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Pai is a small city about three hours north of Chiang Mai. We read and heard many great things about Pai, so we didn’t want to miss out!  Unfortunately, the road to Pai is not for the faint of heart.  The 135 kilometer road had 762 curves in it! The driver we had seemed to think he was driving a Ferrari not a minibus filled with ten people. Drew and I were the last ones to get picked up, therefore sat in the way back where we could really appreciate just how windy the road was (ick!). We both departed the minibus feeling pretty shaken, incredibly sweaty and quite nauseous, BUT neither of us puked, so that is one small victory we can celebrate!



A cold drink, some food, and the tranquility of Pai soon soothed our trembling hands and we were able to enjoy ourselves.  We decided to stray from the “main attractions” of Pai and instead hide away at a local fish farm. Beung Pai Farm is surrounded by rice fields, mountains, and the buzzing of nature.  Our hut walked directly out onto a dock over the pond.


IMG_2842 fish pond

The pond was full of HUGE, well-fed fish.  The reason we chose this resort was because of the fishing option.  We were not disappointed : ) When fishing we were encouraged to use “bait balls”. It was basically a large egg sized ball of mush packed around a hook.


bait bals

Drew caught the first fish. It was a giant sucker fish of some sort! I had a hard time helping with netting it because it was so big!


got one big sucker

I caught the next one, but this guy was a big ole catfish-looking thing! And I really didn’t “catch” it because I could only reel it in part of the way….that thing was big and strong!



The rest of the time was spent blogging by the pond, watching the fish feed on top of the water, and enjoying our first cool nights in a while. It was 95 degrees during the day, but at night it got down into the lower 60s. It was so nice to be able to snuggle up under blankets for a change!



The ride back was as terrible as we expected, but luckily we sat in the front and our driver went a little easier around the curves. We are back in Chiang Mai now before we head off to the next country. Thailand is very touristy, therefore really easy to navigate, safe, and comfortable. So many people spoke English, most signs were in English, internet access was everywhere, western toilets were the norm, and transportation was fast/efficient. But, we experienced a lot of new things as well: awesome food, haggling, tuk-tuks, “Thai Tummy”, beautiful islands, temples, and the say-what-they think, but kind Thai people.  Thailand gets a thumbs up from us!!

Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park

The Elephant Nature Park has been on our radar for months! We considered volunteering for a week, staying overnight to visit for two days, and then finally settled upon doing a day visit. This was not by choice, but due to the fact that they were booked basically until May. This fact helped get us really excited for what ENP had to offer….if that many people want to do it, then it must be awesome!

During the 45 minute drive there we watched a video that gave the history of the park, info about basic elephant behavior and safety rules. Here’s what we learned:

1.) Stay behind the red line when feeding the elephants!
feeding elephants
2.) If you don’t have food please stand next to the elephant, not if front of it.
3.) Never touch an elephant when you are behind it…especially if the elephant is “Donald Trunk”
4.) Watch out for their active trunks!
donald trunk
5.) Selfies are okay as long as you are vigilant 🙂
6.) Elephants love to get wet…just watch out because they have a much bigger hose.
bath time
7.) Elephants like to hang around their herd.
8.) Elephants need lots of room to roam.
9.) Baby elephants are the CUTEST!!
10.) After 50 years of forced labor & abuse elephants adjust well to a life of peace and quiet.
11.) Elephants have patches of course hair all over their body.
tough skin
12.) They still like to show off sometimes.
show off
13.) They love the mud!
14.) Elephants are wise creatures that deserve our protection, respect and love!!!
wise up close

This was an experience that Drew and I will never forget!!! Getting to be up close and personal with these amazing creatures was hopefully NOT a once in a lifetime chance. We’d both love to do that again and would recommend it to anyone! Warning: not every elephant park is a “sanctuary” do your research and choose wisely.

