Month #3 was pretty chill in comparison to the previous two months, and we really needed the break. We were exhausted. The first day of Month 3 was also our last day in Tanzania. We soaked up those gorgeous Zanzibar views for a few more hours before heading off to the airport.
It took a short flight to Nairobi, a 5-hour layover, and an 11-hour flight and suddenly we were in Thailand! My sister, Lilly, was still with us at that point. We had 3 days in Bangkok before our scheduled flight to Chiang Mai. Despite only moving 4 timezones, jet lag really got the best of us. On top of that, Matthew got really sick. Suffice it to say, we did absolutely nothing in those 3 days except eat (me and Lilly, not Matthew), watch New Girl, and enjoy having amenities again like A/C, a washing machine, and hot water.
Before we knew it, it was time to get on the plane to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Matthew and I spent 3 full weeks there. Lilly was with us for about 6 days before she had to go home. Chiang Mai is the most popular spot in the world for so-called digital nomads (people who live nomadically thanks to being able to do their work online). It was easy to see why. The people are so friendly, the cost of living is low, and you have access to almost any western food or amenity you might want. What’s not to love? (Answer: the weather and the mosquitos. But still. It was pretty great.)
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Chiang Mai. We rested. We drank a lot of smoothies and iced coffee. I blogged and booked our next few months of travel. Matthew got started on an app he’s been wanting to make. We fit in a few touristy things as well. We particularly enjoyed visiting some of Chiang Mia’s many temples and learning more about Buddhism in Thailand.
After our 3 weeks in Chiang Mai, we flew back to Bangkok and gave ourselves 2 days to try to actually see the city this time. That was a success! We managed to hit up a few of the major tourist attractions, wander through some quieter areas, have drinks on a rooftop overlooking the river, and eat in some pretty amazing food courts.
At the end of Month 3, we left Thailand for our next destination: Vietnam. We arrived in Hanoi, spent the night, and left first thing in the morning for a two-day, one-night cruise in Halong Bay. That place gets a lot of hype, but it my opinion it is entirely warranted. It’s mind-blowingly beautiful.
After our cruise, we returned to Hanoi to spend a few days exploring Vietnam’s capital city. It gets kind of a bad rap among international travelers, but we loved it. I have some theories about why that I’m excited to share in a future blog post.
And that’s where we ended Month 3!
- Playing with elephants! I expect this to be high on my list of favorite experiences ever for quite some time. How could it not be? We got to spend a day hanging out with elephants, including feeding them, bathing them, and giving them hugs and kisses. They are so amazing! We also got to see the cutest little 3-month-old baby elephant. I can’t wait to write a post about our time at Elephant Nature Park and share the awesome work that they are doing there to promote ethical elephant tourism in Thailand.
- Catching up with family and friends. In 3 months and 7 countries, Thailand has had the best internet by far. We were so excited to finally have fast and reliable enough internet to Skype or FaceTime with our loved ones back at home!
- Halong Bay cruise. We decided this would be our one big splurge in Vietnam. We didn’t do a luxury cruise by any means. I would call it upper midrange. But our boat was pretty nice, the food was delicious, and we got to spend 2 days taking in the beautiful scenery of Halong Bay. We relaxed a bit and didn’t even let ourselves feel guilty about ordering a few cocktails at U.S. prices. For us, the whole experience was totally worth it.
- Saying goodbye to my sister. After 6 weeks of travel together, my sister, Lilly, had to go home and get ready for the new school year. (She is a teacher.) We definitely had our bicker-y sister moments, but having her with us was a lot of fun! (And to be honest, I don’t know if we would have had nearly as easy of a time in East Africa without her to be level-headed or provide some humor when we weren’t doing so well.) We were sad to see her go, especially with no concrete plans to see any other loved ones before our return to the States in November.
- Sickness. Last month it was a cold. This month it was stomach problems. Matthew got sick as our plane was landing Bangkok and was down for the count for about 3 days. Then right after we flew up to Chiang Mai, I was hit with something too and ended up in bed with nausea for about 2-3 days. I guess we knew it had to happen eventually, but it still wasn’t fun.
- Nothing? I’m struggling to think of any other low points for the month. If I did it would be something incredibly insigificent. I guess we had a really great month!
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By the Numbers:
- Dates: July 10-August 9, 2016
- Continents: 2 – Africa, Asia
- Countries: 3 – Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam
- Cities/Places: 5 – Pongwe, Tanzania; Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand; Hanoi and Halong Bay, Vietnam
- Currencies: 3 – Tanzanian schillings, Thai baht, Vietnamese dong
- Languages: 3 – Swahili, Thai, Vietnamese
- Distance Traveled: 7,223 miles
- # of Flights: 5 (totaling 6,967 miles)
- # of Tour Vans: 1 (226 miles)
- # of Cruise Boats: 1 (30-ish miles)
- # of Places We Slept: 7 (including 1 plane, 3 Airbnb apartments, 1 boat, and 2 different rooms in the same guesthouse)
- # of Illnesses: 2 (1 for Matthew and 1 for me)
- # of Skype or FaceTime calls with friends and family: 9
- # of different types of in-city transport used: 8 – taxi, skytrain, songthaew (a type of shared taxi transport in Thailand), tour van, ferry boat, private car, and Uber
- # of temples visited: 10 (8 in Thailand and 2 in Vietnam)
- # of UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited: 1 (Halong Bay)
- # of iced coffees consumed: 55 (28 for me and 27 for Matthew) (This is in addition to a cup of hot coffee we made at home almost every morning!)