Category Archives: Travel

Bangkok Burnout

Food! More than anything, this was the main focus of our time in Bangkok. The city is so big, and even though January is one of the coldest months for the region, we didn’t want to spend too much time running around town. When we weren’t scoping out our next meal or ice cream spot, we often found ourselves in malls, taking breaks in the AC, or swimming on the rooftop pool of our second hotel  (a steal, by the way — it was categorized under “affordable luxury” and while it was more basic than SO Sofitel, it cost only $25/night, met all of our needs, was perfectly located in Silom and had ZERO cockroaches — Trinity Silom Hotel, thank you!).

Yes, we only did one temple (Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha, or, as Josh liked to call it, the “Lazy Buddha”). We walked a ton, took the skytrain, metro, taxis, and water taxis, and then gorged ourselves on sweets and pad thai. After Bhutan, we were feeling a little tourism burnout, and the last places that we wanted to be were the ones with long lines, entry fees, and vendors accosting us. But we still wanted to experience the city as best we could.

Thankfully, eating didn’t really ask too much of us. Our second night in Bangkok, we splurged on Nahm, which has been called the best Thai restaurant in Bangkok, maybe the best one in the whole world. (The chef is Australian, fyi.) Man, was it good! We did the set tasting meal, which included 18 different dishes to try over 5 courses. Over flavors of lemongrass, smokey chili, fish, prawns, garlic, and spice, we indulged until our bellies hurt.


One night, we walked in the warm rain to Eat Me, another fancy restaurant, for sticky date pudding and a Moroccan-spiced bun, both a la mode


iBerry in the nearby Silom Complex became our favorite ice cream spot (they have Thai flavors like durian and spicy mango). Of course, we tried as many pad thai dishes as we could, as well as spicier meals (Isan) and coconut desserts.


Our cooking course in Silom was a highlight for me. Our chef, Jay, was engaging and flamboyant, and very thorough at explaining the differences between Thai cooking and other culinary practices. Even cooking-averse Josh had fun. The class included five meals and a dessert.

We did avoid eating most street food out of fear of getting sick from it. However, at the end of our warm stay, we were completely satiated with tasty thai food, and ready to move on to a cooler climate that better facilitated outdoor activity.

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Tropical Critters

Josh and I divided our time in Thailand with a brief hiatus to Khao Yai National Park through Greenleaf tours. We took a nice air conditioned bus to get to the Packchong and then did tours for a day and a half. The first night, we saw tarantulas, vipers, and cave bugs. At dusk, we watched an undulating and neverending stream of bats leave their cave to get food. During the day tour, we saw gibbons, snakes, centipedes, scorpions and even a crocodile, all in the wild. Oh, and a few waterfalls as well. (Sadly, we didn’t get to see any elephants.)



We stayed at the cheapest hotel of the trip, which was only $22/night. Guess what? No cockroaches! We did have a little pond outside our room, where every night, we could watch bullfrogs swim and call out to each other, their throats ballooning up and down.

P.S. I’m posting from Japan, which has no three-pronged outlets (poor planning on my part), so photos are unfortunately limited to the ones on my phone until we get back to the USA when I can pull the rest from my computer.

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Shit happens. And then it doesn’t.

Consumerism! Luxury! I’ve contradicted a few core assumptions about myself in Bangkok.

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For one, I usually hate shopping. I’ve never liked the sanitized endless store choices found under hard white fluorescent lights at malls, and I bristle whenever I have to pay more than $20 for an item of clothing (seriously — I very rarely do this, and when I do, it’s painful for me). Ergo, I usually shop at my tried-and-true discount and thrift stores, or score free hand-me-downs from friends.

There are still endless choices in Bangkok, and yes, they too have fluorescent lights, but at places like MBK (our first stop after dropping our bags at our hotel, sweaty and warm) and the Chatuchak weekend market (our first activity on day two in Bangkok), there’s this chaotic organization to everything, and, when compared to USD, everything is cheap.

