EAT, PRAY, LOVE(ISH): Thailand, Bali, Singapore and Back
EAT: Thailand — Bangkok, Phuket, Phi Phi Islands
Deep in my heart of hearts I know I visited Thailand to eat. I eat Thai food almost every week (not good for my banking account) and try making thai dishes at home. (not good for my belly) I love green, red, yellow and massaman curry, pad thai, tom yum soup & papaya salad; just to name a few! I’ve been to 7 countries in Asia, and by far Thai food is the most exciting and flavorful cuisine; sometimes a bit sweet but always spicy.
In Bangkok I was on a pad thai frenzy. I tried 10 different versions, all of them special and delicious but the texture of the noodle changed, the garnishes; some had a subtle sweetness, some had none at all. On the Phi Phi (pee pee) Islands we ate family style and shared all the curries under the sun and enough papaya salad to go around. In Phuket we all picked our very favorite to celebrate our last night in the country. I fell in love with massaman curry during the trip but I chose to try one last pad thai; I never met a pad thai in Thailand that I didn’t like.
My gastronomic dreams came true! Along the ride I also managed to ride around town in a tuk tuk, visit temples and cuddle with elephants and tigers. I visited Maya Beach on a long-tail boat and snorkeled in water clearer than bath water. I went to the disco and an after-hour spot that closed at 10am and took vodka shots with Ladyboys. If I’m ever lucky enough to return I’ll go to the floating markets and visit Chiang Mai like Anthony Bourdain, maybe take a little more time really getting to know Bangkok.
PRAY: Indonesia — Ubud, Bali
I didn’t go to Indonesia to pray. I went to see a friend of mine that I met when I was studying abroad in England. Her and I had been trying to meet up for years and finally we were both on the same continent. We were lucky enough to visit during Nyepi ( Balinese new year! ) and take part in the festivities. The first day of Nyepi was a day of silence. No one was allowed to use technology, talk, use electricity, the airport closed, no one went to work and no one could be on the streets the entire day. There were soldiers on the road to make sure that everyone respected the tradition. It was a time for the people of Bali to reflect on their lives past, present and future.
That day I spent hours alone resting, praying and meditating. We tried our very best to respectful but it was very hard to stay quiet all day.The next day we went to a huge parade where people were dressed in costumes and dramatic makeup. In huge crowds people were cheering and watching intricate floats go down the road. I don’t believe that I have to be still to meditate so my friend and I went to Sunday Dance at Yoga Barn with 100 other travelers and expats. We were barebacked and sweaty dancing to world music for two hours. Not much talking, just letting our bodies release energy and negative spirits.
I got massages everywhere but Indonesia was my favorite because it was cheaper. I practiced mindfulness and focused on my body and tried to listen to what it was saying to me. I got a massage every other day! I had high expectation of Bali and I left healed. I never knew a place so green, so open-armed and spiritual. When I return I’ll do more Yoga and go beyond Ubud and it’s magical forest.
I guess I’m being a little misleading here. I wasn’t looking for love in Singapore but I did go on a Tinder date. My friend used my profile and did all the swiping, so I’ll call them our matches. We matched with about 25 people in a couple of hours, both locals and expats. They offered tips on sites to see and bars to visit. Some wanted to meet up and some would just say “Hey! you are really beautiful”
My friend and I both went on the date together. We had a drink on the stunning harbor and talked with him about the pros and cons of living and working in Singapore. He loved that his job paid for his accommodation in a ultra-trendy condo with a roof top pool. He didn’t like feeling like he was under surveillance and would be punished if he said anything bad about the government. He missed living in Trinidad and the states and planned to move back soon.
My friend and I enjoyed the company but I personally wouldn’t do it again. I had to unmatch 25 people when I got back to the states and I think a lot of them were actually interested in more romantic encounters. I had no rhyme or reason for wanting to visit Singapore. I just looked at the map and saw it was close to where I was already headed. I did find love but it wasn’t a person, it was that of the simplicity of chicken rice and seeing the Garden City Concept in real life. There’s no greater love than the marrying of city and green space; both of which put me in my happy place. I visited the Gardens By the Bay, which had a real life Avatar looking garden, learned about the Chinese laborers who built the city and came there to work, and about the many interesting people that make this port city so intriguing. Just like a lost love, I am certain that this kind of place exists and although I was heart broken leaving, I know I’ll find it again one day.