What lies ahead

Documenting my life from Richmond to Shanghai

I swear in a past life I was a stray dog on a tropical island somewhere. I realized this first in the phillipines and the thought was later confirmed during my time spent in Thailand. These dogs really live the life. They hang at the beach all day long. If they’re not in the mood to get sandy, they hang outside the door of a local convenient store, soaking in the AC and even scoring the potential treat or two.

image

While at first I was a little concerned about their well being (ie. where do they get fresh water and food), I quickly learned that they were well provided for. Although they were obviously stray, they had some sort of “home” bc they could always be found in the same location pretty much every week, day after day. 

One of my favorite dudes was this guy…

image…that tended to find a place next to me on the beach a couple afternoons. Although I never called him over, he welcomed himself next to my towel and quietly hung next to me for the day. He never asked to be scratched or got sand on my stuff. He just hung and people watched with me until the sun set.

My second favorite pup…

image

was this little dude that liked to pee over tourists belongings on the beach. He was just marking his territory and showing the tourons who’s boss. My two favorite memories of this guy were this: one…when he peed on a sand castle that two little boys were pouring their heart and soul over. And two…there was this lone Asian dude, obviously a Chinese tourist…probably in his 30s. He came to the beach one afternoon and I tried to ignore him as much as possible (like I do with most Chinese men) but I couldn’t ignore the annoying sound I heard which turned out to be him blowing up a floating inner tube with ducks on it. While I’m all in favor of a float for fun and adventure, he proceeds to put it around his waste as an actual floating life preserver. He wades out into the ocean and looks happy as a clam. While this is happening, my previously mentioned pup friend comes and pisses, one leg up, on the dude’s clothes left on the beach. Dude sees this happening and slowly swims (floats) back to shore to check out the damage. He doesn’t look too excited, but what are you gonna do at this point? Float back out obviously and try to enjoy what’s left of your dignity.

One point for team local pup. I was definitely happy to be on his good side after seeing that. 

There were small and large shrines hidden throughout town in various locations. Some people had them in front of their houses, while others had them in front of their businesses or just on the side of the road. Like all shrines, people place offerings on the shrines to worship and honor whoever their god or goddess may be. While you typically see food or insense as these offerings, I was a little surprised to see a Fanta drink, complete with a straw, at one of the shrines. I thought it was a little funny at first, until….

…I started to notice it EVERYWHERE!!! It’s one mystery that I wasn’t able to solve before leaving beautiful Thailand. Does anyone have an answer for me? Is red Fanta the Buddha’s drink of choice? I’m definitely interested and intrigued. 

**I will precursor this post by warning you that it’s basically all going to be about food. If you have issues with food or are currently hungry, you might want to move along. 
Since Maupin left the beach, I found a new place to stay. I was planning on having a home base in Thailand for awhile, so I rented an apartment in Phuket for the month. It was cheaper to rent here for the month than it was to rent a hotel somewhere for a week, so I quickly decided on a place and waited for my email confirmation. My new home for the month was a one bedroom apartment with the view above from the balcony. Not pictured is the perfect sunset that you could see every night from my porch chair. The apartment was still in Kata, just further down the beach. While all of Phuket is touristy, this place was a little farther from the hustle and bustle of tourist central, so I felt like I was finally in Thailand.  

Right across the street from my apartment was this gigantic fruit and food market. I basically hit the jackpot of locations without even knowing it. 

I could get any amount of any type of tropical fruit for cheap that I wanted. It was nice to finally have a kitchen too so I could cut up said fruit without having to borrow a knife from the downstairs lobby.


Along with the fruit market, my place was surrounded with other food options as well. Different restaurants, food trucks, smoothie shacks, and bbq pits were in a one block radious from my front steps. My favorite restaurant is pictured below. While I would probably run past a place like this in America, this turned into my bi (or tri) weekly dinner location. Not only was the staff incredibly friendly and sweet, I could also get an amazingly delicious dinner and beer for just a few bucks. I felt bad going here multiple times when there were other restaurants still to try, but sometimes you gotta support the ones you love! (Not pictured to the left is one of the workers taking a siesta in a lawn chair, while another takes the stems off huge buckets of chilies.)

My daily routine in Phuket didn’t differ much day to day. Basically I woke up, ate fruit, walked to the beach at a leisurely pace, came home and drank a coconut smoothie, walked back to the beach at sunset, and came home after dinner and did whatever else I felt like doing before it was time for bed and a re-do the next day. While to some that may sound incredibly boring, I was perfectly content throughout my entire stay.

Part of my whole “being content” thing probably had a lot to do with the fact that there were two mango sticky rice carts right by my house. While this wasn’t a daily occurance, it did happen probably more than it should have. One of the ladies at the closest cart ended up starting to hook it up with two mangoes instead of one. While I’m sure she had many loyal customers…I’m pretty sure I was her favorite. Or maybe she just felt bad for me going home by myself every day that she tried to be nice. Either way…it worked for me!

Some days I would try to be adventurous and wander a little further down the beach than I had in days past. Capturing the sunset anywhere on this island doesn’t seem to disappoint though. 

Anywhere you seem to walk, you tend to stumble upon some crazy ish. Mickey and Minnie were enjoying a nice evening out one night…

Liquor bottles were conveniently recycled into a make shift gas station another…

Baby Buddhas were around every nook and cranny…

And the Thai Easter bunny was straight chillin too. (It took every ounce of will power I had to not take this thing home with me in my suitcase. )

Another awesome (food related) aspect about my new location was it’s proximity to another food market and vendors. This was one of three large markets that took place within two blocks to my house. This particular market sets up shop every three days, (while the 2nd market was a nightly occurrence complete with an elvis impersonator.) 


You can buy fruits and vegetables in bulk, or you can buy pre made food and treats. 

My favorites were the pre-mades because, even after my cooking class, I knew the locals could cook it up much better than I could ever dream.

And real talk…who doesn’t want a 5 cent bundle of freshly fried donut holes no matter where you are in the world??

I did find one Thai dish here that I wasn’t incredibly fond of. I’m not sure the name of it, so I’ll just call it “coleslaw and fishy balls.” You tell this guy how much you want to spend, and he fills you up a bowl accordingly. I thought 30 baht of this stuff would suffice and I quickly found out that it was 30 baht too many. You get a bowl full of basically coleslaw ingredients (shreadded cabbage, carrots, and some other stuff) with a vinegary sauce and a pile of these “balls”. I later found out that these balls have the consistency of tofu but the flavor of rotten fish. They looked so good steaming in their little basket, but I was fooled. This was the only dish in Thailand that I didn’t finish. I felt bad throwing it away when so many other people were waiting in line for a taste. I got over it though and moved on to the next thing on the menu. 

I equalled out my junk food/sweet stuff intake by also eating mangoes. I averaged about 3 mangoes a day between my breakfast/afternoon smoothie/or sticky rice addiction. While I know that much fruit isn’t the healthiest of habits, nothing compares to a thai mango. (Well maybe one from the Philippines…but you catch my drift). I was trying to savor these delicious Heaven sent nutritional balls of goodness as much as possible before I was forced to leave the country. I’m sure I’ll be back to Thailand for many reasons…but the mangoes are high on that list. 

I will end this culinary-tour-blog post by sharing my final favorite Thai treat….Thai iced Tea, or Cha-yen. Luckily, this drink was also easily found within walking distance from my house. I can’t decide now if that’s a bad or good thing that I didn’t have to walk far to find delicious food in Thailand. I definitely didn’t take it for granted then, and I sure do miss it now, so I’ll confirm that it was ok. Although I’m sure I sound incredibly fat because of this post, I surprisingly lost some weight in Thailand as opposed to gaining it. As if I didn’t need another reason to book another flight back…

**I will precursor this post by warning you that it’s basically all going to be about food. If you have issues with food or are currently hungry, you might want to move along. 

Since Maupin left the beach, I found a new place to stay. I was planning on having a home base in Thailand for awhile, so I rented an apartment in Phuket for the month. It was cheaper to rent here for the month than it was to rent a hotel somewhere for a week, so I quickly decided on a place and waited for my email confirmation. My new home for the month was a one bedroom apartment with the view above from the balcony. Not pictured is the perfect sunset that you could see every night from my porch chair. The apartment was still in Kata, just further down the beach. While all of Phuket is touristy, this place was a little farther from the hustle and bustle of tourist central, so I felt like I was finally in Thailand.  

