Monday, 11 June 2012

A new beginning!

Hello Everyone!

I would like to thank everyone who followed Mal and I through our Thai blog.  It was a once in a lifetime experience which, sadly, has come to an end.  But I am about to embark on a new adventure, solo this time, across the Rocky Mountains.  This is another G-Adventure tour where you start in Calgary and make your way to Vancouver while stopping at the national and provincial parks.  I am leaving this Saturday and will be back in Toronto the second Saturday after that (so total 15 days).

Here is a map with all our pit-stops.  If you would like to view my itinerary, here is the link:

Here is what's included in this tour: all entrance fees to the parks, hiking, a gondola ride in Banff, natural hot springs, a full day canoe tour in Wells Gray, ferry rides and a full day zodiac tour (whale-watching).  The accommodations include some hotels but mostly campgrounds.

Once again, I will be bringing my camera so I will try to upload pictures as often as I can.  I'm super excited!
Don't forget to keep checking for updates.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The end!

Hello everyone!  I'm afraid our lovely trip has come to an end.  After a few long plane rides, Mal and I landed in Toronto a day and a half ago.  The trip home took a little longer than expected because of delays, missed flights, having to stop in Vancouver... but we made it home, and are luggage was not lost.

Our trip has been absolutely amazing, and G adventures did a really good job organizing everything.  We also had an awesome tour guide which made everything better.  It was nice not having to worry about getting on trains, booking hotels and getting from one place to another.  So thank you Gap tours.

I'm still working on my last album, for some reason it won't upload.  I will post it as soon as I can.  If anyone wants to see the slideshow of all my pictures then let me know and and we will arrange something.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Koh Samui and Koh Tao

Hello from Koh Tao, an absolutely beautiful island off the east coast Thailand.  We've been here for the last two days, it's very relaxing and sunny.  We both like Koh Tao much more than Koh Samui, it's much nicer and cheaper for some reason.  So anyways here is a summary of the last couple days of our trip.

Koh Samui:  So we arrive here several days ago, but I think I already blogged about our arrival.  The next day we set off on an adventure to the Angthon national marine park, which is absolutely beautiful.  There we visited the islands, kayaked and snorkelled (although the snorkeling was very dissappointing).  We couldn't see anything except rocks and eels... gross!!  But the views were wonderful, especially from the top of the view point, which only I and two others on our tour were brave enough to climb.  It honestly was 500 m straight up on pure rock, you had to use a rope to pull yourself up for most of it.  But the climb down was probably worst.
After that we took the boat back to koh samui.  At night, we went to arc bar for dinner, which was dinner on the beach (very nice).  Then we went to another lady boy show (for the new people) and after to the green mango to go dancing.  We had a lot of fun.
koh samui

The next day we took a speed boat to koh tao, a much nicer island.  We arrived in the afternoon and chilled by the beach.  The next day, some of us set off on a snorkeling tour of the island.  This snorkeling was absolutely beautiful.  We saw alot of fish, no sharks though.  I did see these small sucker fish we ended up trying to attach to me, which completely freaked my out.  Luckily, the sucker fish were only at the first snorkeling site and we never saw them again.  I do have some pictures of the tour, but for some reason I couldn't upload my koh tao pictures so you will all just have to wait for those.

Well that's all for now.  Tonight we leave on the sleeper train back to bangkok, where our tour will come to an end :(  We will be home on tuesday, and although we are sad to see our trip end, we are also glad to go home.  Not sure if I will be posting anymore pictures after this, we'll see.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Part 1 of the South

Hello Everyone from the South of Thailand!  We finally have internet, and it's free :)  So here is an update of our travels so far.  It's very different in the south, still just as hot though.  There are definitely more tourists, and it's a lot more relaxed.  The mountains are even different, down south the mountains are very jagged (with huge cliffs) whereas up north they are rounded.   Can't wait to see to see the islands.

We arrived yesterday morning in Surat Thani where we travelled to our resort in the National Park.  We got there in the afternoon.  Once we checked in, we went tubing, which is like a lazy river ride for 2 hours.  The views were beautiful!  After tubing we went to go see some monkeys.  The people gave my a banana for the monkeys but since they wouldn't take it from me I just ate it instead.  I have lot's of good monkey picture :)  We stayed in a treehouse, it was pretty cool... except when we found a scorpion in our room :(

This morning we took a bus to the port then took a ferry, and finally arrived at Koh Samui in the afternoon.  Mal and I then chilled by the pool and the beach.    Tonight we have an early bed time because we are waking up early for a day trip which includes snorkeling, kayaking and sightseeing.  It's going to be a lot of fun.
south 1

I hope everything at home is going well.  We will be heading home in about six days, and we can't wait to see everyone.  It's been such an amazing trip so far, but its not over yet.  A few more days on the beach first.

