Torres del Paine: John Gardner Pass Summit Day!

John Gardner Pass - Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile

When the alarm went off at 6am it was accompanied by rain and lots of it. So we stayed in the tent hoping it would taper off. About 7 am it did and we quickly grabbed our stuff and decided it would be smart to pack our bag in the dry/warm cooking shelter… we weren’t the only ones with that idea. Campamento Perros, Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

We quickly ate some breakfast, got our bags packed and discussed our plan to go over the pass with a couple of fellow hikers. One in particular, a search and rescuer from Oregon, warned us not to go, that the weather wasn’t great. A couple of others said they were waiting it out too. But we felt good, and Liz had eaten her “summit day apple”, that she had carried with her for the last 7 days, for breakfast, so we headed out for John Gardner Pass. We were moving really quickly, in the zone to get over the pass, and not ones to spend more time than necessary in the cold and rain. We passed two larger groups of trekkers as we made our way through the woods, and all the other people who had been in front of us. It was now raining quite a bit again. As we reached treeline we were feeling good and we could still see the trail in spite of the rain turning to snow. That was our rule for the pass, “If you can’t see the trail from treeline turn back.” We can see the trail, we’re feeling good and we’re moving quickly, we’ll be on the summit in no time!

John Gardner Pass - Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile

Above treeline the wind really starts to pick up. The snow is now blowing directly into our face. As the snow continues to dump and starts to stick in places, we realize most of the trail markers are spray-painted rocks, not an issue, unless they’re covered in snow. We’re now flowing the few cairns and poles that are spread along the trail. This begins to prove difficult as the wind and snow are making it near impossible to look uphill for more than a couple of seconds at a time and searching for the next trail marker is becoming a real challenge. We’ve lost the pep-in-our step we started the morning with and stopped taking pictures because our hands were freezing cold. We’ve now resorted to Liz hanging back at a trail marker while I go uphill looking for the next one then call for her to come up once I find it. We agree that if we don’t make it to the summit in the next 20 minutes, we have to turn back.

But we knew we were getting close to the top of the pass when the wind started to accumulate the snow in drifts that went up higher than our knees. We fought through the deep snow for the last 50m of the climb, and just as we could see the summit we got a glimpse of blue sky as well.

At the top the wind is the first thing to give away that we’ve arrived. It’s blowing so hard the snow can hardly stick (which resulted in the deep drifts we just climbed). We see a small rod with a Chilean flag and few other things attached to it we now know were at the top of John Gardner Pass and we’re elated!

John Gardner Pass - Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile

We snap a few pictures, smile at the small window of blue sky above us knowing that God spared us from disaster then we see the enormous Glacier Grey with a rainbow over it. Glacier Grey is just a small part of the Southern Ice field but it goes on almost as far as you can see. The ice field that its attached to is the second largest ice field in the entire world, after Antarctica. As you can imagine the wind coming off of this is COOOOOOLD!

Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile John Gardner Pass - Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile

We are momentarily relieved to find that there’s no snow on west side of the pass just a lot of rain… and slippery mud! We skid and slide our way down to tree line then through the woods to Campamento Passo where we take a quick break and continue our decent. Shortly after we caught up with Brad who had taken a late start out of Paso that morning.

Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile

Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile

We climb some rickety ladders and a brand new bridge before reaching the end of Glacier Grey where it melts into Lago Grey and occasional calves an iceberg. We make it to Refugio Grey, our goal for the day, with extremely sore bodies, blisters and plenty of daylight to make it down to Refugio Paine Grande. We decided if we stopped moving we wouldn’t be able to start again so we keep moving. As we reached Paine Grande we saw Diego and Jacky who left Paso early that morning. We had a quick celebratory huge with them then saw the boat coming across Lago Pehoé. We could catch the boat and the bus back to Puerto Natales and be at Erratic Rock by dinner! It was a no brainer once we realized that camping at Paine Grande is almost as much as a stay at the hostel and the hostel comes with hot showers and an amazing breakfast.

