Storytime: My Secret Beach Discovery In Phuket, Thailand!

Unnamed Beach with Wild Dogs, Phuket, Thailand

Okay, this is going to be a bit of a different post for me, but I really wanted to share. This moment meant a whole lot to me, and while it may seem super irrelevant to you, I hope it can touch your heart too.

This story takes a bit of exposition, so bear with me. While my trip to South East Asia was mostly a first for me, I’ve actually been to Thailand before back in 2013. My family and I travelled with our close family friends to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket New Years.

As well, my parents are rather familiar with Thailand — my parents once travelled there together before I was born, as well, my dad went there on a trip similar to mine when he was about my age with his brother.

One of my dad’s most favourite memories in the world is when he was in Phuket during his trip; he and his brother stumbled across an empty beach and spent the day there. This beach was an untouched sanctuary — tourism wasn’t as big in Thailand at the time, so they spent the entire day there without seeing a single other person, just enjoying this beach to themselves.

When we arrived in Phuket in 2013 (actually, I believe it was just after New Years, so 2014 at this point) my dad was so excited to be able to see the beach of one of his fondest memories again. He spent all kinds of time researching it, trying to figure out where it was — our resort was on the beach, so he figured it couldn’t be far. However, when his search turned up fruitless, he came to the conclusion that the beach he remembered must have been the one our resort was located on, and he was heartbroken. This beach was now fully developed and completely packed with tourists — one of those beaches where the entirety of it is lined with resorts and it’s hard to find a spot to even sit down amidst all the chaos. It was, understandably, of of the saddest I’ve ever seen my dad in my life. The empty beach from his young adulthood had been completely renovated into a tourist hotspot and had lost all of its magical charm from what he once knew.

Fast forward to 2019.

Upon finishing up with our time in Koh Phi Phi, Nylah and I jumped on our ferry back to Phuket with about 7 hours until we had to be at the airport, and no plan. It was going to be a long day, so we didn’t want to do anything crazy — we were thinking we’d just sit at the beach until it was time to head over. The ferry company offered shuttles from the harbour to almost anywhere you’d like, so we told them our situation and they recommended a beach close enough to the airport we could easily get there when we were ready to leave.

As we’re pulling up, I’m struck by how familiar it looks — its basically identical to the beach I stayed at 5 years prior. The shuttle bus driver drops us off and we set up camp for the day along the edge of the beach (in the shade of the palm trees as I, unfortunately, got rather sunburnt on the ferry ride over). The beach is completely empty, save for a pack of friendly but wild dogs that inhabited the area. It was beautiful.

A few hours go by before it hits me — maybe THIS was the beach my dad had been looking for all those years ago. It looked so, so similar to the tourist beach, but there was absolutely no one else around. I quickly snapped a photo and sent it off to my family group chat — I figured even if it wasn’t the same beach, my dad would probably feel better seeing that there was still areas nearby that were untouched by development.

If you’ve stuck with me this long, this is where it gets pretty crazy. My dad instantly recognized the photo, and a few days later sent back a picture he dug up when I showed him the beach.

My Dad’s Photo Of The Beach, Phuket

Look familiar?

The Exact, Unedited, Photo I Sent My Family Of The Beach We Found

Not only did I manage to stumble upon the exact beach my dad had visited when he was my age, he set up camp in the exact same spot, and took the exact same photo as me, from the same angle. I’m sure it’s all just one crazy coincidence, but I can’t believe the odds. Not only does my dad’s beach still exist, but I ended up by chance spending the exact same day there years later on a similar trip of my own.

Anyways, I’m not really sure what the point is of the story, but I was so completely shocked and heart warmed by this whole thing that I thought I would share. My dad is so excited that this beach still exists, untouched, and just as empty as when he visited it himself when he was my age. Pretty happy ending to the story, which was crazy enough even without the fact that my dad had been so torn up over thinking this beach had been completely developed into a resort strip. If your curious about exactly which beach it is, message me — I’d rather not share it publicly for my own personal reasons.

I hope you all enjoyed this story, and that you found it as heart-warming and amazing as I did. There’s nothing I’d love more than to have brightened all your busy Thursday’s with this story, since it meant so much to me.

