Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving in Maui, Hawaii

My Thanksgiving in Maui began with a shopping trip that filled my host family’s truck to the very rim. There was just enough room to fit my three British friends and myself into the back to sit on top of all the food. Our host sat in the front with her mother, who drove down the highway so quickly that my hair whipped loudly around my ears and my voice would catch in my throat when I tried to speak. The air was filled with the smell of the salty ocean that ran parallel to the highway. We whizzed past countless palm trees, leaving the enormous green mountain range behind us…

My Thanksgiving in Maui began with a shopping trip that filled my host family’s truck to the very rim. There was just enough room to fit my three British friends and myself into the back to sit on top of all the food. Our host sat in the front with her mother, who drove down the highway so quickly that my hair whipped loudly around my ears and my voice would catch in my throat when I tried to speak. The air was filled with the smell of the salty ocean that ran parallel to the highway. We whizzed past countless palm trees, leaving the enormous green mountain range behind us.

The highway gradually narrowed until we found ourselves on a smaller road that passed in and out of the rainforest. We had been warned ahead of time about the winding Road to Hana and the 600 turns that would take us several hours to stomach. The road was bumpy and breathtaking and we stared down at the island in awe as the car teetered on the very edge of the road. We passed one-lane wooden and rocky bridges set over waterfalls and pools of clear-blue water. The trees around us teemed with singing birds and buzzing insects. The shades of the plants around us encompassed every color one could imagine. However, none were as fascinating as the rainbow tree, whose brown bark peeled to reveal red, blue and yellow. We didn’t make the already dangerous road any safer by jumping around the open trunk excitedly and leaning over the edge to take pictures like typical exchange students.

Our car raced the setting sun but didn’t reach our destination until the sky was black and the stars burned bright.

We got off the truck on wobbly legs and stepped into the darkness. Our Hawaiian friend warned us that we would be camping out on her family’s land, nothing fancy. As her mother turned on all the car lights to help us unpack, we saw a spacious tent near a typical Hawaiian hale – an open-walled wooden building with benches and kitchen equipment inside it. When the car engine turned off and the wind was no longer ringing in our ears, we heard the sound of waves. Excited we ran several meters past our tent to discover that our friends’ backyard was right on the ocean and we’d be spending the next three nights falling asleep to the sound of waves hitting the rocky beach.

We woke up the next day to our friend’s family members arriving in trucks full of food and setting up the steaming pots of meat, potatoes, vegetables and desserts in the kitchen of our hale. We met our friend’s mother, sister, brothers, aunts and uncles. We sat around eating and laughing, being thankful for this wonderful experience. The following day we were taken to a sunny beach and went to see a mighty waterfall. The climax of the day was going to a cliff that looked over the ocean where Hawaiians of all shapes and ages threw themselves into the air and dove into the sparkling water. I will never forget the feeling I had standing on that edge looking down several meters and letting go of all my fear to take that leap of faith.

Originally published in Youth Time Print.

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Jet Skiing in Bali, Travel 2018 (Video)

One of the highlights of my 10 day trip to Bali was a 15-minute ride on a jet ski (my first time!) while my husband filmed the first 5 minutes of it with our drone, almost decapitating me once and managing to slice his arm while landing. Oh, the stories we have to tell our future grandchildren…

One of the highlights of my 10 day trip to Bali was a 15-minute ride on a jet ski (my first time!) while my husband filmed the first 5 minutes of it with our drone, almost decapitating me once and managing to slice his arm while landing. Oh, the stories we have to tell our future grandchildren… plus will bore them by replaying the videos over and over again too.

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Tonsai Beach: The Best Beach in Thailand

We visited Thailand back in December, during the mourning period for the late king. During our two week trip we saw Phuket, Krabi and Bangkok. Phuket was beautiful but crawling with drunken tourists. Bangkok was exciting but really hot without a possibility to cool off in the ocean. Then there was Krabi, which was basically paradise on earth!

To get to our accommodation on Tonsai beach, we took a ferry from Phuket. It was inexpensive, quick and extremely scenic. They also sold cheap beers on the boat! We booked the Chillout Bungalows through Airbnb. The cozy wooden huts had no hot water, electricity for just half of the day and our bathroom was full of frogs. It was the perfect getaway!

Tonsai beach is a small beach with only a few hotels and shops. It’s located in between two of the most popular beaches in Krabi: Ao Nang and Railay. Both of these are easy to get to and Ao Nang even has a McDonald’s! Tonsai, on the other hand, can only be reached by boat or via a rocky rain forest path (sometimes requiring some swimming) from Railay beach.

Traveling by long-tail boat is a lot of fun if you don’t mind getting a little wet. The boats run from as early as 6 AM to as late as 10 PM. You either have to pay for the entire boat or wait for others to join you on the journey. We never waited more than 15 minutes.