Watch this video of an up close and personal elephant experience:
Elephant encounters

We leave tomorrow for a smaller village 3 hours from Chiang Mai. Pai is the name of the village and it is supposed to have a more tranquil feeling than the bustling streets of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a small city PACKED with guesthouses, massage places, restaurants, outdoor markets, travelers, and temples. Our guesthouse was located inside the Old Walled City, so we were able to walk to just about everything we might need or want to do. Upon our arrival we decided to wander the city awhile to get a general feel for it. It was a short 1.5 hour journey due to the fact that it was 95 degrees, but we were able to enjoy a delicious mango/strawberry smoothie and a peanut butter & Nutella pancake for the street vendors. Many of the street vendors had their station connected directly on the side of their motorbike…we didn’t see any of them driving around like that, but I’m sure it would be quite the spectacle!

street venders

As I mentioned before Chiang Mai has a lot of temples. The pagodas are situated throughout the city and the first thing you see is usually a large golden peak. The temples are similar in that they are all beautiful, they have many ornate decorations, their names are hard to remember and they are covered in gold, elephants, dragons & Buddhas.

temple fat buddha

But, my favorite one was old and crusty: Wat Chedi Luang. This temple has obviously been inactive for quite some time, but it was fun to imagine how magnificent it was 100s of years ago.

old temple old temple

The largest and most popular temple is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. It is situated on top of a hill overlooking Chiang Mai. The journey itself consisted of a 30 minute taxi ride (“taxi” being the back of a pickup with bench seats and a cover) up the steep hill and then walk up 100 or so steps to reach it. There were numerous pagodas filled with statues or shrines, mini prayer rooms, beautiful flowering bushes/trees, and one giant pagoda made of gold. It was impressive to say the least!

doi suthep doi suthep steps up to Doi Suthep

doi suthep doi suthep doi suthep

The temples themselves were powerful symbols of the Buddhist religion. Unfortunately, we did not get the same feeling when viewing the Monks. More often than not we saw monks or novices (monks in training) doing very “unmonk-like” things. One monk was loudly talking on his cell phone inside the temple. Another one, while in the middle of blessing a woman, pulled out his wallet to give his lunch order to another man. At one of the last temples we visited Drew and I were happy to finally see and hear a monk praying in the temple. Only to realize that his keys and cell phone were laying on the altar not 6 inches from him. Maybe our perception of what a monk does is incorrect, but needless to say we weren’t expecting to see these things. I did a little research and it seems like the Thai monks are having a difficult time finding a balance between tradition and the temptations of the 21st century. Seems accurate to us!

Drew and I went to three outdoor markets while in Chiang Mai: the Night Bazaar, the Sunday Walking Market, and a night food market that may or may not have a specific name. All of the markets are similar in that they are packed with people, filled with color & energy, the air emits delicious smells from the food stands, and things are cheap, cheap, cheap! Fortunately, we have no real need for more crap, so we mostly walked away from these adventures with full bellies and massaged feet. : )

night market

Here are some of the different street foods we tried:
*Shrimp & pork dumplings- the shrimp were 10x better, but both were good
*Pork Satays with peanut sauce- dipping anything in peanut sauce is a great idea
*Passion Fruit Pops- a delectable frozen treat that will pucker your taste buds
*Mangos & Sticky Rice – we always opt out of the sticky rice because that means more mangos!
*Banana Pancakes – basically a yummy crepe filled with bananas and covered in caramel, or peanut butter, or Nutella or a combo
*Seafood Fried Biscuits – so hot that you can’t really taste them and so small that there wasn’t really that much seafood in them…we will probably pass on them next time
*Cake donuts – they were sugared and still warm…what more could you ask for?

