A Beautiful Adventure

On the Road Again...

Page 2 of 3

Road Trip 2015: Colorado Part III

JZ had to fly out to San Francisco for work. He flew out Sunday and I packed up the rest of the Zoo into our trusty Subaru and headed south to Colorado Springs. The idea was to stay with my family while he was out of town, for moral support and all that jazz.

It was fantastic! Aunt M and Uncle T showed me the sights and spoiled us rotten. They took us to the Golden Bee for a half-yard of beer, and drove us up to Victor to see the changing of the leaves. I have never seen so many aspens before, and especially not full of so much color.IMG_5337 It was truly beautiful. Little Monkey and I also got to see our cousins a lot. I made more super food for V2 and this time made a diet version for V1, which I’ve decided is too chunky for a Vizsla. Dogs aren’t really allowed off leash in many places in Colorado, so finding ways to run them was challenging. I finally found the best dog park that I’ve ever been to- Bear Creek Dog Park. If you have dogs and are in the Colorado Springs area, take them there! This made life a bit easier because once I knew where to go it became part of my daily routine.

When JZ was finished with his San Francisco business, he flew back out to Colorado and met up with us in Colorado Springs. To give us an idea of what if would be like if we moved to Colorado Springs, Uncle T drove us around to some neighborhoods, focusing on where my cousins live out in the country. We are very interested in someday living on a nice piece of property and so it was very nice to get a good idea of what our options would be if we settled in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs was jam packed with activities. Aunt M and Uncle T watched Little Monkey one night and when Jake got off work the two of us biked around Garden of the Gods. JZ went back and hiked there with the dogs on his lunch break the next day. Our family date day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was our favorite family activity during this road trip so far. The zoo is incredible and Little Monkey had the best day of his life, I think! We did the marathon version of the zoo and saw every animal. Feeding the giraffes and seeing the grizzly bears were our top picks. Interestingly, the zoo held it’s grand opening for the tapir exhibit that day. Tapirs are unique looking creatures from…South America! We were pretty excited. There was tons of family time with all the cousins. Visiting with Aunt M and Uncle T, seeing Little Monkey interact with his cousins, and getting to catch up with mine, has hands down been my favorite experience of this road trip so far.

Although it’s lacking in the water/boating category, we do love Colorado Springs and it stays on our list of possible places to settle down someday.

On the Road Again,


Road Trip 2015: Colorado Part I & II

Friday I was scheduled to fly from Denver to Palm Springs for a bachelorette party. With the missing puppy ordeal I didn’t think I was going to make it. Though I was exhausted, I was very happy that I still got to take my girls weekend; also my first weekend away from the baby! We booked it from Jackson, Wyoming to Fort Collins, Colorado on Thursday. Trying, again, to make Queen Bee more comfortable, we put her carrier between the driver and passenger seat up front (with the strap snapped around a head rest, so she was “buckled” in). We arrived Thursday night in Fort Collins and stayed with JZ’s Aunty. I shuttled it to Denver for my girl’s weekend and had a glorious time until my return Sunday night. JZ and the rest of the Zoo Crew shacked up with Aunty for the weekend and spent some quality family time with JZ’s relatives. While away in Palm Springs I was being blasted with pictures of the cousins together. Although there is an eight-year age difference, their bond is already apparent and pure sweetness. They also got to see JZ’s grandma and uncles everyday. Knowing that Little Monkey is getting to spend such quality time with such important people like his Great Great Grandma makes me feel that all this is still worth it.

I came home from Palm Springs Sunday night and we stayed with Aunty for a couple more nights. We weren’t really sure what our plans were, because while we had a general outline of our schedule, we were thrown off by the missing puppy adventure. We also had never followed through with booking an airbnb in Boulder, which was our original plan. Low on funds and tired of searching, we ended up booking with the Hyatt House in Denver for the remainder of the week. This ended up being a great way to go. We decompressed, caught up on life a little bit, and just generally relaxed. We were out by the airport, so a pretty far ways away from the hub of Denver. While this seemed too isolated at first it felt really nice in the end to be away from the hustle and bustle after our Jackson adventure. Finally wising up, we bought a spray bottle and so when Queen Bee meows, we spray. Sounds mean, but it doesn’t hurt her and she actually calms down and I think it ultimately lowers her stress level (it definitely lowers our stress levels).

