Thursday, July 31, 2014

Phi Phi >> Phuket >> Bangkok >> Home?!

aka, buckle up, this is a long post!

Our last 48...84? Hours of our vacation was quite the whirl wind of events. We spent our last morning in Phi Phi relaxing on the beach, getting Thai massages, and eating Thai pancakes #hardlife. Along our trip, we had heard from people that Phi Phi is much better than Phuket, so we took the afternoon ferry home instead of the morning to soak up the island sun for a few more hours; leaving us with one night in Phuket. So, we did the essentials: see a Buddha, eat some food.

Only, IT WAS THE LARGEST BUDDHA EVVAH.


After checking into our hostel and soaking up the AC (unmelting), we hit the streets in search of a taxi that would squeeze us all in for the 20 minute ride up to this gem:


pro tip: book the taxi for the way up AND down. There aren't taxi's up there and some  hooligans were stranded at the top with no ride down! 












It was a pretty radical sunset up there. On our way back to the hostel, we asked the cabbie to drop us off at a dope restaurant within walking distance of our hostel. We landed at a place full of locals (so we knew it'd be good!) and stuffed our bocas with some nosh. The next day we wanted to test our stamina and create the longest day ever of traveling to Bangkok and then seeing everything Bangkok has to offer (LOL).

jk. but not really.

Sidenote: our first day of the trip we were SUPPOSED to have a full day in Bangkok, but Delta was just like LOL NO. So, we had a night, which was spent being ballers on a bar at the 65th story of a building and getting a tuk tuk to drop us off at his friends restaurant (what? this doesn't look like the market...oh? it's closed? we totally believe you).


SO. After losing a day, we had to get some essentials checked off our Bangkok list: Wat Pho and the Golden Buddha.

The ferry port from our hostel was about a 10 minute walk...unfortunately there was a 100 lane speedtrack highway in the way. After trying to navigate around it, we called some tuk tuk's to the rescue. We were all "hey, take us to the ferry and step on it!" and he was all "okay i'll take you to my friends boat and pretend I don't know what the word ferry is", but he said it in Thai, so we smiled and said okay. We get there and the boat guy was all "that'll be one MILLION Thai Baht" and we were like "NOPE, where's the ferry." we talked him down to like 300 Baht which was still REDONK but whatevs, he took us through the canals a bit so...we saw that.




THEN he dropped us off at a station up the river, we got out and walked a few blocks to Wat Pho. It was massivlybeautifulamazing.








LOL bamboo scaffolding. We spent the afternoon wandering around the site, picking out which building we'd each live in if we took over the compound, and ended with some caffeine to keep us going. After wandering around Wat Pho, we headed out in search for THE GOLDEN BUDDHA.



We had got to wear cute neon robes (since we were out of clean 'appropriate' clothing) to check it out. It's hard to get a full picture, because the Buddha is squeezed into a building, but she was massive, yo!







AH we found the FERRY that DIDN'T EXIST before! Silly Bangkok civilians constantly lying to us! (sidenote: this is true, everyone lies to you in this city, so ask Google before asking ANYONE ANYTHING.)

SO, after taking a siesta, we turned on some club music in the hostel to wake everyone up for our fancy dinner on our last night of the trip (tears). IT WAS ON A LOTUS POND. what?



We asked our friends (who, later that night were not our friends) at the hostel how to get here, they were like "oh 15 minute walk up the street" and even put an X on a map. Which we followed DILIGENTLY. Until it wasn't actually there (buildings in Bangkok move?). SO, after 45 minutes we showed up to dinner SWEATING, and starving. Dinner was AMAZING though. We went to The Sukhothai, it was our most expensive meal ($20 LOL), but SO GOOD. And the wait staff was ADORABLE. So, finger snaps.

THEN. Because this wasn't the longest day ever yet. Lauren and I hopped on a Tuk Tuk to check out China town and stock up on Koala Yummies, obvi.



At this point we were about to claim the streets of China Town as our bed, so we hopped on a Tuk Tuk, got lost, but finally found our way to the hostel. Then finger snaps and we were home! HAHA LOL JK NOPE. Delta was nice enough to delay our flight home (again!), add a layover in Seattle (one hour! *missed flight*) and let us travel the airways for 36, THIRTY SIX, hours before swan diving our smelly tired bodies into our OWN bed.


At one point (not sure what country we were in) we were talking to a man and his daughter from Australia. He mentioned how upbeat we were despite horrible conditions. We thanked him, but left out the fact that we were highly intoxicated. We learned early on in this trip that beer is the only medicine for long hours spent in an airport. #professionaltravelers

Speaking of being professional travelers, they do a very funny, yet efficient thing over there for peeps like us (ya know, lost souls who don't speak the native language). They put STICKERS on us. I wish I had kept them all #hoarder, you might even see us wearing them in the pictures along the trip (I spy game?!). Oh, you need a taxi into town? Blue sticker. You need to go to domestic baggage claim when we land? Red sticker. SO FUNNY. BUT, IT WORKS SO WELL. In Japan we were waiting in a line to get our boarding pass and a woman looked at us (our sticker) "Oh, you are on blah blah flight? Right this way"...AND in...some other destination...we were waiting to pass through customs and (we were in the MIDDLE of a huge crowd) some woman crowed surfed to get at us and re-direct us to another, more appropriate line.

