Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bangkok round 2 nov. 3rd-Nov. 7th

Liz and I got on an overnight bus from Phuket to Bangkok. Let me tell you they love their AC here in Southeast Asia. Every time we get on a bus they blast the air and I don't have warm clothing. Oh and the dude sitting behind me thought it was a great idea to stick his bare nasty stinky feet on my arm rest between my chair and window. I was not having it so I stuck my back pack in the space and pushed his feet off. I figured if I said something in English he wouldn't understand so desperate times calls for desperate measures and pushing his feet with my bag was the only way. Liz and I tried to fall asleep but it was difficult to sleep in the cold.

The next morning we woke up and saw that the bus was entering Bangkok. When we got off the bus we were hoping there would be a tuk tuk. Our only choice was another bus or take a cab to Khao Sahn rd. Back to backpacker land. We decided to take a cab. Now after traveling in Thailand for a month you know when the locals are trying to scam you or take advantage of the fact that you are a tourist. When we got to the cab we wanted to charge us a flat rate 400 baht! I said NO! I want meter! After haggling with the cab drivers I got my wish.

We had the cab take us to Sawasdee hotel, which was the hotel that Eden and I stayed in when we first came to Bangkok, and settled in. We were looking forward to San Diego and the British boys to make their way up here and we would see them the next day.

Liz and I were debating on playing with tigers or going to the seven step waterfall so we decided to walk around and go to different tour agencies to compare pricing. While we were in one of the offices Liz looked outside the window and saw Scott, Eden's friend, walking down the street. We got so excited and greeted him. He took us to a museum and a mall that was serving different types of food. I had some vegetarian fried rice and Scott and Liz had some meat satay and seafood. Scott had to head out to meet a friend so Liz and I got on a bus that was free back to our hotel. We would meet Scott later for drinks since he was heading to the islands the next day.

Liz and I had some street pad thai for a $1 and made our way up to the rooftop bar where there is a one man coverband. This Thai guy sang a couple of classics and has an amazing voice. It doesn't sound like he is Thai. We ended up sharing a table with two guys from England. They just met each other at the bar and we were having a great time until things got really awkward. One of the guys became extremely cocky and told me that he was going to kiss me and then the other guy discreetly told me he was interested in me as well. In my early 20's I would have found this flattering but I was so uncomfortable and it created an awkward atmosphere. I just came to the bar to hear the one man band. Luckily Scott came and when he finished his beer we left and headed back to the hotel. One of the guys, not the cocky one, came running after me to kiss me and I said no. I let him down easy and wished him well. We headed to our hotel and arranged to have breakfast with Scott before he headed down south.

Next morning we met up with Scott around 9am and ate at a restaurant around the corner from our hotel. We had the most amazing egg sandwiches on baguettes and tea. Breakfast cost us $3 per person not bad right? We then said goodbye to Scott and decided to use this day to run some errands.

So I had decided to continue to travel with Liz and go to Vietnam and Cambodia with her. This meant that we needed to get Visas for Vietnam. I'm sure we got scammed because we had to pay $100 just to get the visa when we should have done it online but what was done was done. We spent the day running around booking flights and running errands. We met up with San Diego and the boys for dinner. Liz and I decided to call it a night and let the boys have a boys night.

The next day we took it easy, chilled and I got to go to yoga and Liz was able to get a mani pedi. We also realized that when we booked our flight we booked it for the 6th but our visas were for the 7th. Yup I know how silly are we. We had to go to the Air Asia office to switch our flight and unfortunately we had to pay an additional $44 for our flight. Oh well you win some and you lose some.

At night we met back up with the boys to eat some street food. The boys also ate bugs like grasshoppers and grubs. We then headed to the rooftop bar to listen to the one man band...he is there every night I guess. For some reason I just couldn't hang so I called it a night.

The next day Liz and I decided to show the boys around Bangkok. Liz and I agreed that we were having a better a time in Bangkok since we knew our way around and knew what to expect. We took the boys to the market and walked on the streets where Thais were selling stolen goods, food, and the boys didn't believe me that you could buy human teeth off the street until they saw it with their own eyes. We then took them to the reclining Buddha. This place was a little tough for me to return to since its where my camera was stolen. But I went and bumped into the same security guard that made puppy faces at me when I offered money for my camera back. I gave him a nod like I know you and he didn't recognize me. I let it all go and moved on. I've made new memories with my new camera.

The boys were leaving around 5:30 to catch a bus to Chiang Mai and Liz and I were going to pull an all nighter since our flight was at 6am. We had one last meal with the boys and I had a coconut. I've developed an addiction to coconut whether its the actual coconut or in a shake. So good!

Aaron, the guy who lives in Bangkok, came to have dinner with Liz and I. He treated us which we greatly appreciated. Went out to the roof top bar and pulled our all nighter. At 4am we headed to the airport to catch our flight to Vietnam!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oct. 26th-Nov.2nd From Ko Phangnan to Railay Beach to Ko Phi Phi to Phuket (Thailand)

Oct. 26th: Beth, Liz and I woke up at 5am to head to Railay beach. So here is what was in store for us starting at 5am: A mini van was going to pick us up from our hotel to take us to a ferry boat back to the main land. We then hop on a bus to a stop in Krabi where we get picked up by another van to take us to a longtailboat which would then take us to Railay beach. Each stop you make they give you a sticker which lets the drivers know where to take you. I literally felt like we were cattle getting branded by stickers. Such is life!

While we were on the longtail boat heading to Railay beach we fell in love with our surroundings. Railay is one of Thailand's most sought-after beach areas. In just one small peninsula we were surrounded by white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs, viewpoints,  the diamond cave and a lagoon hidden inside the cliffs, shaped and fed by the changing tides. We stayed on the east side since it was cheaper and noticed that there are no roads; only footpaths, no buses, no cars, just longtail boats. It was a great way to get away from the party island life and here is where I was going to rock climb.

Beth, Liz and I were going to stay in the Diamond resort for one night and Beth was unfortunately leaving us the next day to join her tour group and Liz and I would have to find a cheaper place to stay. Luckily we got in early and had enough time to kill to explore the island. The hotel gave us a map of the peninsula and it looked like a little kid drew it with intent to look like a treasure map. First stop the Diamond cave.

After going to the caves in Laos, which were extremely disappointing, we were hoping that the diamond cave was a proper cave with stalagmites and stalacmites. Phra Nang Cave, known as the Diamond Cave,  is on the east side of the was beautiful , but small and in the middle of the cave was a large shimmering limestone that looked like it was covered in glitter.

We got a little hungry so we decided to grab some food at a place called Ya Ya's. Here is where we met Tyson and Phil from Canada and Nick from Australia. These guys were traveling together and were heading to Vietnam after Thailand to ride motorbikes throughout the entire country. I tried to coordinate rock climbing with them but they looked like they needed some rest. After we ate we tried to walk up to the Lagoon but it was pretty high up, steep and we were wearing flip flops. Plus it was getting late and we did not want to head back down in the dark. We decided to head over to the west beach to check it out and it started to down pour. We stopped at  a cafe and ordered some tea. Liz asked for some milk and they brought it to her in a baby bottle with the tip cut off. We were a little weirded out but we found ways to amuse ourselves with it since Beth decided to take a nap in her chair and we took pictures of her sleeping with the baby bottle. It was time to head back to the hotel but it was raining, and there was thunder and lightening. We had no idea what path we were on and the ground was covered in mud and massive puddles. It felt like we were walking through a swamp. The thunder was so loud that Beth and I started to scream. Liz lead the way back to the hotel and the locals were laughing at us because we screeched like little girls.

Got to the hotel, watched some TV and passed out.

Oct. 27th: This morning we said farewell to our beloved Beth and Liz and I headed to the Ya Ya hotel. We then headed to the west beach and we ran into two girls from England named Rachel and Anna. They are sisters traveling together. They were going rock climbing at 2pm so I was going to meet them and join them. They told us to check out the cave full of wooden willies. When I say willies I mean mens....... yah know. Here is a link to a picture of the cave it was well.... interesting.
"Dedicated to the spirit of the drowned princess (phra nang) who gave the beach her name, this small shrine in a small cave is notable primarily for the dozens of carved red-tipped phalluses donated by fishermen seeking her favour." We then walked a long the beach and I was able to order pad thai off of a long boat. I love this country! Any time I want pad thai its right there even on a boat on the shore.

Unfortunately it started to down pour again. No rock climbing for me today.... sad panda. We headed back to Ya Ya's for some tea and thats where I met Meeka and Sarah from from Canada. They were only traveling for a short period of time but I was able to coordinate rock climbing with them for the next morning. Thats why I came here to rock climb!!! I wasn't going to leave until it was done!

That night Liz and I went to the last bar all the way at the end of the east beach. We made so many friends on that beach everyone joined us..... Tyson and Phil, Rachel and Anna, Meeka and Sarah and this awesome guy named Darren from England who is traveling to China to learn Kong Fu. Had an amazing night!!

Oct. 28th: Woke up at 8am to meet up with Meeka and Sarah to go rock climbing. They took me to the company where they booked it and they were able to take me as well. The guide was hilarious and called me his American girlfriend. So it was me Meeka, Sarah and this woman who was really annoying. I don't remember where she was from but she only went rock climbing for 1 day and thought she knew everything. I think she was trying to be helpful with trying to explain how to climb up the cliffs but she was extremely bossy and yelled.

Anyways, I climbed up 4 different cliffs and climbed up to one that had a cave in it. Once I am able to download my photos I will attach a link for everyone to see. I had a blast with Meeka and Sarah those girls were hilarous. We then headed back to the rock climbing office where we needed to hop on to a longtail boat to get back to the mainland in Krabi to hop on a ferry boat to Ko Phi Phi. I ran to the west beach to grab Liz, who was having tea with Darren, and we ran back to the office and got on the boat. On the boat we met a girl named Anita, from England, who was teaching English in Bangkok and was on holiday.