Whether or not you’re staying on Tonsai beach, I recommend that you visit it. You will be greeted on the walkway by monkeys that will grab your bags in search for food. These monkeys will also wake you up by jumping on the roof of your bungalow and will ransack through anything you leave on the beach.

Tonsai is also one of the most popular destinations for rock-climbers. The beach doesn’t get professionally cleaned like Ao Nang and Railay, so you can spend hours shell-hunting. Just avoid collecting starfish, they are illegal to travel with!

Since the beach is so inaccessible, everything there is more expensive than it would be on the adjacent beaches. However even these inflated prices are cheap when compared to prices in Western countries. The only ridiculously priced item is anti-itch medicine. If you’re a mosquito magnet like I am, these pills are your dream come true!

Finally, it’s not just cool, isolated, full of monkeys, shells and everything that is cool and awesome about Thailand. It’s also the most beautiful beach in the world! See for yourself…

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8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Thailand

8 tips to help you save money, avoid diarrhea and theft by monkeys in Thailand.

I spent hours planning our 10 day trip from China to Thailand. We booked flights, accommodation and tours weeks if not months in advance. It turned out to be one of the best trips of our lives! However, there is SO much that I wish I would have known to make the trip better:

1. Do NOT book everything in advance!

If making reservations give you as much happiness as it give me, do it anyway. But if you want to spend less money, don’t do it at all. It is much cheaper to walk into a hotel and check in on-the-spot than to make an Airbnb reservation 4 months in advance. Same goes for most tours, trips and experiences you may be interested in.

2. Avoid touristy beaches

This may seem obvious but please bear with me. Touristy beaches in Thailand are overcrowded, have vendors bugging you literally every 2 minutes plus they are fake and look ugly. The only reason to visit such a beach is to parasail, rent a speed boat or do other water activities.

Just take a look at Patong Beach in Phuket in comparison to Ton Sai beach on Krabi, where you can get by taking a 2 hour, $15 ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket:

SMLXL

3. Always have toilet paper

Thai toilets are not the greatest thing in the world. Sometimes you will find a typical Asian-style hole in the ground but there are plenty of sit-down toilets too. Very often there will be no toilet paper and even if there is, you can not flush it down the toilet. The sewer systems just aren’t built for flushing anything inorganic, so don’t do it.

It’s not only bad for the environment but just imagine how embarrassed you would be if you clogged a public toilet…

4. Everything can be cheaper, so haggle!

Most things in Thailand seem ridiculously cheap, especially if you are from the US or a Euro-zone country. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s fairly priced. Even on the most secluded beach, you can find a meal for 50 – 80 THB (around $2), a touristy shirt for up to 300 THB ($9) and a larger than pint-size beer for 140 THB ($3).

Keep in mind that in Bangkok you can get street food for as little as 10 THB (28 cents), shirts for 40 – 100 THB ($1-3) and the same size beer for 50 THB ($1.5). Obviously if you are in a restaurant or store, the prices are set. But any stall, market or street vendor practically expect you to haggle.

5. Bring bug spray, sunscreen and anti-diarrhea pills

I did say that most things in Thailand are ridiculously cheap… but bug spray, sunscreen and anti-diarrhea pills are not. There is a high demand for these products so they jack up the prices accordingly. There is one more reason why you shouldn’t buy sunscreen in Asia…

6. Avoid buying skin-care products

It is hard to resist the low prices and crazy varieties of masks, creams and other skin-care products. I spent a good 15 minutes browsing the snail slime, fruit scented and sea-salt masks. That’s when I noticed that they all have one thing in common… skin whitening chemicals!

These chemicals won’t turn your skin paper white, just like the anti-wrinkle cream won’t magically turn your face Barbie smooth. However foreign chemicals can give you a nasty rash which will ruin all your selfies. Even deodorants and douches in Asia will sometimes have whitening chemicals, so make sure to read or translate labels before you purchase anything.

7. “Not spicy” is a lie

If you don’t like spicy food, Thailand will not be kind to you. Avoid basically all salads as they are insanely spicy. Even my husband, who loves spicy food, had trouble finishing the “not spicy” salad that I ordered. Even picking out the finely chopped chili peppers doesn’t help much. It’s a shame because they are otherwise delicious!

Although I hate spicy food, there were times that I either had to eat it or starve for hours. I did my best, cried a little and stocked up on those anti-diarrhea pills that I mentioned earlier. Most people who aren’t used to the spicy cuisine will end up on a toilet afterwards. If you have the pills at hand, you can avoid surprises that risk ruining all your plans.

8. Monkeys are NOT friends

Monkey are extremely cute and so photogenic! They are also evil little things that are not afraid of you and will steal your stuff if they get the chance. Ethical issues aside, don’t approach them with a bag of food if you wish to feed them – they will grab it and take whatever else they can. Unless you can climb trees and don’t fear heights, you may never see your stuff again. They also bite.

Sorry for the long post. I don’t have any potato pics so here’s a thieving monkey:

SMLXL

 

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