After leaving the farm I stopped by to see my friends ‘J’ and ‘A’ once more before departing Australia for good. During that portion of my time with them we got our adventurous spirits on once again and visited the Featherdale Wildlife Park just about a 20 minute drive from Marsfield and the Jenolan caves nestled in the Blue Mountains.
For this post I will let the pictures do all the talking as my words won’t be able to give the proper justice to the beauty found at the Jenolan caves! As for the Wildlife Park, it was both awesome and sometimes a bit nerve-wracking to be in such an open area with kangaroos and wallaby bouncing around! Though they were all quite used to humans, I was still pretty nervous to pet them. The variety of native birds, mammals and reptiles were quite impressive and was a wonderous way to spend the day! Both would recommend both of these attractions for anyone visiting the area.
Playing I spy (and mostly winning, though another would disagree ;)) on the way to Victoria with horses in tow. Mind you it was a 12-14 hour drive each way, so we had lots of time to kill:)
Rudy: A rooster on the property that just one day showed up and staked his claim on the land was one of the many creatures that roamed around. Though I had never really had an issue with him (I bribed him daily with food!) any time a new person came on the property, he would try to attack them. He was rather sneaky at it too, even going so far as to attack unsuspecting people who had been on the property before from behind! Many people had stories of their encounters with the rooster ending in bloodshed (on the humans part, not the rooster’s!) or very close calls. Luckily I was never one of them, so from my perspective it was extra entertaining to hear about others close calls!
General wildlife on the property: goats (ham and cheese), burger the bull, bats, wallaby, kangaroo in the valley, snakes, huntsman, frogs, moths, bunnies, foxes, black cockatoos, parrots in the valley… the beauty of the wilderness that surrounded us daily was unbelievable and amazing!!
Dried bat: I had been used to (somewhat) encountering many a huntsman spider while opening and closing gates around the property as the sneaky buggers loved to hide out in the wood. They mostly stayed away from gates that were opened often, but ones that weren’t operated daily were havens for the gigantic arachnids. So one day while very cautiously going to open a seldom used gate, as the wood plank slid back and a giant fuzzy THING dropped out from the gate, I couldn’t help but scream and run away! Of course I was laughed at and for good reason that time… It turned out the furry thing that fell out wasn’t at all a huntsman, but a flattened dried, very dead little bat:( Poor buddy!!!
Mama and Baby
Goodness snakes alive!!! I had about 6 close encounters of the slithery kind while on the farm. Luckily though they were only encounters with the shy red-bellied black snakes! While they are still quite poisonous to people and animals, thankfully their first line of attack was to simply slither away. My two most harrowing encounters go as follows: one evening while enjoying a cocktail (or two) as I was sitting outside, one appeared from under the truck heading directly toward me. I didn’t know whether to move or stay still! Options raced through my drunken mind as it got closer and closer. Finally I made my move and very slowly lifted my legs off the ground to the chair. Thankfully that was enough to alert the snake to my presence and it abruptly lifted its head, flipped 180 degrees in the opposite direction and scurried away! My closest encounter however was while I was walking across the lawn (again a wee bit intoxicated, though a different day). I was taking confident strides to my destination until I noticed a coiled red-bellied black snake not three feet in front of me sunning itself in the afternoon sun. We literally didn’t notice each other until we noticed each other! I stopped and squealed and it uncoiled at warp speed and hauled away from me as quick as it could, lol!!
Red-bellied Black Snake
A wallaby sighting: in the valley around sunset it was a common sight to see several dozen kangaroos in the fields just off the main road. But never had I seen any ‘roos’ or their smaller counterparts in the mountains until one early morning while collecting one of the horses from their field. Normally this horse was always calm and relaxed as we walked out of her field, but on this day as we exited she startled quite abruptly and stared in wonderment behind her. While wondering what was wrong with her, I followed her gaze behind us only to spot a little wallaby at the entrance to her field staring back at us. We all stood frozen for a few moments checking each other out until the little guy hopped away. Very cool!
