Also known as: the day I thought my cat was dying.
Valentines Day started out like any other day. Dalyn and I picked up our volunteers in Kham Pia and brought them back to Buengkan. Dalyn went with them to a local wat and I headed back to the house to print out their certificates. I came home to the usual chaos of our three dogs running around, cat hissing at everything and the kitten trying her best to get into trouble.
I had only been home about 10 minutes when our kitten, Bunlai, started to act a bit strange. (Bunlai is our 5 month old rescue kitten) She would let out these loud, plaintive meows I have never heard before. I thought maybe she was hungry and went into the kitchen to get her food. She ate a little bit and then lay down on the floor. I put the food away and turned to see her on her side, legs stretched out and back body completely seized up and shaking.
She looked terrified. I became terrified.
I dropped to the floor and watched her, helpless, and she had what I thought might be a seizure or a reaction to eating poison. I called Dalyn but, being in the temple, she wasn’t picking up. I called our vet to no avail. Bunlai seemed to recover and stood up, but her back legs looked unsteady, weak, unable to support her. She laid down again and went into another episode. Panicked and unable to get a hold of the vet, I turned to Dr Google (always a mistake) and soon came to the conclusion that my sweet kitten was dying. She was either dying or suffering from epilepsy, a blood clot, a muscle or back injury leading to potential paralysis, or diabetes that will require insulin shots daily for the rest of her life. Google had also come up with some helpful search suggestions, such as “how do I know if my cat is dying” and “how does a dying cat act”. THANKS A LOT, GOOGLE.
At this point I am sitting in the floor in tears thinking this is the end. She has stopped shaking for now, and then phone rings. It’s the vet. I tell him whats going on and ask if he can come to the house and see her; he has just finished work but will be there in about half an hour, but if she is having a seizure she needs to be taken in immediately. Still thinking she is well on her way to a life of paralysis but maybe not death (do they make kitty wheelchairs?), I said half an hour would be ok. By the time Dalyn returned home Bunlai was running around and Dalyn, of course, thought I was a little bit crazy. Bunlai soon lay down and again her muscles tensed up, her whole back arching as she meowed and shook. We were both sure there must be something gravely wrong with her.
Atom, our vet, finally arrives. He looks her over, sits down next to her, stands her upright and prepares to take her temperature when it happens again. Atom looks at me, “Is this whats been happening?” “Yes!” I practically yell, “yes that!” What is wrong with her?” He looks like he’s trying not to laugh. “It’s normal,” he tells me, “she’s having her period!” He let her stand upright and her back was arched, butt in the air in the mating position. I nearly died. He looks at me, then Dalyn, and just starts laughing.
I cried and called my vet for an after hours emergency home visit because my kitten was in heat.
Happy Valentine’s Day, hope it was filled with more fun and less panic than mine!
I love Bruges, this idyllic town captivates me, but with hostels an average of €18 a night and meals ranging from €7-25 it’s not the cheapest city to spend your time in.
Imagine my delight when stumbling upon Brasserie Medard; an inconspicuous, hole in the wall, family run type of joint that’s full of locals and cheap eats! I arrived maybe 40 minutes before closing time and was greeted by a young man. Despite all tables having a reserved sign on them, he sat me down and handed me a menu. The atmosphere seemed fairly nonchalant and homey, with a group of older locals chatting together while occasionally yelling into the kitchen to chat with the chef as well; clearly they were regulars and everyone knew each other, which reinforced my belief that this place was a good decision.
It’s a little bit difficult to order as the menu is only partially translated into English and the server couldn’t speak English, but I managed quite well anyway. 🙂 I ordered a glass of red wine and a small spaghetti from the snack menu. I don’t know if snack translates the same from English to Dutch, but if that was their idea of a snack sized spaghetti portion then they have serving sizes big enough to rival America. The spaghetti rang in at only €4 and the glass of wine just €2.50. While tucking into my super sized meal one of the women from the table next to me asked me something in Dutch, and after seeing my blank face she repeated, “delicious?” I smiled and nodded enthusiastically, making her laugh. She even made a point to say goodbye to me before she left (she may have been a couple glasses of wine in by that point but she was still lovely).
I wandered home having made barely a dent in my wallet and stomach close to bursting, not even tempted by the sweet aroma of fresh waffles drifting through the air.
