An Asian Adventure Part 1

Where do I even begin?! In November two of my friends and myself went on an adventure of a lifetime. We took a 17 day trip to Asia which included Thailand and Vietnam.

This was my first BIG adventure. I’ve been to the Caribbean, but nothing further than that.

My trip started with a mini vacation in the US.

November 4th: 6am flight to Seattle, WA. Once I landed my friend Seth picked me up and dropped me off downtown to get my nails done with Lindsey. After getting all pampered for our trip, Lindsey and I walked to Ozzie’s (a Husker bar) to meet Seth to watch the Husker football game. Unfortunately, our Huskers lost, but we all still had fun. Lindsey and I had the red eye to New York City that night.


November 5th: Arrived to New York City at 6am. Lindsey and I were exhausted after being out Saturday night and then being on a plane all night, but there were absolutely no [comfortable] chairs or even carpet that we could nap on. We took the skytrain to the terminal that we would be flying out of that night. While in the terminal we used the restroom and Lindsey set her neck pillow on the counter near the sinks. When we came out of the stalls, it was gone. People never cease to amaze me! We were literally in the stall for a matter of a minute and in that time someone snatched her pillow.

We decided to check our bags so we didn’t have to haul them around all day in New York City. We then began the epic journey of trying to figure out New York City’s public transportation. After looking super tourists and asking a few people for help, we were able to get to the subway to end up at Time’s Square.

After walking around for awhile, we headed back to the subway to meet Lindsey’s high school friend for brunch. We all three had the avocado toast which was absolutely delicious [of course with a bloody mary]. After brunch we had to check out Dough because who doesn’t love cookie dough!?


Lindsey and I then headed to see the Twin Towers memorial. It was breathtaking and heartbreaking all at the same time. Lindsey and I were pretty exhausted so we went to her friend’s apartment to rest before meeting up with my cousin for dinner.


Anna took us to a Mexican restaurant where we got margaritas the size of our heads. It was so nice catching up with Anna considering it has been years since we last saw each other. After hanging out at Anna’s post dinner, we took a cab to the airport to meet Sarah and check in for our flight.


While waiting, we met a girl, Jenny, who was flying to Thailand as well, but all on her own. We got her contact info so we could meet up later. After waiting for our airline to “open” their checkin line and waiting in line, we found out that we were at Air China and our flight was actually China Airlines. We then hustled to the Skytrain and booked it to another terminal.


We made it to our gate with a little time to spare. Luckily, when we checked in, there were two exit row seats open so we took them and then the lady sitting in the row with us offered to switch Sarah seats so that we could all sit together.

November 6: These exit row seats were LIFE SAVERS. We didn’t have to worry about crawling over each other to go to the bathroom or to stretch, had all the leg room in the world, and it allowed us to get up and stretch more often then we would have in a regular row.


During the flight we watched movies, colored, slept, gossiped, and ate some odd asian food that the airlines served. Surprisingly, the flight wasn’t too horrible and I was able to sleep quite a bit.


November 7th: We landed in Bangkok at 10am, but after customs, a cab ride taken the wrong way at first, checking in to our hotel, and getting ready it was after noon. We took a boat ride to bring us to Bangladesh road. Once there we stopped at a bar to grab some drinks and food. We were pretty jet lagged, but hit up one more bar before we went home around 10pm.

Our hotel had an awesome infinity pool and amenities.

With a HUGE breakfast buffet!

November 8th: We headed back to the airport to fly to Vietnam. Vietnam requires visas to enter which we all had ordered about a month prior. When checking into our flight, the attendant told me that my visa had expired. I was distraught. Long story short I had to expedite a new visa, wait for them to email it to me, and then print it off. I was panicked that we were going to run out of time. I finally got it, checked in, and [again] we booked it to our gate with minutes to spare. [insert 2nd face palm of the trip]

double face palm.jpg

Once landed in Hanoi, Vietnam, we headed to our hotel: Hanoi Golden Holiday Hotel. During our cab ride, we were sure we were going to get killed or hit a moped driver. There were no stop signs, or driving laws, or stop lights and mopeds were coming from every direction. It was the most organized chaos we had ever seen and I’m not quite sure how we never saw an accident!

These pictures don’t even do it justice!

Once we checked into our hotel, we were greeted with drinks, snacks, and cool wet towels.


Our hotel was super cute and welcoming. It was small, but we didn’t plan on spending much time in there anyway! They even had Netflix in our hotel room.

That night we went out to Hoan Kiem Lake and walked around. We ended up eating Korean BBQ which was pretty good. After dinner we walked down to Bia Hoi Junction which is an area where they block the streets off and throw tables and chairs in the street and hundreds of people flock to party. The bars all have drink specials. One thing they also have specials on is Shisha and “Balloons” which were filled with nitrous oxide. Beers were really cheap, about $2 USD. We ended up staying out later than we had planned, because we were having so much fun.


