Greetings from Thailand everyone! 🤩
There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a doozy of a year, and affected everyone on different levels. As an expat in Thailand, I have encountered quite a few unexpected changes in life, but I’m continuing to find the positivity in each experience and find COVID-friendly alternatives to my original plans for the year. I’ll begin with what I considered to be a good omen and a reminder of human kindness. To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I enjoyed a delicious Thai meal along the Chao Phraya River. This celebration ended abruptly as I dropped my iPhone right into the water. Now to my astonishment, the next morning, the restaurant owners actually went into the water, which literally resembles chocolate milk, and fished out my device with a net. Wow! 😱
Of course, it was obligatory to buy a new iPhone, and this experience also reminded me of the impermanence of money, material possessions, and good fortune.
Sometimes life will present us with challenges that make us wish for yesterday’s problems. As such, I’ve decided to keep seizing the day to do what I love: travel, eat and explore.
I’ve been on quite a few domestic vacations and foodie adventures that I’d like to share with all of you. Hope you enjoy! 😃
First up was a train trip to Kanchanaburi. My boyfriend and I took a 3-hour train trip northwest to Kanchanaburi town, then rented a scooter to explore the country roads along the River Kwai. 🚂
We stayed at Aek Pailin River Kwai Hotel, which was near to Erawan National Park and Elephant World, a sanctuary that I volunteered at in the past. 🌼
I loved the resort’s riverside picnic-style dining in the evening, where we sat on the lawn surrounded by twinkling lights strung up in the trees. 💕
Chiang Mai and Pai
Most recently, we also took a 10-day trip to Chiang Mai and Pai.
We flew with AirAsia, which cost about 50 USD each way and took 1.5 hours.
The Wing Boutique was a great value for money when we arrived so late, since we wouldn’t get to appreciate a fancier hotel. It was centrally located and only cost 20 USD.
We had drinks and listened to DJ music at Nophaburi Bar to celebrate our arrival.
Once in Chiang Mai, we rented a scooter and drove 3 hours north to Pai.
Here is the White Buddha, a landmark in Pai, and the rice terraces in the surrounding area. In the photo on the right you can see the White Buddha looking like a small white speck surrounded by the green mountain landscape. ☸️
Now, the road to Pai is well-paved, but is also a winding mix of hills and over 750 turns. Not recommended when it rains! 😱
Although my boyfriend is a safe driver, I was jealous of the witches at this quirky witch-themed cafe. I would have much rather flown there on a broom. Hah! 🧙♀️
Anyway, we made it safely and enjoyed various styles of resorts and restaurants during our visit. For a budget-friendly, centrally-located option, we stayed at The Quarter.
For something more European and refined, we stayed at Reverie Siam Resort. Their included breakfast was opulent and resembled afternoon tea in London. We also appreciated the vintage colonial decor, lavish soaking tub, attentive staff, and unusually shrubbery, which honestly made us feel like we were transported to England. They even infused their own gin and let guests create DIY cocktails. 🍸
For something more contemporary, we stayed at Puripai Villa. We loved the large balcony overlooking the mountains, warm wooden elements with modern seating, open-air restaurant, and cafe.
In terms of food, Pai traditionally caters to tourists and offers many Western options. Our favorite spots were Siam Bar and Bistro, Witching Well, Cafecito, and The Pedlar. We also liked the staff at La Reve wine bar and the selection of beers at Jikko Bar.
They have a black sticky rice pancake drizzled with nuts and sweetened condensed milk.
In terms of attractions, we visited the Bamboo Bridge, Chinese viewpoint, and hiked part of the Mae Yen Waterfall Hiking Trail.
We stayed at Panviman Spa Resort, which had a secluded location, stunning infinity pool and jacuzzi, delicious dining options, and lots of on-site activities, like yoga, meditation. My favorite part was the soothing essential oils that they used across the resort and the ambient music that was playing wherever we walked. So peaceful! 🧘
In terms of attractions, we explored nearby Mon Jam, a hillside farming community with incredibly unique options for mountain camping. It must be a gorgeous spot for the sunrise! 🌄
We also visited Kuv Niam Forest, a field full of purple flowers, where they also sold local fruit wines and handicrafts.
Once back in Chiang Mai, we stayed in the hip and artsy Nimman neighborhood, so we could explore the food scene and nightlife. Our favorite spots, based on the cuisine we were craving at that time, included Rustic and Blue, The Overstand, The FACES Gallery and Gastro Bar, Rock Me Burger, Wanlamun Rim Nam, and Gallery Seescape.
Aside from our two luxurious holidays, we have been enjoying many new restaurants in Bangkok.
We met one of the nicest restaurant owners at Senban Hokkaido Butadon near Samyan and their food was also delicious. Butadon is a Japanese dish of grilled pork and onions with egg and a sweet soy sauce on rice. I even had mine topped with melted cheese. Yum! We also tried a new dish called Yum Pla Duk Fu at The Bangkok Heritage. This dish consists of crispy fried catfish on top of mango coleslaw. The consistency was similar to cotton candy, and the fluffy fried fish just melted in your mouth. The greasy fish paired well with the sweet, tangy and fresh slaw too.
Weekend brunches are my favorite; however, so that was definitely the focus of this food journey.
Now coffee and brunch go hand-in-hand, so I was delighted to also visit the IMPACT Arena for the 2020 Coffee Fest. ☕
We also participated in Bangkok Restaurant Week, where participants pay a fixed price for a set menu at an upscale restaurant, which has a nice value for money. We chose DTF: Dao Tu Fook, a Chinese restaurant in the old town with a post-war nostalgia theme, and El Tapeo, a Spanish wine bar in Thonglor. 🍷
We also embraced our German roots by eating some German food at Alexander’s German Eatery, Sühring, and even an Oktoberfest celebration at the Mandarin Oriental.
The most sophisticated of the three being Sühring, a two Michelin star restaurant which focuses on simple, seasonal dishes.
They offer a set menu that is broken down into three chapters. We also ordered some extras like spaetzle with truffle and duck confit wafer that was concealed in a traditional German chocolate wrapper. My personal favorite was the spilt pea soup poured over a ring of sweet potato and egg yolk served with various homemade breads, butter, and caviar.
Of course, we’ve also been trying stay active and outdoors as much as possible during the end of this rainy season. As a general rule, whether rain or shine, I bring an umbrella wherever I go.
The one exception being when we were were rained out during our bike ride, so we had to take refuge at Sheepshank Beer Bar. Not a bad trade off! Cheers! 🍺
At school, I’ve taken on a new role as the Year 6 middle school teacher.
For some examples of classroom activities, I’ve been teaching biology, and I had the kids create comics illustrating the journey that sperm make to reach an egg. I’ve also been teaching WW2 in history and had the kids create a modern twist on traditional propaganda posters.
The kids and I get on real well and they’ve even spoiled me with gifts on Teachers’ Day. Aside from traditional chocolates, I received dried squid and homemade northern Thai sausages. So unique and sweet! 💗🦑
Anyway, we only have 7 weeks before our school takes another 3-week vacation for Christmas. In the meantime, there are many local and international holidays to celebrate, and many exciting things on the calendar to look forward to. I can’t wait to share all these experiences with you. No matter who’s reading this, no matter where you are in the world right now, and whatever challenges you are going through this year, I want to wish you well. Stay safe, stay healthy, and find any joy you can in today, because this present really is a gift. Take care everyone! X 💗