Thailand: Wrap Up

We spent a total of 16 nights in Thailand and loved nearly every minute. It was just what we needed. We flew in to the Northern city of Chiang Mai and settled into a perfect hotel in the city center for eight nights. We enjoyed the night markets, walking around and looking at the pretty temples, a day spent with elephants, and a day spent learning how to cook Thai food. We spent a lot of time in cafes trying to determine which Thai islands to choose for our island getaway.

Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai

We ultimately decided on Ko Phi Phi and Koh Lanta. They both offered two different experiences that seemed appealing to us. Phi Phi gave us stunning beaches and with perfect sand and a good number of restaurants to chose from. Lanta gave us a perfect beach villa in hideaway resort near the National Park. Both of them gave us plenty of sunshine and a fair amount of R&R. We hated that we had to leave. Like, really hated it.

Because when in Maya Bay, you must selfie.
Because when in Maya Bay, you must selfie.

Now, For the Stats:

Number of beds slept in: 3

  •  Trip Total: 41

Modes of transportation: taxis, long-tail boats, motorbike with a rebar side car, and a few ferries.

Number of beaches visited: 6

  • Trip Total: 46
Uni Bay Sunset
Nui Bay

Coffee Culture: Chiang Mai had a very modern and progressive coffee scene. Many of the coffee places are huge chains (Starbucks & Coffee Club) but we managed to find some local digs with great iced coffee. The Thai islands didn’t offer much in the way of coffee with the exception of our favorite cafe on Phi Phi called Aroy Caffiene. The owner was a young 20-something Thai lady just making her dream happen.

Favorite Meal: That would be the one we cooked ourselves at our Thai cooking class! It was a lot of work but the food was all delicious. We made two kinds of curry, spring rolls, pad thai, cashew chicken, sweet and sour chicken, tom yum and coconut milk soups, and mango sticky rice. It was a lot of food!

Robert at his little station
Robert at his little station

Best Experience: 

It’s really hard to choose just one. We loved our day at the Elephant Nature Park where we interacted with the rescued elephants. I think our top experience would be our time spent on the island of Koh Lanta. We had a private villa with an ocean view, and infinity pool, secluded beach, and wild monkeys nearby. I’m not sure what can really top that!

Sea Kayaking
Sea Kayaking

Worst Experience: We both got a pretty bad case of traveller’s diarrhea. I’ll spare you too many details but just know that it was enough to make anyone lose their mind. Luckily it passed almost as quickly as it came.

Things we loved: We really loved how easy it is to travel throughout Thailand. It’s the biggest tourist destination in Asia, and while that does have it negative sides, overall we just really appreciated the ease of it it. The Thai people are also very warm and friendly.

Things we hated: THE HEAT. It was much better on the islands when we had a sea breeze.

I spy.....
I spy…..

Things we hate we missed: We would love to go to the tiny island called Koh Lipe. It sounds amazing.

Although, what could really beat this sunset?
Although, what could really beat this sunset?

Lessons Learned:

  • In Chiang Mai, beer cannot be served between the hours of 2-5pm
  • Everything tastes better with coconut milk in it
  • The little stand by the East gate in Chiang Mai really does have the best nutella crepes in all of Thailand
Surely we will miss $6 1-hr massages on the street!
Surely we will miss $6 1-hr massages on the street!

IMG_3819

A lovely day out at Elephant Nature Park
A lovely day out at Elephant Nature Park

IMG_3934

Seriously couldn't order my food because I too busy gasping at this incredible view!
Seriously couldn’t order my food because I too busy gasping at this incredible view!
Advertisements

Was Ko Phi Phi an Amazing Destination or Our Worst Nightmare?

You betcha we were gonna make it over to the Thai islands at some point of this trip. You all know that we are total beach bums. We were totally looking forward to some time to basically do nothing but sit on a pretty beach and watch the waves roll in. It has been nearly four months since we got some good beach bummin’ in. We were obviously overdue.

Finding our perfect island paradise in Thailand proved harder than anticipated. First of all, there are the crowds. It seems like every person in the world wants to get their hands on a piece of beach paradise in Thailand.  Then there are the full-moon parties which we hoped to avoid because that’s not really our thing. Then there is the fact that it’s really hot at the moment and we needed a place with air-con.