Denver did end up being a productive and interesting stop for us though. I took another dance class. Little Monkey and I got our passports taken care of. JZ went shopping downtown for some work items he needed. I cooked up some super food for V2, to help put some of the weight back on that he had lost during his freedom run. Friday night, we went out for dinner and ended up at Maria Empanada. The empanadas were authentic, delicious, and this place is highly recommended to anyone in the Denver area looking for affordable, ethnic food. Finding Maria Empanada was exciting because we are also preparing for a South America adventure here soon (stay tuned!).

Saturday was spent hanging around Boulder, Colorado. We packed a picnic lunch and drove in for the day. A good portion of the day was spent walking and hanging at the Pearl Street Mall. And, because we have two Vizslas, we found a beautiful hike that took us along the flat irons to an overlook of Boulder city. Then, by chance, we happened to end up at the world famous Dark Horse Grill for dinner and joined the locals while they watched Colorado State vs. University of Colorado’s football match. While we were originally disappointed that we couldn’t spend more time in Boulder, finishing up our Denver experience with a day trip there was satisfying and also a great way to close that chapter.


On the Road Again,


Road Trip 2015: Wyoming

We stayed in Pray, Montana because of its’ proximity to Yellowstone. Our goal was to drive through Yellowstone in daylight. Because we were heading through to Jackson, it was $50 for a weeklong pass that allowed us entrance into Yellowstone National Park as well as Grand Teton National Park. I did the driving again, so that when he intermittently got reception JZ could finish up some working. Queen Bee was still an issue during this driving day. She actually ended up in JZ’s lap at times, we tried letting her head poke out of her carrier, but ultimately she was still miss cranky pants and was put back into her carrier for most of the drive. Despite the discontent of Queen Bee, the drive into Wyoming was amazing.

Yellowstone did not disappoint! We were up close and personal with a couple herds of buffalo. They crossed the road in front of us and even walked right down the middle of the road, just doing their thing! While we didn’t get to see more wild life than the buffalo, that in itself made the experience IMG_5080epic! Old Faithful was just that- faithful! Right as we walked up she began to shoot up and we got there just in time to see the show. Apparently, others had been waiting over an hour. Then, after leaving Old Faithful, right as night was falling, we passed Yellowstone lake. We wish we could have done some more exploring around the park; but even just passing through it was still so amazing. Yellowstone is on our list of places to vacation to as a family later on in life. Regardless of whether we ever make it back though, our experience there was a good one.


Unfortunately, “our experience there was a good one” will not be said for the rest of our Wyoming adventure. Usually, we start each leg of travel by playing one of “our songs”- On the Road Again by Willie Nelson. We self proclaimed this as our theme song during our bike tour in 2009 (to re live that amazing adventure visit lotsofbiking.blogspot.com). Well, we forgot to play our song when we left Montana, and call me superstitious, but I have since made sure to play that song every time we head out again. To start off, the arrival into Jackson was exhausting. Driving in the dark, worried about hitting antelope, and moose, and buffalo, and elk, and any other number of exotic forest animals is stressful on the driver (aka, ME). Then the meowing; oh the meowing. But alas we arrive to Jackson, Wyoming late Wednesday night. Thursday (day) in Jackson was actually quite pleasant. JZ road his bike into town and worked from a co-op. Little Monkey and I rode our bikes into town later and met him for lunch. We all had a very nice day exploring the cute little town of Jackson. I had discovered Cache Creek trail and decided that we should do a family hike with the dogs when JZ got off work, then go into downtown Jackson and enjoy a nice dinner, since we were leaving in the morning. Well, early into the hike, everything went array.

Apparently, Jackson does a chuck wagon touristy event in the evenings that we did not know about. They bring in covered wagons and reenact cowboys vs. Indians type situation, finishing off with a big cook out. One of the horses bucked toward V2, we grabbed V1 in time to put him on the leash, but right at that moment the Indians began hollering and V2 took off. I ran after V2 and as he approached a fork in the trail the gunshots went off. I continued after him, always just a step behind. The day turned into the night though, a storm came in, and we couldn’t find our precious pup. We had to leave him out there. The search and rescue continued for 5 more nights! We were at our wits end deep into a nightmare that we couldn’t wake up from. Finally, after racking up a hefty hotel bill, hiring an animal communicator, calling for prayers from around the world and essentially turning V2 into a celebrity with our pleas for help, ready to call in professional animal trappers, finally, after 5 nights away, the call came. Tuesday morning JZ’s phone rang. Our prayers had been answered! We had our fairytale ending and we are all reunited! Having combed every.single.inch of Jackson, I will be happy to never see that town again.

