It was super early in the morning and time for an ATV ride. I was ready and waiting in my workout clothes for the van. After picking me up, the driver pulled up to a nice resort, and three fit, attractive guys, walked towards us. I was suddenly aware that I was in workout clothes with a baseball hat on.
The van had two long seats facing forward and then two long seats in the back that faced each other. The driver put the guys in the back after they tried to get in the side. I turned around and smiled, and one said, “We got booted to the back,” in an accent. We had an hour drive to the mountains where the tour would start, so I turned around and asked if they were from Australia.
The guys told me they were from England, just outside of London. They had flown to Bangkok for two days and only arrived in Chiang Mai the day prior. They were so hungover from Bangkok; they hadn’t seen any of Chaing Mai yet because they spent the day recovering at the resort.
I asked their names: David, Harry, and Charlie. I laughed, “Are you guys in a boy band like One Direction?” They were not a boy band – they were just friends. Harry had blonde, wavy hair just above his shoulder with part of it pulled back into a ponytail. Charlie had short dark hair and a small amount of facial hair. Dave had wavy, short brown hair with volume on top and several tattoos.
Dave and Charlie worked in heating and cooling and Harry worked in golf course landscape. They were all on holiday for a couple of weeks. After two weeks, Dave and Charlie would fly back to London while Harry would continue to travel for the next month.
Harry planned to go to Vietnam after Thailand, which was my next destination. He didn’t have anything booked like I didn’t, so he could have the flexibility to move around his location and dates. In April, he would fly to London for a few days and then to the U.S. to do an eight-month internship at a golf course.
Harry had traveled solo to Australia two years prior and I planned to go there after Vietnam. We talked all about Australia and he suggested places to see and things to do. I didn’t know how old the guys were, but I figured they were in their late 20s.
When we arrived at the outdoor tour agency, I found out there was a hike and rafting available too. The other group of people we picked up were only doing rafting, and the guys from England were doing the hike to a waterfall and the ATV tour. I only signed up for the ATV tour. The hike sounded great so I paid extra and joined. As I was putting my bag in a locker, Harry ran over to say goodbye and I said, “Wait for me, I’m coming on the hike too!”
It was a quick ride to the start of the hike. It was me, the three English guys, and a couple from the U.S. I wasn’t prepared to hike, so I didn’t have my backpack. Harry offered to carry my water bottle on the side of his backpack. I left my sunglasses in the locker, and Charlie let me use his. We had to cross a few logs over rivers, and Dave held my hand to help me across.
The guys were so friendly, and hiking without a backpack was much easier. It was beautiful outside, but getting hot. The guys hiked without shirts, and I worried they’d get sunburned. They asked me if I got my jabs before coming to Thailand. Confused, I asked what jabs are. They mimicked a needle going into the side of the arm. “Oh! Vaccines!” I told them I got hepatitis A and tetanus shots, and they really hurt. Harry couldn’t get in the clinic in time because you need a couple of weeks for the vaccines to take effect.
The guys smoked cigarettes on the trail several times. I told them, “I’ve never met someone who smokes on a hike.” Harry laughed, “You’ve never met anyone like us; I promise you that!” That would be an accurate way to describe this crew. During the hike, the guys crudely talked about partying and women. Perhaps they’re younger than I thought.
We arrived at the waterfall and got in to enjoy the cold water. While we sat on rocks, I talked with the couple from the U.S. They were from New Jersey and appeared to be in their late 20s. They both had recently quit their jobs to travel for two months before moving to Philadelphia. They didn’t have jobs lined up but were confident they’d find them once they were settled.
Once the hike was finished, we sat outside at small tables and ate chicken and rice. The guys told me to join their table, which was nice. Before I ate, I told the guys that I was concerned about two bug bites that I had gotten a week before while on the nine-day hiking and biking tour. I thought they were mosquito bites just below my left knee on the inside. I showed the area to the guys, and they were concerned. The redness and swelling had spread to a large area and was hot. The two bites were clearly marked with dots as well.
I asked the owner if he had any allergy medicine. He looked shocked and said that he didn’t know what I was bitten by, but it definitely wasn’t a mosquito. He gave me some Claritin and some cream. Charlie gave me some Afterbite for the itch. He said his mom made him bring it. Thank you, Charlie’s mom.
Harry told me that maybe we could travel together a little bit in Vietnam once the others went home. We all connected on social media so we could stay in touch.
