Brews Around the World: Malaysia and Thailand

Long time, no see! That’s right, it has been two months since my last Brews Around the World Update. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been drinking beer. It just means I have been waiting to share all of the awesomeness until I finally had enough to write about. Get ready for a dual post of Brews Around the World – Episode Four: Beer of Malaysia and Thailand!

S1E1 Brews Around the World – Beer of Idaho, USA 

S1E2 Brews Around the World – Beer of Florida, USA 

S1E3 Brews Around the World – Beer of China 

Malaysia Brews

The month of February was spent in lovely Malaysia, where brewing beer is illegal! Drinking beer, however, was still OK, yet it was all imported and decently expensive. We did the best we could, though, walking miles out of our way to try something interesting. My favorite find was the Penang Craft Beer IPA, which we drank in Penang… but is brewed in California. I also really enjoyed Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. This is one of my all-time Oregon favorites, so it was really nice to have a taste of home while in Kuala Lumpur.

As a result, I did not collect any new Malaysian brews. I did add a few things to my Life List though. We left Malaysia with six new brew flavors, bringing my unique brew total to 54.

Anchor Smooth Draught, Heinken Asia Pacific - The Places e Live  Dead Guy Ale, Rogue Brewing - The Places We Live  Guinness Draught, Guinness - The Places We Live  Penang Craft Beer IPA, Bay Bridge Brewing - The Places We Live  Skol, Ambev - The Places We Live  Tiger, Heineken Asia Pacific - The Places We Live

Amazon com guinness draught.pngAmazon Link: All purchases earn Josh and I commission. Thank you!

Thailand Brews

We spent the majority of March in Thailand. Beer in Thailand was readily available, but limited in variety. Our choices were pretty much just Leo, Singha, Chang, or overpriced import beers. I was a little disappointed with only three new flavors, but all three ended up being pretty tasty. They paired very well with the hot weather and spicy food.

So, once again, I did not collect many new flavors while in Thailand. I added three new flavors to my Life List, bringing my unique brew total to 57.

Chang - The Places We Live  Leo Beer, Boon Rawd Brewery - The Places We Live  Singa, Boon Rawd Brewery - The Places We Live

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Amazon Link: All purchases earn Josh and I commission. Thank you!

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Brew Around the World S1E4 - The Places We Live Brews Around the World S1E4 Title - The Places We Live Beer of Thailand - The Places We Live


A Weekend Near DMK Airport, Bangkok

Our house sit in Hua Hin, Thailand has ended and it is time for us to move on to our next location. Our next sit is two weeks away and in an entirely different hemisphere. Here is a rundown of our adventure near the Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok.

Hua Hin to DMK Airport

Map of Bangkok with the Don Muang International Airport (DMK) marked quite a bit North of the city.

The Don Muang International Airport (DMK) is one of two airports in the city of Bangkok. It is most often used by the discount airlines, like AirAsia, and is in an absurdly inconvenient location. Bangkok has a great subway system… that doesn’t service DMK. Taxis are cheap in Bangkok, as long as you aren’t traveling to DMK. Buses run regularly, but due to traffic, will take at least an hour to go anywhere from DMK. The Don Muang International Airport is the absolute worst… as far as location (the food and shops are delightful).

Thankfully, we found a direct mini bus from Hua Hin to DMK for 200 baht ($6 USD) each. Our host dropped us off at the Hua Hin 51 Alley New Bus Station. There was a line of windows, each clearly labeled with the various locations. We were immediately accosted by touts, but they didn’t seem to be scammers. We’re pretty sure they just get a commission for walking us to the correct window. Still, there are signs up with the major destinations in English, so it’s probably best to just find the right window on your own.

Pros: The mini bus was a large van with AC and a fan in the back. It was a little hot by the halfway mark, but otherwise had a pretty comfortable temperature. The van stopped once every hour for about 15 minutes and once at the halfway mark for 30 minutes. The whole journey took almost exactly four hours.

