July - August 2016
  • Day22

    Billy bolly BALI

    August 20, 2016 in Indonesia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    This post is a few weeks overdue and originally I wanted to split it up into 2, however, Sammy has started school and I've been really busy getting the house in order and scavenging for paperwork for our visas. Anyway, enough with excuses...

    The final leg of our Asia adventure took us to the famous island of Bali. As with everything, expectations are key, and I'm afraid "eat pray love" set the bar too high in my head. For those who haven't been there, Bali is similar to Cancun. It has beautiful beaches but is extremely commercialized in some areas, not really the local paradise I was expecting. To be fair, I must say Balinese people are super friendly and nice, the beaches were beautiful and it is in general a great place.
    But again, I digress...
    We stayed at a really sweet bad and breakfast place with cute Balinese villas surrounding a beautiful swimming pool in the south of Bali at a place called nusa dua. We could definitely come back to the place as it is a very nice, chill location across from a beautiful beach. The place is called Rumah Bali and it's owned by the same people who own a really great restaurant called Bumbu Bali.

    After the day's of hanging out at the beach and pool, we were picked up by a van to take us to our final stop, a resort in west Bali where we would meet up with the INSEAD group.
    We ventured off into what we thought would be a 3-hour journey that turned into an almost 6 hour adventure. We ran into heavy traffic and then went up and down mountains on one lane small roads.On the way we got to see some beautiful rice paddies and gorgeous lakes up in the mountains including a beautiful temple where we stopped to stretch are legs and explore a bit. The last hour of our voyage was quite messy as Alex got car sick with the bumpy road, so we were more than delighted to reach the hotel.

    The place was beautiful! Smack in the middle of no where, there wasn't even a real road to get to it.
    After freshening up we got on another bus to take us to the INSEAD dinner. The group was so big, they had to split us up into 3 groups staying at different hotel's in the area.
    Dinner was nice, we met many of Sammy's classmates and had a lovely barbeque dinner.
    The following day, Sammy went mountain biking while Alex and I took a stroll with some of the class who had also stayed behind. When everyone got back, we all hung out at the pool and had a very tasty Balinese lunch.
    After hanging out for a while, tasting the famous kopi luac (watch the movie "the bucket list" for more info) which was quite good, learning how to weave bags out of recycled material and learning to make Balinese crepes, we went back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.
    Food was great and afterwards Sammy and I got to enjoy the party and dance while Alex slept peacefully in his stroller. First time partying since I got pregnant!

    On our last full day, we all took a speed boat and went snorkeling at this beautiful paradise beach half hr away from the hotel. It was great, we even got to see some exotic blue starfish.
    After lunch we headed back and enjoyed the pool and natural hot tub before going to the farewell dinner.
    Another couple, Alex, Sammy and I, took a little detour after dinner and went to see the milky way from a look out point taking advantage of the low light pollution. It was really great!

    After 3 weeks our adventure was finally over. We left the hotel at 2 am to make our 9 am flight back to Singapore.

    Many people told us we were very brave traveling with our little one. In a way I guess we were but it was an amazing experience and we enjoyed every minute of it. Hopefully we will be able to travel together again soon.
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  • Day15

    Amazing Siem Reap

    August 13, 2016 in Cambodia ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    We spent 5 amazing days in the beautiful town of Siem Reap in Cambodia. What was supposed to be a purely archeological visit turned into a relaxing getaway with great food, entertainment and culture.
    We stayed at a really nice boutique hotel called Sarai with an amazing swimming pool which we used extensively.
    Besides chilling by the pool, we got to experience a wide variety of cuisines from around the world. Siem Reap may be a small town but the number and variety of restaurants you can find rivals those of many cities in the US and Europe.

    During our stay we had great swiss, Italian, khemer (Cambodian), and one of the best burgers I've ever had at a cute pub from New Zealand.

    Besides the diverse cuisines, Siem Reap has a great downtown area with a night market with nice paintings and trinkets and a "pub street" packed with modern clubs and all sorts of drink and food stalls including some that sell fried spiders, snakes and scorpions on a stick as a traditional snack. We weren't that adventurous to try them but opted instead for a peculiar soft serve ice cream served in a J shaped come made of puffed rice. Delicious!!

