Justin and I headed off to Thailand for two weeks of spicy street food and tropical paradise. The first two days I couldn't get over the fact of being in NOT Japan - people were jay-walking, eating in the streets, not wearing shirts, talking loudly, there was trash on the ground and good and bad smells in the air! There was a touch of chaos! It was not Japan! We headed to Chiang Mai in to spend our first week taking cooking classes, having daily massages and mountain trekking! Here we are on a tour of the vegetable market where we learned about Thai spices and vegetables and were outfitted with funny hats.
The focus of of being in NOT Japan was definitely the food. I LOVE Thai food and as it is nonexistant in Kagoshima I set about eating as much of it as possible. This resulted in many incursions with massive amounts of chilli pepper which in turn led to the daily ring of fire. It's so easy to spoil yourself when the living is so good and so cheap - fresh fruit juices every day and tropical deserts! Right after this picture was taken we bought a spicy chicken on the side of the road and licked her clean.
In Chiang Mai you can go to a Buddhist temple and have a chat with a monk! The monks like to practice their English with foreigners who want to learn about Buddhism so they set up a little outdoor convo that you can drop by for. Our monk mostly wanted to talk about what the US is like and what traveling was like. He seemed really ready to have his time as a monk be up so that he could go out and do a little exploring.
From Chiang Mai we headed to Koh Phangnan and Koh Tao, which are part of a group of islands in the Gulf of Thailand. The only way to get around these island is taxi or renting a scooter for about $6 a day. I was a complete wet blanket about this scooter adventure and made us wear helmets and drive really slowly because you know, the other people out there are crazy drivers!
We stopped off in Bangkok to hang out with Steve and check out a few sites. This is Wat Phra Kaew.
Spicy fish with Steve!
Er, apologies, these pictures are out of order. Back in Chiang Mai we took a couple days trekking trip in the mountains. We hiked through some jungle action and villages where you could pick lychees off the trees! Its hard to see them, but there they are! So delish!
Silly hiking wear, dirty feet.
We slept in a bamboo house made for travelers in the village.
And bathed in the stream nearby. At night, fireflies floated around the river and we sang every pop song we knew with our guide. Ah, the sweet melody of Hotel California will now always remind me of that rainy night in the village.
And of course we forded rivers on the backs of elephants.
And no Asian country would be complete without some funny signs.
Mmm, delicious spicy soups. This was similar to Pho soup but had lots of different types of fish balls in it. I still don't quite understand the logic of eating really spicy food in hot hot countries... the locals always say that the spice makes you sweat, which cools you off, but I don't feel like being even more sweaty in addition to my already incredibly sweaty state really makes a difference. Here's to the food anyway though!
Toast with a myriad of delicious to strange toppings seemed to be a favorite snack.
Ooooh, sweet sweet street curries! The depth of flavor in this was just mindblowing and the green one was so spicy that it made my ears pop. I don't even know how that's possible, but it happened!
A beachside hut we stayed at in Koh Phangnan.
And our resort walkway in Koh Tao. Why do I only have a picture of the walkway and not our luxurious resort room? I was way too busy reveling in my first bed of nine months (I sleep on a futon in Kagoshima) and raiding the mini fridge or lounging on our porch watching the gekkos walk by...
Koh Tao, you were so beautiful. We spent about a week here taking water taxis and scooters around the island to great snorkel and dive spots (I went scuba diving!) and lounging on the beach tropical drinks in hand.
Eating tropical breakfasts by the sea!
At our resort...
Water taxi nap!
Me, battling Christy.
Underwater camera action. These are my favorite pictures taken the entire trip. Out of the corner of my eye I would see Justin swimming as fast as possible, arm outstretched to try and get a picture of the fish. There are a lot of these.
I felt like crying when it was time to leave this unreal island paradise. But I do feel like Japan has become my home, and it is always nice to come home after a trip.
(Nearly all pictures aside from those with him in them were taken by Justin)