Category Archives: Travel

The REST of Thailand.

I know I haven’t written in forever. I’ve been really busy since my last blog. My cousins from Delaware came out to visit for a week. We took them around SF and surrounding areas, then we went to Yosemite for 3 days, so I was VERY busy actually.

Yosemite was lovely. Usually, I go in November, so I’m not used to the heat, but with going in summer I got to experience rafting along the Merced river, which is only open June – July. We stayed at Camp Curry, which was also a first experience for me, because usually we stay at the Lodge.

Then, I came back up to Humboldt and have been busy getting re-settled into my apartment, THEN SCHOOL STARTED.

So, I promise from now on, just to myself, to start blogging regularly. Life, music, fashion WHATEVER. I just need to complete this, because I want to talk about other stuff, but feel obliged to finish my travel blog.

AND NOW…back to Thailand.

When we left off, we were on our way to Phuket. You’ve heard of it. You don’t have to look this one up in Google maps.  Phuket is a very popular resort destination. Just because it’s low season in most of Thailand, Phuket is not included in this.

Australians LOVE Phuket, I supposed.

So I was told we were going to stay at a hotel called The Katathani (because we were staying on Kata Beach). I looked up the website, http://www.katathani.com/ . I tried not to look up most of the websites, but I couldn’t really resist. It looks really nice, right?

RIGHT.

So that first day, we had a lot of travelling to do. We flew from Chiang Rai to Bangkok, and from Bangkok to Phuket. We  were flying Thai Airlines, and we got an upgrade randomly to “Royal Silk” which is the equivalent to Business Class. They served us fresh cool towels, and we got our soda served to us in fancy glasses. It was awesome.

Arriving in Phuket was HELL though. Once you leave out the exit doors of the Airport, you are immediately  bombarded by taxi drivers throwing signs and yelling in Thai at your face. Luckily, we set it up so that the hotel could pick us up and not have to worry about finding a reliable taxi driver.

So, the van we got to ride in was really nice. Nothing like our private van in Bangkok, but it was nice enough. Stadium style seating, water and cool towels. It wasn’t too long of a drive. Maybe at the longest an hour.

Upon arrival at the Katathani, we got greeted with another jasmine lei, which is a good sign I suppose. The lobby was really nice too. Maybe this place won’t be so bad…yeah right.

Let’s follow the bellboy to our room! Oh…it’s down this weird dark hallway…With one window at the end and fluorescent lighting..um are we in prison? Ok..our rooms…small, yet a view of the pool kind of and the beach kind of. Eh…it’ll do I guess.

-The pool was fine, though a little salty at some times (not that I was drinking the water, just that it gets on your mouth sometimes…)

-There were not enough chairs for the amount of people there, and we had to pay for chairs at the beach because Kata beach is public.

It just overall…sucked.

The first night, we hung out at the hotel. LAME.

The second night, we went to SIMON PHUKET! Yes folks, the place of all places to see the lady boys of Phuket perform, or so we thought. Upon entering this magical kingdom, instead of “cabaret style” which is what we were told, we were sat in fancy stadium seating, which was comfortable, but slightly awkward.

The show was like…1960s Vegas Glamor, meets drunken karaoke on a hot summer day…some of the acts were fabulous, others were rather dull…we weren’t allowed to to take any pictures during the show.

After the show, all the “Ladies” lined up along the exit, waving at people to come take pictures with them. Little did we know, was that they can legally ask for money for each picture, person, whatever. The one person we took a picture with, wasn’t even a picture, it was a video clip cause my Dad only had our flip cam out. We didn’t know that they wanted us to pay them…100 baht per person! 100 baht is equivalent to 3 USD (around at least).

The next day we left Kata Beach and Phuket (thank the GODS), to continue our journey on the island of Koh Lanta.

To get to Koh Lanta, we first had to take a 3 hour or so car ride to a dock.

From the dock, we had to take an hour boat ride. This was absolutely GORGEOUS.  If you’ve played The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, it looked just LIKE the ocean! All the little islands scattered around, some inhabitable, some just rocky with some trees. Once we arrived at the dock in Koh Lanta, we had to take *another* van to the hotel. This was a very interesting drive, because this was the real Thailand. This is where people lived, people farmed, people had families. Koh Lanta is a mostly Muslim island, and the people who inhabit the island are very family oriented, and often times people live their whole lives without leaving the island.

