Food

The Simple Life

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Spending the past four days on a non-tourism based island has completely changed my perspective of Thailand. Most people arrive to the hustle and hustle of Bangkok, filled with very western shops and food all mixed with Thai culture. The same can be said for many of the well known islands. It’s like this for one main reason: people like familiar.
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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the same, until now. I’ve usually been on the hunt for the local McDonalds just in case I don’t like the food. Well, no longer! This island has nothing familiar, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. No 7-11, McDonald’s, shopping or anything related to tourism. The handful of resorts of course have motorbike rentals and will help you arrange boat tours, but it takes some effort and that’s OK. Off the beaten path and worth the journey.

For example, today I woke up to the sounds of the jungle and waves crashing. No pumping EDM or motorbikes. It was glorious! I sauntered down to the beach and had pancakes with pineapple, along with some terrible instant coffee I enjoyed far too much. Then lazed around, backed up all my pictures and headed to a local festival in the middle of a boat race. It was filled with food, drink, and even some carnival games. I attempted to win a prize by shooting plastic caps at the toys, all while local kids watched and laughed at how terrible I was. I had so much fun!
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Just a laid back Saturday, with no rush or plan for anything. Failing to plan is….awesome. It may not work in the “real” world, except if you’re quick on your feet and come up with Plan B.
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Before we headed off again for the evening, Gallame (the bungalow owners daughter) and I explored the beach and drew pictures in the sand. Later that evening we headed up as a group to the festival again, grabbed some food and drink and sat on the beach. I had some sort of dim sum, plus a chicken and rice dish which was fantastic.
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I also rode the super sketchy Ferris wheel, which I thought may break due to me being a giant compared to these people. I’m happy to say I survived!
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We then listened to the live band, danced and had some drinks before heading home. Another day filled with so many cool things, and falling aleep this time with the windows wide open to hear the sounds of the jungle and sea for another amazing night of slumber.

Islands of Adventure

This islands is truly a gem. Off the beaten path enough to be quiet, yet with enough people to not get lonely. After my adventure yesterday, I had headed back up the beach to the Dugong Bar for dinner.

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FYI a dugong is an animal similar to a manatee. Apparently way back they were thought to be mermaids. The more you know!

Our Christmas dinner was on the beach, full of fresh prawns, chicken, salad, duck, Chang, good conversation and the best pina colada I have ever had. The freshly harvested coconut and pineapple help. It was so nice to spend Christmas with a random group of people that were so gracious.
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This trip has reinforced my faith in humanity, and washed away any doubts I ever had about people being friendly and helpful in this world.

During dinner I met a couple from Barcelona, well actually the guy is from there and his wife is originally from Russia. They are around the same age as me and were staying at the same resort. They were planning on doing an island boat tour on Boxing Day and asked if I wanted to come along. Of course I said yes.

After breakfast on Boxing Day we set sail on our own private adventure, and had no idea the awesome that was in store. Just the three of us and the two boat drivers.
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The first stop was an island meant for snorkeling. We weren’t allowed to get onto the island, which would have been impossible anyway as it was all cliffs. We hopped in the water but the current was way too strong. After a minute we were about 20 feet away from the boat and swimming proved to be pointless so we moved on to the next island.

This island was perfect and had a fantastic, untouched beach and great snorkeling. We wandered around the beach and collected shells. After about an hour we headed to my favourite spot of the trip.
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I’m going to call it the secret island, because there were no other people there except for a guy who lived in a hut. We wandered along the pristine white beach, making sure not to step on the broken glass. The one unfortunate thing about a lot of Thailand is there is garbage everywhere. People just don’t seem to care about keeping everything clean. Despite this, the incredible cliffs that rose from the beach added to the majestic feeling this place gave us. I kept saying how much the islands in Thailand remind me of the movie “Avatar”. Must be seen in person, pictures don’t do it justice.
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After what seemed like a short time, we headed over to another island for lunch and a beer. This island had people camping on it and was a little more populated. As we ate fried rice and fresh fruit, these giant wasps took notice and started to buzz around. We just kept moving, but I would not like to be stung by one of those guys!
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We swam, explored and lay in the sun until it was time to go back. As we had a one hour journey to the island, I looked up into the clouds, daydreaming and reflecting on all the amazing things I’ve seen so far.

