Koh Samui, Thailand


With Thanksgiving just 3 short months away, I’m just now blogging about Thanksgiving adventure 2015.  Get ready for the blog catch up series!

Thanksgiving in Thailand 2015

I attempted to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal the weekend before Thanksgiving and I’m so glad I did.  There is a familiar comfort in food around the holidays.  The only thing missing was extended family around the table. IMG_2587.JPG

Off to Koh Samui we go!  I was so excited to finally get to Thailand and had heard many great things about KS.  Our first hotel was full of activities and had an awesome beach.  The first night we were there it happened to be a holiday called LoyKrathong.  So Billy,  Emily and I made a traditional Krathong out of coconut leaves and flowers to set adrift later that night.

That evening we enjoyed an elaborate beach BBQ, mocktails, and a parade to celebrate Loy Krathong along with a beauty contest.  All the contestants were beautiful employees of the resort. We then lit the candles on our Krathongs and set out to sea to end the festive evening.

The next day we did an excursion to see the elephants and waterfalls.  We have ridden elephants in other countries and this experience was by far the best.  As you know, I’m writing this 9 months after our trip and since then a father was killed by one of these beauties in front of his family.  We will not be riding anymore elephants and are now sadly painfully aware of the inhumane treatment of these animals.

Billy and Emily enjoyed the opportunity to “drive” these mighty beasts and luckily had no incidents.  At the end of the trail we were able to feed them. Slobbery trunks grabbing at the offered bananas was oddly connecting.

Now it’s time to cool off in the waterfall. We found the perfect photo op on this rock in front of this beautiful waterfall.  We took a few pics and realised that the shadows covered our faces, so we sat down for some new ones.  As soon as we got up from the rock, Emily slipped and plunged into the cold water.  She was graceful in her recovery and the audience watching didn’t laugh too hard, unlike her family. Afterwards, we found a nice area to swim and sun on the rocks.

Off to dinner with an amazing view!

That next morning we received a letter under our door that the manager had a special offer for us.  We excitedly headed to the front office and were given an upgrade to a different (more upscale) resort not far away.  We all enjoyed the family villa and new area of the island to explore for our last two nights.  Unfortunately, the new resort was not near a shopping area (good for the pocketbook!)  Bill and I left the kids at the new resort and went to do a little shopping before our dinner reservation.  We had scheduled the kids transportation from the hotel to the restaurant to meet us.  After waiting at the restaurant for about 15 minutes and no kids, I started to panic.  We had no way to get in touch because their cell phones only worked on wifi.  A few calls to the hotel later, and many more grey hairs, they safely arrived.  The van driver had taken them to the wrong restaurant and luckily, Emily had been paying attention and told him the name of the correct restaurant.  Geez.  What a wake up call that was! Scare aside, this had to be by far one of the most memorable restaurants where we have eaten.  Our own private “tree house” with music selection. You know it’s fancy when they offer you the knife selection as well as having a salt connoisseur. Smoking shooters were the highlight for the kids!

Temple time!  Wat Plai Laem greeted us with a giant 18 arm statue of Guanyin (goddess love and protection). Surrounded by a lake, it was a very tranquil place of worship.

Next is Big Buddha Temple.  It didn’t disappoint!



Hin Ta and Hin Yai (Grandpa and Grandma) Rocks look like the male and female genitalia.  However, after looking through our pictures Bill is standing in front of (Grandpa), so you can’t really see the “male” rock formation…only the tip over his shoulder. TMI?  Sorry. It’s a pretty big tourist attraction…haha.IMG_3024IMG_3036IMG_3053

Ended our vacation with a little Football Golf!  So much fun!!!!  Just like golf only with a soccer ball.  Super hot and LOTS of mozzies, but had a great time.

Thanks for the great memories Thailand…

Borneo~ October 2015

Sixteen years ago, living in Phoenix with our precious baby girl, Bill and I became hooked on a new reality T.V. show called Survivor. It was highly publisized in Phoenix because host, Jeff Probsts’ parents lived in Scottsdale at the time. This would be the first time I’d hear of the exoctic island of Pulau Tiga in Borneo, Malaysia. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that 16 years later I would be visiting the island of Borneo, with my three teenagers, hubby, and sister.

Now, if you are wondering if we made it to the small island of Pulau Tiga, the answer is no. We looked into it and the island itself is not really known for much except that Survivor was filmed there. So, we opted to take a side excursion to Sandakan and make our way to one of the world’s richest ecosystems on the lower Kinabatongan River.


Kids enjoying the scenery as we drove to the Gomantong Cave.

