Reviews

Krabi Day Tour

Today was an exciting day. After spending a few weeks at home working on multiple projects, Jeff and I decided to take our new Irish friends up on an offer they found to go on a day tour of Krabi, a province north of Phuket, for free! Megan and Giles have lived in Phuket for 2 years and have become really good friends of ours. A few days ago, Megan found an offer to go on a day tour for free so that the travel company could take photos for a brochure. Last minute, work for Jeff and I cleared up enough so we could spare a day to go.

The adventure started at 7am, where we all meet in Chalong and jumped onto a minibus. After we picked up two Australian sisters we headed out on the 45-minute drive to our first stop; The Golden Cave Temple which is famous for the hundreds of monkeys that live there. Let me just start by saying I’ve never seen so many monkeys in my life. It looked like a scene from the movie Congo. At first I was pretty nervous. The monkeys just crawl all over you in hopes of finding food. They’re so used to being fed by tourist that they aren’t shy and will come and search your pockets for anything they can nibble on.

20130520_tour_0058Soon we were whisked back into the minibus for our next stop,Than Bok Koranee National Park. It was great to see the jungle and a different side to Thailand, something different than just perfect blue beaches. After a short walk through the lush jungle by the stream we found ourselves at a small pool of water with little waterfalls all around. The photographer that was on the tour with us to shoot for the brochure had Jeff and I pose on a tree branch by the water. Jeff had way too much fun in front of the camera, trying to point to everything he could and look overly excited for the brochure. (I can’t wait to see how ridiculous we look in print)

The next stop was about an hour away where we stopped for lunch. There was a little lake and hundreds of giant koi fish jumping out of the water in hopes of getting any scraps of food. We had a great little buffet of Thai rice and curries. After lunch, we drove just five minutes down the road to the elephants! Luckily our stomachs had settled our food enough to jump on the back of an elephant and take a short trek along side a little river. Now, elephant treks look really fun and its truly amazing to be so close to these beautiful creatures, but in all honestly, it’s not that fun. The little benches they have strapped on the backs of the elephants looks really painful. One of the elephants in our group was bleeding from the tight straps holding on the chairs. I felt really bad and it was hard to watch the trainers poke and try to get these massive creatures to go and do what they wanted. It was also pretty scary, with every step we swayed and it felt as though we could fall off at any second. The photographer was running around in front of us trying to get good photos, but I bet that I looked terrified the entire time. They put Jeff and I on the one male elephant with huge tusks so they wanted a good photo of us. There are ongoing investigations into the numerous elephant trek companies in Thailand, many of which are suspected of cruelty towards the animals so it is important to find a good one with people who genuinely care for these creatures but many times it is hard to tell.

20130520_tour_0167After the trek, we got to feed the elephants bananas and get close to them. This was the best part. I felt like we could interact with them without hurting them. The photographer wanted a photo of the male elephant laying down and me and one of the Australian sisters sitting and laying with him. This was pretty cool. Even though I would rather be taking the photos than be in them, it was nice to lay next to the big guy.

Soon after we found ourselves at the Tiger Temple. The whole day we all thought there would actually be tigers, but to our surprise we found a hidden cave filled with monks and nuns and only stories of real tigers. The cave was beautiful and one of the most interesting temples in Thailand. Here we were blessed by a monk and learned of the nuns and the history of the temple. We were each given a small hand braided bracelet after being blessed that we were told to wear until it falls off.

_MG_4019Once again we were quickly back in the minibus and off for the next stop. After an hours drive  we found ourselves at a beautiful resort where we changed into our swimsuits and prepared ourselves for a fish massage. Some people love this and a lot of people are apprehensive. As someone who is extremely ticklish it was hard to put my feet into a tank of water full of little fish that eat the dead skin off your toes. It tickled so much! Shortly after our tour guide showed us a few different pools that were hot springs. For some reason the photographer kept wanting photos of Jeff and I and our friends Megan and Giles. I really didn’t want photos in my bathing suit, but the photographer was set on “sexy photos” in the hot springs. The water was scorching hot, over 109 degrees, and it was really hard to get in all the way. They had Jeff and I pose and kiss in the water. So uncomfortable! I don’t think I ever want to see the photos. After the most awkward photo shoot of all time we all went into the main swimming pool to cool off. It was great to have some free time and get to know everyone on the tour. After a quick shower we were off to our final stop… The White Temple of Krabi Town.

20130520_tour_0200The White Temple is a royal temple, which means it was built by the King. It was here that Jeff met a monk outside that, after working at the airport for 30 years, went blind and came back to the temple to live out his days as monk. After only a few minutes at the temple we jumped back into the minibus and started the 3 hour drive back to Phuket.

This whole day was amazing. We love living in Phuket, but it is extremely oversaturated with tourism. Leaving Phuket to see a part of Thai culture was just what we needed. Thailand has so much rich culture and natural beauty. I’m thankful we have a few years here to experience as much of it as we can.

Marina

**Additional photos provided curtesy of ภูมิพัฒน์ กิจบรรทัด

 

Marina Dominguez Latitude 34Marina is the co-founder of Latitude 34 – Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker. 

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

Tiger Kingdom

Tiger Kingdom!