Once I checked out of my resort, I got a motorcycle ride to the guest house I was going to be staying in. It’s absolutely gorgeous and the beds are so comfy.
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I have the place to myself, and it’s a quick walk to the Dugong Bar on the beach. I grabbed a quick bite and had a couple pina coladas but could feel I had way too much sun on the boat trip. I looked like a lobster and the sea breeze was making me shiver! I decided to head up early, drink water and pop some Advil while I watched TV. There was a documentary on about the tsunami, as it was exactly ten years to the day it happened. It was so upsetting, I actually cried a bit. Can’t believe such a crazy thing happened in this magical place, and yet they rebounded so quickly. Yet another humbling experience, making me even more gracious for everything I have.

After a bit more TV, I went to bed while listening to the sounds of the jungle, mixed with the super loud music from the festival happening up the beach. A minor annoyance but I passed out anyway and had the best sleep ever! More adventures await.

Beaches, Longboats & Glowing Plankton

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The last four days have been a whirlwind tour of so many amazing things, I’ve hardly had time to write anything down.

I had only booked one night at Slumber Party on the Beach hostel online in Ao Nang, which is a beach area right near Krabi. It ended up being so chill that I stayed four nights! Once I checked in, I met a bunch of people and we all played beer pong, then went out to the local bar area and had an awesome time. It’s all a blur.
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The next day was not as awesome, and I wanted to die. Too much fun, so it was basically a write off. Luckily I didn’t have any plans so I didn’t miss out on anything.
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Monday turned into an incredible day that made up for Sunday. Although I slept in until about 10am, I had a full day of adventure planned. I booked a 4 Island Awesomeness tour with my hostel, but unfortunately not enough people signed up. They were super helpful and offered to book me on the 7 Island tour run by another company. Super sweet right?
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The tour took us to a bunch of islands, including Railay and Chicken Islands.
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We snorkeled, did deep water solo (cliff jumping), watched a fire show after we had a BBQ on the beach and ended with swimming at night among glowing plankton. It was like being in the movie “Avatar”…. Like seriously cool. I also thought about sharks for half a second, but couldn’t care less!
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It was an incredible day, which ended up with a pub crawl from the hostel. Even though I didn’t get home until 4am again, the next day was not nearly as bed as I took it much easier!
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I puttered around the hostel then sent a message to Jen, this amazing UK girl I’d met the other day (see marriage proposal pic). We made quick plans to head to Railay to explore. What a day it became. Not only did we run into a pack of monkeys, we explored the amazing Diamond Cave and climbed up into the jungle to the viewpoint and get close to the secret lagoon. The entire place is breathtaking, like everything else I’ve seen! By the end of the day I was covered in sweat, red mud, dirt and countless scrapes, cuts and bruises. This is the life!
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After we watched the sunset on the beach and took our longboat back to Ao Nang, we wandered up to some outdoor food vendors and stuffed our faces. I had a chicken shawarma, watermelon fruit shake, chicken skewer and potato chips on a stick. All for around $4.

I headed back to the hostel and was so exhausted I just read in my bunk for a while and went to bed. Our plans were to meet up again, but we were too wiped out to do anything that night.

As I wrote this post I was on a bus to Trang Town in the south, where the plan was to hop on a longboat to take a tuk tuk to my beach paradise for Christmas. It was an interesting day, I’d been on 2 different buses, and we kept stopping in random places and I had no idea where I was. It’s pretty cool to just go with it and see what happens! #soloyolo right?!?

To be continued…..
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Chiang Mai

Yesterday was a day of random and exciting adventures. After waiting around for a while, I found the rooftop secret garden and had a nap there I til about 7:30am. I waited out front for the office to open as a bunch of other backpackers arrived and we all chatted and got to know each other. Finally after 8 the office opened, but we could only leave our bags there as actual check in wasn’t until 12pm.

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I ventured off with my new friends from the U.K. and Canada to grab some breakfast and do a bit of sightseeing.