Right across the street from my apartment was this gigantic fruit and food market. I basically hit the jackpot of locations without even knowing it. 

I could get any amount of any type of tropical fruit for cheap that I wanted. It was nice to finally have a kitchen too so I could cut up said fruit without having to borrow a knife from the downstairs lobby.

Along with the fruit market, my place was surrounded with other food options as well. Different restaurants, food trucks, smoothie shacks, and bbq pits were in a one block radious from my front steps. My favorite restaurant is pictured below. While I would probably run past a place like this in America, this turned into my bi (or tri) weekly dinner location. Not only was the staff incredibly friendly and sweet, I could also get an amazingly delicious dinner and beer for just a few bucks. I felt bad going here multiple times when there were other restaurants still to try, but sometimes you gotta support the ones you love! (Not pictured to the left is one of the workers taking a siesta in a lawn chair, while another takes the stems off huge buckets of chilies.)

My daily routine in Phuket didn’t differ much day to day. Basically I woke up, ate fruit, walked to the beach at a leisurely pace, came home and drank a coconut smoothie, walked back to the beach at sunset, and came home after dinner and did whatever else I felt like doing before it was time for bed and a re-do the next day. While to some that may sound incredibly boring, I was perfectly content throughout my entire stay.

Part of my whole “being content” thing probably had a lot to do with the fact that there were two mango sticky rice carts right by my house. While this wasn’t a daily occurance, it did happen probably more than it should have. One of the ladies at the closest cart ended up starting to hook it up with two mangoes instead of one. While I’m sure she had many loyal customers…I’m pretty sure I was her favorite. Or maybe she just felt bad for me going home by myself every day that she tried to be nice. Either way…it worked for me!

Some days I would try to be adventurous and wander a little further down the beach than I had in days past. Capturing the sunset anywhere on this island doesn’t seem to disappoint though. 

Anywhere you seem to walk, you tend to stumble upon some crazy ish. Mickey and Minnie were enjoying a nice evening out one night…

Liquor bottles were conveniently recycled into a make shift gas station another…

Baby Buddhas were around every nook and cranny…

And the Thai Easter bunny was straight chillin too. (It took every ounce of will power I had to not take this thing home with me in my suitcase. )

Another awesome (food related) aspect about my new location was it’s proximity to another food market and vendors. This was one of three large markets that took place within two blocks to my house. This particular market sets up shop every three days, (while the 2nd market was a nightly occurrence complete with an elvis impersonator.) 

You can buy fruits and vegetables in bulk, or you can buy pre made food and treats. 

My favorites were the pre-mades because, even after my cooking class, I knew the locals could cook it up much better than I could ever dream.

And real talk…who doesn’t want a 5 cent bundle of freshly fried donut holes no matter where you are in the world??

I did find one Thai dish here that I wasn’t incredibly fond of. I’m not sure the name of it, so I’ll just call it “coleslaw and fishy balls.” You tell this guy how much you want to spend, and he fills you up a bowl accordingly. I thought 30 baht of this stuff would suffice and I quickly found out that it was 30 baht too many. You get a bowl full of basically coleslaw ingredients (shreadded cabbage, carrots, and some other stuff) with a vinegary sauce and a pile of these “balls”. I later found out that these balls have the consistency of tofu but the flavor of rotten fish. They looked so good steaming in their little basket, but I was fooled. This was the only dish in Thailand that I didn’t finish. I felt bad throwing it away when so many other people were waiting in line for a taste. I got over it though and moved on to the next thing on the menu. 

I equalled out my junk food/sweet stuff intake by also eating mangoes. I averaged about 3 mangoes a day between my breakfast/afternoon smoothie/or sticky rice addiction. While I know that much fruit isn’t the healthiest of habits, nothing compares to a thai mango. (Well maybe one from the Philippines…but you catch my drift). I was trying to savor these delicious Heaven sent nutritional balls of goodness as much as possible before I was forced to leave the country. I’m sure I’ll be back to Thailand for many reasons…but the mangoes are high on that list. 

I will end this culinary-tour-blog post by sharing my final favorite Thai treat….Thai iced Tea, or Cha-yen. Luckily, this drink was also easily found within walking distance from my house. I can’t decide now if that’s a bad or good thing that I didn’t have to walk far to find delicious food in Thailand. I definitely didn’t take it for granted then, and I sure do miss it now, so I’ll confirm that it was ok. Although I’m sure I sound incredibly fat because of this post, I surprisingly lost some weight in Thailand as opposed to gaining it. As if I didn’t need another reason to book another flight back…

Sadly for me, Maupin couldn’t stay in Thailand forever. While she was quitting her job shortly after she got back to the states, she wasn’t quitting it early enough for her to just stay in Thailand with me. Her flight was scheduled to leave later in the evening so we got one more beach day in together before saying our goodbyes. While I didn’t want her to leave, this goodbye was much easier than our last one, knowing that we would see each other in a month, instead of an entire year like before. Due to the success of this vacation, we decided that our “school sister” travel adventures will need to now be a yearly endevour. While I love Asia, Maupin wants to hit other continents before going back to the same one. We decided on seeing Africa together next. “Somalia 2014” was the decision :) I can only imagine what stories we’ll have to share with that one. 

Sadly for me, Maupin couldn’t stay in Thailand forever. While she was quitting her job shortly after she got back to the states, she wasn’t quitting it early enough for her to just stay in Thailand with me. Her flight was scheduled to leave later in the evening so we got one more beach day in together before saying our goodbyes. While I didn’t want her to leave, this goodbye was much easier than our last one, knowing that we would see each other in a month, instead of an entire year like before. Due to the success of this vacation, we decided that our “school sister” travel adventures will need to now be a yearly endevour. While I love Asia, Maupin wants to hit other continents before going back to the same one. We decided on seeing Africa together next. “Somalia 2014” was the decision :) I can only imagine what stories we’ll have to share with that one. 

We took a Thai cooking class while in Thailand! I love Thai food and I love to cook, so this class just made sense. Just like we booked the trip to Phi Phi, you could also book this cooking class on the side of the road. I wanted to do this before we even got to Thailand, but when we saw the brochure for Kata Thai Cooking Class ,we knew this place was a necessity. Depending on the day you chose to go, you could make three dishes that vary day to day. It just so worked out that my favorite three thai dishes were being taught the very next day. That in itself basically made this class a necessity.
The lovely chef, Kelly, picked us up at our hotel early in the afternoon and brought us right to her kitchen. Again, we weren’t alone on this trip, but did have better luck this time and were paired up with an extended family from Australia. They were all very nice and pleasant so no face punches needed to occur.
When you sit down, Kelly’s cute little Thai sous chef brings you a spring roll appetizer and lemongrass tea to eat while you’re waiting to begin. This was a nice way to start the class because we hadn’t eaten lunch in preparation for all the food we were about the consume, and my mouth had been watering all morning at the thought of eating all this food in the first place. 

Kelly then starts the class by being hilarious and getting to know everyone. She talks about the different ingredients we’ll use that day and how to use them. We go on to prep all the ingredients for our dishes. Obviously for thai food, a lot of chili’s are used. She gave us good tips along the way, like you have to mash the chilis if you want the heat. Just cutting them won’t give you any. 

This is me chopping tamarind. I ended up with orange fingers for the rest of the day but it was worth it. Another tip we received is that tamarind is good for digestion. “When you eat alot…poo poo #2”. She told us they sell tamarind even at 7-11’s to help with this issue. While not pooping was never my problem in Thailand, she was right, and I did notice little packs of candied tamarind in the aisles of most convenient stores in the country. I’m glad I didn’t pick it up as a new candy to try. Thanks for the heads up, Kelly!

After all the ingredients were chopped, we set up shop in front of our own personal stove tops to get moving on our first dish. 

We made green curry first and it was easier than expected. Once you have all the food prepped, it takes no time at all before you’re sitting down to eat. 


We had the option to make our curry spicy or very spicy. I chose the very spicy route. Unfortunately, by the time it was Ali’s turn to choose what type she wanted, all the regular curry was gone, so she was forced to choose the very spicy version as well. This is her tasting that version for the first time. Do you think it was hot enough for her?!!

