Climbing Waterfalls

There is nothing quite like walking barefoot UP a flowing waterfall. The Bua Thong Waterfalls (also known as the Sticky Waterfalls) are on most “must see” lists if you are visiting Chiang Mai – and for good reason. The falls are about an hour outside of the old city and make for a great day trip, especially on a hot day.

Sean and I rented a motorbike and took our sweet time coasting through the breathtaking scenery, stopping every so often to take photos and rest our sore buns. The Sri Lanna National Forest is not easy to find but luckily with Sean’s natural motorbike skills and my navigation know-how, we didn’t have too much trouble.

There are various levels of waterfalls to climb in the middle of a lush jungle landscape. We spent about an hour walking up and down the porous limestone rocks while admiring the beauty all around us. With the exception of a few mossy patches, the rocks had a sticky texture providing traction for our bare feet.

Book a full day tour of the sticky waterfalls with Trazy! Click HERE for more details.

Officially #blessed

Sean and I always discussed getting tattoos in the countries we visited but never knew what to get (or mustered up the courage to go through with it)…until now.

Sak Yant (also called Sak Yan, or Yantra) is a form of tattooing that originated from ancient Thai peoples. Sak means to ‘jab’ and Yant or Yantra means ‘Blessed Tattoo’. The inscriptions are made up of ancient geometric designs mixed with Buddhist prayers and are believed to bring its bearer magic powers of luck, strength, healing, and protection against evil.

Sak Yants are customarily administered by a Thai Monk, but because Monks are not allowed to touch women, we had our tattoos done by an Ajarn, or master whom has studied the art of Sak Yant and is believed to be able to ink and bless the tattoos.

We were more excited about the spiritual experience than the tattoo itself. With each jab of the steel needle, we focused on being present in the pain, concentrating on the powers we desired our sacred blessing to bring. It took about 45minutes to an hour to finish each tattoo. Once completed, Ajarn Amnat recited a chant (or kata) and softly blew on our designs to activate the magic within the Sak Yant.

This is, by far, the best memento I’ve obtained throughout all of our travels around the world. May its magic bring us strength, protection, and virtue as we continue on our journey.



Welcome to the Jungle

Cross zip lining off the bucket list! Our first tourist excursion in Chiang Mai was spent flying through the trees, gawking at cute little gibbons, and taking in the beauty of the rainforest.

There are a few zip lining tours to choose from (Dragon Flight, Jungle Flight, Eagle Track) and with ads for the Flight of the Gibbon posted on every other tuk tuk, I was a bit skeptical at first. However, after reading a number of positive reviews and watching a video or two, we were persuaded (mostly by the chance to see gibbons).

Included in the 3999Baht per person fee, you receive hotel pick up and drop off, approximately 2-3 hours of zip lining and trekking through the rainforest with a small group and two “Sky Rangers”, a yummy lunch accompanied by delightful Thai music, and a quick trip to a waterfall.

Zip lining was more exhilarating than we had imagined and to top it all off, we got to see gibbons playing in the trees!!! Our “Sky Rangers”, Zen and Thorn, were fun-loving and did an outstanding job of making us feel safe whilst instilling the right amount of fear (for jest). It was worth every penny and we would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

To book your Flight of the Gibbon adventure, click HERE.

Thai Massages

When it costs $6-10 USD for an hour massage, why wouldn’t you get them ALL THE TIME?!? We’ve now spent over a month in Chiang Mai and have had our fair share of rub downs. One thing we’ve gathered from our numerous experiences – Massages are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

It is rare that we leave a spa with the same experience. A lot depends on the masseuse/masseur which come in all shapes and sizes: little old grandmas, young men, even younger girls. Nonetheless, it is impossible to predict their skill level based on appearance. Sean received a weak, lackluster massage from a strong looking dude while I was left pounded and tenderized by a petite lady. Sometimes they put the perfect amount of pressure in just the right spots and other times they lackadaisically slather you with oil for 60 minutes.

Your surroundings can also play a major role in the overall experience. Nothing beats a dim room with the AC blasting, mellow tunes, and soft scents of lavender. On the contrary, a loud group of Chinese tourist, seeing a mouse run up the wall, or a chatty staff can ruin the best back rub.

Despite the uncertainty of each massage, it is hard to complain when they are so freakin’ cheap. With only have a couple of weeks left in Chiang Mai we will continue to take our chances.

We’re BAAAACK!!!

After a few weeks of traveling through Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) and Myanmar (Yangon, Nyaung Shwe, Bagan, and Mandalay), we are back to our apartment in Chiang Mai.

Back to pad thai, khao soi, cheap massages, TV (with HBO), decent wifi, and most of all…back to blogging!

The hardest part about being back is figuring out what to do with our first day.

