Travel Thailand: Hopping Islands

Thailand is a place I think about a lot.

It was my first venture into the great continent of Asia. It’s so easy to think that the whole world operates as it does in your hometown. But boy, does it not.

I used the Couchsurfing app for the first time in Thailand. My friend and I met up with two boys at a coffeeshop—one from Russia and one from Lithuania. Sounds very shady, I know, but it turned out to be the greatest adventure. We had lunch, visited the outside of temples(we were definitely too underdressed to go inside), and took a ride on a tuk tuk. The driver knew very little english but with hand gestures and very slow speaking we got him to understand that we wanted to be taken to the ocean edge, to a place where we could see the sunset. We told him to take us to where there was a camera icon on the GPS which means it’s a scenic spot. We all piled into the back of his tuk tuk and hoped we would get to a nice view.

And we did!

It was cloudy so there was no sunset that day but hiking through narrow dirt trails framed by green foliage, standing at the edge of the cliff and watching the ocean splash onto the edges of the land, wind breezing and solo cups in hand was so freeing. Lenur screamed into the wind and we all reveled in our adventure. That night we went to the craziest road I have ever been on—Bangla Road in Patong. There was so much live music, alcohol, and travellers everywhere. My favorite place there was a karoake bar that played American covers. We rode home on a moped, our hair casually blowing in the wind as we drove the curvy roads in the dark.

Other highlights of the 10 day trip:

-Visiting Maya Bay. We rode a boat to the edge of a cliff. Then, we had to swim to the edge and climb the jagged cliff using a fishnet covered in slippery seeweed(Most exhilerating moment of the whole trip. Maybe because of the waves that kept crashing on us that made it a strong possibility for us to fall)(We were OK). We scrambled out way to the top, walked through a tropical forest with our bodies still buzzing, and made it to the setting for the movie The Beach. It was absolutely incredible. Mountains enclosed a small clear beach and longtail boats were in the distance, with other travellers swimming to the shore. Swimming anywhere for me is delicious but especially here.

-Giving an elephant, Lu Lu, a bath(if you ever have a chance to bathe an elephant, BATHE THAT ELEPHANT!)

-Riding a scooter with three people and trying not to fall off/die

-Kayaking on a triple kayak in the ocean on Railey Beach

-Watching rock climbers climb insane heights above the roaring water

-Finding a ”penis cave” that was filled with different sized and colorful wooden penises

-Visiting the Big Buddah temple in Karon

-Swimming in the pool as it rains, surrounded by trees

-Taking a local bus(so colorful and vibrant) to Krabi

-Traveling on a longtail boat to the nearby little islands and swimming with tiny bright yellow and blue fishes

-Tom Yum Soup and ALL the food the whole time

-Thai massage that made by sunburned, tired body feel amazing

-The kindest customer service from everyone

Adventuring Across The Street

I have a deep case of wanderlust.  I’m not sure if it’s because I grew up with road trips and cross-country moves being the norm, but it’s a big part of me that I don’t want to ever give up.  Well, this summer I’ve learned that to satiate wanderlust you don’t necessarily need to jump on a plane or drive hours and hours in a car.  

My aunt, cousin and a good friend from high school have all come to visit within the span of a month.  I took them all to some of my favorite places in the tristate area (Bear mountain, Liberty State Park, and Rue B Jazz Club to name a few) but in order to not get bored, I also researched new places that we could discover together.  Many people tend to go to the same places over and over because of the comfort of already knowing you like it.  I totally go to the same places, but at the same time I LOVE going somewhere for the first time and trying new things. Here are a few resources you can use to rediscover your own city:

1.  Yelp. If you’ve never been to a place, you might be curious about whether you will like it or not. Fear not, many people have probably been to that restaurant, rooftop bar or state park and those people have opinions that are conveniently written out on Yelp to help you decide if venturing to that new place will be worth it or not. A 5 star system is used to rate, people add photos of their experience and a map shows you exactly where their location is. A place rarely gets a perfect 5 stars but a good rule of thumb is to only go to places who have 3.5 stars are more.

2.  Groupon. Who doesn’t love to save money? Nobody. That’s who. Groupon saves you money on things you are going to purchase anyway.  Groupon gives you discounts for local services (Think hair salons, yoga classes and professional photo sessions), things to do (Think the Spartan Race, kayaking, and cruises down the Hudson river) and much more.  It tells you how much you’re saving, gives you a map, and shows you reviews from people who have bought that Groupon before. There’s so many companies I may not have even considered if I hadn’t found an amazing deal with them.

3. AllTrails. A mini roadtrip to the mountains can always lift my spirit. What lifts it even more is discovering a new hiking trail I’ve never been to.  A great app for finding new trails to explore is AllTrails.  They categorize each trail as easy, moderate, or hard(which is great because some days you want a challenge but other days you’d rather a stroll in the park). AllTrails shows you the length, altitude, and whether the trail loops or not. Photos and videos taken by actual other hikers are available as well as reviews detailing their experience on the trail. Hundreds of trails you may have never known about are ready for you to find.