Whenever we travel I have a few goals. One is to meet people and hear their stories – where they are from, what it was like growing up, what they do and what drives them. Sometimes the language barrier doesn’t make that convenient so the other goal is what can I learn about myself and the culture I am in.
These are five things I have learned while in Thailand.
1. Always check for toilet paper before going to the bathroom
It is not uncommon for the public restrooms not to have toilet paper, thus you should always check before just strolling in and conducting business. Needless to say – Thailand toilets 1, James soft sided sunglass case 0. (TMI???)
2. The Thai are super nice, except the taxi drivers
Everyone we have met in Thailand has been super nice. They bow and salute and try to be extremely helpful despite the language barrier. The only exception to this is taxi drivers. They are out to get you. This is something we were warned about before embarking on our trip and man is it true. Many of the drivers will refuse to run the meter and you should not ride with them or negotiate with them. Every time we thought about negotiating, the price they said was always several hundred Baht greater than the metered rate.
3. I’m too short to be an American
During our time in Thailand I have been mistaken for an Australian, Scottish, Canadian and “European” but never American. In fact, one Thai did not believe we were American and fought us saying I was “too small” to be American. I’m telling myself this is more due to my lack of eating McDonald’s than my vertical challenge.
4. Thailand can be done really cheap
Thailand is one of the cheapest places we have visited. In fact, as I type this we are in a very cozy hotel that cost us roughly $20 per night. There have been days when we have spent less than $20 and that is living pretty comfortably. However, our thought has been – unless you are trying to live long term – why would you? If you are looking at a 2-3 week vacation you could live like a king. You can get five-star hotels for under $100 a night. You can’t book a Super 8 in some cities in the US for that. You can get an hour long massage for $3-5 dollars, T-Bone steaks for $6 and eat and drink all day for $20-$30. If you wanted, you could stay in five-star hotels, eat at amazing places and be pampered for much less than a European vacation, and that doesn’t even begin to mention the activities like cooking classes, playing with elephants and trekking around in the jungle. So, if you were on vacation why would you skimp when you could live in luxury for much less than you would anywhere else?
5. Crickets don’t taste like Chicken
I’ve seen on TV people like Bear Grylls telling me crickets or other bugs taste like chicken. Although, I can’t exactly describe the flavor, I can tell you the texture is NOTHING like chicken. Although the taste itself is not awful, it is hard to get out of your own head and enjoy a bug with legs and wings sliding down your throat.
*6. Cobra whiskey won’t kill you (bonus from Laos)
We took a day trip to the Golden Triangle of Thailand from Chiang Mai. This is the area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) all come together. We were greeted in Laos with a “welcome drink.” You chose from a drink that had been fermented with one of the following – cobra, turtle and scorpion, gecko, tiger penis (yes you read that correctly) and ginseng. I’m not usually one to shy away from new foods and drinks (see eating a cricket above), but this one had me worried. When our tour guide offered up a small sample of the cobra whiskey I kept thinking to myself, “why do I always have to say I will try anything once (food wise that is)?” So I took a swig thinking the whole time “aren’t these things poisonous?” Well, needless to say I am still here and alive and well. The people of Laos believe each of these fermented drinks offer up different powers. The cobra gives you super strength, the turtle/scorpion gives you long life and you can use your imagination on the tiger penis, but you probably wouldn’t be wrong.
Have you done anything that stretched your comfort zone lately?
Thailand has gone nothing like we thought it would, yet exactly how we should have expected – completely different than we imagined it would be. That seems to be the never ending, repeating theme of our year so far.
Our first 7 days in Koh Samui we weren’t able to do as much exploring as we would have liked due to poor weather, however, between dodging rain storms we were still able to visit several markets, enjoy the beach for an afternoon and explore a few of the temples the island had to offer.
Afterwards we made our way further north to Koh Phangan. This was exactly what we were wanting when we decided to visit Thailand and go to the islands – pristine beaches, clear blue water and most importantly sunshine. We had plans to hike, kayak, snorkel and possibly even scuba dive…then Whitney got sick and plans got thwarted again. Although once again didn’t get to follow through with plans as anticipated, the trip was not a bust by any means as Whit spent several days laying on the beach and I enjoyed some time swimming, reading and laying around as well.
