day fifty-nine: november 27, 2015: chiang mai to phuket

We said goodbye to Chiang Mai and made our way to Phuket, where we booked a sailing trip over the next couple of days with our best friends, Hajime and Maily. Jonathan found Charter Catamarans after a lot of google searching online. Bob, an Australian who now lives in Thailand, owns the business and was very easy to work with and extremely helpful. He coordinated everything for us including the hotel the night before setting sail and also the airport transfers. 

day sixty: november 28, 2015:

We boarded our new home, a catamaran named Oasis, and started our 5 day/4 night sail around Phang Nga Bay with our captain, Bao, and our cook, Nong. 

Not too long after boarding the boat, we made our first stop at Ko Hae (Coral Island). Bao started tossing over pieces of bread into the water and there were dozens of fish coming up to the surface. Maily and I were happy observing from a good distance but the boys had bananas to the feed to the fish and it was just so cool to see all the fish swarm around them just to get what they could. We then made our way to Ko Racha Yai further south for some more snorkeling, fish feeding and to spend the night.

Previous to the trip, the weather forecasts had worried us, with forecasted thunderstorms the entire time we were to be on the boat. We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to dodge the rain most of the time and we were even treated to some awesome sunsets and sunrises.

On our first night we discovered that Nong was an incredible cook. That night we had tom yum soup, green curry and a squid dish. This meal set the stage for the rest of the trip. Let's just say, that we looked forward to every time Nong would yell KIN KAO!!! which means the food is ready in Thai.

day sixty-one: november 29, 2015:

Jonathan doesn't like to miss a sunrise, so he set his alarm bright and early for just before 6AM. It's always easier to watch the sunrise when all you  have to do is poke your head out a hatch in the ceiling of your room to see if it's worth getting up for. 

From Ko Racha Yai we headed north to Ko Mai Thon for some more snorkeling. The seas were rough in the morning as the winds were blowing one direction and the tides moving in the opposite direction. I was laying on the nets in the front of the catamaran and got tossed by a wave and soaked in the process. The same wave went straight into the hatch above our room sadly soaking our bed. Thankfully, we were able to easily dry them as we sailed during the day.

Next, we headed to Koh Khai Nok next to its sister island Ko Kaynock, sometimes referred to as Egg Island. This island is the end of many day tours and Bao told us that in high season sometimes there are so many people on its beach that you can barely see the sand from a distance. We hooked up to a buoy off the shore of Koh Khai Nok where there was a small restaurant. We set off in the kayaks to get to shore. We decided to call this couple's disaster island. As we came ashore, Jonathan jumped out of the kayak and tried to help me out. The water began to rush back out and a small wave overturned the kayak throwing me into the sand. Not a very pleasant experience, but we made it ashore! Hajime and Maily had a similar experience. After having some drinks and snacks we went to launch our kayaks. Thankfully we made it out safely. Hajime and Maily, however, didn't have such luck. As they launched into the water the boat turned parallel to the beach and flipped again and Maily got soaked and their GoPro went straight to the bottom. Thankfully, Bao saw they had lost something and as soon as we made it back to the boat he jumped in the kayak and paddled over to help them. After beaching his kayak he found the GoPro without a problem. Not sure how it was able to find it so quickly, but maybe that's what makes him the captain.

We headed a little further for safe harbor to spend the night off the coast of Ko Yao Yai.

day sixty-two: november 30, 2015:

In the morning we sailed around the north end of Ko Yao Yai and headed thru the channel between Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi toward Ko Hong. Ko Hong has an enclosed lagoon on its north side. We hooked up to a buoy immediately outside the entry into the lagoon. After some short snorkeling, we got into the kayaks and decided to explore.

More excellent food from Nong. This time fresh spring rolls and pad see ew and salad.

To the right of the entry to the lagoon is a small beach with a explorable cave area. Bao lead the way and we climbed up into a small opening that came out above the beach. Pretty cool! 

After some more snorkeling, Jonathan climbed up some hanging ladders and jumped from the cliffs above. After his attempts, some more tourist boats showed up and a whole crew of people started climbing and jumping. One guy climbed very high up above the end of the ladder and did a very graceful slow backflip. Another captain asked Bao where he was headed and he told him where we had been that day and our next stop. The other captain asked, "Why so many places?" and Bao replied "Why not?" Awesome response!

On our way to Railay Beach (our stop for the night), we stopped at Ko Poda for some more snorkeling and fish feeding.

At Railay we enjoyed another great sunset and more amazing food from Nong. After dinner Bao took us ashore for a few hours. We sat on the beach and enjoyed some beers and snacks.

Tonight's dinner was soup, a squid dish and two chicken dishes.

day sixty-three: december 1, 2015: railay beach to koh phi phi

Today was Jonathan's birthday and Maily made this sweet sign for the boat! We woke up just after sunrise and watched fishermen drive their long tail boat in circles, casting their nets and repeatedly slapping the surface of the water to stun the fish and drive them into their trap. Below is a video that Maily took. Make sure you listen for Hajime's commentary! Its worth it. Bao called them over and we traded some ice cold water bottles for a few fresh fish for lunch!

Fresh egg omelettes filled with veggies and sausage was for breakfast today.

After breakfast we boarded the dingy and headed ashore to take a peek at Diamond Cave. On the way we came across some local monkeys just hanging out and chewing on electrical lines. The cave was actually more impressive than we had expected. You could also hear and see bats hanging out on the roof of the cave.

Today we discovered that the boat had a shade that could be set up. This was quite a relief for Hajime's lobster red body.

We made our way to Chicken and Tupa Island to check out a sand bar, only visible at low tide. It was pretty cool to walk across, until you realized that you had to walk the whole length back -- walking in water near waist deep is a lot harder and tiring that you think!

