Fate brings three adventure-seekers together as they head to southeast Asia for sixty days - madness ensues

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We love you, Pai

After a curvy three hour climb out of Chiang Mai and into the nothern mountains, we arrived in beautiful Pai. Pai is a mountain-jungle playground: waterfalls, hot springs, elephant riding, and motorbike scootin'...we could not have asked for a better four days.

At the breathtaking Mor Paeng waterfall

The river gets high from rain, tears down the bamboo bridge and our bungalow floods at 5am
Before sunset overlooking Pai
Motorbike pitstop at scenic rice paddies
Shea and Shan ride an elephant
At Pai Canyon

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chiang Mai

We arrived after a gruelingly, bumpy, and loud overnight train to Chiang Mai. We were all very happy to see some familiar faces, our dear friends, and our very favorite Chiang Mai super-couple, Hannah Cunha and Arron Goodman!

that overnight train wasn't so bad at first...
totally worth it to see these beautiful faces
After the crazy bustling city of Bangkok and the long travel days to and from Cambodia, we were so looking forward to the more laid back culture of this Northern Thailand city. Our expectations were met if not exceeded. Chiang Mai has an authentic and quaint feel and we all felt at ease walking around the town. We spent about six days in this magical little city. It was the first time we were able to acquaint ourselves with a place and it was fun to find little restaurants that we enjoyed and could go back to (most recommended by Arron and Hannah, who just got teaching jobs in Chiang Mai by the way!!!). Our favorite? Hands down “Nice Kitchen.” I don’t think a day went by that we didn’t stop in for some pancakes, french toast, muesli, curry or their fantastic  iced coffee. Everything was delicious.

the very best way to head start a day
Our time not spent at Nice Kitchen was filled with other activities. Laura and I went to Tiger Kingdom to play with 3 month old tigers while Shea toured the beautiful and ornate temples that appear on every other corner. Shea and I went to the Chaing Mai Zoo, a remarkable zoo  that she and I were both enthralled with. We toured around Chaing Mai University, went climbing at a local indoor gym and did lots of shopping at the Sunday night market . We went up to the Do Su Tep Temple at sunset, a magnificent and incredibly decorated temple that overlooked the city.

aaron shows off his guns at the chiang mai bouldering gym
the stunning doi su thep temple

I can easily say that while this was all great fun, we unanimously loved the Thai cooking class we participated in. We got to pick a soup, curry, stir fry, appetizer and dessert to make from scratch. After about 3 hours of cooking chicken coconut soup, cashew stir fry, yellow curry, papaya salad and mango and sticky rice and couldn’t have been more satisfied and stuffed! We have greatly enjoyed Chiang Mai and all it has to offer.

feasting after slaving over a hot stove

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Angkor WHUTT

(according to Shea) 

After a night in Bagkok we trekked across the Thai/Cambodian boarder to Siem Reap to see one of the seven man-made wonders of the world: Angkor Wat.  We started early (5am) in order to watch the sun rise at the first temple, The Angkor Wat.  Afterward, our tuk-tuk driver for the day, Tith, took us to another four temples, each with different flavors and themes, or as they say down here: same same but different (that was for you, Temanson).  Anyway, our day in Angkor Wat can best be describe through the pictures we took:

The Cambodian Border
An early start...need I say more?

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

So many temples, so many stairs.

I can't even begin to explain how much effort it took these girls  to put these beautiful smiles on at 6 in the morning.

Laura was testing the light for the picture and came up with this.  This picture had us laughing all day.

These pictures do not show how massive and TALL these things were, yet with extremely ornate detailing.


Shanno, Laura, and Shea in ancient Angkor Wat!

What a fabulous day.  Well worth the trip to Cambodia!

Stint to BKK

(as told by Laura)

Although Koh Tao was a great experience, after a week of island hopping we were eager to step away from the beaches. Away we go to a little place called Bankok. We weren't too amped on going to the city, because we had heard it wasn't exactly the coolest city in the world, but we had to give a chance. Catch a  2pm ferry ride and overnight bus, we arrive over twelve hours later (3am that is) to a suprisingly still bustling Bangkok on the infamous Khoa San Road. Drunk kids blissfully running around this tourist haven, lady boys, and the ever present noodle and souvenir stands. An hour later, after hitting way too many full guesthouses, a street over we find a little place to settle down for the next two nights. Lauren and Janna have accompanied us on this journey, but they plan to head back to Scotland in a few days.

