Friday Feature: Thailand

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Thailand

    

If you are craving good food, good people, and authentic experiences Thailand is the place for you! This beautiful country located in Southeast Asia truly has something for every type of traveler. Whether you are looking to unwind at a local spa retreat, hike to the most beautiful summits, dip your toes in crystal clear water, or take in the historical sites and temples, Thailand is an affordable and safe option where you can maximize your time. The people are some of the most friendly you will find and the food is unparalleled. Wondering how to get there? Fly into Bangkok International Airport to save some airfare money while kicking off your Asian adventure! 

Don't Miss:

  • Bangkok - As the capital city of Thailand, there is no shortage of places to explore! Bangkok is a vibrant big city with delicious street food, lush parks, a network of rivers, amazing shopping, some of the biggest markets in the world, and friendly people. River ferries are a popular form of transportation as most of the historical sites sit along the river. It is best to get an early start as the majority of sites close at 3:30pm!   

  • Chiang Mai - This is the perfect spot to soak in every ounce of the Thai culture! Visit the infamous elephant sanctuaries where you can spend your day feeding, bathing, and playing with rescued elephants. Or feed your adventurous side with a waterfall excursion through the jungle! 

  • Phuket - Nestled on the coast of Thailand, Phuket is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Soak in some sun and salt water, or take a day trip to the Phi Phi Islands! We recommend hiking the Phi Phi viewpoint for breathtaking views or kayaking around the gorgeous bays.  

Photo Credit: Cathay Pacific



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Things To

Know B

efore

You Go...

      

  • Eat off your spoon, not your fork. Eating off your fork is considered crude in Thai culture. 
  • Cover your elbows and knees when visiting temples.
  •  People don't stand in lines. Thais form a crowd so be prepared to stand your ground and get used to a lack of personal space.
  • People really are *that* nice! 

For more tips & tricks, visit The Wanderlust Kitchen.

5 REASONS IT'S OK TO BE YOUNG & IN LOVE (WITH TRAVEL)

Flowers at  the Old Biscuit Mill  in Cape Town, South Africa

Flowers at the Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town, South Africa

I think it’s safe to say we have all had that first love; the one that we talked to all night and danced under the stars for hours after curfew with, the one who made you laugh so hard you had tears rolling down your face, the one who embraced you and let you feel so much of their warmth, and the one who left that impact so deep in your heart that you think about everything you did together every single day since you left them. They made you feel so young, young and in love...with travel. 

I was 20 when I found mine. Her name's South Africa.

I didn’t expect to find myself wanting and wishing to be back until my first adventure to the Rainbow Nation. After spending one month in the country with a couple of short trips to Swaziland and Mozambique, I was hooked; I was so hooked in fact that I decided to fly back less than a year later. I spent 12 weeks in Cape Town and fell truly, madly, and deeply in love with the country and its people. When I tell people this I usually get two types of reactions, but the looks of awe and curiosity are the ones I love the most.

Boulders Beach  near  Simons Town , South Africa

Boulders Beach near Simons Town, South Africa

Check out this quick list I put together of 5 reasons that justify why it’s ok to be young and in love with travel!

  1. You're only young onceso why not live life to the fullest, right? You can redefine “growing up” (whatever that means). You can broaden your perspective, make your world connect in different ways, and do something new every day. Stop asking yourself when you’ll go back or when you’ll leave, just go.
     
  2. Now's your time to be selfish, it’s your time to fill your soul and no one else’s. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but honestly I cannot say this enough! I know we all have that picture perfect future in the back of our minds, or that picturesque path that you’re currently standing on leading you to that amazing job, but when will you ever get the chance to take off and find something that you’re not even looking for or that’s not even there yet? Feed your dreams of eating gelato in some random city in Italy, grab a coffee at the same coffee shop you already went to four times, and laugh that belly deep laugh because what do you have to lose (you’re in Italy for crying out loud!!). Let your mind wander and your feet will follow, I promise! 
     
