thailand

Phuket, Thailand

I had been looking forward to Phuket since the very start of my trip planning. I had seen pictures of islands like Koh Phi Phi and just couldn’t wait to get there for all the great photography potential. I was also looking forward to doing some fishing (I’ve been fishing my whole life and love to do it in foreign places).

So I left Chiang Mai and took the short flight down to Phuket. The airport was about an hour from the hotel and I had arranged a pickup through the hotel (Le Meridian Phuket). It was around 230 by the time I got there so I just hit the beach for an hour or two and grabbed some dinner at the hotel buffet. I was in Phuket for 3 nights and had excursions planned for both days. I had to be up bright and early for a fishing trip the next day so I had an early night.

Koh Phi Phi Island near Phuket (more details below)koh phi phi phuket thailand boats in the waterThe pick up for fishing was around 8:15 and we picked up the rest of the guests and arrived at the pier about an hour later. Two my ‘dismay’ none of my fellow fisherman (and women) spoke english. Instead I had been teamed up with 8 burley russians. I had been in touch with the company prior to the trip and was pretty clear that I was hoping for some english speaking guests and also a good day of catching BIG fish. While the trip was fun, neither of these things happened. I wanted to catch big marlin and tunas and instead we caught little 3-5lb blue fin tunas. (more…)


Lady Boys, Elephants, Muy Thai and more

Thailand continues to get better. My next stop on my trek was Chiang Mai, which is south of Chiang Rai but still north of Bangkok. I had my friend Elyse from Chiang Rai set me up with a friend of hers in Chiang Mai which ended up being a really great connection. 

I took a 3 hour taxi ride from the hotel in CR down to my hotel in CM. I had a few other options but this seemed best. Considering all the gear that I had with me, this felt like the best bet. A bus would have cost me $5-$10 and the taxi ended up costing me about $85. It was a pleasant ride, with water provided and the ability to stop when I needed to. 

I arrived to my hotel around 7pm and got checked in. I was hoping for a better experience than I had up in CR and seeing as it was the same hotel brand, I was a bit nervous. I quickly realized that the staff here spoke much better English and they seemed to understand some of the more “complex” questions that I had. I was able to convince them to get me free Internet (the fact that hotels (especially expensive) ones still charge for Internet is a joke) and get an Ethernet cable sent to my room as well. 

street art in chiang mai thailand

A front desk agent took me to my room and showed me around a bit. It was nice, well laid out had a nice big bathroom and that same comfy bed and pillows I had in CR. The view from my room faced the mountains outside the city. The hotel food options were the same as in CR so I was really motivated to get out of the hotel. We were more centrally located this time so I figured it wouldn’t be as difficult. The hotel is about 20 minutes by foot to either the south gate or west gate. The old city is surrounded by a moat with “gates” on all 4 sides. The hotel is also locate literally one minute from the very famous night bazaar (more on this later). There were plenty of restaurants to go to during the day and plenty of street food stalls to try at night when the markets were going.  (more…)


Thailand Food

This post is going to be a bit rough as I am throwing it together pretty quickly.

My experience in Thailand with food has been GREAT! It has opened up a whole new world of food options for me. Whereas before I was afraid and didn’t understand Thai food, know I know what to eat, what things are, and what I like.

My first night in Chiang Mai I went to South Gate and tried a bunch of different things like chopped up pork leg w/ rice ($1), sticky rice and mango ($1), a pork skewer (5thb [1 usd=30thb]), spicy squid skewer (25thb). All this food cost me about $3 and it was all delicious.

I ate at “the kitchen” right next to my hotel for a couple of meals
Lunch – Phad grapao gai – fried basil leaves with chicken, spicy get it with a fried egg
Breakfast –  Tung tong (minced shrimp in wrap) – Noodle soup Chicken –
Lunch –  Nam (assortment of pork sausage), chiang Mai noodles, tung tong

Then I went over to Tha Phea Gate for breakfast another day and found some small fried eggs and some kind of spinach wrapped in noodle I got a few other skewers as well. The whole meal cost me about $2.

Phuket:

Street stall at BanZaan Marketing in Patong which is about 10 minutes away from my hotel. banzaan fresh market in phuket thailandPhad grapao gai – fried basil leaves with chicken, spicy get it with a fried egg IMG_1498Tung Tong – Minced shrimp in side an spring roll type shellIMG_1502 Noodle Soup with chickenIMG_1503Phil eating chicken intestines or maybe hearts, I don’t rememberIMG_1508

A sushi assortment at BanZaan Fresh Market in Patong in Phuket, ThailandIMG_1532Silkworm in Phuket (BanZaan)IMG_1533Grasshopper in Phuket (BanZaan)IMG_1534


Chiang Rai… Now HERE is Asia….

So I cancelled my plan of going to Bangkok because of the protests that are going on there currently. I decided instead to head to Chiang Rai. It came highly recommended by several friends and I had a friend of the family living there (teaching abroad) so it seemed like a good option. It turns out it was!

My friend Elyse is teaching in Mae Chan (?) and her friend Katelyn is teaching in Chiang Rai city center. They also had a few friends from their program (who are teaching south of bangkok) come up for the weekend. It was great to meet everyone and catch a glimpse of what these youngster are doing in there lives (early twenties). I wish I had the balls or the foresight to do this when I was there age. It seems incredible. They work during the week and travel around Thailand a lot on weekends. They have plans to go to Phuket and Malaysia for new years and once they are done with their 6months-1year of teaching they are going to continue to travel. It just seems like an awesome way to travel through Asia on the cheap and being able to take your time while doing it. Super jealous!

So, I arrived in Chiang Rai after a travel day from Singapore to Bangkok to Chiang Rai. I got to the airport here around 6pm. I had to buy a taxi ticket in the airport and unfortunately all the sim card stands were closed. So I was hoping for the best that my driver knew where he was going and that he wouldn’t veer off course. The taxi cost me about 200 Bhat (1USD=30bhat).. Everything in Thailand is SUPER CHEAP!!! (more on that later). I had forgotten what the exchange rate was when I went to the ATM at the airport so I had only taken out 1,000 Bhat (about $35) lol. I made another trip the next day after meeting my friends.

marionette horses at the night market in chiang rai

I have an entire post about the hotel so I won’t get into any detail about that here.

Getting around town is pretty easy. Chiang Rai “central” is pretty small and you could probably walk the whole thing in about 20 minutes. My hotel was a 10-15 minute cab ride (20 or so by tuk tuk). The people in town are all really friendly and they’ll often exchange a head bow or smile. The town is pretty touristy too with lots of white folk wondering around. There are backpackers and also lots of non locals that appear to be living here as well.

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Le Meridien, Chiang Rai

The ride to the hotel (Le Meridien, Chiang Rai) from the airport took about 15 minutes. The lobby was very welcoming and smelt nice. I was able to get checked in without TOO much trouble with the fact that no one spoke decent english. I chalked it up to the fact that I was in Thailand and I had prepared myself for a lack of communication. However, I was not prepared for how bad it was at the hotel. This is supposed to be a five star resort here in Thailand and it is a Starwoods property… I was very disappointed. I’m going to go on a bit of a rant so I apologize in advance.

I had several issues the first 24hours in the hotel and they were all made considerable worse by the fact that I couldn’t voice my issues to anyone in the staff and get any kind of feedback or support. After spending more than an hour on the phone with Starwoods my second night at the hotel, they told me the day manager would be in at 8am and he has a note to call me. I had a very nice conversation with Stephen, who is australian, and speaks perfect english. I really needed that and we were able to get a few things resolved.  (more…)