Thailand, Japan · 11 Days · 76 Moments · November 2015


30 November 2015

The last post (yeah yeah I'm behind in finishing this up, I know). We had such a great trip!!! Thailand is awesome. Overall, I would spend less time in Bangkok, you'll never see more beautiful beaches than the islands surrounding Phuket and the old city charm of Chaing Mai will win your heart. Pack light and don't be afraid to wander off course. Hope you enjoyed our journey- we sure did!
Wish I had taken a pic of the group but it was group so I could post it here. We had a blast meeting up with Chris and Ariell. It only took us across the globe to finally get together. Oysters and friends- cheers! FYI- Some reason GPS my tracking is showing Japan (must not have been connected) but we were still in Bangkok for these slippery suckers. Tomorrow morning- off we go. Layover in Tokyo then home- we miss those boys!
Cheers to a great trip- back to Bangkok for one last night. Even our selfies are getting fuzzy at this point. Might be time to wrap up this adventure ;)

29 November 2015

A reminder that Bangkok traffic sucks. Su- ucks.
Nepal tkbro. Interesting read on our flight back to Bangkok!

29 November 2015

The Sunday night walking street in Chaing Mai was an experience. If you can arrange to stay over a Sunday, do it. And hold out for this place over the other markets/ bazaar. There are tons food stands, artisans, street entertainers and 1000 of people. I will say there is a lot of the same stuff and we are getting a bit marketed out but the experience overall was much more local and food fresh and delicious. We tasted some awesome dim sum and met these adorable dogs. There are also lines of restaurants along the way if you need a break from the crowd.
Russians and Thais. We taught the bar tender, Boy, how to make a White Russian (Black Russians were everywhere but some reason the White Russian was hard to find) despite the language barrier we did it and it was delicious!
I found my ramen heaven. Although I still have my heart set on the "Top" Ramen.
More exploring!
Chaing Mai is still busy and crazy but has a lot of charm. We decided to sleep in today an explore town.
Coffee about two steps from the hotel.

28 November 2015

Apparently texting while tuk tuk-ing is cool.
The Saturday night market was legit. 40 baht each for amazing dinner. Chaing Mai is consistently cheaper (like half). We met a nice backpacker from East Germany who dined with us- ooh the stories! Also this wrong drink grab at 7-11 was not a win.
Photo from Paige and Jason. We were determined to get a drink in a bag- they got close!
This is my best advice ever (listen up Jason and Amanda) you can have your laundry done for 40 baht a kilo. So all this cost us under 5 bucks. Italy=over $100.
We realize the ankle is sprained while trekking through the camp.
I had no idea you'd just be roaming free with the elephants. We actually spent a ton of time with them learning their stories, feeding, bathing and even came across a Thai tkbro and mini Kylie dog. Would recommend this activity for sure. Also had a great crew from Spain, France, Mexico and beyond.
Next up the elephant nature park. This place was rad. They are a sanctuary for animals (over 65 elephants who have been rescued from illegal logging, street begging and abusive riding camps, over 409 dogs, 200 cats, water buffalo, and others). Animal lovers heaven. The place itself was just really beautiful- 1 hour and 15 drive from the city. I was concerned that during high season they book up so we were only able to get on the larger tour but there were only 8-9 of us with 1 guide so it still felt intimate. It's not a you and the elephants only but certainly not as touristy as I was expecting lines and turnstiles.

27 November 2015

The night bazaar is walking distance and has lots of booth of chachkis and crafts but also has a lot more artists and local handmade goods vs the markets in Bangkok and Phuket. We got lost, took a tuk tuk (somehow we keep ending up on these) and learned the next am we were probably a block from the hotel. This city is confusing as heck. Another reminder to bring the hotel address everywhere.
We keep ending up at this English pub (Jason Braun don't judge us it's so not Thai) but it's been warm here and inside this place nice and cool. Not to mention quite lively with the Manchester soccer game last night.
We found it! Awesome Thai food. Ate at lemongrass near the night bazaar and it was delicious. Two words: Yellow curry. PS- They are closed on Sunday's.
Went for a Thai massage. Dave and I had no idea how to put on these outfits and were left standing there with backwards pants. Gave the massagers a big laugh but we figured it out. I enjoyed it- Dave earned a sprained ankle which has been giving the gift of Thailand with every step. Even the old man shoes can't make up for the swelling of the Thai massage! Whoops. If it wasn't for the sprained ankle I would actually recommend the place.
This was an ice green Thai tea at the hotel bar. Some serious effort went into this for less than a dollar. Delicious.
Hotel is the (wait for it) Kampaeng Ngam Hotel. Ask for the address in Thai beforehand. Made it a breeze. This was our "chance" hotel as we wanted something in the city near all the action and this was seriously 5k baht for 3 nights (that's about $140 USD) Location- 9 (you can walk to night bazaar, Sunday Market pretty much anywhere). Friendliness of staff- 10 (we even broke the safe, locked our keys in the room on the first day and they were still friendly). Ambiance- 9. Cleanliness - 8. Bed- 5 (one downfall the bed sucks but everything else I'd recommend).
Chaing Mai we are here! We immediately feel how nice and honest these people are. And the driving way less scary. Airport is much closer than Bangkok and Phuket and a ride to the old city will cost you about 160 baht. No haggling.
Even in Thailand I can have fried chicken... "Breakfast" at the airport- Chaing Mai here we come! PS we upgraded our seats on Air Asia this time and cost us less than this fried chicken. Do it. It's worth it.

