T-minus 5 Days Until We’re in Nicaragua!

  It’s that time of year again where we say goodbye to Central Oregon winter and hello to Nicaraguan sunshine. This go around we will be adventuring up around Matagalpa and Esteli before heading down to San Juan del Sur. I promise to take LOTS of pictures… Steve just got me a new camera for Valentine’s Day, so I’m super excited to take it out and play with it. This trip is another half play/ half work trip. We will be checking out Finca Esperanza Verde for a possible future yoga retreat then heading down the coast to check out Aqua Wellness just north of San Juan del Sur. This year I will be hosting my second yoga retreat in Nicaragua at Costa Dulce, which I’m super excited about. I love how it feels like you’re at the edge of the world, just you, a handful of other yogis, and the ocean. It pretty much rocks. I hope to post … Continue reading

Nicaragua Yoga and Surf Retreat

I finally get to combine my favorite activities: yoga, water, travel, hiking and food!!! Steve and I will be hosting an All-Inclusive Yoga and Surf Retreat in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua February 28- March 7, 2015. We’d like to … Continue reading

Monkey-ing Around At Sepilok

Steve and I spent a night in Sepilok on our way to the Kinabatangan River. And I’m so happy we did. We stayed at Sepilok B&B which was adorable AND it had AC!!! Not a whole lot of food options … Continue reading

Central America Packing List

On of our favorite places to travel to is Central America and fortunately we get to spend time there every couple of years. It is, after all, where Steve and I met. Sometimes our trips are short ten day trips … Continue reading

A Weekend In Bend

So you’re planning a trip to Bend, huh? Maybe you’re coming for the killer mountain biking,  the brewery scene, or maybe just to get some more Vitamin D in your life. Steve and I have been living in Bend for … Continue reading

Steve Is About To Pop His Nica Cherry

Steve and I had been tossing around the idea of a trip to Nicaragua for over a year now!!! We were talking about it while we were still on our Southeast Asia trip!!! Well ticket prices have been down lately, … Continue reading

Finding the Beauty…

If you follow my blog regularly you’d think that I’m always going on perfect hikes with perfect weather and going on amazing trips with perfectly planned itineraries, but that is not the case. Often times we will head out for … Continue reading

A Day Trip From Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Day Trek Elephant Ride

Steve rides on his first elephant.

A mere two weeks into our Thailand trip Steve and I joined a traditional tour with a real tour guide…and honestly I’d probably rate the experience a 5 or 6 on a 1 to 10 scale. We booked our trip with AA Tours in Chiang Rai (it’s on the same road as the clock tower and the BIG electronics store). It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t unique or adventurous. We did ride on an elephant down the river….moderately entertaining, but once you’ve done it once you don’t need to go again.

Our WONDERFUL guide did know alot about the local culture and we happened to be there during their New Years preparations… it’s essentially a giant party, complete with spouse-swapping and binge drinking. From what our guide told us they spend a week preparing and a week recovering.

Chiang Rai village AATour

Here’s the little village we hiked to.

Our guide did get us up to the village before the other groups…awesome… and we had some tea with one of the local women. None of the villagers seemed interested in entertaining any farang (Thai for foreigner), so once we cooled down from our trek up to the village we headed back down the hill through some farmland and a bit of jungle until we reached an extremely cold waterfall. Steve went for a dip, but I preferred to stay dry and warm.

Chiang Rai Day trek waterfall


After the waterfall it was a short hike back to the truck. From there we went to another local village where many of the adults were working on rebuilding someone’s home after a fire nearly burnt it down. But the kids were running amok and I was able to snap a couple of fun shots of them acting like maniacs.

Chiang Rai Day Trek kids

Kids will be kids….I remember pushing my brother around in a wheelbarrow.

And a couple of them looking sweet…

Chiang Rai Day Trek kid2

Cutie pie…

Chiang Rai Day Trek Kid

Big brown eyes

And we still weren’t done. After the third village of the day we headed to a “hot” spring….it was more warm and sulfuric, but we went for a dip anyway. After 20 or so minutes we were ready to go…it had been a LONG day. We were picked up from our hotel super early, so we could meet up with the boat transportation that took us up the river to the elephant village and it was now getting dark and we were ready for a cold beer.

