Sometimes when blogging gets tough, when I sit and stare at a blank screen for hours, I often ask myself why I blog. “It’s for our memories. It’s the best souvenir I can get,” I’d tell myself. Otherwise, I’d forget.
But then I realize that if it really is to document my memories, then I’m doing the world’s crappiest job at that. When I started this blog, I really thought I was going to write about everything we do and eat. But that didn’t happen. So many things were left unblogged simply because I couldn’t find the words to write an entertaining post. So then I revised my blogging strategy to “I’ll only blog about things that have inspired me enough that the words just pour out.” That left me with blogging about approximately… 10% of our travels. The other vast majority only exist as vague memories or as uncategorized pictures hidden in a jumble of digital folders.
The other day, I had an epiphany: a monthly travel re-cap is the answer! Why didn’t I think of this months ago?! Clearly, we’re traveling faster than I can blog, and we’re seeing more amazing things than my writing skills can capture. The least I can do is re-cap it all monthly with a summary where we’ve been, what we did, and some highlights and lowlights.
So here goes the first of the re-caps: NOVEMBER 2014
Beginning to mid-November: Chiang Mai
Nov 9th: We attended a one-day Northern Thailand tour, which included the White Temple in Chiang Rai, the Karen Long Neck tribe, lunch at the Golden Triangle (where Thailand, Laos, and Burma meet), a boat ride along the Mekong, and then across to a Laos market (which was pretty cool to say that we set foot in Laos!). As with most tours, at times it felt either rushed or that they’re just taking you to buy stuff. But I think it was worth it to have someone else do all the planning and to see a lot things in one day.
Here is what I remember from that day:
- Woke up the morning and tummy didn’t feel right. I was so terrified of having to use public restrooms that I considered canceling (yes, I have an irrational fear, and this was going to be a 15 hour day). I decided to brave it out.
- The White Temple was breathtakingly gorgeous like in the picture. But the setting was anything but peaceful. There were so many tourists, and the whole time, there was a guy yelling into a loudspeaker to take off your shoes, no photos, no walking backwards, etc. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
- Despite all the really amazing things we saw that day, the boat ride along the Mekong was the most fun!
Nov 10th: I celebrated my 28th birthday (my 1st birthday abroad!) in a fantastically un-glamorous way…. with a stomach problem! We didn’t have plans to begin with, but I thought that I’d at least pig out and drag D around to all the dessert cafes (he can’t deny me dessert on my birthday!). But needless to say, that didn’t work out. Instead I spent half the day in bed, and the other half deathly afraid that I was going to have an accident in my pants if I venture out too far.
Nov 14th: We finished up our month in Chiang Mai. It was sad day when I packed up my bags and turned in the keys to the apartment. We’ve grown accustomed to the easy, slow life there. We had our routine and our favorite street vendors. It was everything I loved about slow travel. I wanted it to continue. But I also knew that we shouldn’t get too comfortable. So we left and flew to..
Nov 14 – Nov 18: Bangkok
Bangkok was a huge change from the laid-back vibe of Chiang Mai. It’s loud, hectic, smelly, and dirty. I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a fan of huge cities. But even I can admit that cities come with unparalleled perks, such as a luxury high-rise condo (our view was amazing!) and world-class food.
We spent most of our 4 days staycation-ing in our lovely apartment (gotta make use of it!), some days stepping out only to grab food from the mini-mart in the lobby. The area we stayed in was like the shopping district or something, because there was (no kidding) at least 5 huge shopping malls in the surrounding blocks. A couple of times, we walked over to Central World, which is practically a mini city in itself! And of course, one evening, our curious minds took us to the famous red-light district, Soi Cowboy.
Nov 18-21: Ayutthaya
After a very cramped 2 hour mini-van ride, we were in Ayutthaya, a small city famous for its 700 year old ruins. I had the responsibility of finding accommodation, so of course, I booked the cutest lodging I could find. We checked into a lovely wooden traditional Thai style villa with a moat all around. It was exactly the kind of peace I needed after Bangkok.
We rented bikes from the villa and spent a day wat-hopping in the city. It was my first time on a bike in over a year, and Thailand was probably not the best place to start riding again. The streets have no bike lane (or sidewalks sometimes, for that matter) and I about had a nervous breakdown trying to not get hit by cars, scooters, and tuk-tuks. But the old ruins were definitely worth the trouble!
The next day, we took a train to Lopburi on the recommendation of a couple of people. Lopburi’s claim to fame is the wild monkeys that run freely on the streets and in the old temple ruin. Prior to going, I have never seen wild monkeys like that! It was all fun and games…. until it wasn’t. (Stay tuned, story coming soon.)
Here’s a preview:
Nov 21-25: Sukhothai
Sukhothai (the capital of the ancient Siamese kingdom) was a 6 hour bus ride from Ayutthaya. Again, I booked us the cutest place I could find. This time, we got our own little wooden bungalow at Lotus Village. This was my favorite accommodation to date! I absolutely DIE over cute rustic cabins like this (though D didn’t like it much with all the bugs and animal noises outside).
Again, we rented bikes to wat-hop. Sukhothai is different from Ayutthaya in that there is a protected historical park where all the ruins are located (as opposed to just scattered about randomly in the city). It was an absolute pleasure to bike in the beautiful park with green lakes and lush forests. Around every corner was a new scenery and I couldn’t help but stop every couple hundred feet to try to capture it all. And a definite plus: there were no cars to fight for road space with! This day was one of my most enjoyable days in Thailand so far!
So, Ayutthaya or Sukhothai? Both are famous for their historical ruins, and each has their unique ones, but I enjoyed Sukhothai a lot more. I felt so relaxed biking around the beautiful park, whereas biking in Ayutthaya stressed me out. I also liked the little city center of Sukhothai more. One night, we found a little night market and had one of the best bowls of freshly made Sukhothai noodles while sitting on the sidewalk.
Nov 25-28: Bangkok again
So yeah, we took another 6 hour bus ride to go back down south to Bangkok again. Thailand is becoming a lesson in bad planning. Basically, we didn’t really think our route through. And everything leaves out of Bangkok, so we had to come back so we can leave again (makes sense?). I wish I have something more fun to report, but unfortunately, this time passed just as uneventfully as the first time.
What’s going on in December:
Currently, we are spending almost 2 weeks on the island of Koh Chang (just off the mainland), where we have rented our own little bungalow. I’ve felt so happy and carefree here that the thought of having to leave soon makes me sad. But more exciting things are coming up!
Afterwards, we’re headed back to Bangkok yet again for a couple of nights before flying to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where we are staying for 2 weeks (through Christmas). We’ve rented a room inside of a family’s compound, so it should be an interesting Airbnb experience! Mainly, we’re going to see Angkor Wat, but I’m excited to learn more about Cambodia (a country I know little about) and eat its food!
After Siem Reap, we are headed once again back to… Bangkok to celebrate New Years! This will be our fourth time in this city in a month. But the previous three times, we’ve just been more or less passing through, using it as a hub to get to other destinations. So this time, we’re giving it the attention it deserves and will be exploring the city as much as we can for the 2 weeks we’re there.
How was your November? I hope everyone’s having a great December!
Let me know if you have any recommendations for Siem Reap and Bangkok! It’ll be much appreciated!
This post is linked up to Travel Tuesday with adventurings.