We needed to find this... and we did! Sunset over Lana Bay on Phi Phi
We needed to find this… and we did! Sunset over Lana Bay on Phi Phi

Robert and I have really high expectations when it comes to loving a beach. This is mainly due to the fact that we had some incredible experiences at some of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in the world. Even after seeing the amazing pictures of the Thai islands, we knew it would be hard to top the Philippines and Australia’s beaches.

Continue reading “Was Ko Phi Phi an Amazing Destination or Our Worst Nightmare?”

Getting Cultured in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai was our first real and formal introduction into Thailand. We were in Bangkok last year, but it was a rushed two days with a tour guide (who we loved) and we didn’t get a real good feel for the culture. Bangkok is really just another huge and bustling metropolis with grand malls and lots of people.

We had heard (mostly) excellent things about Chiang Mai, which is found in Northern Thailand. I would say that we had pretty high expectations but kind of expected it to be a bit like any other major Asian city. Even though it was oppressively hot when we visited (like all of Asia in April, are you starting you sense a theme here?) we still had a really good time.

Mother and Baby
Mother and Baby

Continue reading “Getting Cultured in Chiang Mai”

Where Six Months Finds Us

As I sit here and type this post, I am almost in near denial that we have been traveling for six months. If it weren’t for the albums of photographs I keep organized on my computer then I would likely believe that everything we have experienced over the past few months has only been a dream. A really good one. The kind of dream where you feel upset from waking up from too early.

Luckily for us, this isn’t a dream; it’s real life.

IMG_3683
Um, this sunset feels like a dream.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to say here. Like, how much reflecting do I want to do? There are a lot of new things that have been on my mind in terms of travel, such as what it means to be a responsible tourist and keep my moral compass straight, and what it means to me to to be born in a developed nation with limitless opportunities. Because it’s in this place, where the distribution of wealth has never been so starkly obvious, that I find myself feeling particualry insightful. I don’t want any person or any animal to suffer at my expense or in the name of tourism. There is so much to say on these subjects, but I just cannot find the right words to describe how I feel about them without stepping on too many toes.

Animals for use in the tourism industry is a perfect example. Did you know that riding an elephant is harmful? That's why you should just feed them fruit instead :)
Animals for use in the tourism industry is a perfect example. Did you know that by riding an elephant you are contributing to harmful practices? That’s why you should just feed them fruit instead 🙂

So Let’s Keep It Simple, For Now

So for the sake of not writing a novel in one post, I’ll keep it simple, change the subject, and just explain what has been going on in our neck of the woods.

Six months on the road has found us in a very good place. We are feeling incredibly happy and excited for what the future holds.

You may recall our post about what our life was like at the three month mark. We were feeling euphoric, having touched down in the dreamland that is New Zealand. Our time spent there was nothing short of incredible.

After New Zealand, we touched down in Vietnam and were greeted with the chaos that is Hanoi. Even though we had visited this city before, we found it quite difficult to assimilate back into real life on the Southeast Asia backpacking trail.

How I felt about spending two months in the sweltering heat
How I felt about spending two months in the sweltering heat

We struggled quite a bit those first few weeks in Vietnam. It seemed like everyone we encountered just wanted make a buck off of us. The weather was crappy. We were tired and behind on lots of “administrative” tasks.

We strongly debated buying a plane ticket to Japan. I cannot tell you how many times we looked up airfare and went over the pros and cons of blowing our budget (Japan is very expensive). In the end, we decided not to. We decided to stick it out and complete our circuit of Southeast Asia. Even though we weren’t very excited about it, we knew we could survive the next two months.

IMG_3345

After that low point, things really started to get better. For starters, the country of Laos really took us by surprise. We were kind of expecting it to be like Vietnam (which we didn’t quite love) or Cambodia (which we loved even less). But it wasn’t like either of those countries; No, it had its own thing going for it with its own culture and food and customs and beautiful scenery. And we liked what we saw.

Like these waterfalls... Why, hello, Laos!
Like these waterfalls… Why, hello, Laos!

After spending 12 days in Laos, we decided that Southeast Asia was really redeeming itself. After Laos, we flew into Northern Thailand, and again, were taken by surprise. The locals have been really kind and there are plenty of activities that interest us to keep us occupied. Thailand has been good to us so far.

And now here we are, living our island dream. You know how much we love the tropics, and were so looking forward to beachin’ it in Southern Thailand. We have eight nights of beachy bliss and so far it has not disappointed us.

Mhmm, 8 nights of this.
Mhmm, 8 nights of this.

