Koh Phangan: The island that never sleeps

After a far-too-short visit to Koh Phangan in February for the Full Moon Party, it was finally time for us to come back and really explore the island for everything it had to offer. This time however, we’d be alongside our friends Brad and Karalee.

For the first part of the week, we stayed on Bottle Beach. It was a more secluded part of the island, which let us relax and take in some peace and quiet. We had a beautiful beach on our front steps, and a small bay without too many neighbours. We had a lot planned for the week ahead, and this was a great little place to charge our batteries.

Our first stop was Guy’s Bar. Located on the far side of a mountain, you have two options for getting there: long tail boats through the ocean, or a near-death 4×4 truck ride up one side of the mountain and back down the other. Since it was windy and the waves were choppy, we only had one option: mountain climbing in the box of a pickup.IMG_6494

To say the drive was scary would be an understatement. In pitch black, all we could see was uphill on this narrow cracked dirt road with massive rocks and potholes. We were holding on for dear life and wondering how we were supposed to get back out of here. We were thick in the jungle and just hoping that the brakes weren’t going to give out. At one point, all you could see was the road and the sky — it was that steep.

Once at Guy’s Bar, the pounding techno and serene layout calmed us down. We settled in for a long night of dancing and we made a few friends. The exclusivity of Guy’s Bar was a bit of a treat in and of itself. The trek there kept away the casual tourists, and left you with a club of pure enthusiasts. All in all, the trip to Guy’s Bar is worth it if you’re hoping to really experience the magic of Koh Phangan.

The next few days we took rather easy, spending time walking through the night market, enjoying good food and taking in the sunsets. Koh Phagnan is beautiful and has so much to offer. It’s an island both small enough to get around but big enough it offers a bit of everything. We hiked to waterfalls and relaxed on the beaches to offset the partying, don’t worry!

Our next big event was ‘The Jungle Experience’. This party was taking place near Haad Rin beach, so we switched bungalows to one closer to the party. In the heart of the jungle with only black lights to light everything up, we found another oasis of techno. Karalee and I danced until our feet hurt, but managed to leave before Luke and Brad could get us into any trouble.

IMG_6403The next day, the four of us headed to Amsterdam Bar to catch the sunset. Amsterdam Bar is a pool and bar set on a hill in the perfect position to watch the sun setting over the island. With loungers and chill music, we were happy to sit in silence and take in the view. It was a really incredible moment to spend all together.

Later, Luke and I stopped by a free psytrance party called Baan Sabai. Tucked away by the water, this little gem of a club was filled with psychedelic posters, black lights, palm trees, and pounding psytrance. We snagged a hammock and got our fill, watching people around us feel the music and dance to the trippy beat.

On our last day, we met Brad and Karalee for some swimming on Haad Rin beach. Haad Rin is best known for its parties, but I have to say it has some of the most stunning water and an incredible view of the island. The water was crystal clear and the beach had so many food options. We sat and smoked a hookah as the sun set before finally saying goodbye to our friends.

Getting to spend a week with Brad and Karalee on Koh Phangan was the highlight of our trip. Having them around showed us that a journey is only as good as the people you get to share it with. We made unforgettable memories and it’s something that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.

Here are some of our favourite pictures from the trip. Remember, you can click on any picture in any post to see the full size image 🙂

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Phuket? Meh.

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Oh, Phuket.

Obviously, Phuket was on our travel itinerary since we’re in the South of Thailand and everyone and their drunk best friend has a travel story from Phuket. I guess it’s safe to say the place is more infamous than famous, and we quickly found out why.

I don’t want to completely rule out Phuket, because I’m sure there are lots of sides to it, but we really didn’t enjoy it. After seeing much of the South already, Phuket was a big let down. It had a grimier feel than Bangkok with much more in your face sex (ping pong shows, girls dancing on poles, and Asian girls teetering on platform heels galore) on the main drag and the beaches we checked out were sorta…meh.

Mind you, we stayed closer to the Patong Beach area (which is the main tourist area) and maybe that was our issue. I’m sure there’s lots to explore in Phuket but if you’re coming to Thailand, please just hop to the islands sooner rather than later and enjoy what the South really has to offer.

