Travel

Honeymoon in Thailand

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Phuket, Thailand was my first choice for our honeymoon. Trust me I went through ALL of the options. The major deciding factor for Thailand was the reasonably priced tickets, the travel time in comparison to other destinations (like Bali, The Maldives etc.). The only reason I was reluctant to visit Thailand is because John has a peanut allergy. This didn’t end up being a problem at all. Here is a rundown of what we did!

The flight & price – The flights with traveler’s insurance (which you should never travel internationally without) were just under $700. That is a steal for an international flight. These flights ended up being perfect for us with a 24 hour layover in Singapore each way. Yes, we had to pay for two nights hotel in Singapore but I loved that flight route and we got a chance to see two cities and take a break in between the flights. The flight from SF to Singapore was long as well, 15 hours! The flight from Singapore to Phuket was only 1 hr & 45 minutes. Singapore airlines was the best airline I’ve ever flown with – seriously. The food was great, we got four free checked bags (even though we only checked one), and the flight attendants were gorgeous. Don’t act like that doesn’t matter!

The hotel – We stayed at one of the top resorts in Phuket, Twinpalms Resort. It was breathtaking. When we arrived we were greeted with cold towels to combat the heat and humidity of the night. We were then given a welcome drink, mine was alcoholic and John’s was non alcoholic and we even got to pick our pillow type. You could choose a feathered down pillow, a foam microfiber pillow, or a pillow that had some sort of beads in it. I loved this touch!

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The hotel had one large pool area. The pool was clean and gorgeous and the perfect temperature to cool you off without being too cold to get comfy in. The mornings in Thailand are so humid that we couldn’t even take photos because our cameras would fog up. After breakfast around 11 AM the humidity and mosquitoes would disappear and the pool would slowly begin to populate. Let the sunbathing begin! The service by the pool was slow but I didn’t mind that because it allows for more relaxation.

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I recommend Twinpalms for those looking for a relaxing honeymoon or getaway. This hotel is very quiet…almost too quiet. They had an exotic fruit tasting every day from 3 PM – 4 PM but they need another event like some sort of cultural performances or live music on certain nights to liven things up. The pool stays open 24 hours and the restaurant stays open late, but these are the only things to do at the hotel. The hotel is located across the street from Surin Beach but it’s about five minute walk to the actual beach and after dark, we just ended up going back to our room most nights.

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The Beaches – The Twinpalms hotel is located across the street from Surin beach but the hotel also has two shuttles that take guests to two different beaches where they own beach clubs. Their beach clubs offer great food, a bar, music and lounges with chairs. Catch Beach Club was our favorite located on Bang Tao Beach. This club had an adults only pool and a rinse station for sand. It had a great vibe and location on the beach. HQ Beach Club was located on Kamala Beach and the beach was more rocky but the views were lovely from this location. Phuket has so many freakin’ beaches on both sides of the island it’s hard to visit them all to appreciate their differences. The main differences in the Andaman sea compared to the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans are the temperature and color of the water. The water in Thailand is turquoise and warm like a bath!

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The Food – There are two main rules that I have for Phuket. Don’t eat the street food, just don’t, it doesn’t even look good. Also, only drink water with large cylinder ice with the holes in it. All of the restaurants we visited were extremely nice with the exception of the hole in the wall Thai place next door to our hotel, but it was still delicious and we didn’t get sick. I’ll do a separate post about the restaurants we enjoyed because they were fantastic.

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What to do – In life there are balances right? For example, John and I don’t eat meat anymore for cruelty and environmental reasons, however, when we posted about how we rode an elephant in Thailand someone on Facebook was offended. Really? We sacrifice deliciousness for the treatment of animals and saving the earth every day – don’t we deserve to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity of an elephant ride? Maybe that topic deserves a separate post? Anyhow, John and I had the best taxi driver while in Thailand. He took us to go Tiger Kingdom first. Yes, we did pet tigers. There is one rule as a black person when it comes to risking your life doing things you said you’d never do. If you get mauled or get your arm bitten off, you can’t complain. You put yourself in that position, so you better not cry – just play with the cards you’ve been dealt. Luckily, we’re still alive!

