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.

Hello & Thank You

Many people have asked us how the language barrier impacted our ability to communicate in Southeast Asia. For the most part, it was easy to get around without knowing the native tongue. Most signs had pictures which didn’t require translations and busting out our pantomime skills helped in most other cases.

While Sean and I learned various phrases throughout our trip, knowing how to say “hello” and “thank you” was most useful.

Here are all the ‘hellos & thank yous’ we learned in Southeast Asia:

Cambodia (Khmer)

hello – jum-reap soo-a

thank you – or-koon

Malaysia (Malaysian)

hello – hello (so simple!)

thank you – terima kasih

Myanmar (Burmese)

hello – mingalaba

thank you – ché zu ba

Thailand (Thai)

hello – sawat-dee khrab (if you are male); sawat-dee kha (if you are female)

thank you – khob khun khrab (if you are male); khob khun kha (if you are female)

***Oh, and don’t forget to smile!!! 🙂

Maya Bay Birthday

I try to spend my birthday out of town (and if I’m lucky, out of the country). Organizing a party brings more pain than pleasure and I prefer to avoid the stress of it all. I spent my 28th birthday in China/India and my 30th in Peru, but turning 33 in Thailand will be almost impossible to top.

After a few days in Singapore (see Singapore and More Singapore posts), we flew out to Phuket to spend my birthday island hopping with our friend, Sara.



Phuket did not impress me, mostly because the area we stayed in, Patong Beach, was a dirty, tourist-crazed, party town. Since we only had one night in Phuket, I can only speak to the small strip of beach and nightlife we experienced.

Having been away from the ocean for longer than I’m accustomed to, my first order of business was to get barefoot on the beach and test the waters. The ocean is my sacred soul place where I feel the most content and at peace. Despite the crowded beach overtaken by parasailing tourists and European bros in banana hammocks, I closed my eyes and allowed the warm seawater to reestablish my connection to nature.

Revitalized and ravished by hunger, we strolled through town in search of my favorite fare, SEAFOOD! It took a little searching, but eventually we found the alley with a bunch of restaurants (all the same same but different). Each place had at least one staff member who’s job was to lure customers in with the same catchline, “hey bro, eat here!”. We chose the place with the least presumptuous pusher.  The food was fittingly underwhelming, especially in comparison to what we ate in Chiang Mai and Singapore.

With only one night in Patong, we fought the fatigue and got pumped to party. The main street leading straight to Patong Beach was reminiscent of a Bangkok Redlight District. Bar after bar serving nothing but booze and featuring shows that were “all about the pus$$y” – don’t ask, I did and was left with only more questions. We took down some shots, drank a bunch of beer, listened to live music, danced a bit, took photos with ladyboys, and topped the night off with some greasy Micky D’s. The weekend was off to a great start.


After one night of partying in Patong Beach, we hopped on a ferry to Koh Phi Phi, one of the major party islands of Thailand. There are no cars on the island, only hoards of young tourists drinking at all hours of the day. The beautiful beaches are littered with beer bottles and different colored straws – battle scars from endless days and nights of raging. Nonetheless, the sand is soft, the water warm, and the western food choices are plentiful.

We stayed at a hostel up in the hills, further away from the beach and the ruckus. It was a bit of a trek, there was a blood stain on the wall, and a cesspool of mosquitos in the empty reservoir outside our door, but it was worth the peaceful night of sleep.

Our day was spent on the beach, laying out, drinking beer, and eating. It was looking to be a successful relaxation day, until I made the one of the worst decisions of our entire trip – tuna pizza. I didn’t actually order the tuna pizza but I also didn’t complain when it wasn’t pepperoni. I ate the entire thing and regret it still to this day. From that point on, I was ruined. We were playing pool at an empty rock and roll bar when one of the owners opened a can of tuna for dinner. One whiff was all it took. I ran as fast as I could to the toilet and lost it. Nothing compares to the upchuck of tuna, nothing.


I easily could have crawled back to our hostel but instead attempted to rally and headed to the beach to check out the party scene. It was still early, but we managed to catch a fire show, listen to some EDM, and watch drunk guys trying to hang from a pull-up bar for as long as they could.


