Let’s talk about the honey lime drink pictured below for a second.  It is freaking delicious!  I typically buy myself one as a treat when I go to the Thursday market held at Srinakharinwirot University.  The popup market is home to various vendors selling everything from clothing and toys to street food and produce.  One of my favorite parts about the drink is the handy-dandy plastic handle.  It allows me to easily carry my beverage and purchases at the same time.

It’s been quite a few months since I shared Bits of Bangkok part 4, but I have compiled some new tidbits to share about how expat life in Bangkok is a wee-bit different than life in America.

Tidbits about living in Bangkok as an Expat from America. | Life's Tidbits

Bits of Bangkok – Part 5

  1. Children are provided with plastic plates, cutlery and cups in almost all restaurants.  This is super handy and makes sharing meals with my toddler that much easier.
  2. Changing tables are nearly impossible to find, even in very kid friendly places.  While this is no longer an issue for us since Jellybean is potty trained (wahoo!) it was really annoying when we first moved here.  The lack of changing tables surprises me given what a baby/kid friendly country Thailand is.
  3. Pushcarts at the airports are free.  There is no rummaging through your purse for change, jamming the coins into a slot and then trying to extract a pushcart like one has to do in the States.
  4. Pregnant women wear a safety pin on the belly part of their shirts to signify they are pregnant.  I guess the idea behind it is patrons on the train will give up their seats for you.  Not entirely sure why someone would need a safety pin though as it’s usually fairly clear who’s pregnant. :)
  5. Sometimes it’s okay to round down when paying.  For example, if your taxi ride comes to 41 baht a taxi driver will accept 40 baht.  I never have felt comfortable with this and always round up, but rounding down is sometimes common practice.
  6. Some public restrooms you have to pay to use.  This includes places like parks, markets and other tourist attractions.  It’s usually only 2 baht, but if you don’t carry change on you it can be problematic as the toilet attendants don’t typically have the ability to break bills.
  7. Toilet paper is sparse in public restrooms.  Usually you can deposit 5 baht into a dispenser for toilet paper, but ever once in a while there are no dispensers to be found, which can be hugely frustrating.
  8. Sorry for the potty theme, but as someone who’s constantly peeing (thanks pregnancy!) I’ve started to take note of where bathrooms are and their conditions … so yeah, last potty thing.  Toilet paper is thrown into a small trash can next to the toilet instead of down the toilet.
  9. At most indoor playgrounds and play areas children take their shoes off to play.  We keep socks in our bag just incase we unexpectedly stop someplace to play and Jellybean needs socks.  She’s totally programmed to take off her shoes when we arrive places … it’s going to be a problem when we move back to the States.
  10. Need to pay you kid’s school tuition?  How about your cable bill?  Cash or bank transfer is the preferred way to pay any and all bills.  We recently rented a jumpy house for Jellybean’s 3rd birthday party and the email confirmation included their bank’s name and account number.  It was then left up to us if we transferred the money into their account or deposited the cash directly to their account.  Thailand is definitely a cash based society, which is so different from the USA.

Incase you missed it, please check out the firstsecondthird and fourth installment of Bits of Bangkok.  More of our Bangkok adventures, to date, can be found here or please follow along on Instagram.

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In early June we made our third flight to Krabi.  We had previously been to Koh Lanta and Railay, but this time the plan was to stay in Ao Nang.   We were meeting up with one of my oldest and bestest friends in the world and her husband.  They were traveling around Southeast Asia and planned to stop by Bangkok before their flight home.  But I couldn’t wait to see, them so we traveled to Krabi for a long weekend beach vacation.  We all stayed at the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi.

The closest airport to Ao Nang is Krabi.  Taxis from the airport to Ao Nang are a flat rate of 600 baht and the drive takes about 40 minutes.  Hotels often offer a pick up service, but in my experience the price point is much higher.  It is usually best to secure a taxi once you’ve arrived at the airport.  We also coordinated a pickup from the same taxi driver to take us back to the airport a few days later.  The taxi drive agreed to a slightly discounted rate of 500 baht on the way back.

