September - November 2017
  • Day50

    Day 50 - Koh Kood - Paradise

    October 29, 2017 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    I never want to leave. Today was another amazing day in paradise - Woke up. Worked out. Ate breakfast. Relaxed and swam and read on the beach. Snorkeled. SUP boarded with our snorkel gear. Snorkeled out deep in the sea. Swam and read on the beach some more. Ate lunch. Drank a few fresh coconuts with rum. Napped on a beach chair. Swam and snorkeled again. Read. Ate an amazing dinner. Now relaxing in our amazing villa. I could do this every day.Read more

  • Day49

    Day 49 - Koh Kood - Best. Day. Ever.

    October 28, 2017 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Wow. Maybe we should have spent the entire trip island hopping around Southeast Asia. Or even spent 60 days straight at this resort (it would have still been cheaper than Europe!). We could stay here forever.

    Today was incredible: Woke up. Worked out. Ate a delicious breakfast with an amazing view. Tried stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP boarding) for the first time and LOVED it. Relaxed on the beach. Read. Snorkeled (the coral right off of the resort beach is incredible). Relaxed and read on the beach some more. Ate lunch. Swam. Walked to the end of the beach. Jumped off of docks and swings into the sea. Swam some more. SUP boarded for hours and watched the sunset from the water. Relaxed in our private jacuzzi. Had a delicious dinner - this resort has by far, the best resort food, best Thai food, and maybe even best all around food that we have ever had.

    We are in paradise. Today was really the best day ever.
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  • Day48

    Day 48 - Koh Kood Island Arrival!!!!!

    October 27, 2017 in Thailand ⋅ ☁️ 24 °C

    We made it! The next 12 nights will be spent on the beach in two islands in East Thailand, right on the Cambodian border. First, we are staying 6 nights in an amazing oceanfront villa in Koh Kood. Then, we are staying 6 nights in a seaside bungalow in Koh Chang. These past 48 days have been amazing, but this is what I've been waiting for the entire time.

    We woke up early and had a long shuttle>ferry>shuttle journey to our resort, Shantaa Koh Kood, arriving around 4:00 pm. This place is amazing. Our awesome villa has a beautiful view of the beach, the sea, and 🌴🌴. Our open air bathroom has a jacuzzi. The room, with its comfy king bed, is incredible. And it feels like we are the only ones here. We can't see any other villa through our floor to ceiling windows. Our resort has two private beaches, a massage room on the sand, a beach bar, cabanas all over the grounds, hammocks, a library, a cat, free kayaks and paddle-boards and snorkel equipment to use, and a restaurant with the best Thai food we have ever had. And besides the sandy coast and beautiful warm green-blue water, the rest of this island is a jungle with waterfalls and a river passing through it. We have some exploring to do!!

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  • Day47

    Day 47 - Last Day in Bangkok

    October 26, 2017 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    An exhausting morning turned into a very relaxing and wonderful day! We woke up early at our homestay and had anther yummy home cooked breakfast - Thai chicken wings, black rice, and apples. Tim made some more coffee and then we relaxed for a bit until check out time. Next was the exhausting part. The Late King's cremation ceremony began at 7:00 am this morning with his urn being walked from the Grand Palace to the crematorium. People lined the streets and all of the roads were blocked off, including our hotel's street. We caught a cab near the homestay (after the first one told us "no") and the driver basically told us he would get us as close as he could and then we would have to walk. Luckily, it ended up only being about a mile walk. Unfortunately, this mile was through the busiest area of the ceremony right by the Palace. We had to go through security and then walk through thousands of mourning Thai people dressed in all black, waiting for their chance to watch the urn pass by.

    We finally made it to our hotel but weren't yet able to check in. So we dropped off our luggage and walked to a small nearby restaurant for lunch - red curry with shrimp for me and green curry with chicken for Tim. It was delicious. Then we went back to the hotel, checked into our very nice room, and relaxed for hours. When we finally got up, we went up to the rooftop pool to swim laps for awhile. We had worked up an appetite so we showered and got ready for dinner. After wandering around for awhile, we noticed that a lot of the restaurants were closed for the ceremonies. The only ones that were opened appeared to be touristy and likely not very good. So we went back to our lunch restaurant! We had spring rolls, pad Thai with chicken (Tim) and basil chicken (me). It was all delicious. Now we are getting to bed early before our early trip to the islands tomorrow.
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  • Day46

    Day 46 - Bangkok

    October 25, 2017 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Bangkok is chaotic right now. Yesterday began the 5 day cremation ceremony for the Late King Bhumidol who died in October 2016. The ceremony has a budget of approx. $120 million and is the biggest royal event since Will and Kate's wedding, with an estimated 250,000 people traveling to Bangkok to witness the event. For the entire 5 days, everyone is wearing all black to mourn the Late King. The actual cremation began at 7:00am this morning and, last night, we saw thousands of people lined up for miles to get a good spot this morning. Several neighborhoods in Bangkok, including the touristy Khao San Road, are blocked off. We had to show our identification and go through security to get in. The bars in these restricted zones are forbidden to sell alcohol during the ceremony, although we found 3 different ones that were serving it illegally in coffee mugs.