Lots of Love,

Meredith

Places To Eat: Toronto Edition!

Toronto, Ontario

Hey y’all!

This past week I’ve been back in my hometown — Toronto, Ontario! Being the largest city in Canada, Toronto is somewhat of a cultural hub and has a HUGE foodie culture. So I figured I’d share some of the places I hit up this week that have been my favourites to visit whenever I go home!

For When You’re Craving Chinese

If you’re looking for a bit of an upscale meal, Kwan is a great place to check out. Not only is it’s Chinese food to DIE for, but it has a lovely, cozy atmosphere and a great vibe overall. If you go, don’t miss out on the truffle fried rice, sesame chicken or chilli garlic shrimp — I literally order these every time I go and they’re outstanding every time.

For When You’re In The Mood For Sweets
Booyah Ice Cream

Booyah Ice cream is straight up one of my favourite places to go for cool treats in the summer. Not only do they have their own store-made ice cream, they also offer Kawartha Dairy and soft serve! Their homemade flavours are to DIE for, just the other day I got these two scoops of Earl Gray and Honey Lavander and I was in love. On top of all that, you have the option to get it in an ice cream sandwich (featuring homemade cookies) or even ice cream tacos! This place really is one of my favourites to visit in the hot Toronto summers.

For When You’re Feeling Fancy

Buca Yorkville

If you’re feeling up for something bougie and love Italian food as much as I do, Buca is a must-try. It’s a little on the pricier side, but oh man is it ever worth it. Everything here is amazing, from the appetizers to the desserts (their pine panna cotta is unreal). On top of that, the environment is amazing and the service was next level. 100% recommend for a classy night out.

For When You’re Craving Mexican
La Playa Hacienda

This place seriously has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. For years, it’s been a go-to every time I go home–I’ve been sure to introduce everyone I know and they all fell in love. The tacos are outstanding, the drinks are incredible, and if you go be sure to try the Elote–it’s a personal favourite of mine. On top of all that, the vibe here is so cool, there really isn’t anything not to love.

For When You Need Your Bubble Tea Fix
Labothéry

There’s so many amazing places to get bubble tea in Toronto, but this one is just SO fun. You get to choose for yourself from so many flavours (complete with the ability to mix and match) plus so many tapioca and jelly add-ins that are so different from other places I’ve been to. This stuff was so amazing, seriously, even if it’s not nearby it’s worth the trek.

And that’s it for this time! Stay tuned for more Toronto hot spots when I go visit again this fall. I hope you enjoyed this blog, and if you have any suggestions for where to hit up on my next trip home I’d love to hear it!

Love you all,

Meredith

South East Asia: The Top Ten!

Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Hey everybody!

So, as many of you know by now I’ve just returned from a trip across South East Asia that included Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. While it was all pretty amazing, I certainly had my favourite places that I’d consider to be must sees if you ever get the opportunity to travel to any of these beautiful countries! Between the ten of them, I really couldn’t pick favourites, plus everything is completely depended on what people are interested in pursuing while they travel, and which country or areas they choose to visit.

So, without further ado, here’s my top ten! They’re put in order of when we visited them, with absolutely no ranking in terms of favouritism between them. I hope if you’re reading this, it gives you ideas for where to visit on your travels or even inspires you to plan a trip! If anyone else has been/is going to any of the following places, drop a comment! I’d love to hear all about it.

Thailand
Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai
Doi Inthanon, Thailand

During our time in South East Asia, Nylah and I saw more temples than I could even keep track of. Doi Inthanon, however, was something special. It was by far one of the most peaceful and magical places I have ever laid eyes on. Between the beautiful architecture of these temples and the stunning mountain top view, if you’re ever in Thailand Doi Inthanon is a temple stop you definitely can’t miss. Read my original post here!

Elephant Sanctuary, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Thailand

When people think of Thailand, I’m sure for many elephant riding comes to mind. However, while elephant riding tours certainly still exist all over Thailand, many people have started to realize how inhumane they are to the animals. If you want to see elephants during your stay in Thailand, instead, you should check out a sanctuary like Elephant Jungle Sanctuary! Not only were many of the elephants rescued from elephant riding camps, but you could see how happy and well-cared for these animals were — something you’d definitely miss out on if you choose to ride the animals instead. Read my original post here!

