Tag Archives: bucket list


Aloha my dear friends!

It has been almost a month since my last post… sorry about that. Work has been super crazy as its our busy season, but I’m not complaining because my days FLY by, and I LOVE that. Aside from the long hours at work, my best friend/cousin has been in the hospital for surgery and has stayed a little bit longer than originally expected. So we’ve had some sleepless nights, extra stress, and daily visits to the hospital as of late (the bright-side is that she’s doing so much better now–still in the hospital, but she’s improving every day). :)

It is surreal how life can get so busy and so complicated almost over night–to the point where all you can do is hope to make it to the end of the day–and then after taking it day by day (and, at moments, hour by hour), life gets easier… you notice your stress levels lower, and you realize that you’ve made it through another storm. I’m finally starting to feel like myself again, and it feels wonderful!

With each lesson in life, I am reminded that our time here is short and we must make the most of every moment. My lifelong goal of traveling the world remains front and center as I want to see it all and experience it all before it’s too late.


Turning back to the blog, there is a lot coming your way! We still have a little bit of our Thailand trip to recap. I know, I know, I feel like I’ve been talking about Thailand for a YEAR now, but we’re wrapping that up shortly. Afterwards, I have a couple of surprise local adventures to share with you as well. This summer was a good one!

For now, I hope that you are out there enjoying this beautiful world that we live in. Tell me, where are you headed for your next adventure?

A Hawaiian Legend

I’m interrupting our regularly scheduled Bangkok programming because today is a special day in the surfing world — it’s the Father of Surfing’s birthday! Hau’oli la Hanau Duke Kahanamoku!!


To celebrate this legend, I thought I’d recap my first surfing experience on our first visit to Kauai back in 2009. At that time, I never would have guessed that these enchanting islands would become so engrained in our lives over the next six years, but with each visit our ties grow stronger and the Island’s call becomes louder.

I swam in the ocean for the first time when I was seven years old, and ever since that day I’ve wanted to learn how to surf.

As surfing began in Hawaii, I felt it was only appropriate to try surfing for the first time in this iconic atmosphere. So when we traveled to Kauai back in 2009, surfing was at the top of my “to-do” list. On the morning of my surf lesson, we woke up early and drove North heading towards Hanalei Bay, near Princeville. The drive was absolutely amazing: lush, green foliage surrounded the road at times, and the one-lane bridges really made you feel like you were in the middle of nowhere. (I guess we kind of were, after all, we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!)

North Shore Drive-Kauai

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

Hanalei Bridge

Photo credit

Hanalei Bay

Photo Credit

We arrived at Hawaiian Surfing Adventures and met the surf instructor, and as we grabbed the surfboards and our rash guards, I could barely contain my excitement! I was finally going to learn how to surf! There was one other student scheduled that morning, so the semi-private lesson was awesome. We spent the first part of the two-hour lesson learning how to read the waves in order to time the ride correctly, reviewing proper surfing technique, and then went over ocean safety.

The time came to put our new knowledge to the test and as I paddled into the wave I was able to stand up and ride the wave into the beach. I’m sure my smile was ear-to-ear. I paddled back out to the instructor as fast as possible so I could ride as many waves as time would allow.

The morning was overcast, and the waves might not have been as big as I’d hoped, but the fact that I was able to get up on the board and steer through the waves was exciting to me.

I was trying to steer away from the sandbar in this one!

Surfing Collage 2

After a morning of surfing, we drove over to Tunnels Beach–one of my favorite North Shore Kauai beaches, bought a shave ice, a snack, and then relaxed the afternoon away on the beach.

Have you tried surfing? Did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Banking on Bangkok

After three blissful days back at our favorite resort in Koh Samui, it was time to leave the relaxed island life behind and head to the fast-paced capital for our final three days in the country. And I was excited for what was in store — starting with our hotel.  As I began to search for hotels around Bangkok I knew that I wanted to stay in the Sukhumvit District because of its reputation for great night-life, luxury hotels, many restaurants, and plenty of shopping options. This district is known to have a little bit of everything which made it the perfect location for our stay.

I turned to the typical hotel search engines and before long I realized that there were two other websites that were slightly more competitive in Thailand — Agoda.com and TravelPony.com — these two websites had prices anywhere from $10 to $20(USD) lower than their competitors, and we eventually made the decision to book the U Sukhumvit on TravelPony.com.