We are Chiang Mai for one more day, but will be using that time to visit ELEPHANTS just outside of the city. SO EXCITED : )


Phuket was never really on our list of islands to visit in Thailand, but the necessity of an airport pushed us in that direction. We were going to avoid that area because it is very popular, therefore very touristy. After five days in the Phuket area we figured out why it was so popular: THE BEACHES!!! Wow, Wow, Wow. Our first stop was Karon Beach: The sand was powdery, the water was incredibly clear, the ocean floor was rock-free, and the beaches seemed to go on forever!! There were people everywhere, but still plenty of room to find a spot for yourself.

karon beach karon beach karon beach

Pretty sunsets too.

sunset on karon sunset parasail karon sunset

It’s easy to forget about adventuring out when you have so much beauty at your fingertips. Not to mention that it was Drew’s turn to get sick : ( So while he laid in bed I went to the beach. Luckily for him we figured out that A/C was completely necessary whenever we weren’t directly on the beach, so he could rest well without sweating to death.

solo swim

A few more things to note about Karon. First, it is supposedly the “family” beach area versus Patong which is the “party” beach. While it is true that we did see many more families around, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to bring a child (or multiple children) to this place. The odds of a kid getting run over in this city are about 60%, with the other 40% being sheer luck. Like other places we have been the traffic here is ridiculous. Nobody abides by the lane lines. Motor bikes zip around cars like traffic cones. The cars don’t care if the motor bikes are there, they will move over whenever they want without concern. Let’s just say that even crossing the road was an adventure and riding in a tuk tuk (cab) was downright crazy.

The second thing to note about Karon (but I suspect it is the same in all of Phuket) is the daredevil Parasailing people. I’m not talking about the tourists that went parasailing; I’m talking about the INSANE operators of said parasail. The video will do it justice, but these guys hang on to the parasail ropes and pull themselves up to stand on the ropes and steer above the tourist who is strapped in. Mind you that they are 200 – 250 feet in the air and aren’t harnessed into anything. They are just standing and holding onto the parachute lines. If this were America they would have been shut down after the first 30 minutes. CRAZY.


The last thing to note is a “new” massage technique that we witnessed. That is what it was called, but it really was more of a foot/leg exfoliation. Anywho, most massage places in Karon had tanks of teeny-tiny fish that people dangled their feet/lower legs into. These fish would then eat the dead skin from their feet, leaving them soft and smooth. Audi and I have yet to try this, but it is on the list.

After three days in Karon we moved farther north to NaiYang which is close to the airport and in a national park. This area of Phuket promised fewer people and a slower pace than southern Phuket. The description was right on the mark, yet still offered the most amazing beach! The weather was glorious so we were able to adventure up and down the beach to see which swimming area was the best. Rough life….

stud in nai yang naiyang

naiyang floating

Walk, swim, walk, swim, eat mangoes, walk, swim, watch the sunset, eat dinner…repeat. Absolutely, delightful!!!!

sunset naiyang

Drew and I won’t be having anymore beach adventures again until we get to Bali (get ready Amber & Reid!). We couldn’t be happier to have had all this time to relax and enjoy the wonders of the ocean : ) We’re off to Chiang Mai next!

Koh Yao Noi

Koh Yao Noi was recommend to us by the resort owner in Koh Jum, Maat. We’ve been doing our best to avoid the areas that are overrun with tourists and he assured us that this island would accommodate this request, while kicking up the action level just a bit. In order to get there we had to take a longtail boat out to meet the ferry, ferry to Krabi, taxi from one Krabi pier to the other, take a longtail ride across the water to Koh Yao Noi (a beautiful ride with islands everywhere!), and then taxi again to our lodging, Pyramid Bungalows. This all may seem a bit hectic, but really it was absolutely smooth and easy!

ride to koh yao noi ride to koh yao noi

Koh Yao Noi had many more options for food, lodging, and beaches. There is one main, paved road that runs around the perimeter of the island and you can easily get a taxi to take you wherever you need. We appreciated having a little more mobility and a slightly different change of pace.

Our bungalow was as simple as you can get, but we weren’t complaining at all. Drew and I have found A/C and hot showers to be completely unnecessary during our stay so far. We get by just fine as long as there is a mosquito net, a fan, and windows to let in the cool, ocean breeze. Once at our bungalow we marched across the road to check out our view. BEAUTIFUL! This island has one of the best views of the southern Thai islands.

view at koh yao noi

The sunset on the other side of the island, but we were able to enjoy the sunrises for the next few days!

sunrise at koh yao noi more sunrise sunrise

We stayed at these bungalows for a few nights and spent these days getting to know the island, walking the beaches, trying out different foods, reading on the beach and soaking in paradise.

