Thailand Part 2: Chinatown Eats & Adventures in Public Transportation

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We woke up bright and early the next morning and headed to Chinatown. We had planned to begin at the Flower Market but ended up being dropped off at the plain old Market (Eh…A for Effort and L for Language Barrier). Rather than hopping in another cab we took the opportunity to explore our surroundings. And there was oh so much to explore. Produce stalls. Fruit stalls (OH the fresh fruit…how I miss it). Seafood stalls. Hot food stalls. Bags full of fried things stalls. Stalls selling clothes. Stalls selling shoes. Stalls selling toys. Heck, there was even a stall selling nothing but sew on patches. If you want it, you can find it in Chinatown.

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After feasting with our eyes we decided it was time to feast with our bellies. First, we sampled durian, a fruit I had previously only seen on the likes of Top Chef or Chopped. If you are unfamiliar with durian (and you probably are because it doesn’t make regular appearances in most supermarkets), it is famous for it’s stench. In fact, most Thai hotels have signs informing guests that durians are not allowed in the rooms due to their foul odor.

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Durians have a thick, spiky skin, kind of like a pineapple, which reveals yellow fruit at its core when sliced open. The durian tasted mild and sweet but the consistency was unlike an other fruit I’ve ever tried, very creamy, almost custardy. It tasted ok but I won’t be sad if I never try another. On to the next treat!

Our next stop was the fried food stand.

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I’m not really sure what else to call it. The stall was piled high with fried foods. You pointed at the ones you wanted which were then roughly chopped, popped into a bag and covered with a sweet sauce.

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We couldn’t decipher what any of the fried foods actually were but decided to chance it and randomly pointed to three. One seemed to be a corn fritter but the other two are still indistinguishable. Everything tasted like batter and sauce and was generally disappointing. 0 for 2.

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I’m alive! Thailand Part 1 – Bangkok

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Holy hiatus! It’s been a while! In case you were worried we never made it home from Thailand…SURPRISE…we did! I have been dying to jump back on the blog and start re-capping and re-living our trip but true to form, life has been a little hectic. We got home from Thailand at the end of June and immediately began the process of moving into our new home. I mean IMMEDIATELY…got home at 2:30, started moving at 3:00. And let me tell you, moving is the worst, and moving while jet-lagged is the worst of the worst. It was a pretty exhausting few weeks, and as soon as we were done and settled I got very sick and was down for ANOTHER week. Add about a week’s worth of family and company in town once I was well and you see why the blogging fell by the wayside. BUT now I’m back and so excited to share our amazing trip with you! So let’s get right to it shall we? IMG_3089

Thailand was beyond amazing. It exceeded my expectations in every way and has quickly moved into the top spot on my list of favorite destinations. If you ever have the chance to go, TAKE IT, you won’t regret it. I have said many times since returning, each place we visited was so unique that it felt like 4 trips in 1. We got a dose of the big city in Bangkok, cooled off and slowed down in Chiang Mai, enjoyed the laid back, beach bum vibes of Koh Tao and then ended it all in resort like Koh Samui, plus a crazy Full Moon Party!

We touched down in Bangkok at 9:30 pm and taxied to our hotel in the Sukhumvit district. We checked into the Hotel Icon and were greeted with purple cocktails (their signature color) and shown to our room on the top floor right next to the rooftop bar/swimming pool.

We went to sleep as quickly as our jet-lagged bodies were able knowing we would be waking up to a full day of touring.

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Bangkok here we come!

The next morning we got up bright and early to beat the heat (not possible) and make our way to the first stop on our list, Wat Po a.k.a. Temple of the Reclining Buddha. We stumbled out of our hotel and into an un-metered taxi. Now, before you start thinking I’m a putz who did no research before traveling, think again. I knew un-metered taxis were trouble, but we negotiated the price down to 40 baht before we got in. 40 baht is roughly $1.30, and I felt pretty proud of myself for not falling for the typically taxi scam. Little did I know that cheap taxi was taking us to an expensive private boat dock rather than the much cheaper public boat I was anticipating. Thailand 1, Laurin 0.

The kind taxi driver dropped us at the dock and insisted we take a picture in front of this graffiti tiger/shark/robot before we were quickly scooped up by a tiny Thai woman with sunscreen all over her face.tiger

She hustled us onto a private motor boat for 1600 baht (45 usd) which sped off to give us a 45 minute canal tour before depositing us at the temple. Rip. Off. I consoled my bruised ego with the fact that she had started at 1800 and the realization that we HAD planned to do a canal tour at some point. The motor boat also offered a steady breeze which was such a respite from the stifling heat that it just may have been worth it.

I quickly forgot about the price once I started taking in my surroundings. We cruised through the main canals where we got water views of many of the city’s famous temples and sites, but my favorite part by far was the small waterways that ran behind homes and markets and gave us a true look into Thai life.

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I loved catching glimpses of people hanging laundry, eating breakfast and especially this sweet little boy who ran along the fence of the playground waving at us :) IMG_3002

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Time for Thailand!

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Wow, writing that title just made me so happy! Happy and maybe just a teensy bit stressed considering I still have a million things to check off of my to-do list before we leave and less than a week now to do them all! Ahh!

This morning marked my last day of work for the school year so the official countdown is on! My sister and I leave for Thailand next Monday and I couldn’t be more excited! Robert will be just a few days behind us and then the fun will really start! I am 90% excited and 10% nervous, mostly just about the logistics of Robert flying in solo and making his way to us. If you asked Robert his numbers would probably swing the opposite way, 90% nervous/10% excitement, but lets hope they shift a bit as the date grows nearer!

Since I DO have a million things to check off my aforementioned to-do list, I’ll keep today’s post short and sweet! A brief rundown of our itinerary just in case any of you reading have been to the Land of Smiles and have any must see/do/eats, in which case, please share!

