Now My Days

I went to Thailand. I came back and immediately embarked on a road trip to Tallahassee with some of my favorite friends I made while working in Doha.

After roughly 6 weeks of travel, I am prepared to provide a synopsis.

Thailand was beautiful and fun and relaxing and full of activities, as advertised. Francis and I had a great time. As a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some of my favorite pictures from our time there.

Tiger Kingdom

This is me hanging out with some tigers and Tiger Kingdom in Phuket. It should be mentioned that to get to this Tiger Kingdom and subsequent destinations in Phuket, we boarded a taxi cab out of the ferry dock, and allowed him to take us around. He waited for us at every place and eventually took us to the airport. After getting over our fear of being robbed, the fear of driving in his car in the rain up hills, passing cars in the oncoming traffic lane really took hold. A simple picture- but what a crazy day.

Koh Phi PhiBeautiful Koh Phi Phi Island, where we spent the second week of our trip.

Maya BayFrancis and myself doing cartwheels at Maya Bay. We saw this small island by way of a “Sleep Aboard Tour”. We had a bonfire on this beach, ate curry out of a bucket, and slept on a boat. Some slept more than others. It was a great day of swimming, kayaking, jumping off boats and enjoying the peaceful and secluded beach.

View at DinnerTypical Koh Phi Phi view while walking down the main road for dinner.

Fire Show

This is what is known as a “fire show”. This photo was taken on the last day of our guided tour with Thaintro on Koh Phangan Island. Following this photo, Laila stays out all night until after 4am, then proceeds to attempt to catch a taxi at 6am, ride a ferry to the main land, take a bus across the main land, and ride another ferry to Koh Phi Phi. Laila considers this to be one of her dumber ideas and credits her survival to a loyal travel partner, Francis.

Elephants

Just kickin it with some elephants in Koh Phangan.

Bottle Beach

Heading to Bottle Beach in Koh Phangan.

Ferry

This is for some reason one of my favorite photos. Please note: BEAUTIFUL water and limestone formations in the background, taking a ferry ride, matching fruit shirts, mini water bottle I’m wearing around my neck, completely disheveled hair, ridiculous dive watch that I don’t know how to use and was a great conversation starter, and big grins all around.

Khao Sok National Park

This is Khao Sok National Park, where we stayed one night in floating bungalows. It was another beautiful day of swimming, kayaking, and washing my hair in a lake.

Cooking Class

Before arriving at Khao Sok National Park, we took an overnight train, where I developed an atrocious and offensive cough, and before that, we were here- in a cooking class. I’ve included this photo because Francis can not look at it without laughing herself to tears. This is not one of Laila’s smarter fashion choices. Whatever- no regrets.

After two fun filled weeks in Thailand, I spent a couple days in San Diego, mostly sleeping and recovering from a small fever. I came back to Dallas and as I mentioned, started road tripping. Two Norweigans and two Americans, we spent a day in Dallas. We spent a day driving down to Houma. I was finally reunited with Albert and Alice and all my old Schlumberger friends down there. I introduced my Doha and Houma friends and watched my worlds magically interface. We went to New Orleans. We saw some jazz music and were tourists on Bourbon Street.

On the road

We went to Tallahassee, I went to my friend’s High School reunion. I had fun. We went river tubing. Then… I felt chest pains which kept me up all night long. Assuming it was heartburn, I drank anti acid liquids, took Zantac, and ate a bucket of TUMS. As the pain worsened and moved to be concentrated in my back, I saw a doctor after four sleepless nights. I had an ultrasound, which revealed nothing. I was given pain killers and my mother, most alarmed, flew to Tallahassee. We drove to Pensacola and stayed with a cousin there. Though I was experiencing a health crisis, I popped my pain pills and had as much fun with family as I could. We went out to eat, to a farmers market,  and planted trees in my cousins marshy front yard. After 4 days of eating oatmeal- I started to feel better. During this time, mom and I had some road trip adventures in Florida and Louisiana.

Laura Plantation Home

We toured Laura Plantation and learned about Creole culture in Louisiana.

Swamp Tour

On a swamp tour, we learned all about the unique characteristics and building qualities of Cyprus trees, swamp ecology, and alligator hunting.

Caverns

There are caverns in Florida!

Eventual diagnosis was that I must have severe inflammation or esophagitis. Cautionary tale, dear readers, there IS such a thing as too much curry and too many road trip burgers and too many Chick Fil A breakfasts. In a row, they proved detrimental. Thankfully, my health complications were self induced and I am doing much better.

Now my days consist of laying in bed sending snapchats to my working friends with the caption “#unemployed”, cleaning out my closet, and secretly plotting my next move…

The Aftermath

Our hurrication ended Friday, as we drove back to Houma. On the drive, we encountered blown over trees and signs. As we drew closer to New Orleans, more damage from hurricane Isaac came to view. Trees had knocked over power lines. Water had covered roadways, driveways, and properties. All along the road, hundreds of power line forklift trucks drove to begin restoring the community.

When passing by a group of these trucks or seeing them merge onto the highway, we honked and waved. DWShorty chanted “Heros! Heros! Heros!” Nearly 1000000 homes/people have been without power due to the hurricane. These power trucks come from across the country to help in the aftermath of storms. Barring the inevitable power outages, the city of New Orleans saw minimal damages. The billions of federal dollars put into an improved levee system were not spent in vain….

However, the real devastation was deferred to surrounding communities such as Slidell. These neighborhoods are merely collateral damage, as the flood prevention system can keep water out of one area, but ultimately, the water has to go somewhere. 

The sad truth here is that wealthier areas take priority. The French Quarter and historic attractions in New Orleans had power restored quickly, while nearby residents are going on several days now with no power. The tourist areas are up and running quickly, as the economy is largely dependant upon them. Even locals are forced to go out to eat in these areas, because they are the only places with power. Natural disasters create a financial hardship on everyone, not just the government agencies. The hardship is endured long after the storm passes.

In Houma, several local businesses experienced flood damage and will be closed for several weeks. Parts of Houma went about a day and a half with no power. There were road closures due to flooding across the area. My apartment and vehicle endured no damages, though there are a lot of leaves everywhere.