Ever wanted to hug a tiger? I can now check this one off the old bucket list. While staying in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, Jeff and I decided to take the risk and play one-on-one with real tigers. I was really nervous, but didn’t want to let Jeff brag that he had done it and I had not. Every tuk-tuk driver in Chiang Mai will take you to the Tiger Kingdom which is about a 30 minute drive from the heart of the town. We made a deal and paid a tuk-tuk driver 200 baht round trip, which is about $6 USD and he even waited the 2 hours we were there playing with tigers to take us back.

Once we got there we were starving so we paid 200 baht each to eat at the buffet; such amazing Thai food and ironically french fries. After we were fed, and hoping the tigers had been as well, we decided to pay to play with the baby tigers, middle sized tigers, and the largest tigers.

We started with the babies (3 months old) figuring that they were the least likely to rip our faces off and I thought it would help me build some courage to move up to the older tigers. Before we could go in and hug away, we had to wash our hands and wear specific shoes and of course read all the safety information (mind you we had already signed our lives away). They told us to not approach them from the front and not to touch their faces so they didn’t see us coming towards them as a threat. The “trainers” let us lay, pet and cuddle with them as long as we wanted. I was very nervous at first, but all the baby tigers were very sleepy, so it made me more comfortable sitting and cuddling with them. This was so amazing! Tiger cubs are by far the cutest animals ever. (Scroll down to see a video of Jeff playing with a tiger cub!)

Soon we found ourselves stepping into the area with the largest tigers who were only about 24 months old, and boy are they huge! The trainers kept trying to get us to take photos together and while Jeff tried to get them to understand that our cameras don’t just take automatic photos, I noticed a massive tiger who had just awoke from a nap and was pacing back and forth behind us. Since the “trainer” was busy looking through a camera I became really nervous and couldn’t focus on the photo they were trying to take of us. 

The whole experience was absolutely amazing! If anyone ever has this opportunity I would say take it and don’t think too much about it! I was really scared, but so happy that I did it and have some pretty cool photos to show for it. Also, they will be opening another Tiger Kingdom in Phuket soon so come visit us and play with tigers!

Next animal adventure… elephants!

Til next time, Marina

Note: Many people comment about the tigers being sedated or drugged. This is not the case at all. The tigers are raised in captivity and are used to human interaction. The tigers are treated extremely well and cycled out of the “interaction” zones when they need to get energy out and play with other tigers. So while many may be sleepy in the middle of the day, we assure you they are still alert, wild animals who have simply grown used to human interaction.

For more information on Tiger Kindgom visit: http://www.tigerkingdom.com/

Total Cost: $33US per person to play with all age groups

                 $6 Huge Buffet lunch

                 $6 Tuk-Tuk for the day, there and back

Marina Dominguez Latitude 34Marina is the co-founder of Latitude 34 – Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker. 

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

 

phuket aquarium, thailand

Phuket Aquarium

Jeff and I decided to get out and explore a little of what Phuket has to offer. We decided to go to the Phuket Aquarium and see if we could get some interesting photos. We hopped on the motorbike with a general idea of where we were going. Soon we realized that we were were not as familiar with the roads as we had thought.

We saw some signs for the Aquarium, but somehow we found ourselves driving up a mountain road in the middle of nowhere. To our surprise we popped out on the east side of the island, which I had never seen before. The west side of Phuket is full of picturesque beaches while the east side has docks and boats.

When we finally found the Aquarium we were pleased that it only costed 100 baht ($3) to get in. The Aquarium was small, but pretty good. There were lots of giant fish and a lot of information about the sea life around Thailand.

Outside of the Aquarium there was the Marine Life Rehabilitation Center where they care for dozens of turtles. They care for turtles that have been injured by fishing boats. Overall the Aquarium made for a fun day!

Marina

 

 

turtles, marine life, thailand phuket aquarium, thailand phuket aquarium, thailand phuket aquarium, thailand

 

Marina Dominguez Latitude 34Marina is the co-founder of Latitude 34 – Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker. 

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

hotel 5 review seattle USA latitude 34

Hotel 5 Review, Seattle USA

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Going to Seattle? Hotel 5 is a hip, urban hotel with 5 star qualities and affordable prices and even free pineapple cupcakes in the lobby! We aren’t sure what their obsession with pineapple everything is, but we certainly aren’t complaining.
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The hotel is very reasonably priced, at around $100 a night and all rooms have fast wifi and include free parking. The ever growing trend of small, hip boutique hotels is really catching on all over the place and we couldn’t be more excited! No more having to settle for a Motel 6 or a dimly lit airport hotel when you have a new crop of themed, boutique designer hotels popping up everywhere. Often reasonably priced, these hotels off a more personal touch, more unique design and feel and often offer fun perks like free happy hour, guided tours or mixers in the lobby.
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hotel 5 review seattle USA latitude 34Hotel 5 is just a five minute walk to the Pikes Place fish market and an easy 15 minute stroll to the world famous Seattle Space Needle. Hotel 5 also offers a free shuttle to many popular destinations, you can’t miss their pineapple logo on the all black shuttle.
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TIP: Ask for a room on the north side of the hotel with views of the Space Needle, its amazing at night.http://www.hotelfiveseattle.com/

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