Watching My Kitchen Rules with ‘S’ and getting drunk: I had discovered the TV reality show My Kitchen Rules while in Thailand and it quickly became one of my favorite evening shows to watch and relax to. I introduced my house mate ‘S’ to the show and it wasn’t long before we started making nightly ‘dates’ to enjoy our meals and company while watching the show together. Often times we would get (or already be) a bit tipsy on our drinks of choice and would laugh hysterically throughout the show with our added commentaries. Loved it!
Scratching on Mom
T’s account of Rudy’s beating by the farrier: Just the visual of this one still makes me laugh! T, a French rider at the farm, while very good at speaking and understanding the English language still had a few things here and there that he was learning along the way. The phrase “beat the $h!t out of…” was one phrase he was introduced to. It came about as the farrier told ‘T’ about how Rudy had attacked him relentlessly one day, forcing him to retaliate in self-defense. As the rooster continuously attacked the farrier, he defended himself by striking the rooster until one particular blow ended up knocking the rooster unconscious. Hence, the phrase “he beat the $h!t out of Rudy” became a new phrase in T’s repertoire, and his recounting of the story the farrier told him was simply hilarious, lol!! And don’t worry readers- Rudy is just fine!! He is alive and well and still attacks who and when he pleases!
Enjoying a scratch
Out to Field
Listening to music on the front porch and talking for hours with A: ‘A’ was another groom I had the pleasure of working with. We had so much in common that I called him my male twin. Evening after evening we would sit on the front porch after a long day with drinks in hand and conversations for hours while listening to music from all ages and genres. One particularly fantastic night, ‘A’ put a blanket on the front lawn and we just lay there listening to music while watching a gloriously beautiful night sky, sparkling bright with every star from the heavens. Absolutely gorgeous!
Jumping over jumps drunk: ok, so I’m noticing that many of my stories here involve drinking… But hey, there really wasn’t much else to do on the property after finishing with the horses and drinking just brings out the fun in myself and my company! On this particular night, it was myself, ‘S’ and the Australian ‘T’ who got our drinks on thought it would be a great idea to try to jump over the jumps set up for the horses! In all reality however, it was mainly ‘T’ who was doing the jumping while ‘S’ and I simply laughed our rears off while running around the arena. Good times!!
Sunsets on the bench: Self explanatory
Home sweet Home
Smokes falling asleep on my hands: One of the shows I had the privilege of being a part of was down near Melbourne and unlike previous shows, it was 4 days long. All our horses were doing really well and one in particular, Smokes (my nickname for him) made it to the final round as a contender for Champion of Champions. After his jumping round I stood on the sidelines holding him while watching the other contenders being ridden. Now, Smokes since I’d met him had a habit of always wanting to lick, whether it was our hands or arms. Normally I wouldn’t allow this behavior in case it led to a nip, but he had been such a good boy all weekend that I allowed him his guilty pleasure. I stood to his side with my hands clasped under his muzzle allowing him to lick the salt off while I watched the others do their course. A couple of minutes later I realized that his licks had subsided and that he was simply resting his muzzle in my hands. A few minutes after that I started to notice how heavy he was feeling in my hands… It was about then that I noticed his eyes were closed and his body had a very gentle sway to it… He had fallen asleep in my hands!! I gently woke him giving him some loving pats while whispering in his ear that the show was almost over. Bless him!! By the way, he did win the Champion of Champions!
Champion of Champions!
Worming a young stud: I think the picture says it all! While I thought he had swallowed, he apparently didn’t and instead spat all the medicine right back on me!
Reconstructing my San Blas anklet: my anklet from the San Blas Islands had at some point come undone, so I made it a project to reconstruct. Since we had a road trip coming up, I brought it along to help kill time. What I wasn’t expecting however was how involved ‘T’ (Australian rider) got into the project himself! Along with providing helpful suggestions on how to make the slow and sometimes painful process of stringing hundreds of teeny beads on a teeny rope, he was also my cheerleader, egging me on to keep going and get the project done! It was on the leg back to the farm that I finally did complete the anklet and got it back to its place around my ankle.
