Wednesday, January 25, 2017

KRABI



Chris at a thai restaurant down the street

After Siem Reap, The Trip Heard Round The World continues to a small beach town in Thailand: Krabi. Although my mother has been very CRABBY because she is disappointed about the town, Chris & I have enjoyed it. 

GETTING TO THE MORNING MINIHOUSE
We are staying in a nice little hotel, the Morning Minihouse, that certainly lives up to its name (although my bed is very hard). After our flight, neither phones cell signal was working, so we had a hard time getting our tuktuk driver directions for the first minutes of that trip. It was nighttime when we got there, so we went out to dinner, and here's how we did.

* OPTION 1: FULLY BOOKED
* OPTION 2: CLOSED ON MONDAY (It was Monday)
* OPTION 3: CLOSED
* OPTION 4: NO VEGETARIAN OPTIONS
* OPTION 5: OUT OF BUSINESS
* OPTION 6: OPEN
The Eastern Nice Beach


After, we were tired from walking to 6 different restaurants, and spent the rest of the 
evening relaxing.

LEISURELY ACTIVITIES
Most days we spent like this
7:30 Wake up
8:00-12:30 do school work, job work, be bored, or in most cases, all 3
1:00 eat lunch (we recommend the restaurants Govindas vegetarian, and Namaste curry)
About to start a long day of rock climbing
2:00-4:30 go to the beach
5:00-7:00 finish work, and read
7:30 eat dinner
8:45-10:30 hang out
11:00 bedtime

There are 2 nice beaches and a bad one in the middle, as Chris explained, and we usually went to the nearest nice one. We walk to our activities most of the time, while playing Pok√©mon Go (I'm sure you've heard of it.) The waves aren't good for surfing, and the water's too sandy for snorkeling most of the time, although there are millions of seashells on the nice beach (that we think is to the west), but the shells are smaller the farther east you get.

TRIPS
We took 2 trips in Krabi.
Penis Caves
The rock climbing trip was fun, although Jen didn't go. We got there by van, and then by boat. We spent until lunch climbing, (the best I could do there was 5-8 A, and Chris did a 5-9.) We got lunch at a place called Mom's Kitchen. The food was great, but there was a bug in my pad thai. After, we went to the beach and a place called the Penis Caves, where fishermen left statues of penises as offerings. Finally, we did some repelling, and went home after a long, but awesome day.
On our snorkeling trip, we went to 3 places:
1: We went to the same penis cave beach to pick other people up.
Careful!
We call it The Rooster Rock
Mount Flatchelor
Penis Cave Beach

Fish
Good modo
See?
Lowering down


Climbing the 5-8
Penis Cave Beach
Repelling down the cliff

2: A reef that was about 9 feet deep, had sharp rocks, but the coral was in bad shape. I got a headache from a rock climbing-related injury, and then cut my foot, and had to return to the boat
3: A sandbar and beach island that I could've really enjoyed had I taken a painkiller, but instead, I mostly lay down on the beach and missed out on the fun.

After, we went back to the penis cave beach to watch a beautiful sunset. My headache was wearing off, so we all enjoyed it! Then in the dark, off the beach, we put our snorkels on, and saw bioluminescent plankton, which was really cool. It was like a bunch of tiny flashlights in the water, and when you rubbed your hands together, you made 100 white sparks. Too soon, we were on the boat, heading home

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Some Video Catch-Up

Hello Blog Readers!

It's been a minute, hasn't it? I (Chris) write this from the Morning Minihouse in Aonang, Thailand, a nice enough little hotel on the Thai coast in a not super city, near some spectacular and not spectacular beaches.
This is the "not nice" beach

This is the nice beach to the north
This is the nice beach to the south

Here's the seashells we found at the nice beach to the north



We've fallen behind our blogging duties a bit, so Otis and I have done some video work to catch you up. I think Jen would say these videos are more flavorful than narrative, but you can't knock the artistic vision.

First up is Otis with a video trailer he made from our time at the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai back in December 14-15, 2016


Next up is the video I made of our time in Siem Reap, my attempt to capture the joys of travel by tuktuk!

Here's Otis' take on Siem Reap


And here's Otis' longer video update on the trip up until now. Enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Chilling Out in Chiang Mai.




Long time no blog, eh? We've missed you.

Our plane from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was tricked out in an Adventure Time theme which made Otis  happy


We had a really good time in Chiang Mai. The second largest city in Thailand had everything the internet said it would have: relaxed vibe, very veg-friendly and beautiful temples everywhere you turned. A bit of hippie haven with masses of Westerners from full-time expats (many retirees!) to digital nomads to shorter term visitors.

Typical weather -- sunny and hot
Guardian was blocked! No gossip!
We did the fewest things in Chiang Mai but some might consider that a blessing after our big tour of Sri Lanka. There was no wiggle room to push harder on our to-do list because we had to leave spot on 30 days from arrival because we came into Thailand on the country's 30 day visa exemption and we are not the kind of tourists who would overstay....well, on purpose. Maybe if we messed a ferry time up or stopped for lunch at an airport then got caught in a long line at passport control causing us to miss our flight. But all worked out so that we plan to be heading back to the southern part of the country so.

A typical day began with Chris and Otis going downstairs to have breakfast in our residence (long term short term stay solution) lobby which had a small restaurant, then not very long after we'd all go out and take a walk and head for lunch.

