Soi Cowboy Street in Bangkok Thailand

Soi Cowboy is the crazy street in Thailand known for strip clubs and prostitutes, but there are no ping-pong shows here! We visited the street just to people watch and it was quite a show. We saw women aggressively dragging single men into the clubs and offering all sorts of services.

Soi Cowboy is the crazy street in Thailand known for strip clubs and prostitutes, but there are no ping-pong shows here! We visited the street just to people watch and it was quite a show. We saw women aggressively dragging single men into the clubs and offering all sorts of services. They also had a great happy hour deals which I enjoyed and it was an interesting place to visit. Of course, you couldn’t film inside and I only went in quickly to use the bathroom!

Check it out:

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Govinda’s Vegan Restaurant: Ao Nang, Thailand 2018

Govinda, a vegan restaurant in Ao Nang, Thailand was delicious and the staff was incredibly kind!

Govinda, a vegan restaurant in Ao Nang, Thailand was delicious and the staff was incredibly kind! We arrived over half an hour before opening and sat downstairs waiting. It was pouring and miserable, the owner noticed us waiting and invited us in, carrying our heavy luggage in. It was awesome. We spent and ate way too much but it was worth it!

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Droning Over Phi Phi Islands, Thailand 2018 (DJI Mavic Air)

Thailand is a beautiful place and offers breathtaking views from land, boat and plane. This time, we got to experience it’s beauty from a unique angle – birds-eye view via our DJI Mavic Air drone. Thailand remains one of the few countries where droning in public areas is still legal and not regulated. Check out the shots and make sure to turn sound on for the full experience! 

Thailand is a beautiful place and offers breathtaking views from land, boat and plane. This time, we got to experience it’s beauty from a unique angle – birds-eye view via our DJI Mavic Air drone. Thailand remains one of the few countries where droning in public areas is still legal and not regulated. Check out the shots and make sure to turn sound on for the full experience!

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Tonsai Bay in Summer and in Winter – When to Visit Thailand?

My wife Olena and I may be two of the only people on Earth who have ever visited Tonsai Bay in Krabi, Thailand in both Winter and Summer. The first trip was a magical ten days full of perfect weather, daily excursions, and lots of swimming and lounging in the sun. Though it probably shouldn’t have, the atmosphere of our second venture to Tonsai really caught us off guard…

My wife Olena and I may be two of the only people on Earth who have ever visited Tonsai Bay in Krabi, Thailand in both Winter and Summer. The first trip was a magical ten days full of perfect weather, daily excursions, and lots of swimming and lounging in the sun. Though it probably shouldn’t have, the atmosphere of our second venture to Tonsai really caught us off guard…

December 2016:

Our first trip to Tonsai was during the Christmas holiday in 2016. We flew into Phuket, spent the day on the famous Patong beach, and hopped on a ferry to the much more chilled-out Tonsai Bay. The late-night party life hasn’t been our thing for years, so it was nice to head to a more secluded area. In fact, Tonsai Bay is only reachable via longtail boat from Ao Nang beach in Krabi. This makes it all the more exclusive!

There are a few ways to get to Tonsai. Most likely if you’re in the area you’ll hear that most tourists are going to the nearby Railay Beach resort area. You can get a longtail boat for around 100 THB per person from either Railay East or from the more accessible Ao Nang beach. My suggestion is to head straight for Ao Nang and, in the high season (December), there will be plenty of others willing to share a longtail boat. If there is no longtail boat available, you can walk from Railay beach, but if it’s high-tide you have to hike up and over some pretty treacherous terrain. Not recommended if you have lots of luggage.

Upon arriving, one must walk about half a kilometer up a small hill, through the forest and past hordes of thieving monkeys. After arriving at our $6 per night bungalows, we immediately felt at home. Not too crowded, very relaxed atmosphere, Bob Marley on the loudspeakers, helpful and friendly staff, and a fire show every night. The seating area at Chillout Bungalows included several hammocks, some picnic benches and even a few tree houses. Surrounding the bar area were several food stalls where anyone can find a delicious bite to eat. Chillout is located on Tonsai’s only main strip which is lined with more relaxing bars, some restaurants and a few more similar bungalows.

The bungalows themselves were incredibly basic. One bed, one shelf, one bathroom, one fan, and electricity only between 6PM and 6AM. We were officially off the grid, and it felt fantastic! Life was good. We had five full days ahead of us to relax in the sun and go on adventures.

During this trip, we spent a couple days on the beach, a few days on excursions in Krabi, and one day island-hopping, snorkeling and kayaking. It was the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure. We were sad to wave goodbye to Tonsai and longed to return someday.

