The Circus’ Guide to Chiang Mai

As I was writing this the other night, I was watching “Parts Unknown” on CNN where Anthony Bourdain goes to Chiang Mai. It’s my favorite episode and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. When I woke up, you can only imagine the shock to learn about his untimely death. I am devastated. Even now the tabs are open from looking up his quotes and recommendations. I have looked up to Bourdain for years and drew so much inspiration from his writing and journalism. To combine humor, food, and politics so flawlessly, is such a great talent. He opened worlds and inspired those who would listen and read to buy the ticket and take the ride.

Here’s to you Anthony, may you forever inspire wanderlust, culinary exploration, and a desire to make an impact on the world.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain

I am so excited to share my favorite spots in Chiang Mai with you all! I have now been to CNX, 16 times! 16! There are very few places I would even consider going to twice, and I have ended up in Thailand more than anywhere else in the world. At one point I was even looking at property there, and might still be. Here are my favorite hotels, watering holes, and restaurants. (No specific order or ranking, just things I like)

  1. Dusit D2 Hotel

d2

Honestly the beauty of Thailand in general is how inexpensive you can eat, play, and stay. I ended up at the Dusit last year while on a business trip to get 2017’s ENP trip all set up. They have very modern and spacious rooms, very similar to what you would find on an overnight. They are around the corner from the NIGHTLY Night Bazaar, not to be confused with the Sunday night market. (Not far from that either.) Great breakfast buffet and a nice pool with poolside bar and food. What else do you need?

2. Breakfast World and Beer Garden

BW Do I really need to sell you on this? When you wake up at 4am because of jet-lag, don’t fret! In an hour the gates to Breakfast World will be open. German and Thai owned and operated, you are sure to find exactly what you are craving. From meat plates, to eggs, to all of the veggies; you will find something on this 12 page menu to satisfy your appetite. Did I mention they also have beer? Its 4pm your time at home. Have a breakfast beer. I won’t judge.

3. Chiang Mai Cabaret

LB

Yes, it is cliche. Yes, it is loud. Yes, it will blow your mind. Go see the Lady Boy Cabaret in the Night Bazaar. (Make sure the tuk-tuk driver knows you want to go to the NIGHT BAZAAR Cabaret and not the one an hour outside of town (where some of our volunteers got talked into last year.) This is one of those things that you throw some back before you get in there. It is loud, it is glittery, and its obnoxious. Anthony Bourdain put it best, “If we had a lady boy show in a sports bar we could watch football, drink a lot of beer, and around beer number eight, bring out the lady boys.” These performers are top notch, broadway worthy, best drag show you have ever been to. It has been around for about 20 years and there’s a reason for that. My favorite is the Rhianna impersonator and she was in love with Greg. What can you do? GO! Also across the street is a food truck area with burritos and wine, those are two kinda hard to find things in Thailand. Burrito you say? Yea, after a week of vegan at the park, us carnivores might want a damn quesadilla.

4. Chiang Mai Boutique House

cnxbh

I end up staying here a lot. Here’s my thing; it’s usually $10-30 USD depending on the night, and it’s around the corner to the Sunday Night Market. The way we plan your week at ENP, you arrive on Sunday and finish on Sunday. I’ll talk more about the night market in a minute but this place is clean, cheap and has awesome showers. It has a great location and you really can’t beat the price. It’s not the nicest hotel in CNX by any means, but its great if there are 2 or 3 of you splitting a room and don’t plan on spending much time in it. It is my go to for a quick night in CNX and the tuk tuk to the airport the next morning is $4 USD. If you are taking the 6am AirAsia flight out the next morning to head out, it is a great option. Or if you are on a budget this comes highly recommended as it sits right on the south loop that circles the city.

5. Sunday Night Market

NM

Yea, it actually looks like this. Do NOT plan on staying together in a group of more than 2 or 3. However, it is INCREDIBLE. Jewelry, lamps, art, shoes, clothes, tea pots, massages, and food are just SOME of the things I have brought home with me. With our trip typically falling in October, I take about $200 USD out there with me and do all my Xmas shopping for my (8) siblings as well as a few things for myself. My suitcase is FULL coming home, donate all your stuff at the park so you have room in your bag. And the food… EAT EVERYTHING. If it smells good, EAT IT!

6. DASH Restaurant

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It’s hard to talk about the food in Chiang Mai. You are never going to have a bad meal. From Pizza to Thai, they know how to eat. Not to mention most of your meals are going to be about $3-7 USD even on the fancier side. Dash is in a beautiful teak wood house on the south-central loop of the city. Rated one of the top spots to grab a bite, you might even consider making a reservation if it’s a Friday or Saturday night. Grab a Chang and some Tom Yum and you will not be disappointed. Again Bourdain and his wisdom, “There’s almost an inverse relationship, the more hideous looking a dish the more delicious it is.”

7. Sathu Boutique House

sathu

So I go back and forth recommending this place. I have stayed here twice, usually for under $20. They have a really nice pool, and rooms are small but clean. My thing is that the first year we hosted this trip, I booked two rooms here for 5 people. A little cramped no matter how you slice it, however we were only there for one night and we didn’t care. The woman at the front desk and I about ripped each other apart. The website I booked through (Agoda.com) let me book 1 room for 3 people. She insisted that they couldn’t have 3 people in one room. I pulled up my reservation and everything and she still wouldn’t budge. So I tried to book another room to which she told me I wasn’t allowed on the property anymore. I could go on and on, I think I got one bad apple. The next year, I had someone book a room for me without asking the name of the hotel and ended up back here again. Begrudgingly, I went back and actually had a great experience here. Who knows? I like the location and the pool, walk able to everything and the price is right. More importantly the AC works and breakfast is included.

8. Cooking Classes

Thai-Cooking-Class2

Chiang Mai is the culinary capital of Thailand and perhaps even southeast Asia. There are a million cooking classes and you will come home with some awesome new skills and recipes. They tend to check in early in the morning, then they will take you to the local veggie market to grab ingredients, teach you 2-3 meals, then enjoy! Make sure you give yourself an entire morning. Some are done in peoples homes, and some are done in more commercial kitchens. I haven’t read a bad review about any of them. Find one that works for your schedule. I read about one last year that does a bike tour of the city as well as the markets, sounded really fun.

9. Hot Chili Restaurant

hot-chilli

Just off the Sunday Night Market street, west of Thai Pae gate is the Hot Chili Restaurant. They have traditional Thai as well as a selection of western dishes. The food is good don’t get me wrong but you really want to go for the atmosphere. It is so beautiful inside, with red drapes and swings covered in flowers. Paper umbrellas and vines cover the ceiling. You will for sure need a reservation on any weekend and even most weekdays. If you go early enough, around 4-5 you might be able to grab a table. If for whatever reason you simply cannot get in, walk around the building to the west and there is a pizza place with amazing pizza. I know, I know, you didn’t fly to Asia for pizza. Trust me. When you need some carbs, this is the spot. If Hot Chili is full, you bet I’ll be at the pizza place.

10. Massages

lila

Two years ago, Alexa and I spent a day getting probably no less than 10 massages. They are standard $5-10 for an hour full body Thai massage. If you pay more than that you’re getting ripped off. My favorite place is Lila Thai Massage and Spa. They are clean, do great work, and offer some of the best facials I have ever had. I frequent there numerous times throughout my visit. I have done a few different packages, and depending on how much time you have the Gold Spa Package was divine. It was about 6 hours, so I was in it for the long haul, but for $40 USD I received:

  • Body scrub with gold leaf
  • Shower
  • Hour full body massage with gold leaf oil
  • Shower
  • Gold leaf restorative body wrap
  • Shower
  • Facial
  • Foot and scalp massage
  • Mani and Pedi

Do you know how much that would cost in the states?!? That’s easily $1000 worth of service for $40!!! If the spa is your thing, wait to do a full body package like that until after your week at the park. You will be dirty and grimy and that’s a great way to go home. If they are booked up, which does happen but not often, you can’t walk more than 10 feet without hitting another spa. Prices are posted outside, and honestly I have gotten a million massages in Thailand at a million different places and they are all about the same. You can’t go wrong.

11. La Meridian Hotel and the Holiday Inn

lamed

Two separate hotels, but they do not need separate reviews. The La Meridian is one of the few 5 star hotels in CNX. I haven’t stayed there but I had cocktails there one night. It is beautiful, probably about $80-100 night. That’s up to you. There are a million hotels and guesthouses in CNX and this one is in the city, personally I think it’s overpriced for CNX when there are so many non-brand name stunning places for a third of the price.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn after last years week because we have points and Alexa and I were flying out first thing in the morning. Rooms were much bigger than a typical Holiday Inn, and it sits off the river on the other side of the city. Meaning you will have to tuk-tuk to shop etc. The buffet though was really great. We were tired and just spent the night at the Night Market, so it was nice to be able to just go back to the hotel, eat and leave. To put it bluntly, if you are used to your creature comforts, or perhaps this is your first time abroad, there’s nothing wrong with doing something familiar. Both these hotels will feel like an overnight, I am simply saying there are a million options. Don’t stay here just because you know the brand.