Viewpoint Hike, Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

Koh Phi Phi straight up has to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited in my life. If you ever get the opportunity to visit, the best way to take it all in is to hike up to the viewpoint! The hike is a little challenging, but incredibly rewarding as you get a view of the whole island from the top. If you do go, be sure to check out the second viewpoint, the scenery was absolutely insane. If you’re really looking for something special, be sure to hike up for sunset/sunrise for a truly spectacular view. Read my original post here!

BONUS: Get A Thai Massage

Okay, okay, I know I said top ten, but I figured I’d add this one in as a quick bonus. While I went to get a massage in Bangkok, you really could get one anywhere in Thailand, hence why I added it as a bonus — it really isn’t location-specific. Not only can you get an amazing massage for exceptional prices, if you’ve never experienced a Thai massage it’ll be unlike any you’ve had before. Be sure to ask at your hotel/hostel for recommendations for best places in the area!

Laos
Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang
Kuang Si Falls, Luang Prabang, Laos

Oh man was this place ever magical. Kuang Si Falls is made up of a series of waterfalls, that cascade down into a set of pools you can swim in. The water is literally bright baby blue, and you can sit in the falls as well. They’re even full of those little fish they have at those pedicure places, so you can get a quick and all-natural pedi while you’re at it! Overall, this was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, 10/10 would recommend. Read my original post here!

Phousi Mountain Hike, Luang Prabang
Phousi Mountain, Luang Prabang, Laos

Out of all the hikes we did, this one was certainly one of my favourites. For the relatively small level of difficulty, the views were spectacular. The viewpoint at the top gave you a lookout over all of Luang Prabang and the surrounding mountains. For an extra special view, be sure to go at sunrise or sundown. Read my original post here!

Vietnam
Ha Long Bay, Hanoi
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long Bay straight up looks like a scene out of a movie — it seriously doesn’t even look real. The bay is filled with tiny mountain-like islands, in fact, there’s nearly 2000 in the area. There’s all sorts of things to do in the area, such as hikes, caves, and beaches, so if you go be sure to check out the local boat cruises — I’d recommend an overnight one at least. This place is absolutely magical, and its certainly worthwhile to spend an extra night there, see the sunset, and take in the almost-ethereal locale. Read my original post here!

Hang Múa Hike, Ninh Binh
Hang Múa, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Out of all the hikes we completed across all of South East Asia, this one was certainly the hardest–but also the most spectacular. If you’re going to give it a try, be sure to go well prepared; it’s certainly not the easiest of hikes, especially it the Vietnam heat. But the view from the top was beyond amazing, words can’t even describe how beautiful and rewarding it was. Read my original post here!

Night Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City
Night Food Market, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

South East Asia, across the board, had many of the absolute best meals I’ve had in my life — but this place was by far my favourite. Not only did it have a great atmosphere, but there was endless options to choose from. There was all kinds of food stands from a large array of Asian cuisines, without a doubt there was something there for anything you happened to be craving. If I lived in Ho Chi Minh City, I guarantee you could find me here every night. Read my original post here!

Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Along with Doi Inthanon, Angkor Wat was my favourite temple we saw along our trip (and as I said, we saw a whole lot of temples). Not only was it crazy to see how Cambodian Temples differed from those in Thailand and Laos, but the sheer size and grandeur of Angkor Wat makes it a must-see. You could easily spend hours here and feel like there’s still more to see — and the views from the top are unreal. As the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is something you absolutely can’t miss if you’re travelling to Cambodia. Read my original post here!

Phnom Kulen Falls, Siem Reap
Phnom Kulen Falls, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Like Kuang Si Falls, Phnom Kulen Falls are a great place to stop in for a swim–but also distinctly different from the falls in Laos. This waterfall had two swimming areas; one a smaller fall that was more like a shower, and a giant pool at the bottom of the second, massive waterfall. It was so beautiful and relaxing, and I’d highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area. Read my original post here!

