Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Traveling with Kate & Charles and Meredith & Eric

Hello everyone.  I’m sure after 6 months of their blogging everyone is tired of hearing from Kate and Charles, so for those of you I don’t know my name is Meredith(you may remember me from a previous post here.  I’m Kate’s older sister.  My husband Eric and I have joined Kate and Charles for 8 nights of their exciting adventure.   I’m happy to share some of my observations from traveling with Kate and Charles and show you what we have been up to while traveling with them.

Eric and I live outside of Washington, DC where we spend our days working in Corporate America, exploring Virginia’s wine region, and not being nearly adventurous enough.  I can remember very vividly when Kate called me to tell me that they had decided to take a trip around the world.  I can’t say that I was surprised, based on their previous adventures, and I knew that we would need to meet them somewhere during their travels.  When we started to discuss where we would meet them, Eric and I decided to go somewhere that, left to our own travel patterns, we probably wouldn’t visit on our own.  We felt like we would eventually visit New Zealand and South America on our own so based on process of elimination, or places we knew we didn’t want to go, we came up with Thailand.  We cashed in all of our frequent flier miles and off we went.

Eric and I left DC on a Saturday evening, luckily in time so that Eric didn’t have to watch our beloved Virginia Tech Hokies lose to Duke.  After spending a day in beautiful Vienna, Austria.  We landed in Bangkok on a Monday afternoon. 

Based on some bad information I had given Kate, we were going to meet Kate and Charles in Krabi, Ao Nang, our beach destination for 4 nights.  Being the magnanimous sister that I am, we tried to stay within the realm of possibility of Kate and Charles’ budget.  Both of our accommodations were in the $40.00 a night range.  I became a trip advisor connoisseur, definitely having some hotel envy at times, but really appreciating the honest feedback it gives foreign travelers in a strange land. 

Eric and I arrived in Krabi on Tuesday afternoon, we were so disappointed that Kate and Charles’ travel karma broke in Vietnam, so we were eagerly awaiting their arrival.  Luckily the hotel was very nice and we even received a special welcome gift from our traveling companions.

Kate and Charles finally arrived around 11:30pm on Tuesday night and our adventure could begin.  Krabi is a quintessential beach town; on some level you can replace the Thai food with tacos or conch fritters and be almost anywhere in the world.  However there were $7.00 dollar massages and some of the most amazing views that you would ever want to see. 

(The above picture is dedicated to our mutual friend Sunset Steve)

We whiled away our days visiting some beautiful beaches, walking, and eating some delicious Thai food (authors note...the best American Thai food I’ve eaten doesn’t compare to the worst food we ate while in Thailand). 

 Calamari Fritters(reason we went to the same restaurant twice)

We were able to spend one day in Railay Beach.  This little slice of heaven is only accessible by longtail boat. 

It is perhaps the most beautiful place we spent time on our trip.  I'm already planning our next trip back to visit.

Our four days at the beach ended too quickly and we were off to Chiang Mai. 

After about 4 hours in Chiang Mai, I appropriately dubbed it the Boulder, Colorado of Thailand.  Coffee shops(check), hippie vibe(check), college town(check), vegetarian café/thrift stores supporting Burmese refuges(if it doesn’t exist in Boulder it’s only a matter of time).

Our first night in Chiang Mai was Saturday night.  Charles and Eric soon realized that due to governmental elections beer was not being sold in the nearly unending 7-11s (I think we went to 7-11 at least 2-3 times per day in Chiang Mai), this was heartbreaking for them.   Luckily they were able to find a new favorite beverage called Mansome.

We got to experience the Saturday night market, and were luckily able to find some enterprising souls willing to sell us beer.  It was a great experience.  Blocks and blocks of Thai people selling crafts, t-shirts and other souvenirs, and food.   You really were able to eat well on a few dollars in the markets.   We had dumplings (which I am still thinking about as I write this), pot stickers, pad thai, kao soi (a local curry I believe we ate almost as much as pad thai) among other things.

On our second day in Chiang Mai, Eric and I started off with some delicious coffee and pastries in picturesque café, while Kate and Charles attended a yoga class described as "lots of inversions" (I knew this was beyond my basic yoga skills).  We met up for lunch where we found one of our favorite places in Chiang Mai, the Free Bird Café.  This was the aforementioned café/thrift store that supported the Burmese refugees.  I think Eric was a little skeptical when I first broached the subject, but it was so delicious we ate there twice in our four days.

The afternoon was spent looking at some of the many Wats, followed by a dinner of more wonderful Thai food, capped off with margaritas and nachos.  Later that evening, like many others, Eric and I were handily defeated at euchre by Kate and Charles.  I’m not competitive at all (just like my sister), but I am pretty sure we have never won a game against them, which makes me want to play them until we do finally win one and then retire.

One of my favorite experiences in Chiang Mai occurred on our 3rd day when we attended an all-day cooking school.  We were picked up at our hotel at 8am and driven to the cooking school, we then visited a local market, and then were driven about 30 minutes away to a farm the cooking school had outside Chiang Mai.  We made many dishes such as:

Kao Soi and Tom Yum Soup

Stir Fry

even our own curry paste

After all that Thai food, I don’t think any of us wanted another meal.  We found a local sushi place and, according to Kate and Charles, it was the best sushi that they had found on their trip.

On our last day in Chiang Mai Kate, Charles, and I went to a morning yoga class.  I’m glad that I didn’t bring a mat all the way across the world for naught.  Then in the afternoon we took a cab to Doi Suthep.  This beautiful mountain temple was in the Hills overlooking Chiang Mai.  In order to access the temple you had to climb up 300 steps (or cheat and take an elevator) we choose to walk(had to walk off all the beers).

We really had a wonderful time with Kate and Charles and were so glad we were able to be a small part of their journey.  I’ll leave you with some final observations on what life with Kate and Charles is like from an outsider’s perspective.


1.       Kate and Charles walk….a lot…everywhere.  In fact, Eric was wearing a pedometer while we were together: during our 8 days with Kate and Charles we logged over 90,000 steps, to put that in perspective, that’s approximately 45 miles. 

2.       This is probably more than obvious from their blog, but they like to eat.  In fact, a common discussion at each meal at some point was usually a discussion about what the next meal would be.

3.       The amount of stuff they carry around really is not very much.  I know Eric and I had way more clothes with us for our two week adventure than they did for 12 months.

4.       Thai people don’t eat Pad Thai (or Pat Thai), although we did.  I think I ate Pad Thai approximately 12 times on our trip of 12 days.

5.       When you’ve seen one wat you’ve seen them all.  I don’t know how many temples we went to see on our trip to Thailand, but we came up with many cute sayings around with this, like Watts up now, watt are you going to do today, say wat, those are just a few among our many wat enabled jokes for clever people like ourselves.  I’m sure Kate and Charles have seen way more wats, temples, churches, mosques, etc. than most of us will see in our lifetime.

6.       Charles’ hair is really a sight to behold.  There could be an entire separate blog devoted to this topic alone.  I’m thinking by Christmas it should be long enough for a scrunchie if anyone needs Christmas gift ideas.

7.       Chang Beer is really awesome… We met Senor Chang on our first day in Krabi and spent many an hour with him.  He was the 5th member our traveling group.  I don’t know that Kate and I loved him as much as Charles and Eric did, but 4 large Changs became our standard drink order almost anywhere we dined.

8.       Blogging is hard.  I haven’t written anything longer than an email since 2001.  Kudos to Kate and Charles for giving us such a vibrant picture of their travels...

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to add that a surprising number of Thai people complimented my ThunderCats t-shirt. Apparently '80s cartoons are universal.