Tokyo had always been our dream to visit, and probably one of the first destinations on my mind since I was a child. So planning for the trip was a lot of fun. Despite the throngs of Western tourists in Japan, it’s a well known fact that the majority of the locals still do not speak English (or are simply too shy to). Having said that, Tokyo remains easy to navigate with most signs having English and Romanji for foreigners. But it certainly helps a lot if you planned some things in advance to avoid as much fuss and trouble as possible.
The government protests happened during our visit. Despite the sensational headlines in newspapers, we did not come across the protests first-hand. Not even once. The only inconvenience we felt were some of the main roads being cordoned off, and so alternate routes had to be taken, and traffic jams were lengthier and more common. Talking of alternate routes, the roads surrounding the Grand Palace have been blocked that day, and so we decided to take the river taxi instead.
We had some trickier-to-get-to places we wanted to see in Bangkok – the Artists’ House, and Khlong Lad Mayom, for example. So on our third full day in Bangkok, we decided to hire a small teak boat to leisurely to head to these few places as well as explore the places along the route. We first met up with Nui, our guide, before taking a cab down from our hotel to the hidden off boat pier.
Not being able to fly back to Germany for Christmas, we selected a location a wee bit closer (well, on the same continent at least), and ended up in Thailand, mainly Bangkok & Chiang Rai. Despite only having 3½ days in Bangkok, we managed to squeeze in a little day trip to Ayutthaya (1-2hours from Bangkok). We got a private guide for our trip (Thai Private Tour Guide). Though you can definitely do the travel up on your own. There’s a site listing the different travel options in great detail here: Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
(Click on photos for gallery view)
Another activity we selected on our stay at the Anantara, was the private Golden Triangle Day Tour. The guide and driver themselves are not part of the Anantara group, and are from an independent tour company. The tour covered the old city of Chiang Saen, Tachilek in Burma, and Don Sao Island of Laos.
As all our meals were all-inclusive in the room rate, the resort staff kindly made us select dishes from a print out menu for them to prepare in advance. The food was then packed and passed over to our guide and driver. Talk about service!
One of the popular activities to do when in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai is visiting an elephant camp. Anantara Golden Triangle actually offers it as one of the free activity per night stay options. If you were wondering where these elephants come from, they belong to the Golden Triangle Asian Elephants Foundation (GTAEF), a non profit organization.
Continue reading Chiang Rai: Elephant Camp
Happy 2014! We hope everyone had a good sliiiide into the new year. We spent ours at the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, with a bunch of awesome people at the Anantara Golden Triangle.
They managed to beat all of our expectations. Yes it’s admittedly not the cheapest place to stay, but you get the full worth (and more) of every penny you spent. All meals, drinks, alcohol (champagne on NYE?) are inclusive of the room price, and you get a choice of one free activity for every night stayed. This ranges from visiting the wet market with chef and cooking lesson, mahout training with the elephants from the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, Elephant Treks, Golden Triangle tour (border crossings to Tachilek in Burma, and Don Sao island in Laos), Anantara Spa etc.
As flexible as we try to be on travels, some form of pre planning is always vital as it allows you to get the most out of the destination you’re visiting. Sometimes, it even turns out to be as exciting as the travel itself. We like looking up places that we could see, activities we could join, food we could eat, and the list goes on. Instead of putting these information away, we thought it might make sense to share some of the information and itineraries on the blog. Lest, some of you end up visiting the same places we did. After all, getting tips from others have always helped us too. We hope they’ll come in handy for someone, if not just for us to revisit the things we did. (We’ll share more of our personal experiences and pictures in the upcoming posts). x
Though we did this trip a long while back, we thought it’s nice to share our experience here, especially now that the weather’s getting cold. So, within a week of me moving to Shanghai, we packed up and made our way to Tangshan in Nanjing (not to be confused with the one near Beijing). It was the Lunar New Year so offices were officially closed for a week which gave us enough time to squeeze a little staycation somewhere in the midst of a chaotic move.
I’m almost always under packing for my travels – hoping I can fit everything I need in my backpack without needing to lug anything else around. That said, I put in quite the effort to be conscious about the activities we’re going to embark on, and the places we’ll be visiting – and whether the clothes I bring will be appropriate for these things.