    Anyways, yesterday we woke up at our homestay and had a delicious homemade Thai breakfast served by our host - fish rice soup, fresh fruit, and some type of coconut sticky rice for dessert. Then we roasted our own coffee beans from our host's coffee plantation and made coffee and coffee flower tea - yum! After breakfast and coffee, our host gave us a tour of his amazing house, including all of the antiques that have been collected by his family for generations - bayonets from WWI and WWII, handmade silver from the 1940s (cigarette case, lighter case, purse, jewelry), old cameras and telephones that are still working, instruments, record players, and so much more.

    Then we set off for a long day of exploration. Our first stop was a beautiful temple near the homestay. Then we grabbed a yummy spicy chicken lunch and took a taxi into the city. Since the royal palace and many of the attractions are closed off for the cremation ceremony, we didn't really know where to go. The only place I could think of was Khao San Road so we asked our driver to take us there. We couldn't get all the way to the road since the area is currently restricted, but he dropped us off close. We visited another couple of temples and then went through security to get to Khao San Road.

    We spent the next several hours just wandering around, shopping for a few gifts, and figuring out which places we could have a cold beer. After awhile, we were hungry again and set off for dinner. On the walk to dinner, we passed the thousands of people lining up down the street for the ceremony. Dinner was amazing - we had a mussels appetizer, Tim had seafood curry, and I had spicy shrimp. Then we tried to find a taxi back home. That was difficult. The traffic was insane and the taxis were busy, refusing to do a legal metered trip outside of the city. We finally found a guy to agree to a fixed fee of 400 baht ($12 and triple what it cost us to get into the city). We made it!
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  • Day45

    Day 45 - Thailand/Bangkok Arrival!

    October 24, 2017 in Thailand ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    Well we made it to the fourth and final country of our trip. We woke up early, ate breakfast, and got a ride to the airport. We landed in Bangkok around 1:00pm but after going through immigration, baggage check (they made us check our bags for the first time this trip), and customs, then eating lunch, taking the airport rail to the city, and catching a cab, we didn't get to the homestay until close to 4:00.

    This place is amazing. We are staying at a Thai homestay about 10 minutes outside of the city (we move to the city Thursday). The house is a wooden Thai style house next to a canal that has been passed down for 4 generations. The property is huge, with the main house for the family, a museum of old antiques, 4 guest cabins with private bathrooms, an outdoor breakfast area, sitting areas, and more! The family also has a coffee plantation in southern Thailand so we will be enjoying fresh coffee and coffee flower tea tomorrow.

    After we settled in, we walked around the property, and then wandered the neighborhood. After awhile, we found a street full of little restaurants and street food. We sat down at an outdoor restaurant (basically a food stand surrounded by a couple of plastic tables). No one spoke English so we couldn't order but they made us two amazing plates of food - ground chicken with garlic, basil, and chili peppers over rice. All of that with two water bottles for $3. Yum!

    Then we went back to the homestay just in time for a quick thunderstorm. We sat outside, under shelter, and watched the storm while playing chess and drinking Chang beers. Now we are in bed under our mosquito netting and getting ready to read!
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  • Day44

    Day 44 - Hanoi Again/Last Day in Vietnam

    October 23, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Today was pretty uneventful. Besides the shuttle back to Hanoi this afternoon, we didn't do anything too exciting. The highlight of the day was definitely our return to the restaurant where we had the best pho ever. We each got an order of beef pho and we split the vegetable spring rolls. I had a fresh mango juice and Tim had a fresh orange carrot juice and a beer. It was all delicious!

    Now we are resting up before the trip to Bangkok tomorrow!
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  • Day43

    Day 43 - Halong Bay Boat and Cave Trip

    October 22, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    We had another amazing day and another amazing boat trip in the bay!

    We slept in late (after staying up late watching bad movies) and headed over to the local mall for the ATM, toiletries, and breakfast/lunch (fast food spicy baked chicken and French fries - yum!). Then we walked the two blocks from the house with our awesome host, Dinh, to the water to meet his friend for the private boat trip.

