Travel | Krabi, Thailand

Our trip to Thailand  included two mini-trips (THREE if you count China!) because my hostess is a massively gifted and ambitious planner. We'd been in Chiang Mai for about eighteen hours (enough to get street food, soak in a midnight city view from a mountainside lookout, and drink coffee at like ten different cafes) when we hopped on a southbound flight to Krabi.

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Even months later, I am still strangely obsessed with the trendy little guest house we stayed in. The Mini House had clean lines, tons of lush greenery, loads of natural light, and a great cafe. And obviously lots of miniature potted cacti. My weakness. Pro tip: when you're the only Westerner at a hotel, you've made the right decision.

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Our first big adventure was a sea kayaking tour of several islands. Admittedly I was kind of nervous about kayaking when we booked it, since I'm not particularly athletic (don't let my muscles fool you.) But plot twist! The kayaking tour was without question my favorite part of the entire trip. I felt as though we'd jumped into a preloaded computer screensaver image, one of those gorgeous island photographs I always figured were Photoshopped. We paddled the entire circumference of an island and my brain could not fully compute that I was really floating on this bright turquoise ocean.

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After kayaking for a few hours, we got to relax on the beach and eat a homemade Thai lunch. We explored the forest where a few boats still remained stranded high in the treetops, just as they'd  landed during the 2004 tsunami. So eery. Aye, our sweet kayaking guide, recounted how he'd survived the tsunami, which struck as he was fishing out at sea.

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Tiger Temple is a must-do in Krabi. But be warned – those 1,600 steps feel every bit like 1,600 steps. Also, the first 500 steps are littered with the most ferocious monkeys and I am still suffering a tinge of PTSD after being chased by what I can only assume was the alpha. There may have been tears. The views from the peak of Tiger Temple were stunning and (maybe probably) worth the monkey attacks.

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Funny story: Before climbing to Tiger Temple, we wanted to leave our luggage with a friendly vendor (normal, right?). He happily agreed to store our bags under a table for the price of a few Cokes. When he lifted the table cloth to tuck our bags away, he brought out a plastic container and opened the lid to reveal several baby hedgehogs. It was kind of horrifying and kind of adorable. Should I have rescued them!? I feel guilty every day!

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We went out to dinner and happened to turn a street corner just in time to catch one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've ever seen. The sun looked just like that glowy pink bubble that transports Glinda the Good Witch around in The Wizard of Oz. You know the one? Then we got rotee, this amazing Thai dessert that's a magical French Toast/crepe combo drizzled with Nutella. 100 emoji. (Full disclosure: I'm not sure how to correctly use the 100 emoji. Embarrassed monkey emoji).

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We spent a gloriously hot Sunday morning on the gorgeous public beach and grabbed some food at a beachfront restaurant. We took a songthaew (think a truck with benches in the bed that serves as a taxi) over to the town center, where we wandered and soaked in all of Thailand's charming little details, colors, and vignettes. We even browsed a Thai bookstore, which was such a great dose of culture. Long on the hunt for Thai Tea, we finally hunted down a street vendor and purchased a few. In the spirit of transparency, the Thai Tea did not live up to my dreams. Maybe I was put off by the large can of Carnation condensed milk poured into each tea?

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Full of sunlight and newly-minted memories and Pad Thai, we grabbed a late night flight back to Chiang Mai. I will never forget that divine weekend getaway to the southern coast of Thailand and I cannot recommend Krabi highly enough to you, dear reader!

Check out Alli's blog for a view of this trip from a different lens!

Travel | Chiang Mai, Thailand

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I've got a confession to make: I have never once been interested in traveling to Asia. The bug just never bit me, so I didn't prioritize taking a trip there until my dear friend Alli invited me to visit her in Thailand. Free place to stay + amazing company + an escape from the English winter = YES.

In a complete surprise to me, I fell head over heels in love with Thailand. Warm weather, friendly people, laid back culture, and the most photographable details in every nook are basically my idea of paradise. In my opinion, Thailand strikes the perfect balance of accessible and exotic. Maybe that's why it's been nicknamed "Asia Lite". Take the advice that I shrugged off: visit Southeast Asia, like, TODAY.

Chiang Mai Thailand wat temples Buddhism

Chiang Mai Thailand wat temples Buddhism

Chiang Mai Thailand wat temple take off your shoes

Chiang Mai Thailand wat temple take off your shoes

Chiang Mai Thailand white wall brick moat color Buddhism

Chiang Mai Thailand white wall brick moat color Buddhism

Chiang Mai Thailand temple wat Buddhism

Chiang Mai Thailand temple wat Buddhism

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Chiang Mai Thailand wat temple Buddhism flowers lanterns

Wats, or Buddhist temples, can be found all over Chiang Mai and smiling monks in vivid orange robes are a fixture of city scenes.