On the way to the Bilit Rainforest Lodge, was the Gomantong Cave. This cave was unlike any other cave I’d ever been to, and I’ve been to quite a few. I had done zero research on this cave as our main focus was on the wildlife we were going to see along the river. Luckily, our guide was quite informative about the cave on our two hour journey from Sandakan airport to the cave. Let me start with a little background on the unique item that is found in this cave.

Living in Asia, I have been exposed to a very expensive and rare treat that the Chinese enjoy called bird nests. Edible bird’s nest, made from the hardened saliva of cave-dwelling swiftlets, is one of the most expensive animal products consumed by humans, sometimes referred to as ‘the caviar of the East’. Yum. Ok, I can totally handle seeing cute little birds in this cave, but wait… there’s more. He goes on to tell us that it will stink due to the ammonia smell from the bat guano, but we will get used to it after a few minutes. He then suggests that if we don’t care for cockroaches that he has bug spray if we need it. Since I was little, I’ve been terrified of cockroaches. A few tramatic experiences as a child/teenager has them right up there with spiders as scary things my husband has to deal with. Did I mention that we were there right before Halloween? I think that this whole cave experience qualifies as my scariest haunted house visit EVER!!!!Ok, so we get to the cave, it stinks really bad like he said. There is a nice wooden platform to walk on with a rail that takes us through the cave. It’s very dark. He points out some nests that are above our heads, ohhh and ahhhh. As we get farther into the cave we notice lots of movement…everywhere. Again, it’s pretty dark in there. The cave wall, the floor, the middle of the cave floor, the railing, it was all moving. As we look down at the wood platform, it is covered in guano and roaches. We found ourselves moving closer to the rail to try and tiptoe around the nasty critters until we noticed the rail was also covered in roaches!!!! OMG! I can’t escape! Can’t go next to the cave wall, yep, covered in creepy crawly roaches! Our guide was hilarious trying to point out the cool roaches (a rare white one that his dad had in his roach aquarium) as we are literally running and stomping (to scare away the little bastards) trying to escape this guano laced, roach filled hell! “But wait! Let me show you something really cool”, he yells as we are trying to retreat. Posted the video of “something really cool” for your viewing pleasure. We did manage to leave the cave without incident, except for some bat guano dropping on Alicia’s helmet. I have to admit that one of our coolest moments in Borneo happened as we were leaving the cave area. It was a short walk through the forest to where the van was parked and we were lucky enough to witness two Orang Utan in a tree right next to us. Unbelievable! Our guide mentioned that we should buy a lottery ticket, because a sighting like this never happens. This realization of how ‘in the jungle” we were, was pretty amazing and the ultimate reason why we wanted to come here to this beautiful country.


The entrance to the cave.


The entrance


Walking in…


Look closely and you can see the roaches on the bamboo.


Our guide talking about the nests.


Escaping to the light!


The “albino” roach


We are now onto our final destination another 30 minutes away to the lodge. We arrived in the afternoon, so we were able to head out on the evening boat to look for many different species of monkeys, birds, maybe the elusive pigmy elephant, etc.

I’ve put on a few of my favorite photos of the 3 different boat rides we took over the two days. The lodge itself was a bit rustic, but comfortable. The biggest nuisance was the constant banging on the roof by the wild monkeys in the middle of the night. Was quite alarming! The first night we were there I somehow managed to get my pinky toe stuck under the door as I was shutting it. Pretty sure I broke it. Totally sucked, because I was really excited to do the jungle hike instead of the boat ride to spot more wildlife.



Not happy with us taking her picture.


The “red chile”



The sun was setting while this proboscis  monkey crossed overhead.


Our guide said that they often spot the “red chili” before the rest of the monkey!


Hiding and eating!



Silver leaf monkey


Now we are leaving the Kinabatonga River and are headed to Turtle Island via a boat from Sandakan. We stopped at the local market near the dock before heading over.

This is a one night adventure to see turtle eggs being laid, and then later baby turtles being released. Again, modest accomodations with running water, shower, toilet, and food. Our guide was back with us for this adventure to Turtle Island and he was giddy with excitement. We had the afternoon to explore the island and snorkle. Emily managed to brush up against something snorkling and had a skin reaction, nothing a little rubbing alcohol couldn’t fix. Finally, it was dinner time and the long wait for the turtles to come onto the beach began. They had a nice little museum/education room on the sea turtles, which we enjoyed walking through. Each guide gave their group the run down on the rules and how the night was going to go. We had to keep our voices down and vibrations to a minimum, (stay in one area only so the turtles wouldn’t get spooked), NO lights or flashes on cameras. We were told that once the signal was given to quickly follow the turtle guide to where the turtle was laying her eggs on the beach. The first one happened quite soon after we ate, but one of the guests kept using the flash on her camera and it totally stopped the process. The turtle went back to sea and we left deflated and pretty angry and annoyed with this lady. The second one came about an hour and a half later. We excitedly ran down the beach to witness this amazing sight. She did not dissappoint. I still can’t believe they pick up these eggs and transfer them right away.


