT more- instead of just settling. Because despite these flowing tears, I'm happier than I've been in a Very LONG time. Because right now I'm so very ALIVE. THIS... this is why I travel.
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