Not too much interesting happens the following day, a bit of shopping, wandering, tuk tuks, and rain.
The best part of Bangkok is meeting up that night with some Dutch friends we met on Koh Tao, the scottish ladies, and us three, to enjoy a few drinks on Khoa San. A night of terrible live music, rowdy mexicans, wandering kittens, and our very own, Ronald Mcdonald.

Koh Tao

Four wonderful days spent on Koh Tao Island. Here are our four favorite highlights:

1. SCUBA (according to Shea and Shannon)

Holy scuba! Koh Tao's coral reefs did us well. Shan and I spent 4 days (and a mere $300 USD) earning our Open Water SCUBA Certifcation. I can pretty accurately sum this experience with: BEST THING EVER. All you SCUBAers out there, you know what I mean.

The class was a combination of classroom theory (equipment, safety hazards, marine life, etc) and open water practicals (DIVING!). We had a total of five dives at four different locations. Shan and I were quite nervous when we began. I dida mini-scuba session a few years ago during one of my family vacations to Mexico and I remember really struggling to breath underwater using the respirator--I would hypervenelate and have to stand up in the pool we were practicing in. Shannon had her concerns, too: what if we ran out of air?! Despite our initial uneasiness, our instructor, Helen, was AMAZING and she made us feel so comfortable in the water. We spent the first dive morning in chest deep water practicing how to breath, what to do when your mask comes off, how to work the equipment in the water, how to be a good diving buddy, etc., and later moved to practice these same skills in 2 or 3 meters of water. When it came time to make our first 12 meter dive, we felt more than ready.

How can I even begin to describe the dives? Gosh. Well first off, Koh Tao is a world-class diving site; people come from all over the globe for the main purpose of diving in the islands' breathtaking reefs. Alright everbody, think back to your high school marine biology classes: where do we find the most life in the oceans? Where there's coral and where there's kelp...which makes these IDEAL places to see all sorts of sea creatures. Scuba diving in Koh Tao was a little bit like swimming around an aquariam but better with even more life....and a little bit bluer.

The reefs were absolutely teeming with life. We saw all different types of coral, trigger fish, sting rays, a SHARK! (no, just kidding), angel fish, sea anemones, NEMO!, sea erchins, groupers, and my absolute favorite, christmas tree worms. Christmas tree worms look like little bright, feathery christmas trees and if you wave your hand in the water near them they protectively pull all their feathers into a small, hidden bud. I had seen these on the Little Mermaid but who knew they were so fun and beautiful in real life. Needless to say, our dives were absolutely incredible expeiences. It was so crazy to look above you and see a ceiling of water. No complications, although Shannon and I quickly learned that laughing into your respirator means a maks flooded with salty ocean water. We had a hard time controlling our underwater giggles so we tried not to look at each other too much once we were submerged. In between dives we would relax on the boat eating fresh island fruit, laying on and jumping off of the top of the boat, and conversing with the other scuba-ers. Óne of my favorite parts of this trip has been enjoying all the different people we get to interact with, both locals and travelers. We have met only a handful of Americans. Most of the foreigners tend to be Europeans or Asians. This has been such a cool experience for me, especially as this is the first time I've ever really traveled outside of the US.

All in all, a scuba was great experience and I'm already itching to get my Advanced Certifcation. Until then, we are looking forward to scuba diving while in Vietnam...and Laura will be joining us next time, too!

2. Island Pups (according to Shannon)

If Rai Lay was kitty cat island, Koh Tao was the island of pups! Anyone who knows me better believe I was having a hay-day! I played with a cute little black dog named Simba for about an hour in the ocean while I watched the sun go down. It made me miss my little pup, the amazing and wonderfully talented Yogi! There was even a little beagle called Trigger, named after the very mischievous Trigger fish. She lived up to her name and proved to be a cute little bugger sniffing everything, walking on people's towels getting them all sandy and running after birds always unsuccessful in catching them. We love the feeling of having our own little local pet for the day! Laura and I sure are animal lovers. Shea is a dog lover, not so much ze kitties.

