The land of luxury, city of the future, and home to the Merlion (my new favorite animal hybrid) – Singapore. We spent more money here in 3 days (being frugal) than two full weeks in Thailand, but it was totally worth it.


Fortunately, we were able to save quite a bit by staying with our friend, Tamy, in her posh high-rise apartment. Without free lodging, our trip expenses would have doubled. She also served as our personal expert and ‘Trip Advisor’ to everything Singapore.

Special thanks to Tamy for letting us crash at her pad, taking us out, and showing us a fabulous time. We miss you already!!!


I loved the Singapore MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)! It was so easy to get anywhere in the city riding their clean (and air-conditioned trains). Rideshare apps, Uber and Grab, were super cheap and easy to use when we didn’t feel like walking to the MRT station in the humid, midday heat. Taxis are also an option if you don’t mind paying a little more. Apparently it is extremely expensive to buy and own a car in Singapore. This forces most people to take public transportation and leaves the roads traffic free.


Hainanese chicken rice is the Singaporean specialty. We had seen the dish served throughout Thailand but never were tempted enough to order it. It seemed necessary to finally try the boiled chicken and broth rice in the place where it was invented and made  famous.


The chicken rice at Boon Tong Kee tasted like it looked – bleh. Everyone around us had ordered the same dish and seemed to enjoy it immensely. We didn’t really get the appeal. The chicken was served cold and the rice wasn’t anything special. I’d be willing (but not enthusiastic) to try it again. On the other hand, the crispy beancurd and all of their in-house sauces were incredible.

Singapore is home to many high-end restaurants. Famous celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali, and Wolfgang Puck all have high class eateries at the Marina Bay Sands. Since we were traveling on a budget, we opted for cheap eats instead.

The mall food-courts became our goto for most every meal and they did not disappoint. There was a wide selection of cuisines from around the world at reasonable prices.

My most notable meal was the chili crab and Satay by the Bay. Spicy, messy goodness.


Getting drunk in Singapore was impossible. While there were bars everywhere around the city, the drinks were extremely expensive (especially when coming from Chiang Mai where you can get a beer for $1-2USD or a gin and tonic for $2-3USD). On our first night out we spent about $75USD on THREE drinks. Granted I had an insanely good Bloody Mary topped with tiny pickles and baked beans, it was definitely not worth the price.


When we tried to be thrifty by purchasing a “pre-party” bottle of wine at the gas station, we were turned down because their liquor law prohibits shops from selling booze after 10:30pm.

On the upside,  the bars were swanky and we were in good company so a buzz was not necessary to have a delightful evening.


Singapore is unlike anyplace we’ve ever been. Stand almost anywhere, take a look around, and you will be transported to a place of futuristic beauty – clean streets featuring hip restaurants and bars, unique skyscrapers garnished here and there with abundant gardens, and water shows displaying light projections and floating bubbles.

Orchard Road, Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, the Cloud Dome, Flower Dome, Merlion, and Art Science Museum – we covered quite a bit in 3 days. I’ll be writing another post on our adventures in the Lion City.



3 rainy days in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is a city about 3-4hrs north of Chiang Mai. Sean and I planned to stop there for a day or two on our way to the national forest park, Phu Chi Fa. Our original intention was to go hiking up the mountains to watch what is supposed to be an amazing sunrise. Unfortunately we could not predict the weather and a storm forced us to change our initial plan. We turned rainclouds to rainbows and made the most of our time in the northern town of Chiang Rai.

Here are some of the highlights:

White Temple

Wat Rong Khun, known to tourist as The White Temple, was created by Chalermchai Kositpipat as an art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple. Easily the most “majestical” temple I’ve seen thus far, this sparkling shrine was especially spectacular on a dark and cloudy day.  The white buildings are covered with fragmented glass giving them a beautiful shimmer and glow straight out of a fantasy. My favorite part is the mural inside the main structure (or ubosot). To get there you must pass the concrete sea of outreaching statue hands and cross over the bridge of “the cycle of rebirth”. A large mural of flames and demons covers the walls in the ubosot. Dispersed throughout are idols of western culture – Michael Jackson, Harry Potter, the Terminator, Jigsaw, and superheroes  – representing the evil devotions of mankind. For 30Baht we inscribed out names on a small, silver ornament to be hung with thousands of others, leaving our mark in this enchanting edifice.