We arrived in Krabi and when we got off the long tail boat all these Thai men surrounded us asking us where we were going and carried our bags to the ferry office. They marked our hands in pen for Ko Phi Phi. We then got on a van to the ferry that took us to Ko Phi Phi (The Island of Free Buckets).

When we got to Ko Phi Phi Anita was extremely helpful. She showed us the way to the cheap hotels and where to find the greatest pad thai on the island. We walked towards Harmony Hotel and low and behold who do we run into... the crazy Canadians Dustin and James!!!! Emma and Kerry were on the Island as well! Basically everyone we had met at the full moon party ended up at this island.

That night we walked around the island where people pass out flyers for happy hours and free buckets. This is why I call Ko Phi Phi the "Island of Free Buckets" because there are a number of bars a long the water that will supply you with free alcohol. So much for getting away from the party island life here I go again!!!

Oct. 29th-Nov.2nd Life on Ko Phi Phi:

I had soo much fun on this island all of our friends that we met on other islands made their way here and they all stayed at the harmony hotel. Our gang which consisted of Wayne, James, John, Sophie, Kat and somehow San Diego managed to change his flight to head over and then Tyson, Nick and Phil made their way over as well. It was nice to be on an island where you know everyone.

During this time frame Liz and I discovered our favorite restaurants and had breakfast at a bakery near our hotel every day and had dinner at Calamaro which was a restaurant that served everything but specialized in Italian food.

For Halloween I wore my full moon devil horns and watched a little girl Thai box and watched John and Wayne get in the ring and Thai bo for a free bucket. We either danced the night away or stayed at our hotel watching free movies when it rained.

On Ko Phi Phi we were able to see the most beautiful viewpoint, which is the picture above, we visited long beach and I was able to schedule a tour to monkey beach and Maya bay where they filmed the movie The Beach. We also experienced Thailands rainy monsoon season. It was a shame that it rained a lot while we were on the island but we lucked out on the weather when we went to see Maya Bay.

To all the friends that I have made on this trip it has been an absolute pleasure meeting all of you. We had such a great time on Ko Phi Phi even though it rained for a majority of the time, and my legs were covered in millions of misquito bites, it was totally worth coming here.

Nov. 3rd: Liz and I decided to check out Phuket for the day and then take an over night bus up to Bangkok. Some advice about going to Phuket... DO NOT EVER EVER EVER GO TO PHUKET!!!

The second we got off the ferry to Phuket there are taxi drivers harassing you. There are no tuk tuks here and you have no choice but to take a cab with a set price. We told the cab to drive us to the bus station so we could book our tickets for Bangkok. We bought our tickets and walked to a cafe to eat some breakfast. We then found a tuk tuk driver to drive us around the island to all the major points for 40 baht. We were not impressed at all with Phuket. It was dirty and overcrowded with tourists. After our tuk tuk tour we took a bus to one of the beaches and it just didn't compare to Ko Phi Phi. We could not wait to get out of here.

So some news: Here is where Liz and I discussed the fact that I would continue to travel with her to Vietnam and Cambodia. These places were not on my list but hey carpe diem! Why not right?

We walked into an internet cafe to check flights from Bangkok to Hanoi and met a woman who we ended up paying 100 baht to drive us back to the bus station. Now I know I am a horrible horrible driver, and those of you who have been in a car with me know this, but this woman could not drive for her life. Liz was soo stressed out for the first time I thought she was going to strangle this woman. We made it back in time to the bus station ran to a seven eleven for snacks and ran back to catch the bus.

I'm going going back back to Bangkok Bangkok.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oct. 21st-25th Ko Phangnan Full Moon party 2010!!!!!!!!!

Oct. 21st.: Liz, Beth and I got on a boat from Ko Samui to Ko Phangnan where we would be staying at the Vimarn Samut Resort. I ended up paying $300 for 3 nights here and when we got to the hotel we were extremely disappointed. I swear there was asbestos and the room was extremely damp. I ended up meeting Aaron and his friend Dave there and they both had really nice rooms with a TV and Fridge which we did not have in our rooms. We decided to make the best of it even though our room wasn't as nice. I did have to look on the bright side and noticed that the good thing about our hotel was that it was far away from the party beach so if we wanted to get away from the crazy chaos, neon paint and fire dancers we could.

The full moon party was on the 23rd but there are a number of parties before the date that lead to the full moon party. So we decided to have dinner by the beach and see what Ko Phangnan was all about.

Beth, Liz, Aaron, Dave and I ate dinner by the beach and I of course ate pad thai. Aaron thought it would be a great idea to get the party started by ordering buckets. Now let me tell you about these so called buckets. They are buckets used to make sand castles and there are a number of bucket stands surrounding the beach all with a different name and inappropriate messages. The buckets are 150-300 baht... its 30 baht to $1 so you do the math. These buckets are lethal!

We ended up bumping into the Canadian guys, James and Dustin, and here is where the neon paint and dancing started. Aaron had a neon dragon painted on to his arms and he was nice enough to buy me devil horns that light up. We all were covered in paint and neon necklaces, braceletes and horns and got up on a table and started to dance.

I felt really bad for our friend Dave. He came to the island with pink eye and when he tried to take a picture of us dancing on the tables he ended up falling backwards and it looked like it hurt. He was also trying way to hard to get the ladies and was being way too picky when we told him just to dance and have fun. He ended up getting lost in the crowd.

Beth, Liz and I just continued to dance till 3am. 

This was only the beginnning till the full moon party.

Oct. 22nd: This morning we woke up, had breakfast and went straight to the beach to relax and get some color. Since we had such a late night that night we decided to take it easy and I ended up taking the longest nap ever. Liz and Beth woke up earlier than I did so they headed into town to grab food.

When Aaron, Dave and I woke up we met up at the front of the hotel and walked to the town where all the restaurants and bars. We chose to eat at the Mona Lisa, which was run by Italians, and I ended up eating a pizza. Beth and Liz walked by and decided to join us and take advantage of the free wifi.

So things to know about the islands: 1. Everything is kind of pricey for Thailand. 2. They have bars and restaraunts that will play family guy or friends all day long. 3. You have to pay for internet at the cafes uless you are at a restaurant and use their free wifi. 4. You will have your clothes damaged by neon paint 5. You will see people with burns from playing with fire (either from the jump rope, hoop, or spitting fire) 6. You party till the sun comes up!

Since this was the night before the full moon party we decided to take it easy and just watch the fire show on the beach. The fire show consists of a number of Thai men playing with fire and twirling it like a baton. There are also places on the beach where you can jump rope fire. I mean it the jump rope is litterally on fire and the locals and tourists just go ahead and jump in. We also watched people place alocohol in their mouths and spit as hard as they can from a stick of fire trying to light another stick in front of them. Whoever is able to light the stick up wins a bucket. We saw a number of people get burned either from the jump rope or the  spitting contest.

Like I said we wanted to save our energy for the next night so we headed back to the hotel to sleep.

Oct. 23rd: FULL MOON PARTY!!!!! So my morning consisted of going for a run with Aaron, eating our free breakfast with the ladies, a little beach, a little lunch, which consisted of sketchy pad thai that was bright pink and realized it had shrimp in it, and let the shinanigans begin!!

We walked all over the main streets looking for outfits for the party. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted. Since there are ultra violet lights everywhere I wanted to make sure I wore white. I ended up finding a white shirt and white shorts and decided to splatter them with blue neon paint. Liz and Beth found their outfits as well and we walked to the dock to meet up with Emma, Kerry and Rachel sincelked all over the main streets looking for outfits for the party. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted. Since there are ultra violet lights everywhere I wanted to make sure I wore white. I ended up finding a white shirt and white shorts and decided to splatter them with blue neon paint. Liz and Beth found their outfits as well and we walked to the dock to meet up with Emma, Kerry and Rachel since they were staying on Ko Samui and taking the boat over. Once they arrived they all bought outfits as well and we headed back to the hotel to pregame and cover ourselves with neon paint.

Since I was the artistic one out of the group I ended up painting everyones faces and arms and legs. After I painted the group I chose to paint a blue flower on my face. I wore my hair up and bought a headband that said full moon party 2010. My entire outfit was white and neon blue. Aaron and Dave joined us and we painted a large pink hand on Dave's face to blend in with his pink eye. Now off to the beach!!!

Before we got to the beach Rachel and I decided to grab cheese burgers and fries so we could last all night  and these burgers were amazing! We walked down the beach and the scene was unreal. The beach was packed with people walking around with their buckets. There were 10,000-12,000 people on the beach partying. It was like spring break in Miami but it was 10 times better! There were even places where you could pay people to watch you sleep so you could wake up and party again.

I was happy that we had such an amazing group of girls. We all felt safe and we created a buddy system since the beach can get a bit crazy. Some of us were dancing on tables, others were buying buckets, and I decided to jump through a hoop of fire.... twice. After I jumped through a hoop of fire we ended up meeting a number of people and thats when I met Chris from Chicago. Chris used to work in finance and has also decided to quit his job to travel the world. I told him to take my camera and take pictures of me sliding down the slide with fire pillars on the side. We hung out for the majority of the night and I met his friends who he was traveling with and one of the girls was injured during a motorbike accident but she still came to party hard. Side note: motorbiking on these islands are very dangerous and we saw many accidents happen.

The night was ending and I did not have enough energy to stay for the sun rise. I said goodbye to Chris and walked back to the hotel. I thought it was really funny when I got back to our room Kerry, Beth and Rachel were passed out. Emma and Liz came back later and thought it would be amusing to take pictures of us all passed out. Emma, Kerry and Rachel needed to head out back to the pier to get the boat back to Ko Samui so we said goodbye and went back to sleep. We knew we would run into Kerry and Emma when we head to Ko Phi Phi. 

I had one of the most amazing nights of my life!

