Meeting Totoro at May’s Garden House Restaurant (Bangkok)

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A creamy Totoro cake takes cover from the rainfall!

Escaping to a secret garden and meeting Totoro was not something I had in my original trip itinerary, but when traveling abroad many unexpected things can happen! As someone who is both a avid anime fan and loves themed restaurants, I was thrilled to discover a Totoro restaurant in central Bangkok.  I decided to go there my 2nd day in Thailand as soon as it opened!

May’s Garden Cafe is a lovely dining experience with its artistically crafted stained glass windows, portraits of Miyazaki characters hanging on the wall, and also its outdoor garden where you are free to leisurely roam.  With an expansive menu featuring mostly Thai food and Asian cuisine, there are a large variety of dishes to choose from.  I decided to order the Pad Thai Omelette and the Totoro cake pictured above, and was amazed at how delicious the cooking was!  Unlike other themed restaurants, this food is extremely authentic and uses a lot of fresh ingredients, vegetables, and spices to create culinary delights.

This restaurant was officially opened by Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki after he visited Thailand and met a vendor named May selling the best chicken wings he had ever tasted on the street (according to Coconuts Bangkok).  Inspired by how hard she worked to feed her family, he hired her as a chef and her wings are on the menu!

I’ve been to the Hayao Miyazaki Museum and Cafe in Tokyo, but this restaurant in Thailand has a bigger menu and much more of an atmosphere to it.  I did not make a reservation here because I walked in as soon as it opened, but it is recommended to do so in advance because it is quite popular.

If you get the chance, please visit this cafe to meet a life-sized Totoro and dine on some authentic Thai cuisine!  The garden awaits you~

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A life-sized Totoro is here to be your neighbor!

A Somewhat Magical Time at the Unicorn Cafe in Bangkok

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A magical land where all dreams come true, serving up rainbow food and more!

Bangkok is a bustling city riddled with markets, temples, food stalls, clubs, red light districts, and many more curious things, so picking exactly where to start your trip here can be challenging.  After doing some thorough research, I finally decided on the perfect place–one that stood out like a gem from the other places in the city.  A magical land in a not-so-faraway place with rainbow food and dangling stuffed unicorns overhead in the pastel sky.  Yes, you guessed it, the very first restaurant I went to in Thailand was the Unicorn Cafe!

Though some of my friends may shun me for not trying something more authentic as my first meal here, my idea was to try the themed cafes first and then go for the authentic food for the best tasting experience.  Additionally, this cafe has mixed reviews that appear with a quick Google search; some stating it’s the most magical place on earth and others refuting it’s most certainly not.  The controversy surrounding this cafe made me even more curious about it, so I decided to come here and witness firsthand exactly how magical it was for myself.

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The great debate on the Unicorn Cafe: Is it the most magical place on earth or not?                        My answer: It’s somewhat magical.

Coming here directly from the Bangkok airport with my luggage in tow, I took a short taxi ride and reached the so-called magical unicorn haven an hour before they closed.  This was actually a really good time, because it wasn’t as crowded as during the rush hour and I could admire all of the unicorns overhead in peace.  It nostalgically reminded me of the old room I had in America growing up in the 90s, except with 10x the unicorns!

Featuring rainbow spaghetti, waffle cones, cupcakes, burgers, and more, the menu is quite dazzling with a lot of different options!  The downside is the price is a bit expensive–you could get a larger quantity of food at the markets just a few streets down from here and at most restaurants in Bangkok.  However, I came here for the novelty of eating rainbow food, and I wasn’t about to back down after coming this far.  After some more debate, I decided on the rainbow unicorn cupcake:

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A unicorn in cupcake form.

My stance on this magical debate is that if you are looking for something different, you will definitely find it here.  This place has a bright and welcoming interior with an English-friendly menu, extremely unique desserts, and unicorns as far as the eye can see.  However, some may be disappointed by the price and lack of healthier options here, not to mention the cafe is normally overly touristy.  Some reviews have questioned the quality of food here, but it’s pretty much the same for all themed restaurants I’ve been to.  I enjoyed my time here, but I agree there are even more magical places to be discovered despite my love for unicorns!

I will be detailing a lot of unique destinations in Bangkok and Phuket in my next series of blogs, so please stay tuned for more.

 

The Most Insane Trip Itinerary to Thailand for NYE 2019

From December 29th – January 7th, I will be going on an absolutely insane solo trip to Thailand to kick off 2019.  This trip will have psychopath levels of traveling, but after spending many hours in the office and being exhausted from partying until sunrise, this will be a much needed-break.

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Image Credit: iStock

This will be the 8th country I have traveled to this year.  Since the start of 2018, I have traveled to Hong Kong, Macau, Korea (two times), Japan, America, Vietnam, and soon Thailand.  I rarely get nervous about traveling by myself, but sometimes I fear the potential flight or ferry delays the weather could cause.  Regardless, in the case that I do miss a flight or a ferry, I am more than happy to spend an extra day on the beach as most Asian countries are very accommodating to foreigners who respect their culture.  I am excited to try new food, meet people of different cultures from all over the world, and gain new insight and ideas from the experiences I have.