Torres del Paine: Patagonia Chile

As we boarded the boat, tired, muddy and a little dazed we sat down next to a guy from Mississippi and in exchange the usual, “Where you from? What are you doing?” He asked about our hike. He was on a National Geographic group tour and his guide over heard us say we came down from Perros today. He corrected us and said, “You mean Paso?”

“No, Perros, on the other side of the pass. It was pretty nasty up there this morning knee-deep snow for the last 50m.”

The guide is clearly surprised and then points out our route for the day on map on the wall next to us to our Mississippi friend, “They went from here, all the way around the mountains to here!” Then, turns to us and says “I gotta buy you a beer. You deserve it!”

We savored our “well deserved” beers as the boat made it’s way across the lake then found our bus and a few hours later we walked into Erratic Rock a day early!

We totaled 138K!


Cow on Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar

First off, it’s just fun to say. Zzzzanz-i-baaarrr! 

After hiking for a week, the beach sounded like a lovely option, so we were off to Zanzibar, plus we wanted to practice our newly certified scuba skills.

Flying in we got a preview of the beautiful beaches.

Flying into ZanzibarBefore we could get to the beach we got stuck in a Zanzibar traffic jam for a few minutes. It gave a whole new meaning to “This is bull!!”

But we had no idea just how beautiful they would be. Zanzibar by far has the best beaches we have seen on this trip!

Naguwi Beach, Zanzibar We indulged in fresh, delicious seafood dinners right on the beach almost every night.

Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar

Nungwi Beach, ZanzibarAnd hung out with the herd of cows that hung out on the beach everyday.

Cow on Nungwi Beach, ZanzibarOur scuba diving was fun, but we were a little sad that we missed the whale sharks.

All in all, the beaches were just incredible. We couldn’t get over it!! Crystal clear water, powdery, ridiculously fine white sand. It was pretty awesome.

Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar Minus the three days that our bungalows didn’t have water… that set us up for our 40+ hours of straight travel, including the 19.5 hour flight from Dubai to Buenos Aires. I really like to shower before that long of a flight, but not so much this time, Just a bucket bath.

Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar

Short Stories from Africa


So we have few short stories from Africa that didn’t feel like enough for their own blog posts but I thought they would be entertaining to share nonetheless:

Going to see the frogs

The place we stayed in Yei, South Sudan had a interesting feature in the bathroom; Toilet frogs. These little frogs lived in the back “tank” part of the toilet and if you flushed when they were swimming they would come flying into the bowl with the water and swim frantically until the gripped the side and climbed right back up where the water came from. Liz was the first one to find them and when I went to check it out, I flushed again and nothing. Turns out you kinda had to surprise them and catch them swimming or they would be clinging to the walls of the tank, which is where I found three of them when I looked inside. And so, the term “Going to see the frogs” was coined.

Who told you to become a Rastafarian?

This was one of the few things the pastor that was driving us around Yei, South Sudan said in English on his cell phone while driving (he said A LOT not in english on his cell phone while driving). It was in the middle of a serious conversation in the local language and then out of nowhere in a loud serious tone “It’s a very bad thing you’ve brought into your family! Who told you to become a Rastafarian?!?” Liz and I both tried not to laugh out loud but couldn’t resist. We now regularly ask each other “Who told you to become a Rastafarian?”

Meeting the Mayor of Port Bell

Liz and I had grand plans of taking the fabled ferry from Kampala, Uganda to Mwanza, Tanzania. I say fabled as there is or isn’t one depend on where you look on the internet. Once we got to Port Bell (the port in Kampala) we found out for sure there isn’t one (side note: there used to be a ferry but it was deemed “no longer safe for passenger travel”). We figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if would could find anymore information about possible water crossings at “Sailors Bar.” That’s where we meet a thoroughly drunk older man that everyone else kept referring to as “Mayor.” We humored his rambling dialog for a little while assuming he was somebody’s uncle or something and none of the staff seemed the slightest bit concerned.

About 10 minutes in The Mayor really took a liking to Liz, and asked me if she was my wife… then proceeded to try and barter for her. He offered me “An African” in exchange for Liz which I of course turned down, then he upped his offer to “Two Africans!” again I declined and insisted again that I wasn’t interested in any trading. They then thought he might sweeten the deal with a case of beer… In his mind Liz had zero say in the matter so we figured we better leave.