Oct. 24th and 25th: When I woke up I was still covered in neon paint and glitter. We washed up and packed and headed down to eat our free breakfast. We then moved to another hotel closer to the pier since it was cheaper and it had a swimming pool.

These next 2 days we used to recuperate and we hung out with Remco, San Diego and a big group of friends from England who we met in Ko Samui.

On the 25th we rented a 4x4. It was soo ghetto and thank god Liz knew how to drive stick. We drove to another beach on the island that was more peaceful and relaxing. We only had one cd in the car and it was techno of course so we drove around jamming to techno around the island.

Next stop: Railay beach!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oct. 15th- Oct. 21st. Ko Samui Island (Thailand)

Oct. 15th: Beth, Liz and I got off the train at a stop where a bus would pick us up to get to a boat that would take us to Ko Samui. Beth is from England but she was traveling with 3 Canadian guys named James, Ryan and Dustin (who they called Radio). It was 5am and we were all exhausted. Dustin decided to grab a chang beer and start early.

The bus finally came to pick us up and the boys ended up in a van while Beth, Liz and I ended up in a double decker bus. We decided to get to the top and sleep at the front of the bus. It dropped us off at the pier where we all lined up to take to boat to each island. Beth was heading to Ko Tao where they are known to have the best and cheapest diving schools and we were heading to Ko Samui.

Beth's Island was first and we told Beth to get into contact with us when she got to Ko Samui. It took us 2 hours to get to our island and when we got off the pier we were not exactly coherent. Now here is what you need to know about the islands of Thailand.... everything is extremely pricey compared to Bangkok and northern Thailand. The taxi cabs on the islands do not go by the meter they have flat rates per person and they wanted 200 baht per person. NO WAY!!! Liz and I walked a little ways away from the pier to find a tuk tuk and he wanted 80 baht. He asked me where we were going and to be honest we had no plans and no hotel booked. I literally pointed to a map and said take me here and had no idea where we were going.

We ended up in a tuk tuk with really obnoxious Israelis and when the tuk tuk stopped to drop us off he stopped in front of a 7 eleven so we were really confused. There was a ton of construction going on but we noticed a big sign that said fishermans village. We were told to go in there.... so we did. We walked a little ways and we reached the beach only to find that we were near luxurious hotels and this is not what we signed up for. We walked a little bit more and passed a massage parlor and this woman asked us where we were going. We told her we needed a cheap place to stay. She wanted to help us so she phoned her friend and then she took me on her motorbike to check out the place.

It was a guesthouse up the street from the massage parlor and the woman wanted 500 baht per night. Sold! We had a place to sleep and we realized that the tuk tuk had dropped us off in Bo Phut in the northern part of Ko Samui near the big Buddha.

After we settled in we bought a pizza and brought it to the beach. There were 3 guys walking down the beach who said hello to us. 2 of the men were old, heavy and in their 50's and the other was Matt who was 26. These guys, who were all from Australia, became our fathers/uncle/ older brother figures. We ended up having dinner at a Mexican restaurant that night and enjoyed watching people light lanterns and send them into the sky from a reggae bar.

Oct. 16th: Today Liz and I needed a relaxing day so we chose to lay out on the beach and later on get Thai massages. I looked up and noticed 3 girls walking with their large back packs headed towards a bungalow. I told Liz that I now felt better wandering around the nice resorts with my backpack because these girls were walking through the sand with them.

Once the girls settled I figured hey why not go talk to them and see what their story is. There were 3 girls named Emma, Kerry and Rachel. Emma and Kerry are traveling together and they met Rachel during their travels who decided to tag along with them. We told them we were going to head back for our Thai massages but that we would meet them for dinner later.

Liz and I walked back to the massage parlor that helped us find a cheap place to stay. We realized that after a couple of hours in the sun we were pretty sun burned. We chose the aloe vera massage. Not even the Guatemalan skin could handle the sun here. While Liz and I were getting ready for our massages I didn't know if I was able to keep my bikini on. Liz was right next to me to I pulled the curtain open and asked her if she was keeping her bikini on and we were told to get into our birthday suits. Ok so there we are getting our aloe vera massages and the woman tells me to lay on my back so she can work my front. All of a sudden she is massaging my top.... which they would never be allowed to do in the states and I didn't really know what to think or what to do. I went with the flow and afterwards Liz and I got up looked at each other felt a little violated but we were able to laugh about it. These women would never be able to do that in the states or England.

Later that night we went back to the bungalows to where the other girls were staying at and joined them for dinner. I of course had pad thai and treated myself to a coconut shake. Kerry and Rachel were getting sleepy so they decided to call it a night. Emma, Liz and I walked back to where we were staying to treat ourselves to a banana pancake with nutella.

Beth had emailed me the day before letting me know where she would be staying but we did not pick a meeting place. While we were getting our pancakes Beth and her friend Lauren walked out of a massage parlor and joined us for pancakes. Liz and Emma called it a night after our treat and I decided to stay out longer with Beth and Lauren. We ended up in a really nice restaurant....for the record all the restaurants in fishermans village are really pricey...I stuck to tea since I could not afford anything on the menu. When you are a backpacker you really need to budget yourself. Since Japan was so expensive it ate up most of my budget so I am trying to be good!

Oct. 17th: Today we met up with the 2 old guys (Scotty and Chris), and Matt the 26 year old. They had rented motorbikes and drove them all over the island and said that they would teach us how to drive them and take us around the island.

Dear mom please don't freak out but yes Liz and I rented motorbikes and drove them around Ko Samui. Our first stop on the bike was lunch at a little shop close to the entrance of the big Buddha. I had my usual pad thai and we sat for a bit to wait for Matt's friend Daniel to meet up with us. Once Daniel arrived we drove into the area where the big Buddha was.

Now I have to be honest I have seen a number of Buddhas during my travels and I am officially tired of seeing Buddhas, temples and pagodas. The Buddha was not as impressive as the others I have seen but hey there is not much to see on this island.

Liz and I were really happy that we were driving the motorbikes with the guys. They made sure we were ok and we always had someone in front and behind to watch us. Our first stop was Chaweng where we went to a place called Lucky mother. It was a guesthouse with a number of bungalows but they had a restaurant at the end right near the beach. We stopped for some time and then hopped back onto the bikes and headed to Lamai. When we got to Lamai the guys took us to a bar called Swing bar that had large wooden swings to sit at the bar. We took another break, relaxed and just enjoyed the beach view.

It started to rain so we had to head back to Bo Phut, Fishermans village, and I have to admit I was nervous to ride in the rain not to mention they drive on the other side of the road here which took some getting used to. When we got back to our guesthouse we said goodbye and thank you to the guys. We realized that we wanted to keep riding so we took the bikes out to meet up with the other girls. We ran into Beth and Lauren and they hopped on to the back of our bikes to drive them to their hotel. Having someone on the back of your bike is not easy. When I tried to cross the street our bike was not leveled correctly since Beth's beach bag was heavy and leaning on one side that we slid a little bit and almost fell off the bike. We were fine but I dropped Beth off to walk to her hotel instead of continuing on the bike.

That night we ended up meeting up with Emma, Rachel and Kerry for drinks and dinner and Liz and I booked a snorkeling tour with Beth and Lauren.

Oct. 18th: A van came to pick us up to take us to the boat that would take us to the outer islands that had the best snorkeling. These islands were just small islands dispersed around the main islands.

Lauren and Beth were waiting for us in the van and they brought us croissants from their free breakfast they get at their hotel. Thanks Beth and Lauren!!! We then headed to the boat and off we went to the first island to snorkel. When the boat stopped they provided everyone with snorkeling gear and all 4 of us hopped into the water. The guys driving the boat started throwing bread into the water and we were then surrounded by tropical fish. I was happy that my camera was waterproof we took some good photos under water. We then hopped back into the boat to the next island where we did a little trek up some stairs to see a gorgeous blue lagoon.

The next island was where we were going to have some lunch. They served us a buffet of stir fry chicken and rice and watermelon. Beth and Liz decided to stay and rest at the table while Lauren and I decided to walk around the island. On the island we saw a monkey chained to a tree and it looked like it was really unhappy and poorly treated. We walked in another direction and saw this little girl who was soo precious. We said sawadeeka to her which is hello in Thai and she said hello back. We then saw her living conditions and where everyone slept and it was like they slept in a little shack with everything they own in one room. Lauren and I just looked at each other and I think we both realized how fortunate we are.

We then headed back to the boat where our next stop would be kayaking around 2 small islands. Beth and Lauren were in one kayak and Liz and I were the other. We kayaked around 2 islands and parked them on the sand to go into a small cave where you had to crawl on your hands and knees to get out of the cave back into the water. We all wondered if crawling through this cave was worth all the sand in our bathing suits. After kayaking it was time to head back to Ko Samui and the 4 of us would get ready to go out in Lamai.

We took a tuk tuk into Lamai and stopped at the center to get dinner. There were a number of street vendors and we stopped at the end of one where they had a buffet of food. I had chicken skewers, corn on the cob and salad for $3. The food was amazing! We then took the girls to swing bar had one drink, walked back to the main road and had some ice cream and then we ended up at an Irish pub. Now at the Irish pub there was a Thai rock band playing music. There were 2 girls and 2 guys and they sang perfect English, wore some crazy outfits, and I have never seen headbanging like this before. It was hilarious and soo much fun. They were extremely talented. Around midnight it was time to call it a night, grab a tuk tuk and head back to Bo Phut.

Oct. 19th: This morning Liz and I decided to check out of our guesthouse and head to Lauren and Beth's hotel to use their amazing pool. They were staying in a gorgeous resort that had 3 pools where sculptures of elephants and frogs were squirting out water into the pool. We sun bathed and swam until 4:30. Liz and I decided to head to Chawend and stay there for 2 nights to prep us for the full moon party.

Side note: Chaweng was the busier part of Ko Samui where most of the backpackers stay at. Bo Phut was mostly for couples and honeymooners.

