Sunday, August 25, 2013


As I said in a previous blog post (The List 1.0) this type of writing happens when I just have tooooooo many thoughts and not really a connection between them all. So here it goes 10 random thoughts, stories, or happenings from my side of the world.

1.     Rainy season has been going on since about May and it has officially got the best of me. Here when it rains, it is not like Seattle rain. It is like a mini monsoon and you can’t go anywhere without looking like you took a shower in your clothes. It is crazy the roads, houses, shops flood and then the earth absorbs all of the water so fast. My brain actually can’t wrap around how it can still accept more water. I was spoiled when I first got here with all of the beautiful weather and I so ready for that to come back.

2.     I freaking love these Yaowawit kids. They continue to crack me up, and of course keep me on my toes. Within the last month we have had FIVE volunteers end there time at Yaowawit and head back home for things like school. I think it has taken a toll on some of the kids. Today one of the kids came up to me and asked when I go home, I responded by telling him I will be here until March. His response: YAYYYY! I like you K. A. but then quickly followed by a much more put together “cool”... “Oh okay, just wondering.” It definitely put a smile on my face J

3.     Not only have the kids gotten sick of saying good-bye to people, but so have I! I am now working with my third set of volunteers, which I can hardly believe.  I can ‘t believe that I have almost been here for 8 months, but I am so lucky for all of the wonderful people I have gotten to work with. Also it’s nice that I will get to see a few of you again in just a couple of weeks!

4.     As of recently I am obsessed with youtube. I had never spent much time on it before but I have discovered that people have channels and post vlogs and all sorts of things. Yes I know I am probably really late to notice this but it is EXTREMELY addicting, and very entertaining. People have channels on beauty, daily life, celebs, music, and anything you can think of. It has made me want to do a one-week vlog post on my blog just to try it out. No I won’t ever have a channel, I just and curious how it all works.

5.     On the 31st is Taylor Swift’s concert in Seattle and today I got very worked up that I will not be there. So I watched all of my videos from her concert a couple of years ago. BEST DAY EVER. Front row, on my birthday, it doesn’t get much better. Also I just really miss Taylor’s curly hair hahah.

6.     BIRTHDAY SHOUT OUT TO ROGGGGGGGG, THE BEST DAD IN THE WORLD! His birthday is on the 26th and I wish I could be there. But like I said in your card dad, I will be home soon enough to celebrate. I hope you had a wonderful weekend of fishing, and that mom and kenz spoil you tomorrow haha. Love you dad and happy birthday.

7.     Since coming to Thailand I have a coke obsession. At home I never drink coke, or much pop in general. Here Coke is so much sweeter than what we have in the US. Many days it is my afternoon pick me up, and I still think it is way better than coffee. I realize now that it kind of sounds like I am talking about a drug hahahha but Coca Cola is what I am referring to DUH.

8.     I am still just as obsessed with music as ever. So I thought since in my last version of the list I mentioned my main playlist at the time, I thought I would continue that…
-       The new Luke Bryan CD, my favorites are: Play it Again, Sunburnt Lips, Dirt Road Diary… but really I love them all.
-       Last Love Song by ZZ Ward
-       No Faith in Brooklyn by Hoodie Allen
-       In Case, Made in the USA, and Something That We’re Not by Demi Lovato
-       The Walking in Between album by Ben Rector
-       I Want Crazy by Hunter Hayes

9.     WILDCATS EVERYWHERE THROW YOUR HANDS UP IN THE AIRRRRRRR. Guess what everybody; homecoming at Linfield is just around the corner! I swear I should be a rep for the school, advertising how good that place is haha. Anyways I am so excited about homecoming on October 5th because that means…

10. I WILL BE HOME!!! Yes, that is right I am taking a temporary break from my life in Thailand. I could not be more excited to see my family, friends, and the most comfortable couch ever in my living room. See you soonish America J

Writing about Pai makes me want pie...

Warning: This blog post is very whiny, and not well written haha.  Whooops.

Pai is located just about 3 hours from Chiang Mai, so Claire and I decided to take a two night trip to check it out. We had heard from numerous people to stay at a place called Spicy Pai. Spicy Pai was HIGHLY DISAPPOINTING. I am not quite sure what all of the hype was about.  The ride to Pai was similar to riding on the teacups at Disneyland, Literally the corners were so tight it felt like the van was going in complete circles. When arriving in Pai, everybody was feeling quite sick.

