Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Packing list

Here is the packing list I used for my trip. If you forget something, check Watson's drug store or 7-Eleven, because they have all the essentials. Try to pack light because you will be sure to pick up some Thai apparel and handicrafts to bring back.
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Medicine
  • Nail clippers & file
  • Facial cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Cosmetics
  • Toothbrush
  • Zip locks
  • Books & Magazines
  • Journal
  • Digital Camera
  • Sunglasses & Eye glasses
  • Light-weight shirts & pants
  • Shorts
  • Swim wear
  • Trainers
  • Flip flops
  • Small day pack
  • Calculator
  • Copies of all docs
  • Credit card
  • Passport
  • Tickets
  • Cash
Remember to pack light and enjoy where ever your path may lead you!

Here, we were fully packed and heading from Siem Reap to Saigon. Notice we had only one backpack each!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thailand: Getting There

There are several airlines that fly to Thailand. We have taken China Airlines in the past and were very pleased. They afford the economy passengers the luxuries of flying first class with amenities such as slippers, mid-flight yoga instruction, and gourmet meals. If you have the option to have breakfast on China Airlines, definitely choose the congee. It is a rice porridge with bits of onion and chicken. It is so delightful and hard to believe it was served on a flight!

The gardens at BKK airport

Most flights in to Thailand go to Bangkok. The Bangkok airport (BKK) has just been revamped and is very easy to maneuver, and quite beautiful too. There are many restaurants and shops too. So don't fret if you have a layover in Bangkok. You can troll the Gucci store or grab a great dinner!

Display at the BKK airport

Once you get to Bangkok, you will need a connecting flight if you are traveling to Phuket or Koh Samui. There are a few airlines that fly directly from the States to Phuket and Koh Samui, but these flights are very expensive. Just book your ticket to Thailand, then hop a cheap domestic flight to your final destination.

From Bangkok to Phuket, we flew Bangkok Air, which offered a complimentary traveler lounge. The lounge was amazing! They had everything from comfortable couches to nap on, to a full assortment of snacks and drinks, to free internet! They even had sticky rice!!! I was in heaven! I would definitely travel Bangkok Air again!

Bangkok Airways traveler lounge

There are the options of buses or trains, but the domestic flights are so inexpensive it just doesn't make much sense to spend another 12 hours en route. Grab a Bangkok Airways flight, and get caught up on your email while you are waiting for take off!

The brightly colored Bangkok Airways plane

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thailand: Buying Guide -- Local Items

Thailand has a plethora of beautiful items you may want to take back home. From pearl from the Andaman Sea to handicrafts of all sorts, there are so many things to choose from! I really like buying the local items, as I call them, because I feel like I am supporting the people, and thus the country.

Some great items that I have found along the way include:

Pearls - You can find them everywhere, be it a necklace, a bracelet, earrings, or whatever you want. I purchased freshwater pearl in both natural color and black pearls and was very happy with the quality and price. I got the necklace and bracelet set for around $10 from a street vendor.

I also purchased a black pearl necklace and bracelet set, with the pearls being of slightly larger diameter for $12 from a vendor on Chaweng Beach. The vendor was so happy that it was the first sale of the day that he gave my boyfriend a bracelet made of shells and stones. I also purchased a pearl necklace that had three dangling pearls for only $3. These make great gifts to take back to family and only take up a small amount of space in your bag.

Black pearl set from Chaweng

Jewelry - Besides pearls, you can pick up a lot of different styles of very unique shell and stone jewelry. I bought some cute colored shell earrings for my friends for only $2 a pair. There is alot a lot of sterling silver jewelry to choose from.

Pearl bracelet from Pi Pi Island

Fisherman pants - Fisherman pants are one of the items that many tourists buy while in Thailand. These pants are hard to resist and the are the quintessential lounge pants. They generally have material on the sides that is tied in the front at the waist. Some are also draw string. These are comfy and great for a day at the beach or trekking through the islands.

Wearing fisherman pants while exploring Samui

Silk - You can't go to Thailand without buying silk. There are various silk items from scarves, to shirts, to bedspreads and pillow cases. I really wish I would have bought one of the bedspreads. I believe they were only around $25. I have been trying to find one in the States, but they go from $125-$200 here. So I think I will just wait until the next time I am in Thailand.

Thinking of getting a custom suit or dress made? See my previous article on Phuket... and beware!

Examining silk for custom dress

Handy crafts - The Thai people are very handy with the things their country offers them. They can craft so many beautiful and unusual items from bamboo! There are various decorative items, such as votive holders and bowls. They also carve Buddhist designs into wood and then brush a bit of gold paint on the top. They are really beautiful and I wish I would have bought one to hang on my wall! If you are looking to decorate you home, Thailand offers so many options at a very affordable price!

Wooden pose carving from Samui

Wooden elephant carving from Bangkok

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thailand: Buying Guide -- Knock-offs

Thailand does offer some pretty nice knock-offs. Here are some items that seemed to be of good quality, and quite popular among tourists:

Modeling a Prada hobo bag
  • Lacoste polo shirts: There were a great buy at about $10 and available in every color you can think of.
  • DVDs: There are also bootlegged copies of DVDs for about $4 each. They seemed to be pretty good quality. There are also a ton of video games for cheap.
  • 7 for All Mankind: Ladies, be sure to grab some 7 for All Mankind jeans! I saw the traditional bootcut and A pocket, both go for about $30.
  • Louis Vuitton: There are some pretty good Louis Vuitton items.
  • Gucci: There are some good... some bad. Be careful.