When we got to Chaweng we planned on staying at Lucky Mother since they had cheap bungalows. The place was run by a lady boy who remembered us from the day before. He/she/ it was named Pens and Pens decided to nickname me New York city. We met the guys who were staying in the bungalow next to us their names were Remko who was dutch and Matt from San Diego who we named San Diego. Here you get nicknames based on where you are from.

At night we met up with Emma, Rachel and Kerry since they moved to Chaweng as well. We also ended up running into Ramona who we met on our way to Laos. The girls were hungry so we walked around and found some cheap pad thai places and then went to a bar and played an intense game of connect four.

One of the things I love about traveling with Liz is that when she is ready to go home and go to sleep so am I. It was time to call it a night.

Oct. 20th: Today we woke up early to grab a tuk tuk to go to Tescos. We are trying to stick to a budget so we thought we would do some grocery shopping and buy breakfast food. We got into a tuk tuk and met a lovely old couple from Australia who directed us where to go once we got to Tescos. We bought fruit, muesli and yogurt. When we walked outside we were attacked by taxi cab drivers and I said I only want to pay 30 baht and they said ok. Little did I know that my 30 baht just bought Liz and I a ride on a motorbike. The driver, Liz, and with me on the end drove back to Lucky mother. I decided to wave to everyone while we drove by. Liz and I were able to enjoy a nice healthy breakfast outside our bungalow and we chatted with Remko and San Diego.

Liz and I went to the beach for a little bit but we needed to take it easy because we were both still red. We ended up walking to the ark bar with Remko and San Diego to have lunch but I decided not to eat anything since I heard about a free bbq they were serving at the ark bar. If you buy one drink you get all you can eat for free. Pretty sweet deal!! We ended up meeting up with all the girls, enjoyed our free bbq, dealt with some annoying Australian guys who insisted on buying us non stop jello shots and danced the night away.

Before the night ended Beth, Rachel and I snuck off back onto the main street where we found a sandwich cart. Beth was really smashed and she was talking nonsense. She must have changed her order 6 times and was constantly saying chicken. The guy making the sandwich was just laughing at how ridiculous we were. I had the most amazing chicken sandwich for $2. We then headed back to the beach and met some more people and danced till 3am.

Oct. 21st: Liz and I decided to treat ourselves to a Starbucks this morning. Beth ended up meeting us in town since Lauren was heading back to England. At 3pm we took a boat to Ko Phangnan which is the island where the ful moon party occurs. I was looking forward to dancing till the sun comes up and covering myself with neon paint!

Monday, October 25, 2010

We ended up in Laos somehow. Oct. 7th-Oct. 15th.

Oct. 7th: This morning Eden and I woke up extra early to grab tuna sandwiches from the Mexican restaurant we found in Chiang Khong. We then got picked up around 8:30 am to head to the river to take a river boat to Laos and get our visa for Laos. When we got to Laos I felt like we were cattle and the Laos people were gathering us in groups to pay for our visas.

One of the Laotian men told us to place our bags somewhere and he said "sit down and chillax you are in Laos now." We then had to pay $35 for our visas and we were directed to go up the street in a van to get to the slow boat.

When we got to the van we noticed there was a group 2 older women and a young man. They were following this woman on a bike who brought them to the van and she kept riding her bike away from the van. One of them women started freaking out because sh didn't know that was the van that would take her to the boat. The Laotian man tried to calm her down but she kept freaking out not knowing what was happening. Eden said "that woman is not chillaxing." If there is anything I have learned about traveling through Southeast Asia is to not freak out as the locals will take advantage of the situation. We all got in the van and headed on to the slowboat. We were taking a 2 day slowboat and make one stop in Laos before you get to Luang Probang.

On the boat we sat in really hard seats that were soo uncomfortable. Steve and I were sitting next to each other and created a system. One of us would sit on the chair while the other sat on the floor on the sleeping bag. The system worked perfectly and I was even able to nap on the floor. When it was my turn to sit on the chair I started eating my messy tuna sandwich and when Steve woke up from his nap on the ground we realized that some of my sandwich ended up in Steve's hair. He said he would save it for later for a snack haha. We also met a guy named Thierry from Belgium and we got into a couple of intense conversations about life and our futures.

We traveled for 6 hours down the muddy Mekong River. Fishermen, children, and buffalos watched us drift by. Often, we would pass a river-side village, and occasionally we would stop to pick up a passenger or two, or to unload goods in brightly colored canvas bags. At one such stop, a procession of tiny children boarded the boat, and came down the isles with baskets, selling chips, soda, and beer.

We pulled in to Pak Beng and a mass of villagers were there to greet us, each holding a sign advertising their particular guesthouse or service. Scott lead the way and found us a guesthouse and we haggled down the price. We sat our bags down and went to a restaurant to see what the Laos food was all about.

Now here is what you need to know about some Asian countries.... they love salt and msg. The food in Laos was sooo insanely salty I could not even eat some of the things I ordered. We then tried to find ice cream but there was not much here on this small village. We decided to stick with sweet sticky rice and banana and we went to bed.

Oct. 8th: The next morning Liz and Steve ended up waking up really early so they could grab the front seats in the slow boat. The front seats look like seats out of  van that they stuck on to the boat. The second day on the slow boat was more enjoyable since these seats were very comfortable. On the boat we all read our books, took naps, listened to music, Scott read a tabloid, and I spent some time talking to this old married couple from England about the secret to a long and healthy marriage. Here is the secret: Personal Space! haha got it!

We finally docked in Luang Probang and Scott lead the way to find us the cheapest guesthouse. We walked around the entire town and the cheapest we could find was 50,000 kip per room (kip is the currency in Laos). Steve was learning how to haggle down prices and he went to one hotel to check out the price. The hotel wanted $50 US dollars per night and Steve, with his British accent, says "$50 as in US dollars? Is this hotel made out of gold?" We gave in and went back to to the place for 50,000 kip per night, set our things down and went to a restaurant for dinner. I ended up eating noodles in a coconut sauce and had a watemelon shake.

After dinner we walked around and saw the night market. There was a rumor that the electricity goes out at 10pm because Laos works off a generator. We had no idea if this was true so when we got to the night market Steve asked a woman if she spoke English and she asked him "what you want?" Steve, again in his silly British accent, says " Do the lights (points to a light) go out (moves his hands as if to say finish) at 10pm? (and points to his watch)." The woman looked like a deer in the headlights and had no idea what Steve was trying to ask so clearly she did not speak English.

Thierry and I ended up walking ahead of the group and we ran into this girl Ramona, who I met at the first stop in Laos, who told us about this small side street at the end of the night market where you could get food for real cheap. We planned to eat there tomorrow night. We then headed to the bar called the hive and tried some BeerLaos. FYI the beer in Laos is awful. At the hive Thierry decided to share with us his experience of a Thai massage that included a "happy ending." Again trying to keep this blog rated pg13 so I will spare you he details.

Some places in the village have to close by 11:30 because of the electricity rules. If they do not close up shop the police come to fine them. The only place open late night is a night club so we decided to get in a tuk tuk and check it out. When we got to the club I couldn't be more sketched out. It was so dark and strobe lights were annoying me. I was nervous because it was so dark and I did not want my bag to get taken so I stood in a corner so I could see all of my surroundings and just stood there for the night while I watched everyone dance. I just could not enjoy myself because I already had my camera stolen and I was able to see a number of sketchy Laos characters that made me want to stay aware of everything that was going on. I was happy when the rest of the gang was ready to go home.

Oct. 9th: This morning we wanted to take it easy so we woke up late and worked out a deal with a tuk tuk driver to take us to one of the caves. It was Eden, Scott, Steve, Liz and me 130,000 kip for all 5 of us. Now here is what we found out about Laos: Whoever came to this country and taught the locals how to rip off tourists is 1. a genius and 2. I am not a fan of this person. When we got to the caves we did not realize that you had to take a river boat to get to the caves where these little boys guarding the boats. We asked them how much to get to the caves and they wanted 10,000 kip per person. We all thought this was crazy so we walked around the river to see if we could haggle down with other boat drivers. Liz and I tried to walk around the river but the sand/mud was like quick sand. When we tried to get the attention of another boat driver we both fell into the mud and our legs were stuck into the ground. I fell down to my knees and Liz tried to pull her feet out and lost her flip flops into the mud. Although it was gross, and I was covered in mud, it was freakin hilarious. We gave up and got into the boat and all paid 10,000 kip each to get to the cave. Now here is the great part: When you get to the cave you then have to pay 20,000 kip just to enter. We did and the cave was crap it was full of buddhas that looked like the trinket buddhas you buy on the street. There was another cave up top where we needed to climb up some stairs to get to it. This was a deeper cave that you needed flashflights or headlamps for. Scott and I were the only ones with headlamps so we used them to guide everyone through the cave. This cave was crap too it was not worth all the money we spent just to get there. We took the river boat back and when I got out the little boys said something to me in Laos and started laughing and I just said "I don't know what you just said to me but I am sure it wasn't very nice!" But they couldn't stop laughing and I couldn't help but laugh.

When we got back into town we walked back to the street where they have the night market and walked down to the street where Ramona said we could grab cheap food. There was a lady at the end of the street that had a buffet of food. You could take a plate and help yourself. I had noodles, rice, vegetables, a spring roll, pumpkin and some chips for a $1.50. So good!!!

We ended up walking around for a bit and at night we headed back to the hive bar. When 11:30pm hit, and it was time to close down the bar, Steve and Scott wanted to head to the night club. Eden and I said no thanks so we walked home and chose to sit on a small swing eating crepes with cheese.

Oct. 10th. This morning we woke up extra early to catch a minivan to a town called Vang Vieng. Scott and Steve came down and you could already tell it was going to be a rough van ride for them as they had a long night ;) A van came to pick us up to take us to another van station and when we got there lets just say that people in Laos do not have anything organized and they have no concept of time. They did not have enough vans for the people who booked the trip to Vang Vieng.