I used to be a very introverted gamer, but now that I’ve gained confidence in myself I like traveling to new countries because it feels like I’m starting a new save file in real life.  Going to a new country is like being born again because everything is so different and by the end of each trip, I feel fulfilled and ready to work harder towards my goals.  My planned itinerary (so far) is listed below:

Tokyo bassline party on Dec 28th (#RIP1228) → Narita Airport (international flight is around 11am on the 29th) → Bangkok → Full Moon Rave Island for NYE (Koh Phangan) → Koh Samui → Koh Tan → Phuket → Phi Phi Islands → James Bond Island (overrated, but I want to take my own pictures here) → Chiang Mai → Chiang Rai → Bangkok ↺ Tokyo (on January 7th).

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Image Credit: iStock

My friends that have been to Thailand have already told me that this is too much to fit in for the 10 days I am here, but I am a highly motivated person who doesn’t sleep a lot and likes to see and experience as many things as possible, so I feel like this is the perfect challenge for me.  There is no better feeling than the satisfaction that comes with pulling off a crazy trip like this.

Here are the current things that I am planning to do (gathered from my research so far):

December 28th: (RIP Party in Tokyo)

The night of the 28th will be the ultimate pre-New Years celebration for me, because my friends are throwing a UK Garage and bassline party in central Tokyo called #RIP1228.  My friend Carpainter, who is UK Garage and techno artist in Tokyo, is headlining, and I am also excited to Genick perform, who is young and upcoming bassline/garage artist there.  The party will go from around midnight ~ 5am, so immediately after it finishes I will be taking a train to Narita International Airport to board my flight at 11am.  Though I will be very tired, I am thankful for this final opportunity to say goodbye to all of my Japanese friends for a while:

December 29th – 31st: Bangkok

After hopefully getting some rest during the flight, I will arrive to Bangkok around 4pm and begin my adventure around the city!  The first stop I wish to make straight from the airport is the infamous Unicorn Cafe.  A quick Google search comes up with hilarious results:

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The next day (30th), I plan on waking up early and doing some running around the city.  The Totoro Cafe (May’s Garden House) is where I want to have lunch, and I also want to try some sticky mango rice somewhere!   As for sightseeing, currently the Airplane Graveyard, the Grand Palace, and Wat Arun are at the top of my list.  If there is time, I will also check out the Sathorn Unique Tower (which is an abandoned skyscraper you can climb) and the Contemporary Art Museum.  It is likely I will not have time for all of these things, but I will be sure to make the most of my experience!  On the morning of the 31st, I will be making my way to my next destination: Koh Phangan.

There is also a hilarious bar I found online called “Krystal Club Thonglor 25” where I wish to drink out of the crystal skull flasks that they have on their website.  Too funny.  Hunting for aesthetic things and having unforgettable memories is what I’m after (even if they are somewhat tacky)!

The next day (December 30th), I plan on waking up early and doing some running around the city.  The Totoro Cafe (May’s Garden House) is where I want to have lunch, and I also want to try some sticky mango rice somewhere!   As for sightseeing, currently the Airplane Graveyard, the Grand Palace, and Wat Arun are at the top of my list.  If there is time, I will also check out the Sathorn Unique Tower (which is an abandoned skyscraper you can climb) and the Contemporary Art Museum.  It is likely I will not have time for all of these things, but I will be sure to make the most of my experience!  On the morning of the 31st, I will be making my way to my next destination: Koh Phangan.

31st – 1st: Koh Phangan

Ah, the infamous full moon rave island!  As an avid partier, this is one place I cannot ignore.  I have read mixed reviews of these parties being overrated and overcrowded, but I’m from Tokyo so that is nothing new to me.  The biggest con of going here for NYE is most accommodations are overpriced, and the cheap hostels require a 4-5 night stay (which is too long for an island that is relatively small in my opinion), so I am just going to enjoy the party for the evening and take the first ferry back.

I am taking a bus from Bangkok booked from 12go Asia at 6am on December 31st, then taking a ferry to arrive at Koh Phangan around 4pm.  That will give me just enough time to get food, maybe go for a swim, and start barhopping.  The only thing I’m worried about is storing my luggage, but hopefully I will find a locker or will be able to bribe a hostel to let me store my suitcase there.

If you’ve watched the comedic Travels with My Father on Netflix, there is an episode where the son takes his father to Koh Phangan where his father stares at his son in disbelief as he dances (quite hilariously) through the drunk hoards of people and mingles with the locals.  After drinking out of a bucket of alcohol with his son, he then proceeds to read ‘Reporting on Hitler’ with noise-reducing headphones.

Your reaction to the full moon parties will either be one or the other from other blogs I’ve read (I’m hoping I can enjoy it as much as the son).  If not, I will perhaps nurse a cheap bottle of wine and try to camp on the beach, or just go swimming somewhere in Haad Beach until sunrise.  I am not very worried about staying out all night, because in Japan, Korea, and other European countries, parties go well on past 6am.  I am going to try my best to enjoy the time with the people I have around me, because that is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life.