Peggy the possum: Possums were common creatures to see during the night but usually only from afar. A couple of them however ended up becoming quite brave! One particular evening as we sat on the front porch having a few drinks, we noticed this creature walking along the stone path directly up to the front porch steps. It came up so confidently in its movement that we all at first thought it was a cat! But no, it was a possum!! It stopped just shy of getting on the porch, perching itself on the stairs. It looked at us, we looked at it in amazement, and it simply turned away from us, scampered to a nearby tree, climbed it to the roof, ran across the roof overhead us, down the tree on the other side of the porch to a little spot we often threw bits of old bread or muffins. Absolutely surreal! We named this possum Peggy:)
In her nest
Possum with baby
Gabrielle the frog and T’s reaction to the frog: The French rider ‘T’ may kill me for posting this, but we had a frog that seemed to appear nightly in the same spot, so it was named Gabrielle. One particular night, ‘T’ left the porch and entered the house and let out a scream that put 5-year-old girls to shame! ‘A’ and I went to investigate what happened and it turned out that one of the frogs (maybe Gabby?) got into the house and startled ‘T’. Needless to say I was cracking up over the sound of ‘T’s’ scream, and once he calmed down he too had a little chuckle over it;)
Of course there are many more, but since this post is getting rather lengthy, I will leave it at that!
Mid-January started to roll around and though I was still having a grand time with ‘J’ and ‘A’, I also didn’t want to out stay my welcome. So once again it was time to think of something else to venture to. I had really only scratched the surface of exploring Australia, so I wanted to stay a bit longer while also being able to afford it!
Oddly enough, one of my new friends whom I’d met back in Malaysia while at the horse facility emailed me in late December (once hearing that I was in Oz) about a friend of hers who was working at a horse farm on the Central Coast, about and hour and change north of Sydney. Even though I had this information back in December, I didn’t follow up at all other than simply getting an email for her friend.
Fast forward to mid-January, though I wanted to actually be able to travel more of Australia, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to at least shoot off an email and see if they needed any help at the farm. I can’t recall if it was later that day or the next, but very shortly after making contact I was given a number to call for a phone interview and a couple of days after that I made a commitment to go and help at the farm as a horse caretaker and groom. Part of the reason I decided that route was, well, because I love horses! But the other part was because it offered the potential to travel around to various parts of Australia with the horses.
I will never forget the day I arrived at the farm as it was one of the most memorable for me in a fun and funny way:) Even as I’m writing this I can’t stop smiling about it! Since the farm wasn’t terribly far from where ‘J’ and ‘A’ lived (and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going somewhere sketchy, lol!!) they offered to drive me to the farm and we made plans for a day trip before getting there. First stop was along the coast for some beach time at shelly beach, then some late lunch at a chinese restaurant, then onward to the farm.
The part that made this trip the most memorable for me was when we were heading to the farm. Firstly the changing of the surroundings was absolutely stunning! The green, lush rolling hills surrounding us was just breathtaking! The second part is harder to describe, but it was the overall scenario. I had my backpack in the trunk, I was sitting in the backseat of the car being driven along the countryside into unknown territory and I was being fretted over by my two great friends about where I was going and whether the place was a good one… Which put together all added up to me feeling like a child being dropped off at summer camp by her two dads!! It was absolutely adorable!!
When we got to the farm we met ‘S’, my new housemate and fellow horse helper, unloaded my things into my new room (inspected first by my “2 dads”;)) and took a little wander around the front of the house. That is where we first met Rudy the rooster. I still recall ‘J’ and ‘A’ being cautious about the ridiculously fat, and I mean seriously rotund, rooster that was roaming around the front of the grooming stalls, while I simply brushed aside the notion that he could be dangerous by pointing out that surely they wouldn’t allow a rooster who attacks to roam around freely. He wasn’t showing any signs of aggression or threatening motions, so I figured he was friendly…
Of course the next day I was warned by ‘T’ (the rider) and ‘S’ that I should be VERY wary of Rudy as he was quite well known for attacking people, especially strangers (both ‘T’ and ‘S’ had been attacked!)!! So apparently ‘J’, ‘A’ and I were very lucky that first afternoon of arrival in that we did NOT get attacked! In addition, I learned that the trick to keeping Rudy at bay and happy was to feed him bits of horse feed… No wonder he was such a chunker, lol!!
