Recent Reads v.4

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating | So many laughs with this one! Josh and Hazel are acquaintances from college and reconnect by chance years later. Josh is laid back and Hazel is kind of a hurricane. They spark up a fast friendship and both become determined to find the perfect match for each other. The books takes you on a series of their horribly bad and hilarious blind dates. I laughed out loud at the many situations that Josh and Hazel found themselves in.
(4.25 stars)

Becoming | No review I could write would come close to describing how amazing this book is. I have been a long-time admirer of Michelle Obama and her book simply blew me away. She details her upbringing, her education, meeting Barack and starting their family. She details their transition into political life and shares her feelings along the way. Michelle is a beautiful person and a great writer. This book left me with chills and a few tears. I cannot recommend it enough!
(5 stars, easily)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo | This book is filled with so many unexpected moments and plot twists that you don’t see coming.  It’s wildly entertaining in ways that you’d expect and deeply sad in ways that you don’t. It was a fun read and I’d recommend to anyone that loves a good escape from reality and into the complicated life of a bombshell movie star.
(4.25 stars)

What Alice Forgot | Alice awakes on the gym floor thinking that she’s 29 years old, happily married and pregnant with her first child. What Alice doesn’t remember is that she’s actually 39 years old, has three children and is on the verge of divorce! Alice has hit her head and lost any recollection of the past decade of her life. She doesn’t recognize the person she has become. Throughout the course of the book Alice discovers bits and pieces of her past and tries to move forward despite all the changes. Maybe losing her memory is the best thing to happen to her… This book is extremely thoughtful and unique. I also hear it will be made into a major motion picture!
(4.5 stars)

After I Do | Lauren and Ryan have lost the spark in their marriage and everything falls apart. They agree to take a year off to figure out individually how to move forward. The book focuses on Lauren’s efforts to make sense of her life and what she wants. I absolutely love the author and the book is very well-written, I didn’t love this story.
(3 stars)

One Day in December | I was on the library waitlist for months before I could get my hands on this book. There was so much hype surrounding this book, I couldn’t help but get excited as well. Laurie spots a man while on the bus and has an instant attraction to him. Unfortunately she doesn’t act quick enough and the bus drives away. She spends the next year looking all over London for this mystery man. When she finally comes face to face with him a year later, its under unfortunate circumstances… he’s introduced to her as her best friends new boyfriend. The book takes you through the complicated lives of Laurie, her best friend (Sarah) and bus buy (Jack) over the next ten years. The story is quite cute and there are more surprises thrown in there then I thought there would be!
(4.5 stars)

A Travel Guide to Ao Nang, Thailand

After some time in Chiang Mai we hopped on a 2-hour flight to Ao Nang in Southern Thailand. When we arrived at the airport we snagged a shuttle heading in the direction of our hotel. The whole process ended up being an absolute nightmare. The transportation system at the Krabi airport was extremely disorganized. They had us wait in a line, board a shuttle with our luggage, then un-boarded us to wait in another line, board a different shuttle and cross your fingers you’re in the right spot. The shuttle driver we ended up with didn’t slow down for speed bumps or corners or anything actually. Luke and I looked at each other and thought this could possibly be our last night on earth, haha, so dramatic. We made it to our hotel a few hours later than expected, but we were off the shuttle so we were happy!

We spent the next four days in Ao Nang with a goal of ultimate relaxation. While I wouldn’t call our time in Ao Nang relaxing… the town was busy, vibrant and bustling! Not quite what we thought it was going to be, but we still loved our time there nonetheless.

We stayed at the Kokotel Krabi Oasis and were able to walk everywhere that we wanted to go. The hotel offered free shuttles to the beach and back, which was a nice perk. They also offered free breakfast every morning that we definitely took advantage of.

Upon arrival in Ao Nang our plans were loose. We knew we wanted to take a boat to the islands and to Railay Beach. Other than that, we just wanted to take it easy and see where the days led us.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recommended Ao Nang itinerary!

Swings everywhere!

Our recommended itinerary for four days in Ao Nang:

Day 1
Breakfast in town
Walk up and down the main street checking out the restaurants and shops
Grab a fresh fruit shake from a sidewalk stand (we loved the banana shakes and had them daily!)
Dinner at Kodam Kitchen (make reservations as the place fills up quick)

Day 2
Breakfast in town 
Take a speedboat trip to the Hong Islands (there are tour companies everywhere. we used this tour with My Thailand Tours and loved them – they’ll pick up/drop off at your hotel!)
Relax with Thai massages in town before dinner
Dinner at the Ao Nang Night Market

Day 3
Breakfast in town
Take a long tail boat to Railay Beach and spend a few hours sunbathing, swimming or kayaking (there are kiosks around town to purchase long tail boat tickets to take you to Railay Beach and back)
Dinner at The Hilltop (make reservations and they’ll pick up/drop off at your hotel!)

Day 4
Breakfast in town
Repeat anything above that you loved!
or
Visit the Tiger Cave Temple 
Visit the Phi Phi Islands

A Travel Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

After a few days in Bangkok we boarded a quick 1-hour flight to the Northern Thailand town of Chiang Mai. Now this place was more our style (#betterthanbangkok)! We arrived at the tiny Chiang Mai airport and ordered a Grab to our AirBnb. Grab is similar to Lyft/Uber, although way more affordable in Thailand than back home. A Grab ride from the airport to our hotel was roughly 170 Thai Baht ($5.30 USD).

Our AirBnb was located in the “West End” area of the city known as Nimman. We could not have loved the location more! We were walking distance from amazing restaurants, coffee shops and the Old City. Speaking of the Old City… it’s a section of Chiang Mai that is square-shaped and surrounded by a moat. Yes, a moat. How cool is that?! We found Chiang Mai to be very walkable and easy to navigate. We spent a day exploring the temples in the Old City and just taking in the sights – its such an eclectic and beautiful city.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recommended Chiang Mai itinerary!