Gucci duffel bag from a Patong vendor
  • Prada: There are some nice purses but be sure the check the fixtures to make sure they are sturdy. If you want to know if a purse if leather, ask the vendor to put a flame to it. If it is real leather, it won't melt. Vendors usually love to do this to show off their leather wares.
  • Perfume: You can get various brands for $10 a bottle. Be sure to smell the sampler first because some of the scents aren't exactly what they were labeled. But still a great buy.

Lots of video games and DVDs

***It is important to know that the fakes come in different grades, so look around because if you are going to spend some money, you should get something that won't fall apart after the first use.

Ed Hardy hat - $9 from a street vendor in Samui

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pad Thai Recipe

Pad Thai was originally developed in Bangkok to serve busy office workers with fast, nutritious and delicious food to eat during their breaks. You will still find it being served at street vendors and most restaurants.

Variations of this Thai favorite can be seen on menus across the country. Thai taste can be defined as the use of all 5 flavors: spicy, sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Only Thai cuisine brings out all of these flavors to play together harmoniously in a meal, and Pad Thai is no exception!

Thai Street Vendor


1/2 package (16oz) wide rice noodles
2 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
3 eggs
1/4 lb. pork, cut into 1" by 1/4" pieces
3 tbsp. dried small shrimps
2 tbsp. salted radish, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. thin soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp. coconut palm sugar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, crush in a mortar & pestle or chop with a chef's knife
Lime for garnish

  1. Boil 3 cups of water. Pour over noodles in a large bowl and soak for 20 minutes until softened. Drain.
  2. Heat oil in wok, until hot but not smoking. Add smashed garlic. Add pork. Fry until meat is no longer pink.
  3. Add eggs and stir until cooked, combining with pork.
  4. Add noodles, dried shrimps, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and bean sprouts. Stir fry for another 3 to 4 minutes until mixed up and heated through.
  5. Add salted radish, if using (rinse if very salty). Stir fry another minute. Toss in the peanuts, tossing to mix.
  6. Garnish with lime and serve.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bangkok, Thailand - Night Events: Khao San Road

Khao San Road

Khao San is a street filled with little bars and restaurants and lined with vendors as well. You can buy anything from frames for your glasses for $5, to hair clips and earrings, to bugs. That's right, bugs... you have a choice of worms, maggots, and some type of beetle. We opted for the tourists variety pack (tourist in that the locals won't come close to this snack). They are baked, probably in the sun, until they are crispy.

Bug Buffet

They are kept in metal containers under a heat lamp to make you feel as if they were actually cooked. Just before serving the tourist these lovely treats, they are sprayed with a brown liquid, which I think is something like soy sauce. Then they are doused with salt. All I will say is... if you are going to try these, be sure to have some water on hand, because they don't go down so smooth!

Khao San is a backpacker's paradise. This has been the meeting grounds for backpacker's exploring South East Asia for some time now. The street is about 1km long and has everything from hotels, to travel agencies, to clubs, bars, restaurants, and market stalls. You can find the entire inventory of a clothing store on display. I can't imagine how long it takes to assemble and disassemble the "store" as it is only on the street for night sales.

This was a fun place to go because everything you could ever think of is within reach. If you are looking to meet fellow tourists, this should be your first stop!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bangkok, Thailand - Night Events: Bars


Bangkok boasts a variety of bars and nightclubs. We visited the Q Bar. It was a pretty good time but didn't pick up until pretty late into the night. So I guess this would be the last stop if you are hopping. Q Bar brings in a lot of tourists because of live djs and cheap drinks (in US standards). It is a fun way to spend a night out on the town.

Q Bar

If you are hungry when you head home, hit the 7-Eleven. We, again mistakingly, asked our tuk tuk driver if there were any restaurants open. He drove us to a gamey smelling seafood restaurant that was severely over-priced.

Again an example of the tuk tuk drivers and the vendors being in cahoots. My advise to you, if you have a day to just spend driving around, feel free to ask the driver for his opinion, but beware if he takes you somewhere, you are bound to use the services, be it a store, restaurant, or tour.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bangkok, Thailand - Night Events: Patpong Night Market

Patpong Night Market

Here you will find knock off everything from Tiffany, Rolex, Louis Vuitton, to course loads of Diesel. If you are interested in buying fakes, do buy in moderation, as the Lanham Act (US) steeply penalizes possession or distribution of knock-offs. I have not heard of a tourist being busted with a fine or jail time, but I have heard that the items will be confiscated. The prices at the market are cheap, but you do have to deal with the locals who are peddling goods and just may push you to the edge.

The faint of temperament should not visit this night market as you will find it quite vulgar. Men will try to sell you tickets to X-rated shows and ask you to try on various clothes or buy DVDs. It doesn't seem to matter if you are there with a guy, they continuously flock you for business. No matter how many times you tell them you are not interested, they follow you for blocks... not to mention the go-go dancers that beg you to come to their shows.

Patpong Night Market

In the end, I found it to be a memorable experience. I would encourage others to check out the Patpong area, if nothing else, for the shock factor alone. It is a must see in Bangkok. Go with an idea of what you want to purchase and that makes the experience all the better.