Phuket, Thailand–Free Blue Betty!

I would like to tell of the recent, unlawful imprisonment our our current scooter, Blue Betty.  It was just another Tuesday night with one small difference.  I was feeling particularly brave so Ryan and I decided to scoot over to Patong to experience Bangla Road, located just off Patong Beach.

Bangla Road is well known for being the center of the night life scene in Phuket.  As soon as the sun sets, the road is closed off to vehicle traffic and transformed into a lively walking street lined with clubs and bars blasting loud music and selling overpriced beer and cocktails.  For those interested, it is also a good place to see a “ping pong” show.  These are only some of the reasons that I’d been avoiding it since we arrived.  While we had no intention of wandering into any of the shows, I figured we could at least walk down the road and see what we saw.

I hate to admit it, but I was relieved that we didn’t see much.  We walked down the length of the road several times and all I really saw were some go-go girls standing around their poles in booty shorts and belly shirts.  It was no big deal.  Still, as I was continually approached by people trying to sell us marijuana or tickets to the ping pongs shows (many of them looking like respectable mothers of small–or not so small children), I couldn’t help but feel like I was just asking for trouble simply by being there.  Clearly it was not my scene and after a couple of drinks at one of the less intimidating bars, we decided to be on our way.

This was easier said than done.  When we returned to our scooter, we found that Blue Betty, along with all the other scooters along that section of the road, had been chained together.  There was a bogus parking ticket stuffed into her rack claiming that she had been parked illegally (which was not the case).  The ticket stated that a fine of 1000 THB (or roughly $33 USD) had to be paid before she could be liberated.  So, rather than coming to an uneventful close, it appeared that our night was just beginning.

Had I been there by myself, I would have said, “Ooops, sorry!  I did’t know.”  I would have paid the fine and been done with it, happy and relieved to be on my way.  However, I was there with my husband who makes a point to stay informed enough to know that the maximum fine for a parking ticket in Puket is 200 THB (just over $6 USD).  He took pictures of the “crime scene,” intending to call the tourist police if we couldn’t get the issue resolved at the local police station.

Luckily it never came to this.  While we were out looking for the local police station (on foot), someone either cut the chain, or the perpetrators unlocked it themselves.  When we returned, we found that Blue Betty was free at last!  We got out of there as fast as we could and we didn’t look back.  It wasn’t an especially pleasant scene, but no harm was done.  Still, we’ll probably think twice before returning to Bangla Road.


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Phuket, Thailand–The Daily Grind

Ryan and I have been in Phuket for a couple of weeks now and we’ve started to get more comfortable with our routine.  By we, I mostly mean me, as a routine is not nearly as important to Ryan as it is to me.  Since the new year we’ve both been working our butts off as part of our New Years resolutions to lose some weight and get in shape.  We did very well during our two months in Kuala Lumpur.  It helped that we had a gym in our apartment building and we took advantage of it.  We got up early and worked out five days a week, lifting and doing cardio.  Some days were more painful than others.

Our gym in Kuala Lumpur

Me avoiding our gym in Kuala Lumpur

We recently found a new gym in Phuket that has a promotion going.  Monthly memberships cost 990 THB per person, which comes out to around $33 USD each.  We also found this great 4km bicycle track at a nearby park.  Every morning (5 days a week) we get up at 6:30am and Ryan drives me there.  On three of the five days I jog and the other two I ride a bike.  I’m happy to report that I enjoy exercising this way much more than I enjoy lifting at the gym (which we do in the evenings now, after I teach).  Being out in the fresh air and sunshine has made a world of difference!  It also helps that when I run, I’m actually getting somewhere.

Our gym in Phuket

The bicycle track

A few other habits that I’ve been working to implement include daily meditation, tracking my moods, and thinking of at least 5 things that I’m grateful for every day.  This last one’s fairly easy.  The items can be very broad: I’m grateful that I’m in Thailand.  I’m grateful that my husband is an excellent scooter driver.  They can be very specific: I’m grateful for that breeze and for those beautiful flowers.  I’m grateful that I have two of my favorite students tonight.  I’m grateful that I don’t have to take a cold shower again until tomorrow!

I’m grateful for days off!

