Visiting Baan Teelanka – The Upside Down House & Phuket Fantasea

It was a stormy day in January when all boats were forbidden from leaving the harbor in Phuket that I decided to venture to the Upside Down House.  Having all my previously booked island tours cancelled was a real bummer, but I decided to make the most of it by exploring the the current island I was stranded on and heading to a spa.

I took a motorbike from Patong because the storm hadn’t hit Phuket yet, and made my way to this crazy wayward house in the middle of the island.  A sign greeted me with “Sorry, we’re open” and a bright pink house that looked like it tipped over was sure enough there.  I would definitely do a home stay in this house if I had the chance.

They also have a garden maze and an escape maze here adding to the weirdness of this location.  I paid 350 Baht to get in, and was immediately impressed with the artistic displays that Baan Teelanka had to offer on its three floors.  This place is ideal for silly family photos, but is also fun to just look at the amount of detail that was put into each room:

My favorite rooms were probably the kitchen and the bathroom.  It’s absolutely hilarious to take pictures of the open fridge and upside down toilet.  If you’re a good photographer, you can really get creative with angles and make it look like your model is balancing off the surfaces of some of these rooms.  This was actually the perfect way to spend a rainy day and I was happy that I came here!

Right down the road is a Thai IKEA that is worth checking out.  I decided to go in and try their pineapple smoothie, and they also had pastries available.  It was incredibly delicious!  Phuket really does have a lot of nice gems.

Another great thing to do on a rainy day is to go to Phuket Fantasea!  This theme park is essentially Thailand’s version of Disney Sea but instead of rides, they have an expansive arcade targeted at children, a famous buffet, and a Broadway-esque performance with acrobatics, dancers, and a dazzling display of lights.  Though it might not be as big as other themeparks, it’s still fun to check out.  It has both indoor and outdoors areas with live performances and a lot of fun areas to explore.  Tickets for the show start at 1,800 baht which I recommend seeing because it definitely brightened my stormy day!

The storm fortunately cleared up within 3 days and I was finally able to fly to Chiang Mai to see the most aesthetic temple in the world without having to change my flight.  Listening to the thunder at night alone in my business hotel on the beach, but I still felt safe.

Regardless of weather, Phuket is a great place to explore and the people are very accommodating!  Though parts of it like Patong have an excess of expats and tourists, you can find private beaches away from them to the south, and also catch a ferry from one of the piers to go to other tropical islands.

Bathing in the Mud with Elephants at the Sanctuary (Phuket, Thailand)

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Volunteers jump in the mud to wash rescued elephants in Thailand.

I never dreamed I would be swimming through the mud in a giant elephant bath during my first day in Phuket, but as soon as I heard that the elephants were in need of protection, I signed up to be a volunteer at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary.  There are a total of 4 parks in Thailand you can visit to help save the elephants (Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Samui, and Phuket) that all offer an educational hands-on experience with them.

The day starts with a free pickup from your hotel (from most locations) to the sanctuary.  After listening to a presentation on why it is important to protect the elephants, you are handed a knitted shirt and are given directions on how to feed them with corn stalks, bananas, and sugar cane.  The elephants are extremely friendly and approachable, and the English-speaking guides will tell you each of their stories.  You can tell that each one has been through a lot by the marks on their bodies.  They seem much happier in their natural habitat than anywhere else!

Most of the elephants I met were rescued from a harsh lifestyle of show business.  Due to being forced to lift heavy equipment and be trained to do tricks, some of their ears were worn from leather harnesses and and straps.  Additionally, their skin was discolored from being away from the mud for so long.  It is evident that elephants used for riding and for circuses are lacking in hygiene and not taken care of properly.  This is why we must do what we can to collectively help them and spread awareness.

A very important lesson to learn is: elephants should never be ridden.  The elephant’s spine will degrade overtime from the weight on their backs and it can cause permanent damage to their bodies.  One thing that upsets me with tour companies in Thailand is that they often feature both an elephant sanctuary and and elephant riding course.  Elephant riding should be discouraged as much as possible to tourists and permanently removed from the tour companies because it is extremely harmful to them.  Even though elephants look strong, they are fragile creatures that should be treated with respect.

