To celebrate my 25th life anniversary I’m waking up at 5:30am tomorrow and hitching a ride on an apple boat here in the Golden Triangle which will land in a few days in Yunnan province, southern China. I’m friends with the captain already and he said he’d teach me about driving the boat (kai chuan!) and nautical vocabulary in Chinese. Aside from the beautiful views and sunshine on the river, I’m looking forward to the peaceful drift of the boat in my hammock and hanging out with the crew of the ship, who are all Chinese. I can’t think of many better ways to spend my birthday. I think this will be one that I’ll actually remember in a few years.

Today there was a celebration in a soccer field, attended by several hundred local residents who sung and danced as the sun set. Walking by and trying to figure out what they were celebrating, I was motioned to join a group of teens and 20-somethings to drink along with them. Well of course – so, we drank Thai whiskey and communicated with smiles and hand signals before I was pulled away by old women who wanted me to join them in their dance. I did, head woozy from the few shots I’d taken in rapid succession, and sai’d (Thai bow) them before moving to another friendly group to talk to. A street filled with strangers doesn’t seem to be nearly as much a social atmosphere anywhere in the west as it does in Thailand. I still haven’t figured out what we were celebrating.