Thailand [Part 1]

We’re back from Thailand! In fact, we’ve been back for a while, but I was too jet-lagged and distracted to do anything of consequence. My computer is on its way to computer heaven if I don’t get the new Mountain Lion operating system soon. It takes me like 45 minutes to load a page on Safari (it’s the only browser that will work with my old MacBook now). I feel like I’m using dial-up. (Edited to add: I have Mountain Lion now! It’s awesome.)

Anyway, Thailand was a grand adventure. Hands down, best trip I’ve ever been on. Lots of exciting things happened. So, let’s review with the first half(ish) shall we? After 16 hours of flying and a two hour layover in Seoul, we landed in Bangkok around midnight. We payed too much for a taxi and headed to our hotel. We promptly passed out.

The next morning (about 4 hours later) I was awoken by the repetitive speaking of someone on the loud speaker at a local temple. It was like a city-wide broadcast in Thai. Murderous rage ensued as I thundered around the room exclaiming, “REALLY?!” as I located my headphones and other sound muffling devices. Not much luck and we finally headed to breakfast and into the city to store our bags and wander around Bangkok before catching the train that night to Chiang Mai.

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We ended up getting approached by some Thai man who basically gave us a whole agenda for the day out of the goodness of his heart (or maybe a commission from his tuk-tuk driver). Either way, we were off on a river cruise!

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Ok, more like a gondola ride, but whatever. The water was quite smelly and I’ve heard it’s pretty contaminated, so I tried to avoid the splash zone. We drove by several beautiful temples stretching up towards the sky, we went past a floating market, and really just ook in the city. It was a beautiful, hot blue sky.

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Eventually, we were dropped in Chinatown where we wandered, ate, and wandered some more. I had strawberries with pink salt – very weird, kinda good? I ate my only non-veg meal of fish balls (think meat balls) and I was pretty grossed out before I made it halfway through. I didn’t really like fish when I was a meat eater, but we were hungry almost to the point of delirium and didn’t know our options as veggies. So, fish happened. Bleh.

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It was a few days after the Chinese New Year, so the city was buzzing. All the roads were filled with celebrations and we enjoyed just wandering and seeing all the new sights. It was another world, for sure. We finally headed back to the train station to take the overnight train to our first stop in our journey – Chiang Mai. We ordered train food which was slightly depressing and then just passed out.

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We were supposed to arrive around 8 a.m. in Chiang Mai, but it turns out there’s this thing called Thai Time, so yeah… we got in around noon. We quickly drove to our hotel, showered, and were out the door. I proposed just taking a nap and lounging, but Jesse had our schedule for the day out and was pretty adamant about us going to the temple we had planned for the day. I was so tired, I just threw on a maxi, put up my wet hair, and followed Jesse out the door.

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We were going to a temple called Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep on top of a mountain, so we had quite a bit of commuting. A tuk-tuk to the transport service, a truck to the top of the mountain, and then a load of steps to walk up. It was hot, I was tired, but it was another beautiful day and I was pretty filled with adrenaline. We were in Thailand and we weren’t going to sleep on a train! Hooray.

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We trucked up to the top of the steps, I covered my shoulders with my scarf turned shawl (can’t show shoulders at temples, it’s just not OK). Lots of cool things, a beautiful view of the city, and the realization we were finally on our vacation. Jesse suggested we start taking pictures now that we were officially on our trip and requested a photo from a German tourist walking by to snap us in front of the lookout point down into Chiang Mai.

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Little did I know as I was walking to the rail, Jesse had coordinated a special surprise with the photographer. We snapped the first photo and then Jesse said, “Let’s take a few more to make sure we get a good one!”

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The second photo, ended rather spectacularly. Jesse got down on one knee and said, “Will You Marry Me?”

After gaping in complete shock for a few minutes, I snapped out of my stupor and blubbered, “Yeahhhh!”

So, we got engaged in Thailand on top of a mountain. More to come.

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Two Year Anniversary

The Case Files have been pushed to tomorrow because I felt like writing this post today. Deep breaths, you’ll all be OK.

We’ve been a busy bunch.

My first weekend in Seattle, we went to Tofino. This past weekend, Jesse and I celebrated two years of dating bliss. For our first anniversary, we went to San Fransisco, visited Sonoma and went wine tasting. So, we figured since we’re in an area known for wine this year, we might as well make it a tradition. Because of the chaos with graduating and moving, Jesse kindly planned the entire anniversary from start to finish. It was exciting because I love surprises and dates with Jesse. Two of my favorite things.

We went to Yakima, Washington. It’s about 2.5 hours southeast of Seattle.

It was really cool to drive through Washington and see all the lush greenery and then, boom, hit desert. I had no clue that the rest of Washington looked like that. I know it’s naive, but I just assumed everything up here was all green and rainforesty (yes, that’s a word). When I thought harder about it, of course it made sense that one side of the mountains was green and the other was dry. That’s like geography 101.

The first night we rolled in and got checked into The Orchard Inn Bed & Breakfast. If you ever go to Yakima for any reason and you need a place to stay, go here. Karen (who runs the B & B) is one of the nicest and friendliest people I’ve ever met. The rooms are cozy, the sheets are soft, the food is delicious, and it’s nestled in an orchard. You really feel like you’re in a tiny paradise when you drive in. Plus, when Karen found out it was our anniversary, she sweetly left us some of her husband’s homemade blackberry liqueur as a nightcap. It was delicious.