The experience wasn’t completely bad though. Jackson is a beautiful place. The people there are amazing. Almost everyone went above and beyond to help us find our pup, and we even made some lifelong friends in the process. The kindness and generosity that one particular couple showed us was out of the world. It was the kind of experience that makes you stop, look at your self, and want to be a better a person. Because of their kindness and generosity we even got to stay at the Grand Teton Lodge for a couple of nights while we recharged and prepared to leave. It wasn’t just the people in Jackson though. Even our own friends showed the depth of their friendship by offering to drive out from California to help. Our parents were extremely helpful financially and supported us in every way they could to help us get V2 home. Although a nightmare, it was also one of those experiences that reminds you how grateful you for your life, family, and the life you choose to live.

While we won’t be going back anytime soon, we could possibly revisit the idea of vacationing in Jackson again someday. Without the animals.

So, what was meant to be a two-day visit turned into a nine-day ordeal. It didn’t matter though because we were reunited. As a family, very happy to be together, we said goodbye to our new friends, to Wyoming, and set off for Colorado.


On the Road Again,

Kato’s Zoo Crew

Road Trip 2015: Montana

The drive from Washington to Montana was long. We got going later in the afternoon, and unfortunately didn’t get to see most of the Montana section in daylight. We did make it to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho before sunset though. We enjoyed a nice pit stop here as we walked along the lake. Although we just passed through, Coeur d’Alene seems like a great little vacation spot for the future!

baby lake courd'alene

We spent a couple nights in Missoula at an airbnb. While JZ worked on Monday, the boys and I hiked up to the “M”. This was a image1_1pretty easy hike, but plenty of a workout for us. I think we counted 14 switchbacks and it took us about 45 minutes each way. A college student who was doing her pilgrimage to the M adopted us and we chatted with her the entire way. Monday night, JZ watched Little Monkey while I took another dance class. I took a jazz class at the Downtown Dance Collective. Again, this was a great class for any adult. A good level for me to enjoy, but from what I gathered it seemed repetitive from week to week, which is great for those who have not been dancing very long and enjoy it for a workout. Before my class, we had a delicious, inexpensive meal at a Brazilian restaurant, Five on Black. Great thing about college towns: delicious, affordable food! Then after my class, because ice cream makes a bad day good and a good day better, the three of us enjoyed some world famous ice cream at The Big Dipper. Our Missoula visit was short and sweet. We would never want to live there, or even vacation there, but think it’s a great little town for college and if Little Monkey wanted to go there, hey- he’s already done his pilgrimage to the “M”!


Tuesday, we checked out of our airbnb around lunchtime and JZ worked from his hotspot while I drove us down to Pray, Montana. This drive was very pretty. I feel like I got redemption as far as scenery goes, since we missed the drive coming into Montana. We spent one relaxing night in a cute little ranch cabin. The pups loved the wide, open range; and we enjoyed stargazing and chasing Little Monkey around. The cabin image2even had a great telescope that I used to glimpse the moon in a way I had never before. Out on the ranch felt very wild wild westish. The next morning, JZ worked an early shift and I took the boys out for another hike. I found a great little hike in the woods up to a waterfall. After getting out some energy, it was time to say goodbye to our home on the range and prepare the car for our next leg of travel.


Now, so far, the most frustrating part of our trip has been the packing. Originally, we planned on putting the pups in the rear of the Subaru behind the doggy gate- and the cat in her carrier in a backseat. Well, after a 3½ hour drive from Tahoe to the bay area with an unhappy Queen Bee, we decided to try something different.  V1 & V2 sat yin-yang style (if you know Vizslas and have multiples, you know what I mean) in a back seat, and Queen Bee ended up with the entire trunk area to herself.  We ordered this pop up “room” for her and also this pup up “litter box ” which I had planned on using as a litter box/feeding area for her so as to keep the pups and baby out of her space during our stays. To try and make her as comfortable as possible, we set up this pop up “room” for her in the back of the Subaru and she had the best seat in the house from the bay area to Montana. She was still pissed.

The insensate meowing was not working for us anymore, so we decided to give something else a try. Rearranging the car again, we put her in her carrier in the other back seat. Also, trying to make our activity toys (ie stroller, bike trailer, baby pack, etc) more accessible, we put the suitcases up top in the Thule rocket box and loaded the outdoor activity equipment into the trunk.

