Tag Archives: Thailand

Flashback Friday – Sept. 6, 2004

I love people’s #FBF (Flashback Friday) and #TBT (Throwback Thursday) Instagram posts, so I thought it might be fun to do a flashback blog once in a while when the dates line up!

It just so happens that nine years ago on September 6 Kelly and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime to backpack Australia and Thailand.

We were both 20-years-old and had been dating for over a year. We had been excitedly planning, scrimping, and saving for the months leading up to it.

Our plans were simple: see the sights, enjoy the beaches, and not work!


Four flights and many hours later, we landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to complete culture shock. We stayed long enough to see the Petronas Twin Towers, ride scary public transit and relax by the pool.

We then hopped on another plane to Brisbane, Australia where we promptly shuttled to Surfers Paradise to start our three month holiday (the maximum amount of time you could stay without a visa).

We only stayed in Surfers for a couple days then flew north for the heat before bussing our way south. We spent time in Cairns, Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest, Mission Beach, Magnetic Island, Airlie Beach, and Surfers Paradise. We finished off the Australia leg with six weeks in Manly Beach, a suburb of Sydney.


Manly’s slogan is, “Seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care”. It is the perfect description for the seaside town.

We climbed a mountain in the rainforest, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, saw wild kangaroos on our runs and wild koalas on hikes, hitchhiked with a milkman, went to the Indy races in Surfers Paradise, toured the Whitsunday Islands and swam with giant sting-rays, and spent days exploring Sydney and its surrounding beaches.


We said farewell to Australia ready for another adventure in Thailand where we visited Bangkok, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Phuket. We fell in love with the Thai culture and people and the pristine beaches.


Kelly’s family flew to Asia to meet us in Phuket for Christmas where we were spoiled with great company and a five-star resort!

Unfortunately it all came crashing down on Dec. 26 when the deadly tsumani struck Southeast Asia. Miraculously Kelly’s family flew north that morning and left the island just before it hit. Kelly and I moved beaches that morning and as fate would have it were walking to the beach from our hotel, which was perched on a huge hill.

The next couple days were simultaneously heart-breaking and terrifying.  The Thai people’s kindness and heart were unwavering. We got off the island and made it home five days later.

The trip was absolutely the coolest adventure we’ve been on. We had some of the best memories of our lives and also the worst.

Every year since from September to December, I occasionally pull out my journal and reminisce about where we were and what we were doing.

Every year on December 26, I think of all the people who lost their lives, family members, and everything they had. It’s a sobering thought.

But, today and most other days, I remember our adventure together, the amazing places and memories, and smile!

Have you ever been on a backpacking or cross-country trip? 

Thailand highlights – Koh Samui

Koh Samui is an island in the Gulf of Thailand with powdery white sand and emerald waters. It has high-class resorts, cheap hotels catering to backpackers, and everything in between.

We have great memories from this place in 2004 and were beyond excited when we landed at the picturesque airport.

We checked into the gorgeous Amari Palm Reef on Chaweng Beach and walked along the beach to our favourite restaurant to see if it would still live up to its reputation. It did, and we ended up eating three meals there before forcing ourselves to try something different!


Chaweng Beach is the most popular on the island, and also the most beautiful. When we first got our feet sandy, it truly felt like we landed in paradise.


One phrase you often hear in Thailand is same same, but different. It describes a lot but mostly shopping and the offerings at the markets. For us, it accurately portrayed our nine days on the island!


We fell into an amazing routine: wake early and workout; go for a huge buffet breakfast overlooking the ocean; head to the beach to read, nap, play in the ocean, and perhaps sea kayak; shower and get ready for the evening; eat a delicious dinner (possibly with your toes in the sand); walk around for a few hours bartering at the markets, stopping for delicious dessert or tropical drinks. Sleep and repeat.

Although people could argue you could do that anywhere so why fly so far, I can’t explain it well enough to do Samui justice. I’ll try.


We ran outside a few times and laughed each time. The humidity was intense, and it is a hilly place! We ran along the road, taking in the palm trees, stray dogs, speeding tour bus drivers, and odd smells. (Unfortunately my knee bothered me a bit, so I took some days off running there.)

I tried swimming in the ocean one day. But Kelly thought it would be funny to hum the Jaws theme before I went out. It didn’t make for a long or good swim, as I kept popping my head up to survey the scene!

Resort breakfasts

A huge buffet breakfast was included with our room. The food was amazing. But even better was the adorable Thai workers. All the little ladies were so cute and friendly. The ocean views didn’t hurt either.


Beach time

Chaweng Beach is seriously gorgeous. We applied SPF 50 (and reapplied multiple times throughout the day) and stayed out for hours, moving between the shade, the water, and the sun.

Beach hawkers can be annoying but on Koh Samui, they weren’t at all. Kelly befriended a few of them buying silk blankets, beer and water, and daily ice cream for me.


