Friday, January 25, 2013

Died and went to heaven: Koh Nangyuan Island (Thailand)

So I'm pretty sure all of us have flipped through magazines and seen those colorful photos of white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Well Koh Nangyuan Island just outside of Koh Tao is one of those places. It is essentially three small island connected by sandbars in the middle of the ocean. It's just breathtaking and I truly can not express the beauty of it through words. That little slice of paradise is something I will never forget and the feelings of excitement and happiness while on the sandbar will always stay with me.


Pause...and Start

Blogger has fixed its photo upload problem and I can now resume posting about Thailand and food excursions since.
*Happy face*

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Snorkeling Around Koh Tao (Thailand)

AMAZING. The island of Koh Tao is the "it" spot for scuba diving in Thailand. People from all over the world to this tiny island and stay for months to dive. Sadly we did not have the time to go through scuba diving lessons and everything that comes with it so we opted for the alternative, snorkeling. A boat took us out to several locations around the island where we were able to explore the beauty beneath the sea. Unfortunately, the majority of sites we went to -because they were closer to land rather than out in the middle of the ocean- did not have much live coral. There was however countless varieties and colors of fish at the snorkeling sites that were memorizing and certainly made for a great time. I would go back to Koh Tao to try out scuba diving because Koh Tao is one of the best places to view whale sharks! That would be awesome to see.
I don't have any snorkeling photos because I don't have a special waterproof camera, but these are some of the shots I took from the boat of Koh Tao.


Koh Tao Eating: Not here for the food

While the tiny island of Koh Tao may be a diving tropical paradise, it is not much of a foodie land. I guess you could say I got a bit spoiled in Bangkok. Catering to mostly tourists and long haul backpackers, Koh Tao's cuisine is limited. While mile long menus offering dishes from every continent to satisfy the needs of home sick or unadventurous travellers are available at almost every restaurant, the dishes are lacking authentic flavor and originality. We all gotta eat though so...

One of the more positive comments I can make about Koh Tao dining is that while the food may not be anything special, the view from many of the restaurants certainly makes up for any deficits. My family and I had dinner one night at a restaurant that was perched up on stilts above the ocean. We sat at low tables on little cushions and enjoyed the sea breeze while we ate our dinner.
I've already expressed my dislike of pad thai but the menu at this
particular restaurant was limited so I opted for the standard dish.
It was YUCKY and sopping in sweet greasy sauce.

The view from the beach side restaurant was beautiful though...

I had to take a photo of this sign at the restaurant.
Funny but sad

By the color of the next couple photographs I'm sure you can tell
this is from another restaurant

Can't go wrong with a Thai iced coffee

Coconut drink

Penang curry

Banana fritters and ice cream

Koh Tao Resort (Koh Tao, Thailand)

While I typically don't blog much about the hotels I stay at during my travels, this hotel was well worth the mention. Separated on two properties, Paradise Zone and Beach Zone, the Koh Tao Resort was a welcomed retreat from the bitter cold of Edmonton. The Paradise Zone, located on the top of a large hill had a beautiful view of the clear blue bay below, an infinity pool, and was surrounded in lush forest. The Beach Zone, as its name implies was made up of several bungalows that were on the beach. The "kids" stayed up in the Paradise Zone while my parents had a bungalow in the Beach Zone.

Jim Thompson House, Bangkok (Thailand)

The history of Jim Thompson is quite a interesting one and made me want to visit his compound even more. Jim Thompson was a former American CIA agent that fell in love with Thailand and settled down in Bangkok after the war. His interest in Thai textiles resulted in his involvement in the traditional Thai silk industry which at that time was slowly becoming a dying art. By reinvigorating the Thai silk industry by sending samples to fashion houses around the world, Thompson was able to save the industry and create a market for such beautiful textiles. During his time in Thailand he collected several traditional Thai teak houses which he had deconstructed from the country side in efforts to save them and then rebuilt in his housing compound in Bangkok. During a vacation in Malaysia Thompson mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. His housing compound has since been preserve and had been oped up to the public.

For those interested in visiting the Jim Thompson House, made sure you prepare in advanced or expect to wait around for a bit because tours of the teak homes are done at scheduled tour times. We had to wait 45 minutes for our tour time and simply didn't have the time to wait around so we got a refund back on our ticket. You are still able to view the compound, you just can't go inside the houses. The compound has a gift shop selling beautiful silks as well as a restaurant.

Chao Phraya Dinner River Cruise

My family and I met up with some family friends who were also in Bangkok and we enjoyed a lovely dinner cruise on board a traditional Thai teak boat down the Chao Phraya River. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos of the boat and the set up because of the lack of light but I did manage to photograph the nights menu along with some of the dishes. The food, which was unfortunately lacking in flavor, sounded a lot better on the menu than it tasted in real life. However, the night time view of Bangkok from the river, the beautiful traditional boat, the fragrant flowers that decorated the boat, and the superb hospitality of the waiters made the experience memorable. I wasn't paying much attention to anything around me but apparently our dinner was accompanied by a traditional Thai dancing performance.

Shrimp Tom Yum

Chicken satay with peanut sauce (Indonesian peanut sauce
is better in my opinion)



Assortment of desserts

Grand Palace, Bangkok (Thailand)

 Last time I was in Bangkok I avoided the Grand Palace because I was stubborn and thought it would be boring and that I would die of heat exhaustion. This time around my mom forced me to go into the Grand Palace and boy was I happy I did. The Grand Palace is a beautiful and well maintained property full of amazing temples and buildings. If you find yourself in Bangkok, please do visit despite the blazing heat because it is well worth it.

Merry Christmas from Bangkok

Merry Christmas to everyone back home in Canadaland. Our family and significant others celebrated Christmas morning at our hotel in Bangkok with some doughnuts and some surprise gifts from my parents. My dad surprised me with a beautiful 14k gold pen engraved with my name which is identical and from the same maker as the pen he owns. Not letting anyone borrow this pen lol. Hope everyone back home had a great Christmas!

Substitution for Christmas chocolate

Xmas morning in the boys messy hotel room

Coel and I

Merry Xmas

Street Side Dinner by Lumpini Park (Bangkok, Thailand)

My family, Coel and my sisters boyfriend Nathan had dinner at one of the many street side pop up restaurants for Christmas Eve dinner. We ordered a table full of dishes including tom yum soup, hot pot, laarb, stir fried morning glory, bbq pork etc all washed down with Singa (and Thai soda water for me). The tom yum soup was exceptionally spicy (just the way I like it) and I will be returning just for the tom yum when I return to Bangkok from the island. I wish I could have taken more pictures of the food but we all dug into it before I remembered to take photos.

Sorry about the poor picture quality.

The fam jam

Hot pot

Tom yum with shrimp

Stir fried morning glory with garlic

Everyone enjoying a great Thai meal