Located just off Grote Markt on Sint-Amandsstraat (maybe 30 meters down the road from the square).
Snack menu certainly delivers…”small” saucy, cheesy, spaghetti is €4 and is more than enough
Do not expect much English
NOTE: After looking up reviews of Brasserie Medard, I was startled by the reviews on trip advisor and feel like I must include a bit of a warning. I may have just been lucky as I was seated served without a problem, but apparently this might not be a very tourist friendly place. Many people complain that the owner is a very rude man who has a strong dislike of anyone who isn’t Belgian and they were often denied service and essentially pushed out the door. I did not see the owner while I was there, just a woman in the kitchen and I assume her son or other family member serving. I had a pleasant experience, but I suppose if you do find yourself in Bruges and craving some spaghetti, proceed at your own risk… and good luck!
Belgium, undeniably, absolutely nails it when it comes to all things chocolate. When I was in Brussels I sampled some mouth watering waffles but Bruges introduced me to a whole new delight: Belgian hot chocolate.
I don’t mean to say I’ve never had hot chocolate, I’ve had more than my fair share (as a child I literally required a mug of hot chocolate in the mornings before I could talk, function or be in any way remotely pleasant. This was obviously pre coffee years). However, I had never had hot chocolate made with Belgian chocolate. So once I settled into my hostel I set out to find that hot mug of heaven.
Out of an the tea rooms in Bruges, I walked into De Proeverie.
De Proeverie sits just across the cobblestoned street from it’s sister chocolate shop, Sukerbuyc, inconspicuously nestled up next to the canal on Katelijnestraat. De Proeverie sells a tasty selection of cakes, pastries, scones, ice cream, tea, coffee, and (most importantly) hot chocolate.
Not only do they use Belgian chocolate from across the street, all ingredients are arranged on a tray and you allowed to concoct your own perfect cup of cocoa! It’s a delectable DIY treat.
At €4.50 this is arguably a bit of a ‘treat yourself’ if you are budget traveling, but it is definitely worth it. You will be given a tray with a cup of steamed milk, sugar cubes, a chocolate stick to melt into the milk, whipped cream, and 4 extra pieces of chocolate. So not only do you get hot chocolate but you can also sample a bit of dark, milk, and white chocolate as well as a chocolate truffle. You know, in case you wanted to pop across the street later after having a taste of what they offer. 😉
I decided to make my great escape from the UK and wander over to Belgium. (Also deciding to write about Belgium while it’s still fresh.) After an exhausting overnight bus/ferry trip from London I finally made it to Brussels! A quick search on hostel world revealed, surprisingly, a hotel as one of the cheapest accommodations.
There were very clear directions on how to get to the hotel via public transport from the central bus station, and the underground was very eat to navigate dispite the language barriers. I finally made it to Meininger Hotel late morning. Unfortunately check in is quite late at 3 pm, but the time if no surprise they clearly stated such online. While I couldn’t check in early I was able drop off my bags and was then free to wander the city.
A word about Meininger Hotel: it is absolutely amazing. The dorm rooms run at €15 per night and can sleep up to 6 people. The beds are comfortable, come with linen and blanket (and bath towel), and each bed has a personal reading lamp and an outlet. The toilet and shower are separate, which is convenient, and both are located in the room. The shower gets nice and hot and there is excellent water pressure! You even have a hair dryer. It is like having a nice hotel room at a quarter of the cost! I would definitely recommend this hotel/hostel to anyone going through Brussels.
Brussels itself was a little bit underwhelming for me. It is a nice enough city with plenty to see but it lacked personality and felt a bit like “just another city”. However, it is worth spending at least a day wandering around and checking out. I got a kick out of the mannekin pis (little pissing boy), which is a famous landmark for both tourists and locals alike. There is also a pissing dog and a pissing girl somewhere in town, but I didn’t find them (a bit of a scavenger hunt for you when you choose to visit!).
On the road just near mannekin pis you can find shop after shop of chocolate and waffles. Thank you Belgium for being you and providing such wonderful treats. 🙂 After fully engorging myself on a chocolatey waffle I wandered over to Grand Place.
During the day Grand Place is, well, grand. It’s very pretty and you can admire the architecture and whatnot but if you do nothing else in Brussels….go to Grand Place at night!