Honest opinion: Skip the day tour. You will be much more happy if you book a multiday trip instead of being rushed along from activity to activity. Steve and I did part of our day trip with other people and part of it just the two of us…which was both good and bad. Our final guide when it was just us was really awesome, but there was always some confusion in the transfer of us between the earlier guides and we were often left to “wait” without much direction or even the name of our next guide. So get ALL of the details before you head out and be clear about what you want and expect.


Pic of the Week

Laos slow boat

Boats waiting for passengers on the river from Thailand to Luang Prabang.

The beginning of a two day river trip from the Thai-Laos border to Luang Prabang. The disorganization at Immigration should have been a sign…LPDR = Laos Please Don’t Rush

We were really able to enjoy our trip down the Mekong River….it’s kinda like forced relaxation! :)

Snorkeling with Sharks at Wayag Island


We had an awesome time snorkeling with these sharks in Raja Ampat. When we pulled up to the dock at Wayag Island these guys were already cruising in the shallows… obviously they are used to the presence of humans, but they were still curious and a couple of times they got a little closer than I would like. But what an amazing experience.

Thank you Deni and the Raja Ampat Adventures crew!

Sauraha’s Elephant Breeding Center

They must be doing something right at the Elephant Breeding Center because there were quite a few little elephants running around….some of them a little naughtier than others.

Baby elephant at Elephant Breeding Center, Sauraha, Nepal

This little guy wasn’t chained up and was “hamming it up” for all the visitors.

Chitwan Elephant Breeding Center follow the leader

Follow the leader.

The Elephant Breeding Center is a short bike ride from “downtown” Sauraha and it’s a pretty bike ride too…through rice paddies and traditional villages. A glimpse into Nepali life.

Nepal Chitwan Rice Paddy

Rice Paddy on the way to the breeding center.

Nepali Girl Feeding Chickens, Sauraha

Feeding the chickens.

GIrls at the river Chitwan

I have no idea what these girls were gathering, but they were at the river the entire time we were at the elephant breeding center.

And there is a fun bridge you get to cross too.

Bridge at the Elephant Breeding Center in Sauraha

The bridge crossing to get to the Breeding Center

If you’re planning on going to the breeding center make sure you go at feeding time. During the day the elephants head out to the fields to eat, collect feed, etc. I don’t even think they’ll let you in to the center outside of feeding time, so ask around about the schedule. I feel like we went in the late afternoon. It’s pretty fun to watch the babies eat….they get food everywhere.

Elephant breeding center feeding

Messy elephant!!! Food all over the place….just like a human baby.


A bike rental for a couple hours should only be a dollar or two (remember to bargain) and the entrance to the center is pretty cheap too…just a couple of bucks, but I don’t remember the exact amount.

Royal Chitwan Wildlife Safari

For some reason I thought being on a “safari” meant sitting on your ass with binoculars in hand…..”safari” in Nepal means something completely different…it means getting close to dozing rhinos (don’t worry if you’re upwind or is it downwind?), chasing after sloth bears (why are we running?) and napping in head high grass (are we baiting tigers with our own bodies?)….somehow I lost my ability to keep my own safety in mind. I’m sure our guides were perfectly capable of protecting us with their walking sticks.

Rhino Chitwan NP

Hello Rhino…we’re friends right?

Well…we picked the worst day of the year to go on safari….it poured, and I mean poured. We were soaked within minutes, maybe even seconds… and this was within the first hour. Apparently when it’s cool the animals don’t like to come out. Fortunately, this “friendly” rhino caught our attention when we were on our 2 hour canoe trip…we also saw a couple of spotted deer, a crocodile, and a handful of peacocks.


