Lombok

We arrived in Lombok via fast boat yesterday morning and have felt relaxed ever since. What a change of pace from the bustling streets of Bali. Lombok doesn’t have traffic and the street are wide, with plenty of room for cars to drive both ways. If you have ever been to Ubud, you probably know what I am talking about. If not, you just have to experience the “traffic” for yourself while exploring Bali. I have LOVED every single place we have visited on this trip to Asia. Each place has been so unique and had so much to offer us. However, I have to say, the subtle sound of crashing waves and the sunshine here in Lombok have welcomed us with open arms and have allowed us to take a big deep breath and find deep relaxation.

From Ubud, the east harbor was about an hour and fifteen minute car ride. We chose to take Bluewater Express which apparently was the most reliable fast boat company. We didn’t really understand the meaning of “reliable” until we got all loaded up on the boat and were cruising at a fairly fast speed. About twenty minutes into our trip the boat broke down and we floated for a bit while the captain and his men tinkered with the engines. After about fifteen minutes we were on our way again. This routine happened three different times during our journey but we made it to Lombok safely. I would hate to think of what an unreliable company would look like. Anyhow, the boat ride was peaceful and enjoyable. We met lots of fun people and chatted with them about their travels. The total time spent on the boat was about two and a half hours. Normally the ride is about an hour and a half. The thing I liked about Bluewater Express was that you could choose to sit on the roof of the boat, or inside. It was a beautiful day so we chose to sit outside and enjoy the breeze.

Accommodations

We are staying at Qunci Villas on the main island of Lombok. From the Harbor, Qunci is about a thirty minute car ride. The hotel is beautiful and the service is great. Before our trip, we made sure all of the hotels knew that I have Celiac Disease and Qunci has been very accommodating to my gluten free needs.

Our first night here we were tired from being in the sun all day so we chose to eat at the Mediterranean restaurant at Qunci. The food was delicious and the kitchen even made be gluten free bread to have with my mussels. I think the key to gluten free traveling almost anywhere is to let the hotels know you are gluten free well in advance and remind them upon arrival. This has been incredibly helpful for me and would recommend it to anyone who has a food restriction.

The rooms are nice. The bed is a bit firm for our liking but we slept comfortably and loved that we could hear the waves from our room. One thing to note about this resort is that each room has it’s own bathroom, but the bathroom is all outdoors. Meaning the toilet, sink and shower are all private, but open air. This is very common in Indonesia but this is the first hotel where were we have experienced it. Overall we have enjoyed our stay here!

Exploring

Today we took a slow boat from Lombok to Gili Air, Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno which are small islands just off the coast of northwest Lombok. We had so much fun snorkeling and exploring the islands. The Gili islands do not allow any motorized vehicles so you can explore the islands on foot, bike or horse drawn carriage. We chose to rent snorkeling gear from the people at the Harbor in Lombok but you could rent snorkeling gear anywhere on any island. The only regret we have about visiting the islands was that we did not have a GoPro or waterproof camera with us to capture all of the beautiful fish and sea turtles we swam with!

Tonight we are going to eat in the town of Senggigi which is about ten minutes from Qunci Villas. We have been told this is the place to visit in the evenings for dinner and drinks.

Update: We went into town and ate dinner at Asmara Restaurant & Bar and had a great time! They were very accommodating to my gluten free needs and served us one of the best meals we have had since eating at Bridges in Ubud! The Restaurant also offers a free shuttle to and from our Hotel, and others in the area.

We are also considering visiting Kuta tomorrow. Kuta is famous for snorkeling, surfing and scuba diving. We shall see!

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO

The Traveling Honeymooners

Chiang Mai, Thailand

WOW! We landed in Chiang Mai and instantly fell in love with this mountain town. It was such a nice change of pace from busy Bangkok. The weather was cooler and there was a bit of a breeze. Chiang Mai is full of ancient history, delicious food and beautiful scenery.  We knew there were so many things we wanted to do and see in this wonderful city so we started exploring right away.

We started our trip with a visit to Wat Suan Dok, a temple where ashes of former Kings of Chiang Mai and the Royal Family are kept.

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The next temple we visited was called Wat Phrathat on Doi Suthep Mountain, which was founded in 1383 A.D. A road was built in 1935 to the top but many people still choose to continue to climb the 309 steps to the top. Once you arrive at the temple, you can see a 360 degree view of the entire city and explore the beautiful temple.

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The next day we decided to take a bicycle tour of the southern part of Chiang Mai. We biked 25km (around 15.5 miles) through plantations, rural local neighborhoods, temples and the McKean rehabilitation Center.

