When Bri and I planned our trip to Thailand, we decided to spend the first part of the trip in hostels and budget hotels and end with something splurgy. Well, two somethings splurgy as it turned out (see Glamping in Thailand post). However, since every fiber of my body rebels against paying exorbitant prices for lodging, we scoured the internet for something that would give us a taste of luxury without the usual painful price tag. Fortunately, most of Asia is a great place to do just that, and when we stumbled upon the Renaissance and saw that it was a great price split two ways, we decided to give it a go and ended up having an incredible experience.
My sister and I arrived in Chiang Mai without any concrete plans, so when a staff member at our hotel suggested attending a cooking class, we didn't need much convincing. Who wouldn't want to learn to cook Thai food in Thailand? The next day we were on a bus headed out of the city to Smile Organic Farm Cooking School for a half day class that quickly became one of the highlights of our trip. If you're headed to Chiang Mai and haven't considered taking a cooking class, give me a chance to convince you...
As some of you know, my sister, Bri, lives in Australia, and this year we decided to have our annual get together in Asia. After a lot of research and indecision, we settled on Thailand and decided to spend some time up north in Chiang Mai, followed by a couple of weeks on the island of Koh Samui. While researching where to stay on Koh Samui, we stumbled across a place called Khwan Beach Resort and were immediately obsessed with the fact that they offer glamping, which is basically super posh camping.
I don't think there are enough descriptors to adequately tell you how incredible the island of Redang is. White sand, clear water - so picture perfect everywhere you look that you get overwhelmed trying to decide what to photograph next.
We were totally intrigued by Singapore. Yes, we're usually into remote places and outdoorsy adventures, but Singapore won us over. Sadly, our stay there was cut short due to our decision to give up our seats on the Japan leg of our flight to Singapore (but yay for earning a ton of mileage points!), so this is definitely not a comprehensive overview of Singapore! Regardless, we want to share ten reasons to visit Singapore, based on what we experienced.
"I can't print your boarding passes, because the flight you booked is not scheduled for another month" the check in attendant announced gravely. It was almost midnight, and we were in the airport in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) waiting for our flight to Cambodia. Prior to this, we'd been trying to print our boarding passes at a self check-in kiosk to no avail. It kept saying, "Invalid check-in time."
I know I've already written about rafting the Marshyangi river for a couple of days while in Nepal last April, but I didn't include any video footage. So here's a taste of our time on the river! Unfortunately, we can't seem to find the footage from when Justin flew out of the raft and got sucked into a "keeper" - it would have been an exciting addition to this compilation, although it was more frightening than exciting at the time!
I know I already wrote about our time in India and included lots of photographs, many of which were architectural in nature, but I couldn't help but post a full collection. India really has some of the most amazing buildings! There are so many beautiful structures that they almost start to strike you as common place. Almost. I didn't feel like including captions describing where each photo was taken (I'm pretty lazy sometimes), but would be happy to tell you if you ask. I will say that these photos were taken at the Taj Mahal, Jaigarh Fort, Jal Mahal, Amer Fort, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, and the Red Fort. Ready to feast your eyes?
Up until India, the fanciest place we'd stayed was a three and a half star hotel in Thailand. However, when I planned our trip to Nepal and India I decided for once we were going to splurge with two days at a luxurious boutique hotel in Delhi called the The Manor. I think some sort of premonition guided me to this decision, because after two weeks of trekking, rafting, a major earthquake, and the chaos of driving around India trying to get in as many sights as possible, The Manor was an extremely welcome end to our trip. This experience was not only relaxing, but also a slightly nerve racking adventure at times because heck - we don't know much about the protocols and expectations of fancy people in fancy places!
Riotous colors, sweeping architecture with an intricacy that has been lost by the modern world, sleek displays of wealth and burgeoning technology. And yet in the same day, images of desperate poverty, a constant scent of manure and sweat, piles of garbage getting trampled down in the street. This extreme juxtaposition will remain my greatest impression of India. What a country. It has it all - both good and bad - and managed to flood me with almost every emotion. Wonder, fear, sadness, helplessness, anger, excitement.