That's all for now,

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Day 8/9/10

Hello everyone. Sorry for not posting yesterday but the free internet at our hotel in Chiang Mai was not working. So here is my recap of the last few days.

Day 8: We got back from our trek at around 3pm and had free time until 7:30pm. At 7:30 we took a truck to the night market and had dinner. After dinner we saw several matches of Thai Boxing (muy thai), which is the national sport of Thailand. There is a lot of kicking in this type of boxing, at first I didn't really enjoy it but by the end of the evening it got better. We saw both women and men matches. And the best part was a match with four guys instead of two, and all of them were blindfolded. It was hilarious! After that we went to a local bar for a few hours then headed back to the hotel.

Day 9 (still in Chiang Mai): Yesterday we did a cooking class in Chiang Mai. It was really awesome! We made 4 different types of dishes, and went to the market before hand. Mal made hot and sour soup, pad thai, spring rolls and curry. I made coconut milk soup, chicken with cashews, spring rolls and curry. Everything was so good. And we got a thai cook book with dozens of recipes. A very good deal in my opinion. After the class we were dropped off at our hotel and relaxed until it was time to board our sleeper train. We then took the train overnight to Bangkok.

Day 10: We arrived in Bangkok in the morning. We had time for a swim before lunch. Then we got foot massages :) It was wonderful. Now I am writing this post.

Sorry about the small amount of pictures. I didn't bring my camera to the boxing matches unfortunately. But I will take many pictures when we leave tomorrow for the south of Thailand.
So a quick update before I sign out: We are starting our southern tour today, so half way done our lovely adventures.

Well that's all for now.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Chiang Mai and Trekking

Hello everyone.  It's been a couple very exciting/exhausting days but we are back from our trekking adventure, and I finally have internet access!  We just got back an hour ago and the first thing we did was shower!! Finally, a real bathroom.

So these pictures begin with a city tour of Chiang Mai, where we saw more lovely temples.  That night we went to the famous night market where there were hundreds of stalls selling absolutely everything.  We also saw a Lady Boy show, which is apparently very famous here in Chiang Mai.  So basically men dressed as women were dancing and singing for us.  All I will say is that is was very interesting.

The next day we started our lovely trek into the wilderness.  We started by driving to a beautiful and famous waterfall, we went for a swim :)  Then we continued to drive up the mountains towards our drop off spot.  By the way, when I say drive we are sitting on the back of a covered pick-up truck.  It's hard to explain but I did take a picture.  The trekking the first day was quite nice, I believe we walked approximately 4 km and most of it was downhill :)  We arrived at our first village a few hours before dinner time.  We had time to shower in the river, tour the village and just relax for a bit.  Dinner was delicious and plentiful.  Most of our meals during the trek involved rice, mixed vegetables and some kind of curry.  We also made spring rolls.  Our accommodation for both days was a one-roomed hut with small mattresses and mosquito nets.  It wasn't the comfiest bed but the fact that we were shielded from the bugs was probably a luxury.  And the cabins were very open so the animals woke us up pretty early each morning.

The next morning we woke up at six (because of the animals mostly) and had breakfast at 7:30.  Breakfast included eggs, toast, jam and fruit.  It was also delicious and plentiful.  We then started our 9km walk to the elephant camp.  Most of that walk was manageable, but there was this one enormous hill that was absolutely brutal.  We were all exhausted, it was the never ending climb.  But the views from the top make it all worth it.  We had lunch at the elephant camp, which was instant noodles.  The elephants were so friendly, they came right up to us after lunch looking for food.  We then rode the elephants to our next village.  The ride was actually quite bumpy and if you didn't hold on to your chair you would fall off.

At the village we had a similar dinner to the one before, then played games with our guides.  They started as drinking games but because we were drinking locally made moonshine, we were disgusted by it pretty quickly.  So instead of drinking when you lost, they put charcoal on our faces... It was pretty funny.