We biked along the Ping River and ended up at the McKean Rehabilitation Center, which houses a former leper colony. The main road is lined with identical houses that  used to be filled with people who had Lepersy from all over Thailand. Now only 16 eople reside in these houses. The people that live there were cured from lepersy but their families are still too scared of the disease to allow them to go back home to their families. We met one woman who has lived in the community for over 50 years and her family still refuses to interact with her due to the fear of contracting the disease, even though it is not possible. The last known case of Lepersy in Thailand was diagnosed around 20 years ago but was cured in a few months. The community members have access to free treatment and health care as long as they live there. The government also feeds them three times a day. To learn more about the McKean Rehabilitation Center you can visit click here.

We continued to bike and visited a local temple and fed the fish, which the monks told us was good luck.

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We biked through plantations, a fish farm and rice fields.

We loved every second of the bike tour and would highly recommend taking one in Chiang Mai.

We both LOVE cooking; well I love to cook, he loves to eat…so it was only natural that we took a cooking class in Chiang Mai!  We decided to take a class at a family owned and operated cooking school by the name of Baan Hongnual Cookery School and had a blast! We started our class by shopping for our food at a local market, then we headed to the school to make our meal. We made curry, stir fry, soup and coconut bananas for dessert. We made all of our food gluten free.

I will do a blog post soon about tips for getting around Asia and staying gluten free.

We are both animal lovers so we really wanted to see Thai Elephants during our stay.  After almost a year of research we chose to visit Patara Elephant Farm and we had a great time! We learned all about how to take care of elephants, feed them, bathe them and make sure they are healthy. I will do a more in depth post about our experience at Patara later because I do believe the topic of elephants deserves it’s own post. Until then, here are a few pictures from our wonderful experience!

ACCOMODATIONS:

We chose to stay at Ratilanna Hotel and Spa and loved every minute of our stay! It is a smaller hotel which was a nice change of pace from the Shangri-la in Bangkok and it was an added bonus that we were upgraded to a suite! During our stay at the Ratilanna, I enjoyed a foot massage and we both enjoyed the best couples massage we have ever had!

We were very pleased with the Ratilanna and would defiantly stay there again. For more information on the Ratilanna Hotel and Spa click here.

Thank you for reading our blog!

XOXO,

The Traveling Honeymooners

Bangkok, Thailand

We made it to Bangkok! After traveling for 24 hours from Houston, Texas, we have arrived and have explored this busy city.

We chose to stay at the Shangri-la Hotel which is right on the Chao Phraya river. The hotel is large with two towers, multiple restaurants, spa and shopping area.  The amenities were nice to have, but we did not spend much time at the hotel so they were not necessary in our case. The two best things about our stay at the Shangri-la was that the restaurant where they served breakfast was right on the river and the hotel provided free shuttle boat rides to the night market.

We took the free shuttle boat to the night market one evening and had a delicious Thai dinner at Baan Khanitha and walked around the night market afterward.

Bonus: The Shangri-la served gluten free bread at breakfast.

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Neither of us had ever been to Bangkok before so we decided that we would do a few tours to get the lay of the land. We are both SO glad that we did! We had the best time with our guides! I would highly recommend doing at least one guided tour while in Bangkok because there is so much to see and experience!

The first tour we took was of the Grand Palace and surrounding city Temples. It is a historical time in Thailand right now because King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away on October 13, 2016. The entire country is in mourning of their beloved King for the next year. The King’s body is currently being held at the Grand Palace so people can pay their final respects to him. People were lined up for miles. The city is currently working on building a crematorium for him to be cremated in right outside the Grand Palace. The streets outside the Grand Palace are lined with kiosks offering free food for people visiting the Grand Palace. We also saw the Emerald Buddha and the original school of traditional Thai massage here. If you are in Bangkok, the Grand Palace is a must see.

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Next we explored Wat Pho and were able to catch the Monks morning chant. For me, this was one of my favorite activities and it became a morning ritual for us to find a temple to catch the morning chants.

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We also hopped on the public ferry and took a short ride across the river to Wat Arun which was once the grand royal temple to King Rama II. Our tour lasted about three hours and we were able to cover so much ground in that short time frame.

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Our tour guide, Nancy, was great!

The next day we took a tour with Bangkok Biking Company, the name of the tour was Rickshaw and Hike: The Colors of Bangkok. Our tour guide, Amm, was fabulous! We explored many different neighborhoods, visited multiple temples, took a long-tail boat across the river to Lumpini Park and walked through fruit plantations and fed the fish. Afterward we took rickshaws to a local restaurant on the water which was delicious!

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Overall, we had a great trip to Bangkok! I think there is a misconception that there is not much to do in Bangkok but I feel as if we only scratched the surface during our three night stay.

XOXO,

The Traveling Honeymonners