Bangkok at Night

Sukhumvit District at Sunset

We choose the U Sukhumvit for the location as well as the amenities: a rooftop pool with extended hours, a 24-hour check in policy (that’s right folks, if you check in at 4pm, you don’t have to check out until 4pm the next day–a traveler’s dream), free wifi, and best of all, daily breakfast was included in the price. And get this… breakfast isn’t just served between the hours of 6am to 10am, it is served ALL day. That’s right my friends, if you miss the standard breakfast time because you booked an early morning tour, you can order breakfast later in the day and eat it poolside, or you could eat in your room, but if you had the choice, who wouldn’t want to eat poolside?

U Sukhumvit

With all of these amenities and an incredibly modern (and BRAND NEW) building, would you believe that we only paid $60 a night? Thailand for the WIN! Upon our arrival we were greeted by a friendly staff and a complimentary welcome drink of our choice from the mini-bar. We even used the complimentary hotel Tuk-Tuk multiple times to get around the area. Want to go shopping at Terminal 21 a few soi’s (streets) over? No problem! Need a lift to 7-11 down the street? Hop on in! It was a nice touch in a city full of pricey pink taxis and tuk-tuks for hire.

Our first Tuk Tuk Ride... complimentary at the U.

Our first Tuk Tuk Ride… complimentary at the U.


U Sukhumvit Bangkok

The beautiful restaurant

Rooftop pool in Bangkok

Relaxing area near the rooftop pool

TravelPony.com uses word-of-mouth as their advertising strategy to keep the prices low; so when you book a deal you can announce it via your social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, or you can take their “Pony Promise” and promise to tell a friend or two about their website.

Not going to Thailand? Check out TravelPony.com for hotel deals near you. And if you use the link I’ve provided you’ll get $35 off your first purchase.

So tell me, what hotel are you booking with your discount? Have you tried TravelPony.com?  

A Traveler’s Kryptonite

FOMO. Have you heard of it? Yes, I am using a hipster acronym to start off this blog post, and for those of my readers who are still hooked on the “vintage” language, FOMO stands for: Fear of Missing Out. I think we have all suffered from FOMO at one point or another, and as a traveler I feel that FOMO is intensified, tenfold. I’m always worried about missing out on adventures, and I’ll admit that I fall into my own trap of thinking, “How often am I in (insert some random amazing country)”, and “When will I ever be able to go (skydiving-parasailing-flying-or-any-other awesome-adrenaline-filled-activity) again?” I think fellow travelers would agree that we are “Yes” people — we want to see, do, explore, learn, and grow — and we fear missing out on an unforgettable adventure along the way. (Can I get an AMEN? Seriously, someone pllllllease tell me I’m not alone in this). 

Koh Tao

By this point we all know how excited I was to explore the remote island of Koh Tao, so you can imagine my surprise when I found myself feeling slightly “underwhelmed” after we arrived. I confessed to Cody that maybe Koh Tao wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be, and after the second day I began to wonder if we were spending too much time on this tiny island. During our stay, I met many ex-pats who planned on visiting for a week or two, and five months later they’re still there — and still loving it — and I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing something. FOMO smacked me right in the face. I looked at the beauty all around me: the palm-tree lined beaches, the dramatic vistas from which we watched the sunsets, the ocean, the people, the island life, so many people raved about this tiny island, but to be honest, I wasn’t loving it as much as those around me. FOMO.

Koh Tao

Headed to Sairee Beach

Koh Tao Could it have been my high expectations?–Most definitely! And to be honest, I think this was a huge component. I was so looking forward to our stay that I overanalyzed and set the bar too high and in the end I only disappointed myself. (Lesson Learned!) Could it have been our resort location?–This was another huge aspect. Through no fault of the resort, I think if we would have stayed closer to town we could have experienced more of the night-life on Koh Tao and felt closer to the action during the day as well. Koh Tao While the diving near Koh Tao still ranks as one of my favorite locations in the World, we really enjoyed the luxurious-yet-laid-back island vibe on Koh Samui; which was why after five days on Koh Tao we made the decision to head back to our favorite resort on Koh Samui. This was actually the first time that we have changed our itinerary mid-trip, and it was much easier than I expected, and at the end of the day, I couldn’t have been happier.

