The Best of Thailand

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As you can tell from my Instagram, I spent my holidays in Thailand. I saved up all my vacation days for this end of the year trip so I was pretty excited to get out of the states for a while. It was especially timely considering the state of our country post-election.

I always feel so refreshed traveling. Even though it does make me uncomfortable at times I come back home with a new perspective. This trip really got me thinking about what it would be like to live abroad in a country where you do not understand the language, culture and often the values are totally different than yours. I had a lot of time to think on the beach ūüôā

I spent my time in Thailand in 3 different places: Bangkok, K0h Phayam and Sam Roi Yot. All places were unique and delicious in their own way. ūüôā I have broken down all the food in one section and then all the places I visited in another.

THE FOOD–

Thai is absolutely, hands down my favorite cuisine. If I had to pick just 1 dish, I would have Prawn Tom Yum Soup with Noodles forever. So spicy, lemony and the seafood really tops it off. Who knew breakfast could be so spicy ?

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Wish I could tell you what restaurant this was from but it was SO GOOD. Fried squid, fried rice and Pad Kee Mao all for a grand total of $6. I wish good food were this affordable in the states.

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Here’s another variation of Pad Kee Mao. Everyone makes it a little differently. Another name for it is Drunken Noodles. This infamous Thai dish was invented by someone with a bad hangover. He added everything he had in his kitchen to a wok and viola, out came Drunken noodles–or so the legend goes.IMG_6047.jpg

We also got whole fishies! They were SO fresh and SO cheap! This whole fish, beer and sticky rice was $12 for 2 people.

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and now for street food/market food:

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Squid and Shrimp?

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Deep Fried Squid Balls

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‚̧ Coconut Ice Cream ūüôā¬†

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Meat on a Stick at Chatuchuk Market- YUM

And of course, there was also drinking… Beer, coffee, Thai tea and more ūüôā¬†IMG_5941.jpg

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So food was a highlight of the trip. ūüôā

But when we weren’t eating and lazying on the beach here are some of the places we visited.

PLACES TO GO–

Chatuchak Market: 
If you missed the real food memo, you can find some fake food at a stall at Chatuchak market. Not sure why¬†you would need this but if you need ANYTHING, Chatuchak market has it. It may take 2 days to find what you are looking for as you wind through the labyrinth of the market aisles but the huge¬†array of goods is¬†quite amazing. You can find anything from china wear, fast fashion shoe and clothes stalls, restaurants, pet “adoption” stalls, stationary and soap stalls, as well as fresh food/fish vendors.IMG_5922.jpg

The Grand Palace/Temples in BKK:
If you are in BKK you should definitely visit at least one of the temples. If you have to choose try The Grand Palace. It’s so grand and ornate that its difficult to compare to other temples. PSA: if you go to the temples, make sure you wear conservative clothes. Pants and covered shoulders are advised. When we were visiting, it was a few months after the death of Thailand’s¬†beloved King so most visitors wore black to mourn his passing.

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Jim Thompson House in BKK:
In BKK you can visit the former home of Jim Thompson who was known to have started the Thai silk industry after WWII. The home is converted into a museum where you can see his vast collection of art. There is a tour if you are interested in walking through.

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Spinning Silk

 

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Dyed Silk

Koh Phayam:
Koh Phayam is a small island off the Western coast of mainland Thailand. This island is a very special place. It’s super distinct from one side to the other and offers both a romantic getaway feel as well as younger hippie, backpacker feel depending on your what you are looking for. The island has a few main roads but does not support cars–motorcycles, scooters or walking only.IMG_5999.jpg

It was a bit overcast during our stay but we got lucky and saw a few gorgeous sunsets.IMG_6024.jpg

Beaches perfect for throwing a frisbee around! IMG_6112.jpg

Can’t forget about the 60 min Thai Oil Massage on the Island-the best!IMG_6055.jpg

Sam Roi Yot National Park:
This park is huge but you should definitely visit if you have the chance. Some breathtaking views, beaches and caves.

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Sam Roi Yot – Caves

AND for probably the most stunning and unique part of the part. There is a temple INSIDE the cave! When the sun hits the temple it glows like someone has turned on the lights. Truly AMAZING. Saved the best for last! IMG_6191.jpg

And with that, I will stop raving about my trip to Thailand.