12. Night Bazaar

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Not to be confused with the Sunday Night Market. The Night Bazaar is on the eastern side of the city just before the river. It is a nightly market with different options from the Sunday Night Market. In 2012 Thailand’s government really cracked down on counterfeit goods. So don’t head to CNX expecting a fake bag or sunglasses. Unfortunately you will have to head to BKK or HKG to get those things (at better quality anyway), but the Night Bazaar will have some things, like backpacks and housewares; simply different items from the Sunday Night Market. You should definitely check it out if not both. The Night Bazaar is dead on Sunday because of the night market, so I try and hit both in the same night if I can. There is a great antique shop as well there if you are looking for decorative items from the late 18-19th century. Also as mentioned earlier this is where all the food trucks are with wine and live music. Grab a tuk-tuk and take a look. Make sure you go all the way back to where the cabaret is for hidden watering holes and live music.

13. Tigers, Monkeys, Bears, Snakes, Oh My!

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DON’T DO IT. YOU ARE HERE FOR AN ELEPHANT SANCTUARY.  It is never ever ok to exploit an animal for entertainment. The VERY popular Tiger Kingdom and Flight of the Gibbons are tourist hell. Tiger Kingdom has been found guilty over and over again by numerous outlets including the Thai government for drugging their tigers. This also applies to the monkey and other animal shows. I am BEGGING you not to go. Is that picture really worth this tiger’s life of being so drugged up everyday? The only way we can end this and similar practices are to educate others, and obviously not go ourselves. Feel free to check out this link, it’s a tear jerker, if you don’t believe me, or better yet, share it and educate others about the atrocities that happen at places like Tiger Kingdom. If you end up doing a guided tour as well make sure there are no elephants involved. Period. MANY “sanctuaries” exist in Thailand. There are only 2 that are legitimate sanctuaries. We will talk all about riding elephants once you get to the park (not ok either) but again, please do not participate in any tourist attraction involving animals. You are going to a world recognized animal sanctuary. There are a million animals there for you to responsibly interact with and actually help the animals.

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/exposed-thailands-tiger-kingdom-sanctuary-or-sham/

14. Wat Rong Khun

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Wat Rong Khun is perhaps one of the most stunning temples in Thailand. It is privately owned and operated and recently refurbished in the Chiang Rai province, north of Chiang Mai, about 3 hours by car or bus. It is worth the drive. Stunning arches and bridges dot the landscape in this sprawling temple. There are lots of other temples and wats in the city proper. Just make sure you know the proper etiquette for entering and being in the temple. You can check out this link http://thailandforvisitors.com/general/templetikit.html for how to dress and other things to know before you head to any of the temples.

As always feel free to email me or visit our website if you have any questions!

Happy Travels!

*Most photos stolen from Google image search. I have a million photos, but it would take me a year to go through all of them to find these specifics*

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Fiji with Airline Vigilantes 2018

Welcome to the 2018 Fiji Project with Airline Vigilantes!

 

PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE PACKET! IT CONTAINS TIME SENSITIVE INFORMATION!

 

ARRIVAL

You will need to arrive in Suva, Fiji (SUV) or Nandi (NAN) no later than Sunday October 7 2018. Airport transfers will be available from either airport between 6am and 6pm. We will take your flight details about a week before the trip.

I highly suggest arriving a day or two early to adjust to the time change.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

From our partners in Fiji:

Our very own Sports Academy was created keeping these factors in mind and was designed in such away that your interest in sports and the enthusiasm to share your knowledge and energy could come and spend meaningful time in the playground. Children from the nearby community come after school hours and are grouped in teams. So, along with a local coach, you can impart your training to these budding sportsmen, give them workouts and at the end of the session enjoy some refreshments with them.

We hope someday these young sportsmen will proudly represent their country on an international field.

Sports in a child’s life is of great importance for his/her physical development and will affect their future.We encourage you to be creative and propose different sports-related activities depending on the students’ ages, likes and interests.

Learn a sport or teach one if you chose to work on the Fiji Teaching or Sports Coaching project in Suva, you’ll soon see that education is a crucial part of achieving sustainable development.

By teaching in these communities, you can make a real difference to the lives of young people growing up in Fiji, and learn about life in Fiji as a teacher. Sports education plays a crucial role in the lives of the young Fijians, with Rugby being the most popular sport. The program activities could be either one or all the activities such as teach sports rules, teach basics of games, show examples of sports, organize sport related activities, play sports with children, teach respect and fairness in sports.

 

LODGING

Lodging will begin the evening of the Sunday October 7th and conclude Saturday October 13th.

Any additional nights or traveling you will be responsible for.

Roommate request will be handled 2 weeks prior to your arrival via email and FB.

***We are anticipating rooms that hold between 4-6 people. We will take 2 person room request based on availability then with priority to couples first.

 

VISAS

 

Upon arrival in Fiji you will be issues a tourist visa. You DO NOT need to obtain one prior to arrival.

 

AIRPORT CODES, NON-REV, AND FLIGHT OPTIONS

SUV – Suva, Fiji

 

NAN – Nandi, Fiji

 

AUK – Auckland, New Zealand

 

SYD – Sydney, Australia

 

MEL – Melbourne, Australia

 

HNL – Honolulu, Hawaii

 

NRT – Tokyo, Japan

 

SIN – Singapore, Singapore

 

KUL – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

DXB – Dubai, UAE

Good news is we have agreements with Fiji Airlines. They operate a non-stop out of LAX to NAN. I highly suggest that you have a backup plan as well if you choose to utilize this route. If 35+ people are all trying to get on the non-stop the day before the trip someone is going to be unhappy. You should always have a back up plan when non-revving or leave a few days early to guarantee your arrival.

*Please remember you are responsible for getting yourself to any destination. Take a look at our FAQ and Refund Policy pages for more info about non-rev and refunds.

You have many options for getting over to Fiji. Use www.passrider.com for looking at every route via every airline. Rome2Rio is another website that will help you plan a non-rev path. Make sure you check the “Interline” box to see all connections.

You as always have the option to purchase a ticket. I priced them out a few days ago and the cheapest tickets seem to be on Google Flights and Kayak. Again that is 100% up to you. Purchasing a ticket can take the stress out of non-revving but can also start to add up quickly. Look at all your options and decide what is best for you.

To check loads and price out your non-rev ticket:

 

  1. swalife.com
  2. Click “My Life”
  3. Click “Travel”
  4. Click “Fly”
  5. Click “Fly Other”
  6. Click “MyIDTravel”
  7. Select airline and city pairing
  8. Select flighs
  9. Price will be on the 3rd page after clicking next

 

For a full list of our cabin seat agreements please follow steps above then click “Travel Pass Agreements”

 

BEFORE AND AFTER TRAVELING

Decide what you would like to do before and/or after your trip. I personally will be taking full advantage of the world’s most beautiful beaches in Fiji. I’m looking at a few dive resorts and boats now. Make sure you book any all-inclusive or excursions ahead of time to avoid higher prices. New Zealand is just a jump away and the South Pacific has some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see. Grab a map and throw a dart. You’re bound to end up somewhere beautiful.

 

VACCINATIONS AND INSURANCE

I hate this question about vaccinations. I am not your doctor. You can check the cdc.gov website for what they recommend. Talk to your doctor and decide what is best for you.

As with all Airline Vigilantes trips, you are required to make sure you have international coverage. As a SWA employee, we all have UHC international coverage for emergency evacuation. If you need and or want supplemental travelers insurance for anything from travelers diarrhea to impaling your foot with wood, check out Nomad travel insurance. YOU MUST PURCHASE ADDITIONAL TRAVELERS INSURANCE IF YOU ARE NOT A SWA EMPLOYEE OR INSURANCE DEPENDENT. Check with your provider for what coverage you already have or can add on. For more information please see our Legal Policies page.

http://www.swavig.com/legal-policies.html

 

PHONES AND WIFI

Check with your phone provider of what international plans they offer.

SIM cards may be purchased upon arrival in Fiji. To use an international SIM card, your phone must be unlocked. Talk to your service provider about unlocking your phone.

You will have access to wifi in public places, however I can never guarantee the connection speed or reliability.

 

COST AND SPENDING MONEY

The $975 for the Sports program includes:

  • 3 meals a day starting the evening of the 8th
  • All lodging
  • Transportation while on the program (Excluding any airfare)
  • Airport transfers
  • Support from AV staff and Fiji local staff

You will need roughly $40-50/day spending money. Thats the best way to gauge it. You wont be spending much during your week with us with food and rooms included in your cost. $50 for basically just your bar tab would be on the high side. It is up to you. Your traveling before and after and any excursions will be up to you to plan and budget for.

 

DONATIONS

We will be bringing a some donations. Please see the Packing List link below for more information.