They weren’t the only things Kelly befriended. He made many furry friends, too! He’d buy the stray dogs various treats each day and always make time to give them some pets.


We rented a double kayak a few times and had a blast venturing out on the water.



There is no shortage of restaurants and variety on Chaweng Beach. All the beachfront hotels put chairs and tables right out on the beach for a meal with ambience.


There are countless delicious restaurants on the main street as well, giving you a great spot to people watch. And then there are the carts.


If you like fresh seafood, there is no shortage on this island! They throw all their fresh catches on ice out front so people can choose exactly what they want to eat.

We had many memorable meals.

Evening action

Chaweng Beach also has quite a night life. Walking down the main street, there are constant reminders of the places you can go. Advertising trucks drive up and down, announcing various bars and of course Thai boxing.


There are tons of markets and shops selling anything and everything. There are also many massage parlors. I went for frequent foot massages and one Thai massage.

One night we went to a lady-boy burlesque show. They were gorgeous and performed really well. We had a blast!


Extra activities

We weren’t total beach bums the entire stay on Samui. One day Kelly agreed to go on an elephant trek in the jungle to appease me. We didn’t get a chance to do it on our last visit to Thailand, and it’s been on my bucket list ever since!


We hopped on a songthaew (truck with seats in the back) and went to an elephant trekking place. We hopped on Sarah and I enjoyed the ride and then feeding her plantains and sugar cane! From there, we visited a beautiful waterfall.


Another day we went to Wat Phra Wai, better known as Big Buddha. This Buddha is 15m high but leaves a lasting impression with the ocean and sky backdrop.

Lastly, we spent another day visiting a couple other beaches: Crystal Bay and Lamai Beach.


I truly hope that someone intervenes with the damage that occurs daily on the beach. If you walk early in the morning or late at night, there is a lot of litter left out that eventually gets swept into the ocean. One night Kelly picked up over 10 empty water bottles sitting on the shore. Luckily it still appears clean but that is bound to change if nothing is done.

Thailand is truly a magical place. I can’t express how warm and kind the Thai people are. Their culture is peaceful and simply makes you calm, happy, and appreciative. I hope that if we go back in the next decade, the island is still naturally pristine.

Our time on Samui was reenergizing, so much fun, and a great way to cap off Thailand!  I’m so glad we were chilled out there, as I don’t think we relaxed once during our two weeks in China.

Up next…adventures in Beijing!

Sorry for the longest blog post ever. 

What is your favourite island? 

Thailand highlights – Pattaya

Pattaya is only a couple hours drive from Bangkok, so we added it on when we had a couple extra days in the region but didn’t want to travel too far.


It was our first time visiting, and most likely our last. The sexual exploitation of Thai women made me really sad. (I realize Thailand is well-known for its prostitution; however, it isn’t nearly as apparent in other places. And you don’t see men treating women like objects as you do here.) Also, due to its proximity to Bangkok and some factories between the two places, there is quite a bit of smog and pollution in the air and water.

With that being said, we still made the best of it and really enjoyed ourselves! We stuck to our resort for two of the three days and totally chilled out.


We stayed in another Amari, the Orchid Pattaya, and were upgraded to an incredible suite.


The living room in our suite!

In the evenings we would venture out for amazing dinners, foot massages, people-watching, and sight-seeing. One of our highlights was a concert promoting young, local bands. Young Thai girls can really rock!


(Another highlight had to be the pancake machine at our hotel!)

I also love the hustle bustle. The streets were super busy with people.  The roads were always busy with traffic- cars, trucks, carts carrying food or other goods (like shoes!), scooters, you name it!


One of our more interesting adventures was an early morning run. It was the day after Valentine’s Day, so the bars must have been in full swing the night before. We ended up running down Walking Street, which is popular for its many clubs. The people still drinking combined with other sights and smells made us feel like we stumbled into the twilight zone! Too bad I didn’t carry a camera with me!

Although it’s not really a family place at all, there is still a lot to do for couples or families. There are many tourist attractions in and around Pattaya, including a Tiger Zoo where you can get your photos taken with tigers, island day trips, and various parks and gardens.

Pattaya also hosts famed tennis and golf tournaments.


After our three days were up, we headed back to the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok to hit the pristine beaches of Koh Samui, which was the highlight of Thailand for me by far!

On holidays, do you typically spend a lot of time at a resort or venture out?

Typically we rarely spend time at our hotel or resort. It was kind of nice to do it here!

Thailand highlights – Bangkok

Thailand is a majestic country. The culture, the friendly people, the postcard perfect beauty, the food, and the weather all combine to make it an ideal vacation destination.  Oh, and it’s affordable and safe too.


We spent 16 days there and visited three places: Bangkok, Pattaya, and Koh Samui.


I’ve heard Bangkok referred to as the city of temples, tuk-tuks, and temptation. It’s a pretty accurate description!

We got there late at night. I had been sick on the airplane ride(s) so was more than ready for a comfortable bed and solid sleep.