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After a couple of hours, we all got officially checked in and they headed up to sleep for a bit as they had been up all night in a bus. I wasn’t as tired as expected, so I ventured off to get some lunch, a Thai massage and wander around the city.

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The people at the hostel also arranged a BBQ for the evening, so we all pitched in some cash. It ended up turning into an impromptu street party with around 20 people there, come places like Slovakia, Holland, England, Scotland, Portugal and a couple other countries. We ate the delicious chicken skewers, which had peppers, onions and pineapple on them.

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A few beers and whisky shots later, a large group of us headed out to the bars. It’s so easy to make friends in hostels, I don’t want to stay in normal hotels ever again!

One Night in Bangkok

Since I went right to bed after arriving at the hostel, and stayed by the airport last night, I don’t really count that as my first night in Bangkok. Tonight will be, and after a day of minor setbacks I must say this is a pretty cool place, of not overwhelming at times.

I ended up sleeping in this morning before taking a motorcycle taxi to the train station. The hostel people said it was quick and cheap so I got them to call me one. I’m not one to hop on the back of a motorcycle anywhere, let alone in a foreign country, but when in Thailand right? It was a totally scary and outside my comfort zone, in addition to me with my backpack and bag with me. I held on for dear life, but gotta admit it was really fun. Check that off the bucket list.

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I took the super efficient train into Bangkok and wandered through the streets to get to my hostel called Suk 11, recommended from one of my favourite travel blogs Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site. Walked past a couple of “adult” oriented places, one was called Doctor BJ’s or something so you can fill in the blanks as to what that is. Also got used to being approached every 10 feet by tuk tuk drivers looking for business.

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The hostel is super cool, with a ton of character. There is writing on the walls everywhere from visitors, and just a cool cove overall.
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Once I checked in, I headed upstairs to my room to drop off my stuff. Yet again thought it would be shared but it’s all my own. I forgot that things are cheaper in Thailand, so for what a 10 bed hostel costs in Japan, you get your own room here. Excellent!

I didn’t really have a plan today other than booking my train ticket for Chiang Mai at the main station (you can’t do it online), and figured I would just wander around. I headed up Sukhumvit Road and took in the atmosphere and enjoyed the hot, humid weather. At certain points of my journey the smell of incense was in the air, followed by periods of nasty smelling things. They say Bangkok is a city of smells, so I was getting the complete experience.
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At the train station, I attempted to buy a ticket for the overnight train with no luck. All the sleepers were sold out (even the ones without AC) and I was not sitting in a chair 13 hours! December is high season here, so I just rolled with the punches and came up with Plan B to take the train tomorrow at 12:45pm. It gets in just after 4am, but it’s a sleeper bunk. Problem solved. I don’t need AC anyway. I’ll just open the window.

The other minor bump was that the zipper on my small backpack broke somehow, rendering it useless. I just bought it! Not the end of the world, I’ll find something to replace it with. And that folks is how to enjoy travel, find solutions to problems and just let it go.
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I was starving at this point so I stopped at a street vendor and got a chicken and rice dish. It was delicious as expected and cost me a total of 40 baht, or just over a dollar.
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I also sat for a while trying to find a reasonable flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi as I didn’t want to get stuck taking a train or bus as that would take a long time. I finally found a flight for around $140, which is super expensive any other time of year. Note to all those who told me to just book things when you’re here: Have you ever been in December? No, you haven’t. Book as much in advance a possible. The end.

After that I took the train back to my hostel and decided that after the last week of walking 12 hours a day and being cramped into economy class seats on planes, I needed a foot massage. It was 250 baht for one hour of one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. Not only do they massage your feet and legs, the do your back, head, arms and shoulders. I think I’ll be getting a couple more.
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I headed back to the hostel and ended up chatting with a couple people from France, a girl from Southern Thailand and another from Belgium. We had a few beers and compared similarities and differences between our countries. I also grabbed more street food, this time a chicken dish with peppers, onions, noodles and a bunch of other things. All that matters is it was so good, and only 55 baht. I’m going to have a hard time paying $9+ for Thai food ever again when I’m back at home.
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That’s about it for today. Going to get a good night a sleep then head to the train station tomorrow for my journey into the north!