June 26, 2016

chiang mai, thailand.

our third and final stop in thailand was chiang mai, and i think it tops our favorite list!! it was easily the least touristy and it just felt like we were getting an authentic thai experience. it was jungly and remote and quiet.

our friends from maine (mike and carrie) that we met in krabi ended up snagging flights to chaing mai and joining us! they got the last two spots on our elephant excursion #blessed and we got to spend the majority of our time there with them. they were such an interesting, cool couple (way cooler than us) and i loved starting a friendship out on such an adventurous note!

our time in chiang mai centered around elephants! we got up early, hiked through a hillside village, rode down the river on bamboo rafts, fed the elephants, rode them, and finished off by giving them baths! if you don't know this about me, i have been OBSESSED with elephants for YEARS. our apartment is covered in pictures and pillows and figurines of elephants! they are the cutest, right? i love that they are gentle and smart and and giant and slow and sweet. and they were, seriously, as amazing as i imagined. i am not a huge wilderness girl, but i was really having a mowgli moment! i chatted with my elephant the entire time i rode her and we really got along famously. i couldn't wipe the hugest, goofiest grin off my face the ENTIRE day. what a dream!

now please enjoy this photo shoot of me on the elephant - the workers took my phone and went completely HAM

please note my face in the background. so much joy. 

while feeding this elephant on the left, an elephant snuck up behind me and literally i kid you not tapped me on the shoulder with his trunk. i had been feeding him earlier and he was a little ticked i had abandoned him! he tapped me pretty hard and it scared the crap out of me! jordan caught the moment on gopro.
again, my face haha

this little dude was harassing jordan so bad, it was hilarious

other highlights of chiang mai were:

+ tiger temple - this experience was such a whirlwind, but so surreal. i was about 15% fearing for my life the entire time - but i suppose that made it all the more exciting. tigers are massive ! so. freaking. massive. but they are arguably the most naturally beautiful animal. their stripes were severe and bright and their sauntering around was so graceful, but powerful. after our time petting the tigers, we visited the token baby tiger in the medical center - it was only a few weeks old! many tears of cute aggression (it's a thing) were shed. it's a good thing i had sensible jordan with me, i would have kidnapped that baby tiger and taken it home with me. 

me begging jordan to give tiger temple all of our money so i could take the baby home

the employee told me to grab his tail, and when i hesitated he said "do it for instagram!"

+ the night we arrived, mike and carrie invited us to a local muay tai fight. we sat ringside and although watching little kids spar was not my favorite, the rest of the fights were very entertaining. there was odd music that sounded like snake charmer music the entire night, strange smells everywhere, and lots of lady-boy drag queens - it was a very "immersed in another world" kind of experience. we loved it!

+ scoot scooting - on our final day, we rented a scooter through our hotel (for 2 bucks a day, we love you thailand!) and met mike and carrie at their hotel. as soon as we saw their scooter, we were DYING. we had rented this tiny, baby blue scooter that read "SCOOPI" on the side with a off-brand picture of scooby doo and they had a big, shiny red scooter that looked like it had about three times the engine of ours, haha! regardless, we had a blast scooting around chaing mai - although learning to drive on the opposite side of the road, in psycho traffic, was sketchy. sorry mom! we rode up to the wat phra that doi suthep temple (try to pronounce that, lol) through a tiny village, up to a waterfall and some beaaaautiful gardens, and all around the mountain just outside the city. the day was nothing short of magical. 

and thus concludes our time in thailand! jordan is such the mvp of vacations (and my life) because he planned and stressed and everything turned out so perfectly. we loved all of the new things we got to experienced and really loved adventuring, just us two. here's to the sweatiest and most magical country ever!

next up, japan!

June 20, 2016

krabi, thailand.

we arrived to our hotel in ao nang after dark, so this was a nice sight to wake up to

insert all the heart eye emojis !!!!

because of our initial travel schedule, jordan and i would crash at 8pm and wake up around 4am ready to go - it stayed like this throughout the entire trip! it played to our advantage, we would wake up and skype our families as they got off of work, then be the first ones out. 

we took the first boat to railay beach that morning, and were shocked to hop out of the boat onto an almost deserted beach. we got private massages, hiked to a few other beaches and up to a lookout point, met another couple from maine (who will show up later on this trip) kayaked around the bay and made it back to ao nang in time for a dip in our pool and the sunset on the beach.  those green cliffs and blue water were just as pretty as everyone said times 10,000 !!!!

jordan made a friend, so cute


my favorite pool of the vacation!

the next morning we were planning on taking an 11:00 boat to koh phi phi don, but were given some bad information that resulting in a very panicked packing situation - the boat left at 9:30!! our front desk friend called the ferry, asked them to wait for us, and called a tuk tuk. he held up traffic, threw our bags in the taxi, and yelled at him in thai (i assume) to get us there QUICK.