I feel so blessed that I was able to explore the beauty of Thailand. But as always, there are still so many¬†unexplored places that I’d love to revisit someday.

Until then, safe travels to all the adventurers out there!

XO

 

 

Long (Labor) Overdue (Day) Weekend

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I think we can all agree that 3 day weekends need to be a more regular thing. I not only feel more rejuvenated but I can bet that I am way more productive in the 4 day workweek. Labor day weekend always mark the end of summer vacation and blues of buying school textbooks and your new and improved back to school wardrobe  year sets in.

This year, I finally got over that hump. I am no longer a a student and LDW does not mean anything other than an extra day to recuperate and chill. Thats me up there lazying around on this holiday weekend. I did do a good bit of socializing and eating. Went out to Fells on Friday night with friends and stayed out till 3am!! I never do that. I have become a grandma as of late but I think a little bit of my younger side made a long awaited debut. Probably has something to do with the fact that we had an extra day to get better from the late night and headaches.

Anyways, in my downtime, here a few interesting things I found on the interweb-

LH Calligraphy Workshop in Annapolis

Best Booty Workout Рno equipment at home workout

Canning Peaches 101

Custom Wax Seal Stamp

Ona Bag – so lovely, so spendy!

Cold Brew Baby

As you can tell, I am doing nothing stressful this weekend. Just how I like it. Happy Labor Day!

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – A Book Review

Goodreads Summary–

“Japan’s most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon.”

Follow me on Goodreads here!

SPOILER ALERT – if you plan on reading the book please stop here!

The Good–

The writing style is absolutely dream-like. Murakami builds the story line up slowly and tactfully and there is a reason for everything. The details in his descriptions are also on point¬†and although the story line is slow to develop it still is somehow very captivating. I also don’t like magical realism but this did not feel fantastical or confusing. Anyone remember having to read One Thousand Years of Solitude in Lit? Definitely not my cup of tea. I was also a huge fan of the plot. It was a story about a man who had been abandoned by his wife. He meets many intriguing characters along the way, such as a 16-year old girl, a veteran, his wife’s crazy politically famous brother as well as a prostitute. All these seemingly unrelated story lines come together beautifully through the perspective¬†of Mr. Okada who is trying to figure this all out as we are. It’s nice because it doesn’t feel like as the reader you are clueless. You are clueless but so is the main character so its like figuring out a mystery together.

The Bad–

The book is a bit slow to get a grasp on. There are times where you wonder what the heck is going on, like the first time Mr. Okada went into the well. There are also moments of utter confusion such as when he receives the bizzare mystery phone calls and visitors. Really though, the only bad part I saw was that I wasn’t used to Haruki Murakami’s style. But, once you get used to it and let your questions go, the story takes a natural progression.

Overall, I would rate this book a 9/10. Great read!

Backpacking in Bear Country

Backpacking Trip

My first backpacking experience was definitely one to remember. It was somewhat of a spontaneous trip only planned a week ahead of time. Took a quick trip to REI and geared up on the essentials. A fair warning–investing in gear is costly but if you plan on making use of it long term, just view it as an investment. Most of the equipment will be functional for the duration of your life!

There’s me, trying out my sleeping bag at home. It’s always a good idea to test our your equipment beforehand…even your sleeping bag!

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If you are interested in on backpacking, here’s a basic list of what you’ll need-

Tent + Tarp

Sleeping Bag + Sleeping Pad + Stuff Sack

Water Bottles or a Camelbak pak

Backpack

First Aid Kit

Moleskin

Whistle

Compass

Camping Silverware + Bowls

Stove

Flashlights + Extra Batteries

A Good Book

Hiking Boots

Thick Socks

Bug Spray

Sunscreen

Bear Bag + Caribeaners

Knife

Duct Tape

Food

Iodine for Water Cleaning

The list is in no way comprehensive but it’s definitely a good start!

Saturday morning we ventured out to Green Ridge State Forest in Western MD.

The view from the overlook at the trail head was awesome. From the look of it the hike was going to be a lot of up and down but it actually was a pretty moderate hike. IMG_4657

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We took the Pine Lick Loop. A moderate 12 mile loop¬†with “primitive” (i.e. no water!) but marked camping areas throughout. It’s a¬†manageable hike¬†for first time backpackers and people who want to test out their equipment before doing a longer trip.IMG_4665

The start of the trail was a bit strange. We went through a forested area but then neared a highway. This was us taking a quick break under the freeway overpass. A bit weird that we were trying to get away from the hustle bustle and then walking near a freeway. There is another trail head for Pine Lick that you can start at which avoids the freeway area.

