Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fighting the post-travel blues

You spent a few weeks, maybe a few months in paradise.
Everything was beautiful, perfect..

it was an experience you'll never forget.

How do you readjust to the concrete jungle of big city life again?
I think we've all come to that particular issue.

I hear it among my traveling friends a lot, so I want to share how I avoid the depression of post-travel.

I choose to find the magic and awe of where I am.
If I'm unfamiliar with that, I do what I would do if I was overseas.

I go to Dr. Google and ask where are the most "need to see" waterfalls in my area.
I make weekend trips to see the beauty of my home area.

I spend time meditating in nature and grounding back to myself.

Another step I take is to recreate habits I made that I loved while on vacation.

In Koh Tao I had found a fruit stand that made the best fruit smoothies I'd ever tried. So I recreated the morning smoothies I became accustomed to while overseas.

I take things to extremes, so I even hang my clothes to dry outside so I can recreate the mundane tasks of being overseas as well.
Sometimes I take cold showers, because we didn't have hot water when I was in Koh Tao.
Little things brought me joy.
Simplicity brings me joy.

What do you do to settle back in once you're home again?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Follow the locals - My inner foodie is appeased

cats love Buddha

I have always heard this said of any place that is touristy, but it rings true.

If you want good, authentic, cheap food... follow the locals. They know where it's at.

 When we walked down a lengthy pier
that probably would've been condemned in America
because of its dangerous condition..

the path to the pirates bar

We found the best food

dinner with friends

 It was cheap, and delicious.
We sat on the floor around a table and enjoyed food and delicious company. The view was over the bay.

thailand village path

The secret is to walk the long path, where no one goes.

Slow down, enjoy the view.

dinner on the beach

That is where you will find the good food.
Most locals can't afford to spend what the tourists are spending.
Because of this you will be able to find affordable food that is authentic and amazing.

garden salad

This garden salad was from a place that was on a side road off the main street. I paid roughly 4$ for it. It was the most expensive food I'd gotten on the trip so far.

Bangkok mango and rice

In Bangkok, a small side store had a giant fruit stand outside. It appears to sell only fresh fruit but there was a massive line of locals walking out with little boxes. That is a good sign that there's something delicious inside. This dish is sliced mango with sticky rice and coconut milk with a crunchy topping.

tea and biscuits

 I liked that things were served on wooden plates, it gave more charm to the experience.

lunch on a cutting board

While this food had the best presentation of any of the food I ate on the island, it was not actually the best. It was at a restaurant that was really only popular because of it's location. It was prominent, and full of tourists. It was not bad food- but it was not excellent and it was not cheap.

In the end, I can't tell you where all the food places are. But I can tell you that you'll want to see where everyone else is going. In Bangkok it's super easy: Around dinner time or right before - food stalls start showing up everywhere. You just walk the streets and grab something. Some stands sold nearly a pound of varied fruit for 2$ and it was pre-cut in a bag for you. I got some and I literally ate for 10 hours off that one bag of fruit because I couldn't eat it all in one sitting.

 A few places I do recommend in Koh Tao near Chalok Baan Kaok though:

Fruit stand- On the main street near the laundry place with bikes out front you will see a fruit stand. I don't recall the name but everyone will know what you're talking about if you ask anyone. They sell fruit shakes for between 40-120B. It is cheap and wonderful and if you want to be ecofriendly you can bring your own container that they will pour the shake in.

Babaloo Bar and Restaurant- it is down a narrow pier which I do not recommend walking on while drunk. I learned this the hard way. The food is delicious and very well priced. I had a wonderful salad and my friends tried the fish of the day, snapper.

I Love Salad Cafe - They are off on a side street and serve delicious and beautiful salads for reasonable prices.

Blue Sea - It is a walk inland but it is authentic food. They cook everything out back and it was some of the most delicious thai food I have ever tasted. It is extremely cheap as well. Our dive instructor is the one that told us about the place, we would have never walked this far to look for food.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The 2AM Train Ride

Palm trees in Thailand

So there I was
at 2AM on an overnight train
through the Thailand country side
surrounded by poverty and dirt.

Have you ever tried
to hover over a squatty potty
in a 2 ft x 2 ft metal compartment
in a fast moving train
with walls so dirty you didn't want to touch them
but every bump on the track violently shook
your body into those dirty walls

But somehow it was so peaceful to me
I giggled as I lurched forward
slamming my hands into the walls
just trying to hold myself from falling in

I just wanted to pee

By the time I returned to my bunk bed
I was overtaken with laughter

My travel mate asked if we could snuggle
in my bunk
and we shared stories of the struggle
to pee on a train

asian culture no shoes

Being in another country can be pretty overwhelming.
Even more so when you are unsure how you are going to get around.

There are many means of public transportation and you will have a lot of options based on budget.

beach walk

Walking - Of course the number one method I used was just walking. I walked many miles in the various parts of Thailand I ended up in. One night I walked the entire beach strip while barhopping with friends. This is obviously the free and eco-friendly choice.

taxi truck thailand

Taxi - Taxis are a good form of transportation, but they can also be expensive. You'll want to always discuss where you are going and what rate you are willing to pay before you enter the taxi. My advice is do not pay the set rate they give you. It's usually scam price. Show or tell them your destination and ask for the meter to be turned on, it is the law that they must turn the meter on when asked. If they refuse, flag another taxi until you get one that does. Some will just drive off when you show them where you want to go. Don't worry, it's just not in their zone and they won't bother spending time trying to explain this to you.


Tuktuk -  Tuktuks are at a set price, and it's more about the experience of riding in a Tuktuk. Personally I think they're colorful and cute but crazy. They drive a bit too crazy for my safety preferences. But thousands of people do it every day with no problem and have a blast. It's all about what you want - but you will pay more for them.

ferry ride

Ferry - Ferries are typically cheap, but beware of the potential of rough seas. My first ferry ride was awful and no one except the crew was well that trip. The ride back was beautiful though and the sea was calm. My advice is bring seasickness pills just in case. Depending on where you go, you might be able to book a joint ticket. Lompraya offered ferry/bus combination tickets to the small islands.

koh tao pier

Bus - I had nothing nice to say about the bus. It was air conditioned and got me from point A to point B but had seats so awful that my back was sore for hours afterwards. It is obviously more cost efficient than some other options, so I would do it again but I will bring a pillow next time. Outside of Thailand, my bus in Japan was comfortable and super cheap. Narita to Haneda was roughly 30$ and the seats were comfy. It's 50/50 chance I suppose. You can usually buy a pass at the stands but you can also book ahead at some places.

Lompraya pier

Train - My understanding is that the trains with A/C are typically nicer. The one we got was cheaper, had only fans, and the bathrooms left us wanting. It was nice to be on an overnight train though because we were able to sleep and the beds weren't terrible. The train itself was relatively clean.

Thai dancers
Thai dancers performing at the train station platform to entertain travelers waiting on their trains. You can watch some interesting things at train stations, you wouldn't expect it!

Bike rental - You can rent motorbikes at most cities. I don't recommend it because they typically hold your passport hostage and if they say you damaged the bike they can charge an outrageous price and you have no way to fight it. But to each their own, many have rented with no issues. It was not a risk I was willing to take because the laws for driving are crazy in Thailand.

island life

There are many methods and everyone chooses differently. I recommend taking the slow routes that are cheaper and enjoying your surroundings more.