guys, that little tuk tuk was hitting like 50 mph I SWEAR. we were passing CARS!! (if we would have crashed we literally would have had a zero percent chance of surviving.) it was stressful but actually really exciting. and we made our boat!

once on phi phi, we taxied by boat to our resort. we stayed in beach-side bungalows that were pretty removed from town. although the room was really cool and thailand-ey, we concluded that having AC is always the better choice. (i also woke up one morning to find a cat under our bed and i had no idea how long it had been there??? like okay???) the resort had it's own restaurant and a few private beaches, bonus!

we spent the rest of the day hiking to a lookout point, (and sweating off ten pounds to do so) getting massages, finding a knockoff naked palette (score!) and watching the sunset on the beach.

that night, jordan hiked back into town to try to talk a private long tail boat into leaving early early early the next day to a few surrounding islands. nobody in thailand wants to get up before 9am apparently, but we struck gold! we met mr call the next morning at six.

aaaaand here is our crazy "what are our lives right now" story of the trip

so we get to maya bay at like 6:30am. maya bay is notoriously touristy and almost every review i've gotten from friends has been like, "it's gorgeous, but it is PACKED." i don't know if it was the early hour or the fact that our trip has juuuust eeked into off-season, but GUYS. there were literally 6 other people there. i couldn't believe our luck !!!!! we played in the water, took photos, and even took a group photo with the other tourists to commemorate the novelty of the morning. (LOL) 

then our tourist friends leave as it starts to sprinkle. we figure we will wait it out to enjoy the empty beach. then we watch mr call take our private long tail and drive off, leaving us stranded in this bay. our first thought was "SHIZ we already paid that dude, we are so screwed" and our second thought was "crap it's starting to rain really hard, what should we do with our phones?"

we finally found the government official working on the island and after 20 minutes of broken english, we figure out that we need to go to the other side of the island, apparently that's where our boat had taken off to. we left our shoes in the boat, so we hike through the jungle, barefoot and clad in just our bathing suits, through a monsoon. i was praying equally for our phones to stay dry inside the backpack and for our ride to actually be on the other side of the island.

well, we make it to the other side of the island and we see mr call and the boat. RELIEF. only problem is there's no beach, there's only a CLIFF into the water and a sketch-town rope net thingy that apparently we should climb down? the waves are pretty nuts and it is pouring and me and jordan are just standing there like, um? 

so obviously in the moment we were not worried about taking pictures, so here's a photo of the spot i nicked from google. you can kinda see the net-situation between the two mountains. except picture the craziest rainstorm of your life. (also i feel the need to qualify and say that the tide was WAY lower on the day we were there than it is in this picture - the cliff was significantly taller. i swear.)

anyway - mr call swims some life jackets out to us (he couldn't go back to maya bay because the storm would have trapped him in there) and jordan holds the backpack above his head while swimming in this crazy water. it was nuts!! but we survived and so did all electronics.

the rain died down shortly after, and we snorkeled around the phi-leh lagoon, visited monkey beach, and snorkeled again around shark point. the water got quiet and we hardly saw anyone else - the craziness morphed into a really serene morning. although i had heard bad things about thai snorkeling, we saw TONS of fish and i even got stung by a jellyfish! 

we arrived back from our adventurous morning, feeling like it should be 6 at night but it was noon haha. we got another massage (bc what else) and spent the rest of the day hanging out on the beach & around town. we loooooved the atmosphere of the phi phi islands - very lively but not loud, lots of locals out and around, and endless long tail boats decorating the beaches. and those green cliffs again, they are other-worldly! 

we said our goodbyes to phi phi and ferried into krabi the next morning. we checked into our hotel, set the AC to 60 degrees, (hehe) and got a taxi to tiger cave temple.

when we arrived we looked up to the top of the mountain and saw where the temple was. we literally said to each other, "he must drive us up a little farther before we start, there's no way you hike up that high." but then our driver was like, "entrance over there!" 

there were 1300 concrete steps to the top - and they were crazy steep and randomly so narrow? like i couldn't even fit half my foot on the step? HAPHAZARD. surely if you would have fallen down one flight of stairs you would have been toast. there were sections of stairs marked off with danger signs - which was comforting. we took it 200 stairs at a time, and then 100, and then 50. we were both shaking by the time we reached the top and i feel the need to mention the sweat again. we were both literally soaked. LITERALLY. completely soaked. (it was a little reassuring to see everyone else up there sweating the same, probably dangerous, amount.) here's the rough shape jordan was in:

let's hope he never reads this blogpost, cuz he will immediately murder me for that photo.

the view from the top was EASILY worth every step!! the green was so intense it made me eyes sore.

sweating that much takes it out of ya, so after some exploring some temples around krabi town, we called it quits, bought some ice cream that we EARNED, and gave ourselves an 8pm bedtime for our early flight to chiang mai!