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Petting a tiger was seriously one of the craziest and most exciting things I’ve ever done. Afterwards John asked our taxi driver if he knew where the elephants were, so he took us! There were two elephants owned by a large family who lived in huts on the grounds with the elephants. You can even take the elephants through the tropical trees on a 45 min minute ride but John and I are so impatient we just wanted a 10 minute ride around the facility. lol On one hand, I rode an elephant, on the other hand I just probably fed a family for the next two days

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I refused to see the monkeys in Thailand because everyone told me it was a bad idea. Even the woman at the Immunization clinic stressed how dangerous it is so I convinced John not to go, I pet a tiger dammit!

Patong City! The downtown Patong area is a great area for shopping and it also has a mall but it really comes alive at night. Imagine Vegas on steroids! Lady boys dancing in clubs, walking down the street and being offered strip shows, and cheap liquor!

Thailand was amazing and I would definitely go back. There are so many other places I’d like to see in the meantime!

I’m sure I left out a lot here so ask me anything!

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24 Hours In Half Moon Bay

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I spent 24 hours in Half Moon Bay on a work retreat and I was surprised how lovely this tiny town is. Half Moon Bay is about an hour drive from San Francisco. Waves from the Pacific Ocean crash into the city’s coast and it has the feeling of an small town near countryside.

Day one was spent on Main street at Pasta Moon. We spent all day at a working session in the restaurant’s private room. The staff there was so amazingly accommodating and the food was good too. The mussels and the shrimp pasta were my favorites but they’re known for their lasagna.

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We spent the night at Half Moon Bay Inn which is a one minute walk from Pasta Moon restaurant. This was my favorite part of the retreat. The rooms were clean and cozy. If you’re looking for a luxury hotel, stay at the Four Seasons. If you’re looking for a Bed & Breakfast feel, stay at HMB Inn. The house made soaps made the hotel extra special. I prefer natural products without parabens and harsh chemicals, and while these soaps weren’t that advanced, they smelled great – so I used them anyway. One night won’t hurt! My room even had a shared patio which would come in handy if you were staying with family or kids in the adjoining room.

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The next day was spent at Miramar Farms. There are a few farms in Half Moon Bay but Miramar is fully set up for team building and development. The grounds were beautiful and the food they served was made from ingredients from surrounding farms in the area. I recommend HMB as a weekend getaway for people who live in or around San Francisco – the Summer. It managed not to rain the day we spent on the farm but I am sure it is 100 times more beautiful in warm weather. It’s more affordable than Napa or Sonoma County and easily accessible. Driving along the coast, staying in a beautiful Air B&B or Hotel, and enjoying the greenery here would be an amazing weekend getaway!

 

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48 Hours In Honolulu

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I have totally been M.I.A for the last few days, right? Well I have the best comeback post ever. Here is an overview of the 48 hours I spent in Honolulu this weekend.

Honolulu is only a five hour flight from San Francisco so it’s the perfect way to spend a three day weekend if you live on the west coast. Was it enough time? Is it ever? Hell no – but I did have a great time there and here are a few things you have to do if you spend time there.

Day One: I flew in on Friday morning and spent my entire morning/afternoon on the beach. The beach is the ultimate hang out spot in Honolulu. It is crowded so it’s perfect for people watching and there are surfers galore waiting for the waves to reach them. Waikiki beach is where we hung out and the water was very warm and very salty. The one thing I didn’t like about the beach is the sand. On the shore the sand was moderately soft but one foot into the water were a bed of rocks. Rocks that destroyed the soles of my feet for the rest of the trip. They were sore and tender to the touch!

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After that John and I had the worst lunch ever at a restaurant in our hotel called Shore Bird Restaurant. The food was bad, the service was worse. It’s a shame because the view was amazing. The pina coladas were delicious but I wasn’t tipsy after two so that was a disappointment as well.