Though we started later than we wanted, we actually made pretty decent time and got almost 4 miles in before stopping for a lunch break.

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Don’t mind the¬†sweaty and red faces! Next time we do a trip, we’ll wait till it gets a little cooler and not 100 degrees + humidity. Given this steamy weather we definitely did not pack enough water. L investigates whether we can drink the water coming out of the pipe. We determined no and unfortunately we did not see a place where the water was running and not still. Sooo, we made what we brought last. Lesson learned–take enough water!

A general rule of thumb is take at a minimum of 2L per person per day. With the extra heat, it would have been better to take more.IMG_4672

So I got pretty excited when we arrived at our campsite and set up our tent. So excited that I forgot to take a picture of our adorable tent.

We brought some light reading–Bon¬†App√©tit¬†. They are a good magazine look¬†through¬†pictures of beautiful food but its also really interesting¬†if you are just getting more into cooking and dining. IMG_4677

Not sure why this happened….L really wanted to build a fire, so we did. In 100+ degree heat and in the daytime but I guess it was reassuring that we weren’t total wilderness newbies.IMG_4679

The hiking and camping (during the day) was awesome but, I definitely got a bit freaked out at night. Woke up screaming thinking there was a bear…it is¬†bear country after all!

The next morning we packed up quick and headed back to avoid the heat of the afternoon.

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Went over some adorable bridges though the creeks were a bit dried out b/c of the summer.IMG_4687

When we got back to our car, I wanted nothing more than a burger. I had been craving one all week and decided to treat myself after braving the woods and bears all night.

We stopped in Frederick, MD. Had no idea how cute the city is! The downtown area is charming and has lots of places for fine dining, shopping, craft beer but also reasonable priced stops with good quality grub.

After a quick Yelp search for the best burger in Frederick, we found Brewer’s Alley. We were kinda smelly and needed a place where we could sit outside and a little bit¬†away from people.IMG_4697

Got some tasty drinks…beer is¬†usually my drink of choice but was tempted by the Mimosa special they had going on.IMG_4699

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FOOD. We got the Belly Buster Burger and South Beach Prosciutto pizza and shared both. Liked this place for the good quality food, reasonably priced menu and the outdoor ambience.IMG_4705

Also, the fries were amazing. I love fries when they are really cripsy and almost breaded on the outside. SO GOOD. IMG_4707

Our bums were sore from the hike and our backpacks and our tummies were so full that getting up from this meal was tough! Fortunately we made it home safely and happily. It was a perfect 2 day backpacking trip to get a feel for it. Next trip, we are planning for early fall! Enjoy the summer!

Escape to Artscape

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In a¬†sundress and my hair is up–ready for the 35th annual Artscape!

Artscape is the country’s largest free art festival located in Baltimore’s historic district, Mt. Vernon. It is HUGE and pretty overwhelming. It always happens to fall on the hottest weekend of the year, it blocks traffic for a whole week, makes Mt. Vernon a total chaotic mess and everyone is sweaty and overheated. But, it is also pretty awesome!

Food carts line up throughout the neighborhood, along with artists, vendors and exhibits that relate to the theme of the year. This year’s theme was Space.

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The clouds and sun were really working with me!

We checked out some UFO’s and walked through some super eclectic and artsy exhibits that I would never understand.

And as always, we ended up at the food ūüôā

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I wasn’t planning on a crab cake but with the option available and no line, I gave in. I promised myself I’ll go for something else the next time I¬†have food truck options.

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Maryland Crab Cake Sandwich (w/ Old Bay, of course)

The crew for the night…

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Oh, I forget to mention that there are also concerts and parties at venues in the area that are all connected to the event. You can spend all weekend there. We only got to spend our Friday evening at the festival but, there is always next year!

Lake Ariel, PA

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A few weekends delayed but, I wanted to show off some of the awesome scenery from this summertime getaway. When I moved out east, I was totally convinced that the beauty of the East Coast¬†is by no means comparable to what I grew up with in the Pacific Northwest. However, I do have to admit that I have seen some pretty beautiful places out here recently. I’m still partial to the West Coast but I think the East Coast is growing on me a bit more!