We checked into the beautiful Amari Watergate hotel in the heart of the Pratunam neighbourhood, which is famous for its numerous shopping bazaars. (I would highly recommend this hotel, and all in the Amari chain.)

I promptly fell asleep! Thankfully we woke up refreshed and ready to explore the city.

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

I had forgotten the overwhelming sensations of Thailand from the noisy and endless streams of traffic to the potent smells simmering on the street carts to the colourful sites and the stickiness of the heat and humidity. It is overwhelming at the beginning! After just one day, you start to get used to it.


Here are a few tourist hot-spots we visited in our three days in the city.

Khaosan Road

We visited Khaosan Road, which is a backpackers haven. It’s full of hostels and cheap hotels, restaurants and bars, and markets with cheap clothing. At night it really comes to life.

Grand Palace

We walked from Khaosan Road to the Grand Palace and the Amulet Markets.

It was insanely hot (+39 but +49 with the humidity) and we threw on our pants to meet the clothing restrictions.

The Grand Palace is a spectacular landmark built in the late 1700s. For 150 years, members of the royal family lived in the intricately and ornately detailed complex.


We took our time walking around, snapping photos, and taking it all in. I also had the chance to talk to young Thai students who were stopping tourists to help with their English. They were precious!


Wat Pho

After the Grand Palace we headed to Wat Pho, better known as the Reclining Buddha.


It is the largest temple in Bangkok and has a huge reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf. It was simply breathtaking. Despite the crowds, it is a very peaceful place.

Siam Square

After a tuk-tuk ride back to the hotel, we showered and headed to Siam Square. The malls are plentiful and full of expensive designer stores. It has high end restaurants and bars, along with food courts and other cheap eats.

Patpong Road

Patpong is known as a red-light district, but they also have a fun night market. We ended our first day there, scoping out the wares and not the various strip bars offering sex shows. We left fairly early while it was still tame!

Wat Arun

Our second full day was equally as busy with a ferry ride and visit to Wat Arun.

Wat Arun

It is an ancient temple ornately made with mosaics of Chinese porcelain. I was amazed at how people built it so long ago!

Wat Arun1


Everywhere you walk there is shopping, whether in malls, warehouse markets, or street markets. The markets sell everything you can think of including designer knock-off handbags, clothing of all sorts, Thai silk, watches, shoes, beautiful artwork, weapons, and even sex toys.

We hit the Pratunam Markets and an enormous wholesale mall near our hotel.

At the end of our Thailand trip, we had one more day in Bangkok. We walked for hours and literally could have shopped the entire day, as there were stalls and markets set up everywhere.


Another ‘shopping’ feature is all the roadside food stands. There is an abundance of them, ranging from fresh fruit and fruit juices to smelly meats and seafood!


Although tempted to eat some of the fruit, the only thing I eat from the carts is the delicious, made-to-order crepes. Heavenly!

Other sites

On our last trip to Thailand, we visited the famous Floating Markets just outside of Bangkok, saw a cobra show, and visited handicraft markets. I would highly recommend floating markets!

Bangkok is a pretty incredible city. I’m sure you could stay for days and still not see everything. However, it’s also tiring. After a couple days, I was eager to leave the big city.


Up next…Pattaya and Koh Samui!

What do you love most about a big city? What’s your favourite big city 

Home from the holidays

From the beaches of Thailand, to the Great Wall of China, to the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, our trip was absolutely incredible.


We were gone for 32 days, stayed in seven places, went from +39 degrees Celsius (49 with humidity in Bangkok) to -15 (Great Wall of China near Beijing), ate too much food, and experienced a lot of culture!


We got back late Thursday so luckily had the weekend to do laundry, get the house in order, and catch up on sleep before heading back to work after five weeks off.

And of course, pour all our love onto this guy that we missed so much!


I’ll do a few recaps of our trip, but for now I just wanted to pop in and say hi!

I’m sure this week will be a busy one getting back into the swing of things at work and doing my best to {smartly} pick up training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, which is now less than 14 weeks away!

What are some highlights from your life when I was away?


Bon Voyage!

We’re super excited to go on our adventure! We’re leaving a little earlier than originally planned and are flying out Sunday morning.


Packing wasn’t easy, but it’s done. We’re gone for almost five weeks. And we’ll be going from +36 degree weather to potentially as cold as -10 degrees. It was tough to pack for three different climates! It’s safe to say I’ll be wearing the same clothes often!

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 3.50.48 PM

Saying goodbye to this face for that long won’t be easy either. At least we know he’s well taken care of by Kelly’s parents and my parents.



I just wanted to stop in and say sawatdee kha and ni hao (hello) before we head out. I probably won’t post much, if at all, while we’re away. I have a couple of posts set to publish but that’s it.

I’ll miss reading your blogs and keeping up to date with your lives! Enjoy your month, stay healthy, and run happy!