    The 4 of us set off in a wooden fishing boat for a 6 hour boat trip through the bay, exploring several caves along the way. Some of the caves were easy to venture into (some were even used as old navy bases and fish farms). But a couple of the caves were crazy and huge and involved quite a bit of intense rock climbing to get through. On the first steep rock climbing cave, I cut up my leg pretty bad almost immediately and let the boys continue on without me. But by the time we got to the last cave, which was by far the biggest and the hardest to climb, I was able to get through it (not without cutting up my leg a little more!). This last cave was awesome - filled with huge stalagmites and stalactites which were dripping and wearing away at and crystallizing the rocks above and below us. We also saw large columns and holes that went down 20-30 feet, filled with water. From the caves, there were beautiful views of the water and the islands. It was a lot of fun, but pretty intense. The climb down the side of the cave back to the boat was a bit terrifying. At the end of the trip, we were going to go for a swim but decided against it. The jellyfish were crazy today - some of the biggest jellyfish I've ever seen (some over a foot in diameter and some smaller ones that had tentacles that were 1-2 feet long). So we headed back to shore, watching the sunset on the way back.

    After showering (and putting on a few bandaids!), we went out for an interesting dinner. Our host recommended a good restaurant on the water, and we had seen the place packed the night before, so we decided to check it out. When we walked in, everyone kind of giggled and looked at us strangely - we've gotten used to that the past couple of days. The neighborhood we are staying in is not touristy at all and we are the only Americans (or even non-Vietnamese people) that we have seen since we left Cat Ba. As the waitress handed us the Vietnamese menu, she laughed a little, because she knew we would have no idea how to read it. Then a lady sat down at our table who spoke a little English. We told her we wanted beef pho soup and spring rolls. We got a beef stew, a giant plate of amazing spicy garlic chili beef with a delicious sauce, and a giant plate of bread rolls. She didn't understand what a bottle of water was, so she brought me a warm beer instead. She also sat with us for most of our meal and kept asking us to stay and drink beers and sing karaoke. We enjoyed the meal, but declined the karaoke invitation!

    Another awesome day is in the books. We will be sad to leave tomorrow - Halong Bay (especially Cat Ba Island) has been my favorite place on the trip by far. I can't think of anywhere else in the world like it!
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  • Day42

    Day 42 - Halong Arrival

    October 21, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ 🌙 24 °C

    We had a crazy adventure this morning to get to the ferry port on the other side of Cat Ba. We somehow missed the bus at our hotel and so the hotel owner quickly grabbed all of our luggage and us and threw us on the back of his and his son's motorbikes to chase down the bus. We caught up with the bus, flagged it down, and got on! Then we took the quick beautiful ferry ride to Halong.

    We had planned to either hike Poem Mountain for beautiful panoramic views of the entire bay or to lie on the beach and swim all day, but we ended up having a much needed rest day.

    After the taxi ride to our homestay, we took off for a walk along the water to find a place to eat breakfast/lunch. We stumbled onto a restaurant where no one spoke English so we didn't really order anything - they just brought us an order of seafood (shrimp and octopus) fried noodles. It was yummy!

    Then we took a long nap and relaxed for awhile. After we woke up and got ready, we set off for another walk along the water. We found a really busy fancy restaurant right on the bay and had a fantastic dinner - appetizers of grilled oysters and pork rolls, entrees of a pound of steamed shrimp for me and an entire fresh grouper with plum sauce for Tim. Everything was delicious!!

    Now, we are going to have a relaxing night - we have another boat tour tomorrow!
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  • Day41

    Day 41 - Cat Ba Island Boat Trip

    October 20, 2017 in Vietnam ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Today was even better than yesterday! We woke up early and had a delicious pho breakfast (with Vietnamese coffee for Tim) and then set off for our all day boat excursion set up by our hotel owner. The tour was absolutely amazing. We got to ride around Halong Bay all day and see the beautiful views with about 20 other tourists from all around the world.

    The trip started with about an hour of riding from Cat Ba Island to the other end of the bay. Then we got a double kayak and got to kayak around the bay, in and out of caves, for about 2 hours. Then we anchored in the middle of the bay, surrounded by nothing but water and rock formations and islands, for lunch. Lunch was awesome - family style - fish, chicken, spring rolls, cabbage, rice, potatoes, and vegetables. After lunch, we got to jump off of the boat and swim for awhile. Tim and I must have dove and flipped (him) off of the top deck a dozen times. After everyone was done jumping and swimming, we took off for another couple of islands with small beaches for snorkeling. There wasn't much to see under water but it was nice to swim around. Finally, to end the trip, we went to Monkey Island - a large island in the bay that is literally filled with monkeys. They are everywhere! You can feed them peanuts or beer or whatever you want but really they will just steal whatever you have when you aren't looking. Tim and I each had peanuts and beer stolen right out of our hands. We wandered around on the beach for awhile watching the monkeys and then got back on the boat to return to Cat Ba.

    After our showers, we went out for what ended up being one of my favorite dinners of the trip - sautéed shrimp with chilis and garlic. Tim got pretty much the same meal but with chicken. Yum! Now time to watch movies and go to sleep - another early day tomorrow as we set off for another island in the bay.
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