I promise you it will be worth it. Standing in Grand Place at night feels just like you are standing in a fairy tale. I now know where Disney got the inspiration for the castle. I was amazed at the transformation from day to night of this place, it was stunning! Don’t miss this.
When I went to SE Asia, I had absolutely no plan. I thought I was going to Cambodia to teach English and about 3 months later found myself living in Thailand instead. I did zero planning for that trip and felt absolutely stress free-my bank account was doing just fine and I was thoroughly enjoying myself (re: indulging in the finer things in life such as as much beer and food I could possibly digest daily).
Now Europe…. Europe require a level of actual planning I was most certainly not prepared for. There are just so many places to go to and so many options. I tried to plan but felt slightly overwhelmed and figured I would book the ticket and just kind of wing it, per usual. However, everyone else seemed to see trouble on the horizons with my all to cavalier attitude. Even my mom asked if I was sure I actually wanted to do this trip. Throwing caution to the wind I brashly booked a flight and didn’t plan a damn thing until the week before boarding my flight to London (this consisted almost exclusively of emailing everyone I know in Europe and telling them to prepare their couches). I only did this because I started reading blog posts titled “How I only spent $700 in three weeks in Europe!” and mild panic settled in because I’m gone for 3 months.
You guys, you NEED TO BUDGET for Europe!! I hate saying that, I feel like it going against my travel code, but you seriously do. And, even more importantly, you NEED TO LEAVE THE UK!! Or at least have a game plan. Because believe me I say it is not a cheap place to be in.
Most of my friends that are in this part of the world reside in the UK and it was without a doubt totally worth it for me to spend over a month there…but this is a post of how to fail at budget travel, and so I will say I had a damn good time blowing my budget 🙂
If you want to fail at budget traveling:
1. Stay in the UK
2. Travel around by bus in the Scottish Highlands
3. Have a night/multiple nights out in London
4. Spend any significant amount of time London
5. Go to Snowdonia national park in Wales without an exit strategy/plan
6. Change your mind on where to go next and backtrack a bit
7. Take a train anywhere in the UK
8. Do any touristy thing such as castles or museums
9. Eat out more than you eat in (unlike Thailand, eating out is not the cheaper option!)
10. Forget to pre book a hostel and be surprised by a big event that leaves all budget accommodation fully booked
Don’t worry, more to come on how I (mostly) enjoyed breaking the bank!
Hello all! I’m sorry for the silence, I’ve spent the past few months bouncing around America visiting family and letting them know I’m still alive and kicking after these past 5 years away.
And then I left again!
I’m missing SE Asia but ready to take on Europe! So hopefully I’ll do better at posting my adventures 🙂
(more to come)
Since coming back to America my adventuring has been put on hold and I have been focusing on reconnecting with family and friends I haven’t seen for the past 4 years of being abroad.
One big thing I have been doing is missing my Thai diet. Not only have I reinstated breads and dairy into my diet, my portion sizes have been on the rise. Welcome back to the fast food nation! Actually, pizza aside I haven’t been eating all that much fast food, but when Louis C.K.’s joke “the meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself” becomes a reality, I mean……
Anyway, since I miss the lighter feeling of Thai food on the stomach and I made pizza a staple meal last week in California, I have decided to change things up a bit. I’ve taken to the kitchen to attempt playing Thai chef! The great thing about Thai food is that a recipe is literally just a suggestion of what to put in it and you can bend it however you want. On the other hand, ingredients are difficult if not impossible to find.
I found this recipe for Thai basil chicken (pad grapow gai ผัดกระเพราไก่) and decided to try it out. There are three ingredients you will probably have a problem finding; Thai chilies, holy basil, and dark soy sauce.
I still haven’t found dark soy sauce or Thai holy basil, but I did get lucky with the chilies! I found green chilies at Winco and a couple of days ago I found frozen red chilies in an Asian market! If you live in the Boise area you can find them at Orient Market on Emerald St. For the Thai holy basil I just use regular Thai basil and you can find that in most supermarkets. I’m sure you can make dark soy sauce at home but I just leave it out. It’s still good!
The picture doesn’t really do it justice, but making this Thai dish was a definite success!!
Hey all! So I have returned to America for the summer months to visit friends and family. I thought this trip would be full of bouncing from place to place but rather uneventful…but I was wrong!
