Archive for the 'Thailand' Category

Tasty Thai!

As promised, here is a roundup of the food we ate during our time in Thailand.  I’d like to give props to many of the Thai restaurants in Seattle – many of the dishes were spot on to what I’ve eaten in Seattle.

Some interesting things about food in Thailand:

  • Food stands are everywhere.  We ate nearly every meal from those.  They are cheaper than restaurants and absolutely delicious.
  • Fruit drinks.  They are the definition of refreshing.  We drank them everyday (they are non-alcoholic).  In fact, as soon as we got back to Korea, we bought a blender so we can try and make them.  I encourage everyone to try and make them.  Follow the “recipe” here.
  • Fruit stands.  These are everywhere too.  Thailand’s tropical climate allows for an awesome variety of fresh fruit: mango, dragon fruit, durian, papaya, guava, etc.  It’s SO cheap and they chop it up nicely for you.
  • If you buy your food/drinks from the stands, many times you’ll get your food or drink in a bag.  It’s the most common way to eat “takeout.”

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  • Even food you can bargain down.  If two dishes added up to 110 baht, we’d offer 100 baht instead.
  • There are TONS of Indian restaurants in Thailand. 
  • We tried to not repeat any foods, so we could taste new ones as well.  We, of course, didn’t know the names of most things, so we simply pointed to pictures or to what other people were eating around us.  This works well.  “Can I get some of this, some of that, and a little of this too.” 🙂
  • Thai soup (called “Tom” in Thai) are so under-appreciated in the U.S.  The noodle soups were amazing – and there are so many more varieties to choose from than what most people are aware of in the States.
  • Thai people love their pancakes.  They are more like a flat thick dough that you can make sweet or savory.  We ate quite a few of these in the islands – very cheap eats.  Below I’m eating a curry pancake – it came with a green curry dipping sauce.  SOOO good!

Here are some more pics!  Yummy.  I’m missing Thai food already!

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Tropical Thailand – Last stop, Railay

After two nights in Ko Phi Phi, we moved on to Railay.  We had to hop on a ferry back to the Krabi Pier and then catch a shuttle to Ao Nang and finally, catch a longtail boat to Railay.  (Railay is ONLY accessible by longtail boat).

Getting onto the boats can be a little tricky.  If the tide is low, you have to wade out pretty far and climb in.

Railay is not an island, but rather a peninsula.  It’s famous for it’s massive limestone cliffs and beautiful, relaxed beaches.  (The limestone cliffs cut off access to the mainland, hence the need for a boat to reach this area).

We stayed in a bungalow just a minute walk from the beach.  We paid 1900 baht (just under $60).  This was a quick trip – only one night.  But we weren’t leaving until late afternoon the next day, so we had plenty of time to experience Railay.

The best beach on Railay is called Pranang.  It was a 15 minute walk to get there, but so worth it.

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We even saw monkeys all around!  They were really friendly and you could get pretty close to them. 

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In addition to the sandy beaches, there are tons of rocky limestone formations.  It’s a rock climbers paradise.  We explored Diamond Cave and saw lots of funky formations and bats!

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The nighttime was really peaceful.  It’s definitely more chill here with fewer options for “nightlife.”  But we wandered the island and actually saw the stars.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen those.  The only downside is all the mosquitoes.  They love me, and I have several bites to prove it.

On our final day, we had about 8 hours before we had to leave.  So, we started our morning early with an outdoor Thai cooking class. 

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Here’s what we learned to cook:  (Thai cooking only seems intimidating.  The hardest part is collecting all the ingredients).

  • Spring rolls
  • Shrimp pad thai
  • Tom Yum Goong
  • Chicken panang curry
  • Banana in coconut milk

All of the dishes were absolutely yummy!  And we got to eat a TON.  There were only three of us in the class, so the class went by quickly.

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The class ended early, which gave us a ton of time to hit the beach and pool (a nice change up from swimming in the sea).

We ended with one final massage.  Micah opted for a back and shoulder massage, while I did an oil massage (very very relaxing).  Total price was just under $20.

It was a perfect day to end our vacation: food, beach, massage.

The trek back to Korea was long.  We had to fly back to Bangkok.  Wait for hours and hours before the ticket counter even opened up.  Then wait two more hours for our flight to leave.  Then a two hour layover in Beijing Airport and then finally back to Korea.   And then it was at least three hours before we got back to our cold apartment.  Brrrrr!!

The highlight of the Bangkok airport – ROOT BEER!  I’m not even the biggest fan of the stuff, but you can’t get it in Korea.  And every once in awhile, it just sounds good.

Tropical Thailand – 2nd stop, Ko Phi Phi

Micah and I left hot and humid (and no sun) Bangkok for the tropical beaches of the South!  We took a quick flight from Bangkok to Krabi (the jumping off point for many islands down south).

After landing, we took a stuffy shuttle to the Krabi Pier and boarded a 1.5 hour ferry to Ko Phi Phi (remember, it’s pronounced Ko Pee Pee).  The ferry ride was wonderful.  We sat on the top and soaked in some sun and beautiful views.

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Here we are approaching Ko Phi Phi. 