Wishing we had rented an RV, we headed toward Yellowstone.

On the Road Again,


Road Trip 2015: Chelan, WA

We arrived to Chelan on a smoky Tuesday evening. Wednesday and Thursday were spent mostly indoors at Grandma’s house. Although stuck in doors due to the smoke, we got to do some great visiting. JZ’s childhood buddy came to visit with us on Wednesday evening, and Thursday afternoon Little Monkey and I packed it up and went to visit friends for the day. So far what I’ve loved most about this trip is introducing Little Monkey to our friends and to their little monkeys! Thursday night I even got a Mama’s night in with wine and board games while the Papas watched over our monkeys.

Friday came and finally we got out of the smoke. Because of our traveling and for insurance purposes that I don’t fully understand, Little Monkey missed his 15-month check up. Luckily, we have great insurance and I was able to find a pediatrician in-network in nearby Wenatchee. While it was a little bit of a drive to get the appointment, I did not mind at all. Grandma came with us and we got to see clear blue skies! The appointment went very well and the three of us enjoyed a lovely outdoor lunch and a walk around Wenatchee’s Pybus Public Market. We even stopped for delicious espresso milk shakes on the way home (can’t remember exactly where, it’s a little drive through near Entiat but soooo yummy!). JZ went out Friday night with his buddies.

With help from the rain gods we had semi clear skies come Saturday morning. This was great news! Finally, Little Monkey was able to get outside with Grandma and enjoy her beautiful country home picking grapes and looking at flowers. Saturday night Grandma watched over Little Monkey and JZ and I went out with his pals for some good old fashion fun on the town in Chelan. Between dancing and boating in the moonlight, our night out was one for the record books!

Sunday rolled around and it was time to pack it in and move on. The skies had cleared up and we would have loved to stick around Chelan a little longer, but we had already pre-paid for an airbnb in Missoula, Montana. We took a detour on the way out of town to see JZ’s old childhood homes. Neither of them burned down, but the scorching right up to the doorsteps and all around were devastatingly surreal. Praying for everyone who was affected by these horrific fires. And praying for rain!

Chelan Quiet Valley Road fire damage

On The Road Again,


Road Trip 2015: Seattle

Well, the first leg of our trip was filled with a plethora of emotions. It began a day early, as we attended the service for my beloved grandmother. This was both a beautiful and a solemn occasion. Her death was sudden and my relationship with her was a deep, true friendship that spanned beyond generational gaps. She loved me fiercely and I her.  This sadness, unfortunately, will follow me through this adventure- and I’m sure beyond. Nonetheless, our adventure began.

After a few days in the bay area (California) with my family celebrating the life of our matriarch, the Zoo Crew headed out.  We had reserved a hotel in Bend, Oregon and so the trip to Seattle was broken up into two days. The place we stayed in Bend (http://www.entradalodge.com) was perfect. It backed up to trail heads and was super pet friendly. After a loooong night of driving from the bay area to Bend (lots of tag teaming and pulling over to rest), we enjoyed the hotel the next morning by taking the dogs and baby for a hike and then on a bike ride. Yes, we put the baby bike trailer in the car and our mountain bikes on the rack. We leisurely checked out of the hotel and then headed to Deschutes Brewery for lunch. Although our visit in Bend was brief it made the list for places to consider moving someday.  We definitely plan on taking some vacations there in the future to experience the city more.

(insert picture of monkey with his beer)

We are blessed with a fantastic group of friends and were able to spend our Seattle visit in an adorable guesthouse located on our friend’s property in Lake Sammamish, WA. Lake Sammamish is about 40 minutes outside of Seattle and definitely made our list of places we would consider living someday. Pros: friends, great schools, has a lake, has greenery, semi-affordable for the style housing we like. Cons: Seahawk territory! (Remember when I said bay area?! Yea- we are 49er fans!).

Despite all the Seahawk paraphernalia EVERYWHERE- we had a great time visiting the Seattle area.  We spent every night with friends, which was the best part. You see, JZ grew up just 3.5 hours East of Seattle and moved to Seattle after graduating high school. Most of his closest friends are now in and around the Seattle area. We attended a group BBQ/pool party, a rooftop BBQ that had beautiful views of Seattle, a little Sunday Funday on Lake Washington, and just generally partied like rock stars with our friends and their kiddos! Little Monkey and I had a play date at the Aquarium. He and I also had a special day together exploring Seattle Center and the Science Center. I even got to leave Little Monkey with JZ one night and go take a dance class. I took a great hip-hop class at Velocity Dance Center that I would recommend to any adult dancers. It was fun enough for a pro like myself (toot toot- that’s my horn), and mellow enough for a beginner who just wants a fun workout.

