Uber Rules the World
I’ve been big fan of Uber since I discovered it in Atlanta a few years ago. It is so simple. The cars are clean, payments are easy and it is more affordable than taxis. The advantages of Uber are multiplied when you are abroad. While traveling in Asia we discovered that the taxi industry is less than reputable. Many take advantage of tourists by overcharging. Most do not put on a meter and charge an inflated flat rate. Others force you out of the cab before you reach your destination if traffic is too bad. However, the most difficult part of using a local taxi is the communication. We discovered that many taxi drivers speak very limited English if any. And we speak even less, Mandarin, Thai, or whatever the local language happens to be. This has made it very difficult to explain where we are going. On more than one occasion we gave up and got out of the cab or we were dropped off nowhere close to our intended destination. The most frustrating thing is that we have no recourse for any of these failures. It is nearly impossible to track down a number to call if your driver overcharges you or forces you out of the car. You just have to deal with getting ripped off.
Enter Uber. When we arrived in Vietnam we realized Uber was available. We promptly called an UberX from the airport and were on our way. The car was clean. The driver was nice. We charged the ride to our Capital One Venture card to earn points (estimated 1.5-2% net effective rebate). The most valuable part was being able to enter a destination. This meant no communication problems and a GPS guided route to get you there. Most importantly, if something goes wrong you can easily contact Uber through the app. Most issues are resolved in 24 hours. The customer service is top notch and they go above and beyond to see you are satisfied with the resolution. Needless to say, I am an even bigger supporter of Uber and will continue to use the service when available. If you travel abroad do not forget to download the app. Best advice I can give for using Uber abroad is to find a specific pick up location (coffee shop, name of attraction, hotel, etc.) rather than relying on the GPS coordinates of the pin/place you’re standing. This makes it much easier for the driver to find you.
Where We Went: Ko Tao + Kuala Lumpur
Funniest Thing We Did: An asian toddler seated in his highchair is all of the sudden taking selfies with a hijab adorned stranger while his mom goes to the breakfast buffet. Later, the adorned stranger returns to the table to show mom the selfie she took (this time with the snapchat filter giving them both flower crowns) and asks her if it’s okay to post.
Craziest Thing We Did: Chelsea got to dive with whale sharks two days in a row. AMAZING!
Best Thing We Did: SCUBA dive together. Adam got certified and we went on his final two certification dives together. Amazing! Also, a really beautiful sunset.
Tastiest Thing We Did: Seafood platter at Barracuda on Koh Tao…with passionfruit mojito!
Coolest thing we Learned: Buddy Check: BCD, Weights, Releases, Air, Final Okay! =D
Biggest Surprise: Christmas trees all over a muslim country (Malaysia).
With just a few nights on Ko Samui and Adam not feeling well, we took advantage of our great resort and relaxed in paradise!
The color of the water and sand is like nothing I've ever seen before. And, since it's coral, when you put your ears underwater you hear, "Snap, crackle, pop!"
Believe it or not, this is sunrise, not sunset.
Where We Went: Siem Reap + Koy Samui
Craziest Thing We Did: Get picked up from the airport in a tuk tuk. It actually didn’t seem that crazy to us, but I guess that’s what 8 weeks in Asia will do to you.
Best Thing We Did: Exploring the temples of Angkor Wat and beyond.
Tastiest Thing We Did: Coconut and Taro ice cream in the heat of the day at the temples.
Dumbest Thing We Did: Get an airport taxi on Koi Samui. Took an hour and got us to our hotel after dark. Should have walked another 100 feet and found the public taxi stand. #Learning
Coolest thing we Learned: Sombai is their local, flavored rice wine and the word sombai translates to “more rice, please!” We went on a “tour” which was a cocktail making class and made delicious cocktails using sombai as the liquor.
Biggest Surprise: They use the US Dollar in Cambodia.
Mystery Solved: As we’ve been reading about this area, there are many articles saying there is a huge underground city that spans out from Angkor Wat. Mystery unsolved in this case!
Temples and Trees
Angkor Wat Sunrise
Where We Went: Chiang Mai + Chiang Rai
Funniest Thing We Did: The check came with “candy”. Two cough drops.