After cooking and eating the curry, it was time for Pad Thai. Again, another relatively easy dish to make. You just have to make sure you can find all the ingredients. Kelly was really awesome and even made suggestions of what to use if you can’t find the traditional options. She even told us how to make substitutions if you’re vegetarian or vegan in some cases. 

After Pad Thai, we made Tom Yum Soup. I unfortunately didn’t get the memo that you have to take the soup off the flame right after you put the evaporated milk in or else it would curdle. I still totally ate the soup after I made it, even though it doesn’t look so hot in the picture. 

Just writing this post makes me “homesick” for Thailand and all the amazing cuisine found there. While I’m perfectly content eating at restaurants and letting the locals feed me their delicacies, it was awesome to get to learn the trade secrets in hopes that I’ll be able to eat delicious, authentic, Thai food in the comfort of my own home. If you’re ever in Phuket this cooking class is a MUST. Kelly, the chef and owner of  the company was amazing. She was a great teacher and a great entertainer. I wanted to keep hanging out with her when the class was over. All that food though got us really ready for nap time, so it was back to the hotel for a little snooze before it was time to catch the sunset. 
If you don’t find yourself in Phuket any time soon, you can at least go to Kelly’s website and get her recipes from there. If you know anyone else taking a trip to Thailand, definitely let them know about this place. They can thank me later!

We took a Thai cooking class while in Thailand! I love Thai food and I love to cook, so this class just made sense. Just like we booked the trip to Phi Phi, you could also book this cooking class on the side of the road. I wanted to do this before we even got to Thailand, but when we saw the brochure for Kata Thai Cooking Class ,we knew this place was a necessity. Depending on the day you chose to go, you could make three dishes that vary day to day. It just so worked out that my favorite three thai dishes were being taught the very next day. That in itself basically made this class a necessity.

The lovely chef, Kelly, picked us up at our hotel early in the afternoon and brought us right to her kitchen. Again, we weren’t alone on this trip, but did have better luck this time and were paired up with an extended family from Australia. They were all very nice and pleasant so no face punches needed to occur.

When you sit down, Kelly’s cute little Thai sous chef brings you a spring roll appetizer and lemongrass tea to eat while you’re waiting to begin. This was a nice way to start the class because we hadn’t eaten lunch in preparation for all the food we were about the consume, and my mouth had been watering all morning at the thought of eating all this food in the first place. 

Kelly then starts the class by being hilarious and getting to know everyone. She talks about the different ingredients we’ll use that day and how to use them. We go on to prep all the ingredients for our dishes. Obviously for thai food, a lot of chili’s are used. She gave us good tips along the way, like you have to mash the chilis if you want the heat. Just cutting them won’t give you any. 

This is me chopping tamarind. I ended up with orange fingers for the rest of the day but it was worth it. Another tip we received is that tamarind is good for digestion. “When you eat alot…poo poo #2”. She told us they sell tamarind even at 7-11’s to help with this issue. While not pooping was never my problem in Thailand, she was right, and I did notice little packs of candied tamarind in the aisles of most convenient stores in the country. I’m glad I didn’t pick it up as a new candy to try. Thanks for the heads up, Kelly!

After all the ingredients were chopped, we set up shop in front of our own personal stove tops to get moving on our first dish. 

We made green curry first and it was easier than expected. Once you have all the food prepped, it takes no time at all before you’re sitting down to eat. 

We had the option to make our curry spicy or very spicy. I chose the very spicy route. Unfortunately, by the time it was Ali’s turn to choose what type she wanted, all the regular curry was gone, so she was forced to choose the very spicy version as well. This is her tasting that version for the first time. Do you think it was hot enough for her?!!

After cooking and eating the curry, it was time for Pad Thai. Again, another relatively easy dish to make. You just have to make sure you can find all the ingredients. Kelly was really awesome and even made suggestions of what to use if you can’t find the traditional options. She even told us how to make substitutions if you’re vegetarian or vegan in some cases. 

After Pad Thai, we made Tom Yum Soup. I unfortunately didn’t get the memo that you have to take the soup off the flame right after you put the evaporated milk in or else it would curdle. I still totally ate the soup after I made it, even though it doesn’t look so hot in the picture. 

Just writing this post makes me “homesick” for Thailand and all the amazing cuisine found there. While I’m perfectly content eating at restaurants and letting the locals feed me their delicacies, it was awesome to get to learn the trade secrets in hopes that I’ll be able to eat delicious, authentic, Thai food in the comfort of my own home. If you’re ever in Phuket this cooking class is a MUST. Kelly, the chef and owner of  the company was amazing. She was a great teacher and a great entertainer. I wanted to keep hanging out with her when the class was over. All that food though got us really ready for nap time, so it was back to the hotel for a little snooze before it was time to catch the sunset. 

If you don’t find yourself in Phuket any time soon, you can at least go to Kelly’s website and get her recipes from there. If you know anyone else taking a trip to Thailand, definitely let them know about this place. They can thank me later!

Going to Phi Phi has been a must-do on my bucket list for awhile. If you’ve ever google-searched “beautiful beaches”, “very beautiful beaches”, “worlds most beautiful beaches”, “top things to do in SE Asia”, “paradise”….you would probably land on images of Koh Phi Phi Don or the surrounding islands.
Before we decided to go to Phuket specifically, I knew wherever we were in the country, we would have to make a side trip to Phi Phi to see what all the fuss was about. Luckily for us, Phi Phi is only about an hour boat ride from Phuket so we didn’t have much planning to do. Being the lazy tourists that we were, we decided to just book a tour to get there. Basically you pay some cash money to a ticket seller on the side of road, get a receipt, and a car comes and picks you up the next morning. At the time, paying for the tour was much more convenient and cost efficient than trying to figure everything out on our own. So the next day we got picked up along with another handful of tourists and made our way to the jetty port. I was pretty content with the other passengers in the van with us. If you remember back to my trips to Beijing…or even farther back to Bali, I ended up having the most amazing days ever with my fellow passengers on my trip to the Great Wall and a trip to go see Elephants in Ubud. I thought I had some sort of crazy good luck with crappy tours, so I was getting stoked for these future best friends we were about to meet. 
Unfortunetly…I spoke too soon and remembered I’m not lucky at all. What we didn’t know at the time was that that van full of people was just one van out of many that were all going to load on to the same speed boat as us. When I heard “speed boat” when we were first deciding on the trip, I unfortunetly pictured a 12 passenger boat that would take us on a quaint little journey across the ocean to our destination. Double and a half that imagery…and you get our tour group. Every single inch on the boat was taken up by a passenger. You were touching people on both (sweaty) sides (no matter how hard you tried to suck it in). The only positive thing about the boat (besides being with my BFF about to travel to one of my favorite vacay destinations) was that the boat was covered with an awning. The night before we went out and stocked up on SPF because we were preparing for the impending massive sunburn that we would most likely get throughout the day. So at least one worry was set aside for the moment. All other ounces of energy were then devoted (to Maupin not getting seasick), and me not punching the obnoxious tourist dudes sitting a few seats down from us in the face.
At one point in the trip out to the islands, the captain stopped the boat right in the middle of the water…no Phi Phi in sight. I quickly thought about jumping overboard for a little relief. Not only did the ocean breeze come to a hault when the boat stopped, but the thought that I might get by without having a panic attack that day quickly died as well. Throughout my Asian adventures this year, I’ve learned that I can get a little claustrophobic, come rather close to panic attacks in certain instances, and be a little scared of heights….but that’s another story yet to come. So right when I started to check if my life jacket was buckled securely, the captain got back on his merry way and we were safe and sound and back to having wind in our hair. A few minutes later we reached our first of five island destinations. Unfortunetly I don’t remember the name of this island, but I do remember almost shitting myself with excitement when we arrived! (Because of both the island’s beauty and the fact that we were now allowed off the cramped boat and into the water). Again, it wasn’t really like expected. There wasn’t a beach that we docked the boat up to. The boat was just anchored into a lagoon and you were told you could literally jump off the boat to snorkel for an extended period of time. I quickly learned that snorkeling isn’t my favorite past time (ie. another example of when I find myself having random slight panic attacks. I mean really…humans aren’t supposed to breathe under water.) I was able to compromise with the island and still view the sealife just from looking down at the water while breathing fresh air. The water is crystal clear and you could see a whole other world below your feet. Maupin is a fish herself, so I had to bug her to take another selfie. Duh. Unfortunately it was really hard to take pictures here that come anywhere close to capturing it’s beauty.

