Tag Archives: southeastasia

Pai, Thailand

Known for its laid-back, hippy vibe, Pai is a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Most hostels in Chiang Mai can get you set up with a ticket for a mini-bus; some travelers brave the many, many hills, twists, and turns by renting a scooter as well. I was in Pai for 3 days which proved the perfect amount to fit in everything I wanted to see, but there are a lot of people who fall in love with Pai and never leave. I can’t say I was that enamored, though I did enjoy the relaxed feel and yummy street food.

Carrot on the Moon

While I did have a nightmare hostel for one night, I moved accommodation and can fully endorse Carrot on the Moon hostel. The service was great and the free breakfast was amazing.

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Accommodation Nightmare

I have stayed in hostels a handful of times and have always had pleasant experiences. The people I met were nice. The accommodations, while sometimes sparse, were doable. The facilities were clean. Until…December 14, 2016.

On this day, I was faced with the worst hostel I could imagine (well, minus the horror movie type), at Common Grounds, in Pai, Thailand. I knew from the second I walked in that I was not going to be happy there. Reluctantly, I paid $18 for the three nights I’d signed up for (hey, it had good reviews online!).

Walking past the many stoners hanging out on beanbags in the outdoor verandah, the staff led me to my room: a 4-bed room with an in-room bathroom. The room was shabby, and I had flashes of bedbugs in my mind. As I was unpacking, I heard many other patrons being led to their rooms and one piece of instruction was a little different than what I’d gotten:

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Travel Tips to Hong Kong

While living in Hong Kong from 2010-2012, I wrote a lot about my experiences in my then-blog, Ashley’s HK Experience. As a new travel piece to this blog, New Girl in the City, I am re-posting travel pieces. I wrote this one before my bestie, Kira, came to visit me in December 2010. 

Traveler’s Tips for Hong Kong

  1. Rubbish bins are optional.  Those of us not used to this would prefer you use them though.
  2. Be careful what you wear! You don’t have to match here, but you should steer clear of mini-skirts and high heels…if not, you may look like you belong in Wan Chai (see #3).
  3. Speaking of Wan Chai, unless you want to be the only white girl and the only non-prostitute in a bar, don’t go. Unless, you want good Mexican food, then bring a friend or two.
  4. You don’t need to know Cantonese to survive here. There’s enough English around to help you. You might even learn a thing or two about how to speak like other expats i.e. arvo, wonky, rubbish bin, far out, and mate. Can you guess which countries my friends were from?
  5. Smog is the silent cough-inducer. It’s a little hard to see around the tall buildings, but the second you step out of the city proper of Hong Kong, you’ll notice a big difference. Maybe you should bring a surgical mask…you’d fit in and no one would think you were weird.
  6. You will walk EVERYWHERE! Start your exercise early and often before arriving. Stairs will actually become your friend just so that you don’t have to walk up the steep inclines in your heels.
  7. Unless you’re siestaing on someone’s couch, be ready to pay a ton of money for a closet, I mean a bedroom. It’s quite possible that your bathroom will double as your shower and that your closet will be your bed. Find a friend instead!!
  8. Happy hours are the best mid-week de-stresser. Lucky you if you are stressed after coughing up a lung because of the smog and all the walking because happy hours exist at almost every bar and restaurant in town. Walk along the escalator (the one time you don’t have to walk uphill) from 3-8 and you’ll find awesome deals galore. Take advantage of this because as soon as 8 o’clock hits, you’ll pay a fortune!!
  9. Old Asian people love to exercise, do tai chi, walk to a clapping beat (believe me I know and curse them every Saturday and Sunday at 7 am), slap themselves all over their body, and stretch in the most random places. Don’t fret! They don’t belong in an institution; rather they’re doing it on purpose…and actually believe that it all works and keeps them keen and skinny.
  10. You’ll probably get stared at…a lot. But, trust me, you either get used to it or walk around with a silly grin on your face all day just to appease them. Don’t, I repeat, don’t get mad about it!  You’re a different and lovely addition to their day of everyone looking like them.

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Zhu Hai: The Fairytale China Experience

While living in Hong Kong from 2010-2012, I traveled to many different countries around Southeast Asia and wrote about a few of them in my then-blog, Ashley’s HK Experience. I’m reposting my piece on a trip to Zhu Hai, China that my friend Karen and I took in September 2011 to my new blog as a travel piece. 

Once upon a time there were 2 American girls who lived in Hong Kong, hoping to see the world and wanting an adventure.  They both were addicted to online coupon deals and couldn’t resist the promise of fun with a package to China and Macau.  Little did they know that the big, bad China would be there every step of the way, fooling them, not talking to them, making them eat with chopsticks, and peeing in toilets in the ground.

Saturday began like any other Saturday, with TV shows and lying about until the time came when the ferry to China was to depart.  The ferry was clean, but nobody looked like these 2 American girls or spoke their language.  The girls laughed out loud, but secretly hoped that at least 1 toilet in the next 2 days would have toilet paper and wouldn’t require them to squat to the floor on their haunches.  Their wish certainly didn’t start off very well with the ferry bathrooms being a squatter with no toilet paper; the boat swelled and swayed and the girls wore flip flops, a piss poor combination for squatting toilets! Continue reading Zhu Hai: The Fairytale China Experience

Saigon: a City of Scooters, Culture and War

While living in Hong Kong from 2010-2012, I traveled to many different countries around Southeast Asia and wrote about a few of them in my then-blog, Ashley’s HK Experience. I’m reposting my piece on Vietnam (my trip was in October 2011) to my new blog as a travel piece. 

I’ve just returned from a 6-day/5-night trip to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon in Vietnam.  What you call this city depends on where you’re from: Saigon if you’re from the south of Vietnam or Ho Chi Minh City if you’re basically from anywhere else.  Saigon was the official name until 1975 when the north and the south merged together, renaming this city Ho Chi Minh City after a famous leader from the north.

Scooters

Upon arrival to Vietnam, my friend Orlando and I were bombarded by the torrent of scooters flanking all parts of the city.  While there may be rules of the road here, they typically aren’t followed with motorbikes going both directions on 1 side of the street, families of 4 people riding on 1 scooter, people texting and talking on their phones, and having conversations with other motorists.  There are 5 million motorbikes in HCM; with a population of about 10,000,000, that’s 1 scooter for every 2 people!!  The population of motorists isn’t linked to one subset of people either: from grandmas, to 12 year olds, to sleeping babies, to business men in suits, and women in high heels and socks.  Scooters are everywhere!

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Asia Adventure: Luang Prabang, Laos

In December, I went on a 3-week trip to Southeast Asia, including 2 weeks in Cambodia, 5 days in Laos, and 2 days in Hong Kong. Overall, the trip was really fantastic – I met a lot of great people, got to meet up with friends from Hong Kong, saw amazing historical sites, had fun travel buddies, and ate yummy food. So as not to overwhelm, I’m breaking up my posts by city. Today’s adventure: Luang Prabang, Laos.

Part of a former French occupation, Luang Prabang, Laos proudly boasts Parisian cafes with cafe au lait and pain au chocolat. Fringed by two rivers, the town is almost as romantic and dreamy as Paris itself. Luang Prabang is an idyllic city for lovers and I was in love…

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