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Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo Bangkok, Thailand >> Life In Limbo

In total, I went to Bangkok five times on my travels, although 3 of those times I was really only in the airport, and 2 out of 3 times I was having a little sleepover at BKK. For me, this enormous city was a bunch of extremes all mixed together. There was the most intense heat, but even-more-intense air conditioning. There were so many people, but so many chances to be almost completely alone. You could go from eating lunch on a tiny plastic stool at a street stall to having drinks on the top of the world in the evening. You could walk down the most obnoxious tourist street in the world and then go home to a hostel in residential Bangkok the same night. There are some of the most spectacular temples in the world, and some of the most amazing skyscrapers. Everything is all mashed up together, making Bangkok an incredibly fascinating city.

The two times I spent time in Bangkok were very different. The first time, with my sister, we tried to see as many of the main attractions as we could manage in only a few short days: the gorgeous temples, views from boats going down the river, the overwhelming and beautiful markets. The second time, I tried to go as slowly as possible, spending an entire day in Lumphini Park listening to podcasts, reading my book, and watching komodo dragons, another day riding a bike around Bangkok’s “green lung”, and my evenings having drinks as high up in the sky as I could manage. On both my visits, I really felt like I got to experience so many sides to the city, even though there’s still so much more I would love to explore.

Favourites:

Vertigo Bar at the Banyan Tree: Without a doubt, this is the best rooftop bar in Bangkok. There are 360 degree views of the city, delicious (though expensive) drinks, and a lovely atmosphere. Just remember that there is a dress code, so no flip-flops.

Cloud 47 Rooftop Bar: This bar is also really nice, but a little less fancy – but there’s still a dress code. We went to this one before Vertigo, which I would recommend lest you be disappointed, but the views here are lovely too.

Baan Nampetch Hostel: I stayed here with my sister, and it was clean, had blissful air-conditioning, two twin beds and was only a 15 minute walk to one of the piers to take the boat to all the tourist sites, 10 minutes to the Golden Mount, and 10 minutes to Khao San road (which we did not really frequent).

U-Baan Guesthouse: Be aware that this hostel is a bit of a hike from the more touristy parts of the city, but the woman who runs this place is kind, funny, and hangs out and drinks beer with her guests. I would recommend renting a room with a friend or two if possible, because the dorms are….cozy to say the least. It’s very close to the SkyTrain, so it’s not far to get to places like Lumphini Park, Silom, and the enormous malls.

Bang Krachao: The green lung of Bangkok! It’s so peaceful and calm here that you feel like you’ve magically been transported to a jungle hours from the big city. You can easily rent bikes in the parking lot of the Talad Nam Peung floating market and then just get lost on the little concrete paths that spiderweb throughout the jungle. It’s not an island (we took a taxi there and back), but it feels like one and is absolutely beautiful. The market has a lot of yummy local treats too!

Jim Thompson House: Yes, it’s worth it to go and look at someone’s house, mostly because it’s a gorgeous house with so much character and history. You have to sign up to go on a guided tour of the house which is a little shorter than I would have liked, an there are no photos are permitted, but it’s still worth it. I wished that we could have had more time to explore the house itself (you can only explore a limited section of the grounds after the tour) but the whole complex is beautiful and for me, very inspiring. Jim Thompson created a lovely, traditional-meets-modern Thai house in the middle of the city and it still feels like an oasis. Ps. there’s a youth discount so don’t forget your ID!

Café Bangrak: This restaurant is near Vertigo, so if you don’t feel like paying their terrifying prices for dinner, just walk over to this tiny adorable place. Most of the time I was in Bangkok, I ate at street stalls, and this is the only restaurant I loved enough to recommend/could even give you directions to. I had the red curry fried rice and it was delicious. I got the recommendation from this great blog post, which suggests some other Thai places that look great too.

Note: I was in Bangkok in late April (the hottest time of year), and then late May (not quite so bad) of this year. 

