Month: May 2016

From Thailand to Singapore: A Quick Update

Hi Everyone!! We haven’t had the best of internet during our last two weeks or so in Thailand.  We have arrived in Singapore and we are very excited for the last month (ish) of our explorations in Asia.  We just wanted to let everyone know we are having a great time and will be able to post all of our updates from the last two weeks now that we have some great internet.  Look out for quite a few posts over the next few days! Follow your tummy… -Jess and Steven June 1, 2016

Chiang Mai Round 2

Once arriving in Chiang Mai around 12pm, we grabbed a songaethew (or red truck) to the De Lanna Hotel, where we were staying for a second time. Upon arrival we put our bags in the room and decided to enjoy some Thai ice teas while planning the next two days. They were so refreshing and not too sweet, as they tend to be in the US. We decided we were going to explore the Warorot Market, so Mimi told us that it would cost 20bat per person to get there, half the price we had been paying thus far. We have finally learned that to get most places in the red trucks it costs 20-30baht per person. The trick is, don’t ask the price, just say where you’re going and get in and pay the 20baht at the end. This began to work out very well for us and saved us a decent amount of money. The market was quite a few floors, with most of the food on the first floor. The other floors …

Le Meridien Hotel: Chiang Rai, Thailand

Upon our arrival in Chiang Ria, and thanks to a recommendation from Chris on our bus, we headed to Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort for our two night stay.  We decided to “splurge” and stay at one of the best hotels in the area.  We had a king room with a huge tub, rain shower and private balcony looking out to the beautiful grounds of the resort. Everything was very clean and the staff was attentive and friendly. We arrived fairly late and decided to stay at the resort and enjoy the seafood buffet for dinner.  They had a great selection of raw fish that you could have grilled in a variety of sauces.  There were snails, shrimp, prawns, mackerel, clams, and crab.  We each made a plate and then ventured inside to enjoy some of the already prepared dishes.  The rest of the buffet included cau soa, a traditional northern thai dish, a chinese style station and a fresh salad station.  We enjoyed our dinner over fantastic dirty martinis!  They also had some frozen …

Luang Prabang, Laos 

Luang Prabang Adventures Our first evening in Luang Prabang was very low key, which basically describes this UNESCO World Heritage town. We stayed at 3 Nagas by Sofitel, which is located on the Main Street of town. We checked in and ventured down the street to the night market. STREET is closed down every night to motor vehicles and women pack the street from one sidewalk to the other with stalls of hand made goods. They mostly sell hand made scarves, but you will also find some wood carved crafts and elephant slippers! They do sell the normal SE Asia elephant pants attire as well. At one of the ends there is a side street that is loaded with street food stands. There is everything from fried or fresh springs rolls to noodle dishes, soups and BBQ skewers. They also have plenty of whole fresh fish on the grills as well. We enjoyed some spring rolls, green papaya salad, BBQ pork, fried rice and coconut rice balls, all for $8. There are some stalls that have …

Luang Say Cruise From Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang 

We arranged a car from Le Meridien, Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong (thailand border) to depart at 6:30am.  This allowed for us to arrive at the border at 8:00am, as required by the cruise.  When we arrived at the border we checked in and were greeted by the first of many Luang Say Cruise team members.  We were given the paperwork required to obtain our visas upon arrival and were guided to the windows where they process visas.  We filled out our paperwork, handed it, along with our passports, through immigration at the Thailand border.  We had to purchase a bus ticket from the Thailand Border to the Laos Boarder, which was 25 baht per person (less than $1).  When we got off of the bus we had to get our visas for Laos.  We handed our passports and paperwork to the tender at window one and waited for the visas to be ready.  After about five minutes, window number two opened and our visas were complete.  The process was painless and fluid.  Next, the …