Just for the record I wouldn’t trade Liz for anything… not even “Two Africans, and a case of beer” and there is no Ferry from Kampala to Mwanza.

No Ferry from Kampala to Mwanza

A nice, cheap, clean, place to stay

So after we parted ways with Drew at the airport in Uganda we got a ride with 3 other people who were headed into Kampala and already had a driver lined up. We thought we’d go to the center of town and find something cheap so when the driver asked if we had a place to stay in mind we said “No. Got any ideas for someplace nice and cheap?” He thought for a minute then made a phone call, and responded back with “It’s not really open to the public, but it’s nice, clean and I know them and it’s cheap.” Sold!

Turns out he signed us up to stay at “Home for the Religious”… a Convent! Sister Angelica was definitely taken back a bit and thought we were crazy when we told her our plans, but obliged and provided us with a room… granted they didn’t have any rooms with double beds “for couples” after all it was a convent, but she did give us a room with two beds (and two very large Bibles)! It was the cheapest thing we found in Kampala, and it was quiet, probably due to the rule “OBSERVE SILENCE IN THE CORRIDORS AND BEDROOMS.” It was a quiet two nights.

Convent Rules

Why Americans don’t buy anything?

Anyone who has spent any time in a tourist area has undoubtedly experienced touts trying to sell you all kind of junk. And for some reason I seem to get offered weed a lot, all over the world. Must be a young(ish) white guy thing I guess, lol. Usually the drug offers are fairly subtle “hey man, wanna party?”, “you want smoke?”,”Lookin’ for a good time?” and are usually accompanied by some friendly chit-chat “Where you from?“ “on holiday?” etc. and maybe a coconut or something else a little more “legitimate” they are “selling.” And then some just come out and say it “Need some weed?” I usually give them a polite no thanks, or just ignore them completely. Liz is usually completely oblivious to all drug offers.

Well this guy on the beach in Zanzibar needs to sit in on Liz’s marketing 101 class. Liz and I are walking to dinner on the beach and this guy comes up with some key chains or something in his hand (again totally not uncommon) and says, “Hey man, want to buy some cocaine?”
I was a little taken back by his directness but said, “No thanks.”
“Nope, not into that stuff.”
(In my mind… Are you seriously asking in that order?) “Ha, ha. No man, we don’t do drugs.” Thinking the conversation is over…

Then he comes back with, “Wanna buy a diamond?”
(I can’t not laugh at this point; No I don’t want to buy a blood diamond on the beach in the dark for a guy that just tried to sell me a boatload of drugs.) “Nope, don’t need any diamonds either.”
We start to walk away thinking surely the conversation is over and he realizes we aren’t his target demographic. But no, there is more…

He holds up his handful of key chains, “Want to buy a key chain?”
Still trying not to laugh; “No man, not buying anything tonight.”
Now he is clearly offended; “Why Americans don’t buy my Bull S#!t?”
“They don’t buy anything?”
“No, man. They don’t buy anything, they don’t help Africa.”
“Not even the drugs?”
“NO! They don’t care about Africans. They don’t help Africa!”
“Could be you’re approach.”

At this point Liz and I decided we’re at the restaurant we want to go into and I guess he gets the picture at this point or sees someone else, but walks off continuing his rant about how American’s don’t care enough to buy drugs from Africans.

Catholic guilt will work on a lot of things but not on buying drugs and blood diamonds. – Liz

Amazing Beaches around Krabi

Hanging out on the Islands

You’ve seen the pictures of gorgeous sunsets, and the famous Thai beaches with white sand, crystal water and limestone karsts jutting out. Let me tell ya, it’s harder to find in Krabi than you would think, but when you do finally, it’s spectacular.

Here’s my travel advice warning before you get carried away with these incredible pics: I still don’t recommend staying in Krabi or Ao Nang. They’re really overdeveloped, haven’t been taken care of and, frankly, the food and service sucks. But there are pretty day trips from there… but you could take those same day trips based out of somewhere far less trashed out.