On the most recent portion of our trip we headed further north inland to Chiang Mai. This city has come highly recommended by multiple people. Coincidentally our first weekend here couldn’t have been at a better time as we arrived to discover their annual Flower Festival was kicking off. As Chiang Mai is called the Rose of the North, they hold a flower festival every year. This one appeared to be more special as Thailand is currently in a state of mourning for their recently deceased King and the floats were almost entirely dedicated to his memory. We had grand plans to take a cooking class, go hiking, visit an Elephant Sanctuary and that was just for starters. Then wouldn’t you know it, I got sick the morning we were on our way to the cooking class. Whitney was able to continue as I caught an Uber back to our apartment. Her pictures and description of the class made me jealous not to have gone, but I was out of commission for the next two and a half days.
Finally, we are both feeling well and ready to enjoy our remaining 8 days in Thailand. We have scheduled the day at the Elephant Sanctuary and are hoping to hire a driver for a day to explore Chiang Rai and the surrounding area before we head to Bangkok for our last few days.
Even though things haven’t gone as anticipated, Thailand has still been quite the adventure.
We have recently taken our first adventure to Asia and decided to come to Thailand. This was a last minute, spur of the moment decision and so far has not been a disappointment.
After our 55-hour adventure getting to the island of Ko Samui we have been welcomed with mostly gloomy weather. However, that hasn’t stopped us from exploring the island and all that it has to offer.
One of our favorite things to do is checking out the different night markets around the island. Think of this as a cross between the state fair and a flea market. Trinkets are cheap and food is cheaper.
If you are wanting to visit somewhere out of your comfort zone and on a budget, I highly recommend checking out Thailand. We are currently posted up in an Airbnb on the beach for $20/night. We are living like kings eating and drinking our way around the island, renting motorbikes and indulging in all the ice cream and desserts we could want and on our worst day we have spent $53 USD and that included buying sunglasses and getting stuck in a restaurant all afternoon in the rain. Most days we are spending in the mid $20s. If you really tried, I think it would be possible to live on $20-$30/day (including hotel) and be pretty comfortable with a full belly.
Have you been to Thailand and if so what are your favorite hot spots?
Along the way, we’ve enjoyed food trucks, beverages, sights and music in countless cities and towns, taken thousands of photos, reconnected with a handful of friends and family and slept in more Walmart parking lots than we care to count.
And we’re just getting started.
This week, we’re back in Colorado (again, we just can’t seem to stay away) preparing for a snowshoe trip in the mountains to ring in the new year. And after that we’re heading south for the winter.
We have no idea what 2017 will hold but if it’s anything like this year it’s going to be one crazy adventure after another.
Thanks to everyone who’s been supporting our journey so far. We love sharing it with you.
How are you celebrating the new year? We love hearing from you.
We have spent the last two weeks in Golden, CO while I have been helping a friend on a small project.
It has been nice to “get my hands dirty” so to speak and get back to some of the basics of being a landman in the oil and gas industry. Often you can begin to fill like a glorified paper pusher. But getting back to running title and leasing has been refreshing.
More importantly, it has been nice to be back in Golden. Besides Buena Vista, this is the first town that we fell in love with and that felt like home, besides home.
This is the town where we originally went from being two to being one. When you leave your family and friends and move to a new place far away you have no choice but to learn to lean and rely on one another.
This is the town where we know our favorite pizza place, local pub and the owners of the candy shop on main street. This is the town that has a Santa parade every weekend in December and goes all out for Christmas. This is the town that puts us close to the friends we have made, the ski resorts and the bustling downtown.
Traveling has been the experience of a lifetime and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. The ups and downs. The way it can challenge you to grow and expand your worldview. The way it can reinforce things you believe or create new insights you never had.
But this is the town that is comfortable. And there is something very comforting in the comfortable.
We recently had the opportunity to spend a relaxing time in our favorite area of Colorado…Buena Vista and Salida.
It was the first time we have pulled into a campground to set up and not spent the next several days or weeks working on issues with a camper. It was the first time we have boondocked and enjoyed the luxury of having electricity, water and a comfy bed. It was the first time that we have pulled into a place and I haven’t thought to myself “how are we going to make it a year living like this?”