Lunch was over, and it was now time for ATV riding. We put on arm and knee pads to help protect us. First, we all had to ride a small section of very bumpy, hilly, terrible terrain so they could gauge our experience level. Once that was complete, we rode on a paved street for a little bit until we reached the mountain. The six of us followed the guide up the mountain.
The mountain was extremely steep. The windy dirt road was filled with large cracks and ditches that were created by runoff. I was worried I would flip to the side because it was so uneven, or maybe I’d accidentally drive off the side of the mountain. But I didn’t want to be the one to hold up the group, so I kept up. Our tires kicked up the dust in huge plumes.
We arrived at a lookout point and stopped to take in the view. It was incredible! The thick green trees covered the surrounding mountains. I was thrilled to feel the wind and adrenaline.
We arrived at the top, where a small village sits. The residents had electricity from solar panels on their roofs. We walked around the village and saw a very basic school and stray dogs. We also checked out a homestay, which was similar to the ones I stayed in the week prior, then we headed back down the mountain.
On the way down, we passed elephants being walked by their owners and a pickup truck full of people standing in the back. They held onto the bars that surrounded the truck and I couldn’t believe the truck was attempting to climb the mountain on that road. We pulled our machines over as far as we could so they could safely pass. The people smiled, waved, and were taking pictures of us. One small child said, “So cool!” I guess we looked like professionals with all of our padding on.
Once we reached the bottom of the mountain, we drove through a village and passed military personnel carrying large guns over their shoulders. They were there for training. We drove down some small sand dunes and got to drive in the river! Water splashed around us as our machines rushed through.
We drove on the road following the river and saw several people bathing their elephants in the river. The sun was starting to set, and we had beautiful views. We stopped to take it all in. The guide told me that most people either get to ride the village at the bottom or climb the mountain. We were able to do both because we rode fast and were all capable of handling the machines. He said, “You have a good group.” Shortly after, Charlie broke his third machine from doing too many tricks.
Dust covered our faces – a sign of a good time. We got back and returned the ATVs. Then we boarded the van to go back to Chaing Mai. The guys talked about going to see the nightlife, and I asked if I could join. They said, “The more, the merrier.”
After showering and getting ready, I met the guys at a restaurant at 10:30 pm. They were just finishing dinner outside. Dave bought me a beer, and we enjoyed the night air. Then we walked to the place next door. There were several bars and clubs next to each other, and some had outside areas that just blended in with the street.
We got drinks and stood on the street, watching all of the party people dance under the covered section. There were a lot of tourists and “lady-boys.” The guys told me they had to be careful that a lady-boy didn’t fool them. I asked how they can tell. They pointed to one and said, “That’s a lady-boy. He’s too tall and has big boobs.” I replied, “So women are short and have small boobs?” They told me they have to look at the forearm to confirm because men have different forearms than women. Lady-boys are common in Thailand, and I’ve been told that families will transition boys to girls as young as seven so they can earn money.
We walked to a reggae bar down the street that had a live band. They closed shortly after we arrived, so we walked to another club. To get there, we had to walk down a dark alleyway. I told Harry that it was ok because I carry a small pocket knife. He was surprised and told the others. I told them, “I’m a solo female traveler. Yes, I carry protection.”
The cub was crowded with tourists and played a lot of music that you’d hear in a club in the U.S. After getting drinks, we stood on the side of the dance floor. The guys kept going outside to smoke, and I stayed inside. Harry assured me they wouldn’t leave me, they were just going outside to smoke, and they’d be back.
I noticed an aggressive drunk guy hitting on a couple of girls who seemed annoyed by him. It was so crowded that it was hard to move, so the girls couldn’t just walk away. I decided to intervene and help them out.
I wedged my way in between the guy and the girls and asked if they wanted the guy to stop hitting on them. They told me they did not want to talk to the guy, but he wouldn’t leave them alone. I used my height and blocked the guy. One of the girls was Minhee, from Korea. She thanked me for helping them and we laughed that the guy seemed confused as to what was happening. She was traveling solo to Bangkok and Phuket like I would be, so we stayed in touch to possibly meet up at a later date.
As I stood on the side of the dance floor against a half-wall to an upper platform, a very tall, young drunk guy with blonde hair kept trying to hit on me. I wasn’t interested in him and attempted to give several hints that I wasn’t. However, the guy leaned in and was in my personal space. I took a step back and said, “no.” I motioned to Charlie nearby, and he said, “You only live once. You’re traveling.” I told him I wasn’t interested.
