Bangkok shopping

The malls here are INSANE!  A  shopaholic dream come true and a great foodie getaway, not to mention the lifesaving air conditioning.

We haven’t purchased a single item in any of the malls (besides food and drink) but we have already spent countless hours exploring them.

Terminal 21

A 9 story shopping center with a different city theme on each floor – Rome, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo – just to name a few. This mall is not as large or fancy as some of the others but it does have a good mix of higher-end stores and boutique shops.

The top story is dedicated to nothing but food. It was here that we had our first papaya salad (som tam).


BTS: Asok station


This shopping center is 8 stories high and houses over 2,000 shops, a 4 story department store (Toyko), and a foodcourt with ridiculously cheap and good eats. It offers many Thai gifts, clothing, electronics, and jewelery shops. A good place to go for bargain shopping and buying souvenirs.


Also home to the MBK Food Island foodcourt and the insane beef noodle soup mentioned in a previous post (Getting our footing).

BTS: National Stadium station or a short walk from Siam station

Siam Paragon/Siam Discovery/Siam Center

You can spend an entire day at these three adjacent shopping centers and still not even scratch the surface.

Siam Paragon is the 3rd largest mall in Thailand complete with a wide range of specialty stores and restaurants, a multiplex movie theater (15 screens), the Sea Life Ocean World (largest aquarium in South East Asia), a bowling alley, karaoke center, and an opera concert hall.  It is the place to go for high class shops and gourmet food. The foodcourt was, by far, the busiest section of the mall with the longest line belonging to BAKE – known for their cheese tarts.



Siam Discovery looks more like a modern art installation than shopping center. It has an open floor plan with a clean, sleek feel unlike anything we’ve seen before. Cash registers are hidden to create more of a hang-out vibe. This is a great place to window shop and people watch.

Siam Center is the closest thing to your everyday US shopping center and the least impressive of the three malls. Here you can find Victoria Secret, Sephora, Bath&Bodyworks, etc.

BTS: Siam station

EmDistrict – EmQuartier/Emporium/Helix Quarter

This was my favorite of all the shopping centers – specifically the Helix Quarter. We spent hours drinking and touring the rooftop garden.

We also stumbled upon a BAKE stand with no line (!!!) so we tried on of their must have cheese tarts.

BTS: Phrom Phong station

Getting our footing

Our first full day was spent figuring out how to navigate through the city and visiting our first temple, Wat Pho – the oldest and largest wat in Bangkok.
We started with a less than mediocre breakfast at the hotel restaurant. For 200 Baht a meal, Sean ordered the standard eggs, sausage, toast, and hash browns while I opted for the American club sandwich.

American Breakfast at our hotel in Bangkok

 Needless to say, we won’t be going back the rest of our time here.
After breakfast we walked to the BTS station and took the SkyTrain to Saphan Taksin for 25 Baht per person. From there, we hopped on the tourist boat (40 Baht per person) up the river to Tha Tien. There is also an express boat that can be taken for less than half the price (14 Baht per person) but we figured we would go the touristy route for our first trip.
We made it to the temple by noon and explored for a couple of hours. Admission was 100 Baht per person and included a small bottle of cold water. There were a considerable amount of people but the temple complex was big enough that we could to get away from the crowd from time to time.

Pictures around the temple grounds.

The most hectic area was, by far, was the temple with the Reclining Buddha. Upon entering any of the temple rooms you must take off your shoes and make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered.

Reclining Buddha

 The temple was beautiful and did not disappoint.
We then decided to explore more of the city by foot. Attempting to make our way to Wat Saket, we got lost and ended up roaming the streets, heading in almost every direction with no clue of where we were. It took about 2 hours of walking and a stop in a coffee shop before we gave up and hailed a Tuk Tuk to the MBK shopping center.

Our first tuk tuk ride in Thailand

MBK is more like a flea market than a mall, with tons of vendors filling 8 floors with everything from jewelry, shoes, sunglasses, clothes, and more. We haven’t had a chance to compare the prices to other markets but it seemed pretty reasonable for what you could buy.
We weren’t too impressed with the shopping center until we got to Food Island, a food court on the 6th floor consisting of a multitude of amazing looking and smelling delights. For 80 Baht we devoured a delicious bowl of beef noodle soup. Easily the best thing we’ve eaten since leaving the states.

MBK Food Island


MBK Beef Noodle Soup

With happy bellies, we jumped on the SkyTrain to Sala Daeng to hit up the Patpong night market – a small alley with street vendors and night clubs. There you can buy knockoff Berkinstalks, Nikes, watches, sunglasses, and more. Or, if you are feeling extra adventurous, you can head into one of the clubs for a “ping pong show”. I won’t go into detail but I know that it involves female genitalia and ping pong balls. We had heard stories of these shows and were a little too frightened and not drunk enough to check one out.
We capped the night off with much needed Thai foot massages (250 Baht for 1 hour and well worth it). Feeling both refreshed and completely exhausted, we walked back to our hotel and crashed for the night. Learning a new city can take some time but I think our first day was a success.