I’m a little too grateful for mango sticky rice…

I’ve also been cutting back on the amount of food that I’m eating to help me lose some weight.  With our ever-changing lifestyle, it’s been more difficult to control what I eat, since we don’t usually cook.  We don’t even have a functional kitchen in our current location.  (This was somewhat of a surprise, along with the very hard mattresses and cold showers–but I guess these are common characteristics of more traditional Thai housing.)  The amount of food I’m eating is something that I can control, however, and I’ve been trying to decrease it.  Asian portion sizes are generally on the smaller side, so this helps, and I’ve done a good job cutting out breakfast and snack foods.  I also try to limit smoothies and sticky rice to my days off.

Fried spicy curry chicken

Fried morning glory

Yellow curry with chicken

From this well of ambition, a new obstacle has arisen.  I’ve been especially tired from getting up early and going to bed not as early as I should.  I’ve been taking a lot of naps as a result and wasting the few hours of spare time I have in the afternoons before I start teaching.  I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier, which seems to be the obvious answer.  I even tried drinking coffee.  Unfortunately, the only way I can drink the stuff is by adding a lot of sugar which is how it automatically comes in Thailand.  I really don’t need or want the extra calories (or the coffee addiction, which I’ve been proud to have avoided up to this point), so this week I switched to Coke Zero and tried making sun tea.  The trace amounts of caffeine have been enough to help me push past that afternoon nap to get the most out of my day.  I already got in several good productive days of writing and I feel like I’m on a roll!  Wish me luck!

I think I’m doing this right…


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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia–Let It Rain

Ryan jokes that I’m only happy when it rains.  These are lyrics from a song and while it’s a funny joke we share, the truth is that my mood definitely improves when it rains, no matter where I am.  Ryan and I are back in Kuala Lumpur and it is hot!  Between the high humidity (80%) and the spicy Indian food, I’m usually sweating up a storm.  The only exception seems to be when it rains.  It’s a good thing that it’s been raining more often than not.

Growing up in Wyoming, rain was scarce and a reason to celebrate whenever we got any.  I would often charge right out into it and take a couple of laps around the yard barefoot.  I’m not as tempted to do that here.  The rain in Kuala Lumpur doesn’t mess around.  We’re up on the 19th floor and we have a great view of the storms as they come in, do their thing, and move on again.  Over the past few weeks, we’ve been witnessing a lot of wonderful inclement weather and ordering a lot of fast food delivery.  (It’s a big thing over here.)

So maybe Ryan’s right, except I’m going to substitute “only” for “always” and say that I’m always happy when it rains.  Add on a loaded potato bowl from KFC, or a mini Asian sized pizza from Domino’s or Pizza Hut delivered right to my door, and I’m extra happy.  Bring on the rain!

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Siem Reap, Cambodia–Angkor Wat

There’s no question that one of the more impressive sights we’ve seen during our travels has been Angkor Wat.  This sprawling temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world and it’s an iconic symbol of Cambodia.  While the remains are impressive in and of themselves, I was also amazed by the sheer size of the sight which stretches across more than 400 acres.  We spent 3 days exploring Angkor Wat and prior research had told us that it would be beneficial to hire a tuk tuk driver to shuttle us from one temple complex to another.  It was advise we took and we were grateful to our driver Sam for his services.

Angkor Wat is located just outside of the city of Siem Reap.  I found Siem Reap to be an interesting city.  It was a bustling tourist destination but it still had a surprisingly laid-back vibe, which I appreciated.  The taxi cabs were largely Lexus’s and I thought it was funny that I had to travel all the way to Cambodia to ride in a Lexus.  Siem Reap was also the first place we’ve been to in Asia where the food wasn’t spicy!  I fell in love with a dish called “amok” which is a thick curry soup cooked with your choice of meat (although fish is arguably the best), vegetables, eggs and coconut milk.  I couldn’t get enough of the stuff!

Pub Street in Siem Reap

Lexus taxi

Amok with fish

Our good friends Erica and Gui traveled to meet us all the way from Brazil!  We spent three days exploring Angkor Wat.  The highlight for me (besides seeing our friends) was our second morning when we got up to watch the sun come up over the main temple.  I’m not much of a morning person, but this was a truly magical experience.