Cons: It was a bumpy and uncomfortable ride. There was no space for our bags, either in the cab or between the seats. This meant we had to carry our 50 lbs bags on our laps for the entire trip. Needless to say, my legs were very sore and a little bruised by the time we finally got out. Josh got a little car sick from the tight quarters and erratic driving.

That said, I think I would still take the bus again. Despite the issues, it was saved a lot of time and hassle once in Bangkok, not to mention it was considerably cheaper.

Homey DMK Hostel

On our brief layover in Bangkok earlier last month, we stayed for a single night at Homey Don Muang Hostel. It was the cheapest and most convenient hostel to the Don Muang airport with vacancies. We immediately fell in love with it and returned to stay there again during this trip to Bangkok. It is now rated as one of our all-time favorite hostels.

Homey is located a short walk (10mins or less) from the airport. It is a very exciting and interesting walk past a train station, food carts, temple, and suburban canal. I wouldn’t say that there is enough things to do in this neighborhood to visit for more than a day or two, but it kept us entertained enough between working and sleeping.

Four, large bunks at the Homey Hostel near the Don Muang International Airport near Bangkok. The bunks have white linens, shelf, mirror, and brown curtains. There are wood and metal ladders connecting the top bunks. The Places We Live

We got two beds in a 10 bed dorm for 350 baht ($11) each. The room had a large AC, set of large lockers, and a reading nook. Each bunk had linens and towel, mirror and shelf, reading light, two plug ins, and a thick privacy curtain. Despite the bunks, we slept very comfortably and loved the nice, wide beds.

Down the hall was a toilet that was cleaned regularly and provided toilet paper. On the other side of the hall was a large shower closet with rain shower head, hand shower, shampoo, and shower gel dispenser. Once again, it seemed to be cleaned after nearly every use.

The bunk at Home Hostel has white linens, wood wall, and wood shelf with a sliding mirror. Jen's bunk also includes at CO alarm and a framed photo of her friends. The shower closet is quite large. It is white with a waterfall shower head, removable shower head, and soap dispensers. The Places We Live

The hosts at the front desk were delightful. They gave us great advice for every question we threw at them and showed honest care for our well-being. The hostel does not provide free breakfast (which is unusual at that price range), but it does provide free snacks… which was even better. In the mornings, we were treated to free coffee and toast. Sometime there would be muffins or bananas as well. Throughout the rest of the day, there were cup noodles, cookies, and bottled water available. The provided food, along with the more local prices of the nearby restaurants, made for a very affordable food budget.

Day to Day

As mentioned, there wasn’t much to do in the area. We could have caught a cab into Bangkok pretty easily, but we were trying to watch our spending due to the expensive airline tickets we had just purchased. So, we spent most of the days catching up on sleep, watching movies, working online, and exploring the neighborhood.


We enjoyed some great street food, strolls through malls and night markets, and a quick exploration of a neighboring temple. Overall, I think we got a pretty good feel for the neighborhood.

Moving On

We will be returning to Thailand later this summer and are already looking forward to it. Thailand didn’t immediately feel like home to us, but once it did, we were all in. It is a country full of kind people, beautiful women, delicious food, and amazing scenery. Our one month in Thailand was not nearly enough! We can not wait to come back and explore more of this country that we have come to love.

But for now, we are at the DMK airport getting ready to set out on our next adventure. We have two $180 tickets on AirAsia to Melbourne, Australia. This will be our fifth continent in 400 days (we visited Barcelona and Marrakech last March)! I can’t wait to explore the new variety of flora and fauna of the Southern hemisphere… but also to enjoy the more familiar language and culture. I hope they have Mexican food!

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Homey Hostel - The Places We Live


Birds and Critters of Thailand

There was a lot to see in Thailand. The food, people, culture, birds, and critters were drawing our eyes in every direction. It was an overload of the senses in the best possible way. We discovered so many new things that the thought of doing just a birding blog for Thailand seemed to cheat the country of all of its glory. This post will be of the birds and many other native critters of Thailand!

