As we made our way down the tracks, the smell of garbage lingered in the air. Up ahead I could see children laughing and playing, and parents were busy working or sitting by their doors. Then, out of nowhere, a woman and child approached us. They were running and overjoyed to see us. High fives ensued, along with greetings. We continued to walk along the tracks, and within minutes we could hear the sounds of children laughing. Soon, we could see them. They were already in the little makeshift school area, sitting on chairs, and waiting for us.
"No. You cannot visit." "Really? Why not?" "We didn't see letter until this morning. Too late!" "We've been faxing you for days. Can you please let us in today?" "Boss won't let us." I was starting to grovel. After begging mercilessly on Twitter for volunteers to come to IDC with me, I wasn't going to give up easily. The guard hid behind his boss. When I asked if I could see his boss so I could suck up to him directly, I was denied. I offered the to buy the guard lunch, that didn't work. Although his excuses were ridiculous, he was a lot nicer than many of the guards would have been. Reluctantly, I walked away from the window. I felt terrible for bringing volunteers with me and then being able to talk our way inside the detention center.
When the plane touched down in Bangkok this afternoon, I was hit by complete and utter exhaustion. Three days of staying up until 2 or 3 a.m. and waking up at 7 a.m had finally caught up with me. As I walked off the plane and into the terminal, all I wanted to do was get to my hostel, check in and fall into a deep coma for 90 minutes. But, as it turns out, fate had a different plan for me. Instead of a 90-minute power nap before my dinner plans, I would 'forget' to take the connecting train at Siam BTS. In my confusion, I would walk in the complete opposite direction of the hostel for 6 minutes, before realizing that a.) I was going in the wrong direction and b.) the reason why I couldn't find my hostel was because I got off at the wrong station.
Travelling to China from Northern Thailand may not be the cheapest option, but it is unique in its rarity. It's so rare that most locals outside of Chiang Rai and Chiang Saen are not aware of the boat existence. This can make it difficult, especially since a lot of the information online is a few years old.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't exactly a slow boat, but it was a boat! My mind had drifted from the bumpy bus ride through the mountains and dirt roads of Northern Thailand. Most of the locals I had spoken to in Chiang Mai were confused when I asked them about the boat that sailed from Chiang Saen to China. While some travelers would have taken that as a sign that the boat was just a myth, I took it as a sign that if the boat did exist, it would be a unique experience. My mind was racing. For 5 hours I sat in my seat and thought about what the boat would be like. Would there be a lot of travelers? Is it running or was I wasting time and money traveling to Chiang Saen only to find out that the boat was a myth. The possibilities were endless and I thrived on them. My quest to know was almost as thrilling as the idea of traveling to China by boat.
Looking for the Mongolian Embassy in Bangkok was like walking through a maze, especially when you add in the fact that I had no clue where I was going. But once I found the Embassy, things were surprisingly easy. I rang the buzzer, stated that I wanted to apply for a visa, filled out a form and was told to come back three days later. In a way, it was almost too easy.
*Note: Sorry guys, but the above photo is about as masculine as this post is going to get. You may want to leave and turn on ESPN! When the cats I'm watching woke me up at 5 a.m. today I decided it would be a good day to go out. I had stayed in most of yesterday trying to catch up on some writing and emails and I thought I might go crazy dealing with their mood swings. Yes, cats have mood swings. One minute they're resting, the next minute they're reenacting Jason Statham's Death Race.
My trek to Thailand was a long one. After a 14hr flight from LA to Hong Kong, a 10hr layover and then a 2.5 yr flight to Bangkok, I was bagged. The directions to the hostel (NapPark) seemed straightforward, but in the end, I was lost and needed a local to guide me. Sad, I know. Once I did arrive and checked in, the plan was sleep, however, Rolf -one of my male roomies thought otherwise.