Boracay Island, Philippines

Boracay03Boracay was absolutely a dream. A lot of our friends from Korea were on the island at the same time, so it was so fun to just walk down the beach and run into people we know. We also made friends with a few of the locals who live on the island and spent a few days running around with them too. There were motorcycle rides (sorry mom), grilled fish on the beach, tons of swimming, a lot of fruit shakes, (too) many late nights and early mornings, beautiful sunsets, great meals, a little bit of a lot of rain for a short time, excellent full body massages for $8, cheap beer and fire dancing. It was so great that as soon as I got home I was perusing flight prices to get me back there. It was amazing to have a break from Korea and especially somewhere warm and sunny and with so many friendly people. I really hope I can explore more of the beautiful Philippines soon.

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Favourites:

Damianas / Ti Braz / Fuel: This cool, quaint little restaurant has 3 menus (and a bar!) and was one of my favourite spots on the island. A friend of mine is the head chef here, and his Filipino food was hands down the most authentic and delicious I tried during my week in the Philippines. There are also delicious juices and smoothies here, and a whole wall full of fresh, yummy options for the homemade crepes made right in front of you.

Spider House: If you walk all the way down White Beach and follow the curve of the coast, you’ll eventually come to this beautiful, perfect restaurant and bar. It’s hard to explain this place: it’s built into the cliff, it’s all open to the ocean, the floors are bamboo and only slightly rickety, there’s a bamboo ladder leading from the restaurant straight down into the ocean (and a diving platform), the food is delicious, the drinks are good and the owner is very friendly. It’s magic.

Tilapia n’ Chips: This little restaurant is a little away from the beach, up by the main road, and doesn’t have the beachfront views. But! It’s delicious and inexpensive. There’s a lot of touristy food on Boracay, and we had a few slightly disappointing meals before we found spots that we loved, like this place.

Crafty’s Rooftop Bar: This place is in an unlikely place – the roof of a grocery store right on the main road. You walk through the brightly-lit store and up the four flights of stairs and come up to an adorable rooftop bar with great vibes, views over the island and really yummy Indian food.

Real Coffee: Our favourite place to have breakfast. The second floor window seats have the best views of the beach, the staff are friendly, the food is good, my friends who like coffee tell me the coffee is good, and their famous calamansi muffins are 100% worth the hype.

Jonah’s Fruit Shakes: Our other favourite place to have breakfast. There are hundreds of places that sell cheap fruit shakes on Boracay, but these ones are the best. They have so many different flavours and they’re all so yummy. My favourites were mango pineapple and mango banana. Om nom.

Villa Lourdes: While our shower and the wifi in our room rarely worked, and we got a rude wakeup call every morning from the roosters in the yard, the location of this Airbnb was absolutely perfect and the price was right. We had a room with a double bed, a bunk bed, and a mattress on the floor up in a second-floor loft room. It was perfect for us and right in the heart of it all in Station 2, only a 5 minute walk from the beach.

How to Plan For a Big Adventure

Today’s post about planning your next adventure was written by Kate Stull of Popforms. Her article is packed full of great advice that I am finding so helpful as I start to plan my next big trip.

How To Plan for a Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Every summer, I travel to France with my boyfriend’s family – and every summer, without fail, the weeks leading up to the trip are complete chaos. Luckily, when I use that time to set goals and make practical plans to improve my trip, those chaotic early weeks usually result in a more fun, more adventurous, and more relaxing vacation.

The better you plan, the more prepared you’ll be, and the fewer decisions you’ll have to make in the moment, when you’re supposed to be having fun! In the last few years I have collected a few key tips that help me make the most of my time leading up to a trip, and of course, during the trip itself.

Today I want to share my four favourite tips for taking care of the boring stuff early, so that you can have a more fulfilling and amazing vacation.

Start early and make lists

I start making lists weeks before any big trip I have coming up, so that I have plenty of time to remember things that are so easy to forget until the last minute, like cell phone chargers and prescriptions.

Find a journal or notebook, and start recording your ideas as you think of them. Even if it feels silly to write down “pack toothbrush” (how could you forget your toothbrush, right?), it’s good to get in the habit of writing down your good ideas as you have them.

The more notes you take on simple stuff, the more notes you’ll start to have on bigger things too. Think about it: if you’re writing down “pack toothbrush”, you’ll be much more likely to make notes on when you’ll need to do things like renew your passport or buy train tickets. Revisiting your notes often will make it so much easier to remember the important things that will help your trip run more smoothly.

