As I’ve said before, I am extremely fortunate to have been able to travel as much as I have for how young I am. I have had a wonderful taste of a life that I am looking forward to building for myself but in the midst of all the sight seeing and culture intake it’s important to find something you can be passionate about and try to find a way to make a difference while being in a new, beautiful place. In the past year or two, stories and truth have surfaced about the realities of Elephant entertainment. As I grew more knowledge on the subject I began to feel more passionate about this issue and I wanted to know how I could make a small difference for this cause. A few months ago my mom and some friends of ours decided to take a weekend trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, by far my favorite part of Thailand yet. There are no beaches but lots of greenery and mountains. As most of you may know, Thailand is notorious for Elephant entertainment due to their large sum of tourists. I think most people were like me in that they are not educated on the issue. My mother planned for us to visit the Elephant Nature Park while we were in Chiang Mai. This was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Each adult elephant found at this park have been rescued or bought from Elephant entertainment cooperations. It was extremely heart-warming to know that the people who work there are so passionate about the health and safety of these intuitive and sensitive animals. Our entire experience was filled with happiness, love, and life! We were able to help the workers feed the elephants fruit and veggies, learn about each elephant’s story, and bathe them in the river. I think it’s important to start educating the people around us that there are humane alternative to interact with any animal, especially the elephants! #savetheelephants
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to go to Thailand. When you live in the States you think of Thailand and you don’t imagine any place more beautiful! When my parents decided that we would be taking a week in Koh Samui, Thailand I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to feel the sun on my skin and the beautiful clear beaches! Because flights from Hong Kong to Thailand are so cheap my dad was able to get a really good price, especially since he planned ahead (for once!) I had never heard of Koh Samui but all of our family friends were saying how beautiful it was. When we told them that we were going for 5 days they were a bit confused. I was surprised at first because how could you stay in Thailand less than 5 days?? I soon understood that because Hong Kong is surrounded by so many beautiful areas, Thailand is just a weekend trip. I was astounded but then I soon found out why….
- Step one, make sure to check the rainy season before you book your tickets to a tropical and exotic destination. The weather forecast the entire week was rain and thunderstorms! It turns out the the rest of Thailand is in the dry season but the only part of Thailand that has a rainy season in the month of December is the island of Koh Samui.
- Book a resort or house that you feel comfortable or clean in because you never know how much time you will be spending in there.We stayed at the Ozo Resort and it was very nice and open. Not only was I confined to my room because of the rain, I was paralyzed from an extreme crick in my neck from sleeping with the air conditioning too low. Which leads to…
- Make sure to not keep the air conditioning too cold! When mixed with the warmth of the outside air it causes your muscles to contract and get stiff and you could possibly get a crick in your neck and end up being doped up on Thai muscle relaxers and looking sideways in every photo.
- Don’t drink or brush your teeth with the water! Thankfully we already knew this one but there is nothing worse than being sick on your vacation but I will say, it does get quite exhausting having to always worry about whether or not the fruit was washed in clean water or if the water in the glass is from a bottle… yes, I know these are my first world problems but my brother Blake ended up getting sick and having to sit at the hotel on the one day the sun decided to come out.
- When the sun FINALLY decided to come out, I must say it was gorgeous. We did the Ang Thong National Marine Park which had beautiful views and scenery. Of course there was a little rain storm but it’s the tropics so it’s expected!
- Since there was not as much to do we certainly ate to fill our time! The food was absolutely delicious. I have always been a huge lover of Thai food but having it authentic was amazing. Some of my favorite dishes from this trip were the Pad Thai (obviously), anyone who follows my social media knows that I loved the spring rolls, and the Penang Curry… read my other two Thailand posts to find out what else I found!
Unfortunately we were not able to do as many activities as we had hoped but when the sun was out it was beautiful and I highly recommend Koh Samui when looking for a destination in Thailand!
Last April my parents made the decision to move to Hong Kong which inspired me to write my first ever blog post. One full year and two Hong Kong trips later I am officially sharing my tips on How to Hong Kong!
1. Get an Octopus card. Unlike the States, public transportation is one of the most efficient ways to get around. The Octopus card can be used for the bus system, ferry, MTR (metro, subway), and most convenient stores. How do you posses one of these cards, you ask? The most convenient way to get one would be at the Hong Kong International airport as soon as you fly in. You may be tired and overwhelmed but save yourself some trouble and stand in the line to purchase the card, you’ll save yourself an extra trip once you’re ready to go exploring and you’ll soon find out that the lines tend to move pretty fast. If you decide to not get the Octopus card at the airport it’s no big deal, just type into Maps to find the closest station and you can buy and load one up there.
2. Make sure your Octopus card is loaded. You can fill your cards at any local convenient store such as Seven Eleven or Circle K, places that would usually be gas stations. I cannot stress enough that in order to load your Octopus Card you must have a minimum of $50HKD in CASH! They will not fill your Octopus with Visa, Apple Pay, Debit, etc. it must be cash so always have an emergency $50 in your wallet just in case your total gets away from you.