  3. That big girl/boy job will be there when you get back, well, probably! You just graduated with that brand spankin’ new degree- ah it looks good in that frame (that imaginary one, because it’s actually still hanging out in the closet, oops) and...YOU GOT THE JOB! Not the dream job, but A JOB! Now this is when things get hard. You’re trying to decide if you should take that trip to India that you’ve dreamed of since you were in high school and that trip that was inspired from your one week volunteer trip in Haiti, or stay home and take the job and work forever and ever and ever...hmm. I’m not saying it’s an easy decision at all, but if all goes well with the world, that job (and more) will be there when you get back. Going abroad will open doors, doors you had no idea existed. You’ll learn more about yourself than you thought- yep, even the fact that you have learned to embrace wearing the same pair of socks 7 days in a row- and that dream job that overlooked you the first time, won’t even second guess your strength, independence, and well roundedness.
     
  4. (Insert home town here) isn’t going anywhere. If you’re worried about leaving mom, dad, sis, bro, g-ma, or g-pa and THAT’S OK! I cried almost every night for a week when I studied abroad. I missed my family and my friends, but the funny thing was that nothing was changing at home. Everyone was still doing life, the same life that they were doing a week or six months ago, and I was over in Cape Town like "what’s happening bru and are we having a braai!?” But no, I’m serious- make moves, you won’t regret it. 
     
  5. You’re stronger than you think you are and I know you can do it. Make your life an adventure and step out of your comfort zone. Traveling is fun and scary, it’ll make you cry happy cries and sad cries, but it will be the time that fills your soul with magic and make you feel alive...really alive. 

So basically what I'm trying to tell ya'll is don't be afraid to fall in love with travel and IT'S OK to do so! I hope this helped put your mind at ease a little bit, and let the adventure continue...

Travel far & travel often my friends. 

5 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR PARIS TRIP PERFECT

There are many things to see, do, and eat in the city of lights, but there (in my humble opinion) five things that every visitor should make time for in their trip in Paris. I realize that this city tends to be a gateway to the rest of Europe for many tourists, but despite how long or short your trip may be, these "must do's" can help you experience Paris in the romantic way that it tends to be portrayed in the movies.

1. Plan a picnic. Upon arrival, you may be tempted to ditch the airplane blanket and leave it crumpled with your pretzel bag in the crease of your seat. However, this makes for a perfect picnic blanket during your trip. Save the blanket, grab some cheese, roasted tomatoes, fresh berries, a baguette, a bottle of wine, and settle in at the Luxembourg gardens, Tuileries, or in the shadow of that very iconic tower.

Photo credit: One Kings Lane and Laduree

Photo credit: One Kings Lane and Laduree

2. Break for brunch. I consider brunching in Paris the equivalent of high tea in London. I adore the pastry tower, juices, sandwiches, and perfectly soft macarons of the famous Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées. This brunch is only served on Saturdays and Sundays, but it's worth making arrangements to eat yourself silly among chandeliers, floral tapestries, and a view of one of the most famous streets in the world.

3. Tour the arrondissements. Sure, it is easy to stay near the Eiffel Tower or to huddle close to St. Germaine, but this city really begins to unfold when you discover the different cultures of the various segments of town. There are twenty in total, and I definitely recommend some over others...but we'll save that for another day!

4. People watch. If you look at any street cafe (at any time of day), you'll notice that the locals are sipping (not gulping) beverages and leisurely enjoying their time. This is where I just want to throw my hands up and claim that I lost my passport for a week! In my opinion, this prioritization of doing "nothing" is everything. The locals are refueling, brainstorming, and just simply enjoying the beauty of their city. Who can blame them? So grab a glass of champagne or espresso and join in the non-productive, but oh-so-liberating act of people watching. For some great spots, check out Rue Montorgueil!

5. Frequent the markets. Paris has a street market for everything! Food?....check! Antiques?....check! Fashion? You guessed it...check! You will not find the same thing at any market, and you will find that each neighborhood sells something different. Plus, navigating your way to and from the markets will help you understand the geography of the city and help you create an adventure that you otherwise may not have had. For more on markets, see my previous post.

I truly did not expect to love Paris in the way that I did, but I can't help wanting to return every year for the rest of my life (building that in the budget...wink wink). As I've said about Rome in the last post, Paris deserves at least three full days on your itinerary. These five things may take a little extra time on the agenda, but you will walk away with a deeper understanding of what makes this city such a bucket list item for most people!