Thailand Birding

The birding game in Thailand was top notch. I captured only a few new birds, but I saw so many more really lovely ones. I enjoyed all of the new shapes and colors of the birds in Thailand. Many were completely new from anything I had ever seen before.

I spotted several Chinese Pond Herons, lots of Mynas, a few beautiful Olive-backed Sunbirds, Greater Coucal (I think), and some Red-wattled Lapwings that I practically chased for a picture, but had no luck. I photographed and identified four new birds in Thailand, bringing my Birding Life List up to 112.

Hua Hin, Thailand Birding: Blue Tailed Bee Eater - The Places We Live Blue Whistling ThrushPacific Reef Egret Sooty Headed Bulbul

Check out more of my birding adventures! ♥

Critters of Thailand

At first, the critters were a nuisance. The cows and packs of wild dogs caused traffic jams and the spiders and cockroaches in the house caused constant worry and fear. Until one day, when it became just too much.

We heard a noise outside our Hua Hin house we didn’t recognize. The pets seemed startled by the noise as well. It was loud and like nothing we had ever heard before. We turned off all of the lights and rushed to make sure the doors were locked. I grabbed my phone and Josh his stick. We ducked behind the curtains and peeked through the windows to see who/what was after us. Nothing…

Turns out it was frogs. Just frogs. After that, things took a turn for the… comfortable? The giant cockroaches in the kitchen were more scared of us than we were of them. The spiders that stalked the living room were defeated without fight by the small and fragile cat. The monsters had been revealed, and as always happens, weren’t nearly so scary in the light. This experience changed me. I even came to appreciate the company of some of our regulars and their little quirks.

Jen's Critter Friends in Thailand: Fifty Centipede and Ribbert the Frog - The Places We Live

I built on this feeling and continued to try and introduce myself to more of the critters that I met. I tried to find what made them special or pretty and focused on those features. We particularly enjoyed the variety of lizards. We even saw a foot-long, baby monitor lizard while we were having lunch one day. The kids’ reactions to it were the best!

Monitor Lizard

Learning and Growing

I think it is really cool how well we have been adapting to new places. Josh is afraid of heights, but he took to the skies at the KL Eco Forest Park. Neither of us feel comfortable meeting new people, yet we had a blast making new friends at the couch surfing meetup. Why should I remain worried about stupid things like spiders and other creepy crawlers when I could make them my friends instead? It’s weird to be in my 30s and still be learning how to deal with life, but it’s also really rewarding at the same time.

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Thailand Birding





Harrier House Hash – Hua Hin, Thailand

One evening, while out getting acquainted with the local expat scene in our little Hua Hin neighborhood, we met up with a particularly outgoing group of folks. Over beers, our new friends insisted that we join them for a run they participate in every week. They called it “The Hash” and seemed very surprised that we didn’t know what they were talking about. Most of our Hua Hin friends are of retirement age, so we assumed this Hua Hin Hash Run would be a safe and healthy way to spend an afternoon. Boy were we wrong.


A Quick History of Hashing, According to The Interwebs

Wikipedia, that trusted font of knowledge, says Hashing started just before WWII in Malaysia by a group of expats. They wanted a way to stay fit and work off their hangover from the weekend. So they invented a “game” similar to the traditional British racing game, Paper Chase.

Find a Hashing group near you. 

A second group started in Singapore in the 1960s and, by the 1970s, could be found nearly all over the world. Now, there are over 2,000 groups worldwide including more than one in Antarctica.


We got a ride to the starting point from our new friends. It was about 30 minutes South of Hua Hin. We parked on some farmland and met a couple of people under a tree. We’ve done fun runs before, which usually start out at some sort of parking lot and involve a DJ getting people to dance and get psyched up beforehand. The Hua Hin Hash Run was nothing like those runs. This looked pretty low-key, just a bunch of friends hanging out in a field. We paid dues of 350 baht ($11) which paid for the run and endless beer… once we finished the run.

