Bangkok

July 16th – July 21st, 2016

July 16: Our overnight bus was supposed to drop us off in Bangkok at 6AM, but it got in early… at 4AM. It was still dark and there was nothing around except extremely annoying taxi drivers. I was very sleepy and quite annoyed. Eventually we figured out that we were pretty close to Khao San Road where there was a 24 hour McDonalds. I had a burger for breakfast with all the drunk people and we just waited around for a couple hours. Eventually we took a taxi to our hotel with hopes of being able to check in early, but instead they said to come back at 2PM… approximately EIGHT hours later. Sigh. At least we were able to drop our bags off though.

So then we went to Chatuchak weekend market. One of the largest markets in the world. It has EVERYTHING, like new and used clothes, snacks, art, (possibly endangered) animals and fish…

Best way to kill time in Thailand: massages!!

Finally we could check in to our hotel. I can’t remember what else we did that evening but I’m pretty sure I was asleep by 8PM.

July 17: We took a taxi to Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. This market is much smaller than the one tourists normally go to, but it’s way closer and way more relaxed. There were a few people selling things from boats, but most of the market was food stands on the land part. I saw tons of things I have never even heard of. It was really hot though and I don’t have much appetite when I’m overheated, so we didn’t actually try that much. I did enjoy my passion fruit slime over soda and ice very much though.

We also took a 20 baht boat ride around the area, paddled by a funny Thai man (see above lilypad hat). It’s too bad we couldn’t understand him because it seemed like he was giving A LOT of info about the area. It was still a nice relaxing tour though. It was by far the cheapest boat tour I’ve ever been on (about $0.75!).

That night we went out for boat noodles. These are very small bowls of noodles for 10ish baht each ($0.37). People have competitions to see who can eat the most bowls. I had 4.

July 18: Shopping day!! We went to Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and MBK mall. We thought we might buy phones but chickened out. Actually I don’t think we bought much at all, just did a lot of browsing. That night I got the most vigorous Thai massage of the trip. She really worked my muscles. I decided it was like someone else foam rolling you for you. I did feel pretty great afterwards, once the torture was finished.

July 19: Temple day. It was Asalha Puja (a Buddhist holiday) so the temples were extra busy. We went to a few. There was singing, praying, sermons etc. At Wat Po you could also pay for a zodiac candle that you throw into a melting pot and then ladle a scoop into the gigantic candle mold. You could also line up to get patted on the head by a monk with a wooden stick brush thingy. We did that.

Coke in a bag after overheating in Chinatown. I don’t drink Coke very often but that was dang refreshing.

That night I planned dinner at a nice fancy restaurant a short cab ride away from our hotel as a treat for our anniversary (on the 14th). But pretty sure our cab driver ripped us off, and then dinner ended up costing twice as much as I expected, and then no cab would use the meter on the way home so we had to walk. Didn’t end up as fun as I had hoped.

July 20: Our last day of Bangkok, Thailand, and vacation. We did last minute shopping at Platinum Fashion Mall and Central World. We got jeans and t-shirts, and gifts for the nieces and nephews. Then we saw the BFG… what a nice movie.

That night we went to one of the open air restaurants near our hotel that was always filled with locals. I had minced chicken with morning glory and a fried egg, and sticky rice. Scott had papaya salad (duh). Really nice and really cheap.

And then we went for one final Thai massage, at the vigorous place. It was great.

July 21: Relaxed morning and then packed our bags to fly home. :'(

I really enjoyed Bangkok this time. I have been there a few times before but this time we really crammed in a lot of fun activities and it ended up being really great. Plus it seemed easier to do things? I’m not sure if it’s because the city has changed or I am just less young/inexperienced. But yeah for the most part it was way easier to get taxis, directions, information, and use public transit, and I don’t think we really got scammed at all either. Success!

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Ko Samui and Ko Phangan

July 2nd – July 16th, 2016

Perhaps I was a bit ambitious trying to get all the way from Berlin to Phuket, and then Phuket to Ko Samui (by land/boat) all in one continuous trip. It ended up being a VERY long trip.

  1. metro and bus to the airport (0.75 hr)
  2. fly to Cologne (1 hr)
  3. fly to Phuket (12 hr)
  4. go through immigrations (2 hr)
  5. airport bus to bus station #1 (1.5 hr)
  6. truck to bus station #2 (0.25 hr)
  7. bus to Surat Thani (4 hr)
  8. bus to ferry terminal (1 hr)
  9. ferry to Ko Samui (2 hr)
  10. taxi to hotel (0.75 hr)

Total: 25.25 hours. Yeah… a bit much with all those steps. At least it was cheap?!