MBK contained hundreds of stalls/stores (I’m not sure what to call them) set up indoors, with  narrow walkways for shoppers. When we ventured off the main drag, we had people soliciting us, trying to sell us an old iPhone 5 at a discounted rate. There were bright flashing lights and stacks on stacks of stuff, and it was somewhat easy to get lost if you weren’t paying attention; for us, it was frenetic and fun. While there were many options, we saw that many vendors were selling the same items for the same prices, so it became a matter of who spoke English (or who wanted to try to sell to English-speakers).

Did you ever see that episode of Community where the make the giant blanket fort? That’s immediately what came to mind at the Chatuchak weekend market. Again, it was easy to forget your relative position as we navigated the open-air narrow corridors between stalls. When we would want to venture off the the main streets, we’d turn to the other and say, “Let’s dive in here.” Dive in. That was the best way to describe it, side-stepping and pushing past the throngs of people to the relative calm inside the blanket fort-esque market (for the record, there was a roof — it was not a blanket). There was more variety there than at MBK, but I don’t think it was nearly as wild as we anticipated (we tried and failed several times to find where they sold the live animals). We had one traveller tell us that the Chatuchak market was too touristy and expensive, but I loved seeing beautiful jewelry and clothing for 100 baht (approximately $2.75 USD). And yes, I did buy myself a pair of Thailand tourist pants because I had always wanted a pair and it seemed like the thing to do.

2017_01_13_0940Sampling a delicious coconut treat at the Chatuchak market

 

Secondly, I’ve never considered myself high-maintenance (and, as recent evidence of this, see the Bumdra Trek post). When booking a hotel, especially while traveling, I’m apt to say, “Don’t book anything nice; we won’t be spending much time in the hotel room anyway.”

Josh obviously didn’t do that with our first hotel in Bangkok, SO Sofitel.

2017_01_13_0968Chilling in the lobby with our welcome drinks at check-in

 

Holy moly, was it fancy! And hip, too. They played this mellow techno music in the lobby, and perfumed it with lemongrass so that it hit you like a sweet-smelling club the moment you stepped off the elevator. The whole place touted a design theme of elements (earth, wood, water, and metal), and their claim was that no room looked the same. Lil’ old austere me was giddy.

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Our first hotel room in SO Sofitel. I gleefully snapped and shared a pic the moment we arrived. 

 

Unfortunately, this is where the shit happens. We came back after our first full day out and about (Chatuchak market) to find three dead/dying cockroaches in our room. Our bed was freshly made and our fridge stocked (they stock it with free bottled water), so we figured that the hotel had recently sprayed for cockroaches. They were cleaning the room next door to us, so when I asked one of the women to come over, she repeated, “I’m so sorry!” when she saw the roaches and hastily scooped them up with a trash bag. No harm, no foul. We were both shrugging, assuming that cockroaches were normal in a warm climate like Bangkok’s.

However, as we were getting ready for our dinner plans, a very much alive cockroach scurried out of the bathroom. As Josh attacked it with one of the hotel slippers, I ran downstairs to notify the front desk. They were absolutely horrified and told us that they would immediately move us to a new room.

2017_01_13_0329New room on an even swankier floor — our windows overlooked Lumphini park
2017_01_13_0327There were cool lights outside the door of our new hotel room — like a new media installation in the middle of our floor.

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The next day is when shit didn’t happen. Tune out now if you’re squeamish about bodily functions .

Basically, I hadn’t pooped for 7 days and was starting to panic a little. When we were up on the mountain, I had taken some pills to stop some traveller’s diarrhea, and hadn’t had a BM since.

To help things along, Josh and I went for a humid run in Lumphini park. Then, I grabbed a grande hot coffee from Starbucks, and we lounged at the pool, drinking lots of water. On Instagram, I did a little social media makeover, posting a pic of me at the pool and saying that we were having a lazy day. In reality, we basically put one day in Bangkok on hold for my body to figure shit out.

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Instagram is full of partial truths, amirite?