IMG_6165Our trip was generally uneventful. We had a hotel mishap and had to endure the blaring sounds of construction every morning, but we got a free meal out of it at least. We made a trip to the mall to replace our broken Mac charger, bought a second-hand GoPro Hero 3 (yay!), and explored the more local eateries.

One highlight was No. 9 2nd Restaurant which we only noticed due to the massive line out front. Intrigued, we lined up and we were glad we did. About a 10 minute wait (as we were salivating over all the food being brought out), we finally got to sit down and enjoy some of the tastiest Thai food we’ve had this trip. Trust us, it’s worth every minute of standing.

I’m sad to say we don’t have much else to say about Phuket. We enjoyed walking the main strip, popping into some clubs and checking out the crowd, and we liked watching the sunset on the beach.

Overall, I’d say that it’s worth checking out but only for a night or two. If you’re into partying and not knowing what happened last night (or, which ladyboy happened…) then it’s definitely the place for you. For us? Back to the islands!

A taste of nightlife in Bangkok

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Arriving in Bangkok for the second time during our trip, we vowed to do things differently. For starters, we were dying to hear some decent music. For anyone that doesn’t know us — we are massive electronic music fans. Having traveled over much of North America to music festivals and having lived in Toronto, a city blessed with a rich electronic music scene, it’s been far too long since we’ve heard the thumping bass of techno and house music pounding through speakers. We knew Bangkok was the solution to our dilemma.

On our last trip to Bangkok we stuck to Khao San Road and the wats, but consequently found ourselves surrounded by backpackers at all times. This time around we left the hostel region behind and explored some of Bangkok’s darker side — both the good and bad. Many of Bangkok’s clubs were in the Sukhumvit neighbourhood, also home to the infamous Soi Cowboy and red light district. We decided to check things out for ourselves.

Nakadia, a Berlin techno/house DJ, was playing at GLOW Club Bangkok, so we drank some Red Bull and hobbled over to the entertainment district for some much needed dancing. On the way, we wanted to see what the fuss was all about in the red light district (sorry mom and dad, stop reading now!).

The red light district in Bangkok is full of neon lights and girls in barely any clothes trying to get people to come into their respective clubs. It felt a lot like walking through a packed shopping mall, except half of the people you were passing were scantily clad Thai girls and the displays were dancing on poles. The shoppers? Older white men hoping to find the loves of their life and naive, but excited, young backpackers not knowing their wallet was about to be emptied. We managed to get through Soi Cowboy relatively unscathed, save a few dirty looks.

IMG_5103Five minutes later, we arrived at GLOW Club. The club is small but it made for an intimate atmosphere. When Nakadia came on, fans were cheering and reaching for handshakes over the DJ booth. She was smiling and bumping to the beat, happy to be playing for everyone. Her set was everything we hoped for and it felt so good to just dance with a crowd of people who were truly into the music, expats and locals alike.

We left just after 2AM and started the walk home. We got dropped off near Khao San Road and unfortunately, the scene there wasn’t nearly as pleasant. Backpackers with buckets of booze were throwing up on the street, hobbling home, and some had shirts off fist bumping to country music. We grabbed a crepe and made a mad dash for our hotel.

The night life in Bangkok definitely has something for everyone. The clubs are proper and if you want a taste of real nightlife, stay away from the backpacker haunts and dress up for the clubs.

Travelling as a couple: What we’ve learned

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A few months ago, everyone was offering us words of wisdom and caution before embarking on our trip to South East Asia. I didn’t really take them all that seriously -Luke and I had spent almost three years as friends getting to know each other before choosing to date. We’d been through so much already and we had experienced being outside of our respective comfort zones – how different would things be?

Well, I thought wrong.

We couldn’t have imagined all the various things our relationship would be up against when we moved abroad. We dealt with culture shock, minor starvation while on long trips, heat stroke, having to sweat through our clothes as we walked in the muggy Asian weather, busy streets (the kind of busy that keeps timid people indoors), menus in other languages, bumpy bus rides that would leave you sore and angry at the countryside, gross hostels, and so many other not-fun travelling perks.

