I made it to Angkor Wat! I’ve been wanting to go to this temple for ages.

I got to Siem Reap, planned out my day, hired a tuk tuk driver to chauffeur me around (cost: $12), and headed out. I brought all of my camera equipment including tripod, gopro, and selfie stick.

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It was so cool to see the temple in real life. Seeing something in real life that you’ve seen so many pictures of is just a surreal feeling. The first time I saw the eiffel tower in real life, I got very emotional. I have a hard time putting into words the feeling that I got. Angkor Wat gave me an awe struck feeling; it’s just stunning and has a haze around it, creating a magical feeling.

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In the temple, it is required for women to wear pants that go past the knees, and you must cover your shoulders as well. I brought a short sleeve shirt to cover my shoulders when walking around. There are monks in the temple, praying to the buddha statues. Monks are highly respected.

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Angkor Wat is a massive temple. It is just huge. It was pretty crowded on the Sunday that I went, but I was lucky enough to claim a spot to set up my tripod and get all the pictures I could ever want. 🙂

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Angkor Wat was the first of five temples on my little tour. There are two possible tour routes that one can take; the short tour or the long tour. I chose the short tour – I wanted to get back before lunch. Five hours of temple touring is enough for me. 🙂 A one day ticket to the temples will cost you $20, or you can get a three day ticket for $40.

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I tried to get a picture of the temple, but because there were so many people, it didn’t quite work out. Instead I took this one from google.

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It was a great experience and I’m so happy I got to check out this amazing temple.

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It’s official! I signed a three month lease for a luxury studio apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I could not be more excited to settle down in the first place I ever traveled to – ironically, it was exactly a year ago that I was here for the first time.

It’s a bit weird to re-experience Chiang Mai as a more seasoned traveler. I’ll be honest with you – the first time I came here, I could barely read a map. I spent so much time getting lost and trying to find my way back to my guest house. I did all of the touristy things last year, like visit the elephant sanctuary (awesome) and check out the Tha Phae gate with a hot cup of Starbucks (highly recommended).

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But now I am back in Chiang Mai, after a whole year; 6 months of which was spent traveling the world. I feel like a new person. I decided to take a break from traveling after realizing that I had been to SEVENTEEN countries in the past six months. Seventeen! I was traveling way too fast. I was just going and going and going, I wasn’t spending enough time in any of these places. I needed a break from buses and planes and trains and ferries and cars.

I decided to settle down in Chiang Mai specifically not just because it holds a certain nostalgia for me, but because it is stuffed to the brim with expats. There are people from all over the world who have moved to Chiang Mai, many of whom have quit their jobs to try to survive here as a digital nomad. Chiang Mai is a popular destination for digital nomads because it has everything. There are tons of cafes, coworking spaces, and the living is cheap. A studio apartment can cost as little as $150 a month. Eating out is often less expensive than making your own food. I eat out most meals, and they usually cost me around $3 max.

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Chiang Mai is a vegan heaven. It is ALMOST on par with the US. I can get vegan food anywhere, and there are over 100 vegan restaurants in this city. I absolutely love it. The weather is great, there are tons of pools, and the Thai people are among the friendliest in the world. There is no cat calling, no worries of getting mugged, no worries of getting my bike stolen when I leave it outside. There is greenery everywhere, the locals are so friendly, and the fruit is incredibly sweet. Chiang Mai is just a magical place.

I am so excited to spend the next three months here in Chiang Mai, exploring Thailand and spending my time how I choose to spend it. I’ve been working a lot on my writing (seriously considering writing a book), spending hours a day reading, walking a lot, I even bought a bicycle to ride around town. I spent my first two weeks in Koh Samui, daringly riding a motorcycle around the island. I’ve made a lot of good decisions in my life (especially in the past year, hello travel!), but choosing to live in Chiang Mai may just be one of the best. I have never been happier and I’ve never experienced such radical self growth as I have in the past few months. Cheers to you, Thailand!

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The most interesting part of this story is in Part 1 – click here to read it if you haven’t yet!

So, after my debit card got hijacked by the ATM, I had to call my bank. Don’t ask me why, but my bank customer service line is not open 24 hours. WTF?! I am seriously considering switching banks now. Anyway, MOVING ON. So I waited until the next day, called the bank, and they released the hold they had on my card. They put the hold on the card and made that machine suck the card in! It was all them. I am happy that they have such serious identity theft protection, but it was a bit inconvenient at the time.

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I motorcycled (is that even a word?!) over to the ATM and tried it out. It was a miracle! It worked! I may have even looked up to the sky, put my hands in a prayer position, and said thank you. I maybe did that.