Steve and Eden ended up in one van and Liz, Scott and I had to wait 20 extra minutes for them to find another van and another driver. Now let me tell you about the roads in parts of Southeast Asia. The roads are dirt roads, bumpy and you are either going up hill or around sharp turns you either feel like you are going to die or get car sickness. Oh and its also not so fun when you really have to pee. We asked the van driver to stop the van so we could go to the bathroom. There is definitely another thing I noticed about traveling is that some countries love to charge you to go to the bathroom. They wanted 10,000 kip just so you could pee. Liz and I chose the woods nuff said.

When we arrived in Vang Vieng we had Scott lead the way to our next home. We made a deal with the owners of bungalows near the river. It was Scott, Eden and me in one and Liz and Steve in the other. In order to get to our bungalows we had to take a bridge that looked like it was going to colapse. Basically they rebuilt a bridge over one that was already broken. We couldnt understand how they could build 2 story houses/ hotels yet they couldnt figure out how to build a safe bridge. However, outside our new home we had the most amazing view of the river and mountains and I was able to watch the sun set.

We regrouped for dinner and chose to eat at the banana restaurant where you sit indian style on the ground on couchy mats and this was the restaruant where we ate 3 meals a day for 3 days and we did not try any other place. The banana restaurant had over 400 items on their menu so we never got bored. Plus they had the best view.

Oct. 11th: Today was the day that we were going tubing. In Vang Vieng people come here to tube down the river and along the river are a number of bars with swings and water slides. Its basically like spring break here but you are tubing down the river instead of partying in a bar or beach. Unfortunately Liz and I came down with a pretty bad cold so we decided not to go and stay in and watch the weird films that we got on the only English speaking television program.

Liz and I headed to the banana restaurant and Eden, Scott and Steve ended up meeting us there after they went tubing. They looked like they had soooo much fun. They were covered in paint and colorful arm and headbands and they told us it was just nuts and crazy. Liz and I kept drinking tea and orange juice so that we could bring ourselves back to health or at least get healthy enough to go tubing.

Oct. 12th: The rest of the gang had a long night partying at the bucket bar near our bungalows. We let Eden stay in and rest while the 4 of us had breakfast. Steve ordered a shake with pineapple and lime and when we got the bill he realized that his shake was really expensive. He called the waiter over and he told him that he thought he asked for rum. Steve, in his British accent goes, "Rum? at 10 o'clock in the morning? I said lime not rum! I am not going to pay for this." In Laos you drink it you buy it. And this where we came up with our inside joke of lum... ask for lime but its rum so lum. Liz and I woke up and we decided to go tubing around noon so we could beat the crowd. We just were not well enough to really do the hard core partying and spring break tubing experience. We took it easy and started tubing at the first bar. We went down one water slide and just continued to enjoy the scenery going down the river.

Now here is something important to know if you ever go to Laos to Vang Vieng and go tubing: LOCK AND HIDE ALL YOUR VALUABLES!!! When tourists go tubing the locals go into peoples hotel rooms and steal everything from your money to your passport. They stole a girls passport and made her buy it back from them. Also in the water when you get close to the end of tubing there are these little boys who will help you out of the water and they will either steal whatever you have on you or ask for money.

We were done tubing around 2 and we just went back to the room to relax a bit, had dinner and then we proceeded to the bucket bar!!! The bar is called the bucket bar because they literally give you a bucket full of alcohol. I stuck to water... come on now I was sick and trying to get better.

Oct. 13th. Today we were leaving for Vientiane, the capital of Laos. This morning I had to have a serious conversation with Eden because Steve and her had been discussing going to Cambodia and Vietnam and they have decided to travel together. These countries were not in our original plan and I have to admit I was full of different emotions. I was angry, sad, hurt, confused, but at the end of the day I understood. We have been traveling for 2 months together and haven't had any fights or issues. We just both got to a point where we wanted different things. I wanted to go back into Thailand and head to the beaches and she wanted to head up north to Cambodia and Vietnam. All I could do was cry but I understood. I love Eden with all my heart and I just want her to be happy. We packed up our things and said goodbye to our bungalow and the 5 of us got on a bus to Vientiane.

When we arrived in Vientiane we found a hotel that was able to accomadate all 5 of us in one room. We had air conditioner (which is rare) and a tv (which is also rare). We ventured out and had some dinner I ate ginger chicken and rice and I have to admit I was ready to head back to Thailand I cannot handle all the salt and msg on the food. While the others were outside I had a heart to heart with Scott and asked him if switching travel partners was a good thing. He believes it is and I trust him.

We then headed to a coffee shop where they sold apple computers in.... soo weird and random....and Liz and I snuck some tea bags from their tea box into our purse since we were both having cravings for tea. We then all sat down and started to plan out our individual trips and go to bed.

Oct. 14th: Today was our last day together as a group. Steve and Eden were planning their trip, getting visas and bus tickets. Scott was figuring out his bus tickets and Liz and I decided to book a flight from Laos to Bangkok. The reason why I decided to fly back into Bangkok is because if I come back in by land I can only stay for 15 days and if I fly I get a full month. After everything was booked we decided to go to a restaurant and have our last meal as a group together. Steve, Scott and I had tuna sandwiches, Liz had a ham and cheese sandwich and Eden ordered chicken in an oyster sauce with rice. We then ventured out to one of the tourist sites in Laos which was the Patuxay Arch. It is also known as the Victory monument or Victory Gate as it commemorates those who lost their lives in the war against the French and was built using American funds. The US government had given Laos money to build a new airport, however the Laotian government of the day used the money to build the monument instead. As a consequence it is sometimes referred to as the "vertical runway".

After seeing the arch it was time to say goodbye to Scott as he needed to head to his bus back to Bangkok. Then there were 4! We walked back to the hotel room and Liz and I got our bags and got into a tuk tuk to head to the airport. And then there were 2! Eden and Steve left at 5 for their bus. Liz and I got to the airport and flew back to Bangkok. Our flight was only an hour and when we landed and went through customs I thought I could exchange my leftover Laos kip into Thailand baht yup no think again. Laos money is crap and they would not exchange it. Luckily at the baggage claim we found this really cute guy who was going back to Laos so he gave me some baht for my kip. We then needed to book it to get to the train station to get on an over night train to head down to the islands.

Liz and I took the sky train and had to transfer to another metro station. We got to the train station with 2 min. to spare. We bought our train, bus and boat tickets, which I have a feeling we got ripped off because he forked soo much money for this, and we ran and hopped on to the train with 1 min. to spare.

We had to walk through the train to get to our car and unfortunately our sleeper beds were not together. I had number 23 and Liz had 29. Near bed 23 was an Australian and a German guy drinking some beers and eating dinner. We joined them and the Australian guy taught me some Thai. I can now say hello, thank you, and no thank you in Thai. We were having a good time until the Aussie got really drunk and pushy. He wanted us to drink more but we were sooo tired we did not want to. He ordered us beers that we did not drink and he made us pay for them. Not cool dude. We were looking at our tickets and realized that we are stopping at the wrong spot and we would have to take a crazy long boat ride to get to Ko Samui. We were on a train to a town that is closer to Ko Tao. We then realized that we need to be up by 3am to get off the train to take a bus to get on a boat.

When the Australian guy found out about the mix up he started to laugh and make fun of us. At this point we were done with him and we went to our sleeper beds to try to get some rest before we had to get off at 3am.

Oct. 15th: We woke up at 3am to get ready to get off at the town we needed to take the bus from. A girl who was sleeping in the sleeper bed next to Liz's also got out to get ready to go. We had to wake up the guard to see when we were getting off the train. Again people here have no concept of time and our train was an hour late getting to our stop. But on this train is where we met Beth and we would head to the islands and go to the full moon party in Ko Phangnan.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chiang Mai and Chiang Kong Thailand- Sept. 30th-Oct. 7th- Oh my Buddha!!!

Sept. 30th: When we arrived in Chiang Mai our hostel in Bangkok set us up at the Plaza Inn. I have slept in many hostels some clean some not so much but this place was pretty bad. Nothing looked clean there were dead bugs everywhere and the shower was barely a shower. Thank Buddha that we were only staying here for one night.

We got in around 3 and we were starving so Eden, Scott, and I decided to roam around and get some food and see the city. We wandered and saw a sign for beef noodle soup for 30 baht (their currency) which is so cheap when you convert it into $. So we all ordered the beef noodle soup and a Thai iced tea. This is where my obsession with Thai ice teas started on this trip. Once we were finished with lunch we walked over to Wat Chedilliang Varavharn (Wat=temple) and when you enter they have a section where you can chat with a monk. We sat down with the monk and asked numerous questions such as what is the difference in the coloring of their robes and we found out that bright orange robed monks are city monks and the burned orange robed monks are forest monks. We asked what he could eat and drink, where he learned English, can he visit his family and after all the questions we asked him we then asked him if there was anything he wanted to learn from us. The monk wanted to know more about Abraham Lincoln I kid you not this is what he was curious about. So we told him the history of Abraham Lincoln and that's all he wanted to know more about and we said thank you and continued walking around the city.

We walked down this one street where not much was going on. I noticed a sign that said pad thai with banana something and was curious to see what it was all about. Scott wanted to continue to wander up the street and Eden said ok when we get to the end we can turn around and head back to that place. Scott was not listening and when we got to the end of the street he wanted to keep walking and I said "wait what about the place with the pad thai with the banana something?" he didn't know that we wanted to eat there and thought it was just a bar with drinks. So we walked back to the Yellow bird cafe and we were welcomed by a woman named Santia. The restaurant was also Santia's house and the front porch was where she served her customers. You took your shoes off and sat on the cushions on the floor under umbrellas with light. There was random art work everywhere and when you looked outside her porch there was a rock arch with beautiful vines hanging down.