Ok – so on to the beautiful pictures to make you all jealous while you’re bundled up in winter clothes!

Sunset Ao Nang Beach, Krabi,, Thailand

Our first night we got to enjoy the most beautiful sunset I think I’ve ever seen, just off Ao Nang beach. Choosing which pictures to post for this is really hard – and really they don’t even begin to capture it!

The next day we went on the “Five Island Tour” on a longtail boat.

Longtail Boats - Krabi,, Thailand

We started off at Railay Beach – the perfect “play in the water” beach. It’s not an island, but you do have to take a boat to get there because it’s cut off from any road due to the rock formations.

Cave Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand

Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand

It’s known for it’s rock climbing and a cave that you can only get to in low tide.

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Then went to Poda Island

Poda Island Krabi, Thailand Poda Island Krabi, Thailand

Then we stopped at a couple spots to snorkel. There were a ton of fish, but it didn’t have the coral or variety we were hoping for. But it did remind us how we had wanted to learn to Scuba drive (… foreshadowing for future blog post).


Then we went to Chicken Island… can you see why it’s named that? The couple Americans on the boat agreed Turkey Island would be better, but they don’t really have turkeys in Thailand.

Chicken Island, Thailand

Chicken Island is attached to a few other small islands at low tide by giant sandbars that, so you can basically walk between them. So of course we did… Childhood flashback to Land Before Time and the land bridge to The Great Valley… except our land bridge took us to the only island where you could buy beer! Didn’t exactly save us from extinction, but we were excited nonetheless!

We enjoyed swimming around and playing on the islands the rest of the afternoon.

That night we thought we had upgraded our accommodations from where we spent our first couple nights – the desk lady was still not a fan us due to our vagrant-style introduction. I guess first impressions stick.

We did have a location closer to the main beach… but here’s our “Ocean View” bungalow in Ao Nang. Yep, that’s the Ocean View. It was rustic charming though.

Ocean View room

The morning we got up to pack all of our stuff up we found THOUSANDS of ants had moved their colony into our clothes that we had sitting on the floor of the bungalow. There wasn’t any furniture or places to hang clothes, so we just had them stacked up in packing cubes and piles. The bungalow is built on short stilts, the floor is bamboo with small gaps between the planks. We didn’t have any food in our room, no idea why they picked our clothes as their new homestead. But it was terrifying and a huge pain in the butt. They had moved in the queen. And ants in your pants don’t shake off. They refuse. It took us over an hour and we still didn’t get all of them off – we just had to prioritize the clothes we were wearing that day and hope that being packed up in our backpacks would kill the others.

AntsWe spent the next few days enjoying the beaches and exploring with Alvin and Jennifer! We had so much fun – they are a blast!! We had some really great times, and even when things didn’t go our way we still made the most of it and made some memories that will be forever be really awesome stories!! Alvin and Jennifer rock!! We are so grateful to have them as friends and couldn’t have imagined more fun or awesome people to be the first to meet up with us on our trip!! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME – WE LOVE YA!!

Phi Phi island

Our Arrival to Southern Thailand



Well we had our first significant travel logistics ooops. We flew from Chiang Mai down to the beaches in Southern Thailand. We found a cheap flight into Phuket, but Alvin and Jennifer were going to Krabi, so we really wanted to just get to Krabi. We thought, no problem, it’s just a 2 hour ferry ride from Phuket to Krabi… a few minor details we overlooked.

  • That’s the time it would actually take, yes, BUT all ferries make it a day long trip with a stop on Koh Phi Phi for 5-6+ hours.
  • That means that the ferries really only run in the morning
  • Also buses only run mid morning
  • Our flight landed in Phuket at midnight
  • The Phuket airport is in. the. middle. of. nowhere. – an hour and half cab ride into the town of Phuket. An expensive cab ride. And the bus to town quits running at 8pm.
  • The bus to Krabi leaves from in town, not out by the airport.
  • The Phuket airport shuts down at midnight and kicks everyone out.

So basically our options were, sleep outside of the airport until the morning (not really an option, there was no where to sleep), cab ride to Phuket (expensive), or cab ride to Krabi (slightly more expensive, but at least at our destination).

