The Simple Things

Hello Everyone!

I hope everyone has been safe and healthy. It has already been one month since my last blog post, and I have been meaning to write for awhile. However, I could not get myself to sit still to write a meaningful post until now. I think it is a positive that I pay for this blog on an annual basis. Since I am paying for this website, it motivates me to quiet down and write down/organize my thoughts at least once a month.

This is my first “regular” blog post, after the chain of travel related posts, and I hope to see for myself that the simple things, can bring as much relaxation and happiness as an international vacation.

The start of 2020 was a quiet and humble one. I was able to welcome the near year with a couple of close friends and light the candles I brought from Thailand. I had spent all of the Christmas Holidays visiting extended family and spending time with family at home, so it was nice to see some friends after traveling.

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5 Different Scents: Moke, Orchid, Box Tree, Lavender, and 5 Flower

 

When I think about where I am in life, I am grateful that I have a career that challenges me in every aspect. With that said, in the last couple of weeks, I have met, interacted, and seen some of the most difficult people in my life. I am sure that I will continue to come across people that are hard to please, but at this time, I am blessed to have people to share my frustrations with during these times. When the negative feelings passed, it helped to remind myself that it is not personal. People are worried about their pets, and when finances are a major concern, a person may sometimes place blame where it is not due. I can find pleasure in the fact that my patience and endurance are being tested/becoming stronger. However, I have to say, I have also met some of the most wonderful human beings, during a time that may be one of the most difficult such as saying goodbye to a loved family pet.

This seems like an appropriate time to discuss my growing interest in Scotch whiskey! I enjoy winding down after a long day with a pour of Scotch whiskey. This is officially my go to drink, as it has truly grown on me this past month. If anyone is interested in this topic or have any recommendations, please let me know! I had to find an alternative to beer, wine, and other drinks post travel. I am pretty sure most of the travel weight gain was from the affordable beer and other alcoholic beverages. Personally, beer is too filling (I still enjoy) and wine is a bit high in calories (and it is difficult to only have one glass). I have gone to a whiskey bar and tried a few different pours, but I am trying to stay in a price range of $50-$150 for bottles. I am more interested in quality and enjoying the drink, as opposed to anything else (quality vs. quantity). I have purchased a Glenlivet 12 year, Glenmorangie Original 10 year, and Macallan 12 year. I wanted to purchase a Macallan 15, but I ended up with the last two, as they were on sale, and Macallan 15 was not available at that time. I recently visited a bar in MD, planning to drink some beer with some appetizers, but ordered an Old Fashioned instead. I enjoyed that I did not feel full after half my drink! I highly recommend trying Scotch if you have never tried before! I will try to keep updating this blog with random bits of my new found interest.

Now to discuss my favorite drink, coffee! This past month I purchased an automatic coffee bean grinder, and it has changed my life. I have put away my manual grinder for now, and highly appreciate, how quickly I can grind a large amount of beans in less than 2 minutes. I am trying to purchase local beans from places that I visit, so if anyone has recommendations, I am open to them!

My goal is to use my free time to discover and post about food! There will be a few food updates at infrequent intervals as it can be expensive, and I have my other hobby of Japanese FluentU that is still ongoing (it is going well if you were curious). Plus, I recently committed to paying for four new tires, cabin and engine filters, and a new battery for my car (sad face). For now, see below for some food highlights with pictures and captions!

La Barrita Restobar, Baltimore, MD

I will be going back to this restaurant at dinner time (pictured is brunch) for the $90 platter of steak meats (for two people), and I am sure it will be worth it!

Pho Bac, Baltimore MD

I spent way too much money here. The food was delicious, but I am not sure about spending more than $10 on a bowl of pho. To be fair, there was a lot of quality meat in the pho compared to an $8 bowl. I personally like more noodles than meat.

Huck’s American Craft, Baltimore MD

Not pictured is the old fashioned, which was a bit sweet for my taste. The crab dip was a bit too salty, however the cheese curds were on point.

Desserts

Simply delicious

Well, that is it for now. I have a long stretch of work ahead of me, but I will hopefully make my next blog post soon (goal is less than a month until my next post). Be safe and stay healthy!

Post Travel Blogging: Bangkok, Thailand

 

Hello Everyone! It is great to be posting for the first time in Year 2020! I am excited to be wrapping up my Thailand travel posts with this final post about Bangkok.

