Having been living here for a little while we’re getting into a bit of a routine when venturing into wine country. I also am often reading Sunset Magazine and scouring for the next great treehouse or you know whatever. Anyways our go-to is usually to stop in Healdsburg and stay in Calistoga. For those of you less familiar with Calistoga, it is one of the last great untouched towns in wine country. Here you can take a mud bath, soak in a hot mineral pool or just stroll around a very cute downtown area.
You are bored, you don’t know what to do today. Maybe you’ve traveled to San Francisco on business 5-7 times and while you like the Ferry Building and have tried out that new quinoa place, you’d like to explore a new neighborhood without feeling like you’re alone as others around you clink their freshly squeezed juice glasses cheersing.
Well, you’re in luck, Hayes Valley might be the place for you. For a quick little hour detour you can grab a latte, stop for a snack and get a little shopping in before heading off to your next adventure. For context, Hayes Valley is an area in SF but specifically between about and street on Hayes you will find the main strip of boutique businesses. Citizens of the area are known to especially dislike the idea of any corporations moving in and putting another outpost in their franchise here so you’re guaranteed some very unique, more special experiences. Below is a quick picture tour and some highlighted must-sees with addresses in case you’re looking for more specific info. By info I mean just snacks while you’re on your little jaunt. Bonus! Everything around here is about a five minutes walk from each other.
Here are some of my top picks….
It was a rainy Sunday and I’d had the good sense to buy a random Groupon as a fun thing for Ben and I to do. Today, that Groupon was being cashed in. I’m a big fan of learning how to make things from places in which they’re already known to be wonderful so it was a no brainer that during my years of living in San Francisco I should learn how to make some real San Francisco sourdough.
We’re back in Taipei! It was a bit rainy and cold which was welcomed after some sweltering 100 degree days of whether. At this point in our trip I was in a grumpy mood. No matter how much you love travel, as a trip tapers off you hit that moment of slight depression that it’s ending (and also frustration in your ability to do things as easily as locals). We stopped into the Beauty Hotel, our home for the night. All I will say is that it had a jet filled, whirlpool bathtub with a TV in the wall. Who even thought of this amazing thing?
What to do on a last day adventure in Bangkok? By this day we were pretty tired. Think all the heat, walking around and such was enough for us. We decided on my friend Tyler’s suggestion to go to the Flower Market and boy were we not disappointed. [Initially I’d wanted to find a way to make it to one of the floating markets but the hour and a half drive and recent amount of traveling made us a bit lazy].
Unlike our travels in Japan and Taipei, we found Bangkok hasn’t fully fostered a coffee culture. Being caffeine fiends we still tried quite a few. Also this was the only way for us to combat humidity, something we’ve fallen out of touch with since our move to San Francisco. Below are our picks for top five coffee shops if you find yourself in Bangkok.
The last night in Siem Reap was a rough one, a mid 100’s temperature climate with full force humidity and cute little lizards everywhere is nice during the day but not so nice when your A/C kicks it shortly when you’re tucking in for the night. Ben’s friend down in the lobby who just happens to work for the hotel was mortified. After an attempt by one of the engineers to fix it that was at least semi successful, they switched us into another room, something they definitely didn’t have to do but insisted we were family. That in a nutshell describes why I was so sad to leave Siem Reap after the world’s shortest stay.
4:30 AM. Time to get up. Groggily I greet Tivon in the lobby and climb into the back seat of the car. My eyes fluttering open, then closed as I sway back and forth, listening to the sound of tuk tuks all around us quietly racing to Angkor Wat. So why are we back when we were here a few hours ago? To catch the sunrise of course. Despite the immense amount of selfie sticks and selfish tourists pushing others to get a good view, this sunrise is one of the most magical, purples and pinks shooting out behind a silhouette of one of the few west facing Buddhist temples in the world.
Ben says Cambodia holds good energy for me. It is actually astounding to see a country bounce back so strongly from such recent tragedies. Visiting a country where you know many people you meet have been affected by those events makes you grateful for what you have. I also highly recommend reading a few books to be especially aware of what has happened there so you don’t go into it blindly. Where I feel we went wrong in our Bangkok planning was not to Chang Mai or somewhere outside of the city. For our Cambodia leg we skipped Phnom Phen and went straight to Siem Reap, a main draw being the temples. Which were, of course, completely worth it. My only regret was that we could not stay there for way longer. People here are truly the most generous, kind hearted people I’ve ever met and unbelievably this city is really clean. I feel like a few sentences can’t sum up how much I fell in love with the city.
Good morning Bangkok! Time to head out for the day and what better way to start it then to seek out breakfast spot and hidden gem “On Lok Yun“. This gem is an 80 year old cafe which is also an accidental Instagram hotspot. Get the Kaya (coconut jam) toast – cloudlike white bread to dip into the kaya, evaporated milk mixed plate and the butter and sugar toast. While you can’t go wrong with the menu, the toast is top of my list but for thirty cents I guess you can also get a bowl of Papaya. It’s old school charm is borderline hipster but I dare you not to fall in love with it.
Current status: sitting in the Bangkok airport ready to fly back to Taipei. I felt compelled to write down my reflections on this particular leg of the trip in a way I usually don’t. I want to be totally honest and say I had a really mixed time in Bangkok, what I loved in the markets and temples I disliked in the rapid way the city has changed to cater to tourism.
I love airports. While I don’t love to fly, wait in line and get poked and prodded by customs, this all pays off when I get to bop around the yes, slightly overpriced but generally entertaining airport. Well, in International airports that is. Cities outside of a few exeptions in the U.S. seem to have figured out how tog et better food and entertainment packed into their terminals so I thought I’d round up our stops in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport and Taipei’s Taoyuan airport for a few tips on killing time during your next gate to gate stopover.