Vacationing in Ao Nang, Thailand at the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi | Beach Vacation, Travel, Travel blogger, expat in Thailand | Life's Tidbits

The Centara Grand Beach Resort can be accessed two ways: 1) by a ‘monkey trail’ which is a wooden pathway that leads you up and over the edge of the mountain to Ao Nang Beach. 2) by boat to the hotel’s private dock.  The hotel provides a free shuttle boat that runs from morning until late at night.  A reservation to ride the boat is required so planning ahead is essential.

Since we went during low season, the free shuttle boat wasn’t running very often and therefore the boat was crowded.  People were pushing their way forward as the boat approached to secure a seat, as many appeared nervous there were more people than seats.  Overall I was unimpressed with the boat service especially when I was informed upon checkin they informed me they were at 90% occupancy.

Vacationing in Ao Nang, Thailand at the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi | Beach Vacation, Travel, Travel blogger, expat in Thailand | Life's Tidbits

The Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi has a private beach and is secluded in its own bay called Pai Plong Bay. The hotel is nestled into a small mountain range in a well-preserved National Park.  A gorgeous resort for a long weekend holiday with friends and family.  The hotel room was stunning and Jellybean immediately made herself at home in the gigantic bed.

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi in Ao Nang, Thailand | Beach Vacation | Life's Tidbits

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi in Ao Nang, Thailand | Hotel Room | Life's Tidbits

I loved the tranquil, quiet beach and impressive pool located at the Centara Grand.  The food and mixed drinks, especially, left something to be desired.  If we go to the resort again I would definitely BYOB as well as try to venture off the property for dinner.  Downtown can easily be accessed via the Monkey Trail.  Though the monkey trail isn’t ideal for those traveling with small kids and toddlers.  I wish we had brought the baby carrier so we could have made the trek out with Jellybean safely on our back.

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi in Ao Nang, Thailand | Breakfast View | Life's Tidbits

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi in Ao Nang, Thailand | Pool View | Life's Tidbits

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi in Ao Nang, Thailand | Pool View | Life's Tidbits

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi in Ao Nang, Thailand | Beach | Life's Tidbits

Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi in Ao Nang, Thailand | Beach | Life's Tidbits

We had a grand time at the Centara Grand Resort in Ao Nang, Krabi.  I definitely recommend this hotel for a peaceful and low key vacation, but if you are looking for someplace with hustle and bustle you will want to stay downtown.

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Songkran, the Thai new year, is a legendary multi-day water festival that happens all over Thailand.  And lucky for us, the Thai new year afforded the hubby a few days off from work.  We decided to book a last minute Songkran holiday in Phuket.  Last time we were in Phuket we stayed at the Le Meridien.  It was a fabulous hotel, but we wanted to try a new place this time around.

The JW Marriott Resort & Spa had been recommended by a few friends so we decided to give it a whirl.  And, we certainly weren’t disappointed. The room we booked was spacious with plenty of room for a pack-n-play (not pictured – to the right of the king size bed) as well as space for Jellybean to play.

JWMarriotRoom_Phuket

Our days at the resort went a little like this …

We found it was better to go to the beach in the morning when the trees provided some shade and cover from the sun.  The tree swing was a welcome little perk and provided more toddler entertainment than I thought it would.  The beach was beautiful, picturesque and fairly quiet.

Private Beach at the JW Marriott in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

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JWMarriott_PhuketThailand-5

When we were all beached out, we would head to the pool for a dip. I wish I had taken more pictures of the fabulous pool, however this one of JB really encompasses the pure and uninhibited fun our toddler had.  Another thing not pictured is the indoor kid area.  It was a great way to escape the heat, while also allowing JB some playtime.  She kept asking to go back to the kid zone … the hubby and I preferred the beach and pool!