About 30 minutes of swim time later then it was back on the boat and off to Maya Bay. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Beach”, this is where it was filmed. Unfortunetly ever since that movie debuted in 2000, the actual beach has become far more popular and a now well-known tourist spot. If you can’t tell by the picture below, we definitely weren’t on a “deserted island” anymore. To the right of what’s happening in the picture is at least 20 boats cramped together all filled with a gazillion passengers. 

Although the place is still incredibly, amazingly, overwhelmingly beautiful, it was a little annoying that we didn’t have the whole place to ourselves. 

We swam around for awhile before being summoned back to the boat for the next island. While I was still stoked to be able to witness this gem, the whole time we were there, I was strategically planning my next vacation here…where I would rent out the whole island so I didn’t have the share the view with anyone else. 

A few more stops later (after Viking Cave and Monkey Island), we made it to Phi Phi Don were were would have lunch and a minute to walk around the town. There wasn’t too much to see there besides the same souvenirs that you could find anywhere in the country. We were there for the view, so we made our way back to the boat to get ready to hop to our last island. 

Again, I forgot the names of some of the islands we went to. This one was pretty gorgeous as well though. We were here for the longest time and this island actually had a beach to chill on. You could rent a lawn chair and feast on free watermelon and pineapple, or you could swim with fish and enjoy the insane water for a few last moments. We chose to do both before heading back on the boat for the last leg of the adventure. 

 While I would 100% recommend going to Phi Phi anytime you’re anywhere close to Thailand, I would recommend planning out your adventure a little better than we did. First of all, don’t go during a holiday. We ended up there around two holidays (Both Thai New Year and Easter), so everyone in the world was on our same vacation. I would also recommend either hiring your own boat and driver, or just taking the ferry to Phi Phi and spending the night there. That way you don’t have to deal with any of the speed boat madness at all. Although there were some annoying things about the trip, I wouldn’t take the adventure back for anything. Phi Phi was for sure one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I’ll definitely be back.

Going to Phi Phi has been a must-do on my bucket list for awhile. If you’ve ever google-searched “beautiful beaches”, “very beautiful beaches”, “worlds most beautiful beaches”, “top things to do in SE Asia”, “paradise”….you would probably land on images of Koh Phi Phi Don or the surrounding islands.

Before we decided to go to Phuket specifically, I knew wherever we were in the country, we would have to make a side trip to Phi Phi to see what all the fuss was about. Luckily for us, Phi Phi is only about an hour boat ride from Phuket so we didn’t have much planning to do. Being the lazy tourists that we were, we decided to just book a tour to get there. Basically you pay some cash money to a ticket seller on the side of road, get a receipt, and a car comes and picks you up the next morning. At the time, paying for the tour was much more convenient and cost efficient than trying to figure everything out on our own. So the next day we got picked up along with another handful of tourists and made our way to the jetty port. I was pretty content with the other passengers in the van with us. If you remember back to my trips to Beijing…or even farther back to Bali, I ended up having the most amazing days ever with my fellow passengers on my trip to the Great Wall and a trip to go see Elephants in Ubud. I thought I had some sort of crazy good luck with crappy tours, so I was getting stoked for these future best friends we were about to meet. 

Unfortunetly…I spoke too soon and remembered I’m not lucky at all. What we didn’t know at the time was that that van full of people was just one van out of many that were all going to load on to the same speed boat as us. When I heard “speed boat” when we were first deciding on the trip, I unfortunetly pictured a 12 passenger boat that would take us on a quaint little journey across the ocean to our destination. Double and a half that imagery…and you get our tour group. Every single inch on the boat was taken up by a passenger. You were touching people on both (sweaty) sides (no matter how hard you tried to suck it in). The only positive thing about the boat (besides being with my BFF about to travel to one of my favorite vacay destinations) was that the boat was covered with an awning. The night before we went out and stocked up on SPF because we were preparing for the impending massive sunburn that we would most likely get throughout the day. So at least one worry was set aside for the moment. All other ounces of energy were then devoted (to Maupin not getting seasick), and me not punching the obnoxious tourist dudes sitting a few seats down from us in the face.

At one point in the trip out to the islands, the captain stopped the boat right in the middle of the water…no Phi Phi in sight. I quickly thought about jumping overboard for a little relief. Not only did the ocean breeze come to a hault when the boat stopped, but the thought that I might get by without having a panic attack that day quickly died as well. Throughout my Asian adventures this year, I’ve learned that I can get a little claustrophobic, come rather close to panic attacks in certain instances, and be a little scared of heights….but that’s another story yet to come. So right when I started to check if my life jacket was buckled securely, the captain got back on his merry way and we were safe and sound and back to having wind in our hair. A few minutes later we reached our first of five island destinations. Unfortunetly I don’t remember the name of this island, but I do remember almost shitting myself with excitement when we arrived! (Because of both the island’s beauty and the fact that we were now allowed off the cramped boat and into the water). Again, it wasn’t really like expected. There wasn’t a beach that we docked the boat up to. The boat was just anchored into a lagoon and you were told you could literally jump off the boat to snorkel for an extended period of time. I quickly learned that snorkeling isn’t my favorite past time (ie. another example of when I find myself having random slight panic attacks. I mean really…humans aren’t supposed to breathe under water.) I was able to compromise with the island and still view the sealife just from looking down at the water while breathing fresh air. The water is crystal clear and you could see a whole other world below your feet. Maupin is a fish herself, so I had to bug her to take another selfie. Duh. Unfortunately it was really hard to take pictures here that come anywhere close to capturing it’s beauty.

About 30 minutes of swim time later then it was back on the boat and off to Maya Bay. If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Beach”, this is where it was filmed. Unfortunetly ever since that movie debuted in 2000, the actual beach has become far more popular and a now well-known tourist spot. If you can’t tell by the picture below, we definitely weren’t on a “deserted island” anymore. To the right of what’s happening in the picture is at least 20 boats cramped together all filled with a gazillion passengers. 

Although the place is still incredibly, amazingly, overwhelmingly beautiful, it was a little annoying that we didn’t have the whole place to ourselves. 

We swam around for awhile before being summoned back to the boat for the next island. While I was still stoked to be able to witness this gem, the whole time we were there, I was strategically planning my next vacation here…where I would rent out the whole island so I didn’t have the share the view with anyone else. 

A few more stops later (after Viking Cave and Monkey Island), we made it to Phi Phi Don were were would have lunch and a minute to walk around the town. There wasn’t too much to see there besides the same souvenirs that you could find anywhere in the country. We were there for the view, so we made our way back to the boat to get ready to hop to our last island. 

Again, I forgot the names of some of the islands we went to. This one was pretty gorgeous as well though. We were here for the longest time and this island actually had a beach to chill on. You could rent a lawn chair and feast on free watermelon and pineapple, or you could swim with fish and enjoy the insane water for a few last moments. We chose to do both before heading back on the boat for the last leg of the adventure. 

 While I would 100% recommend going to Phi Phi anytime you’re anywhere close to Thailand, I would recommend planning out your adventure a little better than we did. First of all, don’t go during a holiday. We ended up there around two holidays (Both Thai New Year and Easter), so everyone in the world was on our same vacation. I would also recommend either hiring your own boat and driver, or just taking the ferry to Phi Phi and spending the night there. That way you don’t have to deal with any of the speed boat madness at all. Although there were some annoying things about the trip, I wouldn’t take the adventure back for anything. Phi Phi was for sure one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I’ll definitely be back.