Spotted Deer at Chitwan National Park

Between storms we took breaks at a couple of different places….one was a viewing platform set high above the grass complete with sloth bear scat!!! Maybe it was from the same sloth bear we saw in the forest. Anyway, the sky eventually cleared and we were able to walk through the grass plains in search of animals.

Chitwan Elephants

A male elephant escaped form the Breeding Center, so we saw a few different groups of Park Rangers out with their elephants searching for him.

Although the Terai grasslands started to heat up in the afternoon sun, the animals weren’t coming out…and we searched high and low.

Chitwan Angie and Steve

We aired out our feet…

Our guide in a tree at Chitwan National Park

while our guide climbed a tree.

With no luck in the grasslands we headed back into the forest to search some more….then we went to the river to search some more….no tigers, but I was pretty thrilled to see all the other cool animals in the wild: rhino, sloth bear, peacocks, crocodiles and spotted deer.

I wish I could have gotten a picture of the sloth bear. Unfortunately it is hard to focus a camera while running though the forest at a moving target. Sloth bears are even more rare than tigers in the park…in fact, there are so few and they’re so elusive that they aren’t sure how many are still around. (NOTE: Sloth bear does not equal Sloth)

Red Cotton Bug at Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Red Cotton Bug

Rhino at Chitwan National Park, Nepal


Note: Headed to Royal Chitwan National Park? All the accommodation within park bounds is now closed. There are TONS of places for EVERY budget in Sauraha. We stayed at a cheapie called Wendy’s on the road into town for about $5/night for 3 people. Our room was definitely spacious, but was unbearably musty, but we didn’t spend much time in our room anyway.

Also: We booked our guides through the guide cooperative. We had two guides, both were very knowledgeable and the younger of the two had great eyes. He could spot animals from really far away.

Also, bring some money for a tip….the guides will suggest you tip the boatman (a couple hundred rupees will do) and if your guides do a good job, they’ll appreciate the extra money too.

Also, pack your Rain Jacket and make sure it is actually waterproof, my Nepali made “North Face” that I picked up in Pokhara after a mouse chewed through my Patagonia jacket held up surprisingly well, while Steve’s Columbia Jacket was soaked through within minutes. Be prepared for mud and puddles too. All of our boots held up pretty well….our feet got wet, but it was from the rain running down our legs and filling our shoes from the top….wish I had rain pants too…lol.

Mae Hong Son Loop: part 2

The road between Mae Sariang heads north to Mae Hong Son for 166 km and it’s just east of the Burma/Thailand border. The Burmese influence is seen throughout this part of the country: in the food, clothing, and architecture.

Somewhere between Mae Sariang and Mae Hong Son Steve and I turned off the highway in a little market town in Mae La Noi and followed a winding road approx. 5 km to the entrance of a relatively newly discovered cave. The Kaew Komol Cave doesn’t see much tourism, photography is banned, and the air is short on oxygen, but the cave is covered in beautiful crystal formations. Steve snuck his GoPro in and was able to take some video. Here are some photos from within the cave:

Down down down...but don't take too long....you only have 20 minutes to climb back out.

Down down down…but don’t take too long….you only have 20 minutes to climb back out.

Calcite crystal formations in

Calcite crystal formations in Kaew Komol cave. No touching!!!!

It's so sparkly!!!

It’s so sparkly!!!

We were pretty hungry in Mae La Noi, so we stopped for lunch at one of the road side stalls and had some delicious spicy curry before continuing up to Mae Hong Son.

mae hong son loop paddy

Terraced fields near the cave.

Mae Hong Son is set around a pretty little lake in a valley surrounded by emerald green mountains. Most of the tourist facilities circle the lake and the local market is also nearby if you’re feeling adventurous.

The view from up high on the hill above Mae Hong Son.

The view from up high on the hill above Mae Hong Son.

mae hong son temple

Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu on top of the hill west of town.

Not surprisingly there are numerous temples in the area to visit; since we had the moto we rode up to the top of the hill to Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu…I think you might be able to reach this one by stairs, but don’t quote me on that. There are a couple of temples near the lake in town and if the fog cooperates you could get some really cool photos.