Santia cooks everything on her own and her ingredients are so fresh. I ordered the pad thai and what was banana was the banana flower. Scott had a yellow curry and Eden had a spicy green curry dish. She also made us fresh drinks with lemon grass. I have to admit I have consumed a lot of pad thai in my life and this was the most delicious plate of pad thai I have ever eaten. Santia came to sit with us and we talked about her family, the cat that she is taking care of who just gave birth to kittens and about a mysterious egg she found outside her house and doesn't know what it will become. We then told her that we were going on a 3 day trek and she told us to come visit her when we return.

Oct. 1st: We were picked up at 9:30am to leave for our 3 day trek. Inside the tuk tuk we were going on a trek with 2 girls from Spain, 2 men from England named Sam and Mark, 2 men from France and a couple from Amsterdam. They took us to a market to get some food and water for the trek. I couldn't help but notice a small coffee cart and ordered myself a Thai iced tea. We all got back in the tuk tuk and they took us to the Elephant camp.

When we got to the elephant camp there were 3 of us in our group. So Eden and I sat in the little seat they placed on top of the elephant while Scott sat right on the elephants neck where its dirty ears kept slapping his legs. The elephant then went around in a circle and going down steep hills on an elephant was a little scary. They then brought the elephant to a bucket of water where the elephant started to drink and then squirt water all over us. I was officially covered in dirt, water and elephant snot. Hott right? I know! We got off the elephant and they took us to eat lunch, which was fried rice and fruit, before we needed to do some hiking.

We hiked for about 3 hours I believe and then they took us to a waterfall to cool off. I was excited to finally test out my waterproof camera in the water. Now remember I just had my camera stolen in Bangkok and this was my new camera. I took it out of my bag and got Scott's attention and attempted to toss my camera at him. For those of you who know me you know I throw like a girl unless I have a lacrosse stick to assist me. The camera may be waterproof but the thing does not float. It sunk all the way to the bottom and no one could see it or find it. Eden and Scott looked at me like they wanted to smack me. Luckily one of the trekking tour guides reached down all the way to the bottom and found it. Again note to self camera is waterproof but does not float got it!

We then proceeded on our trek to where we would be sleeping for the night. When we finally reached the small village in where we would be staying we noticed that there was no shower and we would be sleeping in an old used flat cushion on the floor with a small dirty pillow covered by a mosquito net. Lets also make note that the room we were sleeping in smelled horrible but we were told that we are surrounded by rice fields and it was the smell of the rice. We all then sat around the table and ate curry or vegetables and tofu.

One of the French guys had an iphone and he left it on the table to go to the bathroom. Our guides went into the main hut to eat and these 2 sketchy characters came up to try to sell us handmade trumpets. One of the guys was standing in the dark in the background and wouldn't really show face. The Spanish girls were trying to make friends with him and asked him to take a picture with them. I ended up taking the picture since it was only me and the 2 Spanish girls at the table. When the French guy came back he noticed that his phone was missing and we all started to help him look for it. I just had my camera stolen so I understood how he felt. I had a feeling it was one of the men that came up here so I took the Spanish girls camera and showed him the picture of the sketchy quiet guy.

We then called our guide up, his name is Neo, and I sat down and asked him to please help this guy find his phone and to just ask the men if they took it to just return it. We were all searching like crazy and asking the men to please just return it but no one was really helping. I could see that Neo is an honest man and he felt horrible that this happened but he said unless he saw it himself there was nothing he could really do. The man who we knew took it was acting shocked and was telling the French man to search him but who knows where he could have stashed the thing. A little time flew by and Mark, one of the English men, found the phone underneath the stairs. The French guy apologized for accusing the Thai men because we didn't want anymore trouble. However here are the facts: 1. The French guy never went near the stairs, 2. When he got his phone back he noticed that someone was trying to call one of his contacts who he had not spoken to in 3 years and 3. The man who managed the village came over and asked him to show him how to use the phone. So the man did take his phone but had no idea how to use it. I was just happy that the French guy had his phone back.

Oct. 2nd: In the morning we had to say goodbye to the 2 Spanish girls and 2 French men since they only signed up for the 2 day trek. So it was just  the 7 of us Mark and Sam, Vince and Sarah, Scott, Eden and me. On this day we just trekked to the next village we would be sleeping and visited one waterfall. We had lunch at a place where they tied beetles to sugar cane which they used for fighting and betting against. When we reached the village we would be sleeping at we just sat and relaxed around the table waiting for our curry with eggplant. The food was amazing on this trek all home made with fresh vegetables. Neo, our guide, is a hilarious character. He is a short skinny Thai man with long hair that he wears in a pony tail and he loves to sing lady ga ga. Once the sun set Neo lit some candles and we played I guess you could say trivia games or puzzle games. Basically Neo would take these sticks and make something out of them and then say take away 2 of the sticks to make something else. These games totally challenged our minds. At the end of the night Neo and I ended up singing a duet of Britney Spears and Backstreet boys.

Oct. 3rd: Today was our last day of the trek. We trekked a bit and then got picked up by a tuk tuk to have lunch where we had lunch on the first day. We were then taken to the river to go on a bamboo raft. Eden and I shared a raft with 2 girls either from Japan or Korea. While we were wondering down the river there was an old Thai man in an orange life jacket who yelled out "Where are you from?" and I said "America" he had this facial expression like huh? and he repeats "America!" and then he goes "beautiful" and then hops on a raft with a bunch of other Thai men and it looked like they were coming after us. I turned around and the men tipped over the raft and they all fell into the water. Oh well.

We then got dropped off back into the city of Chiang Mai where we decided to leave the Plaza Inn and find a nicer hostel. We followed Mark and Sam to Julie's hostel but unfortunately they did not have any vacancy so we chose JJ's next door. We then decided to meet up for dinner but I wanted to check out the Sunday market. Eden and I were hungry so we shared a small pad thai we bought from a street vendor and then walked to the Sunday market. The first thing we see is a man with freshly made coconut ice cream.... yah we ate that too. We then walked around to see the market and it was full of food, jewelry, handmade goods, clothing, woven scarfs and other handmade crafts. We then rushed back to meet up with Scott, Mark and Sam for dinner. Funny thing happened we ended up going to the pad thai street vendor again and each had our own plates of pad thai. We then met up with Vince and Sarah at John's bar and then we all headed out to a reggae bar. When we got to the reggae bar the band was really good. Mark was dancing like a ridiculous fool and Sam spilled an entire drink all over my feet and legs. Eden, Scott and I all started to dance and we just enjoyed the music and atmosphere. We had to say goodbye to Vince and Sarah and I ended up playing dice with 3 guys from Amsterdam. I then headed out to meet up with Eden, Scott, Mark and Sam and found them eating kebabs on the street. We walked home and went to bed.

Oct. 4th: Eden and I wanted to use this day to get some errands done. We had breakfast at a place called Juicy for you and then headed to an internet cafe to take care of bills and hotels for the full moon party. Scott decided to rent a motorcycle for the day and went riding around Chiang Mai. The night before we had left a note on Santia's door letting her know we were back. We decided to see if she was open today and when we got to her place she literally wrote a note for us on her door in chalk letting us know when she would be back. Eden and I decided to get massages and then we would meet up with Scott later to have dinner at the Yellow Bird Cafe. We had another amazing meal at Santia's and asked her if we could take a cooking class with her instead of an organized cooking class tour. She said yes and she wanted to take us to the night market around midnight. We went to Johns bar for a little bit and then Eden and I left the boys to meet up with Santia to go to the night market.

We hopped on the back of Santia's scooter and she drove us to the market. Now here is the experience of a lifetime this night market was unreal and I know for a fact that not many non-Thai people get to see this or experience this. The market is huge and people are selling everything from fruit to fish to meat and everything is fresh and really really cheap. I really appreciate Santia for allowing us to experience this.

Oct. 5th: We had an early breakfast with Mark and Sam since they were leaving today. We then headed to Santia's around 10am to start cooking. This day consisted of 12 hours of cooking, eating, and paper work (taking a break and drinking a beer). We cooked fried morning glory, papaya salad, ginger chicken with cashews, mango salad, we made green curry paste from scratch and made green curry chicken and then we finished the meal with pumpkin and coconut milk. When I come home I will cook for all of you! During the day we had this guy named David from Australia and Hector from Spain stop by to eat and sample our food. Later that night Scott was invited to sample our green curry. Eden's was super super spicy where mine was more mild and we finished our meal with some more pumpkin with coconut milk. I don't think I ever eaten soo much in my life but it was the most amazing day and great experience and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have met Santia.

Oct. 6th: Today is the day we leave for Chiang Kong. We decided to take a side trip and go to Laos. So here is what we need to do: take a minivan to Chiang Kong, stay there for the night, get picked up to get dropped off to the slow boat, get a visa for Laos, then take a 2 day slowboat making one stop in Laos, stay there for the night and get back on the slow boat to Luang Probang.

We shared the van with a drunk guy from Finland, a sketchy Swiss, a sweet Spanish guy who decided it would be a great idea to save one of his dreads in the back of his head, a dutch couple and 2 people from England.

When we arrived in Chiang Kong we found a Mexican restaurant where they make home made wheat bread. This was the most amazing whole wheat bread I have ever tasted and we wanted to make sure we woke up early to grab food from here before we got on the slow boat. The Thai man explained to us the story of the restaurant and how they make the bread from scratch such a sweet old man.

Here in Chiang Kong we have met Steve and Liz from England and we have now formed a little family and will be traveling around Laos together.

Bangkok Thailand Sept. 28th-Sept. 30th. Camera got stolen but all is well!!

First off I would like to say thank you to all my followers. Hope all is well in the states and miss you all soo much!!!

Sept. 28th: The night before we ended up meeting Scott, Eden's friend, at the airport and he took us to a backpackers hostel. That night we walked around the area and ate pad Thai and mango shakes. Everything is sooo insanely cheap here I love it. You can get pad Thai on the street for $2.00. We also got caught in a crazy rain storm but we needed to remember its their rainy season right now.

