Cats, when I needed them most.

Cats, when I needed them most.

The plan this morning was to scope out the gym, drop off laundry and then visit the Cat Cafe. After a quick workout, I walked about 1.5 miles to a laundrymat I found on Google maps. It didn’t show hours online, but I assumed at 9:30am it would be open. I was wrong, it opened at 10am, so I hung out for a bit. Once open, I was told that the earliest it could be done was tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, that would be cutting it too close with my flight tomorrow so I decided I would just walk to the cat cafe and hope to see another laundry mat on the way. In Chiang Mai they were on every corner. Well, this isn’t Chiang Mai. My load was getting too heavy since I had my laptop, camera and a full second backpack of laundry and I was almost to the cafe. The cafe was supposed to be right here, or was it here? I walked in circles for about 20 minutes trying to find my way. I stopped into places where I thought they could direct me but I got no where. Just as I was about to give up I saw the sign for it, but on the second floor of this building. My search then became how to get up to the second floor. I could not find a staircase anywhere. I was starting to think this was a secret place for locals only, or, that it recently closed for good. I was starting to get really hot and my multiple backpacks weren’t helping. It seemed I wouldn’t be going to this cat cafe, so went to choice two, which was further. I took a cab over there, but got there are 11am and it didn’t open until noon. Here we go again. 🙂

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Bangkok, an unlikely unicorn.

Bangkok, an unlikely unicorn.

I’m serious when I say I changed my hostel to a homestay based on it’s proximity to the Unicorn Cafe. It’s this cafe that is covered in unicorns from head to toe and I must go there. So naturally, after I landed in dropped my bag off and immediately walked over to the cafe. I think if I went to there everyday I’d be a very happy person…. and also maybe get diabetes.  I ordered rainbow waffles, a unicorn cupcake and a hot chocolate. Of course, it wasn’t all for me…I was sharing with my unicorn friends 😉

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If you can’t beat em, join em.

If you can’t beat em, join em.

One day on Phi Phi Islands, what to do? I considered diving, but my ferry didn’t land until 11am and honestly I didn’t’ know if I felt like rushing and diving. I also knew where I was staying was a “party hostel” and I figured the best way to sleep at a party hostel was to avoid sleeping at a party hostel. So, I signed up for their booze cruise. The island government recently changed their booze cruise rules so it limited where you can drink. I figured this worked in my favor, as it would limit how crazy it would get. They also had a rule that if you lost your cup you can’t drink any more (to save on plastic) which I think is a fabulous rule.

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To where everyone told me not to go: Phuket.

Today I ran the perimeter of the Chiang Mai old city (I always try to run on travel days) and then hopped on a plane to Phuket, the place that almost everyone told me to cut from my itinerary. Instead of cutting, I changed my day trip to Phi Phi to an overnight trip, that turned out to be a very good decision which you can read about in my next post.

Landing in Phuket I opted to take a group shuttle into Patong beach where I was staying. It was only 150 Baht ($3) for an hour long drive. Well, how could I forget, you get what you pay for. After waiting for 30 minutes to make sure the van was packed full, we finally took off. We made a stop after 15 minutes at travel agency to “verify” our hotels. AKA to try and sell us tours which thank goodness no one fell for and we were on our way after 20 minutes. From there it was a 2 hour drive since it included dropping others off. The good news is that I was riding shot gun, had access to a charger and the driver was playing early 2000’s R&B hits.

It’s true what I was told, Patong is like Jersey Shore for Russians. Lots of young men in tank tops and older men in Speedos drinking on the beach. At night it turns into what I can best explain as the Las Vegas strip. You want bottle service amongst a techno DJ? You got it! You want to see a strip show for the cheap price of $30 a beer? Done! There were promoters on every corner offering you a deal to get into their club. To be honest, I probably would have had fun if I was with a group of my girlfriends and didn’t have a 7am wake up call.

Instead, I went and found some food, walked around and then packed a bag for my trip to Phi Phi tomorrow. I decided to not mess around with my large backpack for just one night. My carry on bag wasn’t very small, but I tried to cram in everything I thought I’d need. Mainly, a swimsuit, sunscreen and pajamas. Then, I climbed into bed (this hostel has the privacy curtain so it was like my own dark movie theater) and fell asleep watching Outlanders.

Ying and Yang.. in more ways than one.

Ying and Yang.. in more ways than one.

Today I visited the Ying and Yang of temples (black and white), pretty ironic since I thought the experience was both good and bad. The trip also included a hot spring, blue temple and a Karen Tribe village visit. The temples were all pretty new, all built within the last 20 years. They certainly were beautiful, but the short stops, over commercialization and the large amounts of tourists negatively impacted my experience. You may find the following recap to reflect that, so I apologize. I did find some good things on the tour, but if I had the choice, I wouldn’t have visited these again, so just want to be honest!

Hot Spring

We pulled up and I was thinking, this can’t be it. It was just like any other market area in Chiang Mai but with a fountain in the middle of it. The fountain was the hot spring. People would pay to put their feet in. It could have very well been water coming out of the city pipes, it didn’t look natural at all. The coolest thing about this place is that they would sell eggs in baskets that you could cook in the hot water. The stop was only 15 minutes, after an 1.5 hour long drive that was pretty short, but there wasn’t really much else to do here unless you wanted to buy souvenirs.

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Elephant Kisses, not Elephant Rides.

Elephant Kisses, not Elephant Rides.

I eagerly woke this morning knowing what was in store for the day, hanging out with elephants! First, was an hour and a half van ride to the North. In the van we watched a video on the history of the Elephant Nature Park which included some heart wrenching videos of elephant mistreatment. They torture these creatures to get them to do things for us, just for our entertainment (riding, circuses, street begging, etc.). I’m glad people are talking about it more and refusing to partake in riding elephants, without demand the bad businesses will hopefully die out.

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Muy Thai and Pad Thai.

Muy Thai and Pad Thai.

The plan for today was to go to a Muy Thai gym and take a class. The class wasn’t until 2pm so first I went on a hunt for Pad Thai. So far, I’ve had Pad Thai everyday, it’s my favorite at home so while here I’m on a mission to find the best ever. To date, there is one clear winner. A storefront on the main square, conveniently close to me.

Today I chose a restaurant near the gym. There were a lot of locals eating there so I figured it was good. I tried to take note of how to order. It seemed they wrote down what they wanted on a piece of paper and then sat down and waited for it. I must have stood out, because a lady came over before I had a chance and handed me a menu while pointing me to a table.

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After lunch I headed up to the gym which was on the second floor and was an open air room. The gym was super nice and I was a bit intimidated by all the people dressed more reasonably than I was, in boxing shorts. They told me to start running so I and one guy from France (who was living in the city to master the sport) began running laps. I had told them I’ve boxed before, but it was evident that I still needed instruction. My instructor, Nam, taught me the basic stance, proper techniques and then we began a 2 hour workout.

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The best part of the day was when Nam (who had been sort of teasing at me all day) grabbed a soccer ball and asked me to try and take it from him. I laughed in my head, knowing what was about to go down. I quickly stole the ball, nutmegged him and then told him to try and win it back. He gave it a good effort but was unsuccessful, and I was glad that I made up for some of the boxing I was lacking.

I attempted to watch the sunset on this rooftop bar but for some reason they were closed. Just didn’t feel like opening today I guess. It seems to be the trend on my travels that I miss a lot of sunrises and sunsets. Oh well, I was going to hang out with elephants the next morning!