Side note: Ko Phi Phi was hit very hard by the 2004 tsunami.  The downtown area had to be moved to the other side of the island, which is where we stayed.  The island looks to have recovered really well.

First task: Find a place to stay.  Easy enough.  As soon as you get off, you are bombarded with people asking you where you are staying.  Since we didn’t know, we just went along with one of the guys who showed us a bunch of pictures of places we could stay along with prices.

We chose an air-conditioned room in the main “downtown” area of the island.  I do wish we picked something on “Long Beach,” which is a much more chill, relaxed side of the island.  But it was easy enough to walk there when we wanted. 

Since it’s still the peak season for travel, we paid 1500 baht a night (or $45 US). 

Second task: Explore the island.  The weather was still hot and sunny even though it was nearing 6pm.  We wandered the streets and were quite surprised at just how TOURISTY this place is.  We saw young and old and heard many many different languages being spoken.  Some of the beach areas were actually pretty dirty (cigarette butts around you), but venturing to the less crowded beaches on the island resulted in much cleaner sand and water. 

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Third task: Experience the nightlife.  Ko Phi Phi has a vibrant nightlife.  There are a lot of bars to choose from.  And the little food stands at day, turn into alcohol stands at night.  Cocktail buckets are quite popular here.

Fourth task: R&R (i.e. beach time!)  We got PLENTY of sunny beach time.  The sun is intense, so we were really good about slathering on the sunscreen, which is marked up quite high on the islands.  The beaches are soft and sandy, and the water is warm and shallow. blog8

Fifth task: Go on an unexpected 1.5 hour massively hilly hike to see the pretty views from the top.  On our way down, we apparently discouraged many a-hiker from going to the top after we told them how much time it would take.

Speaking of unexpected…our room got a few channels of cable.  So one morning as we were lazily getting up, I turned on the TV and what did my eyes see?  The WSU vs UCLA basketball game!  How crazy is that?  We haven’t watched any real-time U.S. sports since we left for Korea…and to see my college team playing?  Awesome.  Not only that, but another channel was airing the New Orleans Saints vs Minnesota Vikings NFC Championship game!  That was a nice little bonus for us. 🙂

Final thoughts on Ko Phi Phi:

It’s a very beautiful island, but also very touristy.  There are tons of things to do – tours, scuba diving, rock climbing, etc.  We opted for the more low key vacation. 

Also, we didn’t see any panhandling on the island.  And while the main core is quite dirty at times, the island as a whole is clean and enjoyable to walk around.  There is easy access to lodging, internet cafe’s, restaurants, fruit stands, book stores, laundry service and travel agencies.

Next stop: Railay

Tailor-made Thailand – 1st stop, Bangkok

We got back from Thailand a few days ago (but haven’t had the time/energy to blog until now).  We had an AWESOME trip!  I really think Thailand is a country that everyone should visit sometime in their life.  It has something for everyone.

Bangkok:

Best described as dirty, gritty, and raw.  This city is huge.  It’s jam packed with foreigners.  Ironically, Micah and I were the ones being stared at, as you don’t see as many East Asians (i.e. Japanese, Korean, Chinese) as you do Caucasian Westerners. 

Side note: Most East Asians who visit Thailand are Chinese.  Thus, if your ethnicity is East Asian – Thai people will undoubtedly think you are Chinese.  They just don’t see Koreans and Japanese as often – so it’s hard for them to distinguish the look.

We spent two full days in Bangkok, and that’s about as much as we could handle.  It’s an exhausting, hot & humid, traffic-packed city.  The city feels alive 24/7 (even more so than South Korea). 

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We spent our days doing TONS of walking and sightseeing and TONS of eating.  The food is fantastic.  We ate Thai food the entire time – and 99% of our meals and drinks came from the little street vendors who set up shop just about anywhere.  (And the food is SUPER cheap.  Micah and I spent about $3 US per meal for the both of us).  I’ll post all the pics of the food we ate in a separate blog post.

When in Thailand, you must drink the Thai iced teas and fresh fruit drinks.  They are so refreshing and delicious…and about $.50 (more expensive down in the islands). blog2

One of the days we went to the Western part of the city where all the temples are located.  We got to see the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (pronounced Poe, not Fo).  The temples are very ornate and fun to look at…but we were “templed out” after walking around these two.  They are huge!

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Tuk tuks:

Bangkok has even crazier drivers than Korea.  There are taxi cars (bright pink taxis), taxi scooters, and tuk tuks everywhere.  It’s a fairly cheap way to get around the very large city.

Scooters weave in and out of traffic and you’ll see them all lined up at the stop lights rearing to go when the light turns green.

Tuk tuks are basically a scooter with a built-on cart to carry people.  While tuk tuk drivers will get you to your destination, they often will take you to other places along the way that you didn’t request.  We aren’t sure, but we think they must get some type of monetary “kickback.”  We were taken to a “special lucky Buddha” (and later found out that Lucky Buddha’s don’t exist), and to two different massive jewelry shops.   But still, for over an hour of driving us around we paid only 100 baht (or $3 US).