After spending a relaxing time in Krabi, I booked my next flight to Bangkok with Bangkok Airways. This flight took about 1.5 hours, and to my surprise, an in flight meal was provided. Compared to my previous domestic Thailand flights up to this point, the cost of this one way ticket was the most expensive. The ticket cost was ~$120, but Bangkok Airways did provided great service. After the flight, I found my bags (I was all about checking in all my bags, at this point) and found a taxi to my last hotel. I stayed at the 12th Avenue Hotel, and it was a nice place. The location was a 3-5 minute alley walk to Korea Town and the main street. The hotel provided a shuttle service to the main road every 30 minutes, but most of the time, if the tuk tuk shuttle was not ready to go, I walked.

There are so many things to do in Bangkok, and it is easy to find tourist packages to different sites such as temples, markets, and etc. Most of the time, these tourist packages take care of transport for the whole scheduled activity, and the payment is made up front. However, I did not participate in any of these packages, and opted to explore Bangkok in a relaxing manner. I am personally not a city girl, and it did take me a day or two to get used to the smells, noise, and number of people. I did miss the calm and coolness of Chiang Mai, as well as the relaxed vibe of Krabi, but Bangkok did provide everything I needed to have a good time.

After two weeks in Thailand, I needed some Korean comfort food, so my first stop was obviously Korea Town. I had Korean BBQ the first night I arrived, and in the following days, continued to eat Korean food periodically. No matter where you go in the world, there will always be a Korea Town somewhere.

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Korea Town is more like a plaza of restaurants and small Korean grocery stores.

 

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A Beautiful Soju Bottle Christmas Tree.

On one of my last nights in Bangkok, I was eating at a Korean restaurant called Myeong Ga, and a youtube crew arrived. I saw the owner dressed in a traditional Korean Hanbok talking about her restaurant. I ate in silence, while watching the interview from the side, as I was the only customer there (there was no sign saying that the business was closed for youtube filming). After the interview, the crew left and the owner seemed relieved. I spoke with her in Korean for a bit, and she asked if I would like more helpings of Korean BBQ. At this point, I was so full, I genuinely meant it when I said no. However, for those of you that know, it is difficult to decline offerings, especially food, from a Korean Ahjumma (older married woman in this context). She then asked, “What about Yuk Hoe?” This is a more expensive raw steak tartare with a raw egg and served with sweet asian pear on the side.

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Yuk Hoe: Raw Steak Tartare

I felt the burden of the expensive freebie, as well as being absolutely too full to eat, let alone finish, the dish. However, she did not take no for an answer and ordered up a Yuk Hoe for me. It was so delicious, and I did not get food poisoning (raw beef and raw egg)! I did have that concern regarding the Yuk Hoe because I did not want to get GI illness while traveling. However, I honestly would have ate and finished the dish, even if was not good, because I felt bound by Korean mannerisms. Thankfully it was yummy, and I had just enough room to shove it all down.

I am a fan of small bar food dishes with a nice drink. With that said, my favorite dish in Korea Town was roasted capelin (fish) with a nice cold beer.

You also cannot leave out Korean fried chicken when visiting a country with refreshing and affordable beer!

I visited two large shopping malls in Bangkok, called Terminal 21 and MBK Center. Terminal 21 was about a 10 minute walk from my hotel. This mall is designed like an airport terminal with multiple floors that have a world famous city as the floor’s concept. There are common brand name stores such as H&M, Bath & Body, and etc., as well as individual sellers depending on the floor. MBK center is a large mall with 8 floors. There are so many stores and items being sold at this mall, you could spend multiple days here and be entertained. I wanted to visit MBK because there was an arcade, and I ended up playing a good amount of arcade basketball and a sniper shooting range game. My favorite floor to shop was a floor that consisted of individual sellers that were selling touristy items and knock of brand name items (I am most proud of my $10 oversized Adidas sweatshirt) . When visiting Thailand, I recommend buying souvenirs at MBK. Multiple sellers are selling the same items, and it is much easier to haggle. I recommend responding back with half the price they are requesting and pretending to be disinterested if they do not seem willing. It works.