Here are the items on the agenda:

  1. Blog! (This being the first post of many) – I am so behind and have a bunch of drafts yet to finish. Time to get back to work.
  2. Watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – The Thai subs may get annoying but this is our only chance to see it in theaters. Plus, movies here are super cheap (about $4-5 USD).
  3. Chow down– Pad kra pao for breakfast, khao soi for lunch, and pad thai for dinner. Perhaps a mango mania smoothy at the mall, too.
  4. Pedicures – You don’t want to know about the number Myanmar did on our poor feet.
  5. Massages – Massages every day for the rest of the week.
  6. Going through expenses – Not because we want to, but because it is necessary. Fingers crossed we have enough money for Vietnam in January.

So much to do, so little time.

Burgers and Burritos

The two types of cuisine we knew we would miss most while in Asia: burgers (specifically In-N-Out) and Mexican food.


Most cafes/restaurants in Chiang Mai serve burgers and there are even a couple McDonalds and Burger Kings in the city. We’ve gotten the craving for a good ol’ fashioned cheeseburger a couple of times thus far. While they served as a much needed break from Thai food, neither burger hit the spot.

Smith Residence Burger

Our apartment building has a restaurant with authentic Thai food. They also make a decent American breakfast. Since we’d be staying here for a couple of months, I figured I’d give their burger a try. All of the necessary elements were there – bun, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato – but it was far from what I was craving.  The burger itself was small, the patty was dry and flavorless, and the cheese was cold.


Damn Good Burgers and Fries

Don’t let the name fool you as it did us. They were more like so-so burgers and acceptable fries. Though it was much better than the one at Smith Residence, the cheeseburger was nothing to get excited about. I might eat it again if I were desperate, but there are other burger joints to try first.



I knew it would be impossible to find Mexican food that would compare to what we have in California, but sometimes a girl just needs a burrito. We’ve tried two of the higher-rated restaurants around Old City – El Diablo and Loco Elvis – both were better than I was expecting.

El Diablo

The food at this hole in the wall is just ok but they serve a strong-ass margarita to make up for it. The more drinks you have, the more authentic the food becomes. The chips are thick but surprisingly tasty and the salsa isn’t much unlike that of a California Cantina.



Loco Elvis

Thai people love Elvis! The chips here were inedible and the salsa was warm, but the pork chimichanga was something that I will go back for. Especially since they have live music and karaoke on certain nights.


Taco Bell – sort of.

Quesadillas, burgers, and burritos!!! We didn’t try this cart but had to snap a photo. Not sure if the line was long because the food was good, or if the tourists were drunk. My bet is on the latter.


Aroy Aroy – Thai Cooking School

Gordon Ramsay, who? The master chef within us has awoken and we are ready to take on the culinary world! Ok, maybe I exaggerate…but our skills have reached a new level after an incredible day at Aroy Aroy Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai –

There are many cooking schools with great reviews to choose from but we decided on Aroy Aroy for two main reasons: 1) they take you by riverboat to get to the market and 2) the dishes I wanted to learn most were taught in their ‘Chef’s Favorites Course’.

We arrived to Aroy Aroy at 9:30am to meet our teachers, Chef ‘A’ and Chef ‘O’, and the other students (11 total). Shortly after settling in and chatting with our new peers, we jumped on the boat for a short trip up the Ping River to the Warorot Market.

Chef ‘A’ guided us through the market while teaching about the Thai culture, flowers, ingredients, etc.

After about an hour, we returned to the cooking school by boat, put on our aprons, and were assigned to our very own cooking stations.

Our first dish, som tom (my favorite spicy salad), was the perfect starter. The key is in the sauce which requires the perfect combination of fish sauce, tamarind, and palm sugar – three ingredients found in many Thai dishes.

Next up, the most well know and most popular Thai dish in the world, pad thai. I was amazed at how quick and easy it was to make pad thai that tasted better than any take-out I’ve ordered in LA.

Finally, the meal I had been waiting for – KHAO SOI!!! The deep red color of the soup comes from slowly adding coconut milk to the curry paste as it heats in the wok. The more curry paste, the spicier (and the more delicious if you ask me). Sean’s bowl was especially yummy!!

We were satisfied and stuffed after the khao soi, but there was still more to learn. After the soup, we moved on to stir fried chicken and cashews. The ingredient that sets this stir fry apart from the rest is the roasted chili paste.

No meal is complete without dessert! We ended the day with a simple Thai specialty – mango sticky rice. Sweet mango is hard to find back home but here they are a dime a dozen. When combined with sticky rice and topped with coconut milk you get the perfect confection.

By the end of the day we could barely move (but it was totally worth it). We gained new friends, a wealth of knowledge, and about 5 extra pounds.

Thanks to Chef ‘A’ and Chef ‘O’ for being such wonderful teachers. And a special shoutout to Roy, the owner, an expat that came to Thailand to retire. His love for food brought him into the cooking school business. Aroy Aroy is a true gem!

My dream to cook khao soi has become a reality and I am filled with joy (and food).