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Hanging out at the pool was usually followed by lunch and Jellybean’s nap.  Having lunch pool side was fantastic.  Highly recommend the pizza, it was delicious!

JWMarriott_PhuketThailand-2

After Jellybean’s nap we usually went back to the pool and then grabbed dinner at one of the hotel restaurants.  There weren’t a lot of restaurant options within walking distance of the hotel, which was a bit disappointing.

The hubby got me a selfie stick for my birthday, which came in handy to get this fantastic family photo!  Yes, a selfie stick … ‘When in Rome’ (or, Asia in this case) and all that.

Family vacation JW Marriott Phuket, Thailand during Songkran | Life's Tidbits

Sunset View from the JW Marriott in Phuket, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

It was a fabulous Songkran holiday!  The JW Marriott got a big thumbs up!  It was very toddler friendly, had a fabulous pool and an amazing beach.  My only complaint with the resort would be the food is just okay especially with a higher price point for food and drinks.

I would like to say ‘until next time, Phuket,’ but I don’t think we will be making it back to Phuket before moving back to the US of A.  Thailand has so many other amazing places we have yet to explore!

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You know you have some really fun and amazing friends when they travel, literally, half way around the world to see you.  Three of my favorite ladies came to Bangkok for a visit and we took a side trip to Koh Samui.  It was quite a whirl wind having them in town and we really packed a lot into the relatively short trip.

After a jam packed day of sightseeing around Bangkok we jumped on a plane to Koh Samui!  We headed for the Chaweng Beach, which had some great reviews and did not disappoint.  The OZO Chaweng Samui was our home for the two day trip.

The pool was gorgeous, the beach front mandalas were heaven and the rooms, though small, were clean and very much met our needs for the weekend.  I would stay at the OZO again with the just the husband or for a girls weekend, but if we were to travel with Jellybean I think we would need to book a bigger room.

After grabbing a very late dinner we headed to bed!

KohSamui

Day 1: Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui

Chaweng beach is beautiful and we enjoyed the day by hanging by the beach, swimming in the ocean/pool and indulging in a little shopping.

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KohSamui-4

KohSamui-5

The day was fabulous, but I think the night was truly a highlight of the trip.  We went to Big Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Yai) around sunset.  The Buddha was worth the short taxi ride.  After seeing the Buddha, we had a drink at Sunset by Angelina.  The view was picturesque and the drinks were quite delicious!

KohSamui-7

We headed to Fisherman’s Village after our drink and walked in and out of the shops while we made our way to CoCo Tam’s.  The ambiance was super cute and fits the hangout by the beach vibe of Koh Samui perfectly.

Coco Tam's in Koh Samui, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

An important thing to note about CoCo Tam’s is it is not a restaurant so eat dinner before grabbing a seat for the fire show. We went to Restaurant Krua Bophut for dinner, which is right next to CoCo Tam’s. 

The Fire Dancer show on the beach starts around 10:30pm and is NOT to be missed!

Fire Dancing Koh Samui, Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Day 2: Angthong National Marine Park Speedboat Tour

All of day 2 was spent on a speedboat tour of some of the small islands near Koh Samui.  Snorkeling at Koh Wao, a sightseeing hike at Koh Mae Koh followed by lunch at Koh Paluay and hanging on the beach as well as kayaking at Song Pee Nong beach.  It was a fun filled day!

Angthong National Marine Park Speedboat Tour in Thailand | Life's Tidbits

Song Pee Nong beach in Thailand | Life's Tidbits

It was a fabulous 2 days in Koh Samui.  The girls trip was a huge success!!  I hope the hubby, Jellybean and I make it back to Koh Samui sometime before we move back to the States next year.