The next place I will talk about is Artbox. Artbox is a trendy outdoor market where you can find handmade items, souvenirs, food, and drinks. The hours are 4PM to 12AM, but if you arrive at 4PM, most of the venders will still be setting up shop. The whole market is covered in lights, and it is beautiful. I additionally liked that it was smaller and less crowded. There was also axe throwing, which is harder than it sounds. I was however able to hit a few bullseye’s!

This blog post is getting long. Like I said, there are always things to do and see in Bangkok. I will post below some pictures with captions of randoms I did not talk about in this post.

I took so many photos and ate too much in Bangkok. I was not able to post everything, but I hope this post gives you an idea of how stimulating Bangkok can be. After all the fun, I left Thailand as a happier person. Word of caution: Never get in a vehicle in Bangkok from 7:30-9:30PM because you are not going to move an inch!

I leave you with a pregnant Bangkok cat!

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Post-Travel Blogging: Krabi, Thailand

Hello from the U.S.A,

I have been back a little over one week now, and I feel that I am well over my jet lag. Returning to work after a long travel forces a person to get over their jet lag quick. People still have pets, and pets still get sick. However I am blessed to have an amazing team, making the transition back as smooth as it could have been.

If you have been keeping up with my previous blog posts, I finished posting about Chiang Mai, and will now be posting about Krabi. I stayed in Krabi for about one week, and my main goal was to relax at the beach. During my last few days in Chiang Mai, I purchased a flight to Krabi with AirAsia for ~$80. I opted for a more expensive direct flight with no stops, so if you do not mind stopping, you can find a ticket for cheaper.

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AirAsia flight to Krabi took about two hours. I highly recommend AirAsia for domestic flights, as I had no problems with the flight at all. 

Once I was off the plane, I found transportation to my hotel at the airport. You do not have to plan for transportation, as it is readily available to book at the airport when you land. I decided to take a bus, which was significantly cheaper than a taxi for approximately $3.50. The hotel was about 40 minutes away from the airport, and I thought this was well worth the cost. In all honesty, after the bus ride, I thought that I should have paid for a taxi instead. The bus made multiple stops, and at a certain point, I wanted to eat and rest. The taxi would have been double the price of the bus, but it still is not expensive by any means. You also get the added benefits of going straight to your destination with ample room to relax. The bus ride to the hotel, with all its stops, took about 1 hour and 15 minutes. There were times where we went to the wrong stop and time was lost. Before you get onto the bus, you tell the driver where you need to go. He will write it down and take you there, but sometimes, there may be some miscommunication.

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All of the passengers’ luggage was situated at the front of the bus. 

I booked Hotel Blue Sotel for my stay in Krabi for the pool and location. On the days I did not go to the beach, to avoid the sand and people, I relaxed by the large pool with a swim up bar. The Hotel was also situated on the main street, and it was easy access to multiple restaurants. The Aonang beach was also less than 10 minutes away by foot.

If I look back, I am sure I gained most of my travel weight while I was in Krabi because all I did was relax, eat, and drink for one whole week. If I was walking, it was to a nearby restaurant to again relax, eat, and drink. It was a great week. Below is a collage of some of the dishes I consumed while in Krabi. Be sure to hover over the pictures for the captions and click if the captions are too long for a quick hover for more information regarding the individual dishes/food.

After gaining about 10 pounds, I was ready to catch my next flight to my final destination within Thailand, Bangkok. I will be sure to post my last post about Thailand soon! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and enjoy all the New Year’s festivities.

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I drank so much, which also probably contributed to my astronomical travel weight gain! However, no regrets!

Cheers!

Chiang Mai: Night Bazaar and Saturday Night Market

Hello from Bangkok!

I hope everyone has been well, and keeping warm back home! I am behind on my posts, and as you can tell from my greeting, I am in Bangkok! This post will be about two night markets in Chiang Mai, and then the following post, will be a short one about my time in Krabi. I stayed in Krabi for five days, but my post will be quick because all I did was relax at the beach and hotel.

To begin, there were a lot of souvenirs to buy at the night bazaar, but I planned to limit my spending in Chiang Mai and Krabi. I only packed a small carry on, and I planned to save my shopping for Bangkok. I recently purchased a large hard case suitcase on the street right before Terminal 21 (a large shopping mall in Bangkok) for 1,295 baht (~$43 USD), so I could take home souvenirs. You can always haggle with street venders for a lower price because you will see the same items everywhere in Thailand with varied prices. I did not get a good picture of the bazaar, but the night bazaar is located on Wua Lai Road. I did get a short video clip, but it is very shaky as the bazaar was crowded. As a general rule, no matter where you go in Thailand, there is always a place with multiple stalls of food nearby.