Tailor-made suit:

Micah’s 30th birthday happened to fall during our vacation time.  And he was interested in possibly getting a custom-made suit while in Thailand.  Perfect!  That’s exactly what I got him. 

Bangkok is filled with hundreds of tailors.  It’s hard to discern the good ones from the not so good ones.  So we just went with some word of mouth and landed at Raj Designs. 

Side note: Tailors have all types of material and quality levels.  They even make women’s suits, pants, skirts, and dresses.  I didn’t get anything though.  Prices are ALWAYS negotiated.  And the biggest factor of price is the quality of material.  If you want a low quality material, you can get a full custom-made suit for $100 US. 

Here’s how Micah’s suit came to be:

  • Pick out material and what type of suit you want.   You can be as specific as you want about collar, buttons, pockets, fit, etc.
  • Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!  We aren’t very good at this, but you just have to be.  They want your business and the worst thing that can happen is they say “no” to your offer, and then will give you a counteroffer.  We went back and forth on prices until we settled on something.  A full custom-made suit (jacket, pants, dress shirt, and tie – all medium quality) for $180 US.  Oh…and completely made in about one full day).
  • Get measurements taken
  • Come back the next morning for a fitting

  • Come back 8 hours later and…voila!  Happy 30th Micah!

Thai massages:

Thai massages are legendary.  We were told it’s the #1 tourist thing to do.  There are massage shops everywhere.  I had read that massage “parlors” are where the seedy things happen, but actual massage shops are totally legit.  We stuck to those. 🙂  Prices vary, but we paid 250 baht (or $7.50) for a one hour Thai massage.  And another 200 baht for an awesome foot massage.  We had to wear these for our Thai massage and we were in the same room together.

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Thai massage involves a lot of stretching and pulling.  I didn’t think it was all that relaxing but it did feel very therapeutic and it did alleviate some of the chronic muscle pain I have in my shoulders.  Micah enjoyed it quite a bit too.  The pictures below give you an idea of what it is like (took pics from http://minnesotagal.wordpress.com/ blog – thank you).

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Side note: Massages aren’t as easily negotiated.  Prices are pretty fair to begin with. But we often got deals because there was two of us.  Or if you do two services.  For example, we did a one-hour Thai massage, followed by a one-hour foot massage and were able to save 100 baht on the total.

Final thoughts on Bangkok:

This is a poor city (the country as a whole is poor).  The people don’t make very much money.  Most have never left the country or even seen other parts of their own country.  Families are often divided, with some working in Bangkok to make money and others selling things on the side of the street. 

In particular this city has a significant population of panhandlers – most of whom are deaf, mute, blind, missing limbs, or are little kids.  It’s quite sad to see.

Also, Thailand is notorious for attracting Western men (many from Europe), who come to find “companionship” from the Thai women.  Everywhere you go in Bangkok, you’ll see old, balding, gross white guys holding hands with these young, tiny, too much make up Thai women.  It’s really disturbing actually.  I like to call these guys D.O.M.s (Dirty Old Man).

Next stop: Ko Phi Phi Island

“Lah gon” – Next stop…Thailand!

We are on our way to the Busan Airport – to hop on a quick flight to Beijing (5 hour layover), and then land in Bangkok at midnight tonight.

We will spend two full days in Bangkok.  Then fly down to Krabi (the Southern part of Thailand and a main connecting point to many of the islands there).  We’ll stay on Ko Phi Phi Island and Railay.  Our time down south is pretty flexible and we are hoping to meet up with our friends Naomi and Vann since they are down south at the same time.  We’ll be back in Korea next Thursday afternoon.

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We haven’t eaten Thai food in 5 months!!!  I can’t wait!!!  We also plan to indulge in some Thai massages and Micah is looking at maybe getting a suit. 

We haven’t done much research on the language.  I think the places we are going you can get by quite well with English. 

But here are a few interesting things I read about the Thai language:

  • There is no “eff” sound.  So while spelled Ko Phi Phi – it’s really pronounced Ko Pee Pee.
  • There is no “th” sound as in “the",” but rather is pronounced as a hard ‘t’ as in “too.”
  • Hello is pronounced “sa-wat-dee”
  • Goodbye is “la gorn” but you don’t pronounce the ‘r’ – so it sounds like “lah gone”

Booked! To Thailand we go…

…in late January that is.  But YES – we just booked a week trip to Thailand!  We spend nearly a full day traveling to get there and will spend two full days in Bangkok, and then take a flight down south to spend 3.5 days on the most amazing beaches in Krabi.  We are thinking Ko Phi Phi Island right now.

This will be the first time for Micah and I – and we can’t wait!  And Thailand is especially cheap.  We plan to take full advantage of the delicious Thai food, fruit drinks, massages (the legit ones people), and beautiful scenery. 

A special thanks to my awesome friend Valerie for inspiring us to travel here…and for lots of great travel tips.  A couple of her beautiful pics from Krabi, Thailand from earlier this year.

P.S. We are taking a total of three weeks vacation (one week Thailand, two weeks Aussie), but our contract only pays us for two weeks during the winter timeframe.  So we are just taking a week of unpaid timeoff – totally worth it I feel.


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