But we made it to the fancy boutique hotel in Lamai in time for my 30th birthday the next day. Birthday morning I got woken up by Scott grabbing my foot from the door and yelling “THERE’S ONLY 15 MINUTES OF BREAKFAST LEFT!!”. What a wakeup.

The breakfast was amazing. Breakfast each day started with fresh juice and a platter of fruit (mango, watermelon, dragon fruit etc.), then pastries and pancakes with amazing homemade jams (passionfruit, raspberry, lemon etc.) and ham and cheese slices. Then they would make you an omelette or plain eggs with bacon or potatoes.

We got a much needed post-Camino foot scrub, and then I went for a fancy birthday massage on the hotel rooftop. We lazed around in the pool/beach/AC all day, with Scott making me a new cocktail he invented: The Belt Buckle (passionfruit nectar and champagne).

We had dinner at the hotel. We shared papaya salad, and Scott had satay (which we later realized has quite a bit of coconut milk in it and is therefore on the banned list) and I had a chicken and cashew dish. It was all nice but the best part was that Scott had organized an amazing chocolate birthday cake for dessert. It was SO GOOD. Then after dinner the hotel people surprised us with one of those giant paper lanterns to set off. Pretty sure it’s still flying to this day.

After a few days at the fancy hotel we moved on to Chaweng. We went to the beach every day to swim and read. There was a lady on the beach selling chilled mango and teeny tiny bananas. The mangoes were SOOOOO good, I never used to like them that much but now I can’t get enough.

Scott got a foot massage that made his baby toe turn purple and swell up. Bahaha. We took a break from massages for a bit after that.

One of the highlights of Ko Samui was taking a cooking course. It was so well organized, and we learned a lot about the ingredients. The actual cooking part took about 1 minute per dish in the super hot woks. We made shrimp salad, panang curry paste, panang curry, and pad see ew with pork. I liked the panang the most.

Ko Samui was a bit too city for my liking so the next day we took the ferry to Haad Rin on Ko Phangan. We purposely avoided going during full moon, so there weren’t many people around, and the beach was lovely.

One day we went on a snorkelling trip around the north part of Ko Phangan. It was cloudy and windy, so the snorkelling wasn’t life changing, but it was still nice to get out. There were lots of different types of colourful fish. And we saw monkeys on the drive back! They were sitting up on the power lines. V cool.

Haad Rin was nice but it got a bit noisy at night, so we moved onwards to Ban Tai. We found an awesome shack restaurant that was super cheap and delicious, and our hotel had a very nice pool, so we were set for a few more days.

Favourite foods at the moment:

  • Mango shakes. Pretty much daily.
  • Mango crepe. With nutella and condensed milk.
  • Papaya salad. This was one of the only foods that Scott could eat in Thailand, since almost everything else was fried, or made with coconut milk. Good thing it’s a delicious dish.
  • Spicy fruit salad. This was the other thing that Scott could eat. It had dragon fruit, pineapple, apple, tomato, green beans, shredded carrot and peanuts in a chili fish sauce sauce.

There was also a night market that we could walk to that had all sorts of cheap food stands. Scott was able to eat bbq chicken skewers and I had things like curry puffs, samosas and spring rolls.

After a few days of relaxation in Ban Thai we continued on to Bangkok via ferry and bus.

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Rostock and Berlin

June 28th – July 1st, 2016

For some reason every single hotel, hostel and AirBnb in Berlin was booked for 2 out of 3 nights we wanted to stay, so we had to come up with a new plan. Instead we decided to kill a couple nights in Rostock, Germany.

There wasn’t a whole lot to do there but at least our AirBnb was nice and the internet strong. It rained a lot. We had a nice dinner in the big square, at a restaurant that actually had stuff that Scott could eat. I played a lot of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, and we watched the one DVD the host had in her flat… Shrek.

In an attempt to maximize what we could see in Berlin in one day, we decided to finally take one of those hop-on-hop-off tourist buses that we had seen in every single other city in Europe.

It ended up being a terrible idea because the bus moved so slowly, stopped all the time for very long periods, and the commentary was pretty awful. Plus you couldn’t even see stuff that well since you’re so far away. Sigh. It ended up taking almost 4 hours to do the circuit that was supposed to take 2. Won’t be doing that again!

Once we finally got off the bus we went to Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial. It’s such a unique monument. At least we got to see that close up.