So there you have it! I really hope that some of y’all can find somewhere on this list that inspires you for your next trip. If any of you have been to any of these places and would like to share your thoughts, let me know! As well, I’d love to hear it if you have any suggestions of your own. It’ll probably be a little while before I’m going to be able to travel again, but for next time I’m thinking Japan, Singapore, or Europe!

But that’s all for now! Until next time.

Lots of Love,

Meredith

Things To Do (Part Two!): Bangkok Edition!

Ross Kitchen, Bangkok

Hey y’all!

So, sadly, my time in South East Asia is coming to an end, making this the last entry in my South East Asia travel series. I hope you guys have all enjoyed reading the series as I’ve enjoyed writing it! I really hope that I’ve inspired some of you to go on adventures of your own, or hopefully take recommendations from my travels if you ever visit South East Asia in the future.

So, to end off our trip we returned to Bangkok for the last two days before our flight home. This time was a lot more eventful than the first time, since we’ve now adjusted to the time zone, weather and food, giving us waaaay more time to actually explore. That being said, we only had two days and were looking more to relax than explore for the remainder of our stay, so this entry is going to focus more on that since we didn’t see too much in terms of historical, cultural and religious attractions in Bangkok. (But hey, I guess that just gives us another reason to go back!)

So, without further ado, here’s my final travel journal (for now), an overview of my favourite things to do in Bangkok!

Go To Khao San Road!
Khao San Road, Bangkok

In terms of places to go out in Bangkok, Khao San Road is certainly one of the most popular. As a pedestrian only street, the road is full of people going out, having buckets, and blasting music! This place was an absolute blast and honestly none of my favourite nights out this whole trip. If you’re looking for a night out of the town, this place is a must-see.

Hit Up A Rooftop Bar!
Barracuda Rooftop Bar, Bangkok

Rooftop bars are officially my favourite thing. Especially in big cities like Bangkok and Hanoi, when you get an overlook of the whole city from above. Not only were the drink at this bar — named Barracuda — next level, but the views honestly just made the whole experience a 10/10. Rooftop bars are ALWAYS a good idea, but if you’re ever travelling to a big city, they’re just that much better.

Go Shopping!
Purchases From Bangkok

Okay, seriously, the shopping in Bangkok was insane. The mall we hit up had to be the biggest mall I’d ever witnessed in my whole life, and it’s far from being the only mall in Bangkok. Everywhere you look there’s opportunities to shop and get so many things that I, at least, probably would be hard pressed to find in Vancouver. I’ve heard all sorts of stories of people travelling to Bangkok JUST for the shopping, so if you ever find yourself in Bangkok, be sure not to miss out!

Get A Massage!
Massage Studio, Bangkok

If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ll know that everywhere you look there’s spas and massage spots. Even if you’ve never been, it’s fairly common knowledge that Thai massages are on a level of their own. Not only that, but no matter what your price range is, you’ll be able to find a place. For only 250 Baht (about $10.50 Canadian) I seriously had the best massage of my life. I’ve never had a Thai massage before, and it was so different from what I usually think of a massage as. There’s no oil (which was actually really nice for not feeling gross after), you’re fully clothed, and it’s certainly way more about stretching and pressure points than relaxing. I’ll admit it was a little borderline painful at moments, but MAN did I ever feel good after. I have chronic knots in my back due to back problems and stress, and I’ve seriously never had my back feeling that good in ages. It was amazing.

Go To Our Fave Restaurant, Ross Kitchen!
Ross Kitchen, Bangkok

For our last dinner abroad (sigh), Nylah and I decided to go to Ross Kitchen. We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The interesting catch — we didn’t really know what was in a lot of the food we were eating. Usually this would really bother me; I can be an adventurous eater but I’d like to know what it is that I’m eating. Honestly though, the food was so good we didn’t care. We didn’t even know the ingredients of our drinks, and they were some of the best I’ve ever had. If you’re in Bangkok and looking for a fancier night out, consider Ross Kitchen for sure. My dinner — Curried Kobe Beef Cheeks — was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before. Seriously, I’m already dreaming of going back.