Black Temple

Almost the polar opposite of the above, the Baan Dam (or the Black House) is a museum/art studio created by Thai artist, Thawan Duchanee. We immediately felt a dark and eerie vibe consuming the museum grounds when we arrived. Dark clouds and heavy rain pour definitely intensified the creepiness of the snake and crocodile skins, buffalo horns, and animal skulls adorning the walls and tables. In spite of the sinister decor, there is something hauntingly enticing and beautiful about Baan Dam. Definitely worth checking out!

Cat n’ a Cup

Apparently there are quite a few cat cafes throughout Thailand but this is the first one that Sean and I had seen. The name says it all – hangout with some cats while you drink your cappuccino. I wouldn’t consider myself a cat person but I do love animals and being without our dogs for so long (and also learning of Trump’s victory that very morning), I needed something cute and cuddly to cheer me up.

Reggae Home & Bar – (Facebook page)

The best night in Chiang Rai was spent getting drunk and making friends with some locals. We were wandering through the streets looking for a place to have a drink and recalled a small reggae bar in a nearby alley. As we approached the bar, we were quickly beckoned in and offered free food (meats on a stick and pad thai). The bar was pretty much empty but it had a chill vibe and the young owners couldn’t be friendlier. Apparently it was their very first day and we were their very first customers (aside from a few friends there for support). We ended up staying for hours – drinking beer and taking shots.

Night Bazaar

Aside from the few scattered bars, there is not much of a nightlife presence in Chiang Rai. Wanting a low key evening, we headed to the Night Bazaar for drinks, a light dinner, and some window shopping. Most of the food stalls served hot pots and your standard Thai dishes. We opted instead for bugs and beer. We scanned over the grasshoppers and cockroach-like bugs and settled on the safer looking silk worms piled on a paper plate.

Chiang Rai Beach

Don’t be deceived, Chiang Rai is far from the ocean and not at all like a beach. Instead we found a path along the river and small huts where we could sit back, relax, and drink a couple beers. The ‘beach’ was quiet and empty with the exception of a few locals napping in huts nearby. I could have easily sat there for hours enjoying the breeze and the occasional boats passing by, but sadly we had to catch bus back to Chiang Mai.

Trazy offers a one day trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. Interested? Click HERE for details.

Chinatown Letdown

Hot, crowded, smelly (good and bad),  and stressful – a few words to describe Chinatown in Bangkok. We really wanted to love it but ended up a bit disappointed.

Maybe it is because we went in the middle of the afternoon when the sun was blazing down fiercer than usual. Sweat dripped down our backs (and cracks) as we maneuvered through the cramped, narrow alleyways, dodging motorbikes and men with dollies full of produce.


It was here that we tried our first satay – the tasting experience that ruined the day. What we first assumed to be chicken, remains unknown, but what Sean now refers to as dog shit on a stick. My stick of [meat?] was tough and chewy. I took two bites before I had to toss it. Sean’s was even worse. After one bite, he immediately snatched the coke bottle from my hands and downed the few sips that were left. His face turned ghostly with disgust and rage. Whatever he had consumed put him in a bad mood for the next hour or so.

Needing a break from the crowds and a familiar taste in our mouths, we popped into Starbucks and refreshed our pallets. There we did some research on must-try eateries in Chinatown and decided on some crab noodle soup from Odean.

The soup was tasty but not worth the 300Baht per bowl. Definitely not worthy of all the praised it had received online, especially when compared to other soups we’ve had for a fraction of the price. The shrimp wontons were crispy and gratifying.

The highlight of the day turned out to be our discovery of Uber in Bangkok. It is about the same price as taking a metered taxi but you can get an estimate before your trip. Tuk tuks are rip off and only worth taking for a short trip at night when they have their lights flashing and music blasting.

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