Speaking of paradise….Drew and I decided to do a serious upgrade in honor of our Anniversary on February 22nd. For three nights we stayed at the secluded Paradise Resort at the north end of the island. After a bumpy, 45 minute ride through rice paddies, and jungle we arrived at “Paradise”. Our room was spectacular with a super comfortable bed (Thailand is not known for them), a lovely outdoor seating area, and best of all an outdoor shower!

anniversary drink on a boat



80% of our time was luxuriously spent on beach beds. The view was awesome, the water was as warm as a bath, and the food was delicious!

paradise beach paradise

Things got a little crazy once we figured out happy hour ended at 6:00. Awesome resort, but definitely not the prices we were used to paying elsewhere in Thailand.

happy hour

The tide on Koh Yao Noi was like Jekyll and Hyde. High tide offered gorgeous stripes of sand and calm blue/green water. Whereas low tide showed a barren wasteland of rocks. It was a crazy phenomenon that Drew and I have both witnessed before, but not to this extreme! High and low tide sometimes had 800 meter differences.

Here is the beach at high tide:

high tide

And here it is at low tide (the man behind the guitar is Tiger the musical entertainment for the night):

low tide

After reluctantly checking out at Paradise our taxi driver informed us that he has a bungalow we could rent with wifi in the room….we were sold! We needed to make some arrangements for our upcoming travel, call family, and just connect with the online world for a bit. The bungalow was inconveniently located, had dinosaur sheets, and many lizard friends, but as promised the internet was super fast.


Drew’s birthday landed on what would have been our third night at the bungalow, but unfortunately, I got sick and NEEDED air conditioning to help fight the clammy sweats induced by my bowels. We moved to a resort that offered A/C and a better location, so Drew could go out and enjoy his bday!! HAPPY 35th BIRTHDAY, DREW!!!!!! Sorry for being sick : ( Luckily, our new location made it simple for him to walk down the beach to get a birthday massage!

In all we spent a little over a week in Koh Yao Noi. It was mostly fantastic and I would recommend this island to anyone!! Now we are headed to the Phuket area to give Drew a little belated birthday gift of Scuba Diving. Yeah!

Koh Jum – The Last Fisher- Day 5

Monkeys and Ice Cream

On our last full day on Koh Jum we decided to take a walk on the inside of the island. We had heard that there was a little village about 1 km from our resort so we decided to go and see what there was to see. As we knew well in South America, time and distance are always longer than described. Apparently we thought SE Asia would be different; turns out it is not. The “1 km” walk was full of heat and hills. By the time we arrived at what we thought was the village Autumn and I were dripping sweat. A quick look around at the half a dozen businesses and houses told us that there was nothing more we needed to see and it was time for a dip in the ocean. Yesterday we had lunch at a nice resort right on Aosi Beach; a fate would have it there were signs from the “village” to Aosi Resort. 300 meters later we entered the resort’s entrance at the top of the hill (versus the beach entrance). We descended the many steps to arrive on the beach for a much needed swim.

Refreshed we headed back up the stairs to take the “short” walk back to our resort, the Last Fisher. Since both Autumn and I have a competitive streak, neither one of us acknowledged our exhaustion at the top of the hill and starting marching down the road. As luck would have it we were stopped 25 steps later at the sound of rustling in the underbrush. A moment later a large family of monkeys went running and swinging away from us and across the road we were on. We estimate that there were around 30 in all, some big, some small, and lots of medium sized ones. We didn’t lose sight of all of them, 3 brave (or just hungry) monkeys stayed by the base of a tree and kept right on eating the fruit they had brought down. Needless to say we were treated to quite a show! When we were in Colombia we had seen plenty of monkeys, but they were various levels of tame. This was the first time we have seen wild monkeys in the wild. Very cool!

After that hard-to-beat sight we headed toward the main road in the village, intent on getting back to our resort to swim and then get out of the sun. One of the stores we passed in the village had opened up in the hour and a half since we had passed through so we decided to treat ourselves to a little ice cream. Not a bad way to spend a day!

