Day 8: Phuket. Cloudy/Sun.

We woke up hoping to get to one of the other islands for some beach time but when we looked out the window all we saw were clouds with a few sun breaks.

We decided to forgo the expensive boat ride out to the islands and take advantage of our hotel's pool/spa.





{too many pool photos, i know, but that's basically what we did all day!}


We finally got to pick up our custom painting which turned out sooo amazing! We rolled it up and put it in a PVC pipe to bring home. Somehow, we managed to get it through 3 flights without having to check it.

Our adrenaline was finally letting down from running for the last 9 days so we ended up just sitting on Karon beach watching a storm roll in {with a Magnum bar -- did I mention we were both craving Magnum ice cream the whole trip? it became a thing.}. It was actually very serene.


Our 45 minute taxi ride back to the airport was complete with native singers covering Nicki Manaj, FUN, and the Biebs himself. All three of us were rockin out like it was our job.

This time we actually booked our hotel {the night before} and got SPOILED. If you're ever in Bangkok during the non-touristy season, stay at the Amari Atrium Hotel {well, all of the Amari Hotels are amazing}. We got a corner room with a view on the 19th floor for a steal.

{one night in bangkok... anyone? anyone?}

We pretty much had that song stuck in our heads the whooooolllleee trip. One Night in Bangkok -- Murray Head. Look it up and bask in the 80's goodness. 

Day 7: Phuket. No Rain.

We woke up to the most PERFECT weather for sea kayaking. The breakfast at the hotel was bliss then we set out with John Gray's company for a day in Phang Nga Bay.


{phang nga bay is full of these little islands that have lagoons called hongs. you'd never know it but half of them are actually hollow on the inside and the only way to get inside is by kayak at low tide.}

*A quick shout out to John Gray's  -- they are AMAZING. We got this recommendation from Jesse's cousin and I'm so glad we followed her advice. What we loved about it: fewer people allowed each day {the other tours we saw out on the water looked like a zoo with so many people crammed on the boat}, they fed us twice {like, a TON of food}, they tried to pick up any trash we found in the bay {littering is a big deal there and they are trying to do their part to clean up the bay -- we were picking up other tour boat's trash}, they respected the land/wildlife {again, the other tours we saw were super crazy and noisy -- our tour actually took a few different routes so we could basically be the only ones out there to enjoy the peace}. Obviously we'd highly recommend doing a tour with John Gray!

Annnyywaayyys. This day is just one of those that will be unforgettable. Definitely one of my top 5 favorite memories of all my days!

We were a little disappointed that we had a "guide" with us on our kayak, but when we entered the caves and it was PITCH black with tons of tricky corners I realized they were totally necessary. And Sun, our guide, ended up being amazing.

We asked if we could try and be first inside one of the hongs next time for a great picture {just thinking he'd paddle a few feet ahead}. Well, he told us to just always be the first to the kayaks then he hauled into the caves before anyone else and would take different routes so half the time we felt like the only people out there! Because of this we got to see some really cool wildlife and just feel the peace before all of the other tourists came around. He had so much to tell us and was just very sincere in how much he loved the land.

From Kim's Lens:















{we brought headlamps but they didn't hold a candle to what the guides had. it was so eerie when they'd turn them off and it was pitch black!}






{inside the first hong}


{snuck up to the front of the boat}

{unforgettable}

From Jesse's Lens:


{inside one of the hongs}











{sun was also our personal photographer! he actually got us in focus!}



{during the free time we paddled out to the ranger's house}

{our retirement plan}




{we made kratongs -- part of a festival held in november}

{sun made a few love birds!}



{pictures just don't do the sunsets justice}

{we paddled out for the 4th time deep into a cave to make a wish and release our kratongs. i didn't love the bats flying overhead but it was so cool to see all of the kratongs floating in the dark. sun turned off his headlamp and told us to swish our hands in the water to make the bioluminescent bugs light up. awesome.}

{sun was freakin out while we were in one of the caves because a fish jumped in the kayak. he kept saying "don't feeeeel good! where is it?!" after setting off the kratongs another one jumped in the kayak. he thought we must have good luck because the "food just comes to us!" i hope that's true!!} 


Jesse tracked the trip via gps on iPad. {Gaia GPS app}
The swirls are where we went in and out of the hongs.