Ryan made this little friend while we were waiting. It was very determined!

I hate to admit that by the third day (and even more truthfully it happened well into the second), I was all templed out.  The days were long and hot and although the temples were all unique and impressive in their own ways, the tourist scene started to weigh on me.  It was crowded and everywhere we went we had to stand in lines as people took a million selfies.  It didn’t look like many of the visitors were even looking at the temples because they were too busy posing for one picture after another.  Of course, we took some of our own.

Another highlight for me happened before we’d even seen the temples.  Ryan and I arrived in Siem Reap a day before our friends and we rented electric bikes.  I’ve hardly ridden pedal bikes, let alone anything electric, and the feeling was very different than anything I was used to.  To top it off, we were out driving in the middle of traffic!  It was terrifying but fun as well.  I definitely have a new respect for what it’s like for Ryan, driving us around on a scooter all day.  While I managed just fine, I found that I definitely prefer to ride on the back.  Luckily Ryan prefers this as well!

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Pai, Thailand–A Wonderful Life

This year for Christmas, Ryan and I rented a big, fancy bike (a Honda CB650F) and drove up to Pai.  Located about 146 km (or 91 miles) northwest of Chiang Mai, Pai is a sleepy town near the Myanmar boarder.  It sits on the banks of the Pai River and has a population of less than 3,000 people.

We enjoyed our drive up from Chiang Mai.  It was nice to have the extra power going up the steep and winding roads.  Our scooter, Kimmy K would have had a much harder time making it.  Mad Mary barely broke a sweat!  For the first time since we’d been in Asia, we were riding in style!

You sexy thing!

I think Ryan was a little embarrassed by his cargo…LOL!

Ryan got a big kick out of this sign, which was offering a toilet near the top of an especially winding section of road.

Upon arrival, we checked into our accommodations so we could stash our stuff before heading back out to explore.  Ryan had made reservations at a cute little resort out of town.  They had festive decorations, cozy cabins, and friendly staff.  We got all settled and then we returned to our bike and spent the afternoon of Christmas Eve exploring the countryside near Pai.

We usually go home for Christmas to freezing temperatures and several feet of snow.  Being clear in Asia this year made that more complicated and was further complicated by my reluctance to take too much time off work.   It was odd being in such a warm and green climate and I couldn’t help but think, “It’s nice, but it doesn’t feel like Christmas.”

I remember the moment that changed.  We were just driving around and I was listening to my Christmas music.  We passed a field with some really pretty flowers growing by the side of the road.  The light was just right–sort of soft–and suddenly this feeling came over me and I thought, “Now it feels like Christmas.”  There it was.  We didn’t have to be snowed in or surrounded by family and friends.  It found us all the way in Thailand!

As the day progressed, we stopped at many of the sights including Memorial Bridge.  My favorite part of the adventure (aside from just driving around on the bike) was visiting Pai Canyon.  This place was pretty incredible.  Our plan was to watch the sunset but we got there a little early and after about 45 minutes of waiting (with another 45 minutes or so to go), I opted to move along in search of an early dinner.

Back in town, we found some tasty Thai food to eat and I was thrilled that mine wasn’t too spicy.  (It was a Christmas miracle!)  Then we made our way back to our resort to get settled for the night.  I watched It’s A Wonderful Life.  I hadn’t seen the movie in ages and it brought back a lot of nice memories to send me off with a good night’s sleep.

On Christmas morning, they served a beautiful breakfast.  We even received Smor Bullar, which are classic Danish Christmas cookies that I had never had or heard of, but enjoyed immensely.  Apparently the proprietor’s husband is Dutch so they served these to all their guests.  It was surprisingly chilly (but in a good way) out on the deck and we enjoyed watching the birds while we ate.

After breakfast we began the journey back to Chiang Mai.  Several hours later, Ryan surprised me by stopping at my favorite restaurant for lunch.  We’d stumbled on it several weeks back on one of our scooter adventures.  It was in the middle of nowhere and we’d been lucky enough to find it the first time.  I never expected that we’d be going back but he’d managed to work it into our route and I was thrilled to sit by the river one last time and enjoy my Thai iced tea and pineapple fried rice.  I even got to swing!