We headed out on the town and ended up at a bar with a pool table. No surprise since Jesse has picked up playing pool as a new hobby and it seemed like just the type of dive meant for us.

We got hungry pretty late and the only thing that was open was Mel’s Diner, a 24-hour throwback restaurant that looked like Denny’s weird cousin. Naturally, we got normal diner fare – milkshakes.

On Saturday, we woke up and hit the road towards Prosser, a town about 20 minutes east of Yakima with a whole row of vineyards called Merlot Road. Fancy. We slowly rolled through the row as the day got hotter (100 degrees in dry heat, I loved it) tasting mostly red wine. We rounded out our tasting with what ended up being our favorite tasting, Milbrandt Vineyards.

Milbrandt does seated tastings with each taster purchasing a flight of three wines for tasting (Jeez, do I write about tasting much? I’m just going to leave it. I’m feeling lazy. Enjoy my redundancy). Jesse got the Red flight and I got the Fusion flight. Turns out we probably would have been better off just getting one because we ended up being overwhelmed with choice. They were all so good, we ended up having to have them duke it out in a head-to-head battle royale. We ended up tasting and loving a new grape called Tempranillo. If you’re into trying new wines, give this grape a try. We loved every vineyard’s tempranillo.

We also went to the local vineyard + restaurant dubbed Wine O’Clock. The name sounded a bit cheesy, but I was willing to give it a shot. I’m glad I did because I ended up having some of the most delicious pizza of my life. Granted, that could have been the hunger and a little bit of the wine talking, but it was delicious nonetheless. Also, check out that sweet sign for group therapy.

We came back to Yakima and took a nap. All that pizza, wine, and heat had worn me out! The big event was in the evening. Jesse took us to a wine, beer, food, and jazz festival! It was so fun. The weather was just perfect, the sky was warm and hazy, and the company wasn’t too shabby either. 😉

I had a veggie dog that changed my life. Yes, it changed my life. From now on, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to consider having a veggie dog without pepper jelly and cream cheese. Don’t knock it until you try it. When you try it, come and thank me. I’ll be here saying, “I told you so.”

The next morning we sat around the table at The Orchard Inn, ate a nice and filling breakfast, chatted with the lovely Karen, hit up the Yakima Farmer’s Market, and then headed back home. Patronus seemed almost as tired as we were by the time we got home. Maybe that, or he was pissed we left in the first place. Hard to tell with him sometimes.

Yesterday was the “official” anniversary date (hence no post) and it ended up being delightful with even more surprises! Jesse brought home the most beautiful bouquet of giant head-sized sunflowers (my favorite) + Beecher’s mac n’ cheese. Yeah, I know I said we’re going vegan. It’s a process. Plus, things like decadent macaroni and cheese might just have to be a treat every once in a while. It was mind-blowing.

We went out for dinner then walked home and drank a bottle of wine from the Sonoma anniversary. Thank you to Jesse for a wonderful celebration and a fantastic two years. You’re my best friend, my favorite roommate, and the best guy this girl could have asked for. You’ve helped me make my dreams come true and you’re my tireless supporter of all my crazy ideas and weird quirks. Not to mention, you’re also quite easy on the eyes. It’s pretty awesome. I love you.

Tofino

Jesse really is outdoing himself. First Thailand, now my first week in Seattle and Jesse planned for us to cross another country off my list!

Yep! Canada. I had never been. No surprise that living in Florida, I visited Mexico before I made a journey to our neighbors in the north. After this weekend though, I have plans to visit Canada much more often!

So, we went to Tofino, a city located in British Columbia on Vancouver Island, known for its surfing and not much else.

We didn’t surf, but we did do a lot of wonderful exploring and bed and breakfasting. We arrived in Tofino around lunch time after taking the ferry to Vancouver Island and sleeping in Qualicum Beach and getting breakfast nice and early. We started with beautiful views and burritos. From now on, I will now only eat my burritos with chipotle coleslaw on them. Nom.

Next we wandered a bit until it was time to head out for a hike on Mears Island. The island is completely untouched save for a trail designed and maintained by the First Nations. All proceeds from the hike fee go to the upkeep and preservation of the trail and forests in the area.

We headed back to the mainland and had a delicious dinner. I really stink at taking pictures of all these things, so I’m just putting a bunch of beautiful photos of Canada here for you to look through. After this experience, what they say about Canadians is really true – they are all just so nice. Every place we went, everyone was so hospitable and so politely curious about who we were, the story of what we do with our lives, and what brought us to Tofino (or anywhere else we stopped in Canada).

THEN, the best part of the day came. I watched my first west coast sunset! By golly, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It felt so good to stand there with Jesse and just watch the sun and the sky turn these wonderful neon colors of orange, amber, and purple. My heart did backflips.

We woke up and ate brunch at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. I sat in the garden for a bit and enjoyed he smells and my full belly. There were flies buzzing all around and all of a sudden I heard the heaviest and weirdest thrumming/buzzing sound over my shoulder in the garden. Thinking it was a swarm of dragonflies (?) I turned around and saw a hummingbird less than a foot away from me! Totally cool.

We took the ferry out of Victoria last night around 5 and didn’t get back until midnight. it was so much traveling, but it was all so worth it. The weather was amazing, the food was delicious, the sights were unbelievable, but the best part was the company.