    The town's main attraction is the world renown Angkor wat. On the first day of site seeing, we visited Ta Prohm, AKA the tomb raider temple featured in the movie with impressive giant trees growing in and around the temple stones. Even though our tour guide was terrible, we had fun walking around the ruins of Ta Prohm and climbing to the top of some small temples that surround Angkor Wat.

    After a day of relaxing by the pool and getting some traditional Khemer massages (complimentary from the hotel as we complained about how terrible the tour guide had been), we set out bright and early (or should I say dark and early as we were picked up at 4:30 am) to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

    This time our guide was amazing. He not only gave un interesting history on the site, but also showed us the best spots to take pictures. Angkor Wat is really amazing and it's size and detail are very impressive but to be honest, my favorite temple was one we visited in the afternoon called Bayon, the main temple I the city of Angkor Thom built by the great king Chez... VII which was a place of worship for both Buddhists and Hindus. The temple's top is covered with Buddha faces that are absolutely beautiful.

    Overall we all loved Siem Reap and would go back in a heartbeat to visit more of the 200+ temples in the area and enjoy the good food.
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  • Day10

    Exploring Siam: last days in Thailand

    August 8, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ 🌧 33 °C

    After our crazy attempt at visiting the grand palace and the emerald Buddha, we were afraid to visit other temples so we decided to take a break from temples and head to a huge flea market by means of the acclaimed sky train. The train isn't anything special but it is very clean, just not easy to go in and out of with a stroller. (Carrying a baby and a stroller down 2 floors after walking in the heat isn't exactly fun).
    Overall the day was great!! We got to the market which extended for miles. You can find practically anything there. Again, it reminded me of Mexico's Mercado de Sonora (it's beginning to sound like I'm homesick, I know...). Anyway, we had a really nice cheap lunch there, did a bit of shopping, walked to siam square to have dinner and went home.

    The following day, we decided to give temples another shot and went to visit Wat Pho and I'm so glad we did! We all loved the temple, it is truly spectacular.
    To avoid the crowd we decided to head out as early as possible. Besides seeing a 5 meter long golden reclining Buddha, there were so many other Buddha status as well. What is specifically curious is the sense of peace and calm you get just by going into the temple. Was it the incense? Maybe the chanting monks or the Buddhists going to pray and get blessed with wet water lilies? Whatever it was, it was quite calming and soothing.

    After a few hours of exploring the birth place of Thai massage, we head out for a bite at an artsy café near a wet market by the river and then took a boat to visit the temple of dawn.

    Though under renovation, the temple is still quite breathtaking and even though you can't climb all the way to the top, it was still a lot of fun going up the steps to see the four Buddhas on each of the sides of the structure.

    After seeing the spiritual side and the history of Thai massage I had to try it for myself. I had been warned that it can be quite painful so I asked the masseuse to take it easy on me. What an experience!! I absolutely loved it!! My only regret was that Sammy didn't get to try it as well.

    For our last day in Bangkok we rounded out our cultural experience by visiting the famous BMK shopping center: a seven for building that is a cross between an indoor flea market and a mall. It was a fun day and I used my newly found bargaining skills to buy a really nice hiking backpack for a third of the price I would have gotten it in the US. Yay!

    Visiting Thailand has been overall an exciting, eye opening, tasty experience that I will never forget. Hopefully I'll be able to go back one day and explore more of this amazing country!
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  • Day7

    Bangkok: wild urban jungle

    August 5, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    We arrived in Bangkok very late on Tuesday, August 5th. After queuing for a while to get a taxi, we set off towards our hotel. This might sound bizarre but it really reminded me of Mexico city: the traffic, the feel of the streets, there's just something very familiar about this place.
    The traffic, even late at night was pretty crazy and even though we took the highway (second floor periférico) it took us over an hr to get to our hotel.
    We are staying at a small hotel near a very busy st full of tailors and massage places (all kinds of massage with all sorts of people offering them). We got to our room pretty late and had to order mcdonalds as everything else was closed. The next morning, Alex woke up early so he and I ventured off to find food. Like in Ko Lanta, most places were closed so we headed back to the hotel where we met a very nice trans lady who led us to the hotel cafe. The neighborhood was out of a movie; it's as if you are watching parts of the hang over 2 in real life except no monkey.