Even after we’d returned to Chiang Mai, Ryan still had some Christmas magic up his sleeve.  He presented me with a gift of melon-flavored Euro Cakes that I’d fallen in love with and were somewhat hard to find.  Then he took me to get my favorite Japanese katsu curry for dinner.  Afterwards, as one last Christmas indulgence, we had Korean bingsu for dessert.

So yes, it turned out to be a pretty nice Christmas in Thailand.  I had a loving husband.  I was a happy wife.  Once again I was reminded that I truly do have a wonderful life!  Merry Christmas!


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Koh Samui, Thailand–Truly Pampered

While my parents were still in Thailand, we all made a quick side-trip to somewhere sandy.  We chose Koh Samui which is Thailand’s second largest island (after Phuket).  Getting to Koh Samui was a somewhat interesting process in and of itself, although we chose to make it so.  We caught a quick flight from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani.  From there we took a 2 hour bus ride–which felt more like four hours because I really had to go to the bathroom–and then we caught a ferry.  Needless to say, I was happy when we arrived at our final destination.  I think we all were.

We’d all done a lot of looking into different accommodations during our planning phase and we finally selected the Zazen Boutique Resort and Spa.  This is on the north side of the island, near Bophut Beach and the Big Buddha.  They took excellent care of us at the resort and I was blown away by our bungalow!  I particularly liked the shower.

The private beach area was small but very relaxing and the perfect place to take a nap or a dip in the ocean to cool off.  We took advantage of this almost every afternoon.  The color of the water was probably the prettiest I’ve ever seen, although the water itself was a little dirty so I preferred swimming in the pool.

The food and drinks at the restaurant were fantastic!  We ate most of our meals right there at the resort and I had the best massaman curry I’ve ever had.  It was packed with flavor and not too spicy for me to eat, which was a real treat.  In addition, because of my parent’s great generosity, I got to try some of that seafood I’d been craving.  Thank you Mom and Dad!!!

The best massaman curry in the history of the world

That doesn’t mean we never left the resort.  We still wanted to see Koh Samui so on one of the days we paid a driver to take us around the island.  We stopped at many of the temples along the way, including What Phra Yai (or the Big Buddha) and Wat Plai Laem.  These two temple complexes were both very colorful and modern.  Neither were too crowded, which I always appreciate.

What Phra Yai (or the Big Buddha)

Two good sports

Part of the Wat Plai Laem temple complex

18-armed statue of the goddess Guanyin at Wat Plai Laem

The mummified monk at Wat Khunaram was especially interesting.  Loung Pordaeng is Koh Samui’s most famous monk and his body sits in an upright glass casket surrounded by offerings.  I was a little surprised (and somewhat relieved) to find him wearing sunglasses.  It just goes to show that monks often have a great sense of humor.

We visited many of the beaches during our outing as well, including Bophut, Chaweng, Chaweng Noi and Lamai.  They were less crowded than I’d been expecting and the sand was nice and clean and soft underfoot.  We stopped at the Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks (aka Grandpa and Grandma Rocks) resembling male and female genitalia.  It was a lot easier for me to recognize “grandpa” than “grandma,” although she was definitely there.

Hellllooo “grandpa.”

And here’s “grandma.” I didn’t take a very good picture so I borrowed this one off the internet.

We also visited the Na Muang 2 Waterfall.  This place was a little more crowded with tourists but not overwhelmingly so.  We found a more quiet place down stream which gave us a good view of some elephant rides that were taking place along the river.  It was interesting to see how well the elephants could maneuver their big feet around all the rocks in the river bed.

Our day of adventure concluded in Nathon Town with some shopping and lunch.  It was good local food, but I have to admit I was happy we’d be having dinner again back at the resort.  There’s just something so tasty about being truly pampered and I enjoyed every minute of it!  Thank you Mom and Dad from the bottom of my heart!  Not only did you come all the way to Thailand to visit us, but you spoiled us rotten.  What an amazing trip!