Great news: shit happened! I’d like to thank that hot, strong cuppa joe from corporate America.

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D*ck pics, and other photos

The content of this post is cultural, I swear!

Josh and I had two more days in Bhutan without Kevin. After stomaching some car sickness on the twisty tiny mountain roads, we arrived in a town devoted to the Divine Madman. While the wikipedia page is delightful, I’ll sum him up as best I can: The Divine Madman was a monk that eschewed the traditional strict and staid lifestyle of religious men at the time, choosing instead to find enlightenment by drinking, carousing with countless women, and singing around the town half-naked. He subdued some very evil demons, and performed some miracles, which made people believe he was actually divine and not just a crazy hedonist. As the story goes, he subdued the evil spirits with his, well, phallus.

Now, people in Bhutan use wooden phalluses to ward off evil spirits. When we visited the Divine Madman’s monastery, the monk there tapped us both on the head with a small wooden phallus as a blessing. A visit to the monastery is supposed to help couples who are having trouble conceiving finally get pregnant. There were also pictures of phalluses everywhere around the town, I think to do the same thing (ward off bad spirits/bless people/bring fertility to the household on which it is painted).

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2017_01_06_0038.JPGJosh didn’t know that I put him in the picture, too. He was trying to get me to take a picture of the 3D art…

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2017_01_06_0028.JPG2017_01_06_0023.JPGPhalluses for sale

Josh and I visited other monasteries, did a few more hikes, and ultimately ended up back in Paro where we originally started. I’m posting images rapid fire because as I’m writing this, we’ve already had two full days in Bangkok and I have yet to post about that wonderful city!

2017_01_06_0049In front of the Dzong (or fortress) in Punahka
2017_01_06_0099A beautiful monastery designed by Sonam’s Swiss architect husband(!)
2017_01_06_0004While driving on the mountain roads, we saw monkeys!
2017_01_06_0383The Dzong in Paro, at night

The night before we left, we were back where we started, at that first room at the Gangtey Palace in Paro 

We have a very soft spot in our hearts for Bhutan, but we’re ready to get out of the relatively chilly temps for some warmth in Thailand.

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Thimphu: Where everybody knows your name

And we thought we had common names.

2017_01_04_0078Our leisurely trek to the monastery.

On our first full day in Thimphu, we visited a monastery where many residents get their names. When a baby is born, it’s customary that parents bring the newborn to a monastery to be blessed and given a name. A small number of names are associated with each monastery. To get the name, parents draw a slip of paper from one of two small tumblers (one for males and one for females). As a result, there are about 50 odd names that apply to nearly all Bhutanese people. Dorji is a common name that means “thunderbolt.” Our guide’s name, Chador, means power.
Speaking of Chador, it seemed that everywhere we went, he had friends. Other tour guides would accost him, shake his hand, and sometimes sit and joke with him. I was mildly surprised to learn that Chador had been the tour guide for the first Lonely Planet author on Bhutan.
For lunch in Thimphu, Chador brought us to an Americanized bar/restaurant to meet Sonam, his boss and the owner of our tour company, Yu Druk Tours and Treks. She greeted us with a smile, “I thought you might be missing western food after all of that rice up on the mountain.” We ordered a large pizza plus individual entrees of burgers and fries; so she was right.  (Editor’s note: only Kevin and Haley actually missed western food. Josh would’ve been fine to eat more rice with chilis and cheese. It should be noted that Josh’s burger was a yak burger.)
Chatting with Sonam was definitely a highlight of our time post-trek. We talked about the tourism industry, her career, her Swiss architect husband, healthcare, Gross National Happiness (a reference point for Bhutan’s success, more so than a determinant, according to Sonam), and her few trips to the west, which included San Francisco and Jackson Hole. While we were eating, Sonam had several friends and family walk in, including a well-dressed woman who was one of the five royally appointed members of parliament. While Thimphu is the capital and Bhutan’s biggest city, we started to get the feeling that everyone knew everyone, in some way or another.

