I am not an independent traveler. My sister can pick up and go at the drop of a hat and navigate a new country with ease. My travel usually begins with almost paralyzing fear. The first time I flew internationally by myself, I was meeting my sister in Croatia. I had one layover in Germany and I was convinced that this is where my trip would change drastically and start to follow the plot line of Taken. My father is not Liam Neeson however, so the ending would have been tragically different. But I made it to Croatia with no issues and as each part of the trip passed that had given me anxiety, the more I loved it and wanted more. Traveling quickly flew to the top of my list of things I want to do in my lifetime. And with each passing trip, the amount of travel I want to do grows as well. Luckily, I have found a partner who values travel and experiencing other cultures as highly as I do. Without him in particular as my partner I would probably never have gotten this lust for adventure. And while R has always had a lust for adventure, it would never have come to fruition without my pushing us to do it. We complement each other! We have done trips of all sizes together from small camping trips in the California wilderness to large international trips and we have our sights set on seeing the whole world before we settle down and do the kid thing. But until then, we will reminisce about all of our voyages so far. Starting with the first example of R's lust for adventure influencing me: our honeymoon.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to go somewhere and lay on a beach with a cocktail in my hand for my honeymoon. Just me and my husband as far as the eye could see. But when it came time to plan our actual honeymoon, that didn't seem like the right option for R and me. He would have gotten bored laying on a beach for days and if I am being honest, I probably would have too. Around this time I read an article about Cambodia. According to the hot local San Francisco magazine, 7x7, Cambodia was the number one vacation spot in 2012. This opened the door to the idea of going to Southeast Asia for our honeymoon. Neither of us had ever been, and it definitely would be an adventure since it was so far out of our comfort zones. After mentioning it to R we started adding other countries to the list- Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand! We had heard great things about them all and figured if we were going over there we might as well see it all! As we started planning, however, it became obvious that visiting three countries in 12 days would not allow for much relaxation which was just as important to me as sightseeing. Slowly we whittled the list down to just Thailand and Cambodia, and then to just Thailand.
Thailand was the perfect blend of relaxation and unique experiences. I would have preferred a few more sun filled days laying on the beach with a cocktail in my hand but we did go at the tail end of the rainy season. Three weeks after our wedding, after the stress and chaos had subsided and we had caught up on sleep, we embarked on our 12 day honeymoon to Thailand.
We packed a lot into 12 days and going through every detail would make this post into a novel, and nobody wants that. Instead, I outlined our trip and threw in some highlights to give you an idea of how we spent our honeymoon in this beautiful, accessible and friendly country.
- Kanchanaburi & Erawan Falls
- Koh Phangan
- Railay Beach
- Koh Lanta
- Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn (Bangkok)
- U Ichantree Kanchanaburi
- Santhiya Resort & Spa (Koh Phangan) *Our favorite hotel in all of Thailand*
- Plus a few random ones in Railay Beach, on Koh Lanta & in Phuket that we can't remember the names of
- Walking and eating in the alleys of Bangkok
- Boat ride to dinner in the Fisherman's Wharf of Bangkok
- Tuk Tuk ride through Bangkok
- Hiking Erawan Falls, a seven level waterfall outside of Kanchanaburi
- Lounging on our private balcony in Koh Phangan
- Thai foot massage in Koh Phangan
- Kayaking in Railay Beach
- Rock Climbing in Railay Beach
- Snorkeling in Maya Bay- filming location of The Beach
The Food Highlights
R and I are both fans of Thai food, so we were particularly excited for the culinary part of this journey we were embarking on. The food wasn't much different than what we've had in the states, but it tasted fresher. There were a few meals that left their mark on our palettes over the course of the trip. I for one loved and ate red curry for days. It was always too spicy for me even when I asked for no spice, but that didn't stop me from ordering it for almost every lunch and dinner.
Airplane: Our breakfast on the flight from SFO to Taiwan was one of the best meals we've had. It was a Chinese breakfast of creamy noodles with bits of chicken in it. That might not sound appetizing but R and I loved it, particularly R.
