Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This Post Has Everything

Please read the title of the blog in the voice of Stephan from SNL - assuming only my Aunt Sue knows who this is the rest of you can ignore this part.

The past two weeks of Thailand were crammed full of activities.  My best friend Steph and cousin Katie flew across the world to spend Thanksgiving week with me.  We started our travels in Phuket and within about 20 seconds I'd convinced them to hop on a ferry to another island - Koh Phi Phi - because 24 hours of flying wasn't enough.  We headed to Chiang Mai (a city I've added to my list of places to live) to rescue elephants and then rounded out the week back on Koh Phangan.

We also experienced our first "Thai Massage" which is a very interactive experience.  We thought we'd get a nice little nap in but instead we were stepped on, cracked, pulled and twisted into pretzels. It oddly felt phenomenal.  Once you get over the shock.

This is where we spent our day in
Koh Phi Phi - not too bad!

The view from our hotel in KPP.  It was ALMOST worth the 148 stairs we had
to climb up to our tree-fort style hotel.
No caption needed here!
As soon as we got to Chiang Mai we hit the Sunday Night
Market - one of the most famous markets in Asia.  We
walked it for about 3 hours and barely made it one block.
Sadly the only thing I took a picture of was these waffle
tacos but I was really impressed with them. 
We spent a whole day at Patara Elephant farm helping
care for elephants that were being rehabbed.  The farm is
really beautiful and works with elephants who need
rescue and rehabilitation.  They focus on breeding them as
well so that they don't go extinct.  Yes we wore elephant
pants (huge in Thailand) to the elephant farm.
We were each assigned one elephant for the day to take
care of.  They said they based it on personality so I'm not
quite sure how I ended up with a Mom and baby.  My best
guess is that she kept sneaking off to snack more.  Now,
meet my elephant Ploy.  She loves giving big wet kisses
right on your face.  Ploy was rescued from the circus 4
years prior to this.
We fed, bathed (literally in a huge lake climbed on them to
scrub them down) and rode them.  This is Ploy's son Nampu.
When Nampu was born he was only half the size he should
have been so his caretakers had to become human step stools
to help him reach his mom's nipples.  He was ADORABLE.
Really fell in love with these guys - they are the SWEETEST
animals on earth.
Sorry Steph, had to add this pic in.  Some of us struggled
getting onto the elephants a little more than others!
Here is where I realized I have a lot in common with my elephants. You
couldn't feed one without the other sneaking into your snack basket.

We embraced the lady boys.  We went to a cabaret show
that was HIGHLY entertaining though the dancing was
sub-par at best. 
One of the temples we saw in Chiang Mai! 
Pretending to pray .. mostly looking at all the shiny things

My cousin has lady balls and got her feet
eaten by fish - very common spa treatment
here in Asia! 

And we made it back to my island for Thanksgiving with the Remote Year
family.  Because you can always count on the Irish to have a pub in every city
in the world, we convinced this one to host our family for dinner.  They did an
AMAZING job with the food (this comes from a vegetarian though) and we
spent the rest of the night playing darts, dancing and drinking the finest boxed
wine the island had to offer.
Drinking Mai Thais in Thailand. Original right?

After the girls left I headed over to Secret Beach which is filled with big
swings, hammocks and restaurants.  Really cool spot to spend a day.
I woke up at the crack of dawn (8am) to go fishing one day.
We did pretty good overall and had 7 fish to cook up for the
group when we got back. 
Lunch is served!  They cook fish whole here
which I'm not a fan of so I didn't test it out.

And finally - a sunset photo.  This was taken at the Koh
Samui airport which is all outdoors and beautiful. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Back to Island Life

In case you were worried about my mental health after three days in a city last week, I'm happy to report after a week in Koh Phangan I am back to normal.  Saying our island is remote is an understatement.  It's a 1.5 hour drive from the airport to the ferry then the fastest ferry is 2.5 hours to the island.  And it's just what I needed.

The first week has been crazy with returning to the full group of remotes, welcome events, exploring the island and the epic full moon party.  The full moon party is one of the biggest parties in the world on a beach in the Southern tip of the island.  The night before full moon is a jungle party with DJ's in the trees, body paint, a Muay Thai boxing ring and so much more. Never one to miss a party I made sure I got in a nice evening nap for the midnight start time for both events.