2017_01_04_0002The wonderful Sonam, owner of Yu Druk Tours and Treks 

We visited more sights that day, but our second most memorable moment was drinking at a nearly empty bar. As we parted after lunch, Sonam recommended a bar for the three of us to get drinks at later, it being Kevin’s last night with us. At Benez, a bar/restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel, 750ml beers were $1.25 USD (much larger than a US beer) and the cheapest beer, called Druk 11,000, was 8% ABV.

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Drinks at Benez

Even though they were so inexpensive, we were getting to the end of our cash, so I offered to get some more from an ATM. Our waiter told us the nearest ATM was two blocks away — would I like him to escort me? I jumped up before the boys could protest and offer to go in my place.
The waiter was very kind, and made small talk with me while we walked. He told me the US seemed like a dangerous place (“Because you have guns. But here, people will use knife to fight”), that he had a daughter (“age 2 point 5”) and that he and his wife fight sometimes (“but that is how marriage is”). He then asked me, “Are you married yet or are you still a spinster?” I stifled a laugh because he sounded so sincere. Besides, making conversation in his non-native tongue was more than I could do. “I’m still a spinster,” I said with a hint of amusement in my voice, “but I have a boyfriend. Marriage costs a lot of money,” I added, thinking that was something he could understand. He nodded. “Oh, yes, marriage is different in Bhutan. Very easy, not expensive.” (Chador later told me that when two common people are in love in Bhutan, they simply get a marriage certificate, and that’s it.)

Back at the bar, another single patron walked in a placed his motorcycle helmet on the bar. Kevin asked what he was riding. After some small talk, he asked where we were from. (“Oh! Trump’s place,” he said.  Kevin asked if he had watched the election. “The whole world was watching. It’s amazing! The country with so many literate people elected the biggest idiot in the world.”)  We’d made a friend. His name was Thinley Wangchuk (the Th sound isn’t acknowledged, as Thimphu is pronounced Tim-poo. Thinley lead us through the pronunciation of his name: “TIN, like the metal, and then I lay“), he was from Bhutan, and he had opinions about everything. We spent the next hour or so talking about politics, Bangkok, urban development, Bhutan’s government (“The people — we didn’t want a democracy! We wanted a monarchy! But the exchange — completely bloodless.”), and his friend, the prime minister of Bhutan (“When I see him, we don’t talk much, we just huh!” he said, miming a fraternal chest bump).

“What brought you to this bar?” he asked at one point.

“We had lunch with the owner of our tour group, Sonam –,” Josh began.

“Sonam Wangmo, Yu Druk.” The bartender (and owner of the bar, we later learned), silent before that point, finished his sentence. Josh looked at her, “Yeah! Do you know her?” he asked Thinley.

He shrugged, “Yes, but I know her business partner, Rinzin, much better. He’s a good friend of mine.”

That extra cash I withdrew was completely unnecessary, as Thinley insisted on paying for all of our drinks.

2017_01_04_0069So long, Kev! We’ll miss you and your ideas, like “Let’s take one with our hands in our pockets.”

 

 

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Bumdra Trek

Unlike any camping trip I’ve ever experienced.


With only daypacks filled with the “warmest of the warm” clothing (our tour company’s words) we began our ascent at around 10am on the first day of 2017.

A day before, Josh had joked while on a run in Paro, “That’s our turnaround point.” He was pointing to a faraway monastery on a mountain, literally the highest point of civilization that we could see.

On Jan 1, that monastery was our lunch stop.

Getting there was much tougher than any of us had anticipated. They say that the physical prowess of Bhutanese men was once judged by the size of their calves. Breathing heavily, we trekked single file, getting glimpses of our impossibly high midway point between the trees. We stopped to take breaks and take off layers.

Once we reached the monastery, we greeted with a hot lunch prepared specifically for us, as well as the mews of three kittens and the smiles of a monk cradling a puppy.