 

TIMELINE BREAKDOWN

8 months out or more –

Register pay deposit and set up payment options online

Make sure all information on registration is correct

Decide if you are going to non-rev or buy a confirmed ticket

Trade vacation weeks if possible

6 months out –

Have a basic idea of what your itinerary will be for traveling before or after.

Any big tourist destinations, like spa packages or all-inclusive resorts can be booked ahead of time.

2 months out –  

Have a set plan for your travel plans before and after, know what you would like to see and do in each destination.

Make sure your program fee is paid in full.

4 weeks out –  

BID!

Make arrangements for moving trips and obtaining time off.

Have a back up plan if you are non-revving if flights fill up

Make sure you are up to date on your HEP shots as well as Tetanus and schedule a doctors appointment if necessary.

Make sure finances are in order for the trip.

3 weeks out –

Arrange for things like pet care and house sitting.

Purchase any items you will need for the trip. (See packing list)

2 weeks out –

Schedule appointments for things like hair, waxing, or whatever you do.

1 week out –

Start packing.

Gather all items and make a pile. Usually bringing everything together ahead of time will keep you from over packing.

Confirm non-rev airfare and book any non-rev tickets.

Purchase any last minute items and personal care items.

3 days out –

Check loads if non-revving. Have a back up plan.

Make sure house and personal matters are attended to.

Call your banks and give them a travel advisory of where you will be going and for how long.

Check with your phone provider of what international plans they offer.

Day before –

Confirm flight times and loads.

Check your packing list.

 

PACKING LIST

Here is the link to your packing list

Here is the link to your FB group. This group will be a closed group only for those paid and confirmed on the trip. Please do not add anyone who has not registered and paid for their trip. If you have any issues with the link, add me as a friend on FB under “Alexandria Jeffers” and I will approve you.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AVFiji2018/

Here is the link to the Airline Vigilantes FAQ page. This has a bunch of really good information on it as well about everything from vaccinations to insurance.

http://www.swavig.com/faq.html

I know this is a ton of information but it should answer most of your questions. You can always email myself or Alexa McCracken at swavolunteer.jeffers@gmail.com or swavolunteer.mccracken@gmail.com with any questions. Also please use the FB group for bouncing ideas off each other, that’s what it’s there for!

I am really excited about this trip and look forward to meeting you all!

Alexandria Jeffers

President and Founder

Airline Vigilantes

DEN FA

 

 

Fiji Packing List 2018

Let’s talk about packing. I get more request for packing tips then anything else. This list is pretty standard, but was made specifically for the upcoming Airline Vigilantes trip to Fiji. It will look very similar to our other trip packing list with a few additions and specifications. At the bottom you will find a printable quick reference list.

*** I do NOT receive any type of kickback or sponsorship from any product or website. These are things I use and have tested***

BASICS and MUST HAVES

When Im volunteering I personally prefer to take my big backpack, not my roller bag. Rollers can be a pain in the ass if your trying to move quickly and stairs always seem to be a problem. I got this one off Amazon and she’s been good to me. Holds everything I need, comes with rain gear, sleeping bag harness and lots of straps to attach everything. Let’s get something very clear – I DO NOT CARE IF YOU BRING YOUR ROLLER BAG. Let me say that again. It was a hot topic with Thailand this year, I DO NOT CARE. It is EASIER to have a backpack. JMO. Bring your roller if you want your roller. Im throwing my hands in the air with this one. 

518Ieek62LL._SY450_

https://smile.amazon.com/WASING-Internal-Backpacking-Mountaineering-WS-55Lpack-red/dp/B01DZK68IO/ref=sr_1_8?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1513478499&sr=1-8&keywords=hiking+backpack

For warmer climates, like Thailand or Fiji, I usually carry a light sleeping bag. Its more like a blanket with a zipper. This doubles as a travel blanket and is good for the far too many times I’ve had to crash in the airport. 

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https://smile.amazon.com/Udyr-Microfiber-Sleeping-Envelope-Zippered/dp/B07794LXC9/ref=sr_1_22?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1513478796&sr=1-22&keywords=travel+sleeping+bag

A micro fiber fast-drying towel. “Always travel with a towel.” – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and solid advice.

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https://smile.amazon.com/RainLeaf-Antibacterial-Microfiber-inches-Orange/dp/B01A4ZXVOM/ref=sr_1_5_acs_twc_TWC5681_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1513478927&sr=1-5-acs&keywords=microfiber%2Btowels&tag=ospsearch-20&ascsubtag=TWC5681&th=1&psc=1

Toilet paper and butt wipes. Those should be pretty self explanatory. Most other countries will not have TP in public bathroom so come prepared. Also many people don’t know that you typically don’t flush the TP. It goes in the trash can next to the toilet. The rest of the world does this, its kinda gross to our American standards but just roll with it. Its better than flushing it and clogging a toilet on the side of the road in Cambodia after you’ve unloaded 5 weeks of travelers diarrhea. 

First Aid Kit – This one is probably the most important. You never really understand the worth of a good first-aid kit until you need it. So heres a quick story for ya, and ill go into more detail about it in the Philippines post.

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While living in the Philippines a few years ago, we were working on a construction project after Hurricane Hyaine hit them pretty hard. Construction safety in the Philippines consists of flip flops and a tank top. I had my Toms on, and was moving a saw horse from one site to another. I slid my foot to the left and a giant piece of termite infested wood went through my foot. Through it. We were about 24 hours away by boat from the nearest hospital so first-aid was up to me. I pulled the wood out, sprayed it with what ever anti-septic spray we had and wrapped it up. Fast forward 4 weeks, it’s stupid infected with gangrene and possibly MERSA. I ended up on about 6 months worth of antibiotics and coming extremely close to losing my foot. Heres what your kit should include:

Band aids in all sizes

Anti-Biotic spray

Gauze

Neosporne ointment

Hydrogen peroxide

Q-tips

Tweezers

Anti-septic spray

Benadryl

Motrin

Aspirin

Diamode

Hand sanitizer

Aloe or burn relief

Ibuprofen or some from of a pain killer

ACE wrap

Cipro if you have it

Muscle relax cream

DayQuil

Sleep Aid

Rubbing Alcohol

Salt and re-hydration tablets.

Seems like a lot but its really not, and small amounts of each, for like $20 at Target you can get a small standard one. I highly recommend investing. Even if someone else in your group has one bring some basics of your own. Bags get lost.

A ball-cap, or hat of some kind.

A bandana, headband, and/or hanker-chief. I prefer my hanker-chief, it can hold my hair back, become a sweat rag, all kinds of uses, not to mention you will look really cool.

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Sunglasses. Don’t bring expensive sunglasses, They will get lost/stolen/broken.  

A durable watch. Its not always practical or convenient to pull out your cell phone.

Water bottle or Camel-pack

Sunscreen and bug-spray. I buy these things in the states, they tend to be expensive abroad. 

Chargers for all your devices and power converters. I got my pack of converters at target and I believe I spent $20 on them. Amazon has some good deals too.

A guide book. I live by my Lonely Planet books.

IMG_0466

A Kindle or IPad. Bring IPads, computers, and kindles at your own risk. I don’t usually bring anything besides my phone which doubles as my camera. **I talk more about this in the carry on post**

Meds. Duh.

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The only RX I need

Gatorade powder is always good to have on hand. Its going to be hot and your going to be tired.

Zip-lock bags always come in handy.

****Pro tip: I put my non-rev clothes in one that way they still smell fresh when its time to come home.

Flash light and/or headlamp. Late night potty runs

Camera and/or GoPro

Deck of cards, or games. Drinking at night in a large group. This can be fun. Im bringing my Cards Against Humanity.

Wet wipes and body wipes.

 

KQEW2wj45

Game on.

CLOTHES

Heres what I pack, then I usually end up donating most of it and buying new pieces while I’m there.

Light rain jacket. It will probably rain at some point.

Leggings. There $3 at Forever21 and can be donated or thrown out at the end of your trip.

1 pair of pants that can get dirty

Long sleeve shirt that will get dirty

3 pairs of shorts. 2 gym-type shorts, and one pair of jean shorts. I like my Soffee shorts from my cheerleading days.

3 t-shirts. Usually ones I can donate. Again Forever21 and H&M sell basic t-shirts for about $5 and they can be donated or thrown out. T-shirts in Thailand are like $2 a piece and have a cool story when you come home.

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Our standard volunteer uniforms!

2 Sports bras. Gotta strap those bad boys down. And who wants to wear a normal bra if you don’t have to?

Non-rev clothes. This is something that I still struggle with every time. You want to look nice, if not business casual since were non-revving on other carriers, however you still want to be comfortable and practical. Then theres always the hope of getting upgraded or moved to a better seat. So what I’ve worn recently is either a maxi-skirt or leggings with flats and a nice top. Then I put the top and/or skirt in that handy zip-lock we talked about so its fresh when I have to travel home. Its amazing how quickly some jewelry can dress up just some leggings and a t-shirt. Wear a light sweater too. Its a 16 hour flight to Fiji, your gonna get cold. I talk more about this in the carry on and upgrading post as well.