Think about money (more than you think you need to)

You’ve probably already budgeted for things like plane tickets for your big trip, but have you thought about what you’ll eat while you’re traveling? Or where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what costs are associated with the place you’re staying? I almost always end up spending more on travel than I expect to, simply because it’s easy to forget many of the small costs of living that can add up quickly when you’re without your usual home base.

For example, if you’re staying with family on your trip, you can probably expect your accommodation to be free – minus the cost of cooking a nice dinner, perhaps. But if you’re staying in a hotel not only do you have to budget for that, you’ll also need to feed yourself three times a day. Decide in advance how much you can afford to spend on food each day. Can you go to restaurants and coffee shops, or should you be buying baguettes and preparing little snacks to carry in your bag as you sightsee? If you’re camping, you may think you won’t be spending much, but there are still costs to consider. Do you need firewood? Bottled water? Are there nightly camping fees?

In your planning notes, try to write down every single thing you think you’ll need to spend money on during your trip. Record it all, down to a $2 subway fare. The more you think about this stuff in advance, the less you’ll be making decisions on the fly, and the less you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by expenses.

How To Plan for a Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Plan out your work and fun time

If you’re lucky enough to be able to work from anywhere, you’ll probably be able to keep working even during your travels. And while it is awesome to get paid while you’re exploring a brand new place, it’s also too easy to get completely sucked into the work mindset and not live your adventure to the fullest.

In the weeks before your trip, think about what you’ll need to get done for work while you’re gone, if anything. What needs to be finished? What has a deadline? What is flexible? What are your manager’s and peers’ expectations of what you’ll accomplish while you’re gone? And if there are things you’ll need to do while you’re away, when will you get your work done?

Don’t assume you’ll just figure it out on a day-by-day basis. That makes it incredibly hard to make spontaneous choices while you’re traveling. It’s better to plan that Monday and Tuesday will be work days holed up in your hotel room, while Wednesday through Friday will be reserved for travel. Alternatively, you could try devoting your mornings to work and your afternoons to exploration.

When you make a choice in advance about how you’ll spend your time, your trip will be far less stressful. You’ll be able to communicate to your team about what they should expect from you, so you won’t get any surprise urgent emails right before you head out for a day trip. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy free time completely, knowing that your work is taken care of.

You don’t want to feel guilty for having fun when you think you should be working, or spend all your time working and wishing you were having more fun. You want to be present, whatever you are doing.

How to Plan for A Big Adventure: a guest post by Kate Stull >> Life In Limbo

Set an intention and write it down

Too often in my life, I have found myself going on trips both big and small just because someone else invited me. I never gave much thought to why I wanted to go somewhere, and as a result, I often found myself wasting time doing nothing, or just sitting around in cafés to fill the time between scheduled activities.

Travel is an incredible opportunity, and the more you know why you want to be somewhere, the more you will get out of your time away.

Now, this doesn’t mean writing down a long to-do list of sights you must see or things you must get done. Instead, think about how you want to feel. What do you want to be able to say you did when you get home? What one theme or word would represent a successful trip for you?

Whether you’re going to Hawaii for a week or living abroad for months, this really works – just scale it to the size of your trip. Try to think of a theme or an intention, and record it. That way, it’s cemented in your mind and you’ll be able to stay present and aware during your travels. If your goal is to relax and connect, write that down. Revisit your notes often, and make it a point to do things that are in line with your intentions.

Do the boring stuff early, so that you can have fun later.

Travel is supposed to be fun, but it can quickly become stressful if you’re making decisions about things like money, schedules, and work in the heat of the moment. By planning your trip and being practical in advance, you can ensure that all the right choices have already been made and that you’ll feel free to soak up the amazing experience of being in a new place.

And that’s what it’s all about.

What do you do to plan for an upcoming adventure? What’s your favourite way to stay organized while making plans?