So, here is where the weekend turned around and shit got real. Maya Bay is a short boat trip away from Phi Phi. It became a popular tourist destination after the film, The Beach (starring Leonardo DiCaprio), was released in 2000. Boatloads of tourists make the day trip for the perfect photo in paradise. Its beauty is undeniable but it is easily tarnished by the heaps of boats and people overtaking the bay. Since the island is a National Park, there are no houses, stores, or hotels and tourists must depart by sundown. Thanks to Maya Bay Sleep Aboard, we were able to experience the island in the most memorable way.

We met at the pier in the afternoon and happily departed Phi Phi. The first stop was the Phi Ley Bay for snorkeling, kayaking, and jumping off the top of the boat. The water was cool, clear and immediately healed all traces of my tuna pizza hangover.

Eventually we arrived at Maya Bay where we took a dip in the water, did a little trekking, and waited for all of the day-trippers to leave. By sundown, our group of 17-20 people were the only ones left on the island. We enjoyed a BBQ dinner on the beach accompanied by buckets of alcohol. The Sleep Aboard staff were the lives of the party – real professional party animals. Coco Loco and Jumbo, the two main guides, initiated a game Kings Cup and forced the timid tourists out of their shells. Free shots were passed out to everyone in the group after Sean mentioned it was my birthday. We sang, drank, ate, and drank some more.

With a decent buzz in tact, we were taken back to the main boat in the middle of the bay where we strapped on our life vests in preparation for the plankton light show. Bobbing in the middle of the pitch black ocean with a bunch of strangers brought on flashbacks of Jack and Rose after the Titanic sunk. Despite the eeriness, there was also something otherworldly about floating in the deep, dark, sea. I dunked my head underwater, swaying my arms as legs as quickly as I could, watching as the lights from the glowing plankton followed the path of my limbs. At this point, a new believer of magic, I was convinced that this birthday was as good as it gets.

I’d be lying if I said the night was all rainbows and butterflies. Our ignorant asses thought it would be a good idea to sleep on the top of the boat. Staring up at the stars as the boat rocked side to side – what could go wrong? RAIN. We got drenched and our bags with all of our clothes were out of reach, tucked in a corner surrounded by sleeping bodies. All of the geniuses that wanted to sleep under the stars huddled at the bottom of the boat while the rain poured down. Our miserable mood began to shift when a member of the boat crew pulled out an acoustic guitar and started to play. Minutes later everyone was singing in unison and passing around a bucket of alcohol. The rain eventually stopped and we headed back to our sleeping spots on the top of the boat – staring up at the stars as the boat rocked back and forth. I laid there and reflected on how lucky I was to experience such amazing adventures. It might have been the worst night of sleep EVER, but it was also a night I will always remember.



Party islands are great if you are single and in your twenties but they will make you feel like an old fart if you are 33 and married. After 3 nights of partying on the beach and on the boat, we were all ready for some much needed R&R and Koh Lanta was exactly that.

We took a rough and rainy ferry ride from Phi Phi and stumbled to a restaurant to hydrate and search for a place to stay.  We decided to shell out more money (than usual) to stay at a nice resort with clean, comfortable beds, warm water, and air conditioning.

Sara was afflicted with a stiff neck as a result of sleeping without a pillow the night before and unfortunately remained bedridden with the exception of the occasional massage. Thankfully the resort provided the comfort to recover.

Sean and I spent our last two days motorbiking up and down the coast, scoping out different beaches, sunbathing on the sand, drinking, watching the sunset, and getting massages. It was, by far, the most relaxing two days of our trip thus far. With at least two months left on our trip, we were convinced that this would not be our only visit to the island of Lanta.




Chips are my go to travel snack. I love trying the different flavors wherever we go. Here are some of the interesting munchies from our trip around Southeast Asia.


Basically cheddar bugles, but not as good.


Sean’s favorite chips of the trip – Crab Claws.


These were super spicy in the BEST way.


Little chicken drumsticks. Didn’t taste like chicken though.


Pringles makes Corn Chips and they are on another level!


Nothing to rave about…but they would probably be good with dip.

My favorite chips were in Cambodia but I devoured them so quickly and didn’t get a chance to snap a picture (fat girl problems). I wish I knew what they were called!!!

Myanmar also had amazing homemade chips that were sold on the side of the road. They made the 5-10 hour bus trips bearable. I still dream about them sometimes…

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.