As we waited, more and more people arrived of varying ages and nationalities. There were around 25 people there. Most were European and retired, but there was another couple about our age from Canada and a large family with small children as well. Everyone was really nice right off the bat and immediately treated us like friends.

Once everyone arrived, we were told to circle up as per Hash tradition. The person in charge made some jokes then introduced us to “The Hare”. The Hare is the person who lays out the course for the week. This week’s hare led the circle and explained the rules.



From what we gathered, we would be running through the jungle without a distinct path. Instead, we needed to watch for piles of shredded paper that The Hare had set out for us earlier in the day. As long as we kept the piles of paper in sight and on our right, we would be fine… unless they were on the left…. or they were part of a false trail… or it was part of the temporary unmarked trail. This idea sounded like a lot of fun, but with a quick glance at the thickness of the forest, I was getting a little nervous.

Potential Obstacles

As if the chances of getting lost or eaten in the jungle wasn’t bad enough, The Hare then warned us of the potential obstacles. He had set up two False Trails that went off in the wrong direction and then just ended. He also added a couple of Broken Trails requiring the first arrivers to find the continued trail, then leave a sign for everyone else.

Unplanned obstacles included barbed wire, broken glass, and at least one pack of wild dogs. This was on top of the spiders and red ants our Thai friends warned us about in the car. My confidence was getting weaker and weaker. I noticed Josh was going a bit pale despite the blistering heat.

Just Do It – Running the Hua Hin Hash Run

We set aside our worries, put on a brave face, and set off at a good run. It was pretty easy at first; we simply followed the runners in front of us along a dirt road. Then, the piles of paper turned off the road into some tall grass and the runners began to spread farther and farther apart. Pretty soon, Josh and I were on our own, weaving through the fields neighboring the roads. At least we couldn’t get too lost…

Until we did. We went completely the wrong way and ended up face to face with a large pack of dogs. Josh grabbed a stick and watched the dogs while I hunted for our next pile of paper. Thankfully, the last of the runners heard the dogs barking and came over to help. We got away from the dogs and they pointed us to the trail that went off into the jungle proper.

We were grateful that these runners stayed behind to walk/run with us for the rest of the way, because this Hua Hin hash run trail was insane. I had no idea where we were. We were walking through bushes, over rocks, and under fallen trees.


Actual Obstacles

The Hare did a great job at describing the dangers of the trek. The packs of dogs were quite large and scary. They were truly wild and looked ready to bite intruders. The stacks of paper were sparse in places and difficult to follow. However, we ran into a few other things that I’d like to add to the list:

  • Vines – The vines were super long and at least the width of my thumb. They would tangle around my ankles or once around my waist. I know they are harmless, but there is something really scary about being restricted so thoroughly in the middle of a jungle.
  • Spiky Trees – We quickly got out of the habit of reaching for branches to assist with our balance. Many were covered with spikes that would rip at our skin and clothes. Josh ripped his hat and my shoes were covered in spines by the end of the race.
  • Whip Scorpion – Go head, Google it. Someone found one of these on their leg!!!

This is not the first time our adventure has caught us by surprise. Learn more. 

Last, But Not Dead

Apparently, we were the last to finish the Hua Hin hash run. It hurt our pride a little bit to be some of the youngest and fittest in the group, and then arrive to see everyone else already rested and drinking at the finish line. They laughed and joked while Josh and I tried not to scream from our pent-up anxiety. We wiped at our scratches, bumps, and bruises, and grabbed a beer.

One of the sayings for the Harrier Hash House is that they are “drinkers with a running problem”.  I know we shouldn’t make light of alcoholism, but the beer did help. We were quickly feeling good and mingling with the group. We may not have been particularly fast, but we did finish the run. The whole thing was an adventure. We hopped in a car with strangers, who took us to an unknown location, ran through the jungle, and came out alive…. it was f*cking amazing!

I can’t wait to add these hash runs to our travel activities as we travel the world. I’ve already found a group near us in our next city. All we need now are our nicknames, and we’ll be official Hashers!