 

The Chiang Mai Saturday Night Market is open only on Saturdays, as the name implies, and is open from 4 PM – 11 PM. This market attracts more locals, so the prices tend to be lower compared to a tourist heavy market. I personally think there were more worth while things to purchase at this market such as tote bags, accessories, and less touristy items. I purchased two elephant coasters for a total of 100 baht (~$3 USD). This market was crowded, as the stalls are situated on either side of the road and people were stopping left and right to view items they wanted to purchase. I felt like a fish going down the road, following the flow of people, and going back to the entrance was a bit suffocating. If you have claustrophobia, this may be a bit of a test. Note: At the entrance of the Saturday Night Market there are food stalls, and I highly advise asking for the price of a food item before sitting down. Unfortunately, some food stall vendors try to get your order without disclosing the price/seating you at their table (consumer assumes that it would be about x baht since the same food item is x baht at another close food stall). Then the bill comes out, and you may find yourself paying 350 baht (~$12 USD) for a fish that should cost 200 baht (~$7 USD) at most.

 

That it is for Chiang Mai! I will try my best to make a post of all the little bits that I am leaving out here and there, in one last post, when I am back in the States. It will be a good time for me to reflect and write while recovering from the jet lag I am sure to have. My next post will be about Krabi, but until then, be safe and happy everyone!

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Chiang Mai Dog Tax

Chiang Mai: Maerin Elephant Home and Doi Suthep

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Hello Friends,

I was able to visit the Maerin Elephant Home during my stay in Chiang Mai. I also visited the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is a Buddhist temple, the same day. Most people refer to this temple as Doi Suthep for short even though “Doi Suthep” is the name of the mountain where the temple is located because it is well known. I was able to make a morning trip the the Elephant home and then visit the temple in the afternoon. The taxi driver that drove me from the CNX airport to the hotel, drove me to these two destinations. He provided me his card when he dropped me off at the hotel, and informed me that it would be 1,000 baht (~$33 USD) for the day’s transportation. In my opinion, this is a great deal because each destination (hotel to elephants to temple to hotel) took ~ 40 minutes. The admission price for the Elephant home is 1,500 baht (~$50 USD), and the temple admission price is 30 baht (~$1 USD), which includes the cable car ride up.

Let’s start with the Maerin Elephant Home. There were four elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary and for the admission price, I was able to roam with, feed, and bathe them! When in Thailand, I highly recommend avoiding places that allow the riding of elephants, as most of these elephants are abused in the process of training to cater to tourism. The Maerin Elephant Home is 100% against elephant riding, performances, tricks, and any method of training or discipline where pain is inflicted to achieve a result. The four female elephants at the sanctuary that day were all rescued (Mo Wa: 50 years, Uthai: 38 years, Mo Khux: 36 years, and Nong Luck: 28 years). I mostly spent the morning with Mo Wa, who is a year into her pregnancy (elephants are pregnant for 2 years).

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Mo Wa: 50 years old and 1 year into pregnancy.

I was able to wash her toenails, feed her, walk with her through the jungle to a river, and then give her a mud bath with a rinse. I did not provide pictures, but I was also able to hug her trunk, climb up on her leg and onto her back (brief), and was easily lifted up by her trunk!

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With the elephants well taken care of, the morning ended with a plate of Pad Thai and local fruit.

After a wonderful time with the elephants and the caregivers at the sanctuary, I was off to Doi Suthep! I paid 30 baht for admission and the cable car ride. There are 309 steps to the top, and I chose to take the cable car up and the steps on the way down. At the top, where the temple is located, you can see all of Chiang Mai. After taking off your shoes, you can enter the temple and view the 79 feet tall gold plated (top to bottom) Monument, or Chedi. This temple is one of the most holy Buddhist sites in Thailand and is a major pilgrimage destination during Buddhist holidays.

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After returning to the hotel, I enjoyed the night life with food and drinks. I will write a separate post about all the food and drinks that were consumed at a later date. As a preview, 3 large beers and seven gin and tonics cost 1,080 (~$34.33 USD) baht at a place called Ratana’s Kitchen, and this was only the second stop of the night! In the next post, I will write about the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar that I did not make it to previously and the Chiang Mai Saturday Night Market. The Saturday Night Market is a market that caters more to the locals and offers better prices for the same foods and items you may see around Chiang Mai. Be happy and safe everyone, until next time!