3. Understand that you are now experiencing an incredible part of the world. You’ll hear Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Russian, accents such as South African, Australian, and British. Hong Kong is by far the most diverse place that I have ever traveled to. As amazing as it can be to hear all of these new and interesting ways of communicating, it can be overwhelming to try and maneuver your way around a strange new city, which is why it’s so important to have the right tools to get around stress-free! There are two apps that my family and I find very helpful and they’re called Hong Kong Taxi and Mooveit. Hong Kong Taxi is perfect for when you are taking a taxi somewhere in the city. The drivers tend to speak little to no English and so this app is perfect for communicating with your driver on where you need to go! How it works is you search your location in their database and when it shows up it automatically shows you the address and the option to view the location in Cantonese so all you have to do is show the driver your phone! It’s incredibly simple…the only catch is that you may need wifi if you don’t have an international plan but luckily for you there is wifi almost everywhere!
The Mooveit app is great for navigating how to reach a destination by taking public transportation. I know that there are a lot of apps that do this but what’s great about this app is that it can tell you all the specifics and will even notify you of a direction change when you don’t have any wifi.
Now that you know how to get around it’s time to go see all that Hong Kong has to offer!
Where to go:
Peak Tram to Victoria’s Peak
Observation Ferris Wheel
Lan Kwai Fong
360 Cable Cars to The Big Buddha
High Tea at The Intercontinental
Escalators in SoHo
Nan Lian Garden
Hikes: Tiger’s Head in Discovery Bay, Mui Wo, Peng Chau, Llama Island
Our Favorite Places to Eat:
Miss Ho’s -Kennedy Town
Little Bao -SoHo Central
Le Souk- SoHo Central
Din Tau Fong- Tsim Sha Tsui
A few days ago I got some of the most exciting news that I have ever received. My parents are moving to CHINA, for my dads job obviously. Of course they had been debating it for a few months but I never would have thought that they would go through with it.
Finding out that the move was final I felt a lot of different emotions. I felt scared, excited, hopeful, but especially adventurous. Our entire lives my parents have showed my brother, Blake and I a taste of the type of extraordinary life we all crave. My parents have blessed us with unbelievable opportunities, especially in the aspect of travel. Not only am I excited about this move for selfish reasons, such as being able to experience new culture and see new places; I am excited for my parents. This is such an amazing adventure that they are about to go on and they have taught me so much about what a marriage is during this whole process. In this day and age it’s rare to come across someone who doesn’t have divorced parents. My parents have shown me that marriage isn’t a breeze, you have to work at it. My mother, who loves our home of Memphis, TN who has loving friends and a strong work foundation, is packing up her entire life and leaving it behind for 2 years. I can only pray that I have a love so strong that I am willing to sacrifice pieces of my life for the sake of my husbands dreams and happiness. Being the adventurous and (somewhat) open-minded couple that they are, I know that they will make the best of it and in these 2 years see as much of the world as possible.
Although I can’t help but feel jealous that they will be doing all this amazing traveling without me. I know that finishing up my degree at UofA is the most important thing for me. I always said that once I finish college I would take the time to travel and see for myself what the real world is like. So, when my parents told me the big news I decided to make a list of aspirations that hopefully I can complete in the time that my parents are so conveniently living across the world.
Climb the ruins of Chichen Itza
- Scuba Dive in Dominican Republic
- Surfing in Costa Rica
- Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
- See the Mona Lisa
- Cage dive with great white sharks in Cape Town, South Africa
- Walk the Great Wall of China
- Go to the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, NV
- Sears Sky Deck in Chicago, IL
- Hike to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, CA
- Swim with the pigs in the Bahamas
- Learn how to fly a plane
- Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef in Sydney, Australia
- Visit the city of Dubai
- See the Taj Mahal
- Attend Coachella
- Ride camels in Morocco
- See the ball drop in NYC
- Sail the BVI with my family
- Helicopter ride around the islands of Hawaii
- Go to the islands of Thailand
- Visit each of the 7 Continents once
- Zip lining through the forests of Costa Rica
- Stay at a Four Seasons Resort
- Move to Hong Kong
Visit the Windy City
- California trip with Elizabeth
- Experience the Grand Canyon
- Rio de Jeneiro in Brazil
- Machu Pichu in Peru
- Roman Coliseum in Rome, Italy
- Go skiing in the Swiss Alps
- Sun bathe in Santorini, Greece
- Big Ben and London Bridge
- Walk the streets of Spain
- Go on an African Safari
- Play with monkeys in Puerto Rico
- Swim with wild dolphins
- Go to NYC at Christmas
- See the pyramids in Egypt
- Attend a futbol game in Spain
- Krka National Park in Croatia
- Visit a marina in Capri, Italy
- Swim off the Amalfi Coast in Italy
- Go to the top of Seattle Space Needle
Watch Humpback whales in Resurrection Bay, Alaska Hook a King Salmon in Russian River