Volunteering at Patara Elephant Farm

Volunteering at Patara Elephant Farm

This post is a little overdue (I visited Patara Elephant Farm back in January), but I was waiting on some pictures from that day, and am just getting around to writing about it now.  I knew when I first decided to go to Thailand that I wanted to spend some time with elephants.  Elephants are one of my favorite animals.  I think that they are just fascinating and intelligent creatures.  Thailand has a problem with many elephants being mistreated in the tourism and manufacturing industries.  Elephants are chained up and beaten until…

Thailand Wrap-up by the Numbers:

Thailand Wrap-up by the Numbers:

Thailand Wrap-up by the Numbers: 45 days 4 waterfalls visited 2 Number of elephants I took care of for a day at Patara Elephant Farm 4 friends from home who came to visit! (Alex, Alex, Laura, and Matt) 1 Full Moon Party 30 Meters, the maximum depth I am certified to dive 20 Amazing scuba dives 5 Thai dishes I learned to cook in Chiang Mai 2 injuries suffered by friends (black eye and sprained MCL) 1 Case of food poisoning 20 Amazing scuba dives 1 McDonald’s visit 8 nights at Koh…

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi Koh Phi Phi is known for being a very popular tourist destination in Thailand. I had consciously chosen to skip Koh Samui and Phuket, massive islands with similar reputations for being overdeveloped and crowded. I decided to still spend a few days on Koh Phi Phi to experience its beauty that it is known for, as well as do some more diving at a few of the many dive sights located nearby. (If you haven’t caught on by the past few posts, I really enjoy scuba diving!)….

Similan Islands Liveaboard Diving Trip

Similan Islands Liveaboard Diving Trip

Similan Islands Liveaboard Diving Trip After having caught the scuba diving bug, I knew that I wanted to do some more diving while I was still in Thailand.  A few of my instructors had mentioned that the Similan Islands, located in the Andaman Sea, had the best diving in all of Thailand.  I did a bit of research on these trips, and I was able to find a trip that fit my price range, with Sea Dragon!  The trip I chose was geared more to the “backpacker”, as it offered…

Railay – Rock climbing and Railay Good Views

Railay – Rock climbing and Railay Good Views

I had heard many good things about Railay from other travelers I had encountered throughout Thailand, so I was eager to experience it for myself.  Railay is located on a peninsula, and due to the many high rock pillars of karst limestone, is only accessible via boat.  The accomodation prices were a little too high for my liking, so I based myself in the beach town of Ao Nang, a short 15 minute longtail boat ride away.  The benefit about this was that I got to experience the breathtaking views…

Scuba Diving on Koh Tao

Scuba Diving on Koh Tao

Scuba Diving on Koh Tao When I was mapping out my plans for Thailand, I knew that I wanted to get certified for scuba diving on Koh Tao, in the Gulf of Thailand.  While a smaller island, especially considered to Koh Samui and Koh Phangnan, Koh Tao has a plethora of PADI and SSI dive shops, all with very affordable prices, almost half of what you’ll pay to get certified in most Western countries.  Scuba diving was always something that intrigued me, so it seemed like a good of time…

Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nang Yuan

Koh Nang Yuan is a set of 3 tiny islands connected by a shallow sand bar.  The island has no permanent residents, and has only a few bungalows that can be rented out for an expensive price by Thai standards (but hey, remember you’re staying on an uninhabited island).  For those not staying in the bungalows, the island is only open from 9-5pm, adding a small incentive to stay there to enjoy some peace and quiet for those with deeper wallets. A mere 5 minute longtail boat ride from Koh…

Conquering “The Challenge” on Koh Phangnan

Conquering “The Challenge” on Koh Phangnan

While we were on Koh Phangnan for the Full Moon Party, there was one other activity that I knew I definitely wanted to do.  After reading about my friend Dan’s experience at a “Wipeout” style obstacle course, I knew that “The Challenge” on Koh Phangnan would be right up my alley. For those of you not familiar with the show, “Wipeout”, it basically involves the contestants trying to complete a crazy inflatable obstacle course while in the water.  After fully recovering from the Full Moon Party, we ventured over to…

Chinese New Year and Monks Almsgiving Ritual in Chiang Mai

Chinese New Year and Monks Almsgiving Ritual in Chiang Mai

Chinese New Year and Monks Almsgiving Ritual in Chiang Mai On February 8th, was the start of the Chinese New Year, the year of the monkey.  I’m a little embarrassed to say that I never ventured to Chicago’s Chinatown in my 3 years of living there.  Thailand has a huge population of Chinese people, as well as being a very popular tourist destination for Chinese travelers as well.  Chiang Mai is known for having great festivities to celebrate, so I decided to check it out. Around 6pm I left my…

Trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park

Trekking in Doi Inthanon National Park

In addition to Thailand’s many beautiful beaches and islands, it is also host to lush forests and mountainous regions, particularly in Northern Thailand.  I knew that I definitely was interested in going on a multi-day trek into the countryside, but there were a variety of options available.  I wanted to avoid the more “touristy” ones that include stops of elephant riding where the elephants aren’t treated well, and the Long Neck Karen tribe, where women wear brass coils to elongate their necks.  Some of these tours treat these people like…