Any negative feelings we had the night before in Bangkok quickly dwindled when we saw this sight outside of the plane. I’ve heard from a few sources that Phuket isn’t the ideal place to stay while in Thailand, but after seeing this view, I started to question my friendships with those sources. It looked completely acceptable to me and I couldn’t wait to nap on it’s beaches. 
Even though we were a plane ride away from our last destination, we quickly remembered we were still in Thailand. It was still Songkran. And we would still have to wait in a long line at the airport to get a cab to our hotel. After passing up an offer from a random dude trying to give us a ride (at what we thought was a ridiculously high price), we waited in line forever only to be charged double that price by the “reputable” taxi stand. Apparently during holidays they don’t even begin to bargin with you, and don’t think twice about being rude to you either. We figured we had no choice but to get in the next cab and suck up the price. The beaches were calling our name and time is very valuable when you’re in paradise for a short time. 
The airport was surprisingly about an hour from the airport. During that ride, we got to witness the Thai locals having a blast for the holiday! Apparently the day we arrived was the legit holiday. What was happening in Bangkok was just the ruckus leading up to the actual holiday. Anyways, the locals take the day off and pile as many people and a trash can full of water into the back of their truck. They just ride slowly up and down the streets splashing water on any innocent (or not) bystandard on the roads below. People choosing not to drive set up shop outside of their houses or places of work and either hose, squirt, or throw water right back into the trucks. Basically people end up with an endless supply of water because whatever you dish out comes right back to you in return. While we were happily dry this time behind closed windows, it was really awesome seeing how stoked these people were to get wet. While in Bangkok it was just a bunch of tourists being wet and wasted, the holiday seemed more legit here and you could tell they were actually celebrating!
We finally made it to the hotel and realized we had a pretty amazing view from our balcony. One of the things Maupin suggested doing while in Phuket was to go see the giant Buddha. While this photo doesn’t really do the view justice, we realized we had the perfect view of the Buddha right from our room! (It’s that little white thing at the top of the mountain that you could see much clearer in person). 

After taking that picture, we quickly put on our bathing suits and ventured the 15 minute walk to the beach. While the beach wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it was still awesome and we were incredibly stoked to finally be there! We had only been talking about this trip for about 8 months at this point, so we were so stoked to finally be there…as you can tell from this selfie. 

Phuket was very touristy, but that was expected from the beginning. You could rent a beach chair and umbrella on the beach for 100 baht, which turned out to be a necessity throughout the week. Even with the umbrellas and suntan lotion, we still managed to get a sunburn or two during our stay. 
The most entertaining part of the beach, besides just the joy itself of being on a beach in Thailand, was watching the parasail craziness in front of us. I now wish I would have taken a video so you could have seen the skill involved in this adventure. Basically, a wealthy tourist pays a shit ton of money to get strapped into a harness that gets attached to this parachute. You then have two worker guys hold the strings up and another worker holding on behind you. On the count of three, everyone starts running as fast as possible towards the water. The person in the harness gets lifted up, the two workers let go, and the third worker morphs into a monkey and climbs onto the ropes of the chute and hangs unattached to anything and rides across the ocean with the customer. It scared me every time, but the dude seemed to know what he was doing. I never saw him fall into the ocean….although I was secretly hoping it might happen every time. While I totally would have done this if it was free, it sort of amazed me how many people decided to fork over that cash for about a 30 second adventure. Once they were up in the air, the boat spun them around the ocean in one large circle and they were back down on the sand before you even knew it. I guess when in Rome…. 

Our days in Phuket were pretty exhausting. We would wake up whenever we felt like it, put on our bathing suits, grab our books, and walk to the beach. We would proceed to lay there for the remainder of the day, or until we ran out of dried mango and had to find some legit food. Luckily for us, coconut juice and pinapple smoothies were pretty easy to get our hands on.

After late lunch or early dinner, we would make our way back the beach and take selfies while we were waiting on the amazing sunsets. 


Occasionally we would actually put on real clothes and go out to eat. It’s hard to take pictures of both people and beautiful sunsets at the same time, so just imagine that this dinner had the most amazing sunset view you could ask for….as well as the most overwhelming menu. It was GIGANTIC and everything sounded delicious. We ordered way too much food, but were totally ok with it. 


Across from our hotel was the lovely “Hippy bar”.  I couldn’t decide if I liked this place or not because it gave me flashbacks to my dreadlock days. I couldn’t help but laugh when I realized I was singing to every song…and looking through the cd cases for more songs from my reggae days :)

I didn’t think the night could get any better, but along with giving us bug spray and beers, the bartender also gave us glow in the dark paint, and free access to paint on anything in the bar. Maupin and I collaborated on a “team green bean machine” masterpiece and then called it a night. We had Phi Phi adventures to get to the next morning so we couldn’t get too crazy with the hippies. 

The first couple of days in Phuket were not horrible at all. We could definitely get used to a place like this…

Any negative feelings we had the night before in Bangkok quickly dwindled when we saw this sight outside of the plane. I’ve heard from a few sources that Phuket isn’t the ideal place to stay while in Thailand, but after seeing this view, I started to question my friendships with those sources. It looked completely acceptable to me and I couldn’t wait to nap on it’s beaches. 

Even though we were a plane ride away from our last destination, we quickly remembered we were still in Thailand. It was still Songkran. And we would still have to wait in a long line at the airport to get a cab to our hotel. After passing up an offer from a random dude trying to give us a ride (at what we thought was a ridiculously high price), we waited in line forever only to be charged double that price by the “reputable” taxi stand. Apparently during holidays they don’t even begin to bargin with you, and don’t think twice about being rude to you either. We figured we had no choice but to get in the next cab and suck up the price. The beaches were calling our name and time is very valuable when you’re in paradise for a short time. 

The airport was surprisingly about an hour from the airport. During that ride, we got to witness the Thai locals having a blast for the holiday! Apparently the day we arrived was the legit holiday. What was happening in Bangkok was just the ruckus leading up to the actual holiday. Anyways, the locals take the day off and pile as many people and a trash can full of water into the back of their truck. They just ride slowly up and down the streets splashing water on any innocent (or not) bystandard on the roads below. People choosing not to drive set up shop outside of their houses or places of work and either hose, squirt, or throw water right back into the trucks. Basically people end up with an endless supply of water because whatever you dish out comes right back to you in return. While we were happily dry this time behind closed windows, it was really awesome seeing how stoked these people were to get wet. While in Bangkok it was just a bunch of tourists being wet and wasted, the holiday seemed more legit here and you could tell they were actually celebrating!

We finally made it to the hotel and realized we had a pretty amazing view from our balcony. One of the things Maupin suggested doing while in Phuket was to go see the giant Buddha. While this photo doesn’t really do the view justice, we realized we had the perfect view of the Buddha right from our room! (It’s that little white thing at the top of the mountain that you could see much clearer in person). 

After taking that picture, we quickly put on our bathing suits and ventured the 15 minute walk to the beach. While the beach wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it was still awesome and we were incredibly stoked to finally be there! We had only been talking about this trip for about 8 months at this point, so we were so stoked to finally be there…as you can tell from this selfie. 

Phuket was very touristy, but that was expected from the beginning. You could rent a beach chair and umbrella on the beach for 100 baht, which turned out to be a necessity throughout the week. Even with the umbrellas and suntan lotion, we still managed to get a sunburn or two during our stay. 

The most entertaining part of the beach, besides just the joy itself of being on a beach in Thailand, was watching the parasail craziness in front of us. I now wish I would have taken a video so you could have seen the skill involved in this adventure. Basically, a wealthy tourist pays a shit ton of money to get strapped into a harness that gets attached to this parachute. You then have two worker guys hold the strings up and another worker holding on behind you. On the count of three, everyone starts running as fast as possible towards the water. The person in the harness gets lifted up, the two workers let go, and the third worker morphs into a monkey and climbs onto the ropes of the chute and hangs unattached to anything and rides across the ocean with the customer. It scared me every time, but the dude seemed to know what he was doing. I never saw him fall into the ocean….although I was secretly hoping it might happen every time. While I totally would have done this if it was free, it sort of amazed me how many people decided to fork over that cash for about a 30 second adventure. Once they were up in the air, the boat spun them around the ocean in one large circle and they were back down on the sand before you even knew it. I guess when in Rome…. 

Our days in Phuket were pretty exhausting. We would wake up whenever we felt like it, put on our bathing suits, grab our books, and walk to the beach. We would proceed to lay there for the remainder of the day, or until we ran out of dried mango and had to find some legit food. Luckily for us, coconut juice and pinapple smoothies were pretty easy to get our hands on.

After late lunch or early dinner, we would make our way back the beach and take selfies while we were waiting on the amazing sunsets. 