Haley and I will arrive in Bangkok late Tuesday night and spend a total of three nights (two days) there! Our plans include lots of temple touring (Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha etc.) and tuk tuk riding and shopping. We also want to do a canal tour, check out the Flower Market and go to China Town! On Friday morning we plan to go to the Damnoen Sadurak floating market before we catch our late afternoon flight to Chiang Mai!

We will spend 4 nights in Chiang Mai which is where Robert will meet us. There we are scheduled to spend a day at the Thai Farm Cooking School, tour the Old City and of course the highlight of the trip… Patara Elephant Farm!!

From Chiang Mai we will fly to Koh Samui and do a bit of island hopping! Check out our digs in Koh Tao!

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This last leg of our trip is the least scheduled as we intend to do some relaxing on the beach, rent a longtail boat or two and just go with the flow! Robert is flying home two days ahead of Haley and I due to his work schedule, so we are toying with the idea of attending a Full Moon Party once he goes. I’m not much of a wild child but it may prove to be something we can’t miss. When in Rome!

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What I plan to do in Koh Tao….minus the thong bathing suit 

If you have any suggestions for any of our destinations, let me know! I love tips from other travelers!  As you can see from the photo above, I’ve been following Thailand instragram accounts which is a great way to see beautiful places and get ideas for your trip!

Signing off until I return in a few weeks! Robert and I will be moving in to our new house immediately upon returning (Eek!) so once I get settled you can expect lots of fun trip re-cap posts and maybe even a tour of my new kitchen:) Til then!❤

Cool Summer Treat: Snicker Bar Salad

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Wow, the last few weeks have FLOWN by! Mid May already? How did that happen? The end of the school year is quickly approaching which means work has been crazy (and jam packed with state testing..ugh) and summer is in the air! I am counting down the days because the end of school means it’s time for Thailand!!

Crazy to think that my dream trip is only a few weeks away! Craziest of all is that after the initial planning was completed, I’ve barely had time to think about it with everything else going on in our lives! In the last few weeks Robert and I have been out of town, had friends and family in town, bought a new house (ahh) and started down the road of a career change for me next year (more on that later). All very exciting but nonetheless, BIG life changes in less than a month! In the midst of all of that I am also the proud new owner of a very pricey mouth guard since my stressful  err “busy” schedule has caused me to start clenching my teeth in my sleep. Thank you anxious brain.

Last weekend we had some extended family in town to watch my darling niece perform in her school musical and to celebrate Mother’s Day. My niece and nephew are both incredibly well rounded, amazing kiddos. They are both part of a language immersion program at their school which means that 80% of their school day is taught in a foreign language… Chinese! I struggled all the way through my high school and college Spanish courses so I can’t even imagine!

On top of being geniuses, they are also very talented little performers. My niece had a solo in her school musical, “Dear Edwina”. It was about a little girl who gives her neighborhood friends and family advice in a live musical show from her garage. It was really cute and the kids did a great job! Especially my niece who played a fairy godmother who sang about how to properly set the table. Adorable.

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With the star of the show!

Notice that she is taller than me in the above picture. She was a toddler in diapers when Robert and I first met and now she is going to be giving me her hand me down clothes instead of vice versa! Crazy how fast they grow!

After the show we all went back to my sister in law’s house to have a family cookout. I was tasked with bringing dessert, typically my least favorite thing to make since I am not a baker. Luckily, I remembered this Snicker Bar Salad recipe and thought it would be perfect. The combination of diced apples, snicker bars, pudding and cool whip basically tastes like a candy apple that is 1 trillion times easier to eat. It has been in the 80’s around here lately so this is one dessert that fits the categories of ‘refreshing’ and ‘light’ and is perfect for summer!  It also could not be any easier and there is zero hot oven involvement, win win!

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Girls’ Weekend in DC!

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Happy Tuesday! After another busy weekend away I am back to the grind and ready to recap my super fun extended weekend in DC with my best friend Caite! Caite and I have been best friends since high school and I was so glad she made a trip down to SC to visit me last April, so it was high time I returned the favor!

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She lives in Virginia so we made big plans to meet in DC for the weekend, and by ‘we’ I mean ‘she’ because she planned our entire trip and boy did she do a great job!

Caite met me at the airport late Thursday evening and we went straight to our AirBnB in the city. I have never used AirBnB before but Caite is a pro and she was not overly impressed with our digs. We stayed in the bottom of a row house that had been turned into a one bedroom apartment.

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Our “Row”

It was clean and the location was great but our upstairs neighbors were horrendously loud (or maybe they own horses?). Oh well, it was a bed and a shower which is more or less all we required.

On Friday morning we grabbed some delicious vanilla latte’s at The Coffee Bar, a hip little coffee shop around the corner and hit the streets!

One of my favorite things about big cities is that you can walk almost everywhere. Walking everywhere with a latte that has coffee art in the foam is an added bonus.

We popped into a few cute shops before deciding it was time for a big late breakfast, Ted’s Bulletin to the rescue!

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When Robert and I were last in DC a few years ago our friend Bud raved about Ted’s Bulletin and their homemade pop tarts so I was excited to check it out.

Caite and I agreed to split one but were both way too full by the time we actually finished our food… next time!

After breakfast we did a little more shopping and then decided to make up for our missed poptarts and satisfy our sweet tooth with a few macarons.

We ogled all the pretty colors and unique flavors and went all in for the sampler pack.

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As always with macarons I thought they looked a lot prettier than they actually tasted (I’m looking at you fruity pebbles…bleh). The almond and salted caramel were pretty yummy but I won’t be converting to a macaron lover any time soon (Ice cream forever!).

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