Afterward, it was time to explore the city! Our hotel was walking distance to shops and restaurants and we strolled and enjoyed the 80 degree weather. We went into all of my favorite stores and souvenir shops. I purchased a Hawaiian Sarong and we took photos of the scenery like this surf lineup below. Looking back I didn’t take enough photos. I really like to soak in my vacations so taking pictures is not top of mind, but there was so much culture here that I didn’t capture.

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That night we had an amazing dinner at Tanaka of Tokyo. The dinner was perfect but after three pina coladas I quickly realized that Honolulu probably pre-makes all of their frozen beverages. Order real drinks in Honolulu.

Day Two: John had a speaking engagement at the University of Hawaii. The campus was nice but it featured more concrete that I’d hoped for. I did notice exotic birds on the campus though and that was pretty cool. The buildings on the campus were also architecturally beautiful. I noticed a vegan FroYo place across the street from the campus called Banan. I decided to enjoy a banana, papaya, & turmeric smoothie that was really good, amazingly good if you take into consideration that it is vegan!

 

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Charles Atherton House – UH on campus housing

Our lunch spot deserves a post of it’s own! We had lunch at House Without a Key in the Halekulani hotel. The hotel was am-ma-zing! The Halekulani not only had a beautiful & open setting, but it had mini art exhibits and shops that I couldn’t afford. I witnessed a few couples getting married at this hotel and it is the perfect setting for an intimate ceremony. The lunch at House Without a Key was even better than the view and the service was impeccable. I had a Mai Tai that hit the spot and the best fried fish I have ever had. I was more than pleased with this lunch. Go to the House Without a Key for the BREAD ALONE! The bread was delicious.

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Day Three: On my final morning in Honolulu I just HAD to go to a restaurant that I’ve had bookmarked for a year called Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop. So before my 1:30pm flight, I took a cab to downtown Honolulu and enjoyed breakfast at Scratch. I went for the “Milk & Cereal Pancakes” but I was unable to order them because they couldn’t get the consistency of the batter right and I didn’t have a lot of time to wait. The server let me taste the condensed milk syrup for the pancakes and it was delicious. Instead, I enjoyed a jalapeno margarita, cheesy grits, and creme brulee bread pudding. The bread pudding was quite heavy for breakfast but delicious. The cheesy grits and margarita were fantastic and I don’t even like grits! There was not a grit left of the plate when I was through.

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All in all I had an amazing time in Hawaii and I can’t wait until my next exploration! If you plan on visiting Honolulu & have questions just let me know!

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3 reasons you MUST go to Sausalito if you visit the bay

My fiance and I took an impromptu trip around The Bay today – or what felt like a trip (lol). After spending an hour or so people and sailboat watching on the Chrissy Field  beach with our dog, we accidentally drove across the Golden Gate bridge. We could have turned around but after seeing the traffic on the way back we thought, why not just go to Sausalito and hang out for a bit. It had been a while since we’d been up north so we went for it. This brought back memories of us living in Marin and coming to Sausalito on the weekends to sit in the sun and it was the perfect day for that. Here are my favorite things about this tiny town:

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Bill Dan Balancing Rocks: Bill is a guy, a random guy, who stacks odd rocks right on the edge of the sea. He stacks for hours upon hours and it’s quite fascinating to watch. He uses the most unique rock combos  and what seems like magic to make them stay put. He also has four stars on Tripadvisor. That’s Bill in the hat.

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The View: From Sausalito you get a breathtaking view of the San Francisco skyline. My fiance and I talked about how it’s almost too perfect – like a painting or a huge hologram. I did’t think too much about this but it looks surreal, that’s the point. This view combined with the warm weather difference from the city is enough to make the trek up north worth while.

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Lappert’s Ice Cream: Many of the flavors are unique but really, what more do I need to say? ICE CREAM. That is cinnamon caramel goodness you see above. This is the only cinnamon caramel ice cream I’ve ever had and it is delicious.

