January 30, 2014

In Love with Cambodia

Cambodia was on our SE Asia route from the very beginning. But we didn't know how long or where to go exactly. We, unfortunately, let opinions on the internet skew our excitement a bit as we heard that Cambodia was increasingly falling victim to tourism...meaning that people were rude, theft was common and places were saturated with tourists. We found a cheap super promo flight back to Bangkok on Air Asia so we planned a good week in and around Siem Reap.

Our first impression of Cambodia was not good...we braved the 9 hour overland border crossing via Poipet and dodged all of the bribes and tourist scams. Well almost...we ended up getting scammed into a $10 tuk tuk ride when we arrived in Siem Reap. All in all, the first day we were thinking that the rumors were true and we were kinda bummed about it.

But boy were we wrong. After our week in Siem Reap, we were straight up bitter that we only planned a week. Cambodians were the sweetest people we ever encountered---EVER. Siem Reap and Pub Street were the exact mix of backpacker town we expected around SE Asia. And not to mention, motorbiking around the countryside and exploring the temples around Angkor Wat completely exceeded our expectations.

Our first glimpse of the temples was actually on my birthday! I'm not so keen to wake up at 4:30AM on my birthday (or any day for that matter) but we were picked up by our very very sweet tuk tuk driver and we watched the sun illuminate Ta Phrom right in front of our eyes! That kicked off a full day of climbing over ruins and venturing away from the main temple Angkor Wat (which isn't the most beautiful one in my opinion!). And to cap off the celebration, we partied into the wee morning hours on Pub Street with 50 cent beers.

More on Cambodia later but this is one birthday, and one country, that I will never forget.

January 23, 2014

Krabi Town & Railay Beach

Backpacking on a budget in Thailand and looking for a place where you can save a few bucks? Krabi Town is your place! With $6 guesthouses, a yummy night market and just a 45 minute-ish longtail boat ride from famous Railay Beach, it's perfect for anyone looking to lay low for a few days. 

We visited Railay Beach one day--but got unlucky with the sheer overpopulation of the place (it's our fault though, it was the end of peak season in Thailand...but still pretty)--and chilled out in our guesthouse by day and ate grilled shrimp at the food market by the pier by night. Christian programmed his game, I read books and totally fell in love with the books Shadow Divers and The Geography of Bliss. Shadow Divers was an incredible story of adventure and discovery of a German U-boat off the coast of New Jersey and is one of the best books I have EVER read. The Geography of Bliss was just downright hilarious about a 'grump' exploring the world's happiest countries. If you haven't read these books, put them on your list! And may as well put this viewpoint of Railay Beach on your list too ;):
`{Back in Krabi Town}

January 17, 2014

New Year's Eve in Koh Lipe

We loved Koh Lipe so much we headed back to the island for a week to ring in 2014! We couldn't have chosen a better place ;)
{In the late afternoon the tide goes out and you can WALK to the nearby small islands}
{First pic of 2014 above and first nap of 2014 below ;)}

January 13, 2014

A Koh Lanta Christmas

Around the time we left for our Asia trip, we had read how crazy Thailand gets around the holidays. So we booked a cheap guesthouse in Koh Lanta early on. We figured it was a central island to get to where ever we were before Christmas and had read that plenty of people loved Koh Lanta.

After our overnight stopover in beautiful Koh Kradan, we took the speedboat up to Koh Lanta to celebrate Christmas. 

It was great to see a new Thai island and we left Koh Lanta with full tummies and nice tans. But confession: we liked Koh Lanta, we didn't love it. Why didn't we love it?

1. The beaches weren't as beautiful as we expected. But now I know that the beaches I love the most are small, cove-like beaches with clear turquoise water instead of the long stretches of open beachfront.

2. There were small sting-y things in the water! Everywhere! And we saw quite a few big jellyfish washed up on the beach. We found out later that the sting-y things in the water were either tiny creatures who sting when they touch skin and/or were jellyfish stingers which wash up on the beach from jellyfish from the open water. So every time we got in the water, we never really stayed too long.

3. Koh Lanta is SO big so the touristy stuff is very well spread out. But it's still very touristy...then again we were there at peak season.

While we were kinda bummed we didn't love Koh Lanta (and we wanted to love it so much!), we embraced everything we enjoyed during our few days there, like:

*The best Thai meal we had so far has been at Nong Cat by the Koh Lanta pier. This place is managed by a sweet German woman and was so cheap and delicious. We went to this place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and enjoyed free welcome cocktails before dinner. This place has few reviews on Trip Advisor and we were shocked! If you find yourself in Koh Lanta, get to Nong Cat ASAP.

*We rented a motorbike for $5 each day and explored the island. On Christmas Eve, I even took a shower in a jungle waterfall! Highlight of Koh Lanta for sure :).

*We enjoyed a relaxing beach day on Christmas Day near Kantiang Bay (much prettier than the north of the island) and had delicious vanilla bean pancakes and bacon at Drunken Sailors cafe for 'Christmas Brunch'. And relaxed in their hammocks afterwards.
{Look at the size of these things!}
{The beach we liked most in Southern Koh Lanta: Ao Nuy}
{Christmas brunch at Drunken Sailors in Kantiang Bay}