10 Things I’ve learned in Thailand (so far…)

  1. Wearing make-up is a waste of time. It will sweat off the moment you step outside. I have a tinted moisturizer and have only been using it for its SPF30 properties. Beyond that, waterproof mascara is the only thing that will stay on your face. Basically, forget trying to look presentable – it’s not going to happen.
  2. My hair hates Thailand and Thailand hates my hair. “You have amazing hair” – a compliment that has never been bestowed upon me. There are girls that can let their hair air dry in humidity and still look like they just stepped out of a salon. I am not one of those girls. Without a hair dryer, flat iron, and cool, dry weather, I am the Lion King reincarnate. Thank God for hair clips, hats, and bandanas!!!crazy-hair
  3. Just because it looks delicious, doesn’t mean it taste delicious (see our satay eating experience in my Chinatown Letdown post).shit-on-a-stick
  4. Adversely, food that looks disgusting can be some of the more delicious fare. Sausages fall far down on my list of favorite foods but there is something about the spices and herbs in the wursts here that give me nightly cravings. They may look green and brown with black spots but damn, they taste divine.p1030138
  5. The best meals are served from a cart. Not only are they fractions of the price but they have been the tastiest meals I have had. The pad thai dishes ordered on the street have surpassed the same dish eaten from a restaurant, cafe, or bar.img_0208
  6. It doesn’t have to be cold outside to enjoy a hot bowl of soup — but it does help to have a fan pointed in your direction. If there is one thing I have fallen hard for in Chiang Mai, it is a hot bowl of khao soi (My new love). I could eat it all day every day for the rest of my life – no joke.img_2690
  7. Beer is best served over ice. Unless you like warm beer…
  8. Thai people don’t sweat. I’m over here in a tank top sweating bullets while bro is bundled up in a jacket, eating a hot bowl of soup, dry as a bone. WTF?!
  9. Thailand is cover crazy. The coffee shops and bars play a lot of popular music but they are all cover songs – many times with a slower, jazzy vibe. One bar/coffee spot in Nimmanhaemin area of Chiang Mai, Dude, Coffee!, had an entire Maroon 5 mix playing. Sean surprisingly tolerated the tunes because Adam Levine wasn’t the one singing.
  10. Keep Wet Ones/toilet paper on you at ALL times. I already knew this, but I continue to remind myself because it is the most important lesson of all. You never know when the bubble guts will strike – and the last place you want to be is standing over a squat toilet without  wipes.

Wat Phra Singh

This is most sacred wat in Chiang Mai. We passed it on our way to lunch and decided to take a detour. What was meant to be a quick 20-30 minute meander became a two hour tour (and we didn’t even go inside the main temple room).

I got lost (metaphorically speaking) in the temple gardens wandering from tree to tree, reading each proverb and reflecting on their teachings.

As we were about to leave, a novice monk or “samanen” asked if we could sit and talk with him so he could practice his English. Som, a 19 year old man originally from Chiang Rai, decided to become a monk when he was 12 years of age. We chatted about his life and daily duties, his hometown, California, food, the weather, and loud tourists. In the end we exchanged thank yous, bows, and said goodbye. Within minutes he had moved on to another pair of visitors. Our only regret was not asking to take a photo with him.

The Rose of the North

Chiang Mai is everything we were hoped for, and then some. It didn’t take very long for us to become smitten with our new home (for the next couple months). Friendly locals, bustling night markets, delectable eats, cheap massages, and temples galore – what’s not to love?

The Smith Residence

Our apartment is just outside the old city, south of Chiang Mai Gate. We have decent sized room with a microwave, TV, fridge, spacious bed, and a well working air conditioner. Sean has to get on his knees to take a shower (guess it doesn’t always suck to be short) but besides that, we are pleased with our accommodations. The complex also has a rooftop gym and pool that is open from 6am-9pm.


Tuk tuks wait on every street corner and while there are a few standard taxis, most people  get around using red trucks with oversized campers (songthaews) that serve as mini busses which can take multiple riders at a time. They are not metered but are a bargain when compared to tuk tuks.

Food, food, and more food

We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to Northern Thai cuisine. Khao soi is my obvious go to (My new love) but there is so much more to be discovered.

Of course we had to hit up the notorious “lady with the cowgirl hat” for her khao kha moo (slow stewed pork leg). It was some of the juiciest, tastiest, most tender pork I’ve ever eaten!


the woman, the myth, the legend – number 1!!!


khao kha moo from Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak

Here are some other noteworthy dishes we’ve had so far:


Chicken Noodle Soup from Buathip


gai yang from SP Chicken


Thai rotee with banana and chocolate

Smoothies are a typical refreshment here in Thailand. Our favorite so far has been the mango mania smoothie from Mango Mania in the MAYA Lifestyle Shopping Center. It was thick and sweet and could cure any heat stroke in three sips.

Italian, Mexican, Irish, fast food – they have a decent variety to choose from. Aside from the occasional American breakfast, we’ve only eaten Thai. At some point I’m sure we will crave a burrito or some tacos but I predict a disappointing experience. Stay tuned for that…