After spending the balance of the afternoon reading, we took in the last of our sunsets from Koh Jum. Tomorrow it is off to Koh Yao Noi.

Koh Jum – The Last Fisher- Days 2-4

These last few days have been a beach bum’s dream! After our first night in a hut near the bar we were moved to a nicer bungalow 8 steps from the beach. The other upgrades included a shower with water streaming out of a coconut, sassy knock-off Disney character towels, and a hammock outside our door. Between early morning stretching on the beach (Broke-back, not Autumn), and evening dinners at the beach restaurant we filled our days with adventures, swimming, snorkeling, reading and all-around enjoying.

Morning stretching Holding court in front of the Bungalow

On our second day here Drew decided to venture up the beach, over the rocks to a beach that was suggested to him by another guest. He understood the journey to be much shorter and easier than it actually was. Equipped with his iPod, sunglasses, hat and flip-flops he set off only to return 3.5 hours later a sweaty, thirsty mess. The beach was quite nice, but the water was just as rocky as the water outside of our bungalow. Since he didn’t have money with him he could only swim as relief from the heat.

Due to the timing of his departure he got to see a great example of tidal changes…

Low tide Tides going up

After dinner we took a walk down the beach to enjoy the beautiful stars. Unfortunately, when we upgraded bungalows we did not upgrade beds. Thailand offers large beds, but they definitely lack in comfort!

Day three I decided to join Drew to explore the area down the beach (opposite of the way Drew went yesterday). We could see the beach, Long Beach, from where we were staying. It looked to be quite far away, but we had time, so we decided to go for it! We had to a do a little bit of maneuvering over rock mounds, but for the most part we were able to walk on the beach. On the way we saw a few fun beach restaurants and put them in the back of our minds for later.

Due to the fact that it was 95 degrees and not a cloud in the sky we had to stop at Magic Beach on our way for a quick swim and snorkel. The water was really clear and the ocean floor was very sandy, but there weren’t many sea creatures to see. It was a beautiful beach without many people at all.

Magic Beach

We packed up and moved on towards the point of Long Beach. Drew and I really got to understand why it got its name… is a seriously looooong beach! Our hike brought us past many resorts and people enjoying the clear/calm waters. I still wouldn’t call the beach busy, but that’s probably because it is so long. When we finally made it the “point” of the beach we decided to say we conquered Long Beach even though the beach wrapped around the point and kept going for who knows how long!

After swimming at numerous points on our way back down the beach (it was so hot we HAD to swim frequently) we stopped at a restaurant with an awesome view of Long Beach.

Lunch spot on Aosi Beach

Drew and I left there prepared for a little rock maneuvering once again, only to find out that the tide had come in. Therefore, we weren’t really just going over a few rocks. The next 45 minutes consisted of us full on rock climbing over these huge, wet, boulders. Let’s just say we got a great workout in!!

Day four we really needed to take it easy. We didn’t want to push Drew’s back with more crazy rock climbing and my ginger skin was demanding a break from the sun! Drew went to a beachside hut to get an authentic Thai massage. He said it was good, but not the best massage he’s ever had. But, I bet it was the best massage he’s ever gotten for $14 (we think the price was so high because it was at a resort)!!!!

We feel ridiculously fortunate to be able to sit back and enjoy our time here. There is no work being done, no to-do lists, and we don’t have a clue what day of the week it is much less what time it is! We eat when we are hungry, sleep when we are tired, and fill our time as we please.

On that note here are some more sunset photos….. : )

Drew and I plan to stay at these bungalows for 1 or 2 more nights. Then, we will pack up and move on to the next island!

Koh Jum – The Last Fisher – Day 1

After the touristy activities of Ao Nang, we decided a change of scenery was in order. After doing a substantial amount of research last night we decided on going to the island of Koh Jum. Koh Jum is a pretty good sized island on the way to Ko Lanta. Our goal was to find a small bungalow on the beach to chill out for 4-5 days with no car traffic and as few people as we could reasonably expect to see. Mission accomplished.