After our feeding session, we headed to the mud bath where we happily washed and played with them!  The mud is extremely important in nourishing elephants’ skin and you can tell that they really enjoy it.  I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous to get in, but the group of friends that I met here encouraged me to so I took the plunge!  I am so happy that I decided to do this because I feel like I understand the elephants a lot more now.

You can choose from a half day and full day course with them, and an overnight course is available as well.  I decided to try the half day course just to see what it was like for 2,500 baht.  All of the money is used for medicine and maintaining the elephants in the sanctuaries, so I felt like this experience was well worth it.

After you bathe with the elephants, you will be able to take a shower and feast on a delicious Thai buffet meal,  I enjoyed my experience here very much because I feel like I learned a lot about them, and I even got to hug one at the end of the tour!

For those looking to volunteer, please look at the volunteer page, and cherish the moments you are able to spend with these precious animals.

Escaping to Thailand for Golden Week

I had a very fulfilling trip to Thailand over NYE traveling to Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Chiang Mai, but unfortunately due to a severe storm my pink dolphin and James Bond Island trips were cancelled.  Not wanting to accept defeat, I immediately scheduled my next trip there over Golden Week.  This year Golden Week lasts a consecutive 10 days, so both overseas airline tickets and domestic travel costs within Japan are heavily inflated, being even more expensive than the average New Year’s prices.  Even though it was quite costly, I bit the bullet and booked my flight.  This time I am determined to do what I couldn’t do last time, and more!

My planned itinerary (so far) is listed below:

Narita Airport (international flight is around 2pm on the 26th) → Bangkok → Phuket → Phi Phi Islands → Koh Lanta (and surrounding islands) → Phuket → James Bond Island →  Phuket → Koh Samui → Koh Tao → Koh Phangan (for Blackmoon Culture party) → Krabi → Bangkok ↺ Tokyo (on January 7th).

April 26th: Phuket

I will be leaving Tokyo a day before Golden Week starts and arriving in Phuket at 10:00pm.  This time is not ideal, but was the cheapest flight I could find.  I booked this flight in February, and already most of the discount airlines leaving from Japan were fully booked.  This time I am staying at a guesthouse in southeast Phuket near Rassada Pier since I will be sailing a lot.  I do not have many plans besides maybe getting some mango sticky rice because tomorrow I will be getting up early for a sightseeing adventure!

April 27th: Phi Phi Islands

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Image from https://www.trazy.com/

The Phi Phi Islands are a popular destination among many Thailand travelers due to their beautiful beaches and nature, and are a destination I feel I most definitely see.  This was a tour that I was supposed to go on last trip, but it got cancelled due to the weather.  I booked this tour through a private company with good reviews called Phuket Sail Tour and will be traveling around via speedboat.  The advantage to this is hopefully I will avoid the crowds, as the people who run this tour are Thailand natives that manage their own company.  I look forward to exploring Viking Cave, swimming in Maya Bay, and seeing the monkeys on Monkey Beach (even though I recently saw some in Hakodate).

April 28th: Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta is a beautiful island in Krabi with rich emerald waters and scenic beach huts. My friend who teaches English in Thailand posted pictures of her vacation there, and I’ve been longing to go ever since!  I had a great stay in Koh Samui in my rainbow beach hut in January, but I am looking to stay somewhere more remote.  I will be taking a ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket which I booked through 12go, and arriving there early in the morning.

From there, I plan on exercising a rescue dog on the beach from Lanta Animal Welfare to support their foundation and also meet a cute animal.  If I have time, I want to venture to Mu Ko Lanta National Park to do some sightseeing, and then return to Lanta Secret Beach near my accommodation, Pinky Bungalow Resort.  Pinky Bungalow!  What a name!