26 November 2015

Last night in Phuket and already sad to leave Paige and Jason. We decide to finish it off right with Mai Tais in Pa Tong and more food from the street market.
The beauty of the beaches in Thailand are like none other. Just when you think you've found the best, there is another equally or even more beautiful. This stop at a beach off Krabi included an optional hike to breathtaking 360 degree views. We also came across this monitor (lizard dude- apparently this was he small one) which tour guide Harry fed our lunch chicken bones to. Do we have to leave tomorrow?
Scratch that. Photos from lunch!
Now a quick break from the boat for lunch on Koh Yao Noi. Lunch was super tasty and the views were even better. Quite, private and once again white sandy beaches galore. Sadly, I failed on the good pics. Happy Thaigiving!
James Bond Island. The Thai people love this place where "the man with golden gun" was filmed. They even gave us prop guns and we took 500 pics. Cheesy but fun. Though probably my least favorite spot. I wouldn't go to this by itself. Normally you can't swim here because of the current so that was a plus but pretty sure our group photo bombed everyone on the shore trying to capture this beauty.
Next up kayaking at Hong Island. This was one of my most favorite parts. Maybe because you don't actually have to kayak or maybe it was our paddler who referred to more than one rocks as a lady boy.
Caves were pretty cool and photos don't do it justice. Also the guide really liked kissing photos- slightly awkward but he was good at making sure we captured all the right photo opportunities.
Next day in Phuket and we joined up with Simba Sea Trips for the Phang Nga Bay and Beyond Tour. The crew yesterday awesome and today equally as great. In high season (Nov- April) they book up fast so you do have to reserve in advance. It's mostly Americans and Europeans but they limit the number of people unlike most of the other tour companies in the area. First stop: Cave exploring at Koh Phanak but first, more monkeys. These were friendlier but definitely want their bananas.

25 November 2015

Lighting our krathongs and sending them into the sea. The lady next to us had the krathong of all krathongs and it tidal wave exploded on the beach. Eek - bad luck.
Group pic! Why didn't we take more, Paige? If only I could operate my phone correctly!
Pa Tong is crazy. I mean you actually can't prepare yourself for how crazy it is. More bars within bars, restaurants, massage parlors, stripclubs, tailors, super inappropriate "shows" and chachki stands then you've ever seen. From the infamous "lady boys" to babies and families. This photo is crappy but you'd have to see it to believe it anyway. Since our tours were so early we really didn't partake in the madness but did enjoy people watching earlier in the evening. I can only imagine what happens past 10pm.
On the way down from the hotel we stopped at a chill beach front bar called Ocean View Bar (how original) and met Jimmy, from Nepal who works at a tailor shop in the back. He told us about a local street market to eat. Go here. The food was cheap (60-80baht for legit Pad Thai) good and they make it all right in front of you so even the street food weary will feel comfortable. This pic is Jimmy and a game we played with him wear you hammer a nail into a stump. I won (thanks Dad for the skills).
Post tour beverages. FYI- Daves is the fruity blue one. Following a refresher, we walked down to Patong to check out the scene!
Snorkeled a lot today and camera died before the really good spot off mosquito island (all of the islands look like something) but honestly a very cool experience. Also this is what you get when you try to smile with a snorkel in your mouth. Not attractive.
Lunch on a private beach- check! I am pretty sure this was Phi Phi Leh, the smaller of the two Phi Phi (Phi Phi Don is the larger of the two and has resorts and restaurants/bars. Many people stay a night or two there and we heard it's a great walkable town but just not enough time!!!)
Monkey beach.
My photos are all over the place but we made another stop at Monkey Beach then to another bay to swim and snorkel. Seriously unreal. These monkeys we supposedly pretty aggressive and the tide was high so we didn't get off at monkey beach but instead passed off some snacks from the boat.
First stop was Maya Bay where the movie The Beach was filmed and it was breathtakingly beautiful. We learned right away why this company gets you up early- following our breakfast picnic, we watched several boats packed with probably 50 people a pop unload. Lost some of the charm so we were glad we got to experience it early.
Boat was great- small number of people (maybe12) and watching the sunrise was amazingly beautiful.
Today we took Simba Sea Tours to Koh Phi Phi. This company had great reviews and it didn't let down. It was an early departure at 5:15am but worth it to get to many of the spots before everyone else. We went to bed early last night in preparation, following a two hour massage (we hadn't had one yet so we went big).