While visiting some family in Florida, I discovered that my uncle is a pilot with his very own plane. What?! HE. HAS. A. PLANE! And he offered to take us up one morning for a little aerial tour of the Amelia Island coastline.
Flying a plane has been on my bucket list for a long while now.
You can imagine the excitement I felt as we drove out to the little airport. We went to my uncle’s hangar and got to check out the little plane we were about to fly in.
I jumped at the chance to grab front seat before he even finished asking us who wanted to claim it and we clambered aboard. We put on our headpieces, performed a pre-flight check, and then we were off! It was so awesome watching a take off from the cockpit. It’s like I never knew I wanted to be a pilot until I saw what pilots see all the time. Realistically, I don’t actually want to become a pilot, but it is pretty sweet.
Once we reached altitude and leveled off I looked over at my uncle. “Can I…can I fly it?!” I asked, holding my breath. “Oh yeah! Of course!” crackled in through my earpiece and I almost died with excitement. I did a little cheer and clapped and grabbed the controls, letting him guide me through it. I didn’t ascend or descend (I feel like my uncle did not want to gamble with death and quite frankly neither did I) but we stayed level and I followed the coastline before cutting inland.
I was feeling simultaneously exhilarated and terrified at the same time, because as much fun as it was I didn’t want to over turn and send up spiraling (which, as I have since learned, is actually quite difficult to do). After landing he let me guide the plane along the runway and around to the hangar. I was so so stoked to unexpectedly be presented with the opportunity to knock off a huge bucket list item and lifelong goal: fly a plane. I did it!!
So when Nick and I parted ways I went to Apple Resort for 4 nights, which was a mistake. I wanted to stay one more night after getting certified and so I moved farther on down White Sand Beach to Starbeach Bungalows. This is where I should have stayed for those 4 nights before! This was truly a backpacker bungalow, but it was a much better value for your money.
(My selfie game was apparently much stronger than my desire to actually document anything at this point so, embarrassingly enough, don’t have any face on pictures of the bungalows. Instead here are some photos of the beach and resorts to both the right and the left of the actual place!)
Starbeach Bungalows is nestled in with other hideaways such as Pens Bungalows and Independent Bos. If you want a real flash place I would probably not recommend these, but if you want a down to earth, relaxed, part of the environment feel I 100% recommend this place!! I have, at the end of the day, a little backpacker heart and soul and I felt right at home here. I could have stayed for weeks.
I don’t think you can reserve a room, and it’s better to just walk up anyway! I got a room no problem. After paying for a night I followed the receptionist
and we climbed just a few short steps up to what seemed like a little tree house jutting out over the tops of the lower bungalows, but it was just so quaint and cute! No, it did not have air con, but for only 500 baht I had my own room with a balcony (including a bench, table and line to hang wet clothes), a sea view, a fan and mosquito net, as well has hot water showers. It was not the same caliber as
the room at Apple but any stretch but I felt like it was very nice for only 500 baht and overall a much better deal. There were even less people down on this side of the beach and the water was just as calm and clear. The food in the restaurant was cheaper and the meals, both foreign and Thai, looked like much better quality food based on my sneaky glances around at other peoples’ tables. 😛
I ordered a cheeseburger earlier that day from a restaurant just a short walk down the beach called 15 Palms for maybe 230 baht, but it was huge and came with plenty of chips, a fresh salad, and sauces. I DID manage to get a picture of that! (Food, apparently higher priority than most things on my “I should take a picture of this” list)
The bar and restaurant did not stay open too late at Starbeach but the bar next door was open until 1am and I joined some of the guests for a nice little party there for my final night on Koh Chang. I absolutely loved this place. I want to go back, I wanted to go back the second I left! If you are a backpacker, this is definitely your scene (and at a very affordable price).
Name: Starbeach Bungalows
Location: north end of White Sands Beach, Koh Chang
Price: 500 baht/night
Pros: price, sea view, hot water showers, mosquito net, large balcony with table and bench, fan
Cons: no air con, bathroom in a little bit of dis-repair, you share the room (namely bathroom) with some ants, no direct access to the main road – you must walk down the beach a little bit (pro or con, depending on how you feel about it!)
Would I stay here again?: Absolutely!