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Chiang Mai, Thailand–Big Love

Elephants are greatly revered in Thailand, and especially in Chiang Mai.  In fact, of the three-four thousand elephants living in Thailand, twenty percent of them can be found in the Chiang Mai province.  Statues and pictures of elephants decorate almost every part of the city.  In addition, Chiang Mai is the first place that Ryan and I have visited where we have seen elephants on the drives we take through the countryside.  They can be found tied to the bases of trees near the open roads, much like cattle.  There are also posted signs warning drivers to be on the lookout for elephants crossing the road.  We definitely got a kick out of these.

My parents recently came for a visit and Ryan and I took them to Elephant Nature Park.  This rescue and rehabilitation center is well known and therefore reservations can be difficult to make.  We discovered this the hard way when we were unfortunately unable to visit the park with his parents in October because we hadn’t planned far enough ahead during their visit.  (We’re sorry Matt and Sheree!)

Elephant Nature Park is located approximately sixty kilometers from Chiang Mai.  In addition to their elephants, they also rescue cats, dogs, and buffalo.  You can visit the park for the day, which is what we chose to do.  You can spend the night.  You can be a part of their volunteer program and help feed, wash, and walk dogs.  You can even adopt one.  Some of the dogs were in kennels, but a surprising number were running free.  They had plenty of space and fresh air.

Of course we were there to see the elephants.  Our guide walked us around the park and introduced us to many of the elephants and told us their stories.  As can be expected with a rescue facility, many of their elephants had sad histories and were still being treated for horrendous injuries.  A few had been blinded by hooks (either intentionally or unintentionally) while others had been the unfortunate victims of landmines.  We got to feed some of them.  We even got to wash one.  I was a surprisingly bad aim with my bucket, but our elephant was very patient, as were the other members of our group when I accidentally splashed them.

We spent a nice, relaxing day at the park with the elephants and I enjoyed getting to see all the animals living together in apparent peace and harmony.  Elephant Nature Park truly seems to care about their animals and I felt lucky that we got to be a part of it for a day and that we were able to share it with my parents.  It was a very special experience.  Thank you Mom and Dad!  Thank you big, beautiful elephants!  Thank you Thailand!



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Chiang Mai, Thailand–All Templed-Out

While my parents were in Thailand, we got them more than just a variety of local food.  We also took them to see a large sampling of Thai temples since they had come so far to see us.  We started by taking in a good view of Chiang Mai from Wat Phra That Doi Suthep (often just referred to as Wat Doi Suthep).  It’s located at the top of Doi Suthep Mountain and features a golden stupa (or chedi) and an emerald Buddha.  We nearly lost Mom in the crowd.  She was getting in her fill of photos and we’d lost sight of her, but she turned up before long with some amazing shots.

I had guessed ahead about what their favorite temples would be, and I think I was mostly right.  For Mom, I chose Wat Chedi Luang.  I call this site the Chedi Ruins (and I’m sure others do as well).  This temple complex consists of a partially crumbled 15th century chedi and the city pillar (Sao Ithakin) which is believed to protect the city.  It’s located in the ancient walled part of the city and appears to be one of the oldest temples in the area.  I immediately thought of Indiana Jones the first time I saw it, so I thought she’d be a fan, which she was.

I think Dad was impressed by the tranquil location of the hidden temple Wat Pha Lat.  He especially liked hiking the monk’s trail through the forest to get there.  The path was marked by orange fabric from monk’s robes that had been tied to the trees and there were some pretty sights along the way.  The 30 minute hike was fairly easy and took us up the first part of Doi Suthep mountain.  Once we’d arrived at our final destination, we mostly had the temple complex to ourselves and we enjoyed exploring at a leisurely pace.

My favorite temple complex, Wat Ban Pong, shall henceforth be referred to as the Temple of Opulence in honor of my parents.  I’ve always had a lavish streak and I was awed by this impressive sight the first time I’d seen it (as well as every time since).  Ryan and I discovered it entirely by accented during one of our scooter adventures to the sticky waterfalls.  Because it’s so far off the beaten path–though not hidden in the forest like Wat Pha Lat–it sees a surprisingly few number of tourists.  Mom and Dad thought of Disneyland because it was so “opulent,” as they said.  I understood what they meant.  Walking around the extensive grounds made me feel like I’d found my way inside a fairy tale.  It was no wonder I was such a big fan of Disneyland!