The next morning we took a bamboo raft for several hours to a village where our trucks were waiting for us to drive us back to the city.  The bamboo rafts were a lot of fun!  We had a few fast rapids, and the view was amazing.  Also, when the water was calmer, we could swim beside the raft and float down the river.
Our drive back to Chiang Mai was pretty rough.  We sat at the back of the pick up trucks on some very bumpy roads.  But we made it back and now I am writing this blog :)

Well that's all for now.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Day 4

Hello everyone from Chiang Mai!  Sorry but my posts seem to be delayed one day.  Hopefully I will post again tomorrow morning to get back on track with my posting.
So day 4 (which is actually yesterday for me):  We've met our group and tour leader!  There is about 14 of us in total.  Everyone seems very nice, most of the people are from England.  So day 4 we toured Bangkok with our guide.  We began the day with a trip to a local market, where our guide explained some of the streetfood, and we got to sample a few thai sweets which were delicious!  After the market we walked to the pier and took a boat tour of the Bangkok klongs (canals).  The klongs were very exciting, we saw many houses and temples beside the canal.  Plus we saw a couple very large lizards and hundreds of catfish! They were actually everywhere and we got to feed them, it was chaotic!  After that we visited two of Bangkok's most famous attractions, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace.  Wat Pho is the home of the famous reclining budhha which is 48 meters long.  The feet alone were huge and had very beautiful patterns on them.

Then we went to the Grand Palace, past home of the King and current home of the famous emerald buddha.  The palace grounds are huge, you can easily get lost in there.  The emerald buddha on the other hand was very small, but was sitting on a large pile of golden ornaments.  Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the buddha.  We didn't get to see all of the palace because it was so hot and all we wanted to do was head back to the hotel pool.  At 5pm we headed to the train station to catch our sleeper train to Chiang Mai.

We arrived in Chiang Mai at noon today since we were delayed a few hours.  It's probably just as hot here I'm afraid.  I thought it might be a little cooler since it was more north but no.  We walked around the city for a while and tonight we are going to the night market.  And we are seeing a the lady boy show (men dressed as women), apparently it's really famous over here.  Tomorrow we start our 3 day trek and definitely will not be able to blog.

Well that's all for now. Here are my day 4 pictures of bangkok and the sleeper train.

day 4

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Day 2 and 3!

Day 2 and 3

Hello everyone! Today is day 3 in Bangkok and it is still very hot and humid, with only a bit of rain. Sorry about the lack of post yesterday but Mallory and I were completely exhausted after the show we saw. So far our trip has been extremely exciting!!

Day 2: Yesterday we did not have a guide until that evening so Mallory and I decided to go visit the Bangkok zoo. It was very large with lot's of animals, and was located beside the King's palace which was even larger. Most of the zoo exhibits were very well done, like the monkey, snake, cat and giraffe habitats, but we were very sad because the hippos and the elephants did not have much water :(
After the zoo, we took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel, and chilled by the pool in the afternoon. At 5pm, we met our tour guide and he took us to see Bangkok's most popular cultural show, Siam Niramit, which included a very large buffet :) This show depicts the journey of Siam, and the culture of Thai people. It was amazing: the stage was enormous, the special effects were very entertaining, and there were over 500 different costumes! The stage actually had a river flowing across the front, AND there were elephants involved. Sorry but there are no actual pictures of the show because cameras were not allowed. After the show we went back to the hotel and straight to bed.
Day 3: Today we woke up early and went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market, the largest market in the world. We were told in order to see the whole market we would have to spend the entire day, but we only ended up staying just over an hour. It was very overwhelming, not to mention boiling hot. I bought a pair of purple pants :) We also walked around the nearby park. To get there and back, we took the subway. There subway system is very efficient. You pay different amounts depending on how far you are going, and after you pay you get a token which you give back when you leave the subway. When we got back from the market we had lunch, and now we are chilling in our room. Tonight we get to meet our group, we can't wait!

A note about traffic in Bangkok: absolute mayhem! But somehow this mayhem seems to work for them because traffic still moves (although always busy) and I haven't seen any accidents yet. First of all, the streets are occupied by as many motorbikes and tuk-tuks as cars. Apparently there are no real laws about driving (other than stopping at red lights), and the motorbikes are constantly weaving in and out of the lanes. I don't know why they have lines on the road because everyone seems to make their own lanes. On the highway, it's even busier, and a highway with 3 lanes becomes 4-lanes during heavy traffic because people drive on the shoulder. It's absolutely crazy and very nerve wrecking.

So here are the pictures from the last 2 days. They are a bit out of order though. Just remember: the zoo and Siam Niramit were yesterday, while the market and park happened today. Well that's all for now, hopefully I will post tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Day 1! (Thursday for us)

Wow what a day! We've seen a good deal of Bangkok today on our “Bangkok on-a-shoe-string Tour” by almost all modes of transportation. Holy cow, it is hot in this country. Today's weather report: approximately 36°C with lot's of sun this morning. But let us start at the beginning of day 1.