I got to hold the puppy, who whimpered if he was left exposed to the wind on the cliff. After he left my lap, he tucked in under Josh’s coat. Josh says he thought the monk called him “Munchow” but also noted that it could be a directive like “Come here,” for all we know. 
2017_01_04_0103Relentless beggars, those kittens

After lunch, we continued on for about another hour or so, reaching the campsite below the Bumdra monastery. While 12,690 feet is not the highest we’ve ever hiked, it’s certainly the highest we’ve ever slept (that number was obtained through a non-connected smartphone, so not sure how accurate it is, but from what our guide told us, it’s close enough).

2017_01_04_0159Bumdra monastery 
2017_01_04_0151Our campsite

The accommodations were fantastic. Our tents were double layered and big enough to allow for a little bit of walking space around a queen-sized mattress in a wooden frame. There was a separate smaller tent for the toilet, which actually flushed once you filled it up with water (there were two barrels inside). We were the only ones at the campsite save for our guide Chador, our campsite-specific guide Vishnu, a cook, the cook’s assistant, and maybe one more assistant whom we never saw, but heard playing the guitar and singing top 40 songs. We were served full hot meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a separate dining tent, the only one to contain a small gas heater. A typical meal consisted of rice, meat, vegetables, chilies in cheese (a local favorite), and fruit for dessert. We were hardly “roughin’ it” save for the cold and elevation. I don’t think any of us changed our clothes for 3 days because it was too unbearable to strip down, even in the tents.

img_0644Hanging out in the dining tent before dinner with new best friend, propane heater

Even with the cold, we were euphoric that first night. At dinner, Chador told us stories about Bhutan and the various treks that Yu Druk (the tour company we chose) provides. On one trek, he told us that he saw what looked like an oversized human footprint, with seven toes, in the snow. When he showed his trekkers, they laughed, thinking he had made a “yeti” footprint as a joke.

Sleep was fitful that first night. We slept in 30-90 minute intervals, waking up frequently because of the cold, altitude and incessant barking from one of the dogs hanging around our camp. At around midnight, it sounded like some kind of animal was pacing outside of our tent, trying to get in. It took us awhile to realize that it was just the wind catching on the second layer of the tent.

In the morning, we experienced a wave of altitude sickness. With so little oxygen at 12,000 feet, we discussed our mutual headaches and nausea at the breakfast table. Our cooks whipped up some garlic and ginger to help the stomaches, and we took deep breathes (and some ibuprofen) for the headaches. (Editor’s Note: only Kevin and Haley experienced headaches and nausea and consumed food or medication to alleviate the pain. Josh didn’t do anything because he’s a manly man, impervious to his very slight headache.)

We visited the monastery in the morning, where Kevin partook in a full hour of meditation. Josh and I left early, but not before we spied a very fat and cute mouse nibbling at something beneath the offering table. It scampered away if we moved our heads even slightly.

After a few rounds of khuru (basically darts, but the darts are about as long as your hand, made of wood and metal, and you throw them maybe 30m or so, trying to stick them in a log), lunch, and a bit of rest, we started our hike to the sky burial site at the top of our mountain.

2017_01_04_0147It’s hard to make out in this photo, but the peak in the middle is our mountain, and at the very top you can see an assortment of white flags. When a loved one dies, white prayer flags are erected in their memory, usually near homes, monasteries, or in places of nature, like mountain tops. 

When adults die in Bhutan, there’s a lengthly cremation process that takes several weeks. However, when children die, it’s custom to leave their bodies at the tops of mountains at sky burial sites. There’s no actual burial; the bodies are left out in the open, and it’s expected that wild birds, like Himalayan griffons (aka vultures) will consume the body.

Personally, I was slightly horrified that I might accidentally step on a child’s partially eaten corpse during the hike. But Chador told us that we didn’t need to be careful.

As I approached the top, my western mind became increasingly saddened by the steep incline and arduous ascent. If it was difficult for me, a happy 25-year-old not carrying anything, it must be even more difficult for a mourning parent to carry the body of their child up the mountain.