 

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Looking pretty tired after a flight to HKG.

Swim suit. Something that you won’t mind if you loose it. i would bring at least 2-3. Were for sure going to be in the water.

Bring some gallon sized zip-lock bags for your wet clothes.

Socks, underware. Bring more pairs than you think you need. Usually however many days + 4 extra pairs. Incase of any accidents.

An infinity scarf. My doubles as a scarf, headband, sweat rag, face mask, dust mask, skirt, sweater. They are such a versatile item.

An over-the-shoulder purse. Something deep that can’t be grabbed away. Or if you prefer a backpack a small travel lock.

 

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https://smile.amazon.com/ZOMAKE-Lightweight-Packable-Backpack-Resistant/dp/B01DNGEHP6/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1513484261&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=small+backpack&psc=1

SHOES

2 pair flip-flops

2 pairs of athletic shoes or running shoes (preferably that you don’t mind if they get wrecked)

TOMS – I live in my TOMS

Crocs are a good option too, and you’ll look really cool.

Really you need to pack what your comfortable wearing. Research the weather, and well be working with kids teaching sports. You by no means need to bring cleats, but bring what your happy wearing.

TRAVELING NECESSITIES

When Im taking a really long flight I have my standard carry-on items in a backpack or small tote. ****Going out you shouldn’t have an issue carrying on your bag. However coming back you MOST LIKELY WILL HAVE TO CHECK IT. Asia in particular is picky about bags. They will go as far as weighing your bag at security or simply not letting you thru security with a normal crew-sized roller. So plan on checking it and hoping for the best. Have everything important in your carry on.

Click HERE for your carry on info.

PERSONAL ITEMS

For makeup I minimize as much as possible. PLEASE REMEMBER THESE ARE JUST SUGGESTIONS. I had a girl on one of my last trips rip me a new one when I told her I personally don’t pack makeup, so she didn’t. When we got there all the other women ~her age~ brought all their makeup and she was mad that I apparently forced her not to. So heres EXACTLY what I pack.

My Body Shop Tea Tree regime. I love these products. When you travel like I do the last thing you want is to be worried about how you look in those travel photos when you’ve been working and sweating all day. Thats a face wash, wrinkle serum, and SPF 60 moisturizer. I add in bronzer and water proof mascara. Thats it. 

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You do you. 

Body Shop makeup removing cleansing cloths. For at night when I need to get sweat and what little makeup I have on, off. 

I LOVE LUSH EVERYTHING

LUSH brand dry shampoo. This is a miracle product. 

LUSH brand “Sandstone Exfoliating Soap” I have them cut me a piece that fits in a soap container and its super refreshing for removing all that dirt at the end of the day. Smells like lemon and sage too.

LUSH “Toothy Tabs” so your tooth paste doesn’t get thrown away at security and they take up way less space than a tube.

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Contact solution, glasses, and extra contacts.

I really like leave in conditioner. Sometimes after a day of sweating theres no way I’m getting a brush through my hair. I throw this in for the night then rinse it out. Does wonders.

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https://smile.amazon.com/Sun-Bum-Conditioner-Detangler-Protection/dp/B00TUJW9L0/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1513485123&sr=8-1&keywords=leave%2Bin%2Bconditioner%2Bsun%2Bbum&th=1

Don’t forget your toothbrush and a hairbrush. A pocket mirror comes in handy too.

Tampons and/or girls things if you need them. Finding tampons abroad can be a pain and they are expensive.

SOME IMPORTANT THINGS

Copies of the following:

2 copies of your passport, just in case.

Insurance cards

Drivers license

Crew badge

Trip reservation and confirmation ( I will provide this for you)

Flight Itinerary, sometimes you need to show proof of return to the states, so if your non revving just book anything even if you don’t end up using it.

People ask a lot about shots and medications. All I recommend is being up to date on your Tetanus shot (one every 10 years unless told by your doctor) You can check the CDC and state.gov website for the country you are going to. I personally just stay up to date on that one, but do what your doctor thinks is best. Most travel vaccines ARE NOT covered by our insurance. So thats completely up to you. Also things like Malaria pills and Cipro are good to have on hand. I have found in my travels that the malaria pills make me sicker and I won’t take them. Remember this is just me. Talk to your doctor about what your plan should be.

Here is a link about meds and insurance.

ONE MORE TIME

This is my personal list of what I pack and recommend. Do whats best for you. 

Here is a printable list Packing List Quick Print

 

The Perfect Carryon

Surviving your 15 (or sometimes more) hour flight can be daunting. It’s not fun no matter which way you do it. Unless your in First Class which good for you; you can survive anything. If you are not so lucky to be upgraded, make the best of your center seat.

(For my tips for upgrading to First click here)

My general rule for my carry on is that if my big bag were to get lost for some reason I should be able to survive with my carry on. Keep that in mind. You can replace clothes; it’s a lot harder to replace electronics and documents.

Here is exactly what you will find in my carry on and how to use it.

I grabbed this rolling briefcase on Amazon for about $30. I am usually carrying my laptop and numerous files for my volunteer trips so this bag is great for me. Another option would be a tote bag or back pack.

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Starting with the basics. Put your passport in there. Do that first so you don’t forget it.

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Yeaaasss kween I have a very pretty passport cover. It was a very nice gift.

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Cords, battery packs, and 3 USB port plug. They all fit conveniently  in this Tumi bag Delta gave me on a flight once.

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Guide book to read on the way over since airplane wifi internationally is outrageously $$

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Hand sanitizer, Emergence-C (I like the Nuun brand) migraine meds and lotion

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Compression socks. My ankles are the size of New Jersey by the time I get off that plane.

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Ipad and headphones. SWA prob wouldn’t be thrilled if they knew I solely travel with my work ipad, but it’s insured and has all my files on it I need.

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This is my favorite bag! It’s my sleepy bag! Eye mask, toothbrush, ear plugs, lavender spray and small bag of lavender and rose buds and in the small black bag is tissues, chap stick, lotion and sani-wipes. The pill case has ambien and other sleep drugs. (more on that in a min)

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Dont sleep on planes? You sure as shit will after and ambo or Excedrin PM. Sleep. Its 16 hours. You will be fucked if you stay up that whole flight, not to mention really bored.

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All of my travel adaptors and a spare headset are in a small bag. Carry those with you. When you land you will want to be able to charge your phone in the airport if you need to.

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Face wipes, butt wipes, and more sani-wipes.

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The best purchase I have ever made. Its a travel pillow with a hood. Flawless. Try and wake my ass up when I am nested in this after an ambo.

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Sunglasses. I keep mine in my carryon so they don’t break.

OK Thats it. Yes it all fits in there and with my wallet.

So lets break down my flight beginning to end (Like what I did there SWA stews lol)

Boarding and Take Off:

I get settled and wait. During boarding is when if you are going to get upgraded they will come grab you. I dont take ANYTHING out of my bag until we are off the ground incase I need to move quickly and quietly to another (hopefully better) seat.

1 Hour Into Flight:

If it looks like Im not going to be moved I will start to settle in. I lay that briefcase flat and move it under my feet. You will sleep better eventually with your feet elevated.

Roughly 2 Hours Into Flight:

This is usually when meals will be served. I eat, have a glass or 3 of wine. The wine is important. I usually watch a few episodes of a TV show I like for eating.

3 Hours Into Flight:

I get ready for bed! I head to the lav, get my socks on, take off all my makeup, take my contacts out and brush my teeth. Now remember I am about 3 glasses of wine deep now.

4 Hours Into Flight:

Once everything is plugged in and I am ready to call it a night, I put my eye mask on and pop an ambien. (You do you, I do not suggest you take any pills you do not have a RX for especially with booze.) I get my blanket out. Wrap up in my neck pillow and throw on a movie. I will be OUT COLD in about 30 min.

9 Hours Later:

I will usually sleep decently well for about 8-9 hours. Breakfast is served roughly an hour before landing. That also gives me enough time to “sober up” if you will and get some coffee to shake off the ambo.

1 Hour Prior to Landing:

I start packing everything up. If you get packed up before the last minute you wont leave anything. I have lost so many neck pillows over the years that I now have a mental checklist of everything I have taken out during the flight. Don’t be THAT passenger. Make sure you have your passport out and customs and entry cards ready to go.

THAT’S IT! You can do it! It’s not so bad when you do it right. Find the balance that works for you. I have now flown to Asia so many times I applied for a HKG frequent visitor card. So this works for me and it might work for you. My carryon is flawless!

 

Fundraising 101 and Ideas

So this is the first time we have actively offered to help you fundraise. This Nepal week also being the most expensive trip we would like everyone to be able to join.

The best advice I can give you when asking people for money is to be genuine in your cause.

Why did you sign up for this trip?

What emotions did you feel when you finally clicked the register button?

What called you to this trip in particular?

Was it Everest? Nepalese culture?