I ended up spending several months at the horse farm caring for the numerous horses along with ‘T’ and ‘S’ and have so many fond memories of my time spent there (to be listed in my next post). And while I didn’t get to travel as much as I had hoped to originally, I was able to make it at least to one new State (Victoria) with the horses.
Originally I was hoping to stay for 6 months to a year helping at the farm, but energies started to change in a variety of directions that led me to decide to move on. ‘T’ and ‘S’ had also moved on to better and brighter things for their path a few months before I left, but we of course still keep in touch. It’s really amazing how even spending short periods of time with some people, you just know you will never lose touch, no matter the distance or time apart.
I hadn’t planned on visiting Australia initially because I’d learned from fellow travelers that it was a very expensive country to visit. However, it was while I was in Malaysia volunteering at the animal shelter that I just happened to receive an email from a good friend of mine whom I’d known back in New Mexico. We had lost touch over the years despite attempts on both our ends to keep in touch, but alas he found me:) And as chance would have it, he was living in Sydney! So of course I had to go see him!!
The timing of it all to this day still fascinates me. It’s just further proof in my book that everything happens the way it should. After a couple of email exchanges I made plans to see him and spend Christmas and New Years with him and his partner:)
I arrived in the ‘land down under’ mid-December and was greeted at the airport with the loving embrace and friendly faces of my friend and his partner. After a quick nibble out, we headed back to their place where I met their two kids, Willow and Bear, two absolutely adorable pups!! We stayed up quite late that first night (and for the next several nights) with bottles of vino and beer, catching up on all things past and present. What a truly amazing and still surreal time!
They showed me around all the hotspots of Sydney; Bondi beach (pronounced Bond-eye, not Bondy), the Opera House (of course!), the harbor area, Mansly, the Botanical Gardens and the Watson Bay area where sailboats dotted a quiet bay eclipsed by beautiful homes gently sloping from the water. It was all so picturesque and beautiful! We even ventured a bit further out on the weekends for little road trips to the Blue Mountains where we viewed the Three Sisters.
The thing that surprised me about the Opera house was that the roof was made of tiles! From all the pictures I had seen prior to seeing it first-hand, the roof simply looked white and I hadn’t noticed anything particularly remarkable about it. However up close, it was impressive to see that the roof was in fact made of white and beige tiles and that they formed very specific patterns giving each shell a unique and artistic flare. In addition, again from pictures, I had always imagined that the Opera house was a singular building and each layered ‘armadillo shell’ was part of the design to enhance acoustics for that one stage. I had no idea that in fact there are multiple stages allowing several productions to occur within the same season. Just goes to show you that you never really know about something until you get up close and personal with it;)
The Botanical Gardens were absolutely darling! They seemed to go on forever and though they were basically next door to the heart of downtown Sydney, they had a quiet and calm about them that made you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. 2016 just so happens to also be the 200th birthday of the gardens, so that’s pretty cool:)
The Blue Mountains too were a surprise as I had no idea such lush green life and landscapes could be found in Oz. Again, most of the pictures I had seen of Australia boasted the main highlights of the Barrier Reef, the Opera House or the Outback where the land is red and lacking plant life. But in the Blue Mountains, I could have mistaken us for being in Virgina near the Blue Ridge! Simply beautiful!
The only odd thing to me was knowing that it was only a week away from Christmas, yet not really seeing any sort of Christmas decorations anywhere! There were a few scattered here and there, but nothing like I was accustomed to seeing in the States around Christmas time. However, that didn’t stop us from doing some decorating ourselves:) J’s mom had sent him a Christmas tree, so on or about the day before Christmas, we got our drinks on (which put us all in a jolly mood) and set up the Christmas tree and other decorations to get the place looking festive! A few gifts were exchanged, delicious food was cooked, and we all reveled in the joys of being with good friends.
Happy Birthday Gardens!
Opera House & Bridge
Christmas Day passed and New Years was quickly approaching, so the next big thing was to decide how to ring in the New Year. We settled on trying for one of the free spots at a park on the harbor (Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair). The only trouble was that once capacity for the park was reached, they closed it off therefore not allowing any new people in. And because this venue was free to enter (and honestly was one of the best in my opinion as it had a fantastic view of the harbor, the bridge and the opera house) the lines would no doubt be long. The chances of getting in at all were unpredictable!