Our dormitory at Spicy Pai
We got there about 9 or 10 pm, so it was already dark. Luckily a guy who worked at Spicy Pai was in our van otherwise I think it would have been quite difficult to find. Also though it we were not with him we would have taken a taxi or something. We walked about two miles with our entire bunch of luggage, thinking we would be going on a five-minute walk. As soon as we checked in, we had one of the workers was hounding us over and over to drink. “C’mon we are playing games”, “ stop being lame” etc. It was extremely annoying, we were all car sick, and the more he wanted us to participate the less we wanted to.

The natural water slide
During the day we rented a motorbike and were on the hunt for waterfalls, which was one of the main reasons we came to Pai. Claire and I had about the same knack for directions which meant it took us about three times as long to get there haha. Eventually we stopped and asked for directions and outside was a group of guys asking for directions as well. We ended all going to the waterfall together and hanging out. Then someone had the brilliant idea of leaving this perfectly good waterfall to go to the “secret” hot springs. None of us had any idea the hellish roads/ mountains we would be going through. This is without a doubt the most stressful motorbike ride of my life, and I am sure Claire can vouch for that as well.
View from the top of the waterfall

The trip went by very quickly and I swear I did have a good time! We ended the trip with the best burgers I have had since being abroad, and the entire van got to smell them on the way back haha. Claire and I made very good travel partners and everyone kept commenting on how they couldn’t believe we only met each other a few days prior!

Moral of the story: Don’t stay at Spicy Pai, eat cheeseburgers, and go to the waterfalls but not the hot springs!

Chiang Mai

New Monk Ceremony
When planning my trip to Chiang Mai, I was concerned with how much time I had allotted. I had heard so many people talk about how much they love Chiang Mai but many people had a hard time putting their finger on why. I am now a part of that group. Maybe reliving my trip through writing this post will help me figure out why J

I took an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and had no idea what to expect before I got on board. The trip was supposed to be 12 hours so with a book, food, and my ability to sleep pretty much anywhere I was set. I was on the top bunk which literally meant I was laying in bed at 7pm haha. But when I fell asleep there was no one else in my section of 4 beds, when I woke up there was an Asian family below me having breakfast. I couldn’t help but think of 500 Days of Summer “I don’t know how to tell you this, but there is an Asian family in our bathroom” haha made me laugh. Anyways, somehow this 12 hour journey had turned into a 16 hour one. The poor worker was so annoyed by me I am sure, but how the heck was I supposed to know when we were there?! I only asked a couple of times but I would have like to ask about 15.  Finally, looking and feeling haggard I arrived in Chiang Mai and somehow had a tuk tuk waiting for me. I had booked a room at a hostel called Julie’s and apparently they had a pick up service!

Quick note on Julies: this hostel was AWESOME for meeting people.  It has a great common area with food/ drink, pool tables, lots of seating etc. The prices are pretty much unbeatable to stay here. Of course the accommodation is average and there isn’t any glitz or glam, but it is perfect for a backpackers hostel.

Once I got to Julie’s and was settled in my room, I decided to explore a bit. Chiang Mai is WAY bigger than I was imagining. I am pretty sure I was there for 10 days and didn’t see everything. While I was here I met a group of people which made the trip much better. In Chiang Mai, I went to massive shopping markets, rented a bicycle, got massages, went to many temples, took a side adventure to Pai for a few days with a friend I met traveling (more on Pai later), ate so much food, bought a few books, etc. I’m only going to elaborate on a couple of things otherwise I might end up writing a novel!
On our organic farm tour

Master chef status HA


 First is the cooking class. I have never taken a cooking class before, and was super excited for this. A couple of girls I had met had taken one from the same company (Asia Scenic Cooking) and had only positive things to say, so Claire (who I met in Chiang Mai) decided to sign up. It was a blast! I was slightly concerned because my cooking skills are not always up to par, but our instructor helped and gave very good instructions. When signing up you can take just a regular course at the cooking school, or you can take a tour of an organic farm and cook there. Claire and I had chose to just go to the cooking school, but when we arrived we were the only ones in our class so we got a free upgrade to the farm tour!  We made things like fried spring rolls, cashew chicken, massaman curry, fried bananas, and mango with sticky rice. Everything was delicious, and we left very full. My advice would be to go on an empty stomach because you are pretty much going to be eating multiple meals in about a 3 hour time frame. Overall the cooking class was a success, and I would highly recommend it to chefs (and want to be chefs) of all skill levels!