Think about why you are wanting to come and make a clear statement when you are telling people about your upcoming trip.

 

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As mentioned in your welcome packets:

As of right now (7/6/17) donations will NOT be tax deductible. However, you are traveling for a good cause. People will support you. This is an awesome experience. With our 501c3 still pending for the Airline Vigilantes non-profit, we have a 3 year back date to write off any donations. Upon our 501c3 certificate, I will email you out an itemized receipt for your trip donations and write-offs.

From the IRS website:

“When the IRS approves a timely filed exemption application, exempt status is recognized back to the date the organization was created. Thus, while an application is pending, the organization can treat itself as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3).  For example, it must file Form 990 (instead of an income tax return) while its application is pending.  However, contributors to the organization do not have advance assurance of deductibility because the organization’s exemption is pending.  If the organization ultimately qualifies for exemption for the period in which the contribution is made, the contribution will be tax-deductible by the donor.  Alternatively, if the organization ultimately does not qualify for exemption, then the contribution will not be tax deductible.”

If you have more questions about this please email me at swavolunteer,jeffers@gmail.com and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

So heres some basic fundraising ideas:

  1. Bracelets!

Once upon a time, about 3-4 years ago, a group of 10 friends came up with an idea to start a volunteer group. We had 10 members and just wanted to use our flight benefits to volunteer all over the world. We started making these friendship bracelets to sell to our friends and family for a donation to what ever trip we were going on. Shockingly it was a HUGE success and developed into what is now our Etsy store. We would sell them for $5 each or by donation. I would sit in the back galley and make them and next thing you knew everyone was asking about our trips and donating what they could. I’m 100% not kidding you that’s how we raised all our funding for where we are now.

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2. Facebook fundraising* and GoFundMe

Not the crafty type? That’s ok! Reach out to your friends and family via social media. Create a GoFundMe account and let everyone know what you’re doing and what your purpose is. Make sure you have a clear and precise message about what we will be doing and what this trip means to you. Appeal to peoples emotions and not their wallets. Here is your sample schedule, of what volunteering you will be doing:

  • A talk on schooling and education system in Nepal and school visits.
  • Visit the kindergarten to give supplies and interact with the children teach the some basic English, play western games.
  • A cultural as well as historical orientation tour to the famous Boudhanath temple
  • Nepali cooking session
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Volunteer at chosen project- Renovation, Kindergarten, Stray Dog project.
  • A local tour to the Hindu Temple

https://www.gofundme.com/

  • We ask that you DO NOT use SWA FB groups like Fusion and One Luv for your fundraising. There are more than 30 of you coming on this trip who are SWA employees. The admins of those groups would appreciate it if you only post to your personal pages with fundraising links. 

3. Garage Sale

Get rid of some stuff! What a great reason to get motivated and clean house! You can also use your garage sale as a bake sale/ lemonade stand and let your community know what your doing and what your raising money for.

4. Host a Swap Party

 

non rev outfit

Bring current styles that are gently worn

This is always fun! You and a group of 3-20 (or more) friends get together and swap clothing, or anything else you might want to swap (Children’s items, books, dvd’s, etc) . Ask friends to bring lightly used and good condition items and a bag to take their loot home in. For example, if you tell everyone to bring 20 items. When they arrive you will give each person 20 tokens or coins. They will “buy” items with their coins from each other. Each person has to bring 20 items and leave with 20 items. You can also have a donation pile, that can be brought with you for donating on the trip or given to a local shelter. Let everyone know about your upcoming trip as well and ask for donations and clothing/supply donations. Follow this link for a step-by-step of how to host a party https://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/entertaining/everyday-celebrations/host-swap-party/swap-books-cds-dvds

5. BBQ

It’s currently summer and let’s enjoy this nice weather while we can! Get your friends together for a weekend BBQ. Supply burgers and dogs and ask for a donation in exchange for food and drinks. It’s a great excuse to get everyone together and raise money for your upcoming trip. Let your friends know what you will be doing there and why the trip is important to you. Think about what motivated  you to sign up. Was it the volunteering? The call of Everest? Both? Let everyone know and they will support you! (Especially if the keg is cold)

backyard-string-lighting-ideas-mekobrecom-makeovers-outdoor-lights-party-cointreau-la-maison-bar-amagansett-summer-1024x683

Ya know just turn your backyard real quick into a Pinterest worthy magical summer get together ~eye roll~ I would like to think all my parties look like this.

6. Movie Viewing Night

2012-07-16_winnick_movie-night-spread

You can do this with the kiddos or with your adult friends. Plan a night to get everyone together and watch a movie. Have concessions you can “sell” for a small donation to your trip. Here’s a link to some Everest movies that don’t all have a bad-freezing-to-death-or-falling-off ending. http://www.indiewire.com/2015/09/9-mountain-climbing-movies-to-see-before-you-scale-everest-259438/

Or you can host a kids movie night with the same idea.

7. Businesses and Sponsorships

These are hard to obtain. I hate to sound negative about it, but unless you are a school or church, businesses aren’t willing to sponsor you. Getting sponsored individually is also a pain in the ass but it can be done. It depends on you and how much time and energy you are willing to put in. This is a great article about what it takes to even get free gear from a company. I couldn’t agree more that usually it is much easier to just buy the jacket than ask for a free one. http://francistapon.com/Travels/Advice/How-to-get-sponsors-for-backpacking-and-trips

8. Get online!

Use Pinterest, tumblr, and simply google, for creative fundraising ideas. There are a million way to raise money, find one that works for you and your schedule.

Nepal Welcome Packet and Timeline

Welcome! We are very excited to announce this trip and look forward to meeting you all! I am confident we will all have an amazing experience.

PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE PACKET! IT CONTAINS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND TIME SENSITIVE INFORMATION

You will need to arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM)  NO LATER than the Sunday March 18, 2018. If your schedule allows it, I highly suggest you arrive a few days early in Nepal to adjust to the altitude. You may arrive at any time on the 18th and an airport transfer will be provided for you.

Lodging will begin the evening of the 18th and conclude on Saturday March 24, 2018 for the discovery week. Any additional nights you will be responsible for.

For those doing the trek and discovery week, all lodging will be taken care of starting on March 18th and concluding April 8th** .

We will take room mate request a few weeks prior to the beginning of the trip via email and social media.

** Depending on weather we may need to extend the hike a day or two, you will need to be a little flexible with time on the back end. Everest is no joke, if you’re signing up for the trek I assume you already know that. If it does need to be extended we (Airline Vigilantes) will take care of your lodging.

VISAS

Upon arrival in Nepal they will issue you a tourist visa. You DO NOT need to obtain one before. For those JUST doing the discovery week you will obtain the 15 day visa ($25 USD) and those doing BOTH the week and trek you will need to obtain a 1 month visa ($40 USD).

AIRPORT CODES, NON-REV, AND FLIGHT OPTIONS

KTM – Katmandu, Nepal

HKG – Hong Kong, Hong Kong

BKK – Bangkok, Thailand

NRT – Tokyo (Narita), Japan

PEK – Shanghai, China

SIN – Singapore, Singapore

KUL – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

DEL – New Delhi, India

DXB – Dubai, U.A.E.

You have many options for getting over to Asia. www.passrider.com will show you every flight, on every airline, with connections. Simply put in your originating city and final destination. Make sure to check the box “Interline” to see all connections.

After doing some light research, Nepal isn’t as accessible as many of the other places we host trips. With that being said, I personally non-rev everywhere. Period. I do it on principle. However, as always, you have the option to purchase a full fare ticket or non-rev. That choice is 100% up to you.

I priced out a ticket on Kayak the other day from LAX-KTM and found roundtrip airfare is about $850 USD. Thats a pretty good deal. If you would rather take the stress off, buy a ticket. Again that is 100% up to you which way you would like to go.

If you are going to non-rev you have a lot of options. Use passrider and look at different destinations. Half the fun is figuring out how you are going to get there. Use the above airport codes as a guide of where to start.

To check loads and price your non-rev fare:

  1. swalife.com
  2. Click the “Travel” tab at the top of the page.
  3. Click “Launch MyIDTravel”
  4. Select airline and city pairing
  5. Select flights
  6. Price will be on the third page after hitting “Next” on your selected flights.

I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend you purchase a ticket from a major city hub (HKG,BKK,SIN,KUL,DEL,DXB) to KTM. The cheapest one-way I am seeing was only $130.00 USD. There are very limited options for getting to KTM via non-rev. (Dragon Air out of HKG and a few others) We CANNOT non-rev as of now on AirAsia and many other Asian carriers because we do not have reciprocal agreements with them For a full list of our cabin seat agreements please see https://www.swalife.com/wps/myportal/swalife/mylife/travel/fly/other/myidtravel. Get creative and find a new adventure while getting to this one. Half the journey is getting there.