And then after that we met up with Daniel (Erb), who I used to work with at the Queen Vic Market. We had Turkish food, then went to a humongous beer garden that was showing the Euro. It was great catching up with him again. He loves living in Berlin!

And that was that for Europe! The next morning we started the journey to Thailand, our last country of the trip.

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Lund and Copenhagen

June 24th – June 28th, 2016

It was a bit of an ordeal getting to Lund, Sweden, due to a broken train track combined with a holiday weekend. We waited 5ever in Malmö for the replacement bus that never showed. Finally a very nice Swedish girl offered to let us share her cab, since she was going to be getting reimbursed anyway, so we finally made it to Lund, many hours late.

We found Sarah, and then got ready to go to a Midsummer party at her friends’ place. Lund is a university town, so there are a lot of students, from all over the world. We ate, drank, played games, jumped on the trampoline until the sun finally started going down (2 AMish?) and then caught the bus (yay public services!) back to Sarah’s dorm. It wasn’t long until the sun was already starting to come up again (4 AMish)!

Sarah took us around on a walking tour of Lund. I especially liked the fancy clock in the cathedral. It gives all sorts of information about dates and astrological signs, and other things that we couldn’t figure out. It does a cuckoo clock thingy too but we weren’t there at the right time.

I couldn’t visit Sweden without having a smørrebrød!

It was fun hanging out with Sarah. We marathoned the entire latest season of Game of Thrones so Scott could catch up and Sarah could watch the last episode. We cooked weird meals with all the things she had left in her food supply since she was leaving in a week. We went to sweet Swedish parks with hammocks and outdoor gym equipment and parkour structures. I tried Kalles Kaviar, new types of candy and ciders. We did NOT try surströmming, sorry.

We did a day trip to Copenhagen one day.

We went to a very hip street food market that I had seen on TV. I had a salad wrap where the wrap was made out of egg. We went to the Danish National Museum which was really cool (and free!) but only had time to look at the viking and medieval stuff before it closed. I would want to go back some day because I think there is a whole floor dedicated to Lego!

We took the bus (free with intercity bus ticket!) to the mermaid statue because we are tourists. There were a lot of people there. It reminds me of the girl in a wetsuit statue in Vancouver, although apparently that artist doesn’t think they are similar.

Copenhagen was cool but everything was SO EXPENSIVE! I tried to get over it, because YOLO, but it wasn’t easy! I liked the very photogenic canals, and that there is an amusement park right in the city. They also have the healthiest 7-11 I have ever seen, so many salads!!

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Holland and Neumünster

Our last couple weeks in Europe were a whirlwind of visiting people we hadn’t seen in ages. It was tiring going from place to place so quickly but I’m glad we got to see so many friends and family.

June 18th – June 24th, 2016

We took the bus to Zwijndrect, Holland to visit Mirjam and Kees. Mirjam was my mom’s penpal for a long long time. I visited her 10 years before when I was on exchange in Maastricht too.

We did a big tourist day around their area. We went to Rotterdam and walked around a lot. We looked at the cube houses, ate raw herring at the new market building, had warm stroopwafels, took a boat cruise around the harbour, and more.

After dinner we went for another nice walk around Kinderdijk. It was nice to chat and get some pretty pictures.

The next day it rained so hard. We went to Den Haag so Scott could vote in the Australian election (it’s mandatory!) and watched a lot of English TV, a treat after many weeks of everything dubbed.

We went to the Escher museum the morning morning. I remembered loving it 10 years before. It was still awesome, but the virtual reality thingy wasn’t working!! Noooo, that was the best part!!

Then Scott’s uncle and aunt picked us up and we drove (across the country ;)) to Kampen to see their daughter who just had twins. Scott hadn’t seen his uncle Frank in like 20 years, so they had a lot to talk about! I heard lots of interesting stories, although it’s hard to keep track of who is who since the Jorna family is so large. The twins were mega cute, and it was cool hearing about Rhiannon and Johan’s life in the Caribbean (they were just in Holland for a few weeks to have the babies).

The next day we took the bus and train to Neumünster, Germany to see my aunt and uncle, and my cousin Isabel. The last time I saw Isabel she was 3, and now she is in university!! Everyone was so nice and they organized a very nice couple days for us. They showed us all around the area, including the outlet mall, the lake, an amazing cake cafe, and we went to my uncle’s brother’s house for a delicious German BBQ feast.

My aunt told us lots of stories about my mom, and gave me a bunch of old pictures of mom and all the sisters. It was really nice. We tried our best to convince Isabel to come to Australia on a working holiday visa some day!

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