This was the real vacation we were looking for. Up until this point, we were very active, either walking around for miles a day in Tokyo or Bangkok. Not relaxing stuff, fun, but NOT relaxing.

The Pimilai was the exact opposite of anywhere else we had been so far on this trip. An outdoor based resort, we stayed in a very exclusive suite right off the beach. LITERALLY. I think I will make a picasa account or something, and post some of my favorite pictures from all over.

I had an irrational fear of a tsunami the whole time we were there, though. I think we were there for 7 days but it might have been 9. I’m not sure, the whole time was a glaze.

Instead of being packed to the brim, the place was practically empty. There were two pools, an upper and a lower. We mostly hung out at the lower pool, because it was more “Family Friendly” so to speak.

Most people that stayed at the Pimilai were newlyweds, and they stayed near the upper pool, which had strict “No Splash Rules”. SCREW THAT.

Also, the lower pool was closer to the ocean, which was INCREDIBLE. Have you ever swam in a HOT ocean? Probably not. The only fear with swimming in the ocean was rough currents sometimes, because Summer is Thailand’s off season due to Monsoon Season.

There’s just so much to say about my Thailand experience. I can say that my view on that side of the world has changed dramatically. People are happy with their lifestyles. They like living with their families, they like staying on the same island their whole life.

A really great book I just finished that is about India, not about Thailand, is called “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga. It is an incredible story about how a poor child can bring his way up in the world. In Thailand, we hear lots of success stories like this one. A taxi driver on Koh Lanta was telling us about how he started as nothing. He taught himself to drive, he made enough money to buy a nice new truck. He learned English, not through school, but through his customers.

This kind of mentality just doesn’t exist in America. Success means what school did you go to, who do work for, what kind of car do you drive…

Why can’t success mean happiness?

Why can’t success mean I do what I want, and I am happy with that. I have enough money to survive.

For me, when I look to the future, I see success as having a job that I am HAPPY with, having money to survive, and hopefully travel. I see myself as married, raising kids that are happy. Living where  I want to.

THE END.

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Golden Triangle/Chiang Rai: Day 2 and Day 3

Once again combining these two days together.

(Currently Listening to Zelda Orchestrated: Ocarina of Time. every song from Ocarina. It’s awesome and great music to write to)

Day 2 of our stay at the Anantara in the Golden Triangle was supposed to be our half day mahout training. Mahout is a word that basically means elephant trainer. When you go to places where you can ride elephants, there is usually another person there, that is that elephant’s mahout. They take care of that elephant from birth, training it to know their voice and their vocal commands. This training was split up in two: From 7 -9ish, you met the elephants, you got assigned your elephant and mahout, and you basically learned how to get on and off of the elephant. They also took you on a small trek. Let me actually admit that I didn’t end up doing the training, even though I was supposed to. I was honestly a little scared, but now that I look back I highly regret it. Oh well. Then, in the afternoon, from 1 – 3, you met back with the elephants, and you rode your elephant into the water for a bath.

I guess I did really miss out, but in the end I was hanging out by the pool, so it wasn’t so bad. The view was incredible from the pool, and from our room. Chiang Rai is called the Golden Triangle because facing the Mekong River, you can see Laos and Burma. The rest of Day 2 was spent swimming in the gorgeous infinity pool, followed by drinks poolside.

I had an “Anantara Magic” which was Tequila, vodka, OJ and some other mix of juices. It was wayyy to sweet, with not enough alcohol.

Then, my dad and I decided to splurge and get Traditional Thai Massages.  It was ROUGH. They stretched my body in every way. In ways that I couldn’t bend. Though, she definitely helped my shoulder.

Day 3 was another exciting day. In the morning during breakfast, an elephant and his mahout were hangin’ out by our table. I got to feed it bananas!!! He was cute.

We then took a boat across the river Mekong, to Laos. (The Golden Triangle is composed of Thailand, Laos and Burma). on the trip, we got to actually go into Laos, to a market they had there. We didn’t have to show our passports, which was really sketchy. We got a bunch of souvenirs and stuff, then got back on the boats and traveled around viewing the jungles and fishing villages. It was so cool!!!