For those who do not non-rev often, please see the link below for dress code and behavior expectations and some tips and tricks I use.

https://talesfromtheflyingcircus.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/upgrading-and-first-class-etiquette-101/

BEFORE AND AFTER TRAVELING

Decide what traveling and sightseeing you would like to do before and after the trip. Southeast and central Asia have so much to offer, I can’t even begin to tell you.

Many will arrive via Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities on the planet. A cultural melting pot of ex-pats and global citizens, not to mention the culinary scene is unparalleled. Shopping, hiking, dining, sightseeing, and the arts can all be found here.

Here is a link to my favorite spots in Hong Kong.

https://talesfromtheflyingcircus.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/my-favorite-hong-kong/

Another routing option is via Tokyo. An amazing city unlike anywhere else in the world, Tokyo is a bit pricier than the rest of Asia, but so unique. A must-see for anyone headed to Asia.

If you are not joining the Everest Base Camp trek, you have the option to travel as well after the week. It is fairly easy to get around from country to country. Airfare on AirAsia is a good option. The bus is a long but affordable option as well. Communicate with each other and with a group this size there will be lots of options.

 

VACCINATIONS AND INSURANCE

I hate this question about vaccinations. I am not your doctor. You can check the cdc.gov website for what they recommend. Talk to your doctor and decide what is best for you.

As with all Airline Vigilantes trips, you are required to make sure you have international coverage. As a SWA employee, we all have UHC international coverage for emergency evacuation. If you need and or want supplemental travelers insurance for anything from travelers diarrhea to impaling your foot with wood, check out Nomad travel insurance. YOU MUST PURCHASE ADDITIONAL TRAVELERS INSURANCE IF YOU ARE NOT A SWA EMPLOYEE OR INSURANCE DEPENDENT. Check with your provider for what coverage you already have or can add on. For more information please see our Legal Policies page.

http://www.swavig.com/legal-policies.html

PHONES AND WIFI

Check with your phone provider of what international plans they offer.

SIM cards may be purchased upon arrival in Kathmandu. To use an international SIM card, your phone must be unlocked. Talk to your service provider about unlocking your phone.

You will have access to wifi in public places, however I can never guarantee the connection speed or reliability.

COST AND SPENDING MONEY

The $800 for the Discovery Week includes:

  • 3 meals a day starting the evening of the 18th
  • All lodging
  • Transportation while on the program (Excluding any airfare)
  • Airport transfers

The $800 and $1800 for the Discovery Week and Trek includes:

  • Meals
  • Lodging (Guesthouses etc)
  • Sherpa and Guides
  • Transportation (excluding airfare)
  • Entry fees

You will need roughly $50/day spending money. Thats the best way to gauge it. (Excluding the trekking days. There wont be anything to buy on the side of the mountain besides beer.) Nepal is ridiculously inexpensive and $50 would be on the high side. It is up to you, since your food, lodging, and transportation is included you won’t be spending much on anything besides alcohol and souvenirs.

FUNDRAISING

You DO have the option to fundraise for this trip. Look at the link below for fundraising ideas. As of right now (7/1/17) donations will NOT be tax deductible. However, you are traveling for a good cause. People will support you. This is an awesome experience. With our 501c3 still pending for the Airline Vigilantes non-profit, we have a 3 year back date to write off any donations. Upon our 501c3 certificate, I will email you out an itemized receipt for your trip donations and write-offs.

From the IRS website:

“When the IRS approves a timely filed exemption application, exempt status is recognized back to the date the organization was created. Thus, while an application is pending, the organization can treat itself as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3).  For example, it must file Form 990 (instead of an income tax return) while its application is pending.  However, contributors to the organization do not have advance assurance of deductibility because the organization’s exemption is pending.  If the organization ultimately qualifies for exemption for the period in which the contribution is made, the contribution will be tax-deductible by the donor.  Alternatively, if the organization ultimately does not qualify for exemption, then the contribution will not be tax deductible.”

If you have more questions about this please email me at swavolunteer,jeffers@gmail,com and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

DONATIONS

We will be bringing a TON of donations. Please see the Packing List link below for more information.

TIMELINE BREAKDOWN

8 months out or more –

Register pay deposit and set up payment options online

Make sure all information on registration is correct

Decide if you are going to non-rev or buy a confirmed ticket

Trade vacation weeks if possible

For those doing the trek START TRAINING IF YOU NEED TO

6 months out –

Have a basic idea of what your itinerary will be for traveling before or after.

Any big tourist destinations, like spa packages or all-inclusive resorts can be booked ahead of time.

Purchase ticket to/from KTM.

2 months out –  

Have a set plan for your travel plans before and after, know what you would like to see and do in each destination.

Make sure your program fee is paid in full.

4 weeks out –  

BID!

Make arrangements for moving trips and obtaining time off.

Have a back up plan if you are non-revving incase flights fill up

Make sure you are up to date on your HEP shots as well as Tetanus and schedule a doctors appointment if necessary.

Make sure finances are in order for the trip.

3 weeks out –

Arrange for things like pet care and house sitting.

Purchase any items you will need for the trip. (See packing list)

2 weeks out –

Schedule appointments for things like hair, waxing, or whatever you do.

1 week out –

Start packing.

Gather all items and make a pile. Usually bringing everything together ahead of time will keep you from over packing.

Confirm non-rev airfare and book any non-rev tickets.

Purchase any last minute items and personal care items.

3 days out –

Check loads if non-revving. Have a back up plan.

Make sure house and personal matters are attended to.

Call your banks and give them a travel advisory of where you will be going and for how long.

Check with your phone provider of what international plans they offer.

Day before –

Confirm flight times and loads.

Check your packing list.

SAMPLE ITINERARY – DISCOVERY WEEK 

Monday

  • Puja to the gods & goddess and name-giving ceremony
  • Go over the week’s schedule and handling of documents
  • Introduction game to get to know fellow participants
  • Cultural seminar on social behavioural norms, dos & don’ts in Nepalese culture. Intercultural eating and drinking habits, bathing and clothing’s customs in Nepalese culture.
  • A little assignment for you to explore your neighbourhood and find local civic places such as banks (ATM), temples, schools, restaurants etc.

Tuesday

  • A social interactive session
  • Nepali language training
  • Shopping at the local market
  • Orientation tour of the city of Nepal with an interesting game called “Scavenger Hunt”, we will tell you more about this when you are here

Wednesday

  • A talk on schooling and education system in Nepal and school vists.
  • Visit the kindergarten to give supplies and interact with the children teach the some basic English, play western games.
  • A cultural as well as historical orientation tour to the famous Boudhanath temple
  • Nepali cooking session

Thursday

  • Yoga and meditation
  • Volunteer at chosen project- Renovation, Kindergarten, Stray Dog project.
  • A local tour to the Hindu Temple

Friday

  • It’s all about hiking today! We will go on a nature trail into the mountains to get a view of Kathmandu valley.
  • Feedback sharing (evaluation)

FOR THOSE DOING THE EVEREST TREK YOUR ITINERARY WILL BE SENT OUT IN A FEW WEEKS 

Here is the link to your packing list:

https://talesfromtheflyingcircus.wordpress.com/2017/07/03/packing-list-nepal-discovery-week-and-everest-base-camp-trek-2018/

Here is the link to your FB group. This group will be a closed group only for those paid and confirmed on the trip. Please do not add anyone who has not registered and paid for their trip. If you have any issues with the link, add me as a friend on FB under “Alexandria Jeffers” and I will approve you.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/213474915842785/

Here is the link to the Airline Vigilantes FAQ page. This has a bunch of really good information on it as well about everything from vaccinations to insurance.

http://www.swavig.com/faq.html

I know this is a ton of information but it should answer most of your questions. You can always email myself or Alexa McCracken at swavolunteer.jeffers@gmail.com or swavolunteer.mccracken@gmail.com with any questions. Also please use the FB group for bouncing ideas off each other, that’s what it’s there for!

I am really excited about this trip and look forward to meeting you all!

 

Alexandria Jeffers

President and Founder

Airline Vigilantes

DEN FA

 

Packing List Nepal Discovery Week and Everest Base Camp Trek 2018

Let’s talk about packing. I get more request for packing tips then anything else. This list is pretty standard, but was made specifically for the upcoming Airline Vigilantes trip to Nepal. It is a good reference point for things not to forget.

BASICS and MUST HAVES

I’m going to highly, highly suggest you use a backpack instead of your roller. When Im volunteering I personally prefer to take my big backpack, not my roller bag. Rollers can be a pain in the ass if your trying to move quickly and stairs always seem to be a problem. I got this one off Amazon and she’s been good to me. Holds everything I need, comes with rain gear, sleeping bag harness and lots of straps to attach everything.

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It’s going to be chilly, but remember you will be staying in guesthouses that will have beds. I usually still bring a light sleeping bag. This one from Amazon is more like a zippered sheet.  However, if you run cold, bring a bigger sleeping bag. If you don’t already own one, you can rent one from REI etc.

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A micro fiber fast-drying towel. “Always travel with a towel.” – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and solid advice.