Occasionally we would actually put on real clothes and go out to eat. It’s hard to take pictures of both people and beautiful sunsets at the same time, so just imagine that this dinner had the most amazing sunset view you could ask for….as well as the most overwhelming menu. It was GIGANTIC and everything sounded delicious. We ordered way too much food, but were totally ok with it. 

Across from our hotel was the lovely “Hippy bar”.  I couldn’t decide if I liked this place or not because it gave me flashbacks to my dreadlock days. I couldn’t help but laugh when I realized I was singing to every song…and looking through the cd cases for more songs from my reggae days :)

I didn’t think the night could get any better, but along with giving us bug spray and beers, the bartender also gave us glow in the dark paint, and free access to paint on anything in the bar. Maupin and I collaborated on a “team green bean machine” masterpiece and then called it a night. We had Phi Phi adventures to get to the next morning so we couldn’t get too crazy with the hippies. 

The first couple of days in Phuket were not horrible at all. We could definitely get used to a place like this…

After a good(ish) nights sleep, it was off to explore the city. Bangkok was only our extended layover for the real destination of Phuket, so we only had one complete day there. A long time ago, when Allison and I first decided to come here, I did a little overall research on Thailand. I heard about a water festival that was going to happen the week we were there, but didn’t think too much into it and wasn’t too worried. Festivals are usually something you can choose to participate in, like going to a parade or putting up a Christmas tree for the month. Little did I know, Songkran, the “water festival”, turned out to be no joke. 
Khoasan Road (aka party central where our hostel was located), turned out to be the main road where this festival took place. We walked out to the main street after breakfast and saw barricades being put up and a huge stage literally right outside of our front door. Not only was the street already bumpin at 9am…but we immediately got doused with water from the people on the street with supersoakers. 
Songkran is celebrated for Thailands New Year’s Day. Typically people use fireworks to celebrate the new year, but Thailand likes to shake it up a little. Apparently the throwing of water symbolizes washing away all the bad of the year. While this sounds like a great tradition, it’s turned into an insane water battle (mostly from tourists), and can be a little overwhelming. 

Luckily, it’s 500 degrees in Bangkok, so a little water never hurt. We made it relatively unscathed to the end of the block and were able to get out of the thick of it. 

As imagined, the city is incredibly colorful and decorated. 

We tried walking to the Grand Palace, but thanks to it being New Year’s Day, only Thai locals were allowed into the compound. I’m a little bummed we couldn’t see this place, because just by looking at the outside, you could tell it was impressive. 

We continued to walk around and were able to enter a few “lesser” temples. As mentioned before, the street food here is amazing. I invested in an afternoon stack (the brown things on the right), which turned out to be basically the Thai version of a Samoa girl scout cookie…without the chocolate. I was ready to die happy in the street, but we continued to trek along. 

After getting directions from the sweetest couple at a local craft shop, we found one of the golden Buddha temples. (I can’t remember it’s actual name). 

I really wish I could read Thai script, because this “Buddha” tripped me out (please ignore my thumb). I’ve never seen a Buddha image with a face like this before. Does anyone have any insight into this guy?

I wanted to ask this dude, but I knew he was hard at work.

Even the ceilings were elaborate in these temples. 


I hope when I die, people celebrate my life with confetti and sparkles and shiny things, like on the mausoleum above. 

Even Monks gotta do laundry…
Thanks to Bangkok’s heat, we had an excuse to head back early to our hostel’s rooftop pool. Although it wasn’t as hot as I was expecting, it was still pretty crippling. Even while chugging water all day, you still get that feeling while walking around that you’ve been sitting in a hot tub for too long. Luckily, there were people all over the streets that were willing to give us a little reprieve from the sun. 
Unfortunately, Allie usually tended to be on the receiving end of these gifts, when I was the one asking for them. Sorry bud!!

After a short tuk tuk ride, we made it back to our street where things were even more intense than before. After picking up some more pad thai for lunch, we headed up to the pool to try to cool off…and get away from some of the insanity that was Songkran.

Later that evening, it was time to go back out and do the whole dinner and drinks thing. Things sounded relatively quiet from our room so we thought the festivities might be close to being over. Part of me knew better when getting dressed for the night, but I wanted to hope for the best. Something deep down told me to put on my still wet tank top from earlier in the day, but I refused to listen. We didn’t dress up by any means, but we put on normal clothes that one would expect to wear to dinner while on vacation. That decision was one of the worst we made all week when we came downstairs to a view like this below….

Effing Songkran never stops!!! It only got worse as the night went on. There was absolutely no way around this mess. Like mentioned before, usually you can choose to participate in a festival. There was no option with this one though. It was mandatory. We tried to quickly walk through the crowds, not making eye contact with anyone as to entice them, but it was inevitable. Not only were there super soakers, but people resorted to throwing straight up BUCKETS of water down your back as you walked past. I know this might sound like fun to some of yall, and I think it could be, but we just weren’t feeling it. (Mainly due to the electronics in our bags that we weren’t ready to part with just yet.) 
So not only were you being soaked to the bone, but the other part of the tradition is to rub a pasty talc mixture on people’s faces. Some dude came up to me looking super excited. I didn’t see a gun in is hand so I was a little thrown off guard. Unfortunately, his hands were full of talc and he rubbed them all over my face. Alli later told me that she would have punched the dude, but I was so in shock that I couldn’t even react to what was happening. A few minutes later, I finally realized that my black shirt and jeans were now polka dotted with talc, and my face looked like this….

The restaurant we were planning on eating at was right at the end of the crazy block. We were so excited to be able to sit down away from all the chaos and have a much needed drink. A few minutes into the meal though….people from the street came into the restaurant and started spraying the waiter!! Seriously. There was no escaping it.

Allison made the best purchase of the day….a waterproof case for anything important. Too bad they didn’t have one of those for our whole body…
When the night was coming to an end, Alli had the brilliant idea to head back to our hotel by walking around the block and entering from the opposite direction than we came from. It was a shorter distance to the hotel door (meaning we had less of a chance to get tagged again), so I was all for it! While there was definitely less water on this end of the block, there were about 3958732 more people trying to get through one narrow passage way. In order to get into our hostel, we had to pass that big stage that was right outside. This gave room for just one small little walkway that the entire country of Thailand was trying to walk through at the same time. While I’ve never been one for panic attacks, I came incredibly close to experiencing one at this point. You couldn’t walk forward, and people were shoving you from behind. There was absolutely no where to go and I found out that I may have a slight case of claustrophobia. I told Alli I had to walk back and was willing to walk all the way back around the block and through the insanity, just to escape this claustrophobic nightmare. We were literally feet away from the hostel door, but i couldn’t take it. 
Luckily, I managed to take a deep breath and say a prayer (seriously) and people finally realized how to navigate the passage and we started moving. We survived and celebrated by grabbing some beer at the 7-11 downstairs from the hostel. We decided (because I’m not sure we would have come out alive otherwise) to make it a “quiet” night at the rooftop pool. After heading upstairs, we experienced another round of insanity that might not make it to this blog. We have video evidence that I might post later, but for now I’ll just leave it up to your imagination. 
Thankfully our flight was leaving the next morning to take us away from the craziness that is Bangkok, and would land us on a beautiful beach an hour away. While overall, I did really like Bangkok (you may not get any hint of that from this post), I wouldn’t suggest going there during Songkran. But you can decide that for yourself.

After a good(ish) nights sleep, it was off to explore the city. Bangkok was only our extended layover for the real destination of Phuket, so we only had one complete day there. A long time ago, when Allison and I first decided to come here, I did a little overall research on Thailand. I heard about a water festival that was going to happen the week we were there, but didn’t think too much into it and wasn’t too worried. Festivals are usually something you can choose to participate in, like going to a parade or putting up a Christmas tree for the month. Little did I know, Songkran, the “water festival”, turned out to be no joke. 

Khoasan Road (aka party central where our hostel was located), turned out to be the main road where this festival took place. We walked out to the main street after breakfast and saw barricades being put up and a huge stage literally right outside of our front door. Not only was the street already bumpin at 9am…but we immediately got doused with water from the people on the street with supersoakers. 

Songkran is celebrated for Thailands New Year’s Day. Typically people use fireworks to celebrate the new year, but Thailand likes to shake it up a little. Apparently the throwing of water symbolizes washing away all the bad of the year. While this sounds like a great tradition, it’s turned into an insane water battle (mostly from tourists), and can be a little overwhelming. 