Breakfast at Bird’s Nest Cafe. Luke had a Thai vegetable hash and I had a banana pancake with fresh fruit. 
Here’s that moat I told you about earlier.
Must stop every now and then for the local beers. 
During our time in Chiang Mai the air quality was the worst in the world, yikes! 
Brunch at the SS1254372 Cafe was the most beautiful meal in the most beautiful space. 
Our recommended itinerary for three days in Chiang Mai.

Day 1
Breakfast at Bird’s Nest Cafe
Explore the Old City
Lunch at Khao Soi Arak
Think Park Night Market (we came across this on our first night and had SO MUCH fun here – it’s a great place to try a few different food stands, shop and hit up a bar)

Day 2
Breakfast at SS1254372 Cafe
Hike the Monk’s Trail to explore Wat Pho Lat
Explore around the Chiang Mai Riverside (Ping River)
Dinner at David’s Kitchen (we had an incredible meal here to celebrate Luke’s birthday)

Day 3
Coffee at RISTR8TO (Chiang Mai has amazing coffee everywhere – RISTR8TO blew us away!)
Explore the Nimman neighborhood
Lunch at Dash
Drinks at a rooftop bar (we visited Yayee and Rise – we tried to visit Sala Lanna but it was empty (??) and Myst Maya but we didn’t love that place at all)
Dinner and shopping at the Night Market(s)

A Travel Guide to Bangkok, Thailand

Actually getting to Bangkok was one gigantic disaster. We started our journey with a delayed flight that forced a missed connection. We got rebooked on a different airline, but that flight was also delayed, causing us to yet again miss another connection. We got bumped on all our flights and found ourselves sitting on the floor at the Sea-Tac airport with nothing booked. At one point when the airline we were supposed to be flying on refused to help us out, Luke and I looked at each other at a loss for words. We are stuck at the airport with no flight to get on. We eventually sorted out logistics and with a total re-route, found ourselves headed in the right direction. We would arrive in Bangkok 24 hours behind schedule. We found two silver linings though! Our first silver lining was that we had a 7-hour layover in San Francisco and we were able to escape the airport to try a new brewery. We also ran into my sister who happened to be on a connecting flight there at the same time. What luck?! After San Francisco our second silver lining was a 12-hour layover in Seoul, South Korea. We had a few hours to explore a new-to-us city and try all the Korean street food.

When we arrived at Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and made our way to catch a taxi at Ground Transportation. You wait in a queue for a taxi and check in at a kiosk. When your number comes up, you walk to a parking spot with your corresponding number to catch your taxi. The cost was roughly 600 Thai Baht ($19 USD). There might have been a cheaper option into town, but it was late and we were exhausted after so many layovers. We wanted the easiest and most straight forward means of transportation.

By the time we ended up in Bangkok we had almost two full days to explore and that ended up being enough for us. I’m glad that we got to experience the city, it just wasn’t really our style in the end. Bangkok is a sprawling city filled with a lot of people and a lot of garbage and pollution. In a single word I would call Bangkok chaos. When we walked the streets of Chinatown I couldn’t believe my eyes… there was just so. much. stuff. Think any kind of trinket, knock-off item, toys, accessories, etc. You name it, it was there in excess. On the positive side, the temples were beyond beautiful, the food was incredible and the public water taxi was a fun experience.

We stayed at the Chillax Heritage Hotel and had a great experience. When we arrived on our first night we went walking in search of dinner and drinks. We found a lively street behind the hotel and enjoyed a few beers and dinner at a restaurant that offered outdoor seating (as we found most restaurants offer). We were also within walking distance of Khao San Road, which was such a fun street! If we had more time in the city I could see us having dinner and listening to live music there.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recommended Bangkok itinerary!

 This photo is what happens when you leave your temple clothes at the hotel, haha!
The photos above are from our visit to Wat Pho. We didn’t realize that Wat Pho is not only one of the most popular sites to visit in Thailand, but also in the world! After our visit it was no surprise, the temple is mind-blowing.
Another “borrowed” outfit because the temples clothes are still at the hotel…
The above photos are from our visit to Wat Arun. Of the temples we had on our list to visit, Wat Arun was the one I was most excited about. We actually caught our first glimpse of the temple from across the water at The Deck by Arun Residence (the papaya salad pictured above is from there, so good!). We ate lunch on their deck and had the most beautiful temple view.
Bangkok at night from Above Eleven.
Having a hotel with a pool was key! After hours of sweating through our clothes it was nice to be able to take a mid-day break and go for a swim!


Our recommended itinerary for two days in Bangkok:
 

Day 1
Pick a few temples to explore (Wat Pho and Wat Arun – the Grand Palace was on our list too, but we didn’t end up making it there)
Lunch and local beers at The Deck by Arun Residence
Spend the day “getting lost” by hopping off and on the public water taxi on the Chao Phyara River (make sure to hop on the orange flag boats)
Explore Soi Rambutti for street food and local beers
 
Day 2
Breakfast at The Coffee Club (multiple locations across Thailand)
Thai Massages at Darin Spa
Ride the Sky Train (we got off at the “Asok” stop and walked around that area for hours checking out local restaurants and bars)
Drinks at the Above Eleven rooftop bar
————————-
A few places we had on our list but just didn’t have enough time to get to: The SixthChatuchak Weekend Market (we didn’t get a chance to visit the market as we were in Bangkok during the week)
Also check out this 3-day guide to Bangkok, it’s full of so much good information!