Then the guy leaned in and tried to kiss me. I backed up, but I hit the wall and couldn’t back up any further. It was too crowded to move to my right and the guy kept leaning in. I quickly turned my head and he kissed my ear with his wet mouth. I reached and grabbed Harry’s shirt for help. Harry pushed the guy away, told him to “f*ck off,” and I was able to get away.
A little bit later, I was people-watching and a tall German guy started talking to me. He was friendly, smart, and funny. He pointed to a really tall guy and said, “My friend over there really likes you. He saw you push that guy away and said you must have a personality. He’s really shy. You gotta make a move. He likes you a lot.” I explained to the guy that I briefly talked to his friend, but he stopped talking and ended up several feet away, talking to other people. He convinced me to talk to his friend again. Eventually, I made my way towards him, but shortly after I somehow got pulled away.
Harry found me and apologized for being gone so long. They ran into a guy from their hometown outside smoking and lost track of time. Eventually, the club closed, so I walked out with Harry, Dave, and Charlie.
As we walked down a dark alley, there weren’t many people around because it was past 2:00 am. We heard some people getting closer behind us and Harry quietly said, “You still have that knife? Maybe get it ready just in case.” We made it just fine and ended up on a main street near the river. We saw two girls and two guys talking by the river and we joined them.
The girls, Holly and Violet, were from London and had just met the two American guys from New York. Holly was super sweet and we talked about our travels. Violet would go back to London before Holly and she’d travel to the southern Islands solo. We agreed to stay in touch and hopefully meet up later. While she squeezed my hand, Holly said she loved my accent and wanted me to keep talking. Finally, someone liked my accent!
Holly asked me if the three guys I was with were decent. I told her they were a little wild, but they had been sweet to me. She said, “We only started talking to them because you were with them. I figured they couldn’t be that bad if a girl was with them.” Holly and Violet were beautiful women in their late 20s and super sweet. I realized the guys from New York and my new British guy friends were all interested in the girls and fighting for their attention.
It was now just after 3:00 am, and we all realized we needed to leave the street and go somewhere. The New York guys tried to convince the girls to go back to their hotel, while the British guys tried to make a case for their hotel to continue to party. The girls asked for my advice, and I said I preferred the British guys. The New York guys had just insulted Violet’s hair, and the girls were offended, so they decided not to go with them. Then they realized they had an elephant tour in the morning that they didn’t want to miss, so they went back to their hotel down the street.
The British guys walked to a Tuk Tuk and said, “Christy, let’s go. Come back with us.” I figured, why not? Dave sat on a tiny seat by the Tuk Tuk driver. I sat on the back seat with Charlie to my left and Harry to my right. I put my arms around them to keep them inside because Charlie kept leaning out. I had wanted to ride in a Tuk Tuk since arriving in Thailand but hadn’t yet. The wind felt awesome in the night sky, and the guys made me laugh.
When we arrived at their hotel resort, they asked the front desk for beer, and to my surprise, the staff brought cans of beer to their room. They played music while Charlie danced in a green silk robe and his underwear. Then Harry was in his underwear dancing around. The guys kept going to the balcony to smoke while I relaxed.
Dave and I talked about our past relationships. He asked how old I was because he noticed I said I had been married for ten years. I told him my age and asked how old they all were. He was 25, Charlie was 24, and Harry was 23. Wow, I felt old. I thought, “Is this inappropriate that I’m hanging out with these guys?” Then I realized men hang out with younger women all the time. Why can’t I do the same?
At some point in the early morning, the guys were all outside on the balcony smoking, and I fell asleep. I woke up from the cold breeze coming inside and saw they were all asleep. Harry was next to me, Charlie was in a twin bed, and Dave was outside sleeping on chairs that he arranged, so his legs were propped up. I thought it was nice they let me sleep, even though there wasn’t space.
I woke up again when their alarm went off. They had a flight to catch that morning to Phuket, and I knew they needed to pack and leave soon. I had a splitting headache, so I said goodbye and left. We agreed to stay in touch and meet up on the islands in the south if we were there at the same time.
I got back to my Airbnb and crashed after taking some Excedrin. I missed a bike tour I signed up for, but I preferred to sleep. When I finally woke up, I did laundry and got some food, but spent most of the day recovering. I had a blast with my new British friends. They were fun, wild, funny, and were sweet to me. Every once in a while, I like to enjoy a night where I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I had wanted to see the nightlife in Thailand but didn’t want to be by myself. I was happy to have them to explore with. Harry was correct – I’ve never met anybody like them.
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