Today we had breakfast at the hostel and walked around Bangkok. We went to the Grand Palace where there were a number of shiny golden pagodas, a mural, a beautiful garden, a large wooden teak mansion and the emerald Buddha. We then walked through the streets from tourist attraction to tourist attraction and made pit stops to buy some fruit. I had lychees and fried banana it was delicious and the fruit is soo cheap here! We walked and had lunch on a river front restaurant and I had fried rice with vegetables and a watermelon shake. Our food cost us less than $6.00. We then headed to see the largest reclining Buddha.

When we got to the reclining Buddha you had to take your shoes off. The reclining Buddha was massive and painted in gold. This site is known to house the largest reclining Buddha in all of Thailand. When it was time to exit I grabbed my shoes and sat down and started reading all the signs to watch out for your personal belongings. I then noticed the guards saying something about me but I had no idea what they were saying. We then headed on to the riverboat and that's when I realized my camera was missing.

We jumped off the riverboat and headed back to the reclining Buddha. I looked at the guard and I asked him if he had seen my camera. I said I would even offer to pay for it just to get it back. He made me write my contact information and made a sad puppy face and said something in Thai. I was annoyed and upset but there is nothing I could do. He told me to come back at 7 so I assumed he had stolen it and he wanted to wait till 7 to receive my payment for my camera. We decided to get on the riverboat and see the Wat Arun (Temple named after the Indian God of Dawn). We climbed the building and the stairs here are extremely steep. Eden has a fear of heights so it took her some time to get down. We got back on the riverboat and headed to a bar not far from the reclining Buddha. The bar was called The Deck and we walked up a flight of stairs to get to the top and ordered our drinks. All of a sudden the crazy rainstorm was coming our way. It was crazy on one side of the sky it was beautiful and sunny and to the left of us the sky looked dismal and it was headed our way. We saw crazy lightening and the sound of the thunder was unreal. We then looked at the time and it was close to 7. We walked back to the reclining Buddha and I went up to the guard that gave me the puppy face and said "I have money now can I have my camera back please" he said he didn't have it and blamed it on a tourist. I said fine and I walked out cried for 5 min and realized that its just a camera I still had my health, my credit cards and my passport. It was just sad because it was a going away present from my co workers and all my memories of Japan and China were gone. Eden was impressed that I was not freaking out and crying. I kept my cool and just accepted it.

Side note: We came to the conclusion that my camera was stolen while I was putting my shoes back on and the guard was trying to find it for me so he could make some money off of me but my camera was probably already sold or sent to the thieves market which is why he told me to return at 7pm to see if he could find it. Thanks a lot Bangkok!

That night we ended up meeting Aaron, a friend of mine named Darren put me in touch with him, for dinner. Aaron currently works and lives in Bangkok and will be here for 3 years. We had dinner at an Australian bar and I ordered Thai noodles.

Side note: Do not order Thai food at places that are not Thai. My noodles were horrible!

We then asked Aaron to take us to the red light district just to experience it. So the red light district is a bit sketchy its full of prostitutes and "lady boys" and it was quite amusing to watch old overweight white men walk around with their tiny beautiful Thai ladies. I would like to keep this blog rated pg 13 so I cannot go into too much of what I saw. You will just have to experience the red light district in Bangkok on your own my friends.

We then said goodbye to Aaron and made plans with him to meet up for the full moon party, got into a tuk tuk and headed to the hostel to sleep.

Sept. 29th: In the morning we booked a train, hotel and trekking tour for 3 days and 2 nights in Chian Mai in northern Thailand. A little shout out to Becky for sending us her itinerary thanks so much for sharing that with us! We used this day to run errands and I ended up sending my sleeping bag and hiking boots back to the states because my backpack was getting the best of me and I needed to make it lighter. I wanted to go to China town or the thieves market to see if I could find my camera but the woman at the desk looked at me and said that Bangkok is huge and I will never see my camera again.

We then headed to the train station and dropped our bags off so we could go to the MBK which is a huge mall in Bangkok. Our train was not leaving until 7:30pm so we had plenty of time to roam around and find me a new camera. Scott wanted to get his visa for another country so we separated and Eden and I headed to MBK.

When we got to MBK we walked around and only saw 2 camera stores. The cameras were insanely expensive and I was shocked that these were the only stores that had cameras. I almost made a deal with a guy but I decided not to purchase something at the first store and see if I could find another place. He told me he was the only one in the mall... yah ok buddy. We then got on the escalator up to the 4th floor and the floor was packed with camera and cell phone shops. I haggled my way and bought the same camera with a memory card and case for $200. When I got it I took a picture of the woman who sold it to me hoping that would bring me good luck. So cheers to new memories! We then headed up to the 7th floor where the food court was. Here they give you a card to enter the food court and the place is filled with different stands with different types of food. Eden and I chose this Greek place and got falafel and lamb wraps and they take your card and swipe it for you. You then get to the cashier and they tell you how much you owe. We looked at the time and it was 6:45 time to head back to the train station.

We hopped in a cab and the traffic was crazy. our cab driver did not speak English and he was super sketchy. It was taking us forever to figure out a good route to get to the train station. Eden and I were getting really frustrated with him so we threw money at him and jumped out. We then ran and I get to a tuk tuk and ask him how much he wanted to get us to the train station he said 150 baht and I projected 60 baht and he said 80 baht and I projected fine! We hopped on to the tuk tuk and told him to step on it to get to the train station. It was now 7:10 and we were getting nervous, especially after our China train experience you would think we would have better time management by now. Nope! We then hopped off the tuk tuk and ran into the train station. We got the look of death from Scott but we made it in time. We grabbed our bags and headed to the platform. Guess what though...... our train was 45min. late.

When we got on the train we were a little nervous. We were on a sleeper train but this time I felt more safe since we were traveling with Scott. I had the bottom bed and Scott and Eden had the upper level beds. I slept with all of my things around me but did not really get much sleep since I was nervous about being robbed.

Woke up the next morning and the train pulled into Chiang Mai. Here we will ride elephants and go on a 3 day trek.

Monday, October 4, 2010

24 hour train ride to Beijing to Hong Kong. Sept. 19th-26th. Hilarous series of events!

Sept. 19th: After missing the train the first time we were handed a piece of paper that explains that we need to be at the train station 90min before the train leaves. Had they given us that piece of paper when we bought the tickets in the first place we would have known better. So this morning we woke up extra early, ate an amazing breakfast at our hostel, and headed to the train station. We got there 2 hours before our train left and had to go through immigration.

Once we got on the train we couldn't help but be a bit nervous of who our cabin mates would be. We were not looking forward to sharing our room with men. Luckily our cabin mates were Lucinda from the UK and an old Chinese woman who we decided to call Gertrude and her nickname was Gerty. Gerty did not speak a word of English but she pointed to things and taught us the ways of the train cabin. She showed us how to get up to our beds and that we had to take our shoes off before climbing up to them. We looked out our window and saw Frank, the German guy who helped us exchange our tickets, who ended up in the next car. We went outside to talk to him and the train was getting ready to leave. Gerty got nervous and started tapping on the window to try to get our attention to come in. We then saw old Gerty talking to all the men on the train and her new nickname was Flirty Gerty.

I consider us really lucky to have Lucinda and Gerty in our cabin. When we walked by the other cabins they were filled with tons of Chinese people eating ramen and other interesting smelling foods. They were also extremely loud and playing card games till 2am.That night we had dinner with Frank and Lucinda in the dining car, had a couple of beers and slept in our hard sleeper beds. I have to admit the sleeper beds were not bad and I slept pretty well.

Sept. 20th: The train woke us up at 7am by blasting Chinese music throughout the cars. I walked to Frank's cabin and woke him up to have breakfast in the dining car. When I woke him up he looked dazed, confused and when he finally came to I think he wanted to beat me up for waking him up. Eden, Lucinda, me and grumpy Frank headed to the dining car and Frank invited his new cabin mate Luis who is also from the UK. I was not able to eat anything on the train so I stuck to eating a number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Our train arrived at 1pm. We said goodbye to our friends, hopped on the subway, and made our way to the YWCA. We did not realize that the YWCA was so nice. We got used to sleeping in hostels with bunk beds and shared bathrooms. Some rooms were clean and others not so much and I don't even want to get into the bathroom situation. The YWCA was like staying at a Hyatt Hostel. We had our own room with our own bathroom. I told Eden not to get too used to this since we could only afford 2 nights here.

We then met up with Pete, who we met climbing up Mt. Fuji, and his old co workers for drinks and dinner. We had dinner at Bourban St. and ate amazing cheese burgers. We then bar hopped all over Soho and chatted up with some Hong Kong locals. We ended up grabbing beers and Doritos at a 7eleven at 2am and headed back to the YWCA to pass out.

Sept. 21st: The other amazing thing about the YWCA is that you get free breakfast the not so amazing thing was the food. I called an old childhood friend of mine and did not eat much since we were meeting up with him for an early lunch.

Eden and I met up with my friend and he took us to a dim sum place where they walk around with carts with different food. We had dumplings and spring rolls and Eden ate shark fin, beef stomach and turtle shell. I did not have the guts to try those things. My friend had to go back to work so Eden and I headed back to our hotel room since it was raining cats and dogs in Hong Kong.

My stomach was not feeling so great after the dim sum. Pete and his old co workers wanted to head to Kowloon, another Island off Hong Kong, and look at the light show. I manned up and we headed to the ferry to Kowloon and walked to the Sheraton to see the light show. The light show consisted of all the buildings, on the Hong Kong main Island, lighting up with neon lights and lazers. The show lasted for 10 minutes and then we walked down and headed to an Indian restaurant called Gaylord, which Pete and his friends found amusing. We ate amazing Indian food and went to a wine bar down the street. I was in a great mood but not in the mood to drink so I chose chocolate milk and sat there and sang every song that played at the bar. Everyone was impressed that I knew all the words to every song. It was our last night with Pete and his friends. We took a cab back to the main Island and made plans to have breakfast with them the next morning.