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The Places We Live - "Drinkers with a running problem. #hashrun" Jen from The Places We Live running through the jungles of Thailand for the Hua Hin Hash Run.


Eating Our Way Through Thailand

It is time, once again, for The Places We Live to share our adventures with food in Thailand. Would anyone really be surprised if I said the food was amazing and somehow better than the last food we ate? I’m starting to sound like the girl who cried wolf. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the food in Thailand knocked our socks off. It was spicy, refreshing, flavorful, and full of textures we couldn’t define. Please enjoy “The Places We Live: Eating Our Way Through Thailand!” *theme music plays*

Check out “The Places We Live: Eating Our Way Through Kuala Lumpur.”

Check out The Places We Live: Eating Our Way Through Yangshuo, China. 

Everyday Goodness

Even our small neighborhood in Hua Hin, Thailand had enough variety of food and restaurants to keep us trying new things. There were a couple of restaurants we frequented more than others, but I feel like we fanned out pretty far to taste as much as possible.

Collage of food in Thailand. "Eating Our Way Through Thailand" pork and garlic, fried egg, and rice. Curry over rice. minced pork and curry over rice. Chicken and cashews in tomato sauce

Top Left: Pork with Garlic and Pepper. The garlic are roasted whole (including the skins). It gives the dish a really enjoyable texture.

Top Right: Massaman Curry. Chicken with peanuts and onions in a coconut curry.

Bottom Left: Curry and Minced Pork. The minced pork ended up being one of our favorite dishes in Thailand. It is super simple, but super flavorful. From what we could tell, it was just ground pork, basil or mint, chilis, garlic, and spices. We were also told that some people add roasted, ground sticky rice to add a bit of thickness.

Bottom Right: Chicken and Cashew Nuts. Chicken, cashews, onions, green peppers, carrots, garlic, and tomato all in a sweet tomato sauce.

Passport Cafe

Food in Thailand. Passport Cafe, Hua Hin, Thaialdn. Phone number 093 139 9655. Open times Sunday through Thursdays 11:0AM to 9:00PM.

The Passport Cafe was our closest restaurant. If it weren’t for the packs of wild dogs and the cobras that supposedly frequent the short block between us and the shop, we could have walked there. It is owned and run by our new friend, Mike, an American expat. The cafe serves the most authentic American food I have had since we left the States and had really great Thai food as well. My favorite American meal there was the pancakes, with real syrup, and drip coffee!!! We were in heaven. My favorite Thai dish was the massaman curry.

Mr. Burger 2

I don’t know much more about Mr. Burger other than we ate there a lot. It was close to our favorite super market, had ample bike parking, and had a large menu. I don’t think we ever ordered the same thing twice, instead enjoying a variety of fried rices and other Thai dishes. I particularly enjoyed their chicken dishes.

Food in Thailand. Mr Burger 2. Hua Hin, Thailand. Changwat Prachuap Khiri Khan

The Weird and Unique

It wouldn’t be an adventure in food if we didn’t try some new and different things. And, like most of Asia, there was no shortage of “crazy” new things to try. Our local friends had a good-ole time feeding us new things and watching our reactions.

International Fast Food Visit: Dairy Queen

We visited a local KFC to do our usual International KFC tasting, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly different or weird on the menu to set Thailand apart. So instead, we visited Dairy Queen, where we had a take on a Thai dessert favorite of Mango and Sticky Rice.

Dairy Queen Blizzard cup filled with a bright, yellow ice cream and topped with rice. Food in Thailand

Instead of the more common cut mango, sticky rice, and maybe some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, we grabbed a small mango and sticky rice Blizzard for only 35 baht ($1.12). Even looking at the photo now, I am craving another one. It was so sweet and refreshing!

Bugs, Frogs, and Snails

If you know us, you know we can’t pass up an opportunity to eat some bugs and other creepy crawlers. Here is a quick compilation of videos we captured of us eating some of the fun little treats in Thailand.