Our morning started off with us meeting a small truck with benches in the truck bed and a cover over the top. We were passengers 6 and 7 of what would be 15 passengers and their luggage. Not a lot of space, but it did the job on the 6 mile ride to the ferry pier. When we arrived at the pier we jumped in line with the other 100 or so people that were headed to Ko Lanta. Those of us that were headed to Koh Jum were told to wait over to the side while everyone else boarded. As it turns out, our luggage was stored in a different spot from everyone else’s as we were due to get off before Ko Lanta. Autumn found a seat inside the lower deck of the boat and shut her eyes for a little nap while we were motoring. I, on the other hand, headed out to the back deck of the boat and found a great spot where I could sit on the edge, hang my feet over the side. I could rest my arms on the railing, soak in the sun, and take some pictures of our journey.

The view from the ferry Ferry to Koh Jum view

At around the 1 hour mark of our journey one of the boat ferry workers gathered those of us headed to Koh Jum and instructed us to grab our bags and make our way to the back deck. Instead of heading towards shore to dock at a pier, we were met by 5 long-tail boats out on the water and were told which boat to get into based on our resort. This definitely is a first for me; a mid-ocean transfer to a smaller boat to take us directly to our resort. Very cool!

The long-tail boat transfer

Our resort, The Last Fisher, is a quaint little resort with 10 small cabanas right on the beach; EXACTLY what we were looking for. Nothing fancy, a little hut 20 steps from the beach, running water, flushing western toilets, and a mosquito net around the bed. Perfect.

Our bungalow bed

On the same beach there are 2 other resorts (one in either direction) that offer more luxurious rooms at a much higher price, but not many other differences. I’m pretty sure we win. Since this is a budget trip, we are definitely price conscious which is why the $20/night price for our hut suited us just fine! We are going to stay for 5 nights, do lots of thawing out from being in Minnesota, relax, snorkel, fish, and enjoy the peace and quiet.

After checking in to the room we quickly changed into our bathing suits and took a walk on the beach. The eventful day to this point, along with a hammock on the beach was the perfect combination for a nap!

As Autumn mentioned in a previous post, we are definitely big fans of sunsets. We were treated to a spectacular sunset from our beach chairs and then it was off to dinner (20 ft away) for some delicious Thai shrimp and Thai beef.

Day one is in the books and we couldn’t be happier with our decision. On to day 2!!!

Ao Nang – Thailand

Ao Nang Day 1:

Let me start by saying that the southern part of Thailand really is a magical place. Drew and I went from Minnesota’s snowy, cloudy, and cold weather to the 95 degree, insanely sunny, and gorgeous weather of Ao Nang Beach! It’s easy to get a little dazed and confused when you have been traveling and even sometimes forget where you are. But, once we walked out of our hotel we were immediately reminded of our location by the blue ocean and towering islands poking us in the eye.

The Islands Audi and the peninsula

We decided to take advantage of the beach right outside our hotel for day one. Drew and I did this knowing that it wasn’t even close to one of the top beaches in Thailand. Honestly, we were pretty damn impressed and more than happy to soak in the sun, walk the long beach, sit at a beachside restaurant, watch the many long-tail boats ferrying people to/from the beach, and best of all….people watch! Thailand’s beaches draw many different tourists and locals. It’s fun laying in the sand and trying to figure out each persons’ story just by how they look, dress, speak, act, etc. It is usually pretty easy to rule out North Americans when the men are wearing speedos or the women are sunbathing topless!

Sunsets have become a favorite of ours, so I apologize in advance for the number of sunset pictures that will turn up in our posts J But, there aren’t many things that can beat sitting by the ocean, drink in hand, and watching the sky change to fifty different shades of awesome!

Food: Ao Nang is a little too touristy for the food to be uber authentic, but we did have some great Pad Thai (twice…I know…I know…think outside of the box, Autumn…well…shut it….I love Pad Thai!). We will be in Thailand just under 4 weeks, so we will have plenty of opportunities to try new dishes.

