Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring Break Trip: Chiang Mai!

The last stop on our trip was Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is in the northern area of Thailand, and it is completely different from Phuket. While still a bit touristy, it is nowhere near the scale of Patong Beach. Elena and I decided that Chiang Mai is my soul city. I loved everything about the area, and I am definitely going to go spend more time there at some point in my life! When we got to our hotel the first day, Elena and I were so surprised. It was so much nicer than the hotel in Phuket, it looked like an apartment! We definitely lucked out and were super excited that we ended up staying in such a nice place. The first day we just decided to check out the area so we walked around the streets and looked in at some shops and temples. The temples in Thailand were so much more intricate than the ones I have been to in Japan, it was really cool to see the differences! That night we had a relaxed dinner and just stayed in. Toward the end of the trip we were much less motivated to go out and check out the nightlife, so we had lots of early nights. Very different from the start of our trip!

On the first day in Chiang Mai we ate at the Tiger Kingdom restaurant. We kept seeing all these ads to go to Tiger Kingdom and pet the tigers. So the second day we asked the hotel reception, and they said we could just get a cab and go out there! This was by far my favorite day of our vacation. We spent the afternoon hanging out with all different sizes of tigers. I was in heaven! After dinner we found a really cool walking street that had a ton of little stalls all down it. We spent the evening shopping for ourselves and buying little souvenirs for people. That night we decided to check out the bars, but after realizing that most of where we were going were hostess bars, we decided to just go back to our hotel. 

The next day in Chiang Mai was our last day on vacation. We had to pack up and check out of the hotel at 12, so we spent the morning scouring the hotel room for all our belongings. I was amazed at how far some of my things had traveled! The hotel people were very sweet and let us store our bags in a room and use all the hotel facilities throughout the day, even though we had checked out. We spent the afternoon laying by the hotel pool and getting some last rays of Thai sun. We tried to go swimming, but the water was epically cold and we gave the idea up super quickly! That night right before our flight we booked a 2 hour Thai massage at the hotel. I had never had a massage before so I didn't really know what to expect. All I can say is that a Thai massage is different from anything I ever imagined happening. Instead of just rubbing down your body, the ladies were actually moving our bodies into what can only be described as acrobatic, yoga positions. I had the time of my life and thought that it felt amazing. Elena, on the other hand, was less than pleased and told me later that she was in pain basically the whole time. We know who won't be going back to Thailand for a massage! Then it was onto our flight and home to Tokyo! 

That's all for the vacation posts! I hope you all enjoyed my little tour around Singapore and Thailand ^_^

P.S. The tea of the day is strawberry champagne tea ^^

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spring Break Trip: Phuket!

The next stop on our spring break trip was to Phuket, Thailand. We stayed at a huge tourist area, Patong Beach. The first day we got there we were pretty tired after an early flight from Singapore, and if I'm honest my first impression of Thailand was not the best. Everything seemed so dirty and scary compared to big cities like Tokyo and Singapore, that I almost just wanted to get back on the plane and go back to one of those places. However, once we had some food and took a nap in our hotel, these feelings all went away. We spent the evening on the beach and eating dinner at one of the beach side restaurants. The area is actually very nice! The beaches are so pretty and the weather so perfect, that I don't know how anyone could not like it. 

The next day in Phuket we went on a big island tour of Phi Phi Island. This was definitely one of my favorite days of the whole vacation! We boated around the different islands, went snorkeling and swimming, and just relaxed on some incredible beaches. I think I swallowed enough salt water on this day to be permanently used to swimming in the ocean now; I don't think it will ever bother me again ^^

Monkey Beach!

Maya Bay ^_^

Viking Cave

The last day in Phuket I went to the beach by myself. We had gotten a lot of sun the day before and Elena wanted to stay out of the sun for a day. I had a relaxing day swimming, tanning, and reading my book on the beautiful beach. I could definitely get used to living somewhere where that was a daily possibility! We had a delicious dinner in a super cool restaurant and then got an early night, since we had another early flight to the last stop on our trip. 

Phuket was a very nice area, but just a little too touristy for me. I felt like I didn't really get to see a lot of the traditional Thailand. However, if you are looking for just a fun, beach vacation I would definitely recommend Patong Beach ^_^

P.S. The tea of the day is lemon tea ^^ 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Break Trip: Singapore!

If any of you follow my Instagram then you will know that I have been on vacation for the past week and a half. My friend Elena and I went to Singapore and Thailand! Our first stop was Singapore. We got into the airport pretty late on Friday night, and Elena's friend who we stayed with, Howie, picked us up at the airport and brought us to dinner and then back to the apartment we were staying in. It was a very nice place and I am so grateful that we were able to stay there! The second day Elena and I decided to go check out Sentosa Island since all the things online told us to go there. Sentosa was a gorgeous area, and it didn't hurt that the weather was absolutely perfect! We had a nice walk around the island and relaxed by the beach for a while before heading back to the main area of Singapore.

Taking the cable car to Sentosa Island

Heading back to the main city area

After Sentosa we headed into the main downtown area and just explored. Some of the skyline views really reminded me of Chicago! Elena and I were very proud of ourselves for getting around on the public transportation by ourselves, but then again, after Tokyo I think any public transportation will be a piece of cake.

Saturday night we went clubbing with Howie and some of his friends. It was a super fun night, but if you are planning on going out in Singapore be warned! It is very expensive! I paid at least 3 times more than I usually do when I go out in Tokyo. 

The next day, Sunday, was our last day in Singapore. We had heard good things about the Singapore zoo so we decided to go check it out. I'm glad we did, because it was probably the most beautiful zoo I have ever been to. Almost all the exhibits were outside, and the animals seemed to have a lot more room than they do in America. We also got to see some cool animals that you aren't able to see in American zoos. 

The pygmy hippo, my new favorite animal

Our next stop was to wander around Orchard Road a little bit. This was like a mix between Shibuya and Ginza. The stores were all very nice and designer label, things I would never be able to afford. But the amount of people made me feel like I was winding my way through Shibuya. If I am ever rich and live in Singapore I definitely want to do some shopping on Orchard Road! Sunday night we went to the Gardens by the Bay, but I didn't take any pictures while we were there since we got there so late and it was pretty much closed. We went to see the Avatar tree exhibit which was pretty cool. They were these metal tree structures that are all lit up. I wish we would have gotten there earlier so we could walk along the tops of the trees, but not all my dreams can come true (or so I have been told) ^^

Singapore was a great time and I am so happy we were able to make a stop there! Thanks to everyone in Singapore who made the trip absolutely perfect! 

P.S. The tea of the day is green tea ^_^