That evening we checked on our painting and decided to finally do the whole peach fish thing.

{honestly, it's disgusting. i just couldn't stand it...not even long enough to get a pic}


Day 6: Phuket. Some Rain.

Bangkok --> Phuket

Flew to Phuket at 6 in the am.

Found our hotel, Kata Palm Resort. It was super cultural and festive. But we did have the biggest cockroach hiding under the bed! Luckily he was almsot dead...

{the patio had steps that lead out to the pool. loved this place}

We had a few hours to kill so we walked around and found a tourist hub with *someone who would lend us their cell to make sure our zip line/kayaking reservations were good to go.

We grabbed some lunch then headed back to the hotel since the rain had finally settled in.



Flying Hanuman Zip Line: Amazing. 28 lines. Longest was 400 meters {1300ft}. Tallest rappel was 35 meters {114ft}. Kim went James bond/superman style down the 35 meter rappel. They basically drop you! So fun. Jesse + superman style on the 400 meter line was hilarious.

From Kim's Lens:
{saw this on our way up the trail}



I got some super funny videos of Jesse coming in on the line...but that's a whole other blog post!

From Jesse's Lens:



{jungle}




{did i mention it was super humid there?}


That evening we just went to the beach across the street for sunset. We agree with what almost everyone has said. The beaches on Phuket are seriously dirty {garbage dirty}. The other islands are where it's at!



{the lobby of the hotel}

The night life in Kata was bustling. It was a really fun place to be with tons of places to eat, live music, etc.

{yellow curry, fresh coconut milk, and connect four = a perfect way to end the day}

That night we found this amazing shop with the coolest paintings. We aren't big souvenir people but we both loved this guy's work. So, we asked him if he could take a few of the paintings we liked and combine them into one then paint it all white. He said he could, we bartered the price way down, and he agreed. It felt way more personal than anything we'd seen in the gazillion shops and markets we'd wandered through.


Tomorrow was a day with John Gray -- basically, one of the biggest reasons we went to Thailand! 

Day 3: Chiang Mai. Some Rain.

We were bummed when we woke up and realized we'd slept in a little, so we packed up and hit the street asap.

We'd talked about doing a cooking class so we looked several up online and had the hotel concierge call them to see if they had any spots open. All of them were either full or ended too late {we had a bus to catch that evening}.

Feeling a little bummed we just walked across the street and through the gate into the Old City. We wandered a while, just enjoying being there. There are little tourist info hubs everywhere -- usually just a hallway in between two shops with posters and pamphlets plastered all over.

We decided to ask one more time about a cooking class. After a little haggling to know which one was the closest she grudgingly mentioned Baan Thai but still said it was "far away,  need taxi." We thanked her profusely and said we'd think about it and come back. Then went and found it...3 blocks away.

Luckily they had 2 spots open but it ended at 8:00pm and we had to be at the bus station by 8:30. We agreed just thinking we'd have to slip out a few minutes early.

Tiger Kingdom.
Touristy? Yes. Worth it? YES.
There were signs everywhere saying "animals are not drugged" {I hope that is true}, and "be careful, they are still wild animals and they like play - sometimes that involves biting."

From Kim's Lens:

{I wanted to call this guy Hurley. Lost, anyone? He kept singing Frank Sinatra and Enrique Iglesias to calm the cats down. Thai Hurley kept saying, "Scratch hard! Not light! If they get tickled...it's bad news." Um, what is considered "light" to a tiger?!}

{basically a domesticated cat...but huge.}



From Jesse's Lens:
{freaking out a little}

Then he decided to cuddle with ME.


{legit terrified}





{nice chops}

{biiiiig yawn}


We got back into town and just roamed again -- finding all kinds of people, places, and things that were off the beaten path.

{got caught in the rain coming back from tiger kingdom}

{all of the motorcycles would sneak up to the front at stop lights}

{this kid was crackin us up}

 {hand raised for...the turn signal? so cute}



Baan Thai Cookery School. A total highlight for me. It was 4 hours long and between the two of us we made about 6 different classic Thai dishes. It was just so great. Around the table we had Israel, USA, Australia, and Korea represented. A sweet couple from Cambridge{?} Australia sat across from us and were so fun to talk with. *Hugh's aunt has a run at Silver Star named after her {a ski resort my family went to for 10+ years}! Small world.