Toilet paper and butt wipes. Those should be pretty self-expianatory. Most other countries will not have TP in public bathroom so come prepared. Also many people don’t know that you typically don’t flush the TP. It goes in the trash can next to the toilet. The rest of the world does this, its kinda gross to our Western standards but just roll with it. Its better than flushing it and clogging a toilet on the side of the road in Kathmandu after you’ve unloaded 5 weeks of travelers diarrhea. 

First Aid Kit – This one is probably the most important. You never really understand the worth of a good first-aid kit until you need it. So heres a quick story for ya, and ill go into more detail about it in the Philippines post.

Gross ‘eh?


While living in the Philippines a few years ago, we were working on a construction project after Hurricane Hyaine hit them pretty hard. Construction safety in the Philippines consists of flip flops and a tank top. I had my Toms on, and was moving a saw horse from one site to another. I slid my foot to the left and a giant piece of termite infested wood went through my foot. Through it. We were about 24 hours away by boat from the nearest hospital so first-aid was up to me. I pulled the wood out, sprayed it with what ever anti-septic spray we had and wrapped it up. Fast forward 4 weeks, it’s stupid infected with gangrene and possibly MERSA. I ended up on about 6 months worth of antibiotics and coming extremely close to losing my foot. Heres what your kit should include:

Band aids in all sizes

Anti-Biotic spray

Gauze

Neosporne ointment

Hydrogen peroxide

Q-tips

Tweezers

Anti-septic spray

Benadryl

Motrin

Aspirin

Diamode

Hand sanitizer

Aloe or burn relief

Ibuprofen or some from of a pain killer

ACE wrap

Cipro if you have it

Muscle relax cream

DayQuil

Sleep Aid

Rubbing Alcohol

Salt and re-hydration tablets.

Seems like a lot but its really not, and small amounts of each, for like $20 at Target you can get a small standard one. I highly recommend investing. Even if someone else in your group has one bring some basics of your own. Bags get lost.

A bandana, headband, and/or hanker-chief. I prefer my hanker-chief, it can hold my hair back, become a sweat rag, all kinds of uses, not to mention I look really cool.

You can’t sit with us

Sunglasses. Don’t bring expensive sunglasses, They will get lost/stolen/broken. Polarized is a good option for what we will be doing.

A durable watch. Its not always practical or convenient to pull out your cell phone.

Water bottle or Camel-pack

Sunscreen and bug-spray. I buy these things in the states, they tend to be expensive abroad. 

Chargers for all your devices and power converters. I got my pack of converters at target and I believe I spent $20 on them. Amazon has some good deals too.

A guide book. I live by my Lonely Planet books.

 

 

A Kindle or IPad. Bring IPads, computers, and kindles at your own risk. I don’t usually bring anything besides my phone which doubles as my camera.

Meds. Duh.

  

The only RX I need

 

Gatorade powder is always good to have on hand. If you are doing the trek this could be a life saver.

Zip-lock bags always come in handy. ****Pro tip: I put my non-rev clothes in one that way they still smell fresh when its time to come home.

Flash light and/or headlamp. Late night potty runs

Camera and/or GoPro

Deck of cards, or games. Drinking at night in a large group. This can be fun. Im bringing my Cards Against Humanity.

Wet wipes and body wipes.

Game on.

CLOTHES

OK, so Nepal is the poorest country in the world. I want to you donate literally anything you can spare. That includes any clothes you don’t want to bring home. I will probably end up leaving almost everything I bring there. Heres what I am going to suggest then you decide when you get there what you want to leave.

This list of clothing is primarily for those doing the hike. It will work for both trips, however those doing just the week you will obviously not need as much clothing.

  • Underwear. Bring more pairs than you think you need. Usually however many days + 4 extra pairs. Incase of any accidents. Wicking boxers aren’t a bad idea.
  • 2 Sports bras. Gotta strap those bad boys down. And who wants to wear a normal bra if you don’t have to?
  • Heavyweight long underwear bottoms
  • Heavyweight long underwear top
  • Underamor t-shirts (2-3)
  • Underamor long sleeve (2-3)
  • Mid-weight fleece or soft-shell jacket
  • Mid-weight jacket with hood
  • Convertible hiking pants (zip or break away)
  • Fleece pants or wool leggings
  • Light weight breathable waterproof jacket (honestly I love my old SWA blue shell jacket, it’s the perfect weight for this)
  • Waterproof rain pants
  • Mid-weight gloves and/or wool gloves
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Liner gloves
  • A warm hat or beanie
  • Sun hat
  • Mid-weight socks (7-8 pairs)
  • Liner socks
  • Glacier sunglasses

A fleece or pullover.

Leggings. There $3 at Forever21 and can be donated or thrown out at the end of your trip and make great layering.

1 or two pairs of pants that can get dirty. I don’t like to wear jeans, but you do you.

A pair of hiking pants that can zip or break away.

Long sleeve shirts and Underarmor for layering. Anything that has wicking material.

A pair of shorts isn’t a bad idea.

6+ t-shirts. Usually ones I can donate. Again Forever21 and H&M sell basic t-shirts for about $5 and they can be donated or thrown out. 

A LOT of socks. 2 pairs per day is usually a good rule to follow. Bring some ski socks and some wool socks. Especially if you are doing the trek. Your tootsies are going to be chilly.

 

A beanie or hat of some warmth.

Non-rev clothes. This is something that I still struggle with every time. You want to look nice, if not business casual since were non-revving on other carriers, however you still want to be comfortable and practical. Then theres always the hope of getting upgraded or moved to a better seat. So what I’ve worn recently is either a maxi-skirt or leggings with flats and a nice top. Then I put the top and/or skirt in that handy zip-lock we talked about so its fresh when I have to travel home. Its amazing how quickly some jewelry can dress up just some leggings and a t-shirt. Wear a light sweater too. Its a 16 hour flight to HKG, your gonna get cold.

Just landed in HKG, leggings, nice top and scarf

 

Gloves, a light pair and a heavy pair. 

Bring some gallon sized zip-lock bags for your wet clothes.

An infinity scarf. My doubles as a scarf, headband, sweat rag, face mask, dust mask, skirt, sweater. They are such a versatile item.

Scarves also work as face mask when your in a dust storm

A backpack and small travel lock.

 SHOES

Hiking boots. (For both trips) We will be doing A LOT of walking. If you don’t already own a pair, do your research and find something that fits your budget and lifestyle. Here are some we recommend:

1 pair tennis shoe or running shoe (preferably that you don’t mind if they get wrecked)

TOMS – I live in my TOMS

Crocs or flip flops are a good option for showering, and we don’t know what bathrooms will look like, so if you have room they wont hurt. You can always leave them there.

Really you need to pack what your comfortable wearing. Research the weather, and well be walking and spending a lot of time outdoors. 

HIKING GEAR

This hike is difficult, but remember you are NOT summiting Everest. You will need boots, clothes, and some extra items but nothing extreme.

Some collapsable hiking polls

Headlamp

Good boots

Small backpack

Sleeping bag

Most of what is already mentioned above with clothing stays the same. If we get any other items we will let you know.

TRAVELING NECESSITIES

When Im taking a really long flight I have my standard carry-on items in a backpack or small tote. ****Going out you shouldn’t have an issue carrying on your bag. However coming back you MOST LIKELY WILL HAVE TO CHECK IT. Asia in particular is picky about bags. They will go as far as weighing your bag at security or simply not letting you thru security with a normal crew-sized roller. So plan on checking it and hoping for the best. Have everything important in your carry on.

Travel pillow – I got a really cool one with a hood on it from amazon for $10. You can even crash in a middle seat with this thing!

Eye mask

Ear plugs

Reading material

That sleeping bag doubles as a blanket, but most airlines will give you a blanket and a pillow.

I splurged and got some really nice noise canceling headphones. They don’t always fit the jack to watch movies from the plane, but they will cancel out the screaming child behind me when I want to sleep.

Ambien, What the hell else am I going to do for 16 hours.

Don’t forget big planes have personal TV’s in the seats. Ive never gotten too bored.

PERSONAL ITEMS

For makeup I minimize as much as possible. PLEASE REMEMBER THESE ARE JUST SUGGESTIONS. I had a girl on one of my last trips rip me a new one when I told her I personally don’t pack makeup, so she didn’t. When we got there all the other women her age brought all their makeup and she was mad that I apparently forced her not to. So heres EXACTLY what I pack.

My Body Shop face regime. (I switched from R+F, I loved them too, but stopped selling and like Body Shop better) I love these products. I don’t sell it anymore but we have a million FA’s that do. I have all but stopped wearing face makeup everyday because my skin looks AMAZING. I wouldn’t promote it if it didn’t work.  When you travel like I do the last thing you want is to be worried about how you look in those travel photos when you’ve been working and sweating all day. This will change your life. 

You can thank me in 6 months when your skin looks 20 years younger

Sephora’s waterproof mascara and eyeliner. 

Bronzer.

Thats it. 