Chiang Mai Coffee Shops and Street Food 

On our arrival at the train station in Chiang Mai, we were to no surprise immediately approached by several tuk tuk and taxi drivers. As obvious tourists, the price we were quoted for a short ride to the hotel was exorbitantly inflated. Don’t be afraid to bargain and/or walk away. Taxis and tuk tuks are easy to find. In Chiang Mai, there are songthaews, also known as red trucks. For about 30-50 bhat per person depending on the distance you can catch a ride just about anywhere in the city. Tuk tuks tend to be a bit more expensive but you can always try to haggle your price down. After a bit of bargaining we came to agree on a reasonable price for a red truck to lie hotel. During the ride, we spoke with an Australian ex-pat who recommended we check out Nimmanheminda road. We dropped off our bags and caught another red truck to Nimmanheminda and found ourselves drinking Thai milk tea at the Dulcetto cafe. While there we spoke with a man from …

20 miles of biking in 102*F in Chiang Rai, Thailand 

We took the last bus to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai at 6:00pm.  Turns out we had booked the VIP bus, which was 512 baht for two people ($14).  The seats were double wide and reclined a decent amount.  They also had a leg rest that came out to ensure extra comfort.  They brought cool towels, water and snacks to everyone at the beginning of the trip.  The ride was about 2.5 hours and we met Chris, a New Jersey dude who moved to Chiang Rai 21 years ago.  He gave us advice as to where to stay, where to eat, and things to do during our visit.  When we arrived to the old bus station, currently in front of the 7/11 due to construction, Chris and his wife Ester offered us a ride to the hotel.  They were super nice and gave us a mini tour on our way over!  We were so grateful to have found such kind people willing to go our of their way to help out. When we arrived at …

Track 2, Car 5, Seats 39 and 40. Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  

Just that morning we had booked an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We were on a second class sleeper with air condition, and had one upper and one lower bunk. When we boarded the train, the seats he not been configured into the beds. We left the station about twenty minutes behind schedule. As our journey began, and we heard the clanking of metal as the train travelled down the tracks we both wondered how in the world we would be able to sleep through this. At around eight o’clock, the train attendants came by and signaled that it was time to convert the seats into their sleeping position. In a matter of seconds, the seats were pulled together and later flat. Next, the upper bunk was released from its stored position. A thin mattress was placed on each bed, with a pillow and fresh linens. Curtains were hung for privacy and we were all set for bed! Jess and I both sat on the lower bunk, facing each other with a flashlight …

An Elephant Never Forgets

If you ask almost anybody what do in Chiang Mai, your bound to hear about elephant riding. How could you not! I mean, how cool does it sound to ride an elephant through the jungle for a day! Sounds pretty *%#*ing cool! But it’s not! It’s cruel. Elephants are very intelligent animals, and while they are used by humans, they are not domesticated. A domesticated animal has different DNA from its wild ancestors. The Asian elephants used for tourism, which were previously used for logging before the ban of logging in Thailand, have DNA that is identical to wild Asian elephants. As such, to ride an Asian elephant, they must be controlled. They are taught to submit to humans during a process called Phajaan, which roughly translates to “crushing”. Phajaan is an ancient ritual that typically lasts six days, during which a young elephant calf is separated from its mother, caged, and tied down to prevent movement. During this time, the elephant is subjected to sleep deprivation and beatings. While not all elephants are crushed …

De Lanna Hotel: Chiang Mai, Thailand

We arrived in Chiang Mai around 10:00am and grabbed a ride from the train to the hotel. There aren’t many tuk tuks in Chiang Mai. The main source of transportation for visitors are these pick up trucks that have been converted to “buses”. Basically, they have benches built into the bed of the pick up truck and a covering with windows and bars to hold onto. We were a bit early for check in at the De Lanna Resort, so we dropped our bags and explored the city until our room was ready. When we arrived back and our room was ready, we were escorted to make sure everything was ok. We were very impressed with the room. We had a king size bed and a nice balcony overlooking the garden. We also had a fridge, safe and sink in the living area. The bathroom was large with a shower and bathtub as well.   The grounds of the hotel were very well kept. The pool was in the other courtyard along with a sitting …