‘A’ (J’s partner) had to work New Year’s Day, so that left ‘J ‘and I to try for a park place where ‘A’ would meet us later. We made it there around 10am to find a line that wove back and forth and forth and back with what looked like thousands waiting to get in! We got in at the back of the makeshift line and thus began the slow and arduous task of walking a few feet every couple of minutes, slowly inching our way to the entrance gates. Luckily we came prepared however with water, snacks and sunscreen.
Opera House & Bridge_2
Opera House & Bridge_3
City from the Park
I should mention at this point that the Norwegian couple I had met back in Kuala Lumpur were also in Sydney for New Year’s. We had reconnected via email and arranged to meet at the park. After about an hour or so, they arrived with another friend in tow and they joined ‘J’ and I in line (which still had only moved a couple hundred feet or so, lol!!). The mood around us was festive and it was funny to see how many people had already started hitting the beers hard! Personally it was just too hot in the direct sun for that in my opinion, plus having to find a bathroom would have been its own kind of torture!!
The hours ticked away as we crept closer and closer toward the finish line… Finally, about 4 hours later we were in! While there were already thousands of people in the park, it didn’t feel as crowded as I would have thought which I was very grateful for! We scouted a place to sit under a nice shady tree, then sent one of the fellas to the nearby food and drink kiosks for some cold beers! We sat around enjoying the cold beers and continued chit-chatting and all was absolutely perfect, save for one thing…
A Different View
‘A’ was still at work… The plan we had hoped for was that he would be able to get off work a bit early, then head to the park where he could hopefully hop in line with us and make it in before the park reached capacity. However, at this point it was already past 2pm. The line that had formed behind us seemed longer than the line we had initially started in, and according to the online information, the park had already almost reached capacity and would soon be closed off. Not happy news!! As the time ticked on it seemed less and less likely that he would be able to make it to the park.
A Different View_2
A Different View_3
New Years Crowd
Seriously a huge conundrum!! I didn’t want ‘A’ to have to spend New Year’s alone, especially without his partner!! But I also didn’t want to leave our park spot. We debated back and forth what to do and eventually settled on me staying in the park, and ‘J’ leaving the park to be with ‘A’. In addition ‘J’ had started not to feel so hot, as even though he kept reapplying sunscreen the entire time we stood in line, he still managed to get a pretty bad sunburn!! So as he wasn’t feeling the best he said he was fine with leaving to be with ‘A’. Though I know I shouldn’t, I do still feel guilty for having stayed behind because I wanted the three of us to be together for New Years. But as ‘A’ and ‘J’ said, they had “been there, done that” with Sydney’s firework show. It wasn’t so important for them to see them again, but since it was a first for me, they said I should definitely see them.
New Years Harbor
Attempted Night Shot
So I hung back with my friends from Norway and rang in the New Year watching fireworks shower off the Sydney harbor bridge and light up the harbor waters. It was such a beautiful sight! I love everything about fireworks; the sounds, smells and sight of them. Being so up close and personal to such a spectacular show was unbelievable. I’m so thankful for the chance to have been able to be there!
New Years Sailboat
New Years Eve 2015
New Years Eve 2015_2
After the show, I parted ways with my Norwegian friends and met up with ‘J’ and ‘A’ and we headed home to comfort the pups. Though we were not able to spend New Year’s night together, we did have our own New Year celebration a bit later. Popping a bottle of champagne we wrote down things we no longer wanted to be burdened with in our lives and set them on fire Zozobra style!
I didn’t realize how many ghosts there are in the Indonesian culture. But I got to learn about them first hand one Thursday night with Faisal, Misba, Aput, Andre, Ucok and Iswan. The conversation first started when I was warned about the hypnotizing thieves at market places.