Signiture_Nicole

 

 

 

Travel Monkey
Best of Worst

Bangkok is a large city and it takes a little while to figure out how to navigate around.  Jellybean and I have gotten really good at riding the BTS within the first few weeks of arriving in Bangkok.  It’s probably our most frequently used method of transportation, second is either a taxi or good old fashion walking!

Whether you are moving to Bangkok or just visiting I hope this transportation guide will help you get around Bangkok a little bit easier.

Bangkok Transportation Guide, Tips for traveling in Southeast Asia | Life's Tidbits

TAXI

Taxing is fairly affordable with the meter starting at 35 baht and then a couple of baht every hundred meters.  That said there are a few challenges to taking a taxi.  The first and foremost is the traffic.  The second is many drivers don’t know where things are.  If you give them the name of a street and a soi, you will arrive at the cross roads and the driver will look to you for directions to a specific place.  When we first moved here I had to use GoogleMaps to navigate through the city.  At the time this was very frustrating, but now I know how to get to my destinations and the taxi drivers are more than happy to go whatever route I ask.

TIP 1: ALWAYS, ALWAYS drive with the meter on. If the taxi driver tries to negotiate a price you will most likely overpay.  For example, I have taken a taxi to my daughter’s preschool enough times to know it is usually 50 baht, give or take.  Taxi drivers will often tell me it’s 100 baht {I’ve even been quoted 200 when there’s traffic} … I know that’s not a good or fair price and I wave them on their way.

TIP 2: Carry small bills and/or change with you.  Taxi drivers won’t have change for big bills like 500 or 1000 baht.  On more than one occasion I’ve had them tell me they don’t have change for 100 baht, which can be pretty frustrating.  I’ve made a habit of always having a some 20s with me when I plan to take a taxi.

MOTORBIKE TAXI

Motorbike taxis are cheap and quick.  The fare should be negotiated prior to your ride.  During rush hour motorbike taxis are a great alternative to taxis.  They easily get through between the cars and tend not to sit in traffic.  Be careful to keep your extremities and belongings close to you … and hold on tight as the drivers go quickly between the cars.

TUK TUK

Tuk Tuks are mostly used by tourists or locals to transport their goods from/to a market.  The fare will need to be negotiated with the driver.  Despite not having AC, like the taxis, and aren’t as easily maneuvered through traffic, like the motorbike taxis, tuk tuks tend to be more expensive.  They will likely overcharge you and as a result we rarely use tuks tuks.  Beware of the scams … if they offer you a cheap day tour you will likely be taken to many of their friends’ shops, for which they likely receive a commission for each person they bring!

BTS (Bangkok Transit System)

Also known as the Skytrain.  This is the mode of transportation we use most often.  The fares are extremely reasonable and fairly easy to navigate as well.  The trains are very clean and after a long walk the AC feels amazing!  They have single journey tickets, daily tickets and monthly subscriptions.  If you plan to be in Bangkok for a while or ride the BTS a lot I would recommend purchasing a Rabbit card, which can be topped up with money as needed.  This way you don’t need to queue up for buying tickets for each ride.

MRT (Mass Rail Transportation System)

Similar to the BTS, one can purchase a single journey tickets, 1 day, 3 day and monthly passes.  The MRT also has stored value cards that can be purchased for those living in or spending more time in Bangkok.  It’s also worth noting that the MRT will take you to places like the Chatuchak Market.

BUS

I have yet to take a bus in Bangkok.  As far as I can tell it’s not very straight forward and the bus schedule is often unreliable. As a visitor, and even as a Bangkok resident, it might be safer to stick to the other transportation methods available in Bangkok.

BOATS

There are several types of boats running up and down the Chao Phraya River.  There are express boats, river taxis, long tail and more.  The long tail boats are definitely the ‘fun’ way to travel the river, but some of the other boats might be a better fit depending on where you are going.

So there you have it.  A wide variety of transportation methods to get you where you want to go in Bangkok.  Despite the variety, I must admit there are days I truly miss my car!

Signiture_Nicole

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