SO FUNNY. so smart.

And THAT was our trip, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai and Phi Phi, If you missed the rest!

Now, where to next....?!



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thai Islands: Forget a BAHT it.

"I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know 
it's not some place you can look for. Because it's not where you go. 
It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something. 
And if you find that moment...It lasts forever." - Richard (The Beach


A Baht, somewhere between .30-.40 american cents - depending on which city you are in, who you are talking to, the weather, and what color clothing you have on. It wasn't the most SCIENTIFIC calculation. Whenever we thought we understood the conversion (like from the interwebs) we would take out money in the ATM and it would be a COMPLETELY different conversion. It made SO much CENTS, but we rolled with it because REGARDLESS, things were like $1 there, so whatever.

 So, how do we top gallivanting in ancient temples? Or jungle trekking? Ah, yes. This.

This is the view right outside our hostel
We knew we wanted to end the trip on the beach. Get some actual relaxation in before heading home (post-pit stop in Bangkok). Phuket is a beach town on the mainland, and Ko Phi Phi is an island about 3 hours (by ferry) west. So, after landing in Phuket, we took a taxi to the port to hitch a ferry to Ko Phi Phi for a few days of island bliss. It. Was. Magical.

Mirror pics on the ferry!


We stayed at the Blanco Beach Bar, which was RIGHT on the water, and steps from a bar.

The small stone path leads to the bedrooms, beach/bar is behind the shot
To the left of this is the bar - nice little relaxation area out of the sun
Immediately after "checking in", we were found here: Beers on the beach


After our long travel day (Plane, Taxi, Ferry, Walk a mile), we relaxed at our hostel/bungalow with a few beers before heading to Relax bar, down the street. Here, we casually taught some fellows from Australia, Ireland and England how to play Flip Cup, our favorite drinking game :)


What is AWESOME about this island, is that at night the beach LIGHTS UP with fire, literally. Fire shows allll night. So memorizing. BUT THEN, they start lighting jump ropes and limbos on fire and after a few beers your like "yeah, I haven't jumped rope in like 10 years, I got this." Thankfully no burns were acquired on this part of the journey.



All the little Thai guys were RIPPED and loved showing it off, it was kinda funny
Our first full day on the island we didn't move from the beach, if only to order another pineapple smoothie from the bar #hardlife . We did manage to book a tour for the next day, which included a stop to see Monkeys on the beach, cliff jumping from 10 meters (TERRIFYING), snorkeling, swimming in a lagoon, scaling cliffs to Maya Beach, and swimming with plankton at night (they light up when disturbed). I think we were in the water about 70% of the day.

This monkey stole a water bottle and successfully drank from it #ThaiMonkeysGotTalent
The Lagoon we swam in (It was about a 4' to a 124803' drop)
Where we snorkeled!
This is where we jumped out to scale the rock ledge (see below!)

BUT OMG MAYA BEACH. Of course a capitalized attraction over here for us Leo lovers, but it was BEAUTIFUL. We were there for the sunset so we basically died of happiness. BUT, getting there was, interesting. Allow me to paint the scene.

We took a long boat (I'll explain what this is in a moment...) out that day, the driver took us into a...cove...Maya Beach was on the other side of a very steep rock cliff (you can't get in through the beach's inlet because of the tide? or something? #languagebarrier). So, we jumped out of the boat and swam to shore. Only, there wasn't really a shore, it was more like a rock ledge with waves crashing into it. So, with each wave, we held on tight! After scaling the rock ledge we came to a CAVE. Only one person could go through at a time, and you had to time it well with the waves to not fall (rocks here are not smooth, getting cut looks like little paper cuts, super sharp!). After the cave you'd grab a rope and get back into the water (The rope made sure you didn't drift into the rocks with the waves). Pulling ourselves along the rope, bracing with each wave, we came to a jungle gymish rope ladder. We climbed up that (about 30 feet) to wood steps, this led back down the other side to safety. We then walked about half a mile to the beach. DA BEACH.





 Just a perfect way to end the day (aside from swimming with Plankton, of course).


Phi Phi (which BTW is pronounced PEE PEE...hehe) was a small enough island where we could walk from one end to the other in 5 minutes (if we didn't get lost), which made it cute and quaint. Below are shots from the port side, these are long boats which you take around the islands. The motors are long poles (like 15') with a small propeller off the end. The driver moves the pole from side to side to steer the boat in the right direction.








A few recommendations/things to do:
>>Boat Day trip, totally worth the $16, many different companies/variations to choose from
>>Eat a million Thai Pancakes (basically a fried crepe), They are SO DELICIOUS.
>>Banana Bar - Good food,, awesome outdoor rooftop bar (they play movies at night!)
>>Fire shows. Every night, all night.

Banana and Nutella Thai Pancake!

Although it's the only island we visited whilst in Thailand, it was amazing and i'd HIGHLY recommend it. It's basically spring break there every night. You kinda loose track of the days... and your age...

Next up was a busy 48 hour dash through Phuket and Bangkok before figuring out our flight home was cancelled (how's that for a CLIFF hanger...get it? Because I jumped off a cliff?...)