We did the cab ride to Krabi, and arrived at 2:30am. We tried to book a room online en route – when we got there we looked for the place for about 40 minutes. It was a little guest house. Everything was shut down. Our sweet cab driver was so nice and got our and helped us walk up and down the street searching for our place, asking the 7/11 clerk, more searching, trying to call. Finally Rick walked really far down this alley and found our place. It’s now after 3:00am… and there’s no one to be found. The front of the guest house is this sorta open courtyard, there’s one leather-ish couch.

So I pull out my camping air pad (thanks, IMM!) and hunker down on the ground, and Rick takes his spot on the couch. And we slept semi-peacefully amidst the mosquitos and cats. Until 6:30am when the front desk lady found us and woke us up yelling “No! No! No! You can’t do this. You can’t sleep here!” we tried to explain what happened, but really she didn’t care, she kinda shoved us into an empty room and told us to sleep there. Heck yea! Free night’s stay!

sort of.

Rock the Cat Ba, Rock the Cat Ba! …and getting lost in the South China Sea

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

We just spent three days on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam – it’s kinda of like a fantasy island. The main draw is the crazy topography – all around it is a bay of limestone karsts, fancy word for giant hunks of limestone splashed down right in the middle of the ocean. It’s surreal.

Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

Our favorite day was the boat tour day, which took us out right into the middle of all of the karsts… and got Rick and I lost in the South China Sea for a little while!

We met some great folks from the west coast at dinner the night before and they were going on a boat tour with a guy from their hotel and asked if we wanted to join. Well the price was right and we happily agreed to join. Funny thing about cheap boat tours…. Let’s just say our motto for the day was “Safety Third!” (Mom, Dad: Kidding it’s really wasn’t that bad)

We were pointed to a van to ride to the dock, where we got on a “junk boat” (which is the real name for these boats, although, it was also a good description).

Junk Boat Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

On our way out to the bay we stopped at one of the many fish farms… different than fish farms I’ve seen before, these are floating fish farms. Apparently they catch them as baby fishes and feed’em, fatten them up, then sell them as big fat fishes (hello, Never Finding Nemo). And these little itty bitty ladies balance on narrow floating pieces and flip 30lb fish from one netted enclosure to another.

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So our next stop is kayaking. We’ve been totally entranced boating through this landscape, but now we actually get to get IN TO it! Our boat pulls up to a dock surrounded by kayaks and we are pointed to get out…. Then ushered over to the edge.

Kayaking Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

We wait, thinking surely our guide is going to give us some direction. Or some timing, when to be back. Maybe what direction to go… Or not go… Like go around that island, or stay between these. I mean we’re in the middle of the South China Sea, not just that, but it’s not like we can see more than a quarter mile in any direction because there’s a giant, 10-15 story limestone island.

So… We wait… Nope, no direction. Just a push into a kayak and a hand pointing us out to the bay.

Kayaking Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

Ok, so surely our guide will be right behind our group. Duh. I mean it’s gotta be self explanatory if he’s just setting us out there.

Oh – by the way, I also note at this time that we do not have life jackets. Why did this stand out to me? Well because every other tourist in a kayak has a bright orange one on. Worrisome? Slightly. More so when I notice the inch of water in our kayak. But it does make it easier to spot the other folks in our group – they’re the ones without the life jackets!

So we’re off paddling towards… Well who knows, just paddling in the direction pointed to us. The group is around us… We see a really cool opening in the limestone, just high enough over the water for a kayak to go through. So of course we have to see what’s on the other side! We veer left and head for the secret lagoon – another couple in our group has already headed that way.

The sea is super peaceful. It’s like being in a giant dream lagoon. I guess the giant rock islands put a stop to any waves or currents.

The lagoon is beautiful, we paddle around for a couple minutes. Take pics. And see we’re the only ones in there… So we head off to find our group…

<<  cue the Gilligan’s Island theme music. “A three hour tour…”  >>

Kayaking Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

We come out of the lagoon back under the arch, and there’s no one from our group anywhere to be seen. But no worries because we know the direction we came from… So they must have continued on the trajectory past our little lagoon. Take a left, and paddle ho! We’re cruisin!