July 2018:

Fast-forward 19 months to July 2018. We had a flight booked on July 27th to leave China for good and start a new life in New York City. We were going a bit crazy because I only had one day to pack between school finishing and leaving the country. Also, my birthday was coming up. After lots of back-and-forth decision making, we decided I would take an entire week, unpaid, off from work to go to Thailand for a full 9 days. After all, it was our last chance in Asia!

Olena and I are avid travelers, but we never return to the exact same place. We’ve always considered it a waste of time and money because the world is so big and want to see as much as possible. Well, with visions of our time in Tonsai at Chillout Bungalows swimming in our heads, we booked four nights at Chillout and a flight into Krabi. We were determined to repeat our experience on our last trip. It was so exciting! This time, we planned to take fewer excursions and just relax on the beach. It was going to be amazing!

I think you see where this was going. Our second trip to Tonsai was absolutely nothing like the first. For starters, the weather. No one bothered to tell us and we never bothered looking, but July is right in the middle of Thailand’s rainy season. In fact, two ships carrying tourists had capsized the day before we arrived, killing more than 50 people in the very same bay we planned to take a ferry. To the North, 12 boys had been trapped in a cave because of rapidly-rising water. When we arrived in Krabi, a torrential downpour started within minutes, right out of the sunny blue sky.

The rain was so bad that, when we arrived at Ao Nang beach, where tourists had lined up in December for a longtail boat to Tonsai, we found the beach deserted, waterlogged and devoid of any boats. We were informed that no longtail boat would go that day because of the weather.

Our spirits would not be crushed! We were determined to get to Tonsai. We grabbed a Tuktuk to Ao Nan Mao pier, got on a longtail boat to Railay Bay, walked over a kilometer in the rain to the aforementioned treacherous path, climbed up and over carrying 20kg each on our backs, and finally made it to Tonsai. The walk through the Railay area was depressing. The beach, crowded with tourists last time, was as empty as the food stalls that lined the streets. Arriving at Tonsai, waterlogged and exhausted, we still felt a spark of joy at our accomplishment. This spark, however, was quickly extinguished by the weather and the low season. Walking up the path to Chillout, no monkeys barred our way to beg for fruit, no happy locals greeted us on our way, all the bars we passed were either closed for good or completely empty, and to cap it all off, some rich guy had bought a bunch of land in the center of the area and cut down most of the trees. What had once felt like a secluded walk in the forest felt much more exposed and public.

Arriving at Chillout, we found the bar also empty and almost no one staying in the bungalows. No fire shows planned for the evening, no music on the loudspeaker, just the dreary-eyed people who ran the place during this low season. With all of this against us, the lack of electricity and comforts of home were much more noticeable. Back in our rooms, instead of an off-the-grid lifestyle and chilled-out atmosphere, we instead noticed the dirty sheets, wet bathroom and lack of light. We made the best of it, went swimming in the rain, but ended up canceling our next few nights and moving on to Phi Phi island, where our adventure took a much more positive turn.

The moral of the story:

Know the season of where you’re traveling, and never expect a journey to the same place at a different time to be the same as the first trip. In fact, I think that in life we should never seek to repeat exact experience because it lines you up for disappointment. Let every experience be its own, and try to keep your chin up! As I said, we still had five more days and ended up having a fantastic time in Phi Phi. The weather improved, our spirit was revived, and we learned a lot from the experience. Tonsai Bay, it was amazing while it lasted, but it’ll never be the same again.

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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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Thai Delicacies: Roti Pancakes

Have you ever noticed that most countries have their own version of a pancake? China has the za liang jian bing or fried pancake served as a breakfast food from street food vendors. The French like their pancakes thin, crispy and savory while Americans prefer them fluffy and doused with maple syrup.

Thailand has their own version of pancakes too. The first difference that you will notice, is their shape. While the rest of the world makes pancakes round, in Thailand they are square. They are deep fried and very crispy with a choice of various ingredients sandwiched in the middle. These can be Nutella, bananas or even tuna!

These pancakes are called “Roti” and it’s origins are debated. Some say that they come from India where they are also known as chapati. Chapati is a flat bread made from stone-ground wholemeal flour. Others say that the pan-fried bread has Muslim origins.

Whatever it’s origins, the fact is that Roti are delicious pancakes. They resemble crepes and are served hot, cut into bite-size squares. Like most pancakes around the word, they are meant to be eaten for breakfast. Here’s a video that shows how they’re made.

You can read more about different pancakes around the world here. I’m on a mission to try them all!

23205063-crispy-pancake-named-roti-fried-bread-with-butter-and-egg-stock-photo
Photo from:

http://www.123rf.com/photo_23205063_crispy-pancake-named-roti-fried-bread-with-butter-and-egg.html

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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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