The bottom line was that we are all we had. We didn’t have friends, the comforts of home, or even our own space. We quickly learned that the most important thing was our relationship and above all, that you need to put the other person first at all times. I figured I’d share a bit of my wisdom, just in case anyone is thinking of putting his or her relationship to the ultimate travel test.

Open communication

IMG_4100Being totally and shamelessly honest with each other has saved us a ton of headaches. For me, I just had to be up front when something made me uncomfortable, like a long bus ride or a sketchy hotel. For him, he’d just tell me that he was feeling cranky for no reason to let me know that it wasn’t personal. It takes a lot of patience to do this and practice makes perfect. There’s no hiding the real you when you’re travelling together, so suck it up and let each other in.

At first when we started travelling, I felt a lot of pressure being on this “once in a lifetime trip”. Not only was it my big trip, it was Luke’s too and I didn’t want to ruin it by skipping an activity, staying in, or sleeping early. I held back my real feelings. Finally, I told him how I felt and realized that my mindset was completely incorrect. The only way we would ruin anything was if we held back what we really felt or wanted.

Learn to let go

Things happen and people get mad—It’s inevitable. After a long day and a few too many snide remarks, it’s not hard for two people to become enemies. Emotions run extremely high when you’re travelling since you’re constantly out of your comfort zone. It’s important to accept and be prepared for that.
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We allowed ourselves to fight, since it’s healthy to let off steam and say what’s on your mind, but we both learned to back down. If I wanted to hold a grudge against Luke, I would be alone here. Also, I would ruin our entire day if I decided to stay angry. What’s the point? What fight could possibly be worth ruining a day in the mountains of Asia with the person you love? Hopefully, the answer is always: Nothing.

We learned to say sorry quickly and also to let bygones be bygones. We realized that asking ourselves, “What is this actually worth?” made a huge difference. Although we had some close calls (Read: Hunger-induced issues – pack snacks, people!), not a single day was a total write-off and this lesson is something that benefits our relationship every day, travelling or not.

Don’t shy away from big talks 

When we were planning this trip, I wasn’t up front about what I wanted. We got to Asia and I was holding on to a lot of resentment towards Luke, feeling as if this was “his” trip and not mine. It all came to a head in Bangkok and we finally had a much-needed, long, open discussion about what I wanted as well. We wrote a list. We talked about our plans. We made some changes. Most importantly, he listened to me and I realized I should have done this way earlier.

It’s not always easy asking for something, at least not for me. And for some, it’s not always easy listening to someone else or compromising on your dreams. As a couple, you are responsible for two lives, two sets of dreams, and two peoples’ happiness. In our final years together, I hope that I can say I’ve given Luke the absolute best life he could have had. At the same time, I need to say that for myself as well. Check in with each other, have the talk, reevaluate a million times, compromise, and make it work.

You don’t always have to like each other

There have been days where we have woken up and said, “I don’t like you today”. Although we always say it with a massive grin on our face, it still feels very real. When you’re together 24/7, sometimes you just don’t want to have to think about the other person. Sometimes you want a break.

IMG_20141111_164103Being around Luke is like having an annoying brother – he puts bugs in my food, throws me into cold water, takes the last slurp (and by slurp, I mean the entire last half) of my smoothie, and messes up my hair. He drives me nuts some days. I’m not innocent either! I hide his cell phone so he thinks he lost it and tell him we overslept when we didn’t, causing a mini heart attack for him as many times as possible in one day.

The reality is, when you’re together all of the time you need a break. Honor this and take time for yourselves. Read a book, lounge on the beach, go for coffee and catch-up on e-mails. Trips can often be non-stop exploring or activities so be mindful of the fact that it’s okay to take a break and enjoy each other’s company in silence.

Embrace it

Before this trip, I thought I knew Luke inside and out but I can safely say that there are things I’ve now seen that I can never unsee. We’ve become inseparable and one benefit of travelling is that it’s brought us even closer together. If you’re in a relationship and aren’t sure you’re ready for the next big step, take a serious trip together and it’ll be pretty telling.