After ringing in the new year with random strangers who become my friends, I will take a ferry to Koh Samui (which looks more beautiful than this island) to start my new year!

January 1st – January 3rd: Koh Samui

Happy new year!  The first thing I’m doing when I get to my bungalow hut (hopefully it’s the pink one) in Koh Samui is sleeping.  This will be the day that I likely sleep the most, but as soon as I wake up I am going for a dip in Lamai Beach.  The location of my beach hut is ideal because I am very close to both Lamai and Silver Beach, that are two of the most beautiful in Koh Samui.  Afterwards, I wish to see the Grandfather’s Grandmother’s Rocks for hilarious photo opportunities, and maybe grab some Cafe 69 near the Bophut’s fisherman village for lunch to top it off (haha, puns)!

If I have energy, The Secret Buddha Garden and the Na Mueang Waterful look like wonderful destinations for the adventure-loving me.  If I can find a moonlit bar somewhere near the pier then that is likely where I will end my night, else I will just take a bottle of wine back to my hut and prepare for the next activity: The Pink Dolphin Tour.

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Image Credit: International Packages (I will hopefully have my own original images soon)!

When I realized pink dolphins were real, I knew I absolutely had to see them!!  Everyone in my life knows that I love things that are pink, aesthetic, and awesome, so this tour will be the ideal adventure for me.  I am so stoked to see these dolphins and go scuba diving near one of the islands where they live.  I am excited to travel to Koh Tan by speedboat to get some nice pictures of them and then enjoy some snorkeling.  What a way to kick off 2019!

Continuing this crazy quest, at 8:15 on January 3rd, I will be flying to Phuket for more shenanigans!

January 3rd – January 5th: Phuket

People tell me that Phuket is overrated and “polluted” with expats, but I don’t think that’s true at all.  I don’t mind going on tours with other people because I usually meet someone I enjoy talking with, and if not, I can just listen to my favorite music and stare at the aesthetic scenery so that makes me content.  Phuket has some amazing beaches.  I am staying at a hotel on the coast of Patong Beach because I am interested in experiencing the nightlife, but the southern beaches such as Karon and Yanui are very remote and perfect for those getaway vacations.  However, I am not trying to “getaway” in Phuket–I am staying in the central area because I want to experience the main attractions and nightlife.

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Image Credit: iStock

Upon arriving, I will first be exploring the Upside Down House, then going to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary to feed and hopefully take care of these precious animals.  I read online that they have been harmed by people riding them as a tourist attraction, and that going to this sanctuary is a good way to interact with them without hurting them.  I am excited to do things listed on the Afternoon Visit itinerary such as bathe and walk in the jungle with them!  I am not sure what to expect, but regardless, it looks like an amazing time!

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Image Credit: iStock

The next day (January 4th), I have 3 activities planned: The Tiger Kingdom, a tour to James Bond Island through Phuket Sail Tours during the sunset hours, and finally a dazzling night at the theme park Phuket Fantasea!  I am going to be absolutely exhausted by the end of the night, but I will get to experience so much wildlife and swim at so many beaches so I’m absolutely stoked for this!

On January 5th, I booked a tour to the Phi Phi Islands through Voyagin because it was fair-priced and included a lot of destinations that I wanted to see.  Although there are a lot of options available, I am most looking forward to exploring Viking Cave, swimming in Maya Bay, and witnessing the monkeys on Monkey Beach.  Regardless of if I am by myself, I already know that I’m going to have a great time!

At 7:20pm, I will be leaving and heading to Chiang Mai for the final, and perhaps most aesthetic part of this tour!

January 5th – January 7th: Chiang Mai

While I was in Vietnam, a bartender at the Unicorn Pub was telling me about a temple that had golden toilets.  For aesthetic purpose, I had to seek this temple out.  The name of this temple is Wat Rong Koon, and its intricate design is absolutely breathtaking:

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Image Credit: KKDay

I have booked the Package B Tour through KKDay and am so excited to learn more about it!  During this tour, I will be going to a hotspring, visiting this glistening temple, going to the Black House museum of architecture, and ending my trip by seeing the traditional lifestyle of the Chiang Rai Hilltribe village people.

At the end of the tour, I have requested to be dropped off directly at the Chiang Mai airport, and then will fly back to Bangkok to catch my overnight flight back to Tokyo.  I have put around 30+ hours of research into this trip and have booked all of my flights and tours about 2 months in advance, so I am absolutely thrilled to finally go to Thailand!

In the case of poor weather or flight delays, I am hoping I can quickly think on my feet and find alternative activities to do.  I love beaches, photography, night markets, and going to bars, so I expect to have the time of my life while I’m here.  I am excited to open my heart and mind to a brand new culture so I can continue to grow and connect with others.

Look forward to hearing from me soon!  I want to share my experience with everyone!