Chiang Mai Thailand Alli Quattlebaum coffee portrait

Chiang Mai Thailand Alli Quattlebaum coffee portrait

Chiang Mai Thailand Samanmitr House coffee cafe

Chiang Mai Thailand Samanmitr House coffee cafe

Chiang Mai Thailand I like you and I love you

Chiang Mai Thailand I like you and I love you

Chiang Mai Thailand beautiful people

Chiang Mai Thailand beautiful people

As a kindred spirit, Alli fluently speaks my love language: food. We spent my first morning in Chiang Mai popping into the most gorgeous bakeries and coffee shops. It's like some Asian wizard peeked into my dreams and built all these places just for me! First stop was Rustic & Blue for an acai smoothie bowl, then Samanmitr House for an iced coffee, and finally Khagee for banana bread French toast. I heart Khagee. I will name my firstborn Khagee.

Chiang Mai Thailand Khagee bakery white wall cafe

Chiang Mai Thailand Khagee bakery white wall cafe

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Chiang Mai Thailand Khagee bakery food french toast

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Chiang Mai Thailand sunflowers birkenstocks

Chiang Mai Thailand Alli Quattlebaum songthaew

Chiang Mai Thailand Alli Quattlebaum songthaew

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Chiang Mai Thailand home paper lantern

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Chiang Mai Thailand neighborhood gate alley

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Chiang Mai Thailand cactus cacti paper lanter

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I became slightly obsessed with the perfect little vignettes that seem to be in every corner of Chiang Mai. Cacti, paper lanterns, colorful walls, gritty streets, and buckets of natural light make for one photogenic city.

Chiang Mai Thailand Diff Home Bakery Kitchen cafe food

Chiang Mai Thailand Diff Home Bakery Kitchen cafe food

Chiang Mai Thailand Diff Home Bakery Kitchen cafe food

Chiang Mai Thailand Diff Home Bakery Kitchen cafe food

Chiang Mai Thailand Diff Home Bakery Kitchen cafe food marquee sweet

Chiang Mai Thailand Diff Home Bakery Kitchen cafe food marquee sweet

Alli set Mary and I loose one morning and we found our way to Diff, the sweetest little mint-colored bakery I've ever seen.

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong kids

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong kids

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong ferns

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong ferns

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong

Chiang Mai Thailand Sticky Falls Bua Thong

We spent a glorious afternoon at Sticky Waterfall, which is nearly impossible to describe well. These natural limestone formations are the texture of sandpaper, which allows you to climb/walk/run up the waterfall like Spiderman. We visited the falls during a Buddhist holiday, so we were surrounded by tons of Thai people just chilling out in the water. I would climb that waterfall every day if I could because we all need to feel a little more like superheroes.

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Chiang Mai Thailand Chinese lanterns temple wat sky red

Chiang Mai Thailand Bay's Cafe cactus cacti birkenstocks

Chiang Mai Thailand Bay's Cafe cactus cacti birkenstocks

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Chiang Mai Thailand Bay's Cafe mint tea green

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Chiang Mai Thailand Bay's Cafe sun dried tomatoes

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Chiang Mai Thailand Bay's Cafe cat kitten green couch sofa white wall

Because we refused to leave a latte untasted in the city of Chiang Mai, we headed to Bay's Cafe, which is owned by a friend of Alli's and sadly not called Bae's Cafe. I ordered a mint tea, and Bay literally picked the mint leaves from the back garden and brewed them in front of me, which took "farm to table" up a notch.

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Chiang Mai Thailand street art mural brick wall painting

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe coffee

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe coffee

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe cactus cacti coffee

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe cactus cacti coffee

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe coffee iced latte

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe coffee iced latte

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe coffee

Chiang Mai Thailand Graph Cafe coffee

Graph Cafe was my favorite stop of the Great Thailand Coffee Tour. This tiny, too-hip-to-be-real shop filled with antique cameras and tiny plants served the most bewitching coffee elixir that will make all other beverages pale in comparison for the rest of time.

Chiang Mai Thailand Woo Cafe fresh flowers

Chiang Mai Thailand Woo Cafe fresh flowers

After giggling our way through a Thai massage (which a friend accurately described as "yoga being done to you") and bopping around the bustling night market, the last stop before our redeye flight to Beijing was Woo Cafe, Alli's favorite spot in Chiang Mai. I'm a tiny bit devastated that we visited so late at night because my low-light photos do not do Woo justice. Every surface of this sprawling restaurant was positively spilling with fresh flowers and greenery. Heavenly. Woo also doubles as an art gallery and a home goods/apparel shop, so you KNOW I left the rest of my baht there.

Thailand, I miss you every day. I'll come back for you soon!

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Dear February

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Thank you for…

(1)Another check off my Afternoon Tea Bucket List, this time with my favorite person in my favorite neighborhood. (2) Blooms that look like spring, even when the weather hasn't gotten the memo. (3)Too-cool-to-be-real coffee shops and free hot chocolate for no reason. (4) My first murder mystery dinner party and friends that look good in any decade. (5) Spotting a blue-doored hidden treasure while lost in South Kensingtson. (6) Hands that can do that to marble. (7)White-brick-walled heaven and the banana bread French toast I have thought about every day since eating it. (8) The most profound bit of wisdom I've heard in a while. (9) Hammocks and huts and havens in Thailand.

Love, Alex