In the end, I believe that coming on this trip has made us so much stronger as a couple. I think the main benefit is that we’ve always been challenged as a couple and we’ve never stopped working to make the changes we’ve needed to make. I’m glad we pushed ourselves and we’ve made memories to stay with us for the rest of our lives. While travelling with someone isn’t for everyone, it’s an experience that will bring some serious change into your life.

Zipping around in Chiang Mai

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Although Bangkok was interesting and busy, the smog and constant haggling on the street really began to wear on us. As the train pulled into the Chiang Mai station, we instantly exhaled a giant sigh of relief. This city is small and slow. Once surrounded by a moat, the cityscape is perfection: mountain views, canals, and temples. Not to mention a gentle and friendly population.

Our first hostel was a bit of a bust. The room was small, hot, and lacked any privacy. While the staff was very nice, we decided to get out of there as fast as possible. At $5 CAD a night, we learned a very valuable lesson about trying to save money. Luckily, we found The Green Tulip House for $15 CAD next. This hostel has been incredible, and the people we’ve met here are amazing. Our room has AC and a private bathroom, the main floor has a restaurant and plays deep house music all day, and there’s a rooftop patio overlooking the city. We feel right at home here!

Here’s what we’ve done in Chiang Mai so far:

Day one

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(Samie packing up to leave hostel #1. Not sure this was the safest, but we survived.)

We rented a motorbike for 230 baht ($7 CAD) a day (sorry mom!), which gave us access to the whole city as well as the nearby mountains, waterfalls, and temples. The price includes insurance and helmets for two as well and you’re free to make day treks anywhere outside of the city. If you break down, the rental place will come and pick you up. We rented from Mr. Mechanic which doesn’t have a website, but locals highly recommend the place.

We spent the day driving around and getting to know Chiang Mai. After a few hours, we got really hot and decided to head to the Eco Resort for some swimming. A delightfully designed retreat, there were acres of botanical gardens, as well as hotel-style rooms, a large rustic dinging/bar area, and some private villas. It was 100 baht ($3 CAD) each for pool access for us. Well worth it!

Day two

This is the day where we moved all of our stuff to the new hostel. It was such a relief to be somewhere where we were comfortable. Instantly, we made some friends with two other couples. Luke helped them each get a motorbike as well so they could join us on our way to the Mae Sa waterfalls.

The ride took about 30 minutes and the national park was 100 baht ($3 CAD) to get into. It was trickling rain when we arrived, so we stopped to eat at a food cart. The menu was definitely intended for the locals, with very little looking like it was within our comfort zones. We stuck to charcoal fried chicken, sticky rice, and barbecued eggs (who knew?). The chicken was incredible! If only we were more daring, there was also salted fish and barbecued pork intestines for sale.

When it stopped raining, we made our way up the waterfalls. At Mae Sa, there are 10 locations where you can stop, swim, picnic, and hang out at different levels and waterfalls. It’s really incredible. Some of the locals convinced Luke to jump in the waterfall, and he had a blast trying to stand under the crush of the water. We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. You can see more here.

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(Luke and Brian taking in a real waterfall massage)

We got caught in the rain on the way home as we were biking, so we stopped in to have tea at this stunning resort called Cool Downs Resort. They let us in even though we looked like a bunch of drowned rats, but we took a look around and were in awe of how gorgeous the set up was with an outdoor infinity pool, a fire pit, and an overall beautiful modern design.

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(Grilled squid, cooked to rubbery perfection.)

Later on after we all warmed up, Luke and I went out in search of food. I stuck with some chicken fried rice, but Luke got his hands on some grilled squid. It was put on the charcoal grill whole, and cooked thoroughly (maybe too thoroughly, as the texture became pretty tough… but at least it was safe to eat!) before they chopped it up and bagged it. Just before we left with our purchase, they offered a sauce. Luke unwittingly said yes, and watched his dinner get doused in a chili-seed marinade. Overall, the squid tasted great – but next time we’ll go easier on the liquid fire.

Day three

We went to an elephant retirement home. But, you’ll have to wait for that post!

– S & L

6 Most Common Scams in Bangkok (and how to avoid them)

Welcome to Bangkok, the land of the most persistent scam artists.