Luckily, it’s 500 degrees in Bangkok, so a little water never hurt. We made it relatively unscathed to the end of the block and were able to get out of the thick of it. 

As imagined, the city is incredibly colorful and decorated. 

We tried walking to the Grand Palace, but thanks to it being New Year’s Day, only Thai locals were allowed into the compound. I’m a little bummed we couldn’t see this place, because just by looking at the outside, you could tell it was impressive. 

We continued to walk around and were able to enter a few “lesser” temples. As mentioned before, the street food here is amazing. I invested in an afternoon stack (the brown things on the right), which turned out to be basically the Thai version of a Samoa girl scout cookie…without the chocolate. I was ready to die happy in the street, but we continued to trek along. 

After getting directions from the sweetest couple at a local craft shop, we found one of the golden Buddha temples. (I can’t remember it’s actual name). 

I really wish I could read Thai script, because this “Buddha” tripped me out (please ignore my thumb). I’ve never seen a Buddha image with a face like this before. Does anyone have any insight into this guy?

I wanted to ask this dude, but I knew he was hard at work.

Even the ceilings were elaborate in these temples. 

I hope when I die, people celebrate my life with confetti and sparkles and shiny things, like on the mausoleum above. 

Even Monks gotta do laundry…

Thanks to Bangkok’s heat, we had an excuse to head back early to our hostel’s rooftop pool. Although it wasn’t as hot as I was expecting, it was still pretty crippling. Even while chugging water all day, you still get that feeling while walking around that you’ve been sitting in a hot tub for too long. Luckily, there were people all over the streets that were willing to give us a little reprieve from the sun. 

Unfortunately, Allie usually tended to be on the receiving end of these gifts, when I was the one asking for them. Sorry bud!!

After a short tuk tuk ride, we made it back to our street where things were even more intense than before. After picking up some more pad thai for lunch, we headed up to the pool to try to cool off…and get away from some of the insanity that was Songkran.

Later that evening, it was time to go back out and do the whole dinner and drinks thing. Things sounded relatively quiet from our room so we thought the festivities might be close to being over. Part of me knew better when getting dressed for the night, but I wanted to hope for the best. Something deep down told me to put on my still wet tank top from earlier in the day, but I refused to listen. We didn’t dress up by any means, but we put on normal clothes that one would expect to wear to dinner while on vacation. That decision was one of the worst we made all week when we came downstairs to a view like this below….

Effing Songkran never stops!!! It only got worse as the night went on. There was absolutely no way around this mess. Like mentioned before, usually you can choose to participate in a festival. There was no option with this one though. It was mandatory. We tried to quickly walk through the crowds, not making eye contact with anyone as to entice them, but it was inevitable. Not only were there super soakers, but people resorted to throwing straight up BUCKETS of water down your back as you walked past. I know this might sound like fun to some of yall, and I think it could be, but we just weren’t feeling it. (Mainly due to the electronics in our bags that we weren’t ready to part with just yet.) 

So not only were you being soaked to the bone, but the other part of the tradition is to rub a pasty talc mixture on people’s faces. Some dude came up to me looking super excited. I didn’t see a gun in is hand so I was a little thrown off guard. Unfortunately, his hands were full of talc and he rubbed them all over my face. Alli later told me that she would have punched the dude, but I was so in shock that I couldn’t even react to what was happening. A few minutes later, I finally realized that my black shirt and jeans were now polka dotted with talc, and my face looked like this….

The restaurant we were planning on eating at was right at the end of the crazy block. We were so excited to be able to sit down away from all the chaos and have a much needed drink. A few minutes into the meal though….people from the street came into the restaurant and started spraying the waiter!! Seriously. There was no escaping it.

Allison made the best purchase of the day….a waterproof case for anything important. Too bad they didn’t have one of those for our whole body…

When the night was coming to an end, Alli had the brilliant idea to head back to our hotel by walking around the block and entering from the opposite direction than we came from. It was a shorter distance to the hotel door (meaning we had less of a chance to get tagged again), so I was all for it! While there was definitely less water on this end of the block, there were about 3958732 more people trying to get through one narrow passage way. In order to get into our hostel, we had to pass that big stage that was right outside. This gave room for just one small little walkway that the entire country of Thailand was trying to walk through at the same time. While I’ve never been one for panic attacks, I came incredibly close to experiencing one at this point. You couldn’t walk forward, and people were shoving you from behind. There was absolutely no where to go and I found out that I may have a slight case of claustrophobia. I told Alli I had to walk back and was willing to walk all the way back around the block and through the insanity, just to escape this claustrophobic nightmare. We were literally feet away from the hostel door, but i couldn’t take it. 

Luckily, I managed to take a deep breath and say a prayer (seriously) and people finally realized how to navigate the passage and we started moving. We survived and celebrated by grabbing some beer at the 7-11 downstairs from the hostel. We decided (because I’m not sure we would have come out alive otherwise) to make it a “quiet” night at the rooftop pool. After heading upstairs, we experienced another round of insanity that might not make it to this blog. We have video evidence that I might post later, but for now I’ll just leave it up to your imagination. 

Thankfully our flight was leaving the next morning to take us away from the craziness that is Bangkok, and would land us on a beautiful beach an hour away. While overall, I did really like Bangkok (you may not get any hint of that from this post), I wouldn’t suggest going there during Songkran. But you can decide that for yourself.

One of my BFFs and I made a plan to meet in Thailand in the spring. Bangkok 2014 was a running joke that started over a year ago and could only explained with hand gestures. (You had to be there). Anyways, usually when people “make plans” to travel the world together one drunken night, it usually doesn’t play out. But thanks to the awesomeness of this friend…we made it happen. Our plans gave me something to look forward to all year and actually kept me in Shanghai much longer than I would have lasted if we hadn’t made the promise. As you know, I wanted to quit my job about the second day I was there. I knew we had this trip planned for April and I realized it didn’t make sense to fly home and then fly right back to Asia a few months later. So our set in stone plan kept me in Asia (and helped me score my dream job, which definitely wouldn’t have happened if I left early). Our random count down texts kept me going and kept me excited all year. They were also supposed to be used as workout motivation so I could look hot in a bathing suit on these Asian beaches, but that didn’t turn out the way I was expecting…. Oh well. Everything turned out perfect though. 
I enjoyed my last few days in Shanghai, exploring and packing up my things. Packing up my house was one thing, but packing my backpack to come to SE Asia was another. While typically I would only need a few bathing suits, toothpaste, and jorts, I quickly remembered that I was not only packing for Asia, I was also packing for a summer back in the states. This made me think I had to throw many more options into my bag than were probably necessary. I packed and unpacked three times, hoping to lessen the load, but even taking out five things at a time left my bag packed to the brim. I did all the compromising I could, sucked it up, threw my bag on (almost fell over from the weight) and headed to the airport. Typically I would have taken the hour long metro ride to the airport, but within two minutes of walkin with my pack on, I quickly hailed a cab at the closest intersection. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and pay the $5 for convenience.
So long story short, and a 4 hour flight later, I made it to BANGKOK 2014! I felt like such a goof at the airport because I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m always down for a new stamp in my passport, and this was just the first of many I would be getting in the weeks to come. 
Allison’s flight wasn’t scheduled to come in until 1am so I headed to our hostel by my lonesome. I didn’t know too much about the city when booking the place, so I just tried to find a hostel somewhat near the landmarks we wanted to check out during our short stay. Our hostel ended up being on Khoasan Road…which is basically Bangkok party central (as shown by the picture above). I’m not sure if I would have stayed here willingly, but you live and you learn when travelling to new countries. 
The place actually did end up being the perfect location for me while I was waiting for Alli. Not only did I get to eat my first legit Pad Thai…

but I also got to eat a 2nd meal an hour later because I was just so excited. The food here is amazing. Amazingly delicious and amazingly cheap. I forgot that I was going to be here for a month so I thought I had to get in as much as possible as quickly as possible. 

After eating, I walked around the street venders for awhile until it was time to head home. (I was saving the partying until my friend joined me). A stop to 7-11 before heading back to the hostel was a foreshadowing on how I would feel the next day. 