Hopefully after the craziness I'll be settling down into my slow island vibes I had going in Bali.  Hard to say though because I'm currently on a flight from Koh Samui to Phuket to meet up with my cousin and best friend who are en route here as I type!

Me and my tres amigos (haven't lost that Spanish yet!) on the beach night one.
After a flight from Bangkok, long taxi ride, ferry, and another long taxi ride to
the island we were greeted with bean bags and Singha the local beer.

We obviously headed straight for the beach to catch the
sunset.  This is one of the least impressive ones we've caught
on the beach so expect more in my next post.

This is the same sunset from one of our pools that overlooks
the ocean.  They also grill fresh fish, meats, veggies and have
tables set up in the sand.  It's the most pampered place we've
stayed at all year.

This is at the healing center next door which has AMAZING veggie food, yoga
classes that face the beach, hammocks and a very very cute little puppy.

This month's office is called Beachub and is - you guessed
it - right on the water.

And this is the front half of our office.  We have sitting hammocks, laying
hammocks, and desks with chairs at them to accommodate us.

As part of our welcome event, we went to a cooking class!
I never thought Thai food would be easy to cook - and I was
right.  It's a lot of different ingredients and when it hits the
hot pan you better not mis-time anything!

This was our first dish - Papaya Salad. It's got green beans,
fresh tomatos, green papaya, a few Asian sauces (made
different for us veggies), peanuts, and really REALLY
spicy red chili peppers.

Our second dish was fried basil which is not what it sounds
like.  They fry a very different type of basil called "holy
basil" that is part of a delicious spicy sauce, served with
steamed rice and a fried egg.

We also learned how to make a red curry which was easily
the best dish we made.  Other dishes not shown include:
Pad Thai, fried cashews and green curry.

My cooking partner Martin and I whipping up our fried basil.

After we got our culture on we headed to the beach for a
bon fire and to release lanterns.  We all wrote a message on
them, waited until they were super hot and full, and let go
sending our messages out into the universe.  My message
was "Leave only your footprints" something I've found
important during this year of travel.  It was SO cool
to see the night sky lit up with our messages. It's a very
small version of the world famous lantern festival in
Chiang Mai that lets off tens of thousands of at the same

Our lovely little bon fire!

Managed to sneak up and photobomb a group pic.  Also sneaking in with a
photobomb is our city manager Jo in the front.  This was the beginning of our
night so I'm sure you can imagine how it went from there. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Bangkok. The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Fair warning: long post in the beginning.  Due to the fact that I had to leave Bali a few days earlier than planned (visa was not planned for properly) and I had to connect in Bangkok regardless, I decided to just extend my stay in Bangkok from one day to three.  Big mistake.  I'm sure there's a really great part of the city to find with local help but what I saw was mostly the bad and the ugly.

I'll start with the good, the photos you'll see are from The Grand Palace which is beautiful.  I literally cannot put into words how stunning, intricate, and colorful this place is.  It made Versailles look basic.  We were lucky enough to catch it 2 days after it reopened due to the King's death.  You could stay here all day and not even begin to see everything there is to see.  I wish I spent all three days there because.....

The bad. The ugly.  I'm used to dirty cities, I'm a New Yorker.  I've seen homeless people doing things I can't un-see.  Ever wonder why there's an empty car at 8am rush hour on the train?  Take a deep breath in.  The point is, I'm used to dirty cities.

Bangkok was another level.  It smelled terrible - everywhere. You couldn't breathe the smog was so bad.  Our hotel (the Park Plaza mind you) had a sign that said "We don't sell our children into sex trafficking." Great. Thanks for clarifying.  On top of that, there's just a general disrespect for women as a whole. I paid for a Tuktuk and the driver thanked the only man in the car. The women dancing in the bars (not strip clubs just bars family, don't worry) were so sedated they could barely even shuffle. They wore numbers and just drowsily pointed at men to go wherever (I don't want to know) with them.  These men were laughing at them and not even acting like they were humans.  These are men in business suits, wearing wedding rings, having drinks outside talking business then going inside of these places.  Apparently it's OK to behave that way, as long as it's in Bangkok. Also, the men (ladyboys) are prettier than most women. Weird.

Anyways, it was a rough few days.  On top of that, if you've ever seen Bridesmaids and recall the scene where Leah Remini shits herself in the middle of the street after bad Brazilian food then you'll know what I went through. Thai spice is REAL. After a month of healthy veggie food, relaxing in Bali and being surrounded by beautiful nature - Bangkok really fucked up my energy.  Luckily I'm now back on an island (more details next post) and my best friend here is a Reiki practitioner so I should be back to normal soon.  Below are my photos from the respectable places in Bangkok.