Hypnotizing thieves??? Though not so common anymore, the boys did warn me that if someone tapped me on the shoulder or put a hand on me, to never look them in the eyes. The reason for this is that there apparently are people so talented in the art of hypnosis that they can literally cast a spell on you. It starts with a hand or tap on the shoulder. If you look the person in the eyes the “spell” is complete. They then instruct you to give them all your money and to return home. It’s only when you get home that the spell is broken and you realize you have just been robbed!! Again, the boys insisted that this rarely happens anymore, but that it has happened quite a lot in the past. However, since I almost always went to the market with Mama, it was never an issue:)
So this interesting tidbit eventually moved into the topic of the many ghosts in the Indonesian culture. Once the “story telling” (I put that in quotes because they don’t believe them to be simply stories, but rather real events) began, it went on long into the wee night hours! I learned first that Thursday nights are considered the night with the most ghost activity, and that was one reason why Friday’s are considered their holiest of days. Also it should be noted that with the dawn of electricity there haven’t been so many sightings of each ghost as light keeps them away!
Mind you, what I’m writing below are stories of each ghost as given to me by the six men. They talked rather fast at times and often over each other trying to find the correct words while telling me about the ghosts, so below are my best scribbles about each one. I hope I’m going to do them justice!
Doti (aka Santeh or Dooken):Voo Doo, wicked black magic. These people can insert an evil spirit into a body essentially possessing them.
Tuyul: half human, half spirit that steals money
Babi Ngepet: half pig, half human. Can only turn into a pig on Thursday nights. There is a keeper of this creature who can turn the human into a pig when he lights a special candle. IF the candle is extinguished, the pig turns back into a human. Once in pig form however, it goes out and searches for money for its owner (the candle bearer). Babi is stronger and faster than Tuyul as it can instantly send the stolen money to its owner. If the candle bearer notices that the flame starts to flicker, that means that the Babi (pig) is in trouble and may have been noticed. But the pig can turn back into a human. So if it’s being chased and can get into a dark corner or alleyway, the keeper can extinguish the candle flame and turn it back into a human to get it out of trouble.
Poppok: A human, but in the night he can fly. He is naked. Can be a man or a woman. They go to the sea and bring fish for the house. If you meet and annoy them they will tickle you to death. But if you hit it with a native palm leaf one time you scare him. Hit him twice and you make him stronger. ONLY for South Sulawesi, but may be elsewhere under different names. This is a genetic trait. Starts as normal person. Seeks knowledge to become paranormal. If he does the steps right, he turns paranormal. If they do the steps wrong, they turn into a Poppok.
Longga: Very tall human. He eats people. Only at night. Can be in the jungle. A past problem.
Parakang: Human sometimes around us. Can be a man or a woman. At night they go to dirty ditches looking for frogs or fish to eat. He/she can suck the blood out of newborns. They will come to newborn baby homes. They come from the roof, open the roof and come in. Even in the day. If it rains with sunshine this is bad. Sometimes the eyes are red. If you are suspicious a person is a Parakang, you can test them by throwing salt at the body. If they thrash about they are a Parakang. It is a genetic disease. Can cure them with an exorcism using the Koran.
Pocong: One of the scariest and most famous ghosts in Indonesia. He has many films made about him. Happens when a person dies. During a Muslim burial, they put a white sheet around the body and tie the sheet at the top of the head. This tie is called Talipocong (tali = line/sting). After the corpse is covered, it is carried to the grave. If the talipocong is not removed once the body is put in the grave, the dead person will become Pocong. They come in the night only and hop around in their sheet that is still tied around their head because they are trapped in the sheet. Pocong comes around asking to be freed. People in the village can’t talk, they must be silent or they will attract the Pocong. But they can help the Pocong or essentially send them away for good by digging up the body and taking off the talipocong.
Kuntilanak: Only a woman who is pregnant. Story is from when the Dutch came here to colonize. A Dutch pregnant woman came and killed herself when she arrived here and she then became Kuntilanak. Sometimes the story is that she committed suicide, sometimes the story is that she was killed by her boyfriend. She takes revenge on people by taking other children. She had her baby in the grave after she was dead and buried. She picked it up and cradled it. She takes revenge on her ex by luring single men home. She appears as a beautiful woman in a white dress, though the feet don’t touch the floor. She gets the men to take her home, which appears at first to be a beautiful home, but once there it turns back into a gravesite. The lured man is giddy with love but is stuck in the grave. She is only happy if she can kill the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend.