About an hour later, one of my best friends knocked on the door to our room and it was the best day ever! It was so normal to see her, yet so weird to be on the complete opposite side of the world from when we last saw each other. Alli had been travelling for about 10098 hours from the states so we stayed in for the night knowing we would have a lot of adventuring to do in the days to come. Bangkok turned out to be something else. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to tackle it in the posts to come, but I’ll sure give it a try…

One of my BFFs and I made a plan to meet in Thailand in the spring. Bangkok 2014 was a running joke that started over a year ago and could only explained with hand gestures. (You had to be there). Anyways, usually when people “make plans” to travel the world together one drunken night, it usually doesn’t play out. But thanks to the awesomeness of this friend…we made it happen. 
Our plans gave me something to look forward to all year and actually kept me in Shanghai much longer than I would have lasted if we hadn’t made the promise. As you know, I wanted to quit my job about the second day I was there. I knew we had this trip planned for April and I realized it didn’t make sense to fly home and then fly right back to Asia a few months later. So our set in stone plan kept me in Asia (and helped me score my dream job, which definitely wouldn’t have happened if I left early). Our random count down texts kept me going and kept me excited all year. They were also supposed to be used as workout motivation so I could look hot in a bathing suit on these Asian beaches, but that didn’t turn out the way I was expecting…. Oh well. Everything turned out perfect though. 

I enjoyed my last few days in Shanghai, exploring and packing up my things. Packing up my house was one thing, but packing my backpack to come to SE Asia was another. While typically I would only need a few bathing suits, toothpaste, and jorts, I quickly remembered that I was not only packing for Asia, I was also packing for a summer back in the states. This made me think I had to throw many more options into my bag than were probably necessary. I packed and unpacked three times, hoping to lessen the load, but even taking out five things at a time left my bag packed to the brim. I did all the compromising I could, sucked it up, threw my bag on (almost fell over from the weight) and headed to the airport. Typically I would have taken the hour long metro ride to the airport, but within two minutes of walkin with my pack on, I quickly hailed a cab at the closest intersection. Sometimes you just gotta suck it up and pay the $5 for convenience.

So long story short, and a 4 hour flight later, I made it to BANGKOK 2014! I felt like such a goof at the airport because I couldn’t stop smiling. I’m always down for a new stamp in my passport, and this was just the first of many I would be getting in the weeks to come. 

Allison’s flight wasn’t scheduled to come in until 1am so I headed to our hostel by my lonesome. I didn’t know too much about the city when booking the place, so I just tried to find a hostel somewhat near the landmarks we wanted to check out during our short stay. Our hostel ended up being on Khoasan Road…which is basically Bangkok party central (as shown by the picture above). I’m not sure if I would have stayed here willingly, but you live and you learn when travelling to new countries. 

The place actually did end up being the perfect location for me while I was waiting for Alli. Not only did I get to eat my first legit Pad Thai…

but I also got to eat a 2nd meal an hour later because I was just so excited. The food here is amazing. Amazingly delicious and amazingly cheap. I forgot that I was going to be here for a month so I thought I had to get in as much as possible as quickly as possible. 

After eating, I walked around the street venders for awhile until it was time to head home. (I was saving the partying until my friend joined me). A stop to 7-11 before heading back to the hostel was a foreshadowing on how I would feel the next day. 

About an hour later, one of my best friends knocked on the door to our room and it was the best day ever! It was so normal to see her, yet so weird to be on the complete opposite side of the world from when we last saw each other. Alli had been travelling for about 10098 hours from the states so we stayed in for the night knowing we would have a lot of adventuring to do in the days to come. Bangkok turned out to be something else. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to tackle it in the posts to come, but I’ll sure give it a try…

Thanks to the availability of cheap, pirated dvds a block from my house, I’ve been getting pretty good at actually watching movies this year. If you know me, you know I haven’t seen most of the “classics” (depending on your definition of the classics). I was planning on catching up on some of those missed connections this year, but the dvds available here are either anime cartoons, tv series, or new releases. While we all know one of the three aint happening, I have enjoyed watching some of the award winning films of this year. 
If you haven’t seen “Her”, I would definitely recommend it. It was a little cray, but definitely interesting over all. While this post isn’t meant to be a movie review (because you all know how horrible at that I would be), it is meant to give Shanghai a little shout out… because that’s where a majority of the filming took place. While watching the movie, the locations started to look a little familiar. It “felt” like Shanghai while watching, but when I finally realized I had that feeling, I started to pay attention to the movie and remembered that it was set in LA. I felt a little dumb for thinking it was in China, and continued to watch to the end. 

When the show was over, I looked into it and it really did happen in Shanghai! Again, I’m a horrible movie reviewer so forgive me for not knowing the actual date, but the movie is set in a futuristic year. Apparently they filmed in Shanghai to get that futuristic feel that they couldn’t get in LA at the time. 

A lot of the familiar scenes took place in Lujiazui on the elevated walkways, and near wujiaochang. They even filmed in a museum and restaurant in Pudong that I have yet to adventure to. It makes me want to go though to check it out. That’s the closest I’ll ever get to the lovely Joaquin, so it’s a worth a shot, eh?

Thanks to the availability of cheap, pirated dvds a block from my house, I’ve been getting pretty good at actually watching movies this year. If you know me, you know I haven’t seen most of the “classics” (depending on your definition of the classics). I was planning on catching up on some of those missed connections this year, but the dvds available here are either anime cartoons, tv series, or new releases. While we all know one of the three aint happening, I have enjoyed watching some of the award winning films of this year. 

If you haven’t seen “Her”, I would definitely recommend it. It was a little cray, but definitely interesting over all. While this post isn’t meant to be a movie review (because you all know how horrible at that I would be), it is meant to give Shanghai a little shout out… because that’s where a majority of the filming took place. While watching the movie, the locations started to look a little familiar. It “felt” like Shanghai while watching, but when I finally realized I had that feeling, I started to pay attention to the movie and remembered that it was set in LA. I felt a little dumb for thinking it was in China, and continued to watch to the end. 

When the show was over, I looked into it and it really did happen in Shanghai! Again, I’m a horrible movie reviewer so forgive me for not knowing the actual date, but the movie is set in a futuristic year. Apparently they filmed in Shanghai to get that futuristic feel that they couldn’t get in LA at the time. 

A lot of the familiar scenes took place in Lujiazui on the elevated walkways, and near wujiaochang. They even filmed in a museum and restaurant in Pudong that I have yet to adventure to. It makes me want to go though to check it out. That’s the closest I’ll ever get to the lovely Joaquin, so it’s a worth a shot, eh?

I finally broke down and bought the bunny phone. I had my eye on it for months. I would see it on random street stands all over town. I always denied myself the pleasure of owning it though because I realized resorting to a bunny iphone case means you’ve spent a few too many days in Asia. When the desire didn’t lessen, I decided to take the plunge and spend the $3. I went to the markets at Yu Garden one day knowing they’d have what I was looking for. I was starting to panic a little after not seeing it stall after stall. I finally found the one I wanted, but they only had it for the iphone 5…and I’m still sporting the 4s. About 30 minutes later, I stumbled into a stall that still sold the old bunnies ready for retirement. As you can tell by this picture, I’m not excited whatsoever over my new addition. It may be so large that it barely fits in my back pocket anymore, but it’s the thought that counts and I love it. Haters gone hate. You know you’re jealous. 

I finally broke down and bought the bunny phone. I had my eye on it for months. I would see it on random street stands all over town. I always denied myself the pleasure of owning it though because I realized resorting to a bunny iphone case means you’ve spent a few too many days in Asia. When the desire didn’t lessen, I decided to take the plunge and spend the $3. I went to the markets at Yu Garden one day knowing they’d have what I was looking for. I was starting to panic a little after not seeing it stall after stall. I finally found the one I wanted, but they only had it for the iphone 5…and I’m still sporting the 4s. About 30 minutes later, I stumbled into a stall that still sold the old bunnies ready for retirement. As you can tell by this picture, I’m not excited whatsoever over my new addition. It may be so large that it barely fits in my back pocket anymore, but it’s the thought that counts and I love it. Haters gone hate. You know you’re jealous. 

People’s style sense in Shanghai KILLS me. While yes, there are some stylish people, for the most part, that is far from the truth. As the above picture proves.

People’s style sense in Shanghai KILLS me. While yes, there are some stylish people, for the most part, that is far from the truth. As the above picture proves.