Originally, we were scheduled to head out on Saturday for Lake Chelan, WA. Unfortunately the terrible fire situation in Washington State left the skies in that direction too smoky for Little Monkey- so we waited out the weekend in Samammish. Finally, Tuesday evening, we packed up the Subaru and risked the smoky airs of Lake Chelan.


On The Road Again,


Road Trip 2015

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Yes, we may be certifiable. Nonetheless, we are going to pack our bags (or more accurately, our Subaru) and head off on the wide open road.

Who is going? All of us! Meet the Zoo Crew.  I’m Kato- Mama of the Zoo Crew.  JZ is our Papa.  Little Monkey is our newest addition, born in April 2014. We have Queen Bee (Our eight year old Feline) who runs this roost. Then we have V1 (our five year old Vizsla) and V2 (our two year old Vizsla).

What are you doing? Are you camping? Are you renting an RV? No, we are not camping. No, we did not buy or rent an RV. We are packing all of us into our Subaru Forester to travel the western United States. We will be staying with friends and family part of the time and staying in hotel rooms/rental homes at other times.

When are you doing this? This summer/fall (2015). After our lease is expired in our Tahoe Home, we are putting everything into storage and traveling.

Where are you going? Everywhere! Well, not everywhere. Just the wild wild west. We’re doing a western loop of the United States. Starting in California, we’re going to drive up to Seattle, over to Montana then down through Yellowstone to get to Colorado. From Colorado, we will head south to New Mexico then over to Southern California and back up again. The end. 😉

Why on earth? Because, we are CRAZY! Yes, maybe because we are crazy, but also because it is something we’ve always thought would be cool to do and we can. Now is the time.  JZ is blessed with employment that allows him to work remotely and our child is not enrolled in school yet. We aren’t blessed with a mortgage payment yet so instead of jumping into another rental we will spend our rent money traveling. This gives us the opportunity to: a) travel, b) explore different areas of the country we think we may be interested in living someday and c)visit with and introduce our Little Monkey to friends and family.

Wish us luck and check back here for updates on how things are going!

On The Road Again,




Thailand: The Final Week, Chiang Mai

The last week of Thailand was so packed with friends and adventures that I never took the time to write about those last amazing moments.  I also intentionality wanted to take that time to be alone, to not check my e-mails and to just sit with my friends in a foreign country, before I had to step back into the “real world”.  We were all anxious about that moment, when we had to start working and paying bills and being ourselves again back home.  In Thailand, we were perpetually vacationing, with no worries, really.

After a night of Muay Thai Boxing in Phuket, I flew solo to Chiang Mai.  I bid my Canadian friends farewell at the Backpackers Hostel, where we slept in a 10 bed room, 200 bt/night.  That was probably the best place we stayed; air conditioner, TV with DVDs, internet, laundry, and close to all the action. I headed to the airport, where I saw them again, and said goodbye, again.  Writer Canadian was heading back home, but Canadian Buddy was headed to Chiang Mai so we figured we might end up seeing each other there.  I flew to Bangkok then took a taxi to the bus station, slept there for a while, then took a bus to Chiang Mai.

Once in Chiang Mai I headed to Julie’s Guest House with two young English girls that I had met on the bus.  We were early, so we napped in the lobby until the reception desk opened.  While waiting, my Koh Tao Ferry English friends showed up, this time with a large group of Brits who quickly became my friends.  Later that day Canadian Buddy walked around the corner, he was bunking at the guest house next door, and introduced me to Aussie Dude.  There were two girls from California even.  The group of us was huge.  I really bonded with two young women from England, “N” and “M”…and we just fell in love with each other.  We had great girls nights out dancing, before the curfew was set in place.  One night the three of us had an adventure after the Sunday market with a tobacco pipe and Ronald McDonald.  The next night, about six of us girls went out dancing.  The fun never ended.  And the shopping in Chiang Mai was amazing.  There was a night bazaar on Saturday and the Sunday market was incredible, it literally went for miles.  I stayed at Julie’s Guest House in a two bed room until my Travel Buddies met me in Chiang Mai on Tuesday.  Everyone welcomed them, some friends they already knew, and some were new.  But my friends N and M fell in love with Travel Buddies too, and were just a happy group of gals. “M” especially, she became the fourth wheel in our three wheel show.  The four of us spent the rest of that week together, up until we had to part ways in Bangkok.  Most of us ended up moving next door from Julie’s.  It was a little more money, but cleaner and cooler.  The political issues with the Red Shirts were migrating from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, so eventually a curfew was set in place.  We didn’t mind.  We ended up staying up all night on the balcony drinking and playing cards.