I got a REALLLLLY bad sunburn on my legs 😦 It hurt like hell. I had a sunburn line from where my shorts started and where my socks started. It was silly.

POOL TIME! The pool was amazing. Not only was it an infinity pool that looked over the jungles of the Golden Triangle, but it also had these really pretty designs in tile at the bottom.

yay! the next day we left early in the morning. My next blog will be all about Phuket!

Bangkok Day 3/Golden Triangle Day 1: Whirlwind of events!

I know I haven’t posted forever! I’ve been so busy, this is my first real FREE time! Here we go!!!!!

Bangkok Day 3 was basically a half day in Bangkok because we had a flight in the early evening to Chiang Rai. We got up early and went to the amazing breakfast buffet again (Sushi, Normal American breakfast food, delicious fruits, and more).  We went over to downtown Bangkok, where all the malls are located. My dad was went to go hang out with his friend at his office, while my mom, sister and I went to malls located on the Sky Walk.  The Sky Walk is a upper walkway, connected to malls all along downtown and Central Bangkok. Underneath are all the main streets, as well. If you followed the news about the Red Shirt Protests, you will know that downtown and central Bangkok is where they camped out. The Central World mall was the building that they set fire to. While we were walking near Central World, we saw bullet holes in the glass along the walkway. It was scary to think that happened only a few months ago. Then, we went into MBK, which is an 8 story mall, packed with small stores, department stores, and a market full of chachkies. We got a few souvenirs, and left to go meet up with my Dad at Siam Paragon (Fancy pants mall).

We walked around a bit more, then met up with our personal driver for the couple days we were in Bangkok, Mr.A (who was hardcore. It felt like we had a body guard or something), and he drove us over to the airport. Our flight was at 6pm on Thai Airways, only an hour flight, so it was easy.  We got met at the airport by someone from our hotel (The Anantara, for reference). It was close to a two hour drive from the airport to our hotel, but well worth the beauty.

Unfortunetly, we arrived after it was dark, so we didn’t get to see much of the beauty or the Golden Triangle, but our hotel was gorgeous. We got greeted at the front desk with lei’s of jasmine and flowers, and sweet lemongrass tea. A very nice and warm welcome.

It was a bit of a schlep up to our room, especially being hot and humid out (Even at night), but in the end they were beautiful. My only real problem was that there was no real “bathroom”. The bathroom, instead of being separated by a door, was separated by a couple sliding doors that had near-see through plastic in them. I didn’t understand, but I got over my bathroom modesty rather fast.

That’s all we did that day/night. Stay tuned for more. I know I am very far behind with blogs, but I’ve been really busy!

Bangkok Day 2: New Bangkok.

A good way to classify yesterday is “Old Bangkok”. We saw the underside, the belly of Bangkok. Today, we saw where all the action happens. Where all the “new” people live. Giant malls lining the sidewalks, filled with high end stores. We walked on the “skyway” which is above downtown, with entrances to all the malls. One really interesting thing we saw was Central World, which is the biggest mall in Southeast Asia, but it’s not open currently because of the bombings from the Red Shirt protesters.

Our family friends had to be evacuated from their apartment, because they were right downtown, which is where all 50,000 or so protesters camped out. We saw windows that had bullet holes in them. It was eerie, because people were walking around like it was nothing, like nothing had happened. But, a lot of these peoples lives were greatly effected.  The protests went on for two months, and they had speakers set up that would BLAST speeches 24/7. It was not easy to just ignore this when your windows were shaking constantly.

Anyways, then we went to the Jim Thompson house. He was a man who moved to Asia post-WWII, and fell in love with Thailand, the people and the culture. He revived the Silk industry here in Bangkok, and was a very important man, til his random and strange disappearance in the 60s.

It got really hot out at this point, and really humid, so we decided to go home to the hotel for a quick swim before dinner. Dinner was at the Vertigo restaurant 61 stories with an open roof top. It was really pretty, but the food and drinks were mediocre. We got to see sunset, and it was nice enough out that we weren’t that cold all the way up there.

