Friday, March 27, 2015

Phuket














Phuket was AMAZING. I think I have said that about everywhere on our trip, but if you are a beach, water and sun lover like we are Phuket is an absolute must. We stayed in Karon Beach at the Pacific Club Beach and loved it. Their pool was incredible - I think my favorite relaxing afternoon was drinking pina coladas in the pool with Preston looking out at the ocean in front of us and the Karon Cliffs behind us. It is about an hour away from the Phuket airport (and whatever you do do not do a shared shuttle from the airport) but so, so worth it. It is less touristy than Patong and full of fun little places to eat and drink.

As you can see above, the water was a perfectly clear shade of turquoise and was so warm. One day we took a speedboat to the Phi Phi islands which are a must if you are in Phuket. We went to monkey beach, relaxed on the sand with pineapple cocktails and tried to soak in the breath taking views as much as we could! We also got sunburnt crispy here (the sun is SO strong, I wore sunscreen and still got it pretty bad but not anywhere near to Preston). Preston's one scheduling complaint was that he wishes we would have spent more time in Phuket, so if you are planning your trip - 3 nights is not enough here. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Laos






















After Bangkok, we headed to Northern Thailand to Chiang Mai. This jump started the adventure portion of our trip and over the next few days we rode elephants, went ziplining through the beautiful forest, pet tigers, hopped on a boat to cross the Mekong River to Laos (dream) and sped through the mountain hills like there was no tomorrow (with the lack of road rules there were more than a few times we thought we wouldn't actually see tomorrow :). It was incredible!

The funniest travel fail was when we were zipling. It was our second to last zipline for the day and Preston and I got to do it together. We were holding hands and I was commenting on how incredibly beautiful the entire forest was, and how amazing it was that we got to be there together zipping through the sky... and then all of a sudden I started to SCREAM every expletive that I had ever heard and ripped my hand out from Preston and started slapping my forearm. Something bit/ stung me SO hard - I have never had a feeling remotely close to that from a bug bite! The ziplining company but some Tiger balm on it which cooled it a little bit, but over the next four days I had an allergic reaction and it ended up swelling my entire forearm. We were laughing the whole trip about how hilarious/ ridiculous the bite had been!

If you ever find yourself in Northern Thailand, you MUST ride elephants (and do research to find a place that treats their elephants humanely), visit the Golden Triangle and if you are like me and have an obsession with the Mekong River (started when I read this incredible book) then take a boat from Thailand to Laos. And of course eat all of the incredible food and get daily massages! We stayed at Baan Orapin and absolutely loved the beautiful property, sweet owners and incredible breakfast spread every morning. The best Thai food we ate was from Dash (Dash, the owner, was born in Thailand but actually lived in Seattle so it was fun to talk with him!) and we also had one of the best Italian meals of our lives (strange, I know!) at Italia.  And while there are hundreds of coffee shops in Chiang Mai, you have to have at least one cup of jo at Woo Cafe. Now take me back right this second. :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Our SE Asia Trip! (Bangkok)

Preston and I just returned from an amazing two week trip to South East Asia. We spent the majority of our time in Thailand, but also visited Singapore and did a quick stop in Laos. It was incredible! After only living and vacationing in the Western part of the world it was such a dream to travel to the East and experience something completely different that what we have grown up with. The people were so sweet and welcoming and the food was TO. DIE. FOR. I thought the easiest way to remember the trips would be to break it up into chunks by cities, so below is a recap of our time in Bangkok!







Alright, Bangkok - where to start?! It is such a busy, vibrant, crazy city! I had heard mixed reviews and completely understand why - there is a ton of traffic, it can seem dirty to a Westerner, there are stray cats and dogs running around everywhere and there is always a LOT going on. But ya'll, it is so vibrant and alive. We went to Bangkok at the front and end of our trip because we got an incredible deal on a round trip flight out of there (more on that later). This meant we got to experience Bangkok for the second after visiting Singapore which is one of the most immaculately clean cities in the world (you cannot even chew gum there) and I was SO ready to get back to Bangkok. It was the craziest feeling, we were just ready to be back in the wild of the city and experience it one last time! With that said, here were my top three things we did while there:

Massages. Oh my heaven. Ya'll, it is 250 baht for a one hour Thai massage. THAT IS $7.60 USD. You better believe we did them everyday we were in Thailand outside of the days we were sun burnt. :) They were glorious, but with a little side of pain to them - they definitely stretch and knead all of your major muscles!

Street Food. I know that some people are grossed out by the idea of eating food from the street carts, if that is you - don't go to Thailand. :) The street food in Bangkok is known to be the best in the world and I completely agree. We got into Bangkok at 11:30 our first night there, meaning it was 1 am by the time we were settled into our hotel and we were starved! We went to a street food center close to our hotel and had the most delicious meal with huge beers for about $6 USD. Crazy! Here is a guide I found on what to make sure to eat while there. Also, eat mango sticky rice every single chance you get. And Thai Iced Coffee (Preston loved the Thai tea but I was 100% obsessed with the coffee.)

Chatuchak Weekend Market. We did this our second day there and it was the perfect introduction to the craziness that is Bangkok Markets. There are HUNDREDS of stalls selling every single thing you can image from elephant pants to coconut ice cream to pocket knives to naked mole rats. It is hot and sticky and you will be running around like a man woman sweating and downing water bottles while trying to do baht to USD conversions but you have to do it. We came away with some of our favorite things here and little did we know then, but the prices at Chatuchak are better than you will see at any other market in Thailand. Also, don't be alarmed if at every market people grab your arm to try to bring you into their booth. And don't be afraid to negotiate!

Overall, I really think a trip to Thailand would not be complete without stopping at the biggest most populous city. Leave all of your notions at home and be ready to embrace the crazy. :) I did get a question on safety recently and I never felt unsafe at all while there. You certainly have to be more careful with things like no sidewalks and a lack of speed limits and road rules in many areas, but from the people alone I felt completely safe. 95% of the Thai population is Buddhist (there are SO many beautiful temples) and have an incredibly strong belief system and morals that truly do translate to how they live. From a food safety perspective, we did two things that I think really helped us stay away from 'Bangkok belly' aka food sickness. I had both Preston and I start taking probiotics a few days before our trip and daily during our trip, and then only drank bottled water while there. People often assume food poisoning comes from street food but the vast majority comes from drinking water that our bodies aren't equipped to handle. I didn't shy away from any street food or any type of food and I felt great while there!

Overall our time in Bangkok was incredible and it was such a dream to experience my first big Eastern mega-city! I will be back with recaps of the other cities we visited next week. :)