Heading home after a day exploring


Rooftop views

We had a plethora of veg restaurants to try out and we will do a separate post on them, but our afternoon usually consisted of walking, eating lunch and sometimes going to a coffeeshop. There was a lot of poking around. Dinner was usually but not always out. Otis in particular loves a home cooked meal of pasta but I didn't see the point in making our own dinner when someone else would make us delicious Thai food at the same cost.

Wizard at lunch -- Dada Cafe
Reading -- lunch at Amrita Garden Cafe 
Walking around, look, theres an ancient stupa!
Many of you know this already but there are a ton of 7-11s in  Thailand
After dinner drinks and dessert
Doing work/homework at a cafe 
We stayed only a block from the south entry to the old city where every night food vendors set up. Only around the corner was a sweet vegetarian restaurant where there were lots of similarly priced dishes so we tended to go there instead since there were limited veg options in the food stall area. One of my favorite things to do was go to the Saturday Walking Street. It is a night market and it is so fun, albeit very crowded at times. There are tourists galore but also a surprising number of Thai nationals. There are trinkets and clothes, food and art...all sorts of things. People watching is fabulous.

Food stall area during day

Food stalls at night



We often bought khanom krok, mini sweet and savory coconut puddings
Scenes from the night market...




Freshly pressed sugarcane juice

Thai massages available 

Mieng kham -- betel leaves stuffed with peanuts, sweets, ginger, lime and chili then skewered. So delicious!
Loofahs for sale! Remember when Otis and I grew our own?



On New Year's Eve under the lanterns
Here are some other one off things some or all of us experienced: getting Thai massages at Lily. I got my hair cut at the darling of the expat blogger/digital nomad scene, New York, New York. We went to Ice Love You twice, which gave us a chance to have both a great and a lackluster experience. We went to Chubby Cat Boardgame Cafe. Going to the cafe down the street. Going for walks and more walks. Stopping in at temples over and over again. Watching monks collect offerings early in the morning. I also visited the Lanna Cultural Museum.

My favorite massage place...
...across the street was this goose, who we often walked by. Tourists love this goose who seems to just hang around the yard.

Three Kings Monument

Major mourning: remembrances of the king outside of the Lanna Folklife Museum....
...and one of the hundreds of memorials we saw, this one set up inside the museum

We thought it was funny to see a sign for I-95 at New York New York



Lit

Arch with images of the king



Trip to the bookstore

One of the elephant handlers at Elephant Nature Park was picking starfruit and gave us some

We stopped by the ENP Chiang Mai office where there were some very cute dogs....
...and picked up Otis's Giants football which he had left up there. Miraculous reunion.

At the easternmost entrance to the old city, Tha Phae Gate


We were there during the elephant parade

...this one was my favorite

We went to temple after beautiful amazing temple. 




















Wrapped in black bunting for mourning











And...we went to the dentist! With so many Western expats in Chiang Mai as well as the rise in dental tourism, there were a number of dentists that our old friend the internet 'recommended.' In the end we went to one that was nearby, and while I didn't enjoy the experience overall, I did not feel that had to do with the quality of the dental care. I would have been miserable at home, too.  Very uncomfortable. The cost savings was significant. I can see why people sometimes travel to get their work done. Market is going to do what market is going to do. My mouth is still healing so I will update you if necessary (and I hope its NOT necessary!).

Round one, wah

Round two, wah wah. Podcasts and ice...

...and soup, iced tea and smoothies

And a trip to the ice cream store...





We also celebrated a very low key Christmas and even lower key New Year's Eve in Chiang Mai. We were supposed to have a fun adventure zip lining on Christmas Day but it was canceled while the government did some investigation (cough cough). Then after some super modest modest present exchanging, we tried to go for brunch but the restaurant was closed (stranger than it sounds -- Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist nation and any Christmas trappings were for the benefit of Western visitors). We ended up at a salad place for brunch which was sort of funny and random. I had booked us into Favola, Le Meridien's restaurant, for Christmas dinner, thinking that it would be nice for everyone to have some Italian food because it had been a long time, but then we ended up having Italian for lunch only the day before (!). It was still really nice -- superb service-- and very delicious. We had the usual pasta/soup/pizza/wine you'd expect. The chef came out to meet the vegan and sent us out risottos as well. Lovely night!

We walked by this large celebratory golden pig daily
Awesome top from CL. I gave him soap, which is perfect because he is obsessed  with soap
Modest Christmas!


Christmas dinner


Holidays are hard -- FaceTime isn't the same 
 New Year's Eve was even more low key as Otis came down with a stomach bug which he unkindly passed on to me for New Year's Day. I was still nursing the sore half of my mouth that had had wisdom teeth removed. But before I got sick, I went to my last Saturday Walking Street sniff sniff. Best of all (except for maybe from an environmental perspective) was watching the New Year's lantern release. I was disappointed to have missed Yi Peng this year (although my understanding it was supposed to be lower key this year because of the king's death) so getting to watch the lanterns floating up* and being carried by the breeze was a special treat.

*not all of them make it. Otis watched some collide mid-air. I guess it is pretty much be aware that fiery lanterns may land on you or your house, tree, car etc. on lantern release nights.





I always hate leaving but I really didn't feel ready to leave Chiang Mai. It has an easy way about it that appeals to me, which is pretty cliche. Nonetheless, I really hope to be back.

Waiting for Uber to airport

The way we leave is right on time