Phuket is one of the most beautiful places I have visited to date. We stayed at a resort with private villas that were equipped with huge bathtubs, beautiful decor, and private pools right outside your bedroom door. I only got to visit for two nights, but it was enough time to appreciate the beauty of the beaches along the west coast. The economy relies heavily on tourism, so the growing popularity of the resorts along the sandy beaches is good for creating jobs for locals. The climate has little variation due to the proximity to the equator, so it is a spot you could consider going to at any time of year.
We spent our time in Phuket swimming in the ocean and eating lunch by the beach. We would order mango smoothies while we watched the waves rise towards the shore. Our stay was short and sweet and a place that we must return to in order to explore more of the island.
We started our next adventure by flying from Koh Samui to Bangkok, we were thrilled to be there considering it had been on our bucket list for years. We didn’t exactly have The Hangover Part II experience, but there were tattoos and ladyboys involved. We stayed at a beautiful hotel just a short cab ride away from the outdoor shopping center where you can find absolutely anything you are looking for. We spent a lot of our time exploring the city and shopping for our favorite Asian skincare that you can find in almost every drugstore in the city. They have definitely mastered the affordable drugstore hydrating masks that you can’t find anywhere in the United States. Our favorites are listed on our store. Our hotel had a beautiful rooftop pool where we were able to relax and prepare for the fun night activities of Bangkok. Our friends took us to a theatrical performance by the famous Thai ladyboys, and they were absolutely amazing. The quality of the performance could be compared to any of the popular Vegas shows. After the show, they were very welcoming to the guests to take photos and sign autographs. When we left the show, we went walking through the streets of Bangkok, got massages, stopped for drinks, and bought handmade wooden bracelets from the sellers on the street. We were even persuaded to try the popular Durian sweet fruit from a cart outside of a bar. Let’s just say some of us hated it and some of us loved it. It’s definitely an acquired taste.
When we woke up from our night out on the town we decided to take a car about two hours outside of the city, Ashley wanted a Sak Yant tattoo from a very sacred place that is quite difficult to get to from the city center. We, obviously, took a pink taxi to travel by ourselves hours outside of the city. We waited until we were home safe to tell our parents that part. Anyway, after the long car ride with a heavy language barrier between us and the driver, we arrived at the temple. There were dogs running around but not a person in sight. We slowly walked towards the entrance where we found where we would give an offering, such as flowers or a pack of cigarettes, a weird combination. A woman finally came down and met us to lead us through a narrow hallway and up a flight of stairs that were noticeably dirty. The whole place for that matter was extremely unsanitary from the dogs running around to the smoke filled room. The monk came out of the back to start on Ashley’s tattoo. At this point, I was extremely nervous, and she seemed calm. I made sure to watch him open the new clean needle, and my nerves settled, just a little. It is believed that a Sak Yant tattoo by a monk holds secret powers. As he started to what it seemed like hammer a nail into her arm, I had already decided this was the worst idea we had ever had. She swears that halfway through she all of a sudden felt no pain, as if he had given her sacred relief. I sat on a dirty stool and watched the whole experience, only interrupted once by the monk pulling out his Iphone to talk to someone for about thirty seconds, then back to work. When it was finished, I have to say, it was the most beautiful tattoo I had ever seen. Despite all of the worrisome foreshadowing, it was an amazing experience overall.
We headed back to the hotel in our pink taxi that had been waiting for us, full of adrenaline we decided to have a quiet night in to calm our nerves before touring some of Bangkok’s most historic spots the next morning.
We had the privilege of staying at The Privilege Hotel Ezra Beach Club in Koh Samui. We were welcomed with the most beautiful array of coconuts and champagne in our room. The hotel’s immaculate beauty can be overwhelming. The beach front villas surround the pool where you can order food and cocktails and spend the day tanning just steps from your suite. We had an amazing time exploring the hotel, swimming, and watching the beautiful ocean’s waves from the edge of the pool. There are massage services just right across the street that the hotel offers and having had many massages in Thailand, I can say that these were 10/10. The hotel’s service is impeccable and you will feel taken care of throughout your entire stay.