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Elephant Tax: Mo Wa enjoying her mud bath!

Chiang Mai: Ploen Ruedee

Hello from Krabi!

I am a little bit worn out from the travel yesterday from Chiang Mai to Krabi, but I am happy to be relaxing in my hotel room writing this post. I will hopefully be able to hit the highlights of my stay in Chiang Mai, so if anyone would like to travel there, this post may be of some use. If you have any questions or would like more detailed information, please contact me via email (provided under the contact tab).

My first night I planned to visit the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, but I stopped at the Ploen Ruedee Night Market instead. The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar was a bit further of a walk, but seeing as I was tired, Ploen Ruedee Market was more than fine with me. Ploen Ruedee opens at 6PM and is open until Midnight. This market is set up like a square with many stalls offering delicious foods and drinks. There is always a live band playing in the square, if you want to sit right in front and enjoy a couple of beers. I opted to sit on the benches closer to the food stalls. I personally dislike crowds, but the amount of people in this area was perfect. It was not difficult at all to find a seat. Also walking around Chiang Mai in general did not feel dangerous at all. There were always a good amount of people walking around and the night life was bustling. I apologize for the shakiness, but this short clip is just to give everyone an idea of what it is like walking to and into this market.

 

I am going to provide some pictures with captions in slideshow format of the walk to the night market and the night market/food below.

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Ok, that is it for now. My next post will include elephants and more of the daily life.

Chiang Mai

Hello from Chiang Mai!

If you have had a chance to read my previous blog post, I wrote last about waiting for the check-in line to open for VietJetAir at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. After passing through immigration and, while eating my ham and cheese sandwich, I booked a flight to Chiang Mai through VietJetAir for $55. I booked the flight on my phone, as it was 12:40 AM and everything was closed.

Around 3 AM small places to eat within the airport began to open. I bought a grande Americano from Starbucks and headed to the check-in line. I suggest standing in line 30 minutes prior to check-in opening (counter opened at 4:10 AM), as people begin to line up quickly. At the counter I had to pay the cost of my ticket to check-in my carry on, as it was over the weight limit, but at this point, I was glad to check-in my suitcase.

After passing security, which I was so over at this point (taking my laptop out, removing my jacket, shoes, etc.), I found a deserted section with multiple free seats to lay down (Yes, finally some leg room). After a couple of hours, I hear the call to board. I am so ready at this point to get on the plane that will take me to Chiang Mai within an hour. All I can picture is how amazing it will be to lay in the hotel bed when I finally make it there. To my great dismay, I am walking towards a shuttle bus (I died on the inside just a little). Everyone had to stand close together in the dimly lit shuttle bus, and it seemed like an eternity before we made it to the plane.

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BKK to CNX via VietJetAir, 1 hour flight.

 

 

 

After a one hour plane ride and picking up my checked bag, I was ready to find transportation. Immediately out of the gate, I saw a counter with a sign that said Taxi 1-2 people, 150 baht (~$5 USD). I provided the hotel name and address, and as simple as 1,2,3, I was on my way. There was also a big taxi available for 4-5 people for 250 baht (~$8 USD).

 

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After a 30 minute drive (it felt like less, maybe because I was so glad to be in a automobile as opposed to a plane), I arrived at my hotel (more specific information to be provided in a later post) ready to get into bed for a quick rest. Check-in was not until 2 PM, but after asking if I could check-in early, approximately 5 hours early, they said yes!

After an hour or two of rest, I needed to move around. There are many places to eat, but I found a random neighborhood eatery to eat/drink. I do not even know the name of spot, but it was delicious! I ordered a Chang Beer (Chang means Elephant and this is a common beer in Thailand), pad thai (of course), and a plate of fried morning glory. The total for this meal was 190 baht (~$6.33 USD)

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I am posting this on Dec. 8, 2019, but these are all the activities from the morning to afternoon of Dec. 4, 2019. I am going to go eat some breakfast, so I will stop here for now. I visited a small night market/food court in the area that night, so I will continue my next post from there! Have a safe and happy day everyone!