Craziest Thing We Did: Hike to the top of a mountain through a crazy jungle. See bird sized spider below.
Best Thing We Did: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Getting to feed, play with and bathe 10 elephants including a 3 month old and 3 year old was amazing. Also, bucket list item of attending Loy Krathong/Yi Peng Lantern festival. It’s the night of the full moon and while lit “floating baskets” adorned with flowers float away with your regrets, lanterns rise into the sky carrying your hopes and wishes! Gorgeous!
Tastiest Thing We Did: Lunch at Barrab, a northern Thai restaurant with one of the best meals we’ve had on our entire trip.
Dumbest Thing We Did: A huge load of laundry with fabric softener (we think)! All the clothes wreak and we have to rewash them now.
Coolest thing we Learned: How to drive/ride a motorbike in Asia.
Biggest Surprise: Octopus Pizza. Be cautious when ordering a “combo” pizza in Thailand.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
Scroll for Elephant Videos
Where We Went: Bangkok + Chiang Mai
First Moment Here: We landed mid ‘Game 7’ of the World Series and rushed through immigration so we could hook up to airport wi-fi and catch the 10th inning! CUBS WIN! What a way to kick off our time in Thailand. We started watching the Game 7 of the World Series in Vietnam and finish it in Thailand.
Craziest Thing We Did: A crazy rickshaw ride through Bangkok and our uber to the airport. It took 30 minutes to go about a mile, then we switched gears and were speeding at 95 mph like it was the autobahn. Luckily we go to the airport in one piece…and didn’t even miss our flight!
Tastiest Thing We Did: Pad Thai everyday. And Thai Iced Tea.
Coolest thing we Learned: Being in Thailand within 30 days of the King’s passing was an amazing experience when it comes to learning how revered he was and how the country has come together to pay respects. 5 million people have come to the palace to pay respects in three weeks. The entire country is wearing black clothing head to toe.
Instead of taking pictures of all the people dressed in black, I thought this store's merchandise summed it up nicely. Everyone is wearing all black, all the time.
Biggest Surprise: Though Thailand’s nightlife is some of the most renowned being out in the streets and seeing the sheer volume of women looking for work was astonishing. It’s not just in one section of town, one street or neighborhood, it’s everywhere. And there are TONS of children on the street begging - truly heartbreaking.
-Uber works like a charm here! So convenient.
-We stayed in the first place so far that had a couch and separate shower in the bathroom.
-Wore all black everyday along with the rest of the country in mourning over the King’s death.
-Had to cover up to go to the temples, it was SO hot wearing all that black.
-We are loving having a pool and gym at our Chiang Mai aribnb.
-There is some censorship in Thailand - see below:
Clicked on the FB link below and got the following censorship message.
108 wishes coin pots. People drop a coin in each pot. Reclining Buddha.
Where We Went: Hanoi + Cat Ba Island/Ha Long Bay
Funniest Thing We Did: Uber couldn’t find us. We finally found him and he yelled at us in Vietnamese and cancelled the ride. The circumstances made it hilarious.
Craziest Thing We Did: Walk through traffic in Hanoi and try not to get hit by a car or one of the 4 million (actual fact) motorbikes in the city.
Best Thing We Did: Our boat ride through Lan Ha/Ha Long Bay was beautiful. We kayaked through caves that let out into beautiful, isolated lagoons, watched monkeys play and swam from the boat to secluded beaches. Gorgeous!
Tastiest Thing We Did: Bahn Mi sandwiches and Vietnamese coffee - basically espresso with condensed milk stirred in. Yum!
Dumbest Thing We Did: Check in at an airbnb on the 5th floor of a building, in the excruciating heat, and carry our bags up there, only to find the the AC wasn’t enough to cool the room down so we ended up checking out and finding a hotel with an elevator. Live and learn!
Coolest thing we Learned: The word “Ma” in Vietnamese means SIX different things when you apply each of the six different tones used in this “difficult to learn” language. It means mother, ghost, tomb, horse, and a few others.
Biggest Surprise: Roasted dog.