In the one week we spent in Bangkok, there were at least half a dozen scams attempted on us. The first scam we fell for within hours of landing. The sad part for us was hearing the exact same lines being used and reused with most people having no idea how easy it is to spot and avoid these common mistakes. Here is a quick list of the scams, and how to avoid them.

1. Tuk tuk prices

Tuk TukOne of the cheapest forms of transportation around Bangkok are these glorified motorcycles. Tuk Tuk’s are something every traveler should try at some point on their trip to Thailand. They’re cheaper than taxis and fun to zip in and out of traffic. Bear in mind, however, that they have no taxi meter. Locals are familiar with the ‘going rate’ of getting from point A to point B, but tourists are asked for exorbitant rates, hoping they’ll simply agree since tourists don’t know their way around. Our hosts told us that most locals pay 10-20 baht, and never any more than 50. Tourists should expect to pay between 50 and 100 baht for anything under a 20 minute drive (give or take).

Our first tuk tuk ride: 400 baht.

2. Taxi meters

You can spot an available taxi with ease in Bangkok — a cotton-candy pink car with a red digital sign in their windshield. They operate exactly like every other taxi driver you’re used to, except they prefer not to activate their meter. If you make it all the way to your destination without the price having been discussed, you’ll be at their mercy of whatever they ask. If you insist on them turning it on partway through, they’ll begin the haggling then. If you want a fair taxi fee, always insist the taxi meter be used before you get in. If they won’t agree, find another.

3. 20 Baht ‘Tours’

A tuk tuk driver approaches you and asks you if you’d like a tour of the palaces for only 20 baht. It seems like a great deal, but before you know it, you’re in a high-pressure sales pitch at some place you may or may not have wanted to go to. Tuk tuks like to deliver tourists to certain shops and tourist attractions in exchange for a commission, which is why they’ll offer you the cheap ride. While it’s not the end of the world for the tourist, it can get uncomfortable, or you can end up buying things you never intended to.

As a rule: don’t go on cheap tuk tuk tours. When it seems too good to be true, it typically is.

4. Temple is closed

You get in a tuk tuk and ask to head to the Grand Palace, but partway there you are informed that the Grand Palace is closed. Have no fear however, he can send you to a riverboat cruise instead, or to a more interesting destination. This happened to us on the way to Wat Pho, but we called his bluff and arrived at a temple which was (not surprisingly) open. When a driver tries to divert you from your destination, don’t buy it. Stick to your guns – temples don’t close for lunch. Note that guides out front of the temple may attempt this line as well, since they too can get commission for taking you to a nearby ‘travel agency’ to book other tours while you wait for the temple to ‘open’.

5. Commission Scalpers

Friendly strangers or drivers approach you with the same line, “Where are you from, where are you going?” While there’s nothing wrong with chatting, this line of conversation often turns to them suggesting someone for your next tour, or the best railway line, or someone who can hook you up with a cheap bus pass. The reality is that almost every shopkeeper, tour company and travel agent will pay a referral fee. If you need a suggestion for who to book with, feel free to take their advice. However, if you think their suggestions are unbiased and honest, think again. They’re simply recommending the routes which have the highest kickbacks lined up for them.

6. Pickpockets

While a lot of the downtown area has a bit of a pickpocketing problem, the major tourist attractions are where you need to be careful. Some temples have put up signs warning tourists, and several of our tuk tuk drivers took it upon themselves to educate us on the dangers of being careless. When gazing upwards and snapping pictures, bags should be securely zipped up and held close. Back pockets are no place for valuables and make sure to not rest your bag down without keeping a close eye on it.

-Luke

Backpackers, Buddhas, and bold street food in Bangkok

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Our week in Bangkok has flown by. We finally got our bearings and decided to try some street food, check out a temple, and meet some other backpackers.

We felt a bit lost in Bangkok, so our hostel host mentioned we should check out the backpackers’ street, Khao San Road. It was a 10 minute walk from our hostel and when we got there, we could tell why it was aptly named. Almost everything was in English, Thai locals were selling everything under the sun, Lady Gaga music was blasting from open bars, and there was a sea of other backpackers.