Today's lunch was fried fish cakes, a squid dish and fried rice.

We made another short snorkeling stop at two small islands Ko Po Da Nok and Ko Khom.

Our next stop was Bamboo Island, where Nong warned us that there would be a lot of Chinese tourists. And literally, the second that we walked onto the beach, Hajime said that it felt like we just walked to China. Everyone there was 98% Chinese, all taking pictures laying in the sand, women in coordinated outfits with matching scarves, people buried in sand and everyone laughing because of the body parts they made out of thought we would join in on the fun and take some pictures of our own. Who knew that Bamboo Island was going to be so fun to people watch!

We made our way to Koh Phi Phi, which was our last night with Hajime and Maily and Nong made some of the best pork tenderloin we ever had. We were also treated to a nice partial rainbow and sunset.


We spent the rest of the night playing Settlers of Catan -- which I won both times, whohooo! Then, laid out on the nets and just talking until the early morning.

day sixty-four: december 2, 2015: koh phi phi to phuket

Our last sunrise on the boat was awesome. We shared one last delicious meal of khao tom (rice porridge) with shrimp with Hajime and Maily, before leaving them at Koh Phi Phi. We were super bummed to see them go but know we'll see them soon!


Jonathan and I continued on to Phuket with Nong and Bao for the next four hours...and even got to see a few dolphins in the distance. 

day sixty-five: december 3, 2015: phuket to lombok

Jonathan and I spent the night at Ao Chalong Resort and relaxed by the pool before heading out the next morning to Lombok, Indonesia. Another full day of travel thanks to Jonathan's flight booking skills.



day fifty-eight: november 26, 2015: doi suthep + waterfall + thai thanksgiving

We headed up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with Kristina, hoping for a nice view over Chiang Mai because it was hazy when we were there the last time. We caught a songthaew, red pick up truck taxi, for 50 baht a person to the temple, just outside the North Gate. 

Because its one of the most famous temples in the area, there were a ton of people and it quickly became a little overwhelming. 



day fifty-seven: november 25, 2015: yee peng loy krathong festival

We had lunch at Dash! again and ended up chatting with the chef of the restaurant. Noi grew up in Chiang Mai but moved to the states and went to culinary school there. Then, came back to Chiang Mai, built this beautiful teakhouse that her son owns and manages the restaurant out of. Jonathan said it was the best khao soi he's ever tasted and my phad thai was pretty yummy too! Noi even made us these awesome apple pie rolls with vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel sauce. YUM! We wished we could have stayed longer but had to make our way to the lantern festival, but we did make reservations to spend Thanksgiving with her at Dash.


day fifty-five cont'd: november 23, 2015: chiang mai

We took a short flight to Chiang Mai and immediately headed over to our favorite restaurant there. I thought it would be closed, but sure enough we got there at about 10:45pm and they were still open! Jonathan had his khao soi and I ordered garlic and pepper pork and were so happy that everything tasted just the way we remembered!

While wandering around the night bazaar we happened upon a small lot with food stalls and live music. Last year, if we remembered correctly, this was an abandoned lot. It was a pleasant surprise, so we stopped and had a drink and listened to some music.

The streets were pretty quiet that night, but all the decorations in preparation for the festivities over the next three days were up.

day fifty-six: november 24, 2015: chiang mai

We spent most of the day catching up with Carina, a friend of mine from high school, who also worked at TOMS. She's had her own adventure through Southeast Asia, back again for round two and heading off to work in Brisbane for a bit. It's crazy how easily you can feel at home with friends even if you're half way across the world.

Off of Carina's recommendation, I went to Khunka Massage for an hour Thai massage and it was THE best. She definitely worked by back and told me many times to relax buut it was so good. If you find yourself in Chiang Mai, definitely go here. It was 250 baht for a Thai massage and 600 baht for an oil massage.

Jonathan wandered around the old city and I met up with him at Wat Phantao after my massage.

We met up with Carina and Kristina for dinner at Dash! Teakhouse Restaurant and Bar in the southeast corner of the old city. It was this beautiful teakhouse tucked away in the back streets, which a friendly staff and amazing food. 

We made our way to Wat Phan Tao to watch a pre-ceremony for the Yi Peng Loy Krathong Festival. 

The night was filled with meditation, candles, and colorful lanterns. We walked over to the river to check our more of the festivities and released our own krathong, which are floating objects made of banana leaves, flowers, a candle, and incense sticks. The festival is to celebrate the good and wash away any misfortunes. 

We had to stop and get a snack on the way. Nothing like fresh rotee with banana, cheese and condensed milk!


day fifty-five: november 23, 2015: grand palace + wat pho

Before catching a flight to Chiang Mai, we spent the day exploring the Grand Palace and Wat Pho with Kristina.

Urai and Taya told us to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds and the heat. We took a boat up the Chao Phraya River to the Grand Palace. If you go, don't wear a tank top or shorts. There is a very strict dress code and they have clothes for rent, if you don't meet the guidelines. You are required to leave a 200 baht deposit, which is returned when we return the clothes. 

The Grand Palace consists of a number of different buildings, halls, pavilions and the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. Once you enter the grounds, it was not hard to get sensory overload, in a good way. There was amazing architecture and detail everywhere you looked. 

Along the periphery of areas of the complex were extremely detailed paintings depicting the story of Rama.

We walked over to Wat Pho, which houses one of the largest indoor reclining Buddhas. And, WOW. It was gi-normous! This image of the reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations. The statue is 45 feet high and 138 feet long.

After a relaxed lunch at the Deck by the River, we took a cab back to our hotel to pick up our bags and headed to the airport.