There was tons to do and see in Chiang Mai.  Aussie Dude joined the three of us on  a “Night Safari”, which was basically a zoo tour at night.  Canadian Buddy and Aussie Dude went with Travel Buddy 1 and me to a cooking class where we made pad thai and papaya salad.  I headed to Pai for a night with the other three girls, where we just palled around, and ran into some other friends from the guest house.  I headed back one night earlier so that I could do the zip-line adventure.  That was fun! I rode zip-lines over the jungle in Chiang Mai, well worth the trip back, but I did miss a fun night out in Pai with new and old friends there.  Rock climbing friends from Tonsai even showed up in Chiang Mai.  Everyone seemed to either stay at Julies or next door.  Most people started at Julies because it was cheap and popular, but eventually figured that the place next door was cleaner and with better fans.  Chiang Mai was the finale, literally.  It was like anyone who was still in Thailand went to Chiang Mai that week.  One night the curfew was lifted and we all went out dancing.  While out dancing I even ran into Pool Table buddies, who I hadn’t seen since Phi Phi.

Because two of our friends ended up with Dungai Fever we spent a lot of time at the hospital in Chiang Mai as well.  It became obvious that we had built some sort of family out of the people we were traveling with and the friends we met along the way.  Their week in Chiang Mai wasn’t as memorable as mine, I’m sure, but they knew they were loved, and that had to mean something, being in a foreign country away from their loved ones.

Eventually, it was time to say good bye, and over the last two days everyone started dispersing.  Some were headed home, some just out of Thailand; India, Laos, Australia.  The four of us girls took a train back to Bangkok with our Koh Tao English friends.  The six of us played cards and reminisced and shared our anxieties about leaving one another and going home.  A little more shopping was done in Bangkok, and then the three of us said our final good byes to M and got on the plane.

The adventure was over.  “Are the three of you together? Well, welcome home” We held hands as we walked back in to the United States of America…

Thailand: Phi Phi Islands

Monday morning I hugged Travel Buddies goodbye and set out on my own to the Phi Phi Islands.  I caught a long tail boat at 8am that took me from Tonsai to Railay, where the ferry took us at 9:30am to the Phi Phi Islands.  On the ferry I re-met two young English men who had played a game of pool with Travel Buddy 1 and me back in Au-Nang.  They ended up staying at the same guest house in Phi Phi as me.  I tried to stick with them when the Ferry landed, but got lost in the shuffle of the crowd.  Once I got settled in Koh Phi Phi I began wondering around, and who was leaving the Island headed in my direction? None other than the Dude! It was nice to see a familiar face.  He gave me some quick tips on tours to take and how to make friends on the Island.  He was headed back to the US, and I was headed on my first solo adventure.

I didn’t spend much time solo.  At the internet cafe I was befriended  by two young Canadians who invited me to dinner.  Through them I met my beautiful Ausi Girl, who became my great friend immediately, and several other people.  It felt like a group of close friends who had grown up together, but most of us were on our own or had only come with one or two other people.  I did a snorkel tour one day with my Canadian Writer friend, and we befriended two women from Seattle and a family from Tahoe.  At night we all would go to the beaches and watch the fire dancers and drink from buckets.  I ran into my Pool-Table friends multiple times as well.  The English boys from Koh Tao even ended up in our circle of friends.  One evening I went solo and did a night snorkel trip, where the phosphorescent algae glowed around my body.  Again though, I befriended three English girls and spent the evening chatting with them. 