Luke decided he needed some lighter shorts, so we haggled with some venders to get him two pairs for $12 CAD. We sat down and had some Pad Thai and garlic chicken, watching all sorts of backpackers walk past. While it was a welcome change to the confusion that Bangkok had been thus far, it still left a bad taste in our mouths. Seeing hordes of loud, obnoxious and predominantly very white pedestrians from our restaurant table was at first amusing, then disheartening. Is this how we looked to the Thai locals? Our bar had a band of overly vocal Aussies draining draft beer from a tower, and the bar across the street wasn’t faring much better. Still, we were eating something that had an English label on it, so we took the good with the bad.

After that, we headed back to our hostel to meet up with some friends so we could head to the vegetarian food festival in Chinatown. The seven of us piled into two Tuk Tuks and swerved through rush hour traffic before hitting the busy Chinatown festival. The streets were packed and there were food venders everywhere.

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At long last it was time to dig into Thai street food in earnest. We ate veggie fried noodles, roasted chestnuts, and a delicious cashew fruit slushie. If you’re not sure what to picture when we say cashew fruit slushie, don’t worry – neither did we. It looked like a Sunny D concoction, but tasted like they had added butter and some subtle herbs. We tried imitation sausage, which was tofu seasoned and seared just right. For sweets, we had coconut griddle dumplings and pure frozen coconut ice cream.

There was a man selling Durian fruit, which could be described as a mix between avocado, mango, a spike ball and a stink bomb. Our American friend told us that it’s illegal to transport fresh Durian on public transit in the United States on account of the smell. IMG_2633To get to the edible part, you have to crack open and discard nearly 80% of the fruit matter to get to the heart of it. Our verdict: It tasted pretty gross. It had the texture of foam but had a sweeter taste with a sulphur finish.

The next day, we woke up nice and early to check out of our hostel. After I made sure Luke didn’t forget anything, we wandered towards our first temple in Thailand. We had decided on Wat Pho so we could see the Reclining Buddha. This Buddha is 43 metres long and fully ensconced in gold leaf; the feet have over 100 symbols of Buddha engraved on it. To say impressive and ornate would be an understatement. The entire chamber seemed unable to fully showcase the beauty and overwhelming size.

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The entire area was awe-inspiring. Beautiful gardens, many little Buddha’s, all wrapped in gold-leaf, mini-waterfalls, and decorative bonsai trees, all littered the grounds. Since it’s Thailand’s rainy season, we got caught in the daily monsoon-style rain at the end of our tour. We took cover in one of the shrines while the water absolutely beat down for an hour, but we didn’t mind.

When the rain let up, we headed back to our hostel and collected our bags and headed to the train station. Up next, our overnight trip on the Oriental Express.

First 24 hours in Bangkok

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We’ve just finished our first 24 hours in Bangkok and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve packed a lot in. Yesterday we were way too tired to do much of anything, so checking out the Thai massages being offered everywhere on our street seemed like the best idea.

We opted for a 120 baht ($4 CAD) 30 minute foot massage at a place called Spaya. It was really clean, friendly, and we got to lay back in comfy lazy boy chairs. The massage was absolutely to die for. They went the whole 30 minutes, ending with a neck and head massage for the last five. It was the perfect way to shake off all the traveling we did the two days previous.

After that, we headed home and took a 10 hour “nap” followed by a marathon of Suits before going back to bed. Jet lag really got the better of us.

When we woke up, we headed down to the Thai Travel Clinic since I needed to grab one of the vaccines I couldn’t get at home. I’ll write more about how you can save money getting vaccinated in Thailand later in a full blog post.

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(Click to enlarge)

The walk was an hour away, so we left nice and early so we could take our time and enjoy the sights. Although we were sweating our faces off, it was nice to stumble upon so many temples and it was cool to be able to dip into all the side markets and check out all of the street food. We dipped down one small street that reaked of fish to check out the stalls and sure enough, there was live catfish and eels flopping around in buckets while their friends were getting their heads cut off. Chicken legs laid plucked on ice and cauldrons of soup bubbled as we walked by. Stray cats were staring at us hoping for food as we left. Sorry kitties!

Bangkok as a whole sort of has this fishy, spicy aroma to it. They’re worn down and a lot of the shops are closed. The sidewalks aren’t very busy, but I have to say that crossing the street is probably the most dangerous thing we’ll do here in Thailand. Drivers are insane!