November 9th: We left early via bus to get to our Cruise ship. We met a couple from Canada who were very nice and they ended up buying us all beers while we waited to doc our ships. Unfortunately, We were on a different ship than the couple.

Once we boarded the ship, we again were greeted with drinks and cool towels. We grabbed beers and waited to hear the plans. We started off with a 6 course Vietnamese meal which was absolutely delicious while we sailed deeper into Halong Bay.

Our first destination was Titop Beach where we climbed to the top to get a good view over the area. We hung out on the beach for a little while since it was too cloudy and cool to get into the water.


We boarded the ship and headed for our second destination which was Tung Sau area where we did a little kayaking.


Once back on the ship, we enjoyed some happy hour drinks and learned how to make spring rolls. Dinner was then served, which again was a 6 course Vietnamese and International set menu. We had planned on joining in squid fishing and having a few more cocktails after dinner, but we were thoroughly tired and went to bed instead.

November 10th: We woke up and did Tai Chi during the sun rise on the sundeck of the ship. Following a light breakfast {which by the way breakfast in Asia is totally different than the US.  Their idea of breakfast includes foods that they eat during lunch and dinner like soup, rice, chicken, etc.} we made our third and last stop of the trip at Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave.


Pho for breakfast because do as the locals do



Back to Halong to grab our bus back to Hanoi. Once in Hanoi we checked into a different hotel, Hanoi Lotus Boutique Hotel which we had went a little cheap on this time {evident in the quality of the room. It was still livable, but definitely not as nice as the others we had stayed in thus far}.

We had made reservations for the water puppet show which we had heard we had to experience. The shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large bamboo rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers, who are normally hidden behind a screen, to control them. Thus the puppets appear to be moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this form of puppet play. The whole show is in Vietnamese so you can’t understand it.

It was interesting for about the first 15 minutes and kind of funny, but 30 minutes into the hour I fell asleep.

Following the puppet show, we walked around and found Pho. We discovered that all the Pho we had in Vietnam and Thailand was different than the Pho we’ve had in the US. The base was the same, but all of the fixings was different and they didn’t bring you chili sauce or plum sauce to add.


We walked around Bai Joi Junction again listening to people sing and bands play. We grabbed a few drinks and even tried fried mango which was amazing.


November 11th: We were off to Bangkok. We had all day to check out Bangkok before boarding our night train to Chiang Mai. We stopped at the train station to check in our bags. The train station was very VERY dirty. Feral cats were running around and there was a note to take all of your food out of your bags so that rats didn’t try to get into your bags – this only freaked us out a tad bit :/


We then headed to Grand Palace which makes up a combined area of 2,351,000 square feet surrounded by four walls. It is made up of numerous building, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens, and courtyards.



We had to cover out shoulders and ankles in order to enter. We also had to take off our shoes to enter the actual Temple inside the Grand Palace. No pictures are allowed inside of the temple which is unfortunate since it is magnificent beyond words.


After the Grand Palace we grabbed some food, of course I had Pad Thai. We headed to the Train station to catch our overnight train which we (again) were running to catch.


We had booked train 9 because we heard trains 8 and 9 were their newer trains. Our train was very nice and accommodating including outlets except to our dismay: no booze was sold on the train. We were hoping to have a glass of wine to help us sleep on the train. We even watched a Netflix movie on the train (a downloaded movie since the train didn’t have wifi ughhhh)


November 12th: We all slept well and arrived in Chiang Mai the next morning. We grabbed a cab to our hotel: Green Tiger House. We grabbed breakfast here which was absolutely delicious.


We then decided to wander around. We tried some fresh squeezed fruit juice from the street and headed to Lila Thai Massage. We each got 2 hour full body Thai massages for $15 USD a piece which included 30 min foot massage, 15 min hand massage, 30 min back, neck, shoulder massage, 15 min head massage, and 30 min thai herbal compress massage. This was an intense massage! They throw you around like a rag doll.

After massages, we grabbed some drinks, checked out some more temples, grabbed some Thai grub (Pad Thai for me of course) and then headed back to the hotel to get rest and get ready for the night.


That night we headed to the market on Rachadamnoen Rd that night which is a huge market with people selling their goods and people drinking, dancing, and poeple playing music. We ended up meeting up with Jenny, the girl we had met at the airport in New York. She brought some friends with her who were all traveling on their own that she had met during her travels.

They were a lot of fun. We all ended up going to the bar area and started at the bar called Zoe in Yellow (apparently the bar to start the night out at). The bar area was bumping. They were playing club music and had club lights going. They had almost a Railyard/Power and lights area between all the bars that you could go with your drinks and hang out. We went home around midnight because the next day we had an early start to go to the Elephant Sanctuary.


To be continued…