BoPhut Resort

Back at BoPhut Resort on Koh Samui

FOMO. It’s real, but it doesn’t have to be crippling. While one traveler might feel like they are missing out on an incredible location, another traveler may be entirely content passing by with no intention to stop. And at the end of the day, not every location we travel to will be our favorite-of-all-favorites, and that’s okay! We loved that Thailand was so different from anywhere else we have ever been, and I look forward to exploring more of the tiny islands along the Andaman Sea on our next visit.

Have you ever experienced FOMO as a traveler?

Under the Sea: Koh Tao

The alarm clock blared to life at 5:00am on our second consecutive day of diving, and we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed in order to catch our taxi. Sleepy eyes and tired muscles aside, the early wake-up call that morning was well worth it as we were headed to Chumphon Pinnacle; which is prized as one of Koh Tao’s best locations to scuba dive.

It also happens to be one of the best sites to see the elusive whale shark.

It was about a 45 minute ride out to the Pinnacle and as we got close our group of four geared up so we would be the first ones off the dive boat. We began our descent into the dark blue waters and I kept my eyes on the horizon in hopes of seeing a large shadow emerge from the distance. I knew that as some of the first divers in the water the best chance to see a whale shark would be at the beginning, before it was scared off by the large crowd of divers.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 5.14.16 PM

After dropping down to 18 meters (or about 60 feet), I looked around in awe at all of the soft coral, sea anemones, and clown fish that swayed side-to-side in the currents. In all of my dives I’ve never witnessed coral with such bright beautiful colors–blues, purples, pinks, and yellows lit up the pinnacle, as giant schools of fish rolled by above our heads. Throughout our dive we saw eels, trigger fish, barracuda, clams, and incredible coral formations, and I soon forgot all about the elusive whale shark.

Koh Tao Diving Chumphon

Koh Tao Diving Chumphon


Koh Tao Diving Chumphon

Koh Tao Diving-Chumphon1

Before I knew it we were heading up to the boat and I realized that seeing a whale shark was not in the cards on this dive, however, once at the surface Cody and I both agreed that this was our favorite dive location — and our favorite day of the entire trip — even without the whale sharks.

While diving with Manta Rays on the Big Island was a pretty sure bet, this Bucket List item isn’t so easily checked off as it’s all about timing — and perhaps, a little bit of luck — we’ll continue our search and keep our fingers crossed for our first whale shark encounter.

whale shark

Next time Koh Tao, next time…

Are you a diver? Where is your favorite place that you’ve snorkeled or scuba dived?

Diving with the Cool Kids

We arrived on Koh Tao with one agenda: to SCUBA DIVE. And we weren’t alone. Thousands of people flock to this tiny tropical island each year to learn how to breathe underwater, and with great visibility, lots of marine life, and beautiful coral reefs, there’s no better location to complete your scuba certification–after all, it’s Paradise.

I was looking forward to our time here, as our entire trip to Southeast Asia revolved around exploring the world below those azure colored waters, and after reading about how great the diving was, I couldn’t wait to jump in and check it out for myself.

Koh Tao

Sairee Beach

No matter where we travel around the World — whether we’re exploring sunken volcanic craters on Maui, or night diving with the Manta Rays on the Big Island, or even hanging out at my favorite local dive shop back home — some of the nicest people we’ve met are found at the dive shops; and it was no different on Koh Tao.

We decided to dive with Roctopus Dive because of the fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor and the stellar review in Lonely Planet; and once again, the reviews were spot-on. In fact, Cody and I both agreed that our favorite moments on Koh Tao were spent in the company of Roctopus Dive. Not only do they provide top-notch equipment, offer small dive groups, and have a knowledgeable–and super fun–dive crew, but they even arranged our transportation since we were staying so far out-of-town.

The service at this dive shop is exceptional, and at $30 USD per dive, it felt like a steal (thank you, Thailand, for your killer conversion rates). :) We walked into Roctopus Dive as strangers, and when we left Koh Tao I felt like we had gained a new group of friends.

