Monday, January 4, 2016

Koh Samui, Thailand

The morning of December 17th we flew from Hanoi to Bangkok, then a short 1 hour flight south to the island Koh Samui. We knew Vietnam was going to be more about exploring and tours so we wanted to stay somewhere that we could relax and be on the beach. The resort we booked, Le Meridien, could not have been more beautiful and was exactly what we had envisioned. The island was small so we knew we could see most everything without having to travel too far. We were ready to lay low and lay in the sun.

Cue the rain...EVERY single day we were on the island. We were so determined to lay poolside that we did just that...under towels getting soaked. Obviously the rain wasn't ideal, but we didn't let that stop us from having an amazing time on what we were calling our "honeymoon". The first weekend we were on the island we went to the zoo to pet a tiger, shopped at the local weekend market where Will had a sports coat custom made once again, saw some incredible sunsets and ate yummy Thai food as much as we could. 

View from the pool

The floating dock

View of our resort from the floating dock
"Salla" the tiger

Trying not to look terrified

The next item on our Thailand "to-do" list and the very thing I had been dreaming of for my whole life was riding elephants! I don't think I stopped smiling and I would give anything to go back and do this all over again. 

"Riva" the elephant

Feeding the baby elephant 

Seriously it was an incredible day and it still seams surreal when looking back at pictures!

Since laying by the pool didn't work out like we had planned, we decided to leave our resort area for a full-day tour in the mountains. It was called x-quad and you got to go off roading while driving your own machines. Will and I chose the "buggy" and it was an absolute blast. 

We got a little muddy 

The last part of the tour, the guides took us to a local waterfall where we were able to explore and swim. Will got brave and followed the guides to a spot where he got to slide down the waterfall as I screamed in terror at the bottom watching him. Will also followed them to a spot where you could swim through a hole underneath the water and come out the other side...that one almost did me in but it made for great GoPro videos. 

We were down to our last 2 days in Koh Samui and in the midst of being super sad that we were leaving, we got upgraded to our own private suite! Even though it rained...of was such a cool experience and amazing way to finish out our island trip. 

Oh and these pictures were taken on the day we left which OF COURSE was a gorgeous day. 

Yes, I am very aware of how lucky I am with this stud

Writing this post was just a reminder of the dream trip that will forever be hard to beat. Our "honeymoon" was well worth the wait, and the memories will last a lifetime! Koh Samui did not disappoint and we did not want to leave. 

Oh but did I mention that we were on our way to Bangkok for 2 nights? The fun wasn't over and Christmas in Bangkok was definitely going to be memorable! 

Caroline and Will 

Sunday, January 3, 2016


The morning of December 12th we started our much anticipated Christmas trip beginning in Hanoi, Vietnam! We had a nonstop 6 hour flight, which put us there in the afternoon while leaving us some time to settle in and explore around our hotel. 

We had been planning this trip for months and finally being in Hanoi was almost like a dream. I don't know if any of you can relate to me on this but anytime I would hear about the country Vietnam my immediate thought was the Vietnam war. Never did I think I would have the opportunity to travel here and much to my surprise the country was beautiful. In many ways its a typical busy city, including street venders with just about anything you could ever want. Will and I had the best time shopping around and I have to say we got really great at bargaining with them. 

Our hotel we stayed in was also a very nice surprise. Obviously I didn't have much experience in where to stay in Hanoi, but I found that if you research enough on the internet you can find the area suggested to be the best area, and then I just went from there. It was called the Apricot hotel and it was only built this past summer. I can't say enough good things about this hotel with the staff, atmosphere and location we couldn't have asked for much better. The first night we arrived we found the hotel rooftop bar with incredible views and a great way to really see where we were. 

Rooftop pool and bar
See through rooftop ceiling 

Since we were only in Hanoi, Vietnam for 5 days, we wanted to make sure we saw most everything we could. We signed up for a tour to Tam Coc which took us about 3 hours outside of Hanoi. It was an all day trip but it was worth it and amazing to see the countryside instead of the city. Our tour guide walked us around the area giving us history and showing us temples and shrines. After a quick lunch we got in a boat with a local vietnamese man who paddled us down the river for about an hour. The views were amazing and the it was definitely something we wouldn't have seen in the city of Hanoi.

Water Buffalo

They paddle with their bare feet! (spot the photo bomb)
Local women washing clothes in the river

One of many caves we went under

Mountain Goat

Tam Coc was an amazing experience and we are so glad we decided to leave the city and see something different! 

The next day we decided to do some more shopping, sight seeing and go see the Hanoi Hilton Museum, which was once the prison to hold Americans during the Vietnam War. Although it was tough to see most of it as you can imagine, we were glad we did it and got to be a part of this historic place.

Lunch with a view!
Front of the Prison 

John McCains flight suit when he was captured

The next day was exciting because we were headed on an overnight tour to Halong Bay, Vietnam. I set this trip up about a month before we arrived and I was excited to see what all the talk was about! We took a bus about 3 hours north of Hanoi and from there we boarded a boat that would be our home for the next 2 days. We got a room with a small balcony attached so we could have a view the entire time we were on board. We made a few stops at some islands along the way, went kayaking and learned to make Vietnamese spring rolls to name a few activities. I think we both agree that Halong Bay was our favorite part of Vietnam. 

Our boat the Paradise Luxury

View from our room
Learning to make spring rolls! 

Sadly our Halong Bay trip quickly came to an end and we were back in Hanoi for one last night. Since we were pretty tired and we had an early flight the next morning to Thailand, we decided to lay low. We packed our room and went out for dinner and drinks with the locals in Hanoi. Will picked up his custom made 3 piece suit we had fitted for him 2 days prior and we bought a painting of Halong Bay for our home back in Japan. 

Our painting with the artist
I would say we checked everything off our "to do" list and then some for Vietnam. We wish we had more time to visit other cities, but Hanoi was a great choice and maybe that just means we have to go back to Vietnam again some day?

Our next stop was Koh Samui and Bangkok, Thailand for the remainder of our 2 week trip. We knew Vietnam was going to be hard to beat, but 7 days at a resort in Koh Samui, Thailand sounded like heaven. Never thought these words would come out of my mouth but goodbye Vietnam, hello Thailand! 

Caroline and Will