The Body Shop moisturizer has SPF 60 in it, then waterproof mascara. Thats my everyday routine when I’m volunteering. You do you. 

Body Shop makeup removing cleansing cloths. For at night when I need to get sweat and what little makeup I have on, off. 

LUSH brand dry shampoo. This is a miracle product. 

LUSH brand “Sandstone Exfoliating Soap” I have them cut me a piece that fits in a soap container and its super refreshing for removing all that dirt at the end of the day. Smells like lemon and sage too.

LUSH “Toothy Tabs” so your tooth paste doesn’t get thrown away at security and they take up way less space than a tube.

 

No Drought Dry Shampoo, Sandstone soap, Toothy Tabs

I have silicon travel size containers for shampoo and conditioner. Honestly don’t bet on showering everyday. Maybe a wet-wipe bath. Shower time every night was a bit of a scramble who could get there first.

Contact solution, glasses, and extra contacts.

I really like leave in conditioner. Sometimes after a day of sweating theres no way I’m getting a brush through my hair. I throw this in for the night then rinse it out. Does wonders.

Don’t forget your toothbrush and a hairbrush. A pocket mirror comes in handy too.

Tampons and/or girls things if you need them. Finding tampons abroad can be a pain and they are expensive.

SOME IMPORTANT THINGS

Copies of the following:

2 copies of your passport, just in case.

Insurance cards

Drivers license

Crew badge

Reservation and confirmation ( I will provide this for you)

Flight Itinerary, sometimes you need to show proof of return to the states, so if your non revving just book anything even if you don’t end up using it.

People ask a lot about shots and medications. All I recommend is being up to date on your Tetanus shot (one every 10 years unless told by your doctor) You can check the CDC and state.gov website for the country you are going to. I personally just stay up to date on that one, but do what your doctor thinks is best. Most travel vaccines ARE NOT covered by our insurance. So thats completely up to you. Also things like Malaria pills and Cipro are good to have on hand. I have found in my travels that the malaria pills make me sicker and I won’t take them. Remember this is just me. Talk to your doctor about what your plan should be.

ONE MORE TIME

This is my personal list of what I pack and recommend. Do whats best for you. 

The Savage World of Dating Me Online: Part 1

Tinder, Bumble, Match, POF, Christian Mingle? (eww) How many are there now, and for how many specific interest? Tinder has been my jam for awhile now on and off. It’s quick and to the point. Not always a hook up, but a faster response rate than something that is taken more seriously. With a quick response, comes some dumb fucking pick up lines. Here are a few of my best responses. I have no idea why I am still single.

 

  1. It’s weird he didn’t respond to this.

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2.  Here we have a perfect example of the fragile male ego. We are no longer friends.

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3. If he can’t take a joke GTFO.

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4. I am such a good friend. Drank all his booze and made sure he got home ok.

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5. Actual picture of one of my dates.

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6. I like Star Wars. This could have been my soul mate, then he went off the deep end crazy.

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7. He was petite.

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8. When you text me at 9am on a day off… at least I was honest.

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10. Sometimes apple hits us right where it hurts. The next word was “Taco.” I wanted a taco.

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11. Online dating is gross. This is the same man, that after about 6 months of dating, told me I wasn’t “The kind of girl you can bring home to mom.” So I sent this to his mother.

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12. This is an entire date in 5 text. I just left mid sentence and went to bed.

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13. Pilots are easy targets.

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14. This one is my favorite.

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Phu Chalet on Phi Phi Island

I head to Thailand about 3-4 times a year for various reasons.

Without sounding like too much of a travel snob, I’m really sick of going. There’s a lot of world to see and I keep ending up in the same spots. With that being said I love Thailand and the Thai people. It’s become a bit of a second home to me where the streets are more familiar than those of Denver. I go mostly for business, organizing the elephant trips and then leading the groups in the fall. I found myself there again with my ex, a pilot, whom I travel with often.

We flew straight from Denver to San Francisco to Hong Kong to Phuket, roughly 20 hours with an hour between each flight. Needless to say, we were numb by the time we landed in Phuket. The journey to the hotel wasn’t even close to over yet. The Phuket pier is another 45 min drive to the other side of town, and then the ferry ride is two hours. Upon arrival in Phi Phi Island, we needed to take another long boat to the hotel on the north side of the island for 30 minutes. That puts us at a grand total of 27 hours and 15 minutes of travel time to get to the hotel.

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We had chosen a beautiful hotel north of the main drag called the Phu Chalet, about $117.00USD per night. (Staying at Phu Chalet, pronounced “Poo” on Phi Phi “pee pee” did not go over my head.) I’ve never stayed on this side of the island, and unknowingly to me, there are no roads connecting Phi Phi Don (where all restaurants and entertainment are) to the north where our hotel was; only water taxis.

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Delirious and exhausted, I looked at Henry and said, “We have to power through. We have to try and stay up for a few more hours to adjust to the time change.” It was roughly 4pm, so I grabbed a beer and we took a water taxi back into town.

 

Phi Phi is a party island. Famous for white sand beaches and full moon parties, the bay is lined with 20-something Aussie’s selling buckets of vodka-redbull to tourist. It’s a good time: if you’re 21 and ready to rage. My body wont take buckets of vodka anymore, but its not going to stop me from a few Changs.

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We went to one of my favorite bars, The Only Bar, at the south point and propped up for some cocktails and food. A few hours later sun was down and we were ready for bed.

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The Only Bar. Google what their famous for..

Making our way back to the pier we were shockingly having a hard time finding a water taxi back to the hotel. It was $700THB ($20USD) coming down, and the one boat willing to take us back wanted $1800THB ($52USD). What?! No. However at this point we didn’t have an option. So we followed him to a long boat, a wooden single engine vessel that looked like it had seen some better days. Henry and I have done some sailing, we actually just got back from a week sailing the BVI’s, and have some basic maritime knowledge, by no means experts, but we knew enough to realize that none of these boats have lights for sailing at night.

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My photo of the longboats wouldn’t load so here’s a stock photo

 

I am fairly drunk, as that’s how I spend a majority of my time in Thailand, I laughed it off and reassured Henry that these guys know these waters like the back of their hands. We jump in the boat and sit waiting to depart. The guy tells us it will just be a minute. 25 minutes later and he has a bag of tools out, a headlamp on and is doing some pretty serious maintenance. Finally the engine comes to life and we set off into the black waters.

The sea was rough to put it lightly. We are getting slammed with wave after wave in this little boat. The moon was almost full so there was some light; however navigating by starlight in a canoe was less than ideal. I looked at Henry and started making a game plan about swimming to shore. The waters surrounding Phi Phi are, for reals, shark infested and we are 300 yards off shore. We’re both good swimmers but that’s not how I wanted to spend my night. The journey is also taking a lot longer as he can’t go full speed in these conditions.

30 minutes into this hell cruise the engine dies. This is not happening. I start busting up laughing. That’s all you can do. The captain now has no control over the vessel. To make things a little more interesting, we are off a stretch of shore that is all cliff with no beach. The surf turned the boat parallel to the waves and I am worried we are going to capsize. This guy pulls out his tool bag again and starts working on the motor. It was running in only 5 minutes but it felt like a lifetime. Now going even slower, the waves are getting bigger and we still have some distance to cover. I had given Henry my wallet and vape to put in his pockets since we were both drenched.

Finally our resort is in sight after almost an hour in our little dinghy.

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It’s looking like this, but pitch black

To back it up, our resort has no dock. The long boats just beach and everyone jumps out in a foot of water. This didn’t even cross my mind until we pull up along side the hotel and the captain can’t dock because the seas are too rough. Fuck. We just went through hell and it’s not even close to over. He starts shining his light into the restaurant to get some of the staff to come down and help. 5 staff members come rushing to shore and immediately jump into the water. The captain gets the boat close enough that they can grab the lines and try and hold the ship for us to disembark. When the tide went out, he yelled for us to jump out right away. I bail without looking back and shakily make my way to shore where staff is waiting. Remember, I am quite drunk and the ocean floor is now slippery rock being low tide. I hear Henry shouting something, but was so focused on apologizing to the woman greeting us to turn back. I hear “FUCK FUCK FUCK” from behind me and the staff is horrified. Henry had slipped backwards on the rocks and went completely under. He had his phone, my wallet, my passport, my vape and his wallet. Everything was drenched. When he got ashore, he shoved everything in my hands and ran like a scolded cat to the room without a second glance at anyone. I asked the kitchen for a bowl of rice to attempt to save Henry’s phone, as it was the first night of our 10-day journey.

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Again, it’s this, but at night. Not fun when you can’t see the rocks…

When I got up to the room Henry was showering and laughing. I was quite concerned he was pissed, but very relieved to know he wasn’t mad at me. I honestly had no idea. Lesson learned, stay on the side of the island where you want to spend time or plan accordingly. Thankfully Henry is the kind of human that can live without his phone for a week (it was completely lifeless) and didn’t care too much. The rest of the trip went without too much incident and some good times in Chiang Mai and Hong Kong.