Kayaking Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

We make it around the next karst, and between a couple giant ones. There’s an awesome looking, wide, but very low arch cut out of the limestone and we can see light and water on the other side… That must be the big lagoon we imagine our guide us taking us to. There’s another tour group coming out of there… It’s so cool to smoothly glide under the rock. We emerge into a huge lagoon surrounded by jungle – we search the trees for monkeys, but really each of us is secretly, silently, with a calm smiling expression searching the horizon of the water for our un-life-jacketed guide and tour group. No luck!

Kayaking Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

I finally admit out loud  that I’m a bit nervous that we’ve lost them. Rick too. So we decide they must have come this way (there’s yet another group in the lagoon with us, clearly it’s THE spot to go to). You can’t see the whole lagoon because it’s got a twisty, curvy, hidden “shoreline” which is really just islands surrounding us.  So we decide we’ll kayak the perimeter so we can find the exit they took. All of the way around… Nope, no exit except the way we came in. I’m feeling those paddling muscles at this point!

So we decide to head back to the floating “dock” more of a big boat/dock because it’s not attached to anchored to any land. We’ll find them there for sure!

Paddle paddle … See other groups, but not ours. As we approach the dock, we search the boats for ours. It’s definitely not at the dock anymore. We search the horizon for it… Nope can’t find it.

Rick suddenly remembers that he thought he heard something about we were supposed to kayak to another rendezvous point on the other side of some island and that’s where the boat picks us up. But doesn’t remember where that point was or what time, or what direction…. Or if it was even the tour we went with… because we had talked with a few different companies before going with this one, so it could have been a different company.

We go to the dock thinking that at least they can tell us if we’re supposed to be there or somewhere else, or maybe which direction our group went, or if they had come back yet or not. We paddle up to the guy at the dock and ask about our boat, if we are supposed to be back or not, if they are coming back. We get very perplexed looks… and eventually get “Noo Eng-liiish”. But maybe we can say our boats name or our guides name and at least get a hand pointing us the right way…. Until we realize we know neither our boat’s name, our guide’s name, the name of the tour or anything. We know the name of the hotel we left from…. And I don’t think “Take me to Ali Baba’s Hotel” is going to get us very far here.

This may be when we start to get a little freaked out. I declare that I will commandeer a different tourist boat if we don’t find them in the next hour.

We start paddling back towards the direction we explored… because… well there’s nothing else to do really. As we round the corner, we see a platoon of un-lifejacketed kayakers headed our direction!! YEA!! It’s our group… well at least half of our group. But no matter, we are celebrating no longer being lost in the South China Sea!

The other half of our group seems to have gone missing like us. Our guide, smiling and completely unaware that we were lost at sea for a good 40 minutes points us toward the sign that says “Here: Danger. No Entry.” And hands us a flashlight.

Danger No Entry Kayaking Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

And somehow I feel much safer entering a pitch black water cave with this guide than I did paddling around on our own. We enter this cave, and it’s awesome – we are going through completely pitch black, narrow, and VERY low ceiling sea cave! How cool is that?! Just when we’ve been paddling for 10 minutes in the dark, we see a light on the other side and make our way out into a secluded lagoon (maybe this is how we lost him, he went through one of these things?!)

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After exploring a bit more around the lagoons, we board the boat again and have delicious fresh seafood lunch. The sun has come out now – we’re lucky because it’s rainy season – so our guide tells us we get to go to Happy Beach and swim. It was not so beach because of high tide, but we had so much fun swimming in the clear green-blue water.

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After that, off to Rick’s much awaited Deep Water Soloing (the fancy name for when you rock climb up from the water, with no harness, just the water to catch your fall if you fall). I manned the camera from the boat. Turns out it really is an acquired skill to be able to climb all of the way up the limestone rock that manages to be really slippery and really sharp at the same time. Rick made it up the bottom portion really well, but wisely chose not to slice up his hands by continuing to the top.

Deep Water Soloing Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

We slowly made our way back to port, toured a couple of islands on the way and got to see a beautiful sunset.