And, sadly, that wraps up my South East Asia travel series. This trip was some of the most exciting, crazy, and important weeks of my life and through all the ups and downs, it really was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m honestly not sure how to wrap up 5 weeks of this experience in a neat and tidy way — it’s far too overwhelming and impossible of a test to easily summarize the experiences I’ve had. All I can say is I know this trip will not be my last — now that I’ve really gotten a chance to go out and see the world on my own terms, I’ve just become that much more motivated to do it again. So the best I can say is stay tuned for the next trip, and let me know if you have any suggestions or were inspired by any of my posts! Honestly, nothing would make me happier than knowing I’ve inspired others to go out and see the world themselves, it really can be the most life-changing experience.

So, that’s all for now! Keep an eye out as I’ll be doing a summary of all my favourite places we visited for those looking for travel recommendations. But for now, it’s back to Vancouver life!

Thanks for reading!!! If you’re reading this now, just know I appreciate you 🙂

Love,

Meredith

Spend A Day With Me On A Boat Cruise In Koh Phi Phi!

Nylah and I Taking On A Boat Cruise in Koh Phi Phi

Hey y’all!

So last entry I shared with you all my favourite things to go (and eat!) in Koh Phi Phi, but today I’m gonna go a little more in depth and share with you our day spent exploring the ocean and neighbouring islands! There’s like endless trips you can choose from out of Koh Phi Phi, since there’s soooooo many different islands surrounding it and all sorts of activities depending on what your interests are. Depending on what you choose for yourself, you can go snorkelling, scuba, hiking, kayaking, sightseeing, and more!

For our particular trip, we chose to take a half day afternoon tour to Bamboo Island and the local Monkey Beach, with activities that included snorkelling and kayaking. However, if you go on longer trips you’d likely have more options of places to go see, such as Phang Nga Bay (which has a certain likeness to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam) or possibly even non-beach access to Maya Bay (I’m really not too sure about this one, as I know the beach has been closed off until 2021 to recover from tourists. However, I got the chance to go back in 2014 and it was really spectacular, so if you get the chance to go I’d really recommend it — just be sure to be very respectful and don’t go anywhere you shouldn’t or do anything that may cause more damage to the natural habitat. Anyways, sorry for the rant. Let’s continue!)

Stop #1: Bamboo Island!
Bamboo Island

For our first stop, we travelled out to Bamboo Island and spent an hour just offshore. We were offered options to both snorkel and kayak; you could also kayak to shore and check out the beach or kayak to other nearby reefs, so long as you didn’t go too far. Not only were the reefs stunning, but the beach was lovely and getting the chance to just leisurely paddle around the waters was incredibly relaxing.

Stop #2: To The Reef!
Out At Sea, Docked For Reef Snorkelling

After that, we hopped back on the boat and headed off to another reef. Me and Nylah both opted to stay on the boat for this one and take some time to just chill, however the others were also given the chance to snorkel out to some rocks and reefs over the course of another hour.

Stop #3: To The Monkey Beach!
A Monkey!!!

The third stop of our trip was easily my favourite. We stopped just offshore of some very isolated beaches out on a point from Phi Phi, and kayaked ashore to see monkeys in their natural habitat. This was in no way a zoo or an attraction, so the number of monkeys (if any) that you got to see just depended on the days and your luck. So luckily for us, two monkeys came down to eat the watermelon we had to offer them — and they hung out for a bit afterwards as well! When we all went a bit further down the beach to explore, we saw another beach, which you could kayak to but not land on, just a short ways away with even more monkeys. We pulled up just in time to witness not only a whole bunch of monkeys in their natural habitat, but also baby monkeys with their moms as well!

After this, we headed back to the dock and finished up our journey. For those looking for lots of adventure, you can take whole day trips from Phi Phi as well. Our trip ended just around sunset, allowing us to get a lovely view just as we pulled into the bay and went to dock. For anyone looking to visit the Phi Phi Islands, I’d highly recommend taking a boat tour — there’s so much available to see and do and endless islands to chose from and visit.

Monkey Beach, Koh Phi Phi

And that’s all for Koh Phi Phi! Stay tuned to hear all about my (tragically) last stop on my South East Asia trip — Bangkok part 2! I’ll be sure to cover way more and go way more in depth the second time around as we actually have a plan and time to explore.

Love,

Meredith