All posts filed under: Travel

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Luang Say Lodge: Pakbeng, Laos

When we pulled up to the resort on the Mekong River, we were amazed at how beautiful it looked from this viewpoint.  You could see the individual bungalows lined up with great views of the river below.  The trek up to the hotel was a little far, but nothing unbearable.  The hotel has a porter service that will carry your baggage up to your bungalow for you.  However, they ask for you to pack an overnight bag for the one night stay rather than taking all of your belongings with you up to the hotel.  They store your luggage locked on the boat so there is no need to worry about leaving stuff behind.  Once you reach the top of the stairs, you arrive at the deck overlooking the river.  We were welcomed with cool towels, which were much needed, and a welcome drink of cold lemongrass tea. We were assigned to bungalow 18, which was a little walk from the main lodge and restaurant.  The bungalows were fairly hot when we arrived.  Most people …

Thip Samai Noodles: The Motherload of Pad Thai in Bangkok

After our disappointing encounter with pad Thai on Koh San road, we were on a mission for the best pad Thai we could get our hands on in Bangkok before our night bus to Chiang Mai. Even if this meant spending a bit more than the $0.80 on the street!  After some research and guidance from our friends Kate and Palis, we were led to Thip Samai Noodles. We grabbed an uber and arrived around 4:55pm. Palis had called in advance and confirmed that they open at 5pm. We thought, *perfect! we will be the first ones there and be in and out in time to make the train!*. Well…we were almost completely wrong!  The line was super long when we got there. They opened the restaurant up around 5:05pm and tables started filling up. As we got closer to the entrance, it began to look very crowded inside the restaurant. When there was one couple in front of us, they stopped seating people. All of the tables were filled and that was it. We stood in line unsure if we …

One Day in Bangkok

We were told to be ready anytime between 6:30am and 7:30am to be picked up by Mekong Bus Company for our bus to Bangkok, Thailand from Siem Reap, Cambodia. Of course, they arrived at 7:30am. The Sarai Resort and Spa concierge had helped to book the bus for us. This allowed for us to pay with a credit card. The tickets cost $25 a person, which seemed to be about $5-$10 more than some of the other bus companies. Well…I guess you get what you pay for. We were picked up in a mini bus that had VIP written all over it. We drove into town to the Mekong Bus Company and quickly learned that we were the only people traveling to Bangkok, Thailand that day. We had the WHOLE bus to ourselves!  Even if the bus was packed full of people, we still would have been very comfortable. The seats were comparable to what you would find on a business class flight. They reclined all the way back so you could lay completely flat, but only if there …

Off the Beaten Path: An Unforgettable Birthday in Siem Reap, Cambodia

The day started out with a Happy Birthday FaceTime call from Jess’s family back home.  I told them about the day that Steven had planned for me and we were so excited.  About 20 minutes later, there was a knock on the door; our breakfast was here! We enjoyed breakfast in bed (included with our room) at The Sarai Resort and Spa; it was more like a feast.  Jess had the traditional Cambodian soup with rice noodles bok choi and bean sprouts as well as home made yoghurt with muesli and fresh papaya, jackfruit, passionfruit, and pineapple.  Steven had plain congee, which is similar to porridge, but made with rice that is cooked in water for many hours or overnight.  This was accompanied by smoked fish and a salted duck egg.  We shared some buttermilk pancakes, but they were nothing like Jeffrey’s pancakes that Jess was craving.  They accidentally also brought us vegetable fried rice, which we hadn’t ordered, but we definitely enjoyed anyway.  Breakfast was also served with a piece of toast, a croissant …