The first time I saw Wat Phra Singh, I immediately thought about the movie Goldmember.  Believe it or not, my dad was once a big Austin Powers fan so this temple was a must-see on our list.  Here, everything was large and gold.  There were also some amazing statues of monks inside.  I think they were made of wax and they looked completely real!  We were especially interested in the signs we saw warning tourists that it is offensive to use Buddha as a decoration.  Dad had been considering bringing back a small Buddha souvenir for one of his co-workers who is in fact Buddhist, but seeing these signs made him reconsider and I think the rest of us were in agreement.

Wat Umong was one of the most unique temples we visited.  Wat Umong is made up primarily of a system of interconnecting tunnels.  The story behind it is especially interesting.  Apparently the head monk was well connected and when he developed Alzheimer’s and began to wander away into the forest in search of some peace and quiet in which to pray–the city had grown up around the temple over the years–the king intervened and had a special sanctuary built in order to let him continue to pray in peace.  It was a cool story.  The tunnels are not tall and I was a little worried about Dad and Ryan’s abilities to navigate through them comfortably and safely, but they both managed perfectly well.  There were also a lot of good-looking roosters lurking around.  I’d been trying to convince my parents that Chiang Mai has the best-looking roosters of anywhere I’ve ever been and here was some proof!  I think they were a little confused by my interest in roosters.

I had expected that Dad would like the view provided at Doi Inthanon–this is very near the highest point in Thailand, which I thought he would also enjoy visiting–but it was the last temple on the list and by this time I think he was a little templed-out.  We’d been visiting one after another for the past 4-5 days, so I could hardly blame him.  I think he still enjoyed the view from the highest point in Thailand–although the weather wasn’t great–but I’m pretty sure he enjoyed the ride through Doi Inthanon National Park nearly as much, if not more.  We even stopped at a waterfall along the way, and took in a nature trail.  Thank you so much Ryan, for driving us to the highest point in Thailand on the opposite side of the road.  You’re the best!


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Chiang Mai, Thailand–They Held Their Spice

Christmas came early this year when my parents announced they were going to be able to visit us all the way in Thailand!  This was an especially big treat because it’s difficult for my dad to get time off work.  It’s also hard for him to take a lot of days off in a row, which becomes more important the further from home you want to travel.  When he told me that he was going to be able to stay for ten days, I couldn’t believe it!  They showed up ready to explore, relax, and have a great time.

Fresh off the plane and getting rehydrated

Welcome package

Before my parents came to visit, I asked them whether or not they like spicy food.  It was odd that I didn’t really know the answer.  A good part of the reason is that I’ve always had an embarrassing intolerance for spice so it wasn’t generally on the menu at home when I was growing up.  In response to my question, my dad told me that he was a mild spice guy and Mom could handle medium spice.  I’m proud to report that while they were in Thailand, they were both handling medium to spicy spice surprisingly well.  Unlike me, there wasn’t much they couldn’t eat and they enjoyed trying a variety of local dishes.  We even got them a good sampling of Burmese food and they enjoyed that as well.  I’m pretty sure the food scene was one of the highlights of the trip for my dad.

Night Bazaar

He wasn’t the only one.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that one of the things I most enjoyed while my parents were visiting was going out to breakfast every morning.  This is something that Ryan and I never do on our own and it was such a treat!  Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day and there were a lot of options around our neighborhood that had mouth-watering pictures of pancakes and waffles and toast that I’d been dying to try.  I’d been walking past them somewhat begrudgingly for the past two and a half months.  Suddenly, I had something delicious to look forward to every morning.  It was a great way to start out each day.  Thank you Mom and Dad!

In addition to the food, I think my dad really enjoyed getting out on the trails.  He loves to walk, so this wasn’t too big of a surprise.  I think he especially enjoyed the short 30 minute hike we took up to the hidden temple Wat Pha Lat.  This temple is located in the middle of the lush fortest up the first part of Doi Suthep mountain.  To get there you follow the monk’s trail, marked by orange fabric (from their robes) tied to trees.  The temple complex is very tranquil and there’s some nice scenery along the way.