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Eating Local

After our Songkran adventure, we ended up continuing to befriend the locals at Lazy Daze Bar down the street. The owners, Linda and George, were so accommodating and answered all of our million and one questions.

Food in Thailand. Lazy Daze. Hua Hin, Thailand. Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Linda explained that Northern Thailand is quite different from the rest of the country, with its own unique dialect and food. She introduced us to the food of her home town by hosting a BBQ at the bar for us and the other patrons.

"BBQ of Northern Thai Cuisine" collage of the bbq food in Thailand

Top Left: Fried rice, mushrooms, and pickled, bitter greens.

Top Right: The Lazy Daze gang at Songkran

Bottom Left: Kissing Snails (pond snails) and grilled fish

Bottom Right: Papaya Salad

Watch our Songkran video again. You know you want to…

Eating All of the Food in Thailand

Despite my distaste for lemon grass and spicy food, I loved the food in Thailand. We expect to return to Thailand before the end of the year. That is the only thing that keeps me from just going nuts on every food stall I see on these last few days.

My favorite food in Thailand has been the minced pork and basil dish, Thai Tea (which is way better here than at home), and the mango/sticky rice combo. I wasn’t a big fan of the crickets Josh bought from the bug vendor, but that’s about it. Otherwise, everything in Thailand is amazing!

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Collage of food in Thailand. "Eating Our Way Through Thailand" pork and garlic, fried egg, and rice. Curry over rice. minced pork and curry over rice. Chicken and cashews in tomato sauce  Eating All of the Things... Thailand - The Places We Live


Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

After our daring escape from the police road block on the motorbike, we were off to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. It is one of the top sights in Thailand and only 40 miles away from our house sit in Hua Hin. The drive was wonderful, with views of both small farming villages among the hills and modern beach-resorts along the coast. After a little over an hour’s drive, we had arrived.

Sam Roi Yot Beach

Postcard. "Hello from Sam Roi Yot Beach! The Places We Live" Beach with islands visible in the background. Foreground has a colorful boat parked on the sand.

Our first stop at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park was to the beach, one of three we visited that day. Sam Roi Yat beach was quite long and very flat, with plenty of space for walking around in the sunshine. Several islands lay just off the coast, all of which looked like they’d be fabulous for a day trip and picnic, if you have access to a boat. There’s a road that runs along next to the beach, with little locally-run shacks selling ice creams, teas, and other tasty treats. The other side of the road was lined with restaurants and bars, each with a little parking area. It’s easy to imagine this area being quite busy during the height of tourist season.

Jen from the Places we Live stands with her arms outstretched on the long beach of Sam Roi Yot in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand.

We, thankfully, had the beach to ourselves that day. Many of the brightly colored shacks were boarded up, and the bars had only a few locals hanging around. We took a nice walk along the shore, enjoying a lovely view of the islands and the scattered fishing boats. There were lots of little crabs crawling along the beach and tons of large sea snail shells scattered about. The sun was really hot, but there was a cool breeze off the ocean that made it quite enjoyable.

Bang Po Beach

Our next stop in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park took us through some hilly farmland to a small town hidden in a valley along side Bang Po Beach. To get access to the park, we had to enter through a gate where we paid 10 baht ($0.32 USD) for parking the motorbike. Once inside, we had easy access to the lovely beach and the line of small shops and restaurants that lined the parking lot.

"The Places We Live" Bang Po Beach from the top of the nearby mountain. The beach appears to be part of a cove with small mountains surrounding 3 sides.

Right off the parking lot, in the Southeast corner, there was a National Park stand selling tickets to the Phraya Nakhon cave. There are two options for getting to the cave. You can either walk, which costs 200 baht ($6 USD) each for foreigners, or you can take a boat around the edge of the island, which costs an additional 400 baht. We opted to walk up and around the small mountain separating Bang Po Beach and the hidden beach of Laem Sala.