So sleepy. Bed now. Tomorrow we leave Bangkok and go to the Golden Triangle, and Chiang Rai (spelling?)

Bangkok Day 1: Life Changing.

Let me say this: I will edit the last post eventually, but first I need to talk about today.

So, today was our first actual day in Bangkok (We arrived last night). We woke up, and went downstairs for our “complementary” breakfast. Which to me normally means a small amount of fruit,bread, maybe cereal, who knows…nope…here FULL buffet…tons of baked goods, amazing fruit, meats and cheese, pancakes and waffles,etc. It was awesome! I tried dragonfruit for the first time. It was yummy, kinda tasted like kiwi.

We got picked up by a van, which looked like a normal van on the outside, but was like a limo on the inside. We went to the Grand Palace and Temple first, where the famous Emerald Buddha is located. It was so breathtaking. I took a million pictures, so await those, eventually (I swear I will post pictures online! I just have limited time!) I can’t even explain how I was feeling. It was so incredible watching everyone praying and bowing towards the Buddha, it was very special.

Next, we went to Wat Pho, where the very VERY famous temple of the Reclining Buddha is located. Made of cement, and covered with gold plating, the Reclining Buddha is over 46 meters long (VERY LONG). It was breath taking, and wonderful.

After that, we walked over to a dock, which we took to take a canal ride through the back streets of Bangkok. It was very interesting, because lining the river were tons of huts were people lived. The best part, was that I didn’t feel bad, or sympathy at all. Most of these people looked, and seemed very happy as we rode by on our boat. Most people also waved and smiled at us. Just being happy, no matter where you live, no matter what possesions you might own, or not own, is beautiful.

Then, we walked through the Flower Market, and the Fruit Market. I’m sure we only got a slight taste of what everyday life in Bangkok is like, though. Tons of colored flowers lined the streets…of all sorts of flowers that I’ve never even heard of…the fruit. Tons of fruit stands scatter around. We got a Mango-stein. it was so yummy! It was kind of like an orange, but it tasted like mango. STRANGE.

We then went over to Chinatown, and walked through the crowded marketplace there. Markets are VERY popular in Bangkok. There are all sorts of goods that were sold in the Chinatown market. Fresh fish, meats, dried fruit, beans, nuts, vegetables…fresh food ready to eat, paper goods, random goods. So much to see and do, and so much to say. Honestly, talking about Bangkok is very difficult. I will eventually post pictures and as a reader, you might understand a little bit better.

Dinner was at a very fancy restaurant (That of course I can’t remember the name of right now). Pina Coladas on the rooftop, watching night fall over Bangkok. Then a nice Thai dinner (Rice, veggies, etc, all family style). Followed by a swim in the infinity pool that’s located in our hotel, overlooking the river that flows through Bangkok. After the swim, we went upstairs to the Executive Lounge (top of the hotel) and had a night cap (Margarita for me. Not much of a night cap, but it was good!)

So tired though, I am getting terrible at writing blogs, especially because i usually write them late at night.

Tokyo Day 5/6/Bangkok Day 0: A whole lot of STUFF.

So, I’m combining 2 days of posts into one, because the second day (Tokyo Day 6 and Bangkok Day 0 are the same day).

Tokyo Day 5: Akihabara, and Alice and Wonderland.

There isn’t too much to say about this day. I woke up grumpy, and had a really bad day the whole day.

Went to Akiba, a GIANT electronics store and spent like, 3 hours there. Then we went over to Ueno Park, to the Tokyo National Museum and walked through the first floor. It was cool, lots of cool artifacts, some swords, old maps of the highways, and a special exhibit with Buddha statues from across Asia, and the path of Buddhism.

We went to go eat, I got in a fight with my parents, blah blah blah.

Then we took a few hour break, then went to the Alice and Wonderland themed restaurant in Ginza. It was really awesome! I slightly dressed up. I wore my musical note tshirt, blue skirt with my new Mania Q tutu underneath. Eventually when I get home, I’m going to start blogging about my outfits and such.

Tokyo Day 6 and Bangkok Day 0.

Today we went to Mauri One, which is a mall in Shinjuku aimed for 20-somethings. The first week of July is a huge sale week, so lots of stuff was 50%, but it was still VERY EXPENSIVE because most of the stores in the mall were lolita brands. I did get a pair of unicorn bloomers from ACDC though.