The Future Is Looking Bright

We are so excited for the next few months. I mean, so, so, so excited. For starters, after our beach time in Thailand we fly to Penang, Malaysia. Um, hello food capital. We don’t know much about malay cuisine, but we what have tried we love.

Also, the final countdown for Africa has commenced. Like, whoa. We are going to Africa in 11 days! The thought of it fills me with so many emotions; I’m both excited and nervous at the same time. We will be on a 35-day safari and camping in a tent for over a month. We will have extended contact with other humans for a month. This could be interesting…

Our we're-so-excited-we're-going-to-Africa! face
Our we’re-so-excited-we’re-going-to-Africa! face

After Africa, we fly into London at the end of June. Once we hit Europe, we hit the ground running with a whistle-stop tour on the continent. So much of it is still unplanned, but the best parts are planned and important accommodation is booked. What are the best parts of the Europe leg? Well, we are meeting up with family and friends FOUR times! Yes!

And then, finally, we fly home. We fly back to Florida from Paris on August 25. And yes, we will be ready at that point.

These last few months hold so much goodness that I think I might burst with excitement. And now, it’s time to get back to island time!

I MIGHT BURST WITH EXCITEMENT AT SEEING OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS IN 1.5 MONTHS!
I MIGHT BURST WITH EXCITEMENT AT SEEING OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS IN 1.5 MONTHS!

Your one-day flash guide to Bangkok

Bangkok. The gateway to Southeast Asia. Many people know Bangkok from the movie The Hangover. Well, there is more to it than that. The city is packed with cultural experiences, and none of it will break the bank either. Your wallet will be happy, your stomach will be happy, even your feet will be happy with all of the cheap massages you’ll get.

Wat Pho
Admiring many buddhas of Wat Pho

Continue reading “Your one-day flash guide to Bangkok”

Hello Asia!

In a little over two weeks, Robert and I will depart on a new adventure. We are flying from Jacksonville to Bangkok to explore Southeast Asia for almost three weeks! We will start off in Bangkok, where will we then travel to Vietnam, and spend the majority of our time exploring this country. We’ll end the trip in Cambodia, before beginning our 44-hour journey home!

This trip has been a long time coming, and it’s been a dream of Robert’s since I met him. I was hesitant at first, mostly due to ignorance. I knew nothing about that part of the world, and it just didn’t interest me all that much. Since being introduced to Vietnamese cuisine, reading a book about the Cambodian genocide, and hearing friend’s story of her adventures in Bangkok, my attitude has changed toward this part of the world.

It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced before, and that is what scared me. I realized that I was being irrational and unjust by not even giving it a chance. How can I knock something if I’ve never experienced for myself? Furthermore, how can I truly give it a fighting chance if I go into it with a negative outlook? Once I took a deeper look into myself and realized that I was just simply scared of the unknown, I abandoned my hesitation and decided to try it for myself so I could draw my own conclusions.

So, without further ado, here are some of the things that I am looking forward to in SE Asia:

1. Vietnamese street food- Pho is like crack. It’s cheap, it’s plentiful, it’s addicting. Also, I like my coffee cold and sweet, and I hear Vietnam knows how to do that perfectly.

2. Halong Bay- I’m a sucker for beautiful beaches. Add a kayaking trip and some caves and I’m sold.

3. Angkor Wat- Everyone says that the pictures just don’t do it justice. I need to experience this for myself!

4. Thai Massage- I can’t tell if I’m more nervous or excited. I’m not limber, at all. So, this should be interesting when they try to contort my body.

5. Spending time with my hubby- Anytime that we are on the same sleeping schedule together is a treat. I get 19 days of waking up next to him and I couldn’t be more excited!

 

And, any pre-trip ramblings would not be complete without sharing what I’m nervous about…..

1. Squatty potties– No, just no. I’m still a diva at heart.

2. Chopstick efficiency- I only learned how to use chopsticks properly a few months ago. I’m still worried that I won’t be able grab my noodles correctly and that all of the locals will be laughing at me (that’s why I’m carrying around an emergency spork).

<——This is me.

3. Getting ripped off by a tuk-tuk driver- We don’t speak the language and we’re clearly tourists that need a ride. Why wouldn’t they try to get an extra dollar from us?

4. Falling off an elephant- As my plans DO include riding an elephant in Cambodia, I can’t help but to be a *little* paranoid that I might fall off and break my neck. Or worse…. what if I get trampled?!

 

All of these things and more I shall soon discover! Keep posted for updates during the trip.
-Kaylee