The most time I spent alone on my “solo” adventure was Wednesday morning, when I hiked up to the Viewpoint at Phi Phi.  I spent about 1 1/2 hours sitting there, writing in my journal.  From the top you could see the strip of the Island that had been destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami, and how it had already been rebuilt.  Although physically I couldn’t tell the Island was ever damaged, the energy was still there, especially in the locals who lived there.  They had reminders everywhere, to remind themselves and I’m sure the visitors, to appreciate the Island, and life.  I also ate breakfast and got coffee every morning from a place called the Garden Home, where I usually grabbed a mango shake.  The Garden Home dining patio was covered in pictures and letters from the Tsunami rebuild.  Many travelers, like myself, had returned to Thailand to help rebuild the Island.  I enjoyed starting my days there, reminding myself to appreciate the adventure I was on and that I was lucky to able to enjoy such a beautiful place.  I also tried to appreciate the locals who not only had to physically survive the Tsunami, but had to survive and rebuild their lives after it. 

The Phi Phi Islands were a beautiful experience for me.  I remember sitting at a cafe, alone, on Wednesday, watching the new group of people arrive.  I knew that my friends and myself would be leaving the Island soon, probably all going in separate directions. A t that moment, my Canadians walked up and offered me a ticket to Phuket with them.  The boat left Thursday afternoon…there was an airport in Phuket that could get me to Chaing Mai, my next destination, so I gladly accepted their offer. 

Thailand: Rock Climbers Heaven

Thursday morning we headed out to the dock to take a longtail boat to Railay Beach for the day.  On the way we adopted a solo-British girl about our age. 

Once we arrived on Railay Beach we immediately noticed a small crowd hiking up a hill.  We discovered that it was about a 15 minute scramble to another beach, called Tonsai Beach.  Tonsai Beach is THE place to go if you are at all interested in rock climbing.   While I ran off for the day with Travel Buddy 1, Travel Buddy 2 stayed at the beach with our new friend and chilled out all day…Travel Buddy 1 and I did some exploring and rock climbing.  First we rented some shoes and a harness and then began chatting up a Canadian couple who were willing to take us around to some climbing spots.  A guy from Oregon attached himself to our group and he became our sponsor and tour guide for the day.  He rented the rope and led the routs for us that day.  We climbed “1-2-3 Wall”, a famous route in that area and got a spectacular view of East Railay bay, from the top.  We also hiked over to Phra Nang Cave Beach and did another route next to the cave.  This also provided a beautiful view from the top. We did a bit of exploring in the cave but didn’t have time to fully investigate.  However, it got us curious enough to want to return for further exploration…we had also heard of a lagoon and another view point between Phra Nang Beach and East Railay.

So after a day of rock climbing we were convinced that we needed more of the Railay Beach area.  We went back to Au-Nang for the night, said farewell to our adopted friend, woke up in the morning and moved to Tonsai Beach.  I was glad to leave Au-Nang, as nice and cool as our room had been, cockroaches seemed to find their way onto toothbrushes and hair brushes…time to go!

Once at Tonsai we found a bungalow for three, 300 baht total.  Tonsai is the cheapest place to lodge in the Railey Beach area; but Tonsaid looses power all together from 6am to 6pm.  No power means that at 6am every morning the fan turns off, and the town wakes up.  It’s very hard to sleep in the heat without a fan at all. The toilets also didn’t flush.  I slept one night with a lizard on the wall near me, and at one point showered with a toad! Truthfully, it’s just part of the experience.

In Tonsai, we spent a day exploring the caves and lagoons. It was all very Indiana Jones-ish.  What is so fun about the Railey Beach area is that all of these adventures were done on our own, not through any sort of tour guide or travel agency.  This also means they were free. We did cop up the money to do a sunset Deep Water Solo tour one day though.  About ten people were taken in our group on a long tail boat to several different locations around Krabi.  We essentially bouldered up cliff sides, and when we got as high as we wanted to be, jumped into the water! This was one of the most aggressive adrenaline rushes I ever experienced. After activity filled days there were several bars to hang at during the night.  Many of them are decked out with slack lines and fire dancers, some even have fire dancers on the slack line.  Mr. Pancake also holds up shop in Tonsai.  Mr. Pancake is famous, at least in my world.  He makes the best pancakes ever, and anyone on Tonsai would agree.  He liked me so much, he even let me get behind the grill with him one night and help make the pancakes! I can flip a pancake like a pro now!  If you visit Mr. Pancake, give him my love, and remember these three rules:
1) Respect Mr. Pancake 
2) How many eggs in your pancake? Up to you. 
3) Respect Mr. Pancake.

Tonsai is the kind of place rock climbers move to, for weeks and sometimes for months.  After four days I was ready to move on, but Travel Buddies had caught “Tonsainitus”- a term used for the desire to stay forever.

« Older posts Newer posts »