As you may be aware by now, we have a new home and the comforts it has provided cannot be expressed enough.
It was spectacular to enjoy a nice week in comfort, which allowed us to explore the area visiting some of our old stomping grounds and discovering some new gems.
We enjoyed a round of golf in Buena Vista, walked the river in downtown Salida and even found a free off-the-path spot to camp.
This round of our trip has reinvigorated my excitement for this year and all the things that we are going to see and explore.
After deciding to take off for a year and embarking on our journey, things have been fantastic. We have visited 17 states and 6 countries. We have had great food, enjoyed amazing music, hung out with the locals and ventured into some of the best sceneries mother nature has to offer.
But lest you sit there thinking to yourself how easy we have it just know the good life isn’t always the easy life. Things don’t always go as expected. You are sometimes thrown curve balls and you have to learn to be far more flexible than an 8-5 weekend get away would have you be.
For instance, our first volunteer position was delayed due to our axle catching on fire the day before we were due to arrive. We were stuck in a no-where town for two days in a hotel we were not expecting to pay for, and a repair that cut into an already tight budget. But nonetheless, we arrived in South Carolina and gave our all with some slight adjustments.
Another fine example would be our month in Yellowstone. We arrived expecting to find water hookups and a solar generator. What we found was slightly different. We had a solar trickle charger for a dead battery and a gravity-fed water spigot 50 feet from our door. This meant carrying pots of water and making a three-hour drive to Bozeman, MT for a new battery.
It turned out to be one of my favorite weekends and made for a chance to not only visit a town I have long wanted to explore, but also discover a new gem in Red Lodge, MT.
Our fridge and heater decided to stop working in 30-degree weather and our water pump decided to start leaking, but then I walk out of my camper at 9:30 at night and the little dipper is greeting me brighter than the sun on a cloudy day and the Milky Way is glimmering magnificently. We hike Mystic Falls and the landscape that unfolds is a river within a golden field within a green backdrop, almost appearing as a river within a river, and everything is worth every penny pinching, camper mishappening, plan changing that brought us here.
No, the good life is not always the easy life, but then again I’m spending a month in Yellowstone and can’t imagine it could be any better any other way.
We recently took a detour from our USA road trip to visit our brothers and sisters across the pond. We flew the night flight to Iceland and then on to France. Once in the mainland we spent about nine days touring France, Luxemburg, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands. Although I want to tell you about the other nine days of our trip in Scotland, let me say that if you love canal cities, old architecture and great conversation in the local pubs Bruges, Belgium is a must visit and ranks at the top of my list.
After a couple days in Amsterdam we caught a flight to Scotland where we met some dear friends of ours from Denver to do a four-day hike in the Highlands and spend a few days roaming Edinburgh and Glasgow.
We made our way to Tendrum where we stayed in a hostel, which was a first for me. Tendrum was a neat little town with a few hotels, a couple places to eat, and a great starting point for our next four days and 44ish miles.
We were about to embark on a four-day hike in which a company would transport our bags from one hotel/hostel to the next and we simply had to pack a sack lunch, rain gear and bug spray (which we didn’t) and take off to our next location. We hiked seven miles, 12 miles, nine miles and 16 miles. A big portion of this trek was in the rain, but honestly the view and the company made it all worth the weather and the attacking midges (a hybrid fly-flea-mosquito-demon dragon sort of thing). However, at the end of each rainy day, we had a bed, food and drink waiting to greet us.
One of the highlights of the four days was the Bridge of Orchy. This day also happened to be Jared’s and my birthday. This was one of the nicest places to stay and we enjoyed some good food (haggis), good drinks and the girls surprised us with a cake, which the waiter delivered as he sang to us. The four of us quickly devoured the majority of the cake. Okay in all honesty, the girls had a couple bites and we ate the rest.
The hiking was great and we saw some fantastic sites, including a summit with views of the Glencoe mountains, the rain forest just before Fort William and the old military road, which a portion of our hike was devoted to. There were several streams, lakes, mountain peaks, sheep and old, abandoned farms.
Although I would not necessarily say this hike was for a beginner, I would also say you do not need to be an expert. This is a trip that I would highly recommend and a great way to ease into a multiday hiking trip. Just be sure to take your rain gear and your midge spray.