And there you have it. Some of the many ghosts of Indonesia!
Please note that most of the spellings are not correct as I wrote them down phonetically so I would know how to properly say them:) Words with an asterisk are also Malay words:)
Terima Kasi: Thank you Sama sama: You’re welcome Senang Bertemo Dengan Anda: Nice to meet you Sama: Same Lagi: Again Tidak: No Ya: Yes Awas: Caution Ah-ir: Water (spelled air!) Ah-peh-too: What is… Bantu: Help
Tangan: Hand Kaki: Foot Mata: Eyes Telinga: Ears Hidung: Nose Muka: Face Ramboot: Hair
Binatang: Animals Kandang: Pen for animals Anjing: Dog Kuching: Cat Nyamuk: Mosquito Monyet: Monkey Bulu: Fur
Asap: Smoke Ah-pee: Fire Toe-pee: Hat Sapu: Broom Belajar: Study Kayu: Wood Jangan: Finished Gatal: Itchy Loop-ah: Forget Besok: Tomorrow Bunga: Flower Najis: Dirty Haram: Forbidden Halal: Allowed Chantik: Beautiful Gagah: Handsome Kerya Bagus: Good job Besar: Fat Gigit: Bite Aurat: means women must be covered from head to their wrists and ankles Muhrim: You can’t be affectionate with others unless they are family or your spouse
I will say for the record that yes, the following scenario was pretty much 100% my fault, and no, I don’t recommend anyone else to follow in my footsteps (as the ending results may vary greatly!!).
When I first arrived in Thailand in December of 2014 I didn’t bother to look at my passport stamp before leaving the immigration desk. Instead it was probably the next day, after I’d slept for several hours catching up on lost sleep, that I bothered to look (out of curiosity) at the stamp in my passport.
It was then that I’d noticed something interesting about my stamp… The entrance date was correct, but the “valid until” stamp said December, 2015…
A year later??? That can’t be right!? As I started to research information on tourist visas for Thailand, I quickly realized that a mistake had been made. Tourist visas if entering by plane are ONLY valid for 30 days. If entering by land I believe it is only 15 days. To get more than 30 days, extensions must be made and paid for.
Well, at first I was a bit panicked about this incorrect stamp but nothing online seemed to address my issue. All the visa problems were related to stamps giving LESS than the proper time allotted, never once did I run into anyone saying they were given MORE.
Perhaps that was due to people not wanting the outside world to know they had been “granted” longer than legally allowed… In any event, I was still worried about what to do in the several weeks that followed and almost did a border run within the 30 days, but the more I spoke with fellow tourists (some who had been there for months on end with proper extensions) it seemed that it really wasn’t a big deal. There was no special stamp for 30 days vs. extended stays, so I thought no biggie!
Everyone (seasoned Thailand travelers) seemed in agreement that there wasn’t even a special visa stamp for year applications. So needless to say, I simply blew off making border runs and figured I would deal with it whenever I was ready to leave Thailand.
So the day came, about 9 months later, that I was ready to leave. Up to the border patrol in Tammalang Pier I strolled with my ticket in hand for Langkawi, Malaysia. I passed over my passport to the seasoned employee… All seemed well for a few seconds… Then his eyebrows furrowed.
I was asked to step out of line and into the back where I was basically scolded for my mistake. I tried to reason with them saying it was one of their own people’s fault for giving me the wrong stamp, but really when it came down to it (and I knew this already) it was my own fault. So I was given two choices. A) Pay the maximum fine for over-staying my visa (20,000 baht) or B) Go to the Police station.
Needless to say I picked A!! I wasn’t even going to test choosing option B, lol!! But the only problem then was that I needed cash! I only had about 70 baht on me, so I basically begged for and borrowed a motorbike, drove myself into town, got the max allowed out of an ATM (20,000 baht), drove back, paid my fine, got a lovely full-page stamp in my passport outlining the infraction (stating boldly my mistake in full detail), finally got my exit stamp, and boarded the ferry to Langkawi Malaysia.
