Posts Tagged With: Chiang Mai

Handstand of 2013! The winner is…

I absolutely loved watching the votes roll in, thank you! Plain and simple, here are the winners starting with the runners up and working to #1!

The honorable mentions start with an open green area in Cusco, Peru. This area made up just a small part of the exciting journey we spent exploring the streets and unique markets. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite cities in the world!

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The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most internationally recognizable structures in San Fransisco, California . Definitely handstand worthy!

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After Machu Picchu hit the top of the polls for best photo of 2012, I thought it would be refreshing to introduce another wonder of the world. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England was a classic set up for a proper handstand photo.

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The sunset over looking The Thimble Islands was a surprise treat while visiting my longtime friends on the east coast of the United States. The colors were not touched up in this photo… All natural beauty!

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The Cologne Cathedral is the largest gothic church in Germany which made it a bit of challenge to get me and the very tip of the building in the same shot. Well done Hayden!

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Santa Catalina is a beach town on the west coast of Panama where I was volunteering as a staff member of CabaƱas Time Out resort. What an office view!

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Then there’s my precious family in good ol’ Oklahoma. These are my five siblings that are always eager to help out with the handstand shot. This year we chose to do it in front of our snow woman before she melted away.

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In third place, we have the Mahogany Cathedral that welcomes you to the north coast of my favorite island. Barbados holds a special place in my heart and I highly suggest a visit if you’re ever in need of a well rounded beach holiday.

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With a close second place, it’s not a surprise that the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia caught your attention. From the peaceful monks walking around to the thousands of stairs and doorways, this scene was easy to get lost in… both physically and emotionally.

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With a solid win in first place, I share with you the colorful handstand photo from Chiang Mai, Thailand. These lights almost define this magical place and the vibrancy that naturally exists throughout the city. Well done Asia.

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Categories: Polls, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wait… Did you say bees and ant eggs?

I’m still gratefully accepting donations for this season of “With our powers combined”!

Over the time spent in Chiang Mai, Bree and I hit several different markets trying what seemed like any and every item that was either new and curious or familiar and tasty. Lets start off with some sugary delights, why? Because every human should have dessert first once in awhile… It does the inner-child some good!

This sign stopped me right my tracks as I love frozen yogurt (well, pretty much anything that’s sweet and frozen) and I had never seen this before. They take a flavored ice block and attach it to a machine that shaves it so thin that it resembles the texture of snow. Amazing, I know! With flavors ranging from the typical options to green tea, chai, banana and even a “yogurt” that we can’t tell if it was actual frozen yogurt or just flavored that way. Doesn’t matter because it was delicious!

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I’m not a soda drinker, but kudos to this simple idea. They would pour your favorite drink into the cylinder, drop a stick in it and gently rotate it until they froze. Homemade pop cycles!

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For those who like baked goods, your options seemed unlimited. Yes, that waffle was made with shredded pork and it sat amongst the other flavors of coconut, raisin, chocolate and corn!

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Donuts anyone?

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This was a soft but crispy shell with a marshmallow type cream and your choice of topping melted into it. The yellow shavings? Definitely not cheese, it’s actually egg yolk! (Also to be seen in large qualities below).

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Here are some other sweets that caught the attention of my camera.

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The glorious group of fruit is in a different category for me. It’s not dessert or a topping to a salad nor do I love it dried or fried. My favorite way to consume it is by itself, freshly cut and first thing in the morning. They do it a bit differently in Asia, as it seems to be served up primarily in the evenings and usually blended.

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Moving on to the meat, fish and questionable items that they claim are edible.

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Vegetables… I think. If it’s green, it has to be healthy, right?

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What do you like in your omelet? Cheese, onions, ham and peppers? We went for bee and ant eggs… Turns out there’s a first and last time for everything!

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A few more fun items that may or may not be tempting while wandering the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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I’ll close this scrumptious post with a beautiful plate of traditional Pad Thai that came from 29 Cafe. I highly suggests scouting out this hidden table if you’re in the area – thank you Zsuzsi and Vilmos!

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Yao of cooking”

Again I start with the idea that people cross your path for a reason, a season or a lifetime. On this day, I’m confident to say that I acquired all three of them!

Days prior I met Claudia who was introduced to me by Bree (the girl I met on the flight to Asia). The three of us partook in Monk Chat that led us to a beautiful organic cafe with this sign posted:

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After meeting the enthusiastic owner we decided to return in celebration of her book release. Plus, free gourmet organic food, live music and a multi cultural crowd? Can’t really go wrong with any part of that!