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Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Town, Vietnam

72 Hours in Bangkok

72 Hours in Bangkok Thailand

72 Hours in Bangkok Thailand

We left India for Southeast Asia with our first stop being a little layover in Bangkok, Thailand. We decided two nights would be a good intro trip to Thailand without too much of a delay in our itinerary and who wouldn’t want to see Bangkok on Halloween? So, how did we spend our 72 hours in Bangkok?

We didn’t do a ton of research before we arrived just found a nice reasonably priced hostel close to some of the main tourist areas. What I didn’t realize from my glancing at the guidebook map was how huge of a city Bangkok is… And while the hostel I picked Lub*d Silom, was right in the middle of everything, that actually made it about 2km away from anything. Not a huge deal as Bangkok has a great metro, taxis are prevalent, and tuk-tuks abound.

We arrived via a red-eye from Kolkata, India and after jumping in a taxi we made it to the hostel about 5:30am. They were friendly and let us crash in the theater room until our room was ready. Our first order of business after sleep for a few hours was Breakfast!

We were told a street right around the corner from our hostel has great food stalls. We found some kind of great coconut lime chicken soup to start the day. It was outstanding – Liz said it was her favorite food of the trip so far!! The flavor was light and complex and exotic and completely addictive. Unfortunately we were still out of it and didn’t think to take a picture… but we are definitely planning to find more of it when we get back to Thailand in a few weeks.

From there we decided we needed to see Bangkok from the water; after all, it is known as the “Venice of the East.” We found our way to the waters edge where we were quickly talked into a boat tour that would end by the Grand Palace and walking distance to a lot of other attractions.

The Boat Tour in Bangkok, Thailand. The Boat Tour in Bangkok, Thailand. The Boat Tour in Bangkok, Thailand.

We got a lovely tour via the water then the captain dropped us off at Wat Arun, an imposing temple on the west bank of the Mae Nam Chao Phraya (the river). We made it up to the top just in time to get absolutely poured on! Gotta love rainy season.

Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand

Our captain then ferried us over to the other side of the river where our tour ended at we went into see Wat Pho and the giant “Reclining Buddha.” We wondered around the grounds there for a while before making our way to a rooftop for sunset.

Reclining Buddha, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Arun, Sunset Wat Arun, Sunset

From there we grabbed a tuk-tuk to Khao San Road the backpacker home of Bangkok. Khao San is a crazy street light with neon, vendors, food carts and anything else you can imagine. We found a ton of great food, got a foot massage to heal our tired feet, and just wondered around Khao San people watching and enjoying the energy of the city.

Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

There is, of course, tons of live music along Khao San and it didn’t take us long to find something right up our alley. A place jam packed with young locals and a 8 piece live band playing ska versions of Frank Sinatra, as well as a number of songs we didn’t recognize.

Ska Band in Bangkok

It was easy to stay up late on Khao San and we headed home about midnight; extremely early by Bangkok standards.

The next morning it was more neighborhood food, and I was thrilled that marshmallows were on the breakfast menu.

Marshmallows for breakfast in Bangkok

It was Friday and the big Chatuchak Weekend Market was open on but not as crowded as it normally is on Saturday and Sunday. So we took the metro to the market. If you know Liz you know how much she loves markets so we spend a few hours roaming round looking at all the crazy foods for sale.

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok, Thailand

From the market it was back to Khao San to see it in the day light a little and visit the fish spa. It doesn’t hurt but it’s definitely a shocking experience when you first stick you’re feet in.

Fish Spa, Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand

That evening the hostel was having a costume contest before going out to the total madness that was the Khao San Road Halloween festivities. We were limited to what we brought with us or was in the “free” bin at the hostel. Liz tied for 3rd with her “blue horns she found in the free bin and some make-up from friend.” And I took second as Steve Irwin. There wasn’t a lot of competition.

My Steve Irwin costume

Khao San Road, Halloween, Bangkok, Thailand

Khao San road was absolute madness wall to wall people everywhere. After about an hour we had had enough and decided we needed to move to a quieter street and get some pad thai then head home.

We slept in the next day, did some laundry then head to the airport to catch our flight.

Next stop, Hanoi, Vietnam!