In Chiang Mai there are pretty much temples on every corner, so I have pictures of many. I had been told that there was a temple I had to go to but of course I kept putting it off, putting it off because I had seen so many temples already. On my last day in Chiang Mai I made myself get up early and go. This was temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which is the most famous and visited temple in Chiang Mai. To get there I took a tuk tuk to the zoo, where I was dropped off and then a Song-taew  (basically a pick up truck with seats in the back) waits until it is full and then you are on your way up the mountain. It is a very windy trip and there was definitely some people that were not feeling so hot in the truck. Also I read about how to get there in my lonely planet Thailand book, and they said that this was the easiest way… but who knows. Be ready to walk up TONS of stairs (no Anna, not like the one we went to in Laos… thank goodness) it is totally do able, I am just complaining haha. Also WARNING: do not take pictures of the really cute kids sitting in traditional Thai garb on the stairs. I did so on the way up and I learned the hard way. They will come charging at you and pull on your clothes until you give them money.  I felt so dumb haha, because of course I screamed because they scared the crap out of me, then I was cracking up because I was by myself and so flustered. Besides being bullied by these kids and almost rolling down the stairs, to top it all off I didn’t even get a good picture!

On the walk down the kids were still sitting on the stairs, many of them crying. I then realized their mom or dad or someone would be sitting off to the side telling them to get money from people and more specifically who to target. These poor kids were so hot and tired, and probably sick of sitting there day after day. All of this resulted in my feeling bad for taking the picture in the first place, and buying about ten of them something cold to drink, because that solves everything? Regardless they were very thankful.

One more random side note! If you are in Thailand In April make Chiang Mai a must do on your list! In Mid-April is the Songkran Festival also known as Thai New Year. I was so upset that I had to leave a few days before it started because the city was already preparing for it. I also had friends who were there and said it was the highlight of their two months of traveling. Here is a link that will better describe the festival J

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Back again and again to Bangkok

Throughout my two months of traveling, Bangkok seemed to be my place where I could go and settle down for a few days. I would get to Bangkok, sleeeeeeeeeeep and plan my next adventures. Since I had already done most of the touristy, need to do type things in Bangkok I had no problem relaxing here. I found a hostel that I would highly recommend here! It is called The Mile Map and it was wonderful for a hostel and was very close to a sky train stop. This was my first ever hostel and traveling alone experience and had no idea what to expect. Thankfully the Mile Map was very clean, air conditioned and full of friendly people. The sky train is probably my favorite thing about Bangkok. Not only did I feel extremely accomplished being able to successfully maneuver myself around the city, but it is the most efficient way to see (part of) Bangkok in my opinion. 
The Mile Map Hostel

I was in Bangkok three different times throughout March and April and found myself in the same areas. It was strange that even though Bangkok is not necessarily homey, each time I flew in it was like a sense of relief…back in Thailand. I had developed a routine each time I was in Bangkok. I would make sure to 1. Stop at the local college and watch them play soccer, they had a game every time I was in town. It was a small Christian College, which I found so random to be in the middle of Bangkok, but anyways the field was right on the way to the sky train. I am sure they thought I was a stalker of some sort because I would always get looks like who the heck is the random American sitting amongst the Thai fans. 2. Go to Siam Paragon and Siam Center (the malls). Two malls that were side by side, needless to say I spent more than my fair share of time there. 3. Go to Lumpini Park, which I have renamed to the Central Park of Thailand. This park is BEAUTIFUL and so peaceful. You can ride bikes, run, read, and even rent paddleboats. 4. Lastly I would make sure to go to Starbucks. Thai Starbucks has the BEST smoothie on their menu that I will miss when I am home. It is mango passion fruit, and way too good to pass up.