Day 1 was your typical lazy tourist day. Tomorrow we are going to be active tourists and visit a few of the surrounding islands. Yea!


Ao Nang Day 2:

Drew and I booked a tour to visit Hong Island and a few other smaller islands. We were driven to another beach with a bunch people waiting for their tours. Unfortunately, the first 45 minutes consisted of waiting for more people to arrive, angry Russians throwing fits, and disorganization. Once we boarded the boat, with the 18 others, things smoothed out!

Chaos before the tour Some tour boats

Traveling by boat is one of our favorite forms of transportation. The islands of Thailand were a spectacle to see! The islands up close were very cool, but it was also fun to see the foggy islands layered in the background.

Our first stop on the tour was a small beach with a couple of groups of people. Drew and I swam away from the crowded beach towards a split rock wall to get some peace and quiet and some nice pictures.

Up next was Hong Lagoon. We entered through a narrow entrance that only allows passage during high tide. The walls of the cliffs surrounding the lagoon were covered with drippy stalactites. The water was only about waist deep, so we were able to get out and walk around. Beautiful!

Then, we boated around the other side of the island to Koh Hong Beach. This lovely place was where we had lunch and started our kayaking adventure. The beach was gorgeous, but packed, so we decided to get in a kayak and go!

Drew and I decided that kayaking is really the way to see Thailand. The water is beautiful and the sea life is probably abundant, but who wants to have their head in the water when there is so much beauty rising out of the ocean! We paddled around the entire island and had the best hour of the day in that kayak. Seeing the rocky cliffs covered in vegetation and stalactites was definitely a highlight. Getting away from the crowds was just an added benefit!

Kayaking around Hong Island Another Hong Island shotTaking in the sights!

The boat ride back was relaxing and we made it just in time for a quick shower before sunset. : )

Tomorrow we NEED to get away from tourist central, so we are headed to the quiet island of Koh Jum!!!

24 hours in Shanghai

While booking our travels to Thailand, Autumn had the great suggestion to make a stop in Shanghai. This would allow us a break up in the trip, get some sleep, and see the city. As is standard with her, it was great advice. We landed in Shanghai in the evening on Feb 10th, taxied to the Sheraton and pretty much fell onto the bed and to sleep. With me not sleeping on the plane and Autumn only getting a few minutes here and there we were both exhausted. Fortunately for us we could fall asleep and wake up in the morning on Shanghai time. No real jet lag to speak of. I fear that when our travels take us back home things are not going to be so easy.

The morning of the 11th we woke up, enjoyed breakfast in the Club lounge and then caught a taxi to Yu Gardens to begin our exploring. We were aware that we were arriving two days after Chinese New Year and had heard Shanghai might be a lot quieter than normal due to this. The concierge confirmed this, however, he mentioned that Yu Gardens would be busy.

Yu Garden crowd

Yu Gardens itself was not what I was expecting. I guess I took the name too literally. To be clear it is not a garden or open area. That said, it is a wonderfully beautiful and busy mix of traditional Chinese buildings and open spaces with shops, tea houses, and restaurants. We had a great time taking pictures of the architecture and the different scenes that were displayed in honor of the New Year.

chinese new year  CNY

pretty decorations CNY

From Yu Gardens we walked to the Huangpu River and then north along the walkway to The Bund. I’m not exactly sure we actually spent any time in The Bund, but we really enjoyed the view along the river and all of the great people watching. Actually, Autumn and I became the star in a number of people’s photos. Some people were discreet, others less so. One woman asked Autumn (in Mandarin) if she could take a picture with her. As we have learned a smile and a yes nod is universal. The lady got a nice picture with the Lady Autumn and we got a funny story out of it. A little bit further into our walk a 4ish year old boy was very brave and told us “Hello” in English. We responded “Hello” and he smiled broadly and ran to catch up to his parents. Very cute!

the Bund Looking over the river

We couldn’t figure out if it was foggy or smoggy….the sun came out later that day and to help us verify that the ominous haze was smog.  🙁 Unfortunate, but we would still go back.

Although our time was quite short, we loved the experience and feel like this is a primer for the next few months!