Cute turtle towel 🙂


Emily snorkeling rash.




Monitor Lizard!




Waiting for the call to see the momma turtle!


Laying eggs!


Head view


She’s a repeat costumer!  According to her tag she laid eggs here once before.




Collected eggs


Time to bury


Our buried eggs


Hatched turtles that we let go that night.


Turtle egg grounds (female area, no shade)

After they collected all the eggs we went to the area where they bury them in the sand. The sex of the turtle is determined by the temperature of the sand and our batch was buried in the female area. Go GIRLS J! Now it’s time to release these adorable little turtles. Unfortunately, statistics show that maybe 2 or 3 will actually make it out of the 60 we released.


It’s hard


to say





We came, we saw, and we were amazed by the wildlife in Borneo. Kota Kinabalu was a short flight from Sandakan where we finished off our vacation with a couple of days at the Shangri-La. Did some more snorkling, relaxing, and shopping.

Coocoo for Coconuts, not Haze!

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We had a lovely 4 day weekend (Hari Raya Haji holiday) in Bintan, Indonesia. It was so nice to escape the horrible haze that has plagued Singapore for the last few weeks. These wicked fumes are due to the illegal burning/clearing of palm oil fields in Sumatra. Wikipedia haze The hazardous smoke then blows over Singapore and coats it in a blanket of white smog. The picture that I am posting is in the Very Unhealthy range at PSI level 213. To put it in perspective, school activities outdoors are canceled at 150. While Robert’s soccer association cancels practice over 101. School gets cancelled altogether if it reaches 300, which it did last Friday while we were in Bintan.

So our little getaway was just what we needed! I’ve been on this recent fresh coconut water kick ever since I found out the health benefits after a workout. Much better than Gatorade, 100 Plus, etc. Since fresh coconuts are readily available in our grocery stores, it’s a no brainer! While in Bintan, we were able to watch a guy climb up the coconut tree (he’s actually in the picture of the tree), cut down the coconuts, and slice it open for our enjoyment. So, I know I like coconut water, but what was with the spoon they gave with the coconut? Well, I’ve seen all the seasons of Survivor and never have I seen them use a spoon. It was very easy to scrape the inside of the coconut to get a clear thin gelatinous scoop of coconut. It tasted about as good as it looked…bland. Well, I will still drink the water, but am not a fan of the gelatinous pulp.

Did I mention that we are so excited for our next visitors! Haha…don’t let the haze scare you away! Hoping this clears out within the next few weeks. Ugh.
Below are a few trip pictures!

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Cambodia, lots to love

This blog post is basically pictures from our trip to Cambodia. Too many pictures to post on Facebook.

Angkor Wat Temple – Day 1


Monkeys greeted us at the back entrance.

Monkeys greeted us at the back entrance.


Kids enjoyed being able to explore the ruins.

Kids enjoyed being able to explore the ruins.




The story of the Churning of the Sea of Milk.

The story of the Churning of the Sea of Milk.


Most heads were stolen.

Most heads were stolen.

My parents have an actual rubbing of one of these ladies.

My parents have an actual rubbing of one of these ladies.





A couple taking wedding photos.

A couple taking wedding photos.






We were told this was a rare opportunity to witness the cutting of the hair.

We were told this was a rare opportunity to witness the cutting of the hair.


The Phare Circus and Pub street






Highlight of our trip, JWOC (Journeys Within Our Community) -Day 2











Bayon Temple (Smiling Buddahs) and Ta Prohm (Lara Croft Tomb Raider) Day 2 Continued










4 Wheelin’ by the rice fields.













Going out to the floating village. Very interesting to see such a different way of living. Not ideal for most.

On our way to the floating village

On our way to the floating village











Catholic Church

Catholic Church




Lotus Fields

Lotus Fields

Jungle Hike to the Waterfall – Day 4

This hole in the rock was like a clown car. It had room for all of us!














This is a cashew nut.












Bill and Bobby swimming in our hotel pool.

Bill and Bobby swimming in our hotel pool.

Emily received flowers from the hotel because she wasn't feeling well.

Emily received flowers from the hotel because she wasn’t feeling well.

The rules before heading inside he temples :)

The rules before heading inside the temples 🙂 #7 was interesting…

We had a wonderful Cambodian adventure! We would highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
We are looking forward to coming to the states in June!!!!