Blending with us is on this little adventure is also sweet Maddi, a new gal in our dorm room that was easy to chat with and willing to join! When we arrived the double story cafe was packed full of smiles, glowing energy and enough bare feet to question the reason we even bother wearing shoes.

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Downstairs there were sample trays full of her own recipes from flavorful spring rolls and sweet dip to a pumpkin-veggie-nut mixture that I could have swam in. We over heard the waiter ask the owner “how much food will be served?” Her response, “…until everyone has had their fill”. That alone should give you an idea of what kind of woman we’re talking about. Up stairs introduced you to floor tables, bean bags and more shining faces. You really couldn’t frown in a place like this!

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Recognize that jolly bearded man? Yes, another brilliant unexpected path crossing as that guy was the English teacher for the Monks that we just met. Turns out he’s also a fan of this quaint cafe trying to make a difference in the community. What joy reached his face when he glanced over and saw the three of us smiling back!

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There’s so much to look at in this shop! Have wandering eyes? Me too.

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The food eating slows and now it’s time for sweet Yao and her colleagues to share a little bit about their goals in regards to supporting local growers and artists. This is when what I think is going to be a neat little taste of a locals perspective, turns and hits me with an unpredictable love-punch straight to the heart.
There were times I felt like they talking directly to me…. maybe in my teary eyed little world, they were.

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The band started back up and books start flying off the shelf. Not literally, but I do think there were definitely multiple reasons of why the books were jumping into the hands of all of these smiles. The author is a quality, personable human being that puts just as much effort into her community as she does in her recipes.

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Instead of paying a huge company to bind the books in large quantities, she found this local artist that personally hand-bound (I think that’s how you say it) every single one. When I approached the table, I took time to look at each design and picked my absolute favorite. She smiled and held my hand as she whispered “I only made one like that, I’m glad you chose it.”

Heart…melting…again.

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You can imagine the natural high I was floating on as we left this building of love. I met people who had just the right thing to say at that moment, connected with some that I plan on seeing again and bonded even more so with my dear friend Bree.

Dear Yao,
Your soft voice speaks in volumes through your genuine eyes and passion towards helping others. I’m honored to have met you and I give thanks for your encouraging words and devotion to leading by example. You are a hero!

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Categories: Art, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Orange robes, bright streets and a local organic cafe!

There’s a poem that talks about people entering your life for a reason, season or lifetime. Some may think this is coincidental, others wonder if it’s work from their angels, guides or even their intuitive self. With that said, believe what makes you feel the best and enjoy the following sequence of events… they couldn’t have been planned anymore perfect than how they turned out.

Quick back story in under 30 seconds (depending on how fast you can read).
Deep breath in… and go!

A month ago, Bree met a German woman named Claudia in Bali while studying Yoga.
Two weeks ago, I met Bree on a flight to Cambodia.
On this day, all three of us connected in Chiang Mai in order to experience Monk Chat (to be described soon).

We got lost, followed a monk and found our way. Ironic?

Met the monks, spoke in their classroom, received a gift and was fed a meal while viewing a ceremony outside of the temple.

Later we stopped at a hidden organic cafe that is owned by a local chef who was having her first cookbook release in a few days. She personally invited us to come back and celebrate with free food, live music and book signing.

Wouldn’t you know it, the English teacher from the monks ceremony was also a fan of this mysterious hang out and was pleasantly surprised to see the three of us plus our other friend Maddie (a new gal along the path to be introduced later) supporting this driven local woman and her vegetarian cafe.

We returned for the book release party, met more people and heard a speech. On that day, with all of that energy in alignment…
I decided on the next step in my beautiful journey.
Thank you universe.

…and breathe.

Ok, time to explain these enlightening adventures and expand a bit out of the nut shell described above.

Back to step one: Claudia, Bree and I headed west towards the temple where we would get to experience a conversation with willing Monks that in need to practice their English. For more info on this popular Thai excursion, please check out the website at www.monkchat.net.

The journey started with our fingers crossed that we were going to find it on time, that was until we found (or he found us) an unexpected guide, thank you orange robe!

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We arrived and got seated at a private table with three monks ranging in age from 24 to 35. (I only know their age because one of my questions was in regards to celebrating birthdays (FYI- they acknowledge the day, but don’t necessarily “celebrate” it). After an hour of casual conversation, they invited us into the classroom where they were holding an English speaking competition. Each participate gave a speech and was scored and voted on by the three judges. What an honor to sit right along with them and get to witness the “behind the scenes” of a day in a studying monk.

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I’m not sure what this student was executing on his phone, but it makes me wonder what he possibly could of been doing at this moment.

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…and the winner? This gentle smile!