Roctopus Collage

Our first day of diving consisted of two shallower dive sites just off of Koh Nang Yuan island. It was Cody’s first dive out in the open ocean so I thought starting off at a shallower location would help ease him into the adventure; and it worked! His pre-dive jitters were at a minimum as he knew our deepest depth would be around 40 feet that day.

But before we jumped into the 88 degree water, Phil, our awesome Dive Master, went over the pre-dive safety briefing and then showed us the hand signals used to identify the fish below. Things were going swimmingly until we got to the hand signal for Grouper–which is for obvious purposes, the international symbol for “grope,” and did I mention that we were at a site called The Twins? I turned to Cody and exclaimed a little too loud,  “You’ll never forget that hand signal,” and then we giggled like little 13 year-olds… Sorry Phil for having to deal with two adult-sized children. :) You deserve a raise!

My favorite part of the afternoon was learning about Christmas Tree worms. “What are Christmas Tree worms?” you ask. Only the most fun you can have underwater since, well… Ever! These tiny creatures are extremely timid and if you get somewhat close they’ll retreat back into their homes within the coral. I felt like a magician as I made the Christmas Tree worms disappear with a quick swipe of my hand.

With a quick swipe of the hand, the Christmas tree worms disappear (see Right)

Abracadabra! See the Christmas Tree worms DISAPPEAR! :)

Koh Tao Diving

Koh Tao Diving

Koh Tao Diving

Sea Slug

Koh Tao Diving

Koh Tao Diving

After two incredible dives, we rinsed our gear back at the Shop and then walked down to Sairee Beach and found a table at the bar. We sampled the local beer, talked story, and listened to music as the sun sank low in the sky. There’s simply no better way to end a fun day of diving.

Aminjirah Sunset

Sunset back at the Aminjirah Resort

Wandering among the Wildflowers

This past weekend as we hiked through massive fields full of colorful wildflowers I couldn’t help but sing one of my favorite Tom Petty songs:

“You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free.”

We’ve hiked part of the Napali Coast in Kauai, explored the dense bamboo forest in Maui, and climbed up to the Emerald Lagoon in Thailand, and after every adventure I’ve continued to tell you that hiking is just not my forte’, however this weekend that changed.

This weekend, I found that hiking in my own backyard is pretty damn great! And incredibly beautiful, too.

Albion Basin

Albion Basin

How is this in my own backyard?

Albion Basin

Up Little Cottonwood Canyon high above the hustle and bustle of the capital city, you’ll find one of the prettiest destinations in the state: Albion Basin. This basin is located in the heart of the Wasatch mountains and is a recreational haven thanks to its many hiking trails, vast fields of brightly colored wildflowers, and diverse wildlife viewing opportunities. (Oh, and we can’t forget about those famous slopes filled with the “Best Snow on Earth” during the winter months). And after living in Utah for five years, I was completely surprised that it took us so long to explore this area.

For our first local hiking adventure, we decided to hike up to Cecret Lake because–let’s face it–this hike is rated as “Easy” and is less than one mile each way, so we knew it couldn’t be that bad. We also liked the idea of hiking to a lake because it felt like we were aiming for a nice “reward” at the end of the hike.

And that reward paid off. Big Time.

Nestled 9,750 feet above sea level, Cecret Lake is hidden just-out-of-sight at the top of a steep hill. This snow-fed lake has an emerald hue (which was reminiscent of the Emerald Lagoon in Thailand); and if you look close and you’ll see salamanders swimming around by the shore. Sugarloaf Mountain dominates the entire landscape from the West, while the views of the basin filled with tall pine trees and fields of wildflowers go on for miles in the opposite direction.

Albion BasinAlbion BasinAlbion BasinAlbion Basin Albion BasinAlbion Basin

Albion Basin is one of Salt Lake valley’s main watersheds which provides up to 15% of the valley’s drinking water, so swimming in Cecret Lake is strictly prohibited–leave your furry friend at home as well because dogs are not allowed in the basin, for the same reason.

We travel across the globe exploring beautiful places, exotic places, once-in-a-lifetime-kinds of places, and I’m humbled–and honored–to say that Utah is one of those “kinds” of places in its own right. And with so many beautiful hikes up the many canyons around the Valley, I have a feeling that exploring the mountains in our own backyard will become a weekly adventure this summer.

Albion Basin

Albion Basin

So, are you coming with us on the next hike? :) Do you like to hike?