Zinc metalwork at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu.

Zinc metalwork at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu.

Mae Hong Son Prince Hotel

The Prince Hotel in Mae Hong Son

Our lakeside budget digs at the Prince Hotel were adequate, if not exactly clean. Our room was 200 or 300 Baht with a private bathroom, high ceilings, and a slightly springy/saggy bed.

After a night or two in Mae Hong Son we began the long haul to Pai. The route is approximately 130 km with many opportunities to stop along the way. Before heading out of the Mae Hong Son region we wanted to check out one of the Karen Long Neck Villages. We had heard the rumors that the towns feel more like exhibits at a human zoo, so we went in with low expectations. The Karen are refugees from Burma, and as refugees in Thailand it is difficult for them to attain land, jobs, etc. so one of the ways the community earns money is by showing off their women and selling their handicrafts. We paid our entrance fee and walked down the boardwalk to the “village” which was really just set up as a handicraft market (I assume many of the families live in the back portion of their shops). Here are a few pictures I took of our visit:

Kayen village creek crossing; mae hong son

CREEK CROSSING!!! One of many on the road out to the village.

We had a lot of fun crossing these streams on the scooter…there were many of them and it was sometimes hard to judge the depth. So much fun! The drive from the highway out to the village was really pretty and there were even a couple of different places that gave elephant rides, so no honking your horn!!!

mae hong son kayen village

The road to the village


Mae Hong Son Long Neck

These women oblige camera wielding tourists by the bus loads, fortunately we were there in the morning, so the tourist hoards weren’t there yet.


Another long necked woman

Another long necked woman…she spoke excellent English and was willing to share some of her history.

As you head east toward Pai there are a couple of caves that you can visit, but we skipped them in lieu of a mud treatment at Phu Klon (Pooklon) Country Club. I think our mud facials and foot soak were about USD $5 each (but I can’t remember). To get to the spa it’s pretty easy…just follow the “Mud Spa” signs and memorize the Thai script…once you’re off the highway keep cruising and eventually the spa will be on the right.

mae hong son loop mud spa

MUD!!! Foot soak and mud facial at Phu Klon.

mae hong son loop vista

Jungle view

We stopped in Soppong for a roadside Kaow Soi lunch. We then beelined to hippie Pai where throngs of backpackers keep themselves entertained by cruising walking street every night, listening to live music, buying funky clothes, sipping wacky tea and generally enjoying its chilled out vibe. Pai is a place that encourages you to linger, find your inner yogi, or head out to the hot springs.

pai waterfall

Pretty waterfall just outside of town.

Steve and I soon realized that there isn’t much authentic Thai culture in Pai, so we stayed long enough to listen to some acoustic tunes, buy some hippie pants, and indulge at Spa Exotic. A handful of people in the “know” suggested we skip the sulfuric hot springs and head to one of the hot spring resorts. Spa Exotic caught our eye, and for only 80 Baht each we had access to their beautiful soaking pool almost all to ourselves. It was a fantastic way to rejuvenate our sore muscles.

pai exotic spa hot spring

Spa Exotic’s soaking pool

Our final day from Pai to Chiang Mai was brutal. Not only was my back throbbing at every twist, turn or bump, but I was sicker than a dog. We had to stop atleast every 20-30 kilometers so I could relieve myself….roadside mind you. It was not a fun day. I’m pretty sure at one point I actually laid down on the side of the road.

The trip from Pai to Chiang Mai is just as curvy as the route from Mae Hong Son…and all the war wounds in Pai and Chiang Mai are proof. Do not take a moto unless you know what you are doing…please!!!

Stretching will make me feel better right?

Stretching will make me feel better right? The answer is no, not really.

Anyway, we eventually made it to Chiang Mai, where I laid around and popped Cipro like candy.

Next stop Chiang Rai.

Planning Resources

GT Rider Touring Map This little map was invaluable. We found ours at one of the book shops in Chiang Mai.
Lonely Planet Thailand
Kaew Komol Cave info