The last time I was in Bangkok Anna, her boyfriend Alex, and his friend were there at the same time. All of us met up one night to go to the LeBua sky bar, which is where parts of the Hangover 2 was filmed. You can literally see for miles up there, the view was nothing short of incredible. At this point in the trip I hadn’t seen Anna in a few weeks so the location made for a sweet reunion and of course a perfect chance for us to dress up a little. I have heard there are many sky bars in Bangkok, and if they are anything like the LeBua I highly recommend taking a trip to the top!

Since Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, it is very easy to get travel from. There are always buses, trains, and planes leaving to go elsewhere from Bangkok. I primarily used the sky train and train system, with of course the occasional taxi. Once again I had trouble with the taxis haha. Many of the taxi drivers refuse to use their meter in the cab and want to charge you a fixed amount that it outrageous. Being in Thailand for quite a while now I am aware of this and won’t get in a cab unless the meter is already on… except this one time when I was running really late J  I cant remember how much I agreed to pay, but I do know it was too much, but I figured at least I would get there quickly and just be at the airport. Little did I know we would be stopping at a gas station (wait in line forever), the driver would be having a quick snack with some friends and I would almost miss my plane. When FINALLY arriving at the airport, the driver jacked up the price to almost double the agreed upon price. Long story short this resulted in me slamming the car door, throwing money through the open window (the original price), and maybe using a few choice words… Whoops. I think it’s safe to say my sass got the best of me. Unfortunately that leaves me at Ashley-1 and psycho taxi drivers-1.

At first when writing this post I could hardly think of a thing to write about Bangkok but now that I am writing I can think of a whole list. I will spare you the rambling novel until my next Bangkok post, I’m sure I will be back soon enough!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


The Twin Towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur
 Courtesy to my expiring Thai visa, I got to take a little trip to Malaysia. Down town Kuala Lumpur is the closest I have felt to being in Seattle since I have been in Asia! It has the hustle and bustle of businessmen and woman, skyscrapers and office buildings, and my favorite part… incredible amounts of malls and shopping! Or maybe it is just because I am sitting downtown at a Starbucks? Regardless all  of it and the Papa Johns pizza I found made me feel very at home.

When I arrived in Kuala Lumpur my only plans were to take care of my visa, other than that I didn’t even know much about the city. I decided to hop on the monorail, I picked a random place to get off and find something to eat. I walk down the stairs and what do I find? An H&M, Forever 21, Victoria Secret, etc! I was dropped right into the middle of shopper’s paradise, and I was all smiles. Downtown has so many different malls and shopping centers, I swear every time I walked around the corner I found another one. Anyways it was very easy to keep myself busy.

So far the visa process has been pretty painless. Ahead of time I had all of the documents prepared and ready to go. On many websites I read about getting to the embassy before it opened at 9:30. There I was at 7:30am sitting on the side of the road anticipating the gates to open. Luckily I had my laptop to entertain myself. I realized that I had a movie in my computer, Marley and Me. Yes I sat on the side of the road sobbing as I watched and other people stared. I’m sure they thought I was having some form of mental break down, but I dare you to watch that movie without crying! At about 8:45 I decided to clip together all of my documents, when I realize I cannot find an envelope with a few things inside I need. I frantically dump out my entire backpack, to then remember I took it out last night and it is on my bed. I then lose my first place in line and hop in a taxi, that I literally have to beg to take me back and forth. Long story short, I made it and have applied for my visa. Never a dull moment J

Things I learned while in Malaysia:

      -       Seeing a movie alone is not nearly as bad as I thought it was. Although I think about it now and it may be an all-time low for my social life. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and didn’t feel uncomfortable sitting alone. Worst part was not being able to talk about the movie afterwards.
      -       Taxi drivers like to rip you off. I got scammed out of some money and was so frustrated. Him screaming at me, me yelling back, resulting in him flipping me off and driving away. Yes I still lost the money, but I think I got under his skin just enough. Ashley-1 Psycho taxi driver-0
      -       People are weird. No this is not new news, but after traveling throughout Asia you realize how true this is for every culture.
      -       I am not as directionally challenged as I thought. I can proudly say that I have mastered the Malaysian monorails.

      -       Going to the embassies to renew your visa is quite similar to going to the DMV. Everybody is grumpy, nobody wants to be there, and the workers can simply decide whether or not they will make your day or absolutely ruin it.

((This took place at the beginning of June. It was just about a month after I had returned from my backpacking trip)