Part of Wat Pha Lat

I think one of the highlights of the trip for my mom was climbing the sticky waterfalls.  She fearlessly tackled all three.  I had failed to advise my parents to bring proper footwear and going barefoot was a little hard on my dad’s feet, so he climbed the first one and then he became the designated photographer.  On one of our trips up and and down the trail, we came across a little crab.  It was odd seeing a crab in the middle of the forest and I’m not sure what he was doing there, but like my mom, he was fearless and he held his ground on that trail until we passed.  I was happy to see that when we returned a while later, he had moved on to a safer location.

I think my mom also enjoyed visiting a couple of the silk worm factories.  Here we got to see how Thai silk is actually made.  My mom is a fiber artist (among her abundant talent in many other mediums as well) so this was a great opportunity for her.  The factories were both huge and they had a variety of products for sale.  We spent the most time in the first factory.  Mom found some fabric and Dad found a couple of ties and a silk shirt.  They bought me a hat that I’d fallen in love with.  We tried to convince Ryan to get a silk shirt for himself–it’s kind of hard to talk him into going out to a nice dinner when all he has to wear is a black t-shirt–but he politely passed on the offer.  (I think he wants nice dinners to continue to be off the table while we’re still budget traveling.)

Although we were out and about quite a bit, we also made it a point to relax.  Once again, my parents did a great job, especially my dad.  I’m still convinced that I’ve never seen him so fully relaxed.  This was especially evident when he decided to grab a cocktail before dinner one night.  Although my parents aren’t big drinkers, Dad had been enjoying the local Chang and Singha beers.  Then one night he developed a hankering for a gin and tonic.  Mom’s Lychee Lady won the contest for most interesting beverage selection.  It came out on dry ice and that was one dazzling lady.  It was even more impressive than the Christmas tree out front made of Coke bottles!

On one of our more relaxing afternoons, Dad and I went out to refill the water and we made a detour at a nearby eyeglasses store to look for sunglasses.  Dad had had his pair for a long time and they were pretty scratched up.  He knew what he was looking for and he found a pair he liked almost right away.  The ladies in the store were very helpful and they informed us of a 3 for 1 sale they were having at the time.  Dad bought his pair of sunglasses, and then he told me to pick out two pairs for myself!  I couldn’t believe how spoiled I was getting.  Needless to say, I’ve had very few shopping experiences with my father, but this one definitely makes it towards the top of my list.  For the remainder of the trip, we went around in matching sunglasses and I loved it!  For our next stop, we were heading to the beach and now we were both ready to really soak up the sun!

Yay baby! Check out the matching sunglasses!!!

Dad’s songthaew ride on the way to the airport


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Chiang Mai, Thailand–A Three Slice Day

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  I’m an especially big fan of the traditional Thanksgiving food.  Since Ryan and I have been traveling, this has been a little more difficult to find.  That doesn’t mean we haven’t been able to find it.  So far we’ve been successful in Ecuador, Mexico, and now Thailand.

This year’s Thanksgiving adventure began with a preliminary brunch stop at a pie shop just around the corner from our apartment in Chiang Mai.  We’d never been there but I’d been eyeing the place for the past month.  Now it was Thanksgiving and I finally had an excuse to go!  I ordered a slice of mango cream pie (whoop!) and Ryan had a slice of banana cream.  They were delicious!

We spent the day driving around and enjoying the beautiful countryside.  We visited a few temples and returned early for dinner.  A restaurant at the Maya Mall had been advertising a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  We’d purchased tickets the week before and we showed up to enjoy our scrumptious meal of Cesar salad, soup, rolls, turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and of course, pumpkin pie!

After dinner Ryan took me to see Murder on the Orient Express.  We got the good seats at the back, which are reclining love seats, and enjoyed the movie.  Afterwards I was craving apple pie so we snuck back to the pie shop we’d visited that morning.  Ryan enjoyed a slice of strawberry cheesecake while I devoured the last piece of apple pie they had (apparently without remembering to take pictures first, so I borrowed these off their Facebook page).

I already had so much to be thankful for–more than three years of exciting adventures with my loving husband was definitely at the top of my list–but that day I could add three slices of pie to the list as well!  It turns out Thanksgiving can feel like Thanksgiving anywhere as long as you remember to count your blessings and you eat your fill.  Happy Thanksgiving!


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