On the way, we bumped into Dusit Zoo and decided on a whim to go in and see the giraffes, big cats, and monkeys. For 150 baht ($5 CAD), it was well worth it.IMG_2600 The park is nicely laid out, but small enough so you’re not backtracking too much. They had manmade tree-top walkways that allowed you to see most of the exhibits from above. The reptile and nocturnal animal exhibit is air conditioned too, so we were able to grab two nice cold breaks from the hot and humid day. You could feed the hippos if you want — they’re hilarious to watch.

Once we got home, Luke decided that he really wanted to catch a Muay Thai match. He found that the Rajadamnern Stadium held matches on Wednesdays so we walked over. Stopping to grab some rice and eggs off a street vendor before heading in, it was officially our first attempt at buying something off of the street. I promise, we’re working up to being more adventurous. But, for now, an egg and rice was all I could handle. IMG_2586 (1)

Luke had read a ton online about how the Muay Thai stadium gets Westerners to pay anywhere from 1000 baht ($34 CAD) – 2000 baht ($68 CAD) each night while locals only pay around 250-700 baht. He had his heart set on getting our tickets for the local price, but we read all over the internet reviews that it’s next to impossible to get local price since they simply won’t sell cheap tickets to white people. He tried to ask locals how much they were paying, but the crowd wasn’t really the chatty type. After 15 minutes, we called it in and grabbed the 1000 baht stadium seats. Luke: 0 – Muay Thai: 1.

Here’s a tip if you’re thinking about catching Muay Thai: The “guides” at the front who speak English will tell you that the 2000 baht floor side seats are the best way to go. You can sit! There’s popcorn! Who wouldn’t want that? Well, it looked pretty lame to us. The floorside seats were all white, Western people who looked incredibly out of place (to put it gently). You can sit in the stadium seats for half the price (the guides tell you it’s standing only — which isn’t true). In the 1000 baht seats, you’re sitting with all the Thai fans who are yelling, betting, standing, chanting, and cheering. There’s tons of space and everyone is smiling and friendly.

Definitely something to check out!

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Our view from third stadium level at Rajadamnern Stadium Muay Thai.

Arrival in Bangkok

After an exhausting 28 hours of travelling where we lost a full day of our life to time change, we’ve finally landed in Bangkok. To say we are tired is an absolute understatement.

We flew from Toronto on Sunday at 6pm to Dublin. Then Dublin to Abu Dhabi. Then Abu Dhabi to Bangkok. I think we’ve consumed more airline food than we ever need to in our life in just one leg of the trip.

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(Saying good-bye in Toronto)

Getting into Bangkok, we decided to take the City Train (45 baht) to downtown and grab a Tuk Tuk, rather than grabbing a cab. The train was about 30 mins and the Tuk Tuk ride took about 10 mins. We had read in our guidebook that a cab would cost 50 baht to get into St the airport, take anywhere from 50-100 mins and cost 70 baht in tolls and 300-350 baht in fare.

Once we got off the train, a nice Thai man started up a conversation and helped us grab a Tuk Tuk. I was too tired to haggle, so we agreed upon the first price of 400 baht. Probably a rookie move on our part, but we agreed it was one we were willing to let slide. The driver was so nice, spoke English, and pointed out a bunch of places we should check out.

I would definitely recommend this method of getting from the airport to downtown. The view from the train was amazing and it was actually incredibly easy. Maybe we are just familiar with the Toronto subway, but the subway system is all in English so I think it’s safe to say anyone can make this route work.

After passing some incredible street meat boroughs, lots of stray dogs, and several soldiers holding machine guns (the Royal Army is stationed near our hostel), we pulled up to a quaint and cozy hostel named Khaosan Baan Thai. Highly recommended by HostelWorld as the best budget accommodations, we weren’t let down. At $9 each/night for a private room, this seems like a perfect launchpad for our travels. We arrived several hours before our 1PM check-in, but the receptionist graciously allowed us to stash our bags and roam.

With that, it’s time for us to grab the biggest bottle of water we can find and take the longest nap.

– S&L