Laem Sala Beach

The hike to Laem Sala Beach was a fairly easy, up and over hike along the coast. Like most hikes in Asia, the trail was a set of concrete/stone stairs. These stairs were not particularly well-kept, making it a bit treacherous in places, and climbing stairs in ninety-degree heat and humidity isn’t the most pleasant activity, but the views were very nice and, despite the constant engine revving of the cicadas, the walk was very peaceful.

Josh from The Places We Live stands on a mountain-top overlook. He is surrounded by jungle trees and boulders.

The moment we touched the sand at Laem Sala Beach, however, we were attacked by mosquitoes. We practically ran from the entrance of the beach to the exit on the opposite end. This was unfortunate as the beach did look very comfortable and inviting. There were pine trees along the edges of the sand and cabins scattered around. It reminded us a lot of Ponderosa State Park back in Idaho. But, we missed most of it in our rush to not get eaten alive.

Postcard. "Laem Sala Beach. The Places We Live." Laem Sala Beach in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park Thailand is a sandy beach, perfect for camping. There are thin trees spread out throughout the beach to provide shade.

Phraya Nakhon Cave

The trail to Phraya Nakhon Cave was another stone staircase, but this one was well maintained, and had much more traffick moving in both directions. It was a challenging climb among the large, vine-covered trees. Everything looked like a snake! Thankfully, we didn’t see any actual snakes, but the massive amount of vines and roots kept us on our toes. We DID see a couple of monkeys in the distance, however, so that was fun.

After half an hour of hiking through the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, we arrived to the mouth of the cave. It was slightly cooler and smelled like bat poop. It was at that moment we noticed we have visited a lot of caves during our adventures abroad… not important… but weird.

Seven Star Cave in Guilin, China. 

Dark Cave in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Large cave with a slanted rock wall with drooping stalactites. A person stands off in the distance reflecting how large the Phraya Nakhon cave is.

The tourist access area of Phraya Nakhon Cave has two caverns. The first has a small window where water looks to constantly drip in. The only dark stretch was a short path between the two caverns. The second one is quite a bit larger and has a large window in the center, big enough to host trees and a temple.

Light shines through a hole in the roof of the cave. The cave is large and filled with tall, green trees. In the center of the sunlight on the ground is a thin, Thai Buddist temple. Phraya Nakhon Cave in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand

It all seemed quite simple: a cave, with a hole in the roof, and a small, basic temple inside. But something about it felt magical. Maybe it was the lighting? Or the trees surrounded by the cave walls? I don’t know how to describe it, but it was mystifying. You definitely got a sense of the power of this place.

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park One Word Summary – “Itchy”

The trek back to the bike was the same thing, just in reverse, complete with swarms of ravenous mosquitoes. We swatted at ourselves the whole way down the mountain, ran in near-terror across the beach, and practically leaped over the hill to the other side.

Why? Why were being attacked so viciously? I had put repellent lotion on my skin and spray on my clothes. And, despite the heat, I wore sneakers, thick socks, jeans, and a long-sleeved sweater to protect myself from the sun. Maybe these mosquitoes just really enjoy American cuisine?

Collage of Jen from The Places We Live. To the left, she is standing in front of a sign written in Thai. She is wearing a long-sleeve, grey sweater, blue jeans, and sneakers. The picture to the right shows the back of her legs while she is wearing shorts. Her thighs and calves are covered in large, red bumps.
Yep, they got me, right through my jeans!

By the time we made it back to the motorbike, we were tired, sweaty, and itchy. We grabbed some much needed (and much enjoyed) Thai Tea, then headed back home. We didn’t see everything that the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park had to offer, but we saw some of the top attractions and had an amazing time.

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"Sam Roi Yot Beach Thailand. The Places We Live" Colorful boat on Sam Roi Yot Beach in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand

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Scrappy and The Wild Card Get Busted

Traveling does things to a person. It changes you on a fundamental level. If you asked us to describe ourselves in one word, we’d say “total rebels”. Go ahead, tell me that’s two words. I double-dog dare you. We are Josh and Jen no longer; let me introduce you to Scrappy and The Wild Card. We’re traveling the world, breaking the rules, and living life on the cliff’s edge. Yesterday, our mothers’ upstanding little citizens got caught up with the seedy underbelly of local law enforcement and got a ticket in Thailand.