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After the awards were handed out, the attention unexpectedly turned to us sitting so I innocently observing from the back of the room. They called us to the front of the class and kindly proceeded to ask us questions ranging from personal history to recent travels. Here was our view:

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To complete this memorable event, we all posed for a group photo and bowed out gracefully (literally… bowed our way out).

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As if we hadn’t already had an evening full of stimulating conversation and heart warming attention, on our way out this crowd invited us over to partake in the complimentary food, drink and desserts that they were sharing. People of Thailand, your hospitality and genuine courtesy continues to shine, thank you!

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The sun was down and the three of us enjoyed a walk back to the city, taking in the vibrant street decor that was in preparation for the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Lantern Festival . What a colorful Illumination of an already brilliant city!

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Handstand shot? I would be honored to be a part of this colorful backdrop!

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Add this gorgeous view to the list of things that you don’t get to see every night!

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After being embraced at the Monk Chat and then surround by the street lights, our walk turned even brighter with a quaint cafe that opened their doors and invited us in. Yao, the owner of The Birds Nest Cafe was days away from celebrating her first cookbook release. Guess what the next post is about…

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

16 dishes of Thai food please!

Before I introduce you to the beginning days in Thailand, lets take a peek at my current travel partner and new roommate! This is Bree, the first photo is the day we met on the flight to Asia followed by our first reunion in Cambodia. Now, we meet again to explore a bit of Chiang Mai together. What a beautiful path crossing!

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Her and I found out quickly that we share a love for food, cooking and trying new flavors. This made it easy to choose the country side excursion that takes us to a local market, followed by several hours of creating traditional recipes. I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed a cooking experience in Peru as well as a culinary class in Cambodia so lets see how this one compares!

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First step is a trip to the market (which still remains as one of my favorite things to visit in a new country). Just combine the street vendors, scrumptious edibles and the energetic people and you’ve entered my happy place. We only spent a few moments at this particular one, so my “market post” for Chiang Mai will be separate… but soon to come!

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After our mini lesson, we got to hop on bikes and peddle our way into the outskirts of Chiang Mai. What a perfect way to start a day of eating!

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We arrived, parked our bikes and jumped right into the garden to find more goodies.

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They give you this menu in which you get to pick from. Yes, every single person got an individual choice on what they were going to cook that day. This differed quite a bit from other classes I’ve taken in which “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” (quoting every kindergarten teacher at some point in their career).

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Next we suit up!

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Prep to cook, then prep a bit more and then cook again!

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After each dish, we got to sit and eat. Luckily we were with a group that was eager to share everything. This means we all got to try a total of 16 different delicious recipes!

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A full stomach, new friends and a cookbook are just a few of the bonuses from this all day excursion.

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My favorite new item of the day was this traditional rice steamer. Mark it on my kitchen list for when I grow up...

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Work out and rest up in Asian airports

I haven’t been posting much on the specific topic of fitness from a backpack, so I thought I’d share a quick workout that not only gives the body some activity, but helps pass the time during long layovers.

Step one: Search the airport for an open area with minimal people (for their safety and yours) with different heights to work off of. Ex: chairs, stools, curbs, poles, planters, etc.

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Da Nang, Vietnam (waiting for my flight to Ho Chi Minh)

I scored on this one as I found a huge stair case, bonus! What’s this at the bottom? An empty gate with several seats, double bonus!

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Since the workouts themselves weren’t going to be the most intense, I used the staircase for an interval style of training. A set of chair reps followed by a sprint up the stairs followed by a “break” walking back down the steps.

20 lunges per leg…

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Then sprint up!

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20 push-ups… Sprint!

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40 dips… Sprint!

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100 Flutter kicks… Sprint!

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Repeat 3x’s (or until they announce “final call” for your flight, then you finish with a sprint to the gate while searching your carry-on bag for your boarding pass and trying not to loose your flips). I made it.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (waiting for my flight to Bangkok)

I didn’t find a wicked stair case or an empty terminal, but I did come across a bare wall standing next to a step. Success!

Calve raises

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Wall sit

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Silly pose for fun

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Leg raises

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Handstand, why not?

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I looked over at this bench for a cool down and also spotted a hip height bar… Score!

Tuck-ups (or crunches) and a side plank

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I always carry an elastic band with me (feel free to laugh here) and this bar made for a perfect base so I could due some bicep curls!

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Now stretch it all out…

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4 airports, 3 workouts, 2 flights down and one to go. Time for sleep before my final flight to Chiang Mai… this evenings bed is a window seal of the Bangkok airport. Good night!

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Categories: Accommodations, Fitness, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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