I was able to fall asleep for a few hours last night, but Mallory wasn't so lucky. So instead of sleeping until 8 as planned, we were both up and about by 6am. We had a lovely all-you-can eat breakfast at the hotel with the usual eggs, fruit, pancakes, toast, and a few  not so usual items: fried rice, noodles and sushi. Our tour started at nine and our tour guide was extremely friendly. He could also name every bird in Bangkok apparently. He also bought us some crazy fruit from the market; most of it was delicious, but some fruits were kind of gross...

We walked through so many markets!! Stalls are everywhere here, and although it's very hot, the markets are either covered from the sun or have air conditioning making them a great way to get out of the heat. We visited a few temples, China town, little India, the MBK mall, markets... just about everywhere. And to get there we travelled by foot, riverboat, canal boat, tuk-tuk, subway and skytrain.
Fun facts: there are so many goldsmiths in Bangkok. In China town, every other store sold real, 24-carrot gold! And these places have almost no security because robberies apparently don't happen. Also, they drive on the left side of the road here.

After the tour today, we came back to the hotel hoping we could cool off in the pool. But of course the pool was under repair so we just chilled in our air conditioned room instead. We then went for dinner at a local thai place across the street from our hotel, very cheap and delicious! My guess is that we will both be passed out very soon... it's been a long but lovely day.

Here are some of my day one pictures with captions. That's all for now.
day 1


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

We arrived!!

Hello everyone.  You can stop worrying about our arrival because we have arrived safely at the bangkok hotel.  Everything went smoothly, we both got seats on the flights (although for the second flight we were not sitting together). Also our luggage did not get lost and someone was at the airport to pick us up :)  So far so good.

Our flights were very long, but we did get to watch many movies.  Our layover in Tokyo wasn't too bad either, we ate sushi and walked around the airport.
Currently it is 12:45am and 30 degrees outside.... very hot and it's only nighttime!  It's time for me to take a cold shower to cool off then go to bed.  We have a walking tour in the morning tomorrow and then the rest of the day to relax, which I am super pumped for.  Oh by the way, WIFI is very expansive at this hotel.  I will still try to post everyday but I may have to find a internet cafe or something.
Here are only a few pictures of our arrival.  I didn't have more time to take pictures of the hotel, but I will do that tomorrow.


Well its time for bed, stay tuned for our next post.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Goodbye Canada!

So we are leaving tomorrow at 2pm, and I just wanted to say my final farewell to everyone.  I also needed to post pictures one more time since we were having trouble yesterday.  Good news: I've finally figured this out!  We shouldn't (knock on wood) have any problems once in Thailand.


Just a few pictures of my luggage!  And my lovely new hat of course.  

Now all I have left to do is print off my ticket and sign in, and watch Hangover 2 with my brother!  I will see everyone in three weeks!


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Final Preparations

2 more sleeps and we are at the airport!
Hello everyone, just letting you know that our departure is just around the corner, and our last minute preparations are underway.  Our bags are currently being packed and our shopping is complete!  It's becoming so real now.

I'd just like to thank everyone who came to our lovely send-off party and my parents for hosting it. Everything was so beautiful.  Mal and I are super excited and promise to blog as much as we can to keep you all updated on our crazy adventures.  Here are some pictures of the party (mostly the party preparations).

I will post one more time before I leave to make sure I have this picture upload thing perfected.  Keep  checking our blog to see the amazing pictures, and post many comments with questions or suggestions.

Naddy & Mal

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Linking My Pictures!

Hello all!  So I think I've figured out how to attach my pictures finally and decided to test it out.  Here are some recent pictures I took of my easter weekend, including washing the dog, family dinner, road trip to Niagra Falls and our annual easter hunt.  Apparently you just click on the picture below to see the whole album.

easter weekend

Next time I was told to upload less pictures in a single album.  Instead of uploading all my pictures I will upload my favorite 40 or so pictures per day.  I will also try to upload pictures a few more times before I leave to make sure I get this right.    If for whatever reason you cannot see these pictures, let me know so I can fix it!
Less than a month away, I can't believe it!  Everything seems to be coming together so far; we've both had our hepatitis A and typhoid fever shots, Mal and I have a shopping day planned to finish preparations, insurances have been bought.  The only things left to do are write my exams, hop on a plane and enjoy myself!

That's it for today.  I really hope the pictures work out, but now it's time to sit back and eat some turkey!  Happy Easter everybody!


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Ongoing Preparations!

Howdy to all my beautiful followers!  I know it's been too long since my last post but school has been crazy these last couple weeks.  Now I have plenty of time to let you know how preparations for our wonderful Thailand trip are going!

