Monthly Archives: January 2011

Inner Thoughts from Outer Paradise (Part 1)

Greetings from the new and improved versions of Kara and Chris. We are sun-kissed, refreshed, and relaxed after two weeks in the paradise that is better known as Thailand. Our trip was wonderful, heavenly, perfect. It was also just what we needed after months in the cold, polluted place we call home these days. Mongolian winters are not short affairs.

Anyways, we left UB early in the morning on the 15th, flew via Seoul (where we spent an unhealthy amount of time gawking at all the other white people), and landed in Bangkok at around 9:30 in the evening. After collecting our bag, we hopped in a pink taxi and away it whisked us to our hostel. We checked in, bought some water and Advil for a pesky travel induced headache, and made our way to a touristy little pedestrian street full of bars, restaurants, live music, and relaxed people. We were not amongst the group that could be referred to as relaxed. It was the oddest feeling in the world, and only once we had taken a seat on a patio, ordered our first pad thai and green curry of the trip, and downed about half of a big Chang (the delicious local beer) did we realize that we had turned into – pardon the expression – uptight assholes.

Really. We looked around at people casually strolling around, taking their time to enjoy the sights and sounds, and it truly felt like we could not feel that way. Our casual pleasure seemed to have been stripped away by the long Mongolian winter. Alas, the good thing was that we had two weeks to relocate our lost selves and restore a bit of those casual pleasures. If the first night told us anything, it was that we are malleable beings who would have little trouble slipping into the relaxed spirit of Thailand.

Day 1 was spent visiting temples, eating fresh fruit, eating more pad thai and green curry, and drinking more Chang. Here’s one of Chris with his favorite: green mango with chili (please note that this is pre-haircut).

Then we went to look at pretty, pretty temples and such…

And then Chris decided that it was time for a haircut (I had decided this for him weeks ago, but alas, sometimes we think differently).

And then we went to see reclining Buddha…

And had a snack (spring rolls and a Chang…mmm):

And at long last, Chris showed off his new ‘do on the ferry ride to yet another temple. He’s a dashing man, I do believe.

The stairs at the temple were really steep…and kind of scary:

Anyways, following our tours of temples, we headed back to the hostel to switch out of long pants and long sleeves, and off we went for another night on the town. This time, I must admit, we looked a little bit less like our formal selves and a lot more like the relaxed people from the night before. It felt good. We had ourselves a bit of a food/pub crawl for the evening, moving from restaurant to restaurant to split a big Chang and a curry at each. I don’t remember how many stops there were (and neither does Christopher), but we had a wonderful evening of food and beer and all around merriment.

The next morning began our day of taxi, bus, ferry, and back of a pick-up truck. Ultimately we were deposited from the back of the pick-up in the village of Bang Bao on the island of Koh Chang. We had a reservation at a place called Cliff Cottages, and the directions we received involved wandering down a path, across rickety bridges and through a little neighborhood before we stumbled upon paradise.

Here’s our walk:

And the little sea village (all of which is built on a pier):

And here’s what we arrived just in time to enjoy:

(That last one was me in heaven)

The following morning we were greeted by a beautiful day in our little bay, and I chose to enjoy it with some quality time in a hammock:

Across the bay there was a little cliff walk, so we took advantage of it for a pre-breakfast stroll…

This is the view of our little bungalows from across the bay. The big building is the little common area/restaurant/hammock place, and then up on the hill are bungalows dotted here and there.

And the cliff walk:

And finally back to the bungalows for some more relaxation:

After breakfast we ventured off on a walk to find the beach. Find it we did; it was beautiful. We spent the day there drinking fresh fruit shakes, reading, and enjoying the warm water. It’s a rough life.

After a long day at the beach, it was back to the bungalow for another beautiful sunset.

And finally, the next morning we were picked up by boat at 9 to head off on our sailing trip:

Away we went, for 6 days on the boat.

Believe it or not, I have only gotten through the first few days of our trip. I’ll cover the rest of it (the boat trip and our return to Bangkok) in a second post…hopefully tomorrow but maybe not for a day or two.

In Mongolia news, tomorrow marks our return to work. Luckily it is a short week on account of Tsagaan Sar (the Mongolian Lunar New Year), so it should be a good week for easing back into things. In the meantime, we’re doing well back in UB…our return to the cold was less painful that we had thought it would be, so that is a good thing for sure.

Off we go…more to come soon.

Happy New Year, get us out of here!

Well, Happy 2011 to you all. Technically, Chris and I can now say that we come home next year, as we do…just not until the end of next year. It’s all semantics.

We celebrated New Years in style with a bunch of ex-pats. There was beer and wine, vodka and horrific Mongolian champagne. There were also fireworks throughout the city…kind of the world’s best Do-It-Yourself fireworks show you could imagine. Think the big fireworks at home…like the BIG ones?…well, it was people sticking their arms out the windows/off the balconies of their apartments and shooting off those BIG fireworks. As an aside I wondered how many of them were shooting off their arm as well, but so it goes. Why ruin a good fireworks display? But yeah, it was pretty neat. We were at a friend’s apartment that was fairly high up, so we could see all around and watch the pretty show. It was neat, and a fun way to ring in 2011.

Since then Chris and I have been absolutely chomping at the bit to get out of here. All of a sudden, Thailand became the next thing on our “what to look forward to” list, and it couldn’t come soon enough. In fact, we now leave in two days for two marvelous weeks of warm weather, delicious food, and beaches. We also have 6 days booked on a boat owned (and built?) by a German man. It looks pretty cool…there will be the German, another crew, Chris and me, and two other couples. Hopefully they are cool, but if they’re not, who cares we’re on a boat in Thailand.

So yeah, off we go for our first big getaway since we arrived in Mongolia, and we are beyond ready. We’ll be back in touch maybe at some point while we’re gone, but if not we’ll be back in a couple of weeks!