We didn’t see any sign of human remains. The sky burial site was hauntingly beautiful; up there, all you could hear was the gentle flap of hundreds of prayer flags in the wind.

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On our way back down the mountain, it started to snow big, fluffy flakes. That night at dinner, one of the assistants brought a small bit of Bhutanese whiskey to the dining tent. The guys drank most of it to ward off the cold.

Getting into bed on the trek was the hardest part of the day. Once you were under the covers, it very gradually got warmer, to the point where you were shedding layers in the middle of the night. You’d pray that bathroom urges would wait until daylight (of course this wasn’t the case).img_0705

2017_01_04_0089Josh playing khuru in the snow

On day 3, we packed up our things, said good-bye to our caretakers, and headed down the mountain. I slipped and landed on my butt only twice on the snowy paths. We passed several monasteries in our descent, including one that had litter of puppies playing in the yard. A little over an hour after we left the camp, we arrived at the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, undoubtably Bhutan’s most iconic attraction built into the rock face of an otherwise sheer cliff.

2017_01_04_0047Three sleep-deprived yet victorious mountain dwellers after three days of not showering. Tiger’s Nest monastery in the background. 

For the first time in three days, we were encountering other tourists. We saw a yak on our hike up the mountain — that was it. Besides Chador, Vishnu, and the rest of our crew, we felt like the only people on the trails. Tiger’s Nest was crawling with people, and rightfully so — there really is no monastery as grandiose or as beautiful the Tiger’s Nest. The story goes that the man who would bring Buddhism to all of Bhutan rode on the back of a tiger to where the monastery is now located. He then proceeded to meditate in a nearby cave for 3 years. Several centuries later, the governor of Paro constructed the monastery in his honor. You’d never know that the monastery burned down in the late nineties. Each room is still impressive and intricate. Larger than life golden statues are seated in one room, honoring the men(/deities) most influential in the country’s religious foundation.

We still had to hike downhill a bit more after our visit to the Tiger’s Nest. The bedraggled hikers going the opposite way (up) continuously asked us how much longer it was to the monastery.

Happy, slightly sunburned, and thoroughly exhausted, we piled into Harka’s van at the end of the trek. It was about an hour drive to our hotel in the country’s capital, Thimphu, where we finally got that glorious hot shower.

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Happy New Year from the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan has thoroughly charmed us.

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It captured our attention from the moment our plane descended into the valley, completely surrounded by mountains. Stepping out into bright sunshine and a temperature of around 40 degrees felt refreshingly brisk after the haze of Bangkok. The plane was parked outside the airport door — the most beautiful and austere  international airport I’ve ever seen. There were some desks, two baggage claim belts, and a few chairs on the side. No gates, no Starbucks, no frills or rampant commercialism whatsoever. Come to think of it, I didn’t see any other planes other than the one we arrived on.

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Our guide, Chador, met us on the other side of the airport and drove us to our hotel, which used to be a palace. The rooms inside are far from opulent. Instead, they’re elaborate in an old world sense, with colorful Bhutanese designs on the wall, painted carvings along the trim, embroidery in the comforters, dragons on the rugs, creaks in the wooden floors and that fantastic almost cabin-esque wood smell permeating the air.


Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure its success in GNH, or Gross National Happiness. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to apply to tourists as well, but I certainly couldn’t stop smiling. We did a short run through the town, where I couldn’t stop staring at the peaks encircling us. After the best lunch of the trip thus far (IMHO), we visited a monastery, toured a fortress (called Dzong here), and watched local men exhibit fraternity and terrifying skill during archery practice.


Simple lunch, yet so satisfying 

2016_12_31_0057At each stop, Chador gives us a tour, and fields all of our questions

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Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. At this practice, two targets sit 140m apart. One group stands at one end, the other group at the other, and each side takes in a turn, like you would in a game of shuffleboard. Teammates are split between the two sides, so when someone hits the target, the member on the receiving end informs his partner of his victory by doing a little jig in front of the target, accompanied by jovial exclamations that must travel 140m. 

