No visit to Thailand is complete without a trek to Chiang Mai. It is the cultural capital of the North, with mountains, temples, jungles, elephants, and even tigers! Oh and not to mention the most wonderful resort we’ve ever been to. Four Seasons Chiang Mai alone is worth the trip, but the resort combined with all of the other features in the vicinity is the reason Chiang Mai became our favorite city in all of Thailand.
It was 8:00 AM. I had been awake for nearly an hour already. I had a strange, lingering headache from what I feared was one of those brain-eating amoebas. I suspected I contracted it while swimming in the Black River, an Amazonian tributary. Will I die at the advancing age of 26? Perhaps, but not before I catch some piranha. I felt good, energetic.
We recently spent several days in Bangkok, Thailand. There are so many aspects of the city we just love. It’s a kaleidoscope of energy, culture, and culinary wonder. We stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok, and just like Bangkok itself, the hotel is impressively grand, yet still unquestionably warm and welcoming.
Napa Valley, CA, is one of those places that you visit and then leave scratching your head, wondering why you don’t live there. The Mediterranean climate, sunshine 300 days a year, and some of the most premier vineyards in the world make this place a quasi paradise.
Nestled in a valley near the mountain Ben Rinnes, Scotland, Aberlour Distillery was initially built in 1826, destroyed by a fire in 1879 and then rebuilt in the same year by James Fleming, a farmer’s son. Its location, with an abundance of timber, pristine waters of the River Spey and resourceful Scotsmen, is part of the same stunning convergence of natural resources that has turned this central Speyside region into a hotbed of whisky brands: Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Ardmore to name a few. This is, truly, the Napa Valley of whisky.
I’ve been dreaming of visiting Southeast Asia for a long time. Most recently, I can’t stop wanderlusting about the beautiful country of Thailand. Here are five reasons why you should visit Thailand on your next tropical escape:
- Gorgeous Beaches – there are miles and miles of pristine beaches with crystal clear, bright turquoise water all over Thailand. Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi, & Phi Phi Island are some of the most popular destinations. Even in these touristy areas, there are quiet beaches and secluded bays to check out for a more peaceful holiday.
- Food – Thai food is amazing. We like it so much, we dedicated a special day of the week to become Thai Tuesday, and we go to our favorite Thai restaurant. Whether you’re eating in a restaurant or just getting a cheap bite on the street, you will not be disappointed. While I personally haven’t gotten to check out legit Thai food first hand (yet!), this is one of the things I hear people rave about the most.
- Cost – If you want an exotic locale where your dollar can really be stretched, Thailand is the place for you. Grand resorts and five course dinners are a fraction of what they would cost in the U.S. and even less than expensive tropical getaways like Bora Bora, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean. If you avoid pampering yourself on vacation because it’s just so darn expensive, Thailand is a place you can splurge without it costing much. It really is perfect for those traveling on a budget, which most people are.
- Yi Peng in Chiang Mai – If you thought the captivating lantern scene in Tangled was just an animated fantasy, think again. It actually exists (but for different reasons)! Yi Peng is a religious festival held at the end of October/beginning of November each year in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand where thousands of beautiful glowing lanterns (and accompanying wishes) are released into the sky. The scene is unquestionably mesmerizing.
- Elephant trekking – There are so many opportunities throughout Asia, but especially in Thailand, to go on a safari or trek through a jungle on the back of a precious elephant. This is a great way to see much of the scenery and get to experience something totally unique.
All of these pictures are from my Thailand Pinterest board here.
Often referred to as “Earth’s Lung”, the Amazon rainforest is 2.124 million square miles of sprawling vegetation that pumps out over 20 percent of the world’s oxygen. The region can receive rainfall in excess of 175 inches annually, more water than parts of the American Southwest see in a decade; these deluges feed the Amazon river and her many tributaries, which wind a path through the rainforest for over 4,000 miles. This is the largest river in the world, by volume.
Traveling the Amazon’s waters by boat during the middle of low-tide season is the best form of transportation to be found in the region. And so we set off from Iquitos, Peru, fondly dubbed the Capital of the Peruvian Amazon, aboard the Aqua Aria, a river boat that would take us roughly 100 miles up and down the Amazon River. Along the journey we caught and ate Piranha, danced with indigenous peoples the from Cocama-Cocamilla tribe near the San Martin de Tipishca reserve, weathered a notorious Amazonian rainstorm, swam with pink dolphins, bartered with locals, dodged poisonous dart frogs, and macheted our way through thick forest. When venturing into this part of the world, authentic adventure is never far from reach and only one thing is certain: expect the unexpected.
As seen in Gear Patrol.
Riverboat cruises are not exactly new, but tell us you’ve put one on the Amazon River and you’ve got our undivided attention. Aqua Expeditions, which specializes in “luxury cruises on the world’s greatest rivers”, is doing that very thing, pushing the envelope of luxury and adventure with their ship, the Aria Amazon. The Aria — which shoved off from Iquitos, Peru, fondly dubbed the Capital of the Peruvian Amazon — was constructed in 2011 on the successful heels of her sister ship, the Aqua. At 147 feet in length, the grandeur of the Aria is a stark contrast to the rickety canoes and logging cargo ships otherwise found floating these waterways. She’s equipped with 16 well-manicured suites sporting California king-sized beds and luxurious Peruvian cotton, bathrooms with rainshowers, polished timber flooring, accent lighting, and panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows that face the forest.
As beautiful as the Aria is, your trip is about exploration and adventure of the singular Amazon rainforest. To that end, the ship is equipped with skiffs that take guests on various excursions and day-trips to leave the safe trappings of the Aria and embark on uncaged, unplanned adventure. Travel off the Amazon River and down the Marañon River to see animals in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and villages near San Pedro de Tipishca. Whether you’re opting for the three, four, or seven day itinerary, each day presents the chance to see over 200 species of birds, 13 species of monkeys, crocodiles and caimans, tarantulas, poisonous dart frogs, pink and grey dolphins, tree boas and maybe even a jaguar. With ice-cold water or a Cusquena always at the ready, these skiff adventures make the trip worth every penny.
The Aria comes with a full schedule, if you choose to participate. The excursions and festive meals are the main affair, but you’ll find the times in between marked with siestas, lounging on the observation deck or panoramic lounge, taking advantage of their exercise room or fulfilling an appointment with the on-board masseuse. At the end of the trip, you’ll be wished farewell by a group of gregarious crewmen who channel popular music through native Peruvian instruments. We dare you to sit silent as they outro with John Denver’s Country Road. It’s a beautiful thing, and a great bookend to what can easily be called the trip of a lifetime.
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