I took the GRE’s the Saturday morning¬†before leaving for Lake Ariel, PA. Not the most exciting way to start the weekend but it felt pretty great to get some time away from the city right after a big test.

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Dipped my feet in the water right when I got there. The water was very swimmable and not too cold. Perfect to jump in and cool off after the hot afternoon.

Spent a lot of time feasting and drinking…

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Tandoori Chicken (C/O Lyle) …Sooo delicious!

kayaking…

(This was my first time kayaking and though I was scared at first, it was so peaceful and serene. We made sure to get out early enough before all the powerboats got out which made all the difference. It’s often scary to try new things but I’m so glad I did it. Lyle says to try¬†white water…I’ll have to take a rain check until I gain the courage to get sloshed around by a raging river. Until I become a bit braver, I’ll just stick to lake kayaking. :))

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My Outdoorsman ‚̧

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…and hanging out with friends.

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It was¬†a perfect weekend getaway. This trip reminded me that I need to spend more time outdoors. It also encouraged me to try new things so here’s to the next adventure. ENJOY THE SUMMER! ūüôā

P.S. Want to do a similar trip? Check out the place we rented! Great for a big crowd.

Twenty-Four

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My birthday this year fell on a¬†work day but, the week leading up and after entailed eating fancy¬†meals, fancy wine, and eating fancy cake¬†and goodies. MY FAVORITE ūüôā Beyond the delicious meals,¬†here are 24 things that I was¬†grateful for this past year. I know I am a full month behind but, nevertheless it’s a good exercise to think about what you are grateful for and it actually helps to write it out. It helps you feel good and stay positive. I try to do this on at least a¬†yearly basis but sometimes its helpful to do it weekly too!

(1) Friends

(2) My Family — If you ever want any¬†portraits done, call up Andrea! She is just wonderful and so very talented! She took this picture of my family right before I moved away from home. She has taken my senior pictures and I plan on using her at my wedding!

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(3) Lyle — love this guy and he loves his¬†bloody Mary for brunch. ‚̧

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(4) Meeting Family Near and Far (Lyle’s Beautiful Ma and Sister)

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(5) Apartment with a View

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(6) Flowers on my Birthday — Thank you, Lyle!

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(7) Oriole’s¬†Game

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(8) CorePower Yoga

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(9) New Learning Experiences – My new job!

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(10) Vacation to Mexico

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(11) Prius – gotta love this car. It moved me all the way across the country!

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(12) Powells/Books To Read

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(13) ArubaEvents - 8389

(14) Seche Vite – best topcoat ever. Get the 3 pack off amazon for $10. In store each 1 is about $10!

(15) Brunch at Tabard Inn РThis was my official celebratory meal for my 24th birthday. One of the best brunch spots I have ever been to! Choose their Benedict but their chicken and waffles is amazing!

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(16) Lucky Jeans – Now I¬†actually believe¬†that that story of the sisterhood of the traveling pants might be true. How can your friends jeans fit you perfectly? Well they did. Not sure how well they will work on you but try the “Brooke Skinny”. Amazing fit! It’s like they were made for me.

(17) Gas Stove ¬†– didn’t realize how important this is but it really makes a difference when cooking! It is especially important to Lyle who is the main chef of the house ūüėČ

(18) Cooks Illustrated — Recommended by Cindy (check out her new blog here)! Every recipe I have ever made from here has turned out excellent. Highly recommend investing in one of these. It almost seems like a modern Joy of Cooking.

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(19) Winsor & Newton Watercolors – Have not used any other paints. These are good quality, highly pigmented colors that help add a bit of drama to your paintings.

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(20) Sunsets — In Puerto Vallarta

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(21) Penpals – I love getting mail from talented artists ūüôā Always a nice surprise in the mail.

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(22) Right to Vote Рdid not realize how important this was until I recently voted in the primary election this April! Everyone should exercise their right to vote.

(23) Good Health – This is something that I am grateful for but also want to give more attention to. Our bodies work hard for us everyday and I am trying to make more of a deliberate effort drink enough water, eat nutritiously, take vitamins, etc.

(24) High Quality Cook¬†Ware — Lyle recently invested in some high quality cooking products. Le Creuset, anyone? Very happy with our adorable red cast iron.

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What are you grateful for? Hope your birthday was as delicious, relaxing and anticlimactic as mine was. XO