It was kinda humorous at the end there as when I had to return to the main immigration desk hours later (after paying the fine) I ended up with the same officer who caught my mistake. When I approached, he just gave me a jovial smile and shake of the head. I had to chuckle at that and smiled. No hard feelings 🙂 At least I wasn’t asked never to return to Thailand! I paid my fees and got straight with the law.
So I’ve learned my lesson, which I’d actually seen written several times in visa blog discussions: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR STAMP BEFORE LEAVING THE IMMIGRATION DESK!!! Avoid future hassles!!
As for the money, if you really think about it, it’s probably the same amount I would have had to spend in border runs and legal extensions of my tourist visa anyway. C’est la vie!
Te invito a salir de la rutina además de escaparse del calor en esta temporada especialmente aquí en Phoenix Az. donde las altas temperaturas no te invitan a visitar un parque por el extremo calor que hace. Así que para cambiar un poco de clima solo tienes que manejar 2 horas aproximadamente para disfrutar de los pinos, lagos y animales silvestres como venados, alces, ardillas y uno que otro coyote y demás.
Esta vez visitamos Woods Canyon Lake, se encuentra a 34 millas de Payson Az. De verdad vale la pena visitarlo y disfrutar los pinos, el lago y sobre todo la temperatura de 78 grados F. a diferencia de 115 grados F. de Phoenix.
Y lo mas importante, los beneficios que te da el caminar por el bosque, mas si vas en compañía de tu familia. Aquí algunos de ellos:
All good things come to an end, and after over 2 months on the beautiful island of Koh Tao, it was time to say goodbye. After a lovely farewell dinner and late-night drinks with Deb and Rick, Anna (a longtime friend from Scotland visiting Thailand for 5 weeks) and I headed off the following night for the island of Koh Phi Phi Don (pronounced pee-pee, not fee-fee!!). Koh Phi Phi Don, located in the Andaman Sea, just south of Krabi on the mainland is the larger of two islands there (the Phi Phi islands) made most famous by book “The Beach” by Alex Garland. Well, more specifically Maya bay on Phi Phi Ley (south of Phi Phi Don) was the filming site for the movie of “The Beach”. The book was written after the author visited and was inspired by the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, south of Koh Tao in the Gulf.
Ferry Dorm Room
Do I drink too much?
We traveled on the night ferry, which left the dock around 9pm. Before boarding however we stopped in to 7-11 to stock up on some booze and snacks (of course!) for the journey, then after dropping our stuff of at our beds in the dorm room of the ferry, we headed to the top deck for some fresh air and to properly wave Koh Tao goodbye. We were one of only 3 people on the top deck but seriously had the best view and air quality there than any other place on the boat! We hung out for several hours on the top deck watching the stars as we lumbered along, sipping on Smirnoff Ice and chatting away. Around 11pm we started to pass the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park (inspired the book “The Beach”!), watching the scattered islands appear in silhouette forms lit only by the moon.
Koh Tao Dock
Anna Saying Goodbye
A little after midnight we headed to the dorm room for some sleep (we were due to arrive on mainland again at 5am, so sleep was necessary!!). The beds were decently comfortable but at first I had a very hard time sleeping as the smoke from the engines smelled like it was being pumped directly in the dorm room and it felt like I could barely breathe! I almost took my blanket and pillow back up to the top deck so I could sleep without being choked by the smoke, but ended up passing out nonetheless in the dorm.
Ferry to Krabi
Phi Phi Don in Distance
A little before 5am we arrived at the Suratthani mainland dock and were escorted to a local eatery. We hung about there for several hours, then were picked up by a mini-van for the 4 hour journey to Krabi. I don’t recall much of that part of the trip as I was mostly passed out (though we were pretty tightly packed in!!) but once we arrived in Krabi we were once again dropped at a local eatery for more food or drinks if desired. From there it was another hour until we were taken via tuk-tuk to the Krabi dock for the almost 2 hour ferry ride to Koh Phi Phi Don. By far this was the longest stretch of traveling I’d done so far in Thailand to get to the next destination; over 14 hours in total. What we arrived to ultimately on Koh Phi Phi Don was, well…. Interesting to say the least!