We Were Set Up, I Swear

The plan for today was to visit the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Forest about 40 miles out of town. We mapped out our route, packed some water, filled up the gas, and hit the road on the motorbike. Josh… ahem, Scrappy has become quite confident with his driving and we are getting a feel for the layout of the city and the traffic patterns… which is why we thought it was strange when the traffic ahead of us had come to a stop for no reason.

Being the rebel duo that we are, we’ve learned to recognize a police road block when we see one. There were cones and at least 12 men wearing police uniforms. So, you know, it was easy to spot, really. The whole thing seemed very legit, except for one thing: most everyone was just getting waved through. The cars hardly even slowed down and the motorbikes only stopped briefly before being ushered through.

Caught in a Lie

It’s almost our turn. Decision time. The Wild Card wanted to bolt, leading the cops on a medium-speed chase to nowhere. Scrappy urged caution, choosing a cool demeanor and a silver tongue to get us through. In the end, we followed the lead of those in front of us. We slowed down a little, smiled, and gave a quick wave before getting ready to take off again. That was when we realized that maybe we were in trouble. Unlike everyone who went before us, we got ushered off to the side and asked for our licenses.

Our rebellious reputations had preceded us.

Scrappy handed over his Utah license with an innocent smile. “International license?” asked the police officer, returning the smile and looking a little disappointed when we said no. “You sure? You need for drive in Thailand.”

“Oh, really? I can’t just use this one?”

It was no use. The copper had seen it all before. He took the license and escorted us to a table on the side walk. As we parked and walked over, we knew we were busted. Our days of resentful, but respectful, conformity were over. Except…

Everyone in line was a foreigner. It wasn’t us they were after; it was our wallets.

Paying the Price

That’s right. We found ourselves in the exact situation our housesitting host had warned us about. We lined up with about five other foreigners, with more piling in behind us as we waited. There was a mix of emotions from our fellow rule breakers. One young lady stood off to the side, worried to tears as she watched her date get closer to the front of the line. A Japanese man was arguing with one of the police, quoting something from his phone. He assured Scrappy that even if we had our international license, we still would have been pulled aside for some sort of fine. That’s when the cops offered to double his ticket. He was pretty quiet after that.

One couple was waiting very impatiently and getting more and more upset with each passing moment. They explained to any of us that would listen that they had already been pulled over once that day. A policeman stopped them a little out of town and said that if they didn’t give him 300 baht, that he would be forced to write them a ticket for 1000 baht.

Once at the front of the line, everything went very smoothly. It was obvious that this was common practice, just another day on the beat for these fellas. We were written a ticket in Thai, and asked for 500 baht. “This good for drive all day”, the officer said, handing us our ticket. Then, we were sent on our way, with not a single one of them realizing who they’d just let go.

Learning Lessons

The whole experience was… different. Obviously, getting shaken down by the cops isn’t super fun, but it was done in the most friendly and non-threatening way possible. It was the middle of the day, the table and line were kindly placed in the shade, and the officers were all very friendly and helpful. Also, calling it a shakedown probably isn’t accurate; after all, we were breaking the law, and we knew it. Getting off with a quick, on-the-spot fine is way better than than having to show up to a court date, or worse. We stood in line for 20 minutes, paid 500 baht ($16), and now had a license that allowed us to drive worry free for the rest of the day.

It did suck being singled out, though. We saw plenty of Thais driving without their helmets, which is also against the law, who got to pass right through the checkpoint. But hey, it just comes with the rebel lifestyle, baby. You get used to the man coming down on you unfairly.

We hopped back on our bike and rode off under the blazing midday sun, a couple of bona fide rebels in search of a tasty lunch and cool new nicknames.

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