Went to market to learn about diff foods {*roll lime before cutting makes more juicy}.





 Jesse cooked: Chiang Mai Noodle with Chicken, Fried Noodle Thai style, Seafood in Coconut Milk Soup, and Spring Rolls with Chicken {*never beef or seafood because not popular}.

Kim cooked: Panaeng Curry with Pork, Fresh Cashew Nut with Chicken, Chicken in Coconut Milk, and Papaya Salad.

{soooo goooooood!}

Other random thoughts: The class finished just in time for us to head back to the bus station to catch the 9pm back to Bangkok.  This time we had a movie playing: Resident Evil. HA! We were definitely not in America anymore. Crazy bus ride. Never sitting in the back again. The buses {at least the ones that we took} had "attendants" that gave us food/blankets. The girl and her 8-year-old boy slept behind our sets on floor in back of bus. I felt really awkward about that one...

{these buses were so tall -- no wonder it swayed so much with every little turn!}

We knew it was going to be a tight transition when we got back. We were scheduled to get back into Bangkok at 5:00am and catch another bus at 6:00am to Cambodia. If you've traveled much {especially in Asia} you'll know this wasn't very smart of us to do. Transportation isn't known for its punctuality so the likelihood of us missing that bus to Cambodia was pretty good. Amazingly enough, we rolled in at 5:20. Turns out the Mo Chit station is HUGE {like 120+ bus stalls} with fences separating it into different sections. I don't think that place ever sleeps because even at that hour it was a party! Still, we ended up running, dodging through broken parts of the chain link fence, and through the dark alleys in between the buses that were parked for the night. It was pretty eerie. Finally we found our way from the 100+ bus stall to the 18th and boarded the bus just as the sun was coming up.

Cambodia, you're next!

Day 2: Chiang Mai. No Rain.

Bangkok --> Chiang Mai

The 10 hour bus ride to Chiang Mai was great. A word to the wise though, always try to get seats in the front. The ride home was 1 loop away from being an attraction at Six Flags.

From Kim's Lens:

{6 a.m. -- first of many tuk tuk rides}


{driver helping us find the hotel}


{No rooms were available for that day to put stuff in so we hit streets to look for a new hotel before our trekking tour picked us up at the original hotel. Found one, a much cooler one, just down the street that had room available ASAP. Ran to room, tossed stuff on bed, changed our 3 day old clothes, and ran back to the original hotel {Lanna House} with minutes to spare before the trekking tour to picked us up. Sorry Lanna House.}


{8:30 a.m. -- waiting for the truck. obligatory self portrait.}



{eating fruit in the back of a truck going 60 down the street}

{a lil sugar cane to start the day}

{our elephant named ola}



{the baby elephant decided to go for a dip -- he's not drowning!}

{we just kept going deeper into the jungle --after a few miles of this we were ready to get ouuuut!}

{#seemslegit}

Had a quick lunch {which was super good} before heading on a hike...



{3 out of the 7 women decided wedges were just right for the 2.5 mile jungle hike. what?}


{tom the guide = coolest guy}



{flw's falling water -- thai style}

{staples}

{made it to the waterfall!}

{our beijing friends were hilarious... and had "many poses"}


{jesse was inspired}




{the rapids were like class 2's but somehow jesse and i almost fell out! our beijing friend lunged for jesse. it was a sight to see!}

{i will forever remember the guides screaming "bamboo sinking!"}

I will also never forget the couple who brought their 1-year-old on the trek and were exasperated when they found out they couldn't take her RIVER RAFTING. They put up such a fuss that Tom our sweet guide was like "fine I'll just watch her!" A good reminder that not everyone has the same opinions across the globe. 

{zonedddd out}

{we stopped by a random tibetan village in the middle of thailand. they've preserved their culture so well. it was really interesting}

{i see you...}

{the village is teeny tiny}

{i usually never buy souvenirs but this lady totally got me -- i came away with a bracelet}

From Jesse's Lens:

{scared.}





{welcome to the jungle}


 {jurassic park butterfly}




{freakin me out!}


That night we got our first Thai massages. Amazing. Even though it was awkward walking by Lanna House every time we went somewhere. Sorry Lana House. 

Then we headed to the night bazaar. It was huge! We practiced our bartering and came out with a few goods. 

Chiang Mai was treating us well.