Then we headed back to Harajuku one last time for Daiso to buy gifts for people. We also got a few charms from Paris Kids.

then we were off to the airport to fly to Bangkok. 6 hour flight, not so bad. VERY TIRED NOW. going to sleep.

sorry if this is a really bad blog, but I wanted to let people know what was going on in my life.

love you all.

God, I am so tired I can’t even think. We are staying a really nice hotel in Bangkok though, the Millennium Hilton. Nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

Then

Day 4: Roppongi Hills/Art Museums/Walks in the Park

Yesterday was an awesome day. Now, we are all a lot more adjusted to the time, so we were able to stay out until 11pm, and not be total zombies.

We started the day walking towards Shinjuku, through Shinjuku Park. It was really pretty, though we had to pay to get in :/ but it was worth it in the end. Very peaceful. We left the park near downtown Shinjuku, and found a french bakery inside one of the Marui malls. It was really yummy 🙂 We ate fast, and got on train towards Roppongi Hills.

First, we went to Tokyo Midtown, which was this really nice, high end mall that had the Suntory Art Museum in it. It’s a small museum, and only hosts one exhibit at a time. It was a cool exhibit though, all about the dress of Kabuki theater. Then, we sat in the atrium/plaza thing in Tokyo Midtown, which was pleasant because we were able to be outside without dying from being so hot.

Next, we headed across a few blocks to Roppongi Hills, another GIANT multi-complex. Mall, hotel and museum  all in one. We were there for the Mori Art Museum, a modern art museum located on the 52nd floor of a tower in Roppongi. The exhibit was really awesome. A lot of multi-media projects, and interactive art. A few of the pieces are as follows:

– A short video documentary about a woman and her husband who built their own church and lived there their whole lives til he died a few years ago. Sad, but really inspiring to live and follow your dreams.

-A CD experiment. We walked up to this station, that had a bunch of AWESOME cd’s on the wall including : Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Devo, The Ramones, and more. at first glance, they look like normal cd’s. They had a listening station as well. My mom and I put the headphones on to listen, and we thought something was wrong with the CD player at first. Instead of Blitzkrieg Bop coming out of the headphones, it was a self-recorded man singing the song. The artist took all of the songs on the CDs on the wall, and re-recorded them himself, using only his voice for all the instruments. At second glance, all the CD’s on the wall were hand drawn replications of the album art. It was really awesome!

-A giant room with a bunch of robots in it made from old electronics. Sounds unusual, but almost cliche, right? Not quite. Every four minutes, the machines come to live and make music! I have pictures of it I will post up.

It was a really cool museum. Upon leaving the exhibit, we got to look out the windows and down at the city skyline of Tokyo. It was really awesome, because the building was 360*, so we were able to see from all views. BUT..I am afraid of heights, so I only got so close to the windows before freaking out a little bit.

After that, we decided to grab an early dinner at a grill-it-yourself restaurant. (Not quite sure what it’s called in English…)

It’s interesting. I’m starting to get used to automatically hearing everything in Japanese, or being the only white girl on a subway car…

After a nice siesta at the hotel, we left for Karaoke. Now that was an interesting experience. We got there and put our names down, and had a 20 minute wait. When we got up to our room, we didn’t know how to use the machine, or that there was an “english”  book of songs, as opposed to singing a Queen melody, in Japanese…(Which is what I did, except I knew all the words in english, so it didn’t matter that it was showing me Japanese characters).

We then ordered some drinks next, I got a “China Blue”. It was so nasty. I couldn’t really tell if there was alcohol in it or not, but it was so sugary and sweet. (There was alcohol in it, but it was all sweet sugar alcohol). After we got the hang on how to use the machines, it was SO FUN! I sang such tunes as :Ticket To Ride + She’s Leaving Home (Beatles), Dark Lady (Cher), Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen) and more. It was a really fun night overall.

I really am missing home though. Now that I got all settled into my new apartment, It’s really sad to be away. But, soon I will be back.

also, I’m trying to post a blog per day, but i know that this is from yesterday and it’s already evening time. Whatever.