3. Straight Chillin (according to Laura)

Of the islands we visited, by far the most chill. Still plenty of tourists, but the feel is v. relaxed, locals are friendly and accomodating. As I opted out of the dive I spent some wonderful days doing my own thing on the island. Our dorm mates were two lovely Scottish girls, Janna and Lauren, with whom we immediately befriended. I spent the first day motorbiking with them across the island enjoying the scenic beach views and fruit shake stands (sweltering days call for cold fruit drinks). I think my favorite part was that although we spent the day apart, I would meet up with Shea and Shan in the afternoon and lounge on our beach front patio as the sun set, drinking a cold beer, recapping our days as the longboats floated serenely on the bay and the water lapped at our feet. Wow, a cheesy sentence, but all so true. So many adventures, but always ending in the glory of the Koh Tao straight chillin.

4. Mint Kitchen (according to Laura)

A wonderful restaurant inland on Koh Tao. A suggestion of a local to the Scottish girls, we trekked up a dark road beyond the small busy center and alone on the tiny road rests Mint Kitchen. Run by a Thai man and his wife, the two make all of the food fresh on the spot. Of course this means quite a bit of wait time, but hey, that's thai time for you. Worth the wait, the food was so fantastic. Our curiousity caused us to order an item called "noname". It ended up being a delicious mix of veg and spices fried up into miraculous patties of joy. So good we went back the next morning for breakfast, and oh, more fruit shakes. Thank you Koh Tao for this foodie experience that rivals Boulder standards.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Whew what a long journey! The flights (FOUR to be exact) were easy and uneventful, just very very long. We can say we welcomed fresh air with open arms the morning we arrived in Krabi. We had some trouble getting to the pier to get to our first destination Railay. We tried walking, took a cab to the wrong pier and finally figured out where to go. A bit frustrating with our meager few hours of sleep on an hard airport floor and our heavy bags on our back. But we finally made it.

Railay (Kitty Cat island, cats everywhere!) is beautiful. So peaceful and quiet. The weather was a bit overcast when we first arrived and the water was quite choppy. It is a very small town and we all felt very safe. We are staying at a quaint little hotel called Diamond Private. We just got our first dish of REAL Thai food. YUMMY!!! The food is plentiful and cheap, the water is warm and the people are friendly and helpful. Looks like we found a little piece of paradise ourselves.

The day after our arrival on Railay we went rock climbing in the morning, it was incredible. The climbs went so high, maybe 500 feet? We could see the whole island from up there, stunning. We then took a long tailed boat back to Krabi that afternoon and caught the 5 pm ferry to the island Ko Phi Phi. Ko Phi Phi is much more touristy than Railay. Lots of walking streets with shopping and locals haggling for "taxi boat!". No cars here. The food...oh the food. Everywhere you turn are Thai pancakes, curries, stir fried veggies and rice, coconut donuts...all for $1-2. It is so fresh and delicious.

On our third day we woke up leisurly and had fried Thai pancakes on the beach. We found a great little guest house that was very accomodating. The woman (Miss Lee!) running the place is incredibly helpful. She booked us our ferry back to Krabi as well as our bus and overnight ferry to our next destination, Ko Tao. We spent the morning kayaking in the northern bay to monkey beach where we saw a couple monkeys moseying about. That night, Shea was feeling under the weather but Shannon and Laura were able to muster up the energy and meet some people. They even Thai boxed for a free drink in front of a fairly large crowd. Then to the beach where we ran into Paul! A friend from home also travelling in Thailand. Such a small world. Literally delighted to see a familiar face.

The next morning, despite being tired from a late night, Shannon and Laura went on a snorkeling boat tour, where they snorkeled, saw more beach dwelling monkeys, and visited the beach where "The Beach" was filmed. The scenery was breathtaking: multiple small but tall islands with steep limestone cliffs, making them uninhabitable but absolutely incredible.

We have now arrived on Ko Tao on the eastern coast of Southern Thailand. It only took a ferry, a three hour bus ride, and an overnight ferry to get here! It is a much more authentic feeling island, more locals, less tourists. We are staying at Big Blue Diving Resort where Shannon and Shea will get their diving certificate for a mere $300, which includes accomodation for four nights and seven dives. Laura is sitting this one out because she thinks she is just too cool. She is going to go climbing or learn some Thai boxing instead.

Monday, June 20, 2011


The time has come, just one more night, flight departs at 10am to Bangkok!
Shealyn's parents were so kind as to have us all over for a pre-trip barbeque at their home in Parker, CO. So good to know we have so much support as we leave to adventure for the next two months. Now just wish us luck on the 16 hour flight...