Jet lag

Were we stoked to be in Thailand? You bet! But more than that, we were drained from the long journey. After a couple beers at the hotel restaurant (an Italian joint), we checked in, unpacked a few things, and hit the streets to check out our immediate area.

There is always an initial shock when you are new to a country. Crossing the streets is a task in itself. With cars, motorbikes, and tuk tuks whizzing through an unfamiliar stop light system, the best method is to get behind some locals and follow their every footstep until you reach the other side of the street.

While roaming our new area, we popped into our first Thai restaurant – ‘Jim Thompson’ (named after an American businessman who helped revitalise the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s) for our first meal in Bangkok: shrimp Tom Yum soup and Pad See Ew with prawns. Not too adventurous, I know, but we wanted to ease our stomachs into the cuisine, saving the street food for another day.

We went back to our hotel for a 2-3 hour nap with plans to head out again in the evening. Instead we passed out for 7 hours and woke up just before midnight still pained with jet lag.

At least we will be well rested for tomorrow…

Leaving on a jet plane

October 24, 2016 – the day of our exodus from America. Two bon voyage parties and tons of goodbyes later (you’d think we were leaving forever), we headed to San Francisco International Airport for our 1am flight to Bangkok.


Last American meal – turkey sandwich, chips, and red wine

First leg of the flight was about 13 hours. Slept for the first 5-6 hours, missed the first in-flight meal, and watched a couple movies – Finding Dory and X-Men Apocalypse (horrible). Breakfast options were sausage and eggs or porridge with pork. This would be the only time I ever choose porridge (because fuck eggs). Took a few bites and devoured the roll and some tea.

We had a couple hour layover in Taiwan where we ate some dumplings and stretched our aching legs.

The flight from Taiwan to Bangkok was just under 4 hours and felt like a breeze (mostly because we had exit row seats and leg room for days).  We landed at our destination around 11am, waited in the customs line for about 45 minutes, and took a taxi to our hotel.

Our almost 24 hour trek was over and we were exhausted. BUT WE MADE IT!!!

Picking the place and making it happen

Once our minds were set on leaving our jobs, we had to figure out the destination. South America and Southeast Asia were at the top of our list, specifically Argentina and Thailand. In the end it came down to the place where our money would go furthest. Aside from being cheaper, Thailand is geared toward a younger crowd, has a larger ex-pat presence, and a bunch of surrounding countries worth exploring.

With some wedding money still in the bank, we started saving as much as possible.

It didn’t make sense to keep our apartment in Los Angeles so we put in our 30 day notice and found a cheap storage space to keep our necessities. Most of our furniture was either sold or left out for grabs in our back alley.

Leaving our fur babies behind was, by far, the most difficult part about moving. If you know me, then you are aware of how obsessed I am with my dogs. The thought of not seeing them everyday was going to be near impossible. Luckily they have always had a second home with our parents and we knew they would be in good hands.

We booked our one-way flights, a hotel in Bangkok for a week, and an apartment in Northern Thailand for one month. There is a lantern festival that takes place in Chiang Mai in mid-november and we want to be around for that. You do not require a visa if you are in the country for less than a month so we booked a side trip to Singapore to visit a friend for a few days and exit the country before our 30 days are up. We also arranged a trip to Phuket to meet up with our friend from the states and do some island hopping before heading back to our apartment in Chiang Mai. Basically, we know where we are going to be for the first month of our trip. Besides that, our plan is to wing it. We’ve researched the area and have some ideas of places we want to check out – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar – but the beauty of having an open ended trip is that we have the ability to figure it out as we go.

Step 1: Quit your day job


Goodbye Lionsgate, it’s been real.

Quitting my job was a scary, exciting, and liberating feeling. Having worked since I was 15 years old, the thought of not getting a weekly paycheck frightened me to the core. I didn’t love my job. In fact, most days I hated it. I had been at my most recent company for 10 years working in International Digital and TV Servicing. With the word ‘International’ in my job title, most would assume traveling would be part of the gig. On the contrary, I spent all of my days at a desk communicating with people all around the world, only daydreaming of the places they lived. Sitting at a desk every single day was the thing I dreaded most when I was a child, and yet it became my reality. Working to live and not living to work.

Traveling has always been Sean’s and my greatest passion but our 9-5 jobs did not accommodate our desires to see the world. We’ve done a fair amount of expeditions together – China, India, Peru, Italy, Croatia – but 2 weeks a year was never enough time. Not to mention the stress that awaited us at our jobs upon returning home. We needed a change.

About a year after getting married we made the decision to quit our jobs and move to another country for a few months, or at least as long as our money would last us. But how were we going to pull it off? Where would we go?