Taking advantage of youthful autonomy is such an important thing for us to do. Traveling is one of those things that can get harder and harder to do as we get older. Careers, kids, bills... life just gets hectic down the line and taking advantage of being able to get out of town for a while to see the world is such an important thing.
Freddie Sahhar, Nicolette Affre, my little brother James, and I saw an opportunity where we could all save up and take some time to travel around Southeast Asia. We pulled the trigger, bought plane tickets and started planning in October for a month long trip in January. As the fall months passed, we just got more and more excited for the adventure that we were about to have. The holiday season came and went quickly and before we knew it, it was off to Thailand on January 3rd.
The trip started in Bangkok where we stayed in a crafty little air bnb smack dab in the middle of the city. We cruised around for a few days, blown away by the sights, sounds and smells of the busy city. People move fast, they throw their trash wherever they like, the air has a looming thickness to it, and for some reason you always feel like you're going get pickpocketed. Despite these strange first impressions, we found Bangkok to be really fun. Great food, some of the best cocktails in the world at the most unique bars, crazy skyscraper scenery, unnecessarily extravagant malls.... the list goes on. After a few days in Bangkok, we headed North up to the mountains to a small town called Pai. Pai was one of our favorite places on the trip due to the solace and more authentic feel. We stayed in a little jungle bungalow, snagged some mopeds, and spent a few days cruising around the valley seeing all of the sights. Pai is nice because it's just a sleepy little hippy town with good food, good coffee, nice people, and a rad little market that takes up the whole main street every single night. During our time in Pai, we linked up with some of our friends Trent, Kialy, and Alana, hit a hot spring, went to a festival in the middle of nowhere to see Cherub play, ate more good food, and moved on from Pai to our next adventures.
After Pai, the four of us went North from Chiang Mai into the chilly mountains and stayed a few nights at an elephant sanctuary called Chai Lai Orchid. Other than being a safe-haven for elephants, Chai Lai Orchid is established to support a foundation that fights for women in some ugly trafficking situations. A lot of the women who were saved from that terrible reality now work at Chai Lai and are some of the sweetest people you'll meet. The profits from the sanctuary go to helping elephants that are being hunted or are being treated harshly with metal chairs on their backs, as well as funds the organization that fights women trafficking. During our stay, we got to trek around the mountains with our guide Koloh, rode a bamboo raft down a river, bathed a baby elephant, and got the opportunity to ride the elephants through the jungle. This was an absolutely surreal experience and is something that I will never forget.
Always on the move, we then headed down south to Krabi, Thailand, a tropical region of the country littered with palm trees, geckos, and all kinds of critters that crawl in the jungle. From Krabi we ventured around to Koh Lanta, Ao Nang, Railay Beach, and also spent two nights on the Phi Phi Islands. Although Phi Phi wasn't really our vibe with an overload of fist bumping meatheads that look like they came straight out of Jersey Shore, the islands are breathtaking and have some of the most beautiful rock formations you've ever seen. We linked back up with Trent, Alana, and Kialy here and all took a boat out for a day to explore the surrounding islands. Crystal clear water, gorgeous reef passes, white beaches, crazy sunset.. what more could we ask for? It was an epic day. After a night of celebrating over more good food and drinks, we parted ways and the four of us were off once again, to Singapore.
Well, we thought our air bnb was in Singapore, but it was actually in Johor, which is the province directly outside Singapore in Malaysia. Crossing the border back and forth from Malaysia was pretty interesting and was a rather wild experience in itself. There isn't much to do or see in the main city area of Malaysia, so while were there, we basically had 2-3 days to just lay low, eat amazing food, and relax. We found some of the best food we had ever eaten, had a little too much hot sake, and always managed to stumble back to our 25th floor high rise apartment safely. After a few days of R&R in Malaysia, it was back to Singapore to explore the city. Singapore is clean, like weirdly clean. The laws are really strict and it makes for a really safe feeling, clean place... but it isn't cheap. Singapore is expensive to visit but has some of the most unreal industrial architecture in the world. Most buildings look like an art project, especially the 57 story resort with a yacht-looking structure on top of it. All in all, it was a few more days of good food, good drinks, and good times cruising through the city.
After Singapore, James had to go back home due to the start of the school semester, so we wished him safe travels and headed to Bali, Indonesia. We landed in Bali and rented a little Suzuki Jimmy, which in the states in practically a Suzuki Samurai (a 2 door tin can wanna-be Jeep). It was such a rad little adventure mobile and we took it all over the place. First up to Ubud where we hung with monkeys, cruised around the sleepy little town, saw some beautiful rice fields, and of course had more good food and drinks. After a mellow stay in Ubud, we headed down to the Uluwatu region in Bali where we stayed for six nights. Suprise, suprise... more good food and drinks in this part of the country. We linked up with a couple of our friends that live there and they took us to a couple fun little breaks to get some waves and adventure through even more of the lush, beautiful island. After our time in Bali, it was time to head home to sunny San Diego.
Coming home to San Diego is such a treat. I haven't been to that many places around the world but I have spent time in some of the most beautiful places imaginable in Costa Rica and throughout Southeast Asia and nothing feels better than finally touching back down in California and coming home. Maybe it's the notion of it being home, maybe it's the weather, the salty air, the warm people.. i'm gonna guess it's a little bit of all the above. There's just nothing quite like coming home and it takes going away for a little while to realize how incredibly lucky we are to live in such an amazing place as San Diego. I'm no world traveler and I have barely seen any of the world but i've seen enough to be grateful and realize how good we have it. This is why traveling as a young person is so important. It shows us (or at least me) how many blessings we are surrounded by every single day and helps us not take it for granted.
I tried to keep a month of stories and information relatively short and sweet, so hopefully you're not sleeping of boredom right now. Take a look at the photos that I put together from the trip, maybe they can help tell my story a bit better. Of all the 10,000 + photos I shot on the trip, I've compiled my most favorite images in a gallery for you, so take a look and enjoy.