The tour has ended. The inevitable happened. We ran out of time together and we had to say goodbye. It totally sucks and it's been one full day but I am still adjusting to being alone with my sister and no one else. We left Pai and took a minibus back to the Chang Mai train station where we had our last overnight ride together as a group.
Once again we all bought train snacks and got silly telling stories while curled up in our little bunks. I lost the coin flip with my sister so was on the smaller, not nearly as nice, top bunk with the damn fluorescent light in my face. Luckily for me though my friend came and sneakily took the bulb out so I would have a peaceful slumber hehe. I slept much better on the train than the first time on the top bunk and was in good spirits when we got to Bangkok.
We arrived back to the hotel where we all first met and so many memories came back. Just walking to the lobby we past the patio where we all sat drinking and talking and learning about each other that first night. Ah sighhhh....we were given our rooms and then many of us set out on a mission to find a perfect outfit for the farewell dinner. We tried the local market first and then headed to this fancy mall called 'Terminal 21' that is set up like an airport and has themed floors. I did find a dress I really liked (and I looked smoking hot in it) but I didn't love it enough to carry it for the next 4 and a half months so I decided against it. We got back to the hotel after one final tuk tuk ride (tear) and Leanna and I started getting ready; we spent more time on our makeup and added eyeliner and lipstick and I put on the nicest dress I brought. Leanna even helped me to do a messy side bun because I am completely incompetent when it comes to doing my own hair. We looked fabulous when we were finished and we met with the group and discovered they all looked fabulous too. Girls had curled and straightened their hair, which is a luxury in Thailand, there was bow ties, and high heels, and even a tailored suit that was very James Bond-ish.
All of us took taxis to the tallest building in all of Thailand "The Baiyoke" where we ate dinner near the top at a huge buffet; everything you could ever want to eat was there. Our tour guide gave a speech about following your dreams no matter what anyone else says and about taking risks but he had to stop cause we were all tearing up. How could we part ways with these amazing people? We made a quick stop at the revolving balcony at the top of the building-yes it actually does spin around-and took some photos and then hit up the fancy bar before heading home. We all quickly changed into our new LBW shirts and then out to the bucket bar we went! Just to clarify this is the first bar we all went to together; it's the one on Khao San road where you sit on stools and your table is a folding table and there are massive speakers all around you. Once again we sat down, ordered buckets, started singing and dancing and having a great time.
We went to 'The Club' next, which I loved for several reasons and again just like last time we all danced on the stage and stayed almost until closing. Walking back to the hotel together it was sinking in for many of us that this was the end. We sat in the lobby for a moment not wanting to go to bed because that would mean the night would be over. One friend started crying so much that we all got up and had a cheesy group hug, thinking about it now I tear up a little. It was such an experience this 6 weeks. Like so many other things I've written about, you can't properly put it into words until you experience it and understand it yourself; 6 weeks ago we were strangers and now I feel like I've connected so deeply with some of these strangers. So much so that after just 6 weeks I feel closer to some of them then people I've known for years. It's amazing.
The next day, 7 members left to go to the LBW Vietnam tour so we were all together in the lobby saying our goodbyes. Many people had their sunglasses on to try and hide some of their tears and there was a few people who rushed out so fast because saying goodbye was just too difficult. You know in the end of the movie "The Blind Side" where Sandra Bullock drops Mike off at college? She gives him a lame side hug and then goes and sits in the car, well that's essentially what some people did. In a way I did it too, I didn't want to start crying because I knew once I started it would be a challenge to stop. Since so many people in our group live in Alberta there was talk of a reunion at the Calgary Stampede someday. I really do hope this happens; I need it to happen because I'm not prepared to never see some of my new friends again.
As I often say when travelling "it's not goodbye it's see you later." But I have an even better quote to summarize how I, and several of our group members, feel at the end of this: "You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place."
To my LBW tour mates, I loved getting to know you all and sharing new experiences with you. I won't forget you and when I look back on our time together it with be with a smile on my face and love in my heart.
Thank you for this.
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