    For our first day adventure we headed out to the grand palace. We got a discount from the taxi for agreeing to take a detour and visit a jewelry shop. The germs were so beautiful but totally out of our budget.

    When we got to the palace it was super full and the weather was extremely hot and humid. Poor Alex couldn't take it for very long so it was a big struggle as he wanted to run around but there were just too many people to let him do it. We stayed until the palace closed so the crowd thinned out and we were able to see at least some of the palace and the outside of the emerald Buddha temple (the most sacred temple in the country which requires you to wear pants, hence our funny elephant pants in the pics.

    Just as we were leaving to find a bite to eat, it started to pour. We ended up finding shelter in an idyllic restaurant which had a beautiful view facing the river and the temple of dawn which helped save the day.
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  • Day6

    last days in Koh Lanta

    August 4, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Our time in Lanta is done but we had a wonderful stay on the island!
    We loved Kantiang beach so much we went there twice! We also got to visit Bamboo bay which was a really cool beach though it was very rocky. I have never seen so many crabs and of so much variety before (outside of an aquarium)!
    Each of our 6 days was special and unique and the people were very friendly and nice, specially when they saw Alex. Everyone loved him.
    We did several things on our stay besides hanging out at the beach.

    I think thai food is my favorite cuisine after Mexican so it was great to take a full 5 hr cooking class at a place called Time for lime. Our teacher was super funny and we learned how to make masaman curry paste from scratch, Tom yum soup, spring rolls and a crunchy Thai salad. While I cooked, Sammy watched Alex and together they explored another beach and watched a beautiful sunset.
    The weather started to be cloudy and windy on our last 2 days on the island so we took advantage and did a bit of exploring by car. I have to admit that having Sammy drive on the other side of the road was an adventure by itself but he did a wonderful job. We got to explore the old town as well as the main port in the north of the island where I got to do a bit of shopping and we walked in the quaint streer. At the end of the day we went to visit long beach as it was a beach that had been recommended by one of the couples in the cooking class. Alex made friends with a local family who were digging in the sand to find stripped shells. All three of us started helping them with Alex's sand shovels. It was like a mini treasure hunt. Because it was low season there was no one else. It was as if we had our own bit of private coast and we had a lot of fun taking advantage of the mild weather.

    Our last full day on the island was rainy. We got lucky and went out for breakfast before it started pouring but spent the rest of the day in the room relaxing and watching YouTube videos. It was a nice day for vegging out and at night when it stopped raining we went out to a play called big Bobby's place for our last dinner.

    We are now at the airport waiting for our plane to arrive. We had a smooth journey to Krabi and hopefully our journey to Bangkok will be just as smooth.
    On another of the days we
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  • Day1

    Koh Lanta, Thailand

    July 30, 2016 in Thailand ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Yesterday we arrived at Krabi airport and took a shuttle to Kho Lanta island. After checking into our hotel we headed out to find a place to have dinner. We arrived at a great place by the beach called Roy kitchen where we had an amazing panang curry, Tom yum Gong, pad se ew and a grilled fish. It was really great! The next morning Alex got up early so he and I walked to the seven 11 at 7:15 am to get something to eat as it was too early for any restaurant.
    We got back, got ready and headed back to the same restaurant where we had dinner the night before, before taking a taxi to a really nice beach in the south part of the island.
    It is low season right now so we had the beach practically all to ourselves. The water is shallow and very warm and Alex had a blast paying with the sand, splashing water and watching the dozens of little crabs scurry from one place to the next. We had a small bite at one of the seaside restaurants and, while Alex had a relaxing nap in his stroller by the waves, Sammy and I enjoyed sitting by the water watching him sleep. I made sure my boys had sun block but forgot to take care of myself so my poor back is as red as a lobster. It didn't matter though, in the end it was the perfect day.
    We took a taxi home, showered and headed to a beautiful cliff side restaurant to have dinner while watching the sun set. So far I am loving Thailand! The people are very nice, the food is amazing and the prices are great. I could get used to this...
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