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Now that I have my debit card back, I’ve been really living it up. I drive my motorcycle at least an hour a day around Koh Samui, checking out ocean views from my bike. I go out to eat at the cheapest Thai restaurants – they even know me now. I walk in and they say, “you want with tofu, no oil, blah blah blah.” And I say, “Yes! You are so kind! Thank you!” I’ve been really enjoying my days of motorcycle riding mixed in with some ocean swims, long walks on the beach, reading, and a lot of eating. I’ve also been really loading up my youtube channel, so check that out if you haven’t recently.

P.S. I took both of these photos! I am having so much fun learning more about photography. The top photo was taken at Chewang beach (the place was called the Beach Resort), and the bottom one was taken at Vikasa Yoga. 🙂

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If you haven’t noticed by now, I seem to attract unfortunate situations.

I came to Thailand for a few reasons. I wanted to go somewhere that I knew I would love (I went to Thailand for the first time in 2015 and absolutely adored it), I wanted to settle down for a bit, and I wanted to get my life together a little bit. I’ll let you know when that last part happens. 🙂

So I decided to head over to Koh Samui for the first two weeks in Thailand. Koh Samui is an island off the gulf of Thailand. I chose Koh Samui solely because I could fly into it; I don’t have to take a bus or boat. It is also close to Koh Phangan, which I can take a boat to if I ever feel like getting on some kind of transportation again. Koh Samui isn’t totally ugly though…

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Anyway. I landed in Koh Samui, absolutely thrilled. Being thrilled is actually hard to do after 30 hours of traveling, but I mustered up a lot of excitement. I had booked an airbnb with a kitchen, a patio, and AC, and I was ready to rumble. I hopped off that plane, fresh as the fresh prince. I could not have been happier.

And then all of that happiness came crushing down in a wave of unpleasant emotion. After strolling happily past baggage claim (CARRY-ON ONLY LIFE IS THE BEST), I popped my debit card into an ATM to pull out the big bucks. I went through the whole process of taking money out, and then the ATM lets me know that my card is suspended. What?! The ATM proceeds to go back to the welcome screen. With my card still inside. Ummm… What are you supposed to do in this situation? I definitely made the best choice by waiting in line at the money exchange that the ATM was close to, and proceeding to have an emotional breakdown. There were tears, I may have actually sat on the ground, I may have actually yelled “I have no money!!!” It may have not been my most graceful moment.

GOOD NEWS. I have lately recognized the importance of carrying US money with me everywhere. Also, my grandpa had just given me some cash for my birthday (he is really on top of birthday presents – my birthday isn’t until September). I went back to said money exchange, swapped out some US money for some Thai baht, and then got completely ripped off for a ride to my airbnb. Luckily I was able to pay for the ride, get to my (already paid for) airbnb, and relax in some nice air conditioning. Also luckily, my mom strongly encouraged me to bring lots of food with me for the plane ride, and I still had an entire 6 pack of bagels, plus a ton of fig bars with me. I ate a bagel and a fig bar for dinner, took a long shower, and called it a night.

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The money exchange people told me that I could come back the next day to pick up my debit card. That was all great and everything, but my airbnb is super far from the airport. I didn’t have enough cash to pay for a ride to the airport and back. There was only one thing to do in this situation: rent a motorcycle. I walked about a mile down the road to a hotel, which luckily rented motorbikes. I rented one (it was only 250 baht per day – that’s only $7 USD!) and drove off to the airport. After going through the ring around with the security people, I was given a visitors pass and was able to get through to the money exchange place. I got my ATM card back – yay! And then I proceeded to crash the motorcycle.

I decided to stop for lunch on the way back to my airbnb. I pull up to this highly rated vegan place, and as I’m parking, I slam on the gas instead of the brakes. If you haven’t noticed this either, I crash every motorbike I drive. I’m not joking. Every one, I’ve crashed. So I broke the front light. Shattered it. An english bloke came running out of the restaurant next door, and asked me if I was okay. He looked at the bike and told me that will cost me a couple of quid when I return it. Awesome. I decided to forget about it for now and I walked up to the vegan restaurant. I try to open the door and it’s locked. The place was closed until 6. It was 4 PM. As my mom would say, DAMMIT! I was out of luck. I jumped back on the motorbike and took off like I was in the fast and the furious. I knew exactly where to go.

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I pulled up to the fruit market a few minutes later. Fruit and vegetables solve everything, right? RIGHT. I bought a ton of veggies and a bag of rice. I took these sweet smiling angels home with me in my backpack and cooked myself an epic feast worthy of any cooking show (not really, not at all, I’m a terrible cook). I went to sleep right after dinner as I was exhausted from my extreme motorcycle riding.

NEXT DAY. I go to use my debit card at the ATM down the street. This fancy new ATM says that I have to call my bank. WTF, why didn’t I do this before? Sometimes I really wonder how I get by in life. I go back to the airbnb.  I call the bank. The bank is closed until 8AM, they are in the US time zone. Luckily, I have enough money to get through today. It will just have to be another day without a massage.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this incredibly enticing series about my debit card.

 

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