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Many more moments


I left Chiang Mai, but not before I had a moment with a man. So I was buying a watermelon shake on the street. It was a hot sultry night, typical for Southeast Asia. I was waiting patiently for my shake and sensed this man’s presence next to me. I looked up, our eyes met and we smiled at each other. There was a big line-up, so we stood silently next to each other for many minutes. I was hyper-aware of his presence. His order came up first, he collected his drinks and got onto his adjacent moped. He paused and I could feel his stare. I started sweating and my heart began to beat faster. I looked up and smiled at him and WE HAD A MOMENT. I could see he wanted to stay, but I looked away and he left. And that’s when I realized I will have many moments in Southeast Asia. I am still smiling thinking about this guy and we never even exchanged a word.

I had a lovely beach vacation in Koh Lanta, Thailand. My best friend, Debora, was in Macau visiting family and flew down to join me. Every morning, we’d wake up in our beach bungalow to the sound of crashing waves (kind of made up for falling asleep to loud music from the other resorts). We’d eat breakfast on the beach, drink in the white sandy beach and crystal blue-green water, sigh and proclaim again that we were in paradise. I experienced hot yoga for the first time, but not like in the United States. In the mornings, we’d go to a 2-hour yoga class overlooking the beach in 95 degrees. We were sweating before the class even started, since we walked 20 minutes in the sun to get there. The class was pretty intense, and the sweat would just pour down my body. After the first class, I caved in, abandoned any vanity and bought a headband, like they wear on Survivor. It really works to keep the sweat from streaming into your eyes!

For 15 years, I’ve been wearing a bikini top and board shorts. I’ve grown really comfortable in these shorts because it hides my hips. But friends in Vietnam and Laos quickly told me to ditch the shorts. In Laos, women wear t-shirts and shorts in public swimming areas – not bathing suits and definitely not bikinis. One day, we were all going to a hotel swimming pool, and my friend made us all wear bikinis. The Lao women were horrified and I was as well. After I got over the initial awkward and exposed feeling, I was rocking that bikini! So I bought a bikini in Chiang Mai for $10 and felt so wonderful and free on the beach in Koh Lanta. Why was I hiding behind those shorts for so long? This journey is all about freedom and joy, and it’s amazing that even a bikini bottom can evoke these feelings.

I went scuba diving for the first time and it was glorious. It was a 2-hour boat ride to Koh Haa, and I got lucky with 1:1 instruction. Many of the other newbies were really nervous, but I just felt excited. Until I was about to jump into the water, and then my nerves got to me. There isn’t any time to chicken out, plus my friend told me I’m the most fearless person she knows. So I stepped off the side of the boat and plunged into the water. Okay so far. Then the instructor goes over a few lessons underwater, like removing my mouthpiece and letting water get into my mask. The mouthpiece was smooth sailing, but when I added water to my mask and tried to get rid of it, instead the water went up my nose and in my eyes and I was sputtering and burning. Even though I wanted to turn around and get back on the boat, I heard my friend’s fearless comment in my brain and worked through it. As soon as we dropped down deep, my breathing started to become slow and steady and I could really enjoy my surroundings. It was fabulous. So clear and fish and coral everywhere. I saw a turtle, octopus, barracuda, trumpet, clown, parrot fish, on and on. My first dive the instructor held onto me the entire time which felt safe and comforting. My second dive I was ready to break free and have full reign of the ocean – at least 10 meters deep!

Our first night in Koh Lanta, we went to a Thai cooking class on the beach. The instructor was a cute, sassy Thai woman and I was shamelessly flirting with her. We laughed a lot during every step. Pounding the curry paste evoked laughter. Firing up the wok and flash frying morning glory/ong choy/rau muong was quite an experience. I even think my pahd thai was better then the instructor’s! We returned a few more times for dinner and on our last meal there, my friend yells at my crush across the restaurant that I’m in love with her. I was so embarrassed and blushed below my tan profusely! She promptly ran over and jokes were made all around. And she even kissed me on the cheek – it was all very innocent and funny. I forgot to mention in Laos another one of my crushes also gave me a chaste kiss on the cheek. So now I’ve been kissed by straight women in Laos and Thailand, and shared a moment with a man. Who knows what is next for me?

Today, I fly to Danang, Vietnam for volunteer orientation and my one month placements in Tam Ky and Tuy Hoa. My deepest thanks to everyone that donated for supplemental items such as vitamins, medical supplies, snacks and notebooks.


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