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Napa Valley Wine Tasting!

I am so excited to be sharing this review with you all because I had THE BEST time wine tasting in Napa this past weekend. The weather was perfectly warm which is a nice change from the windy and foggy San Francisco weather. The wineries were only about 45 minutes away from the city and wait for it…..there was almost no traffic. On this trip I learned that there are over 2100 wineries in North America and exactly half of them are located in Northern California. Although, Sonoma & Napa counties are known for their wine, it’s not the number one export in the state – almonds are! I would love to tell y’all more about the specific wineries that I visited and the wine that I tasted.

Jamieson Ranch Vineyards

Jamieson had the best overall experience of all three wineries. They gave us a tour of the facility, explained how they make their white and red wines, explained how long they use their barrels, and what type of barrels they use! They use American, Hungarian, and French Oak barrels but they also use steel to produce their wine. The gentlemen who gave the tour was more knowledgeable that anyone else we encountered throughout the entire day. Their wines were great but the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were the big hits. And last but not least, the winery grounds were breathtakingly beautiful. Their grounds are featured in the picture at the top of this post as well.

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Kieu Hoang Winery

This winery was beautiful with the perfect setting. It featured a tall patio that overlooked the winery for peaceful sipping. Much of this wine is exported to Asia and they have a popular Chinese actress, Li Bing Bing, as their spokes model (she is absolutely gorgeous by the way). They are known for their uniquely designed wine bottles that are inspired by nature and their Rose wine. The Rose was sweet and pleasant. It was so pleasant that I purchased a bottle. I didn’t actually care for the other wines that I tasted. The Syrah tasted like beef jerky to me. I ran through this vineyard and tasted grapes straight off of the vine.

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Starmont Winery

Starmont winery was the only winery that does not allow tastings on the weekend for under 25 people. As a result, we had to purchase individual bottles and share them. Three other women and I shared one bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. Honestly, we were pretty tipsy at this point so I can’t tell you if the wine was any good but, the building was beautiful. The lounges in the front of the building were nice and perfect for soaking up the sun! I probably would not visit this winery again because there was no tour involved and the staff didn’t seem as eager to educate us on the wines.

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 Me Encanta Cabo

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This was my first time in Mexico. I am completely obsessed with Latin culture. I studied Spanish in college as a minor and I’ve always wanted to tour South America and Mexico. While a trip to Cabo is not a tour, its a taste, right? Anyhow, John and I never imagined we’d have such a magical time here. All-Inclusive hotels are the typical hot spots in Cabo San Lucas, but John and I chose a more romantic setting.

The Cape Hotel was absolutely marvelous! Everything from the complimentary bottle of tequila (keep in mind I have a Spanish accent every time I type a Spanish word) to the wine that was sent up in celebration of our engagement was perfectly timed. This is the perfect hotel for a romantic getaway. If you’re looking for a setting for a girls trip, or an adventurous stay, look elsewhere.

We rented a car and drove to the city center and had the best guacamole on earth at a Mexican restaurant on the pier. We took a boat ride to the secluded “Lovers Beach” and got a close up view of the famous Arch rock formation. Here are a few tips when traveling to Cabo:

  • When you get through customs at the airport do not speak to the men outside the doors trying to scam for cash or offer you a timeshare. One guy stopped us and told us it was “A federal offense to enter Mexico without paying.” WTF, are you serious dude?
  • If you pay for a rental car on Expedia, that is only to hold the reservation. Be prepared to pay for the actual rental when you pick up the car. The Capo Hotel worked with Budget rental to have our car delivered, boss.
  • You cant swim at the beaches here as the waters are too rough. This is however, a surfer’s paradise.
  • This is a 2.5 hour flight from San Francisco and even closer to LA, so if you live in CA, you must travel here!
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All rooms at the Cape have an ocean view and balcony. We stayed in this Deluxe Room.

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