Koh Samui is an island off the east coast of Thailand, where you can visit various historic Buddhist temples and Chinese shrines. As easy as it could have been to stay peacefully at the hotel, we made a day trip to tour the island. We weren’t sure what to expect when we signed up for a car service to take us around to visit the historic spots. The morning of our tour, it was pouring rain and the streets were completely flooded. The car arrives. It was an old beat up Jeep type vehicle with open doors and roof. We and a few other tourists from the hotel piled in the back with pink ponchos to help protect us from the rain, they didn’t exactly work, but it was all part of the fun. We visited everything from famous rocks to monumental temples and shrines. We even went zip-lining through the jungle while it rained heavily around us. At this point, the roads were complete mud, and the driver was driving rapidly through the curved paths. One of the guides asked if anyone wanted to ride on the top of the hood, us being us, we quickly accepted the offer. It was very dangerous and we do not recommend anyone ever do this, with that being said, it was insanely fun.
We were headed off to Thailand with one of our greatest friends, who lives in Vietnam. We decided that it would be easier to fly straight to Vietnam and leave for Thailand the next morning. It was originally supposed to be a quick night stop, just so we could get some sleep and have a break from our long flight from Los Angeles…
It was in fact, not one of those nights. When we landed, we immediately had to get visas, that we had already prepared for, and the process was quicker than one might think. It will forever be one of my favorite pages in my passport. We were picked up by our friend’s driver and we thought we were headed home, but if you know our friend, Son, he likes to make the most out of life. He wasn’t going to let us come to Vietnam without experiencing some of his favorite parts of his city. We headed straight to Kasho Club. We were both dressed in matching black Liz xx sweatpants and crewnecks, not exactly club attire. We were exhausted from our long flights but we were quickly woken up when we walked through the dim lit doors and up the elevator to the club, filled with sparklers, balloons, hookahs, and champagne. One of the most interesting parts of the culture in the nightlife scene in Vietnam is the balloons. We originally thought they were for decoration, but they were in fact, full of nitrous oxide. People will get their own balloon and inhale for a quick hit that is short lived, but can be very dangerous with continuous use. We stayed as far away from the balloons as possible. We have both seen a lot of things happening in the party scene that would be shocking to most, but this was one of the strangest things we had witnessed. Our group was more comfortable, and better off, just sipping champagne and dancing to the music.
We left the club, starving, but thinking the night was over. We were wrong. We took a tour around the city, finally stopping around 5am at a restaurant, I couldn’t understand the conversation between our friend and the waiter, but I’m pretty sure we ordered everything on the menu. The food was absolutely amazing. The experience of just one night in Saigon is by far one of our favorite memories.
Art Basel is an art fair that happens in various locations throughout the year, Basel, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Miami. We were lucky enough to go to this year’s Miami fair with a group of our friends. We rented a house on Airbnb that was so beautiful from the intricate and detailed indoor decor to the backyard where there was a bar, pool, and hot tub. This is where we all spent most of our nights. We even met a nice little iguana that became part of our group pretty quickly, she liked jumping in the water and sunbathing by the pool alongside us.
We both studied art in college, so Art Basel is one of our favorite events of the year. We got to see famous photographs, paintings, and even advanced video pieces. There is a lot of modern art that is extremely interesting, but can only be enchanting to a certain eye. You could spend hours walking around the exhibits caught up in fascination. I recognized many of the pieces, I even knew some of the artists personally, and also found some of my new favorite artists that I had yet to hear of. Some of the photos below include the famous Andy Warhol, The Connor Brothers, Wang Yigang, and one of my favorites, a hyper realistic painting of Susan Sarandon by Tigran Tsitoghdzyan, who I was informed of from my previous roommate in New York, who was extremely well read and knowledgeable on any and every topic that would arise in conversation. I was grateful she shared her expertise on some of the art I would see before I went to the fair, so that I could recognize and appreciate the extensive work that goes into these pieces.
The gathering of Art Basel is not only known for its incredible art but for the glamorous parties. You could run into anyone and everyone at the nightly events. It is as much of a social gathering as it is an art fair. Many visitors will charter yachts and spend the days sailing around the Miami coast. It is (other than the art) my absolute favorite part of Art Basel in Miami.