Chador and our driver Harka ferry us around in an 8-passenger van devoid of seatbelts. Stray dogs nap in the sunlight. Cows lumber up curvy 2-lane mountain roads. There are no stoplights in the country after their recent implementation went poorly. TV was first introduced to Bhutan in 1999. This is certainly the most remote country I’ve ever visited, and yet there’s wifi.

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Tomorrow we start our 3-day trek. We’re exhausted from today and feel no shame in making this the earliest New Year’s Eve of our adult lives. Cheers 🙂

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One Night in Bangkok

Our 12 hour layover before Bhutan 🇧🇹 
We parted ways with Sam at the airport. He’s headed to a hostel in the city for NYE; we’re crashing at an airport hotel, resting up before we begin our trek in the mountains.

It’s very warm here! It was at least 80 degrees when I climbed into the pool at 5pm. Best winter ever. 

We imbibed on poolside drinks (mine was actually called One Night in Bangkok) before a quick dinner where Kevin and Josh debated the qualities of what constitutes a good life. Nothing conclusive, but for now, it looks like this:

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Last day in Hong Kong, best day in Hong Kong


Yesterday, we did all of the things. The legs are feeling it today.

After taking our first full day of Hong Kong to run, explore and get a feel for Soho (plus, not succumb to jet lag), we went after it on day two.

Kevin, Josh and I started the morning with a run up Victoria peak (sorry, didn’t run with my phone so no photo proof). Nearly everyone recommended that we take the trolley to the peak, but if you have any aerobic base at all, running (walk-jogging) up the mountain was an amazing experience. It was 57 degrees (F), which is cold there, so I got several stares for running around in a tank and shorts.

Next, Kevin and Sam took us to Lin Hueng for some dim sum. Dim sum is traditional Hong Kong brunch, and at Lin Hueng you’re seated at a table with randos and point at dishes on carts to order. We had almost no idea what we were eating but it was an adventure nonetheless.

Mystery fish

Kevin, diving into said fish


Josh and Sam, eating what tasted like chicken 

We hiked the Dragon’s Back trail in the afternoon (first pic in the post). In a populated city like Hong Kong, where skyscrapers dominate, it’s amazing how accessible the natural areas are. The green and undulating trails were a welcome reprieve from the urban environs of our Soho Airbnb.


Before dinner, we hopped in a cab (and after language struggles, hopped in another cab) to visit Ozone, the highest bar in Hong Kong. Our cocktails were $25 USD each, but the view was awesome. 

Josh, so posh 


We closed the night dancing to Vanilla Ice in a very Americanized club in Central Hong Kong.

Some of my favorite moments in Hong Kong were when we were in transit, like when we were in the taxi to and from Dragon’s Back, looking at the towers (seriously, v. tall) of colorful residential buildings packed so close together. 

Next up,we have One Night in Bangkok (queue the song) before Kev, Josh and I head to Bhutan. Sam will stay back in Bangkok for New Year’s Eve.

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Hello from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 

Hello from the balcony of our Airbnb!

Josh and I didn’t sleep a wink during our 16-hour direct flight, but we watched plenty of movies (favorite was definitely the recent-release suspense film 10 Cloverfield Lane). We saw daylight, darkness as we approached the arctic circle, daylight as we flew over barren Siberia (yes, we could see Russia!) and then darkness again as we landed in Hong Kong at 7pm.

We hoppped on the airport link train and were downtown in 24 minutes. Navigating downtown proved to be surprisingly intuitive/lucky. We followed an open-air pedestrian walkway all the way to our neighborhood. Finding the airbnb was slightly difficult (the street was winding and g-maps defaulted to the wrong location) but we figured it out. 

As you can see, our neighborhood isn’t shiny or perfect or even bustling, but it is clean despite its dinginess, and it feels very safe. Initially, Hong Kong feels so much more compact than comparable cities like New York. The streets are tighter, the noise seems more contained, and the neighborhood is filled with skyscrapers containing apartments.

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