This is the Bangkok equivalent of the subway system.
You basically have 30 seconds from when it pulls up to
jump on or you're SOL.

A few of us in the tuktuk.  We ran into our
friend from Serbia, and her sister who is now
living in Upstate NY who joined us for
our tour.  Truly a small world.

Elephant statue outside of the Palace. Just cause I like

Sitting outside of one of the buildings in the Grand Palace.
Desperately trying to hide my sneakers under my skirt.
You had to have shoulders, arms, legs and feet covered.
They literally have fashion police who stop you on the
way in (yet they expect skirts to go with sneakers).

Beautiful buildings.

10 Months of travel : still an asshole.
HONEY I'M HOME!  A girl can dream right?

For your entertainment. We ordered a triple room. Which means
three twin beds crammed into a room so you can't even walk,
you just barrel roll.  The three stooges at their finest.

And finally, our rooftop pool.  Probably the only time I felt peace in this city. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Goodbye Bali!

Before you do anything READ THIS!  My friend TJ who I lived with the first half of this month was featured in Elle Magazine.  She's also given a Ted Talk and launched a crazy social media following in the last year.  Lady Boss.

Now that you're impressed with the company I keep...

The last few weeks have been pretty busy - we're into 4Q for advertising so I'm spending a lot of time at my desk these days.  We managed to squeeze in and adventure tour complete with ATV'ing and countryside sightseeing and a trip to one of Bali's most beautiful temples.  There's no photos from the ATV yet because it was raining and I was busy being pissed that no one ever taught me to drive a stick.*

I'm heading to Thailand tomorrow so this will be my last Bali post...for now. I'll be back..

First stop : the coffee plantation.  We roasted and ground some beans but not
for long, it was hot A F out.  The plantation grows all of the flavors they mix
their coffee with which were delicious.  None of that flavor syrup Dunkin

This is a little mongoose critter.  They let them out of the cages in the middle
of the night and they run around eating a certain type of coffee bean.  Then
when they poop them out the workers collect them, clean them and turn them
into the most expensive coffee in the world.  Something about their digestive
tracts that breaks down the bean or something.... gross.
And here it is - poop coffee!  That's a brownie
not a poop.

After the coffee plantation we stopped to hang out with some asshole monkeys.
They're SO cute and cuddly and their hands look like little human hands.  They
have free reign to climb all over you but you're not allowed to touch them.
This little guy sat on my head dropping nuts on me - which I kind of loved
because my best friend Christian does the same thing to me only with BBQ
flavored lays chips.

Fast forward past the ATV'ing (There is an embarrassing video of me failing
that I will share when it's completed) and stop at Mt. Batur.  Mt. Batur is an
active volcano here in Bali surrounded by beautiful blue water and hot
springs.  A lot of people wake up to hike it at 2am and cook their eggs on the
ground.  I opted to take a car here, and eat my eggs at the cafe I live on top of.

These are some of the rice terraces you'll see in the middle of Bali.
We were pretty wiped so we didn't explore too much therefore I have no fun
facts to share with you.

A gorgeous temple over on the water by our apartment.  I couldn't explore inside
because girls aren't allowed anywhere if they have their period. Shitty timing
but I think I've pissed off enough Gods that I decided to stick to the honor system
and keep my impure-self outside the gates.

Sunsets. Just dope.

We also happened upon a beautiful wedding photoshoot in traditional clothing.
It's not easy to find these outfits therefore I will not be returning home with
one despite just KNOWING I'd find an occasion for it.

Last weekend we went to the Southern Shore of Bali and visited
Uluwatu - temple on the water.  It was so pretty and also
filled with asshole monkeys.  These ones don't climb on you,
they steal your shit and break it.We had to lock up all of our
glasses and shiny things.  Below is it Padang Padang
beach which is one of the most famous surf beaches in the world.
My talented friend TJ made a video here  of her trip to Uluwatu
where you can see more of the landscape and watch the monkeys
in action.

This is me and my friend Tarryn wearing our sarongs around the temple.  Gotta
cover up those riske little knees of ours.

*Note : My Dad probably tried to teach me to drive stick.  Actually he definitely
did but since I could barely read a gas meter I think we mutually agreed that
manual was not for me.