Kate Stull is a blogger and the co-founder of Popforms, a company building tools to help technical leaders be more amazing at their jobs. She also just launched a Kickstarter for The Spark Notebook: a notebook that combines the function of a big life-planner into a beautifully designed, simple notebook. Whether you’re planning how to get work done abroad, or you’re just looking for a beautiful space to plot your next trip, The Spark Notebook is a perfect place for your big ideas. Check it out here! 

6 Free Helpful Apps for Travelers

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

Travel goes hand-in-hand with uncertainty. Every day you’re traveling, you’re bound to encounter problems you didn’t foresee, which will require creative ideas to solve. There’s no way around the fact that traveling is fraught with changes of plan and a lot of unknowns. But there are ways to make this process easier on yourself when the inevitable issues do arise, and one way is to embrace the magic of technology. We all know how much power and utility are now packed into a device that fits into the palm of our hand. The key is to harness this power in a way that serves you the best. There are countless free apps on the market now which can help make your travel process a whole lot smoother and easier to deal with. Here are my top six recommendations for apps that will make a huge difference while you’re traveling.

Ulmon Guides: City Maps 2 Go

These are far and away my favourite apps for travel. They are comprehensive off-line city maps for most major cities worldwide. The compass function allows you to navigate the city in real time without an Internet connection, a tool that has saved me so much of both time and money. The app often also has the city’s metro system embedded within its map, as well as the descriptions and locations of all major tourist attractions in the area. In fact, there’s not much you can’t search within these apps. They are a very valuable resource for any traveler.

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

ICOON Picture Dictionary

Truthfully, I didn’t use this app very much on my trip to Europe, But that could have been because I was mostly traveling through cities that get a lot of tourism and thus have a fairly good grasp of English. However, as I start to plan my travels in Southeast Asia, I can see this app coming in handy a lot more often. It is in essence a digital version of a Point-It dictionary with pictures of lots of things you might find the need to ask for such as bathrooms, a telephone, or where you can get the best massage in the city. If you’re going somewhere with a language barrier, this could be a lifesaver.

Oanda Currency Converter

This is the app I use to check exchange rates wherever I am. If you don’t have an Internet connection it will tell you that you need one, but in my experience you are able to search off-line, if not with the most real time exchange rate available. There are some currencies I have found difficult to calculate in my head (some coming to mind are the Croatian Kuna, the Japanese Yen, and even the British pound) which makes an app like this tremendously helpful.

Kayak or Momondo

When I was traveling through Europe last year I didn’t know about Momondo so I was using Kayak exclusively to search for cheap flights. I’ve recently fallen in love with the former though, and will probably be using it more often in the future. Both apps scour the Internet to find you the cheapest flight deals to where you want to go. Momondo has a great feature where it will also show you an overall quality score for each flight which combines both price and length of flight.

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

Hostelworld

For most of my trip last year, I didn’t know there was a Hostelworld app, and so made all of my bookings online through their website. Hostelworld has always been my site of choice for booking hostels because I find it the easiest to use and that it has the best reviews from other travelers. Their app is easy to use and very straightforward to check reviews and book.

Google Apps

Okay this is more than just one app but these products are so good they’re worth a mention just in case for some reason you don’t have them installed already. When I have an Internet connection I like to use Google Maps, as it tends to know the locations of most of the things I am trying to find even if they’re small businesses or restaurants. If I know I won’t have Internet when I’m navigating the city the next day I’ll usually take a screenshot of the location and then try to compare it to my current location shown on one of my Ulmon maps or in a pre-loaded Google map. I keep all my important travel documents as well as my massive trip spreadsheet stored in the cloud on Google Drive, and can access and edit them from the Docs or Sheets apps. And Google Translate is my service of choice for asking questions in another language, although you do need the Internet to use it.

Honorable Mention:

Rick Steves Audio Europe: Guided audio tours of many interesting historical tourist spots in Europe, including museums. I listened to a lot for Italy, including the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Roman Forum. The guides are really interesting and totally free.

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These apps have really smoothed out some of the inevitable kinks I’ve encountered while travelling. They’ve kept me from getting lost in Tokyo and spending too much money in London. They’ve helped me keep track of restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam from fellow travellers and book good, cheap accommodation on the spot.

What’s a great travel app that you would recommend? What was a time that technology has saved you some time or money on your travels?

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