Sept. 22: Pete woke me up the next morning and I was having a strange dream. My words to Pete: "Pete why did you wake me up? She was just about to juggle the buns" Pete looks at me like wtfdelirous. Perhaps it was the Indian food. We had another crappy free breakfast and again I did not eat much because my childhood friend wanted to meet for an even earlier lunch that day. We said goodbye to Pete and his friends and got ready to check out of the YWCA.

We then headed out to meet my friend for Vietnamese food at Bon Appetit. I wanted to keep it light and ate a vegetarian Vietnamasese sandwich. Eden and my friend ordered spicy food such as vegetable green curry and spicy udon soup. After lunch my friend took us to a hookah bar and we relaxed for a little bit before we had to head to our new hostel.

We grabbed our bags from the YWCA and headed to the other side of Hong Kong. When we got to the Yesinn hostel it looked like we were in China again. Bye bye clean and nice YWCA.... hello sketchy dorm room with 1 bathroom for 6 people. We checked in and the elevators in this building were so annoying. There were no up buttons! The check in for Yesinn was on floor 5 and our dorms were on floor 15. We would have to go all the way to the first floor to get back up to the 15th floor. Who created this thing?

We were told to check out Victoria Peak. Standing at 552 metres above sea level, the Peak is the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island and a natural signaling post for incoming cargo ships in the nineteenth century. Now a days people take the peak tram which is the only way to truly experience the beauty of Hong Kong's natural wonders.

We stood in line to take the tram and we were in one line with all the Asian tourists and then for some odd reason there was a second line for men and we think they were Pakistanis or Arabs or maybe they were from India? We pushed our way through to get on to the tram and sat down to the right and the Pakistan, Arab/ men from  India were to our left and they were staring at me like they wanted to capture me and take me away. The way they were staring at me made me feel so uncomfortable so I just tried to ignore them. All of a sudden I looked at the corner of my eye and noticed a flash was going off and not in the direction of the view but at me so I ducked and hid my face in my scarf. They tried to take a photo of me and that freaked me out. When we reached the top of the peak we waited for them to get off first and walk away and then we booked it to get away from them and made our way to this beautiful restaurant called the lookout. It reminded us of the Tavern on the Green in central park and the food was amazing. We decided to skip the tram and take a bus back to the city which saved us time and money and sketchy stares from people.

Sept. 23rd: The next morning we woke up and met all of our dorm mates who came in in the middle of the night. We needed our caffeine fix so we headed to Starbucks across the street. This guy was listening to our conversation and found us to be quite amusing so we invited him to sit down and drink his tea with us. His name was Joe from Canada and he also just finished teaching English in Korea just like Eden. They bonded over inside jokes about Korea and talked about the kids they taught while I enjoyed my English Breakfast tea latte. We were going to visit another island Cheung Chau because we were told there was a mid-autumn festival there to see. We invited Joe to tag along since he was waiting on Yesinn to figure out his hostel situation. He took a quick bird bath, since he had been traveling for 3 days without showering, and we headed to the ferry. When we arrived at the island it was kind of dead. The restaurants near the water were a little pricey so we decided to take some back streets and find a local restaurant to eat a cheap meal.

We decided to walk and see what else the island had to offer. We stopped at a small shop for ice cream and beer and I wanted to walk up just a little bit more before we headed back to the ferry. We were about to head back and leave the island until this father and his son asked us if they knew where the pirate cave was. I said "there is a pirate cave here? Lets all go!" So Joe, Eden, Father and son and me headed up the island to find the pirate cave. We found it and the little boy and his father were so cute. His name was Cayden and he wanted to find pirate treasure. We walked through the dark cave and tried to help the little boy find some treasure. He found the end to a key chain and he was soo excited and called it pirate treasure. I wish I could get that excited about a broken key chain. We got out of the cave, walked to the ferry, and made our way back to our hostel to shower and go out.

We picked a time to meet Joe for dinner and drinks. We decided to invite our dorm mate Francesco from Italy and Joe brought his dorm mate Shahar from Israel. I was craving Mexican food and I found this place called Taco Loco in Soho and it was a delicious choice. We ordered a bucket of beer and there were 5 of us and 6 beers. We decided to play never have I ever to see who gets to drink the last beer. I won! I am the innocent one in the group ;) We then headed to 7eleven grabbed some beers sat on some steps and played some drinking games while Joe asked a number of strange questions like if we were an animal what would you be or if you were an element what would you be? Francesco said he would be a snail and for an element he wanted to be mud. Lol weird! I chose killer whale as an animal and I said I would want to be the wind so I could travel. We made the last subway home and passed out.

Sept. 24th: For some odd reason I had been craving a bagel with cream cheese and lox. Perhaps its the Jew in me I don't know but I needed it. When we went to Taco Loco we noticed this place called Archie B's which had lox and schmear it was calling my name. When we got to Archie B's they told me they were closed and that they don't open until 12pm. It was 10am I was starving and couldn't wait so we ended up going to this place called mix and had chai lattes and salmon sandwiches.

Today was the day we were going to see the big Buddha. The Tian Tan Buddha is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan , the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. The Buddha is 34 meters (112 ft) tall, weighs 250 metric tons, and was the world's tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha prior to 2007. You have to climb 268 steps in order to reach the Buddha this was a great workout if you enjoy the stair master.

When we bought our tickets to see the big Buddha we decided to pay for the vegetarian meal that was offered after your climb. We hiked up the stairs to see the Buddha, took some photos, and walked down to eat our meal which we were excited about. When we were seated they brought us our food and I could not help but be repulsed. They gave us soup that looked like dirty water with mushrooms and it was cold, slimy looking vegetables, and gooey tofu. I ate what I could tolerate and we treated ourselves to gelato after wards and got on a cable car that took us down the mountain back to the city to take the subway. When we got to the entrance of the cable car these old men, again from Pakistan/India I don't know, wanted to take photos with us. We decided to amuse them and said sure so we did, hopped on the cable car, and that's when Eden decided to tell me she was afraid heights. We made it down the mountain without her freaking out took the subway and got dressed up to celebrate our 1 month anniversary of traveling!!!!

We chose to eat at a Mediterranean restaurant called Olive. We sat down and ordered an appetizer of hummus and pita and I ordered a vegetarian meal while Eden ordered chicken with cous cous. We noticed that we were not getting the proper service we were looking for. For instance I had to keep asking for water and our waiter never asked us how our meal was and he didn't notice that Eden and I had switched our main courses because mine ended up being way to spicy for me. So I decided to tell him that I was a food critic for a guidebook and that's when things got interesting. The waiter said he wish he knew because then he would have treated us better. He went to the back and I noticed the chef came closer to our table to check us out and gave him a quick look and smile. Our waiter then came back and told us that desert was on the house. He also introduced us to the chef his name was Eric and Alex was our waiter. They invited us to meet up with them after their shift was over. We had a couple of drinks and called it a night.

Side note: Apparently the chef already noticed me when I went to the bathroom. He told me that my hair was beautiful and that he came closer to our table to get a better look. I apparently did a little hair flip that caught his attention and he was going to send desert to our table for free before he knew I was a food critic. How do you like them apples!

Sept. 25th: Today we met up with Shahar, Joe's dorm mate from Israel, and we headed to Macau with his new friend Elijah. Macau is the Las Vegas of Hong Kong where you go to the casinos to gamble. We were going there to see the fireworks. There was a firework contest going on between Japan and France. We took a ferry from the main Island to Macau and when we docked I was starving and not feeling well. We wandered and found this cheap restaurant where we all had noodle soup with mushrooms. Elijah was meeting up with a friend of his so he headed out and Eden, Shahar and I decided to check out the casinos. None of us gambled but we went to the Wynn and MGM Grand and then walked to see the fireworks. Japan was first and the show was amazing. I had never seen fireworks like these in my life; the show was spectacular! Eden and I looked around and noticed how large the crowd was. We decided to head back to the ferry to get back to the main Island and when we arrived to the ferry terminal the next ferry did not depart for another hour. So what did we do for an hour? We decided to buy a bottle of wine for the trip and when we were able to sit in our superclass ferry seats we cracked open the wine and started drinking straight from the bottle. So classy I know. We landed on the main Hong Kong Island and headed to Soho to meet Eric and Alex. We found them and we ended up at an Irish pub and laughed and joked around. Shahar ended up meeting up with us as well he told us that the France fireworks display show was unreal and beat Japan. Oh well.

Shahar ended up heading back to the hostel and we stayed with Eric and Alex. It was 3am and I was starving so we roamed around the city trying to find food or anything open other than a 7 eleven. Eric and I went down one street and started talking to a local. He was a guy with an interesting stylish mohawk thing going on with an earring and the tightest jean shorts I have seen. He lead us to a restaurant and took us down a weird path and by the time we got to the restaurant we realized how close we were, when we were at the Irish pub, and we literally spent 30min trying to find a place to eat. Eric said the food here is disgusting so none of us ate that night. So much for that!

Sept. 26th: Today is the day we left for Thailand. We had enough time to head to Archie B's and get rid of my bagel with lox and cream cheese craving. It was the most delicious thing ever!!! We packed up all of our things at the Yesinn hostel and made our way to the airport. Eden ended up having to sit next to this Chinese man who would not stop talking and unfortunately farted right next to her. We ended up flying Thai airways and enjoyed our nicely packaged kosher meals.

Side note: Again moving forward will always order Kosher meals on a flight. You get served first and the food is delicious.

We arrived in Thailand and met up with Scott, a friend of Eden's, who took us to an awesome hostel in Bangkok.

Now off to eat amazing Pad Thai!