April 29th: Koh Lanta Island Tour

On my 2nd day in Koh Lanta, I will be snorkeling at Koh Ngai, seeing the glistening Emerald Cave at Koh Mook, swimming and sunbathing at Koh Kradan, and seeing tropical fish at Koh Chuck!  That sure is a lot of “Kohs” (which means “island”)!

I booked my tour through Easy Day Thailand.  I do not know a lot about them, but the tours in Koh Lanta are limited so I hope to make the most out of my situation no matter how it goes (it should go well).

April 30th: James Bond Island Sunset Tour

I will be taking the first ferry back to Phuket from Koh Lanta, then having Phuket Sail Tours (which I booked for Phi Phi too) pick me up at Rassada Pier.  This was another tour I was supposed to do last time, and I have high expectations for it!  If you look through most trip itineraries for this island, you will see that most boats leave early in the morning to go here.  The tour that I booked specifically says it leaves in the afternoon to avoid crowds, and I am looking forward to getting that picture perfect Instagram-worthy sunset photo!

If I’m going to be a tourist, I’m doing it right!

May 1st: Tango Beach Resort at Koh Samui

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Image from http://tangosamui.com/

I definitely splurged a bit here, but the price is still reasonable at $50 per night.  I will be staying at Tango Beach Resort on Chaweng Beach in Koh Samui!  This is the party beach and I plan on spending the entire day there.  Last time I stayed at the budget New Hut Bungalows which were actually very nice and cost approximately $10 per night, but this time I am looking for more luxury!  I am hoping the rain holds off on this day, or else I will just focus on writing.

May 2nd: Koh Tao Island Tour

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Image from lillagreen.at

Koh Tao is one place I haven’t been where everyone tells me I need to go!  I debated about staying overnight here, but again I prefer the accommodations and convenience of staying in Samui since you can reach other places easier.  That is why I opted to take the one day speedboat tour here so I could see all of the island’s main points.

I am most interested in climbing to the famous viewpoint in Koh Nangyuan and taking pictures of the beautiful waters crashing below.  I am also looking forward to snorkeling in Mango Bay!  I will be snorkeling a lot during this trip, so I hope I don’t get tired of it!

May 3rd: Pink Dolphin Tour + Blackmoon Culture Party

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

This is the main reason I’m going back to Thailand.  I’ve never told anyone this, but I think about meeting these pink dolphins almost every day. I was supposed to see them, but the great storm of Phuket last month cancelled my trip.  This time however, the weather should hopefully be on my side.  Or else I am postponing other things on this trip until I see them!

This will be an insane day, because immediately after the tour I am having my bus drop me off at Na Thon Koh Pier where I will be sailing to Koh Phangan for the Blackmoon Culture Party!  I had a very memorable time at the Fullmoon Party I went to during the 2019 Countdown.  I made friends from all over the world, and the kind folks at Wild & Wandering Backpackers Hostel let me store my luggage there for a great price.  I definitely plan on paying them a visit this time around!

Unlike some articles on the internet say, these parties are safe and I did not witness any drug-taking there.  The fire rope definitely exists, and partying with hundreds of people on the beach is a crazy experience, but ]the majority of people there were kind and respectful.  I’d say this is definitely a beach worth partying on!

After the party ends, I will be taking the first ferry back to Krabi at 7am!

May 4th-5th: Krabi

During my last two days in Thailand, I am meeting up with my old friend from college in Krabi!  I did not plan much other then drinking on the beach with her and hiking to the Tiger Cave Temple!  I feel like there is no better way to end my trip then spending it this way and reflecting on my trip over gorgeous views and farewell drinks on the beach.  I am super excited to write all about my experiences (I still have many to write about from the last trip)!

I will be flying back to Tokyo at 5:30am, which again is not ideal, but is the cheapest price I could find for Golden Week.  I will likely be sunburnt and exhausted when I get back, but the relaxing moments I have in between will make it worth it!  I am excited for yet another exciting trip in Thailand!

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!