24 November 2015

Arrived in Phuket and I've lacked at posting because it's been a whirlwind! Jason found this cool little hotel up the hill from Patong beach, Baan Yan Dee. It is close enough to walk to all the action but not in the center of New Orleans on crack/ craziness that would keep you up all night. The rooms were huge and the hotel boutiquey- definitely a good find! However, the water and food were overpriced compared to the rest of the town, so I would recommend eating out.
We were lucky enough to be here for the loy krathong festival (I think I'm butchering the name) which only happens once a year. You light the lanterns made of banana leaves and send them into the water. This pushes all your troubles away. If it comes back to you, supposedly it's bad luck.
First day was a little misty but didn't keep us down. Plus it cooled things down a bit and helped to camouflage the sweat as we walked to Patong from the hotel.
We now know why the seats were so cheap.

23 November 2015

Don't look, mom. After a debacle with our hotel arranged transportation we opted for this crazy ride in order to make our dinner reservation. In Bangkok cabs don't know where anything is and we are learning sometimes they just don't want to take you. We made it with 1 minute to spare.
We tried really hard to find good food and honestly hadn't had any wows yet. But this place was a score. Down a random street we would have never walked down if it wasn't for Jason's art buddy. However a little means a lot when it comes to spice- holy Bangkok!
This Little Brit bar had really cool vibe. Down the same street we found a good lunch spot and had some interesting drinks including this witches brew served up with a hot pepper.
Took the boat from Tha Sathorn (after the cab driver left us unattended in his vehicle to ask someone else for directions/ let our meter tick away) to the Wat Pho. Tickets were 100 baht but included a free water. Much needed as its freakin hot.
We learned Thai folks don't really get up early but this local at Starbucks (yes we went to Starbucks don't judge) recommended this place. Open 24 hours in the basement. Curry for breakfast- don't mind if I do.
Dave making friends with Thai tkbros.

22 November 2015

After we got turned down from cab drivers (said our destination was too far) and hungry we decided this was the best time to take the tuk tuk!
What you get when trying to take a photo on a tuk tuk/ blurry bad and beautiful. We know it's a trap to take these but it was just too fun not to ride in one at least once.
One Chang away from eating one of these...
Koson Road is known for hosting backpackers and travelers from all over the place. It's a street full of bars and chachkis and a fun environment to sit on the patio for a beverage. We posted up at buddy beer (which was pretty un-local but good drinks) also tried a quite a few other spots along the way. It's worth doing even if it is a bit touristy.
After visiting the Wat Pho we were on the hunt for food. We learned there is nothing around the area so don't start your sightseeing hungry. Dave was forced to purchase a drink that tasted a bit like grass and unidentified street swamp. #bangkokfail
Drink in a bag?
Boats definitely a blast. I'm sure there's a name for these. Felt a little like Venice. These boats definitely haul.
Room service- post fight. Pad Thai 24-7. The miniature shrimp surprise was not my favorite.
The hotel bar is amazing rooftop lounge. We were definitely significantly underdressed but wow- the view!

21 November 2015

Thai boxing- bazinga! Built in clarinet player with every fight. We tried cheering but it was quite interesting chanting the fighters names.
This one is for Pat and Abbey. Very American bar but we needed a rest from walking. Definitely someplace we'd love to go in the states. This was beauty was called the "WOW Guava."
For my ladies! I wish I could have packed this pillow in my suitcase.
We ventured the sky train to the weekend market.
Thai fire engine. Just wow.
Saturday market is located right off the Mo Chit exit. You can definitely get Mo Chit than you ever needed. It's free to go (pretty sure it's only on Saturday). It's a huge marketplace with food and chachkis/ knock off central. Anything and everything you need including jean shorts for 100 baht. (FYI-Map shows the train location not the market)
First lunch stop was a place walking distance from the hotel called sit and wonder. Good food but not pee your pants good.
Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit is awesome- we like the location too as you can walk to restaurants around the area and it's less than 5 minute walk to the sky train.

20 November 2015

No camels in Tokyo?
Ready to get on the plane!
Wild ride to get to the airport with dad.