So first of all our flight and our tours are booked.  We fly Air Canada from Toronto to Bangkok with a stop in Tokyo.  The total flight duration is approximately 20 hours, so I will remember to add Gravol to my preparation list.  I'm not very good at sleeping on planes unfortunately.

The next item on my list, what do I need to bring?  My mom and I went on a little shopping trip to Eddie Bauer for a few important items, like quick-dry clothes and shoes.  My feet will be very happy during this trip.
I also have my big backpack and smaller daypack all picked out.  Camera, shoes, bags, clothes, flights, hotels.... we are well on our way to a successful trip!  Time for a bit of research to Thai culture.

I found some very interesting tips on how to act in Thailand from wiki travel, and wanted to share them with all of you:
  • Greetings:  The traditional greeting in Thailand is known as the wai, where you press your hands together as in prayer.  It is usually accompanied by a slight bow.  There is a strict hierarchy involved with this greeting where inferiors must salute superiors first, for example "You should not wai service people or street vendors".  Foreign visitors are not expected to know how to do this properly.  A slight bow is more than enough when someone greets you with a wai.
  • Temples:  It is important to show respect when visiting temples.  Appropriate clothing (shoulders and legs should be covered) is necessary.  You also need to remove your shoes before entering a temple. When sitting in front of Buddha, it should be in the kneeling position with your feet tucked under you (your feet cannot point in their direction).  Also, you can take pictures of a Buddha statue but you shouldn't take a picture of you posing beside the statue (this is disrespectful). 
  • Monks: Women are not allowed to touch a monk.  They should avoid eye contact, and move out of their way on the street.
  • Royal Family: Do not disrespect the royal family, it's illegal.  So if you say anything bad about them, you may wind up in jail.
  • Others: The head is considered the holiest part of the body while the foot is considered the dirtiest.  It is disrespectful to touch another person's head.  Similarly, do not touch people with your feet, point at people with your feet or step over someone's feet to pass.  
I also came across a website that revealed the 50 most delicious foods, and four of them came from Thailand!  So here are a few dishes that Mal and I will be trying during our visit:
  • Som tam: A spicy green papaya salad, usually eaten with barbecued chicken and sticky rice.
  • Nam tok moo: A grilled pork salad.
  • Tom yum goong: A spicy soup with shrimp.  One of Thailand's most famous soups
  • Massaman curry: A famous thai curry commonly made with beef.
When it comes to food, the only thing left for me to do is memorize how to say "only a little bit of spice" or "no spice" and I will be good to go.

Well that's all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed this post!  Sorry about the lack of pictures, I wanted to add some food pictures but I can't figure out how to add a photo album to these posts.  This might be a problem.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Countdown Begins!

63 days until departure! The reality of it all is finally settling in, we will be on a plane to Bangkok in 2 months!  And since Mal and I are planning on having an AMAZING, once-in-a-lifetime experience, we figured why not bring our friends and family with us... through our blog!!  (because we don't actually want our family coming with us!)
So here is the first post of many, hopefully.  I've never blogged before, nor was I ever good at writing, so bear with me please.  Constructive comments only (this is directed at my family in particular).

We've booked 3 tours with Gap Adventure for a total of 20 days in beautiful Thailand!   Our 3 tours include 4 days in Bangkok, a Northern Thailand trek and a Southern Thailand sojourn.  Since Thailand is a rather large country, we will be travelling several nights on the sleeper train.  Otherwise we would be missing out on the contrasting landscapes of Northern and Southern Thailand!

Once in Thailand, we plan on participating in as many Thai activities as we can!  We will visit numerous temples, explore northern hill-tribes, ride ELEPHANTS, take a cooking class, shop at the night bazaar, snorkel in the reefs, lounge on the BEACH, and much more!  If you've been to Thailand and have any good suggestions or tips, we'd love to hear from you!
The best part of all this (for you guys) is that I got an awesome new camera for Christmas and will be able to capture all the AMAZING sights of Thailand!  I've been experimenting with my new Canon Rebel for sometime now, so we're talking some decent quality pictures here.
If you want more info on the Gap Adventure tours that we have booked, you can find them on their website under MyStyle Bangkok 4 day, Northern Hilltribe & Villages, and Southern Thailand Sojourn.  This way you will know exactly where we are each day!

Well that's it for now, I need to stop procrastinating and get back to studying.  No idea when or what I'll post next, it will be a surprise!  So all you need to remember for now is the following: 1) Mal and I are leaving for Thailand May 1st, 2) you can follow our amazing journey through this blog, and 3) you are all extremely jealous  = )

Nadine & Mallory