Bangkok: On our first day in Bangkok we stumbled upon a bakery and bought a couple of pastries. They were a delicious sweet bread with a custardy cream filling. We dubbed them Thai Twinkies. On day 12 we had the afternoon to kill before catching our plane home so we went in search of those delicious treats. We were able to retrace our steps and find the bakery, but the Thai Twinkies were no where to be found.
Railay Beach: At a little restaurant in the middle of the jungle on Railay Beach we jokingly ordered an appetizer off of the "American Favorites" menu. Turns out the Thai know us better than we know ourselves because the ham and cheese spring rolls were beyond delicious. If only american restaurants actually served them, they would be an american favorite!
Koh Phangan: Every now and then on an international trip it is a nice break to have a good old hamburger like dad used to make. This was harder to find in Thailand than most countries but we did stumble upon Mr. Handsome Sandwiches on one of our strolls through the village near Santhiya. They weren't like burgers our dads used to make, but they were delectable and just what we needed.
Koh Lanta: We had read that there were a few restaurants that taught you how to cook a traditional Thai meal and we were eager to take the class and bring the knowledge home with us. Unfortunately our timeline didn't allow us to take the class, but we did get to eat at one of the restaurants that offered the classes. It was one of our last meals and it was one we will not forget. The food was delicious but the space is what left an impression on us. The kitchen was in the dining room under a grass roof hut and all the ingredients were lining the space in baskets and bins. It was amazing to watch the chef (a woman I might add) pick the ingredients she needed and whip up our meals right before our eyes!
Hotel Buffets: All our hotels had impressive buffets. They included lunch items and breakfast items from both eastern and western countries. One of the Asian breakfasts that R enjoyed was called congee- a watery rice dish similar to porridge which is a traditional Chinese breakfast item. It was hard not to go back for thirds and fourths at each buffet.
The Activity Highlights
A Moment: The second day of our trip took us from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi so we could hike the Erawan Falls. To get there we took an open air train through the countryside. Watching the scenery change from bustling city to calm countryside, and feeling the slightly humid air on our faces was the most unexpected adventure we had. It was so simple and serene.
A Hotel: Our favorite hotel was the Santhiya Resort and Spa. It is a sprawling resort with creeks and ponds around every corner. It is so large that there are wooden shuttles that take you from the main hotel areas back to your room. Our room was large with lots of ornate wood furniture and a gorgeous view of the bay, and mountains. We had our own private balcony that lead straight into our semi private pool. The town surrounding the resort was the perfect mix of lively and relaxing. This is where we enjoyed those tasty sandwiches from Mr. Handsome, and where I enjoyed a traditional Thai foot massage. We chose Koh Phangan so that we could partake in the full moon party that happens once a month and was happening while we were there, but we opted to skip that tradition at the last minute. Santhiya was on the other side of the island and because of the rain, the road that took us there was extra muddy making it slightly terrifying to traverse. We had already tempted fate once when the truck we were in almost slid off the mountain and we didn't feel like tempting it again.
Animals: Railay Beach offered a lot of fun and excitement, from kayaking and rock climbing to the private long-tail boat tour of the surrounding islands. But what we really enjoyed were all the monkeys roaming the island. They were constantly over head swinging from branch to branch as we walked from one side of the island to the other. They used our hotels as their play gym and once or twice landed rather loudly on the roofs, which was alarming in the middle of the night. They were a scary and exhilarating sight to see!
A Moment: Our last stop was to the island of Koh Lanta and the storm that had been threatening us our whole trip finally hit and hit hard. We got caught in torrential downpours a few times and our hotel lost power. During one of these power outages we were enjoying cocktails by candlelight at our hotel's quaint oceanside bar. To pass the time we taught the two bartenders how to play Uno and then played with them for what felt like hours. It was as if we were the only four people on the island and it felt magical!
One area we wanted to see but didn't have the time for was Chiang Mai. It's in the northern part of the country and is known for it's elephant sanctuaries and misty mountainside villages. Thailand, but especially Chiang Mai, are on our list of places to visit during our around the world trip in the future.
I love hearing honeymoon stories! What were some of the highlights of your honeymoon?