Last November I traveled to Thailand with an open mind and no set itinerary, and I fell in love with the country. From the island vibes of Koh Samui, to the many temples scattered throughout Chiang Mai, to the metropolitan atmosphere of Bangkok, Thailand far exceeded my expectations.
There was so much to do and see that the ten days which were earmarked for the trip weren’t nearly enough. Yet my friend Sasha and I were ambitious enough to travel to areas in north, south, and central Thailand, and we noticed differences between the areas.
If you like the idea of being on an island, then you might want to consider island hopping, but make sure that you designate most or all of the trip for the islands instead of trying to conquer areas on the mainland as well. Consider visiting Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Chang, Phuket, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Kood, etc.
Here’s a link to an article which describes the Thai islands in a bit more detail: https://www.roughguides.com/article/best-thailand-islands/
When we were on Koh Samui, we drove around the island (which took all of an hour), which was a bit of a challenge since Thai residents drive on the left side of the road, and the traffic is rather haphazard. We spent time on the beach, indulged in fresh seafood, got massages, and relaxed.
After four nights on Koh Samui, it was off to Chiang Mai, where we visited a number of Buddhist temples. As someone who identifies as a Buddhist, I immensely enjoyed honoring the Thai temples and praying to Buddha. Evidently there are over 300 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai. A word of warning though: Do NOT wear anything with Buddha’s image, such as a t-shirt. Thai people take honoring Buddha very seriously, and if you are seen using Buddha’s image as decoration, you could be arrested and thrown in jail!
While in Chiang Mai, we also spent a half day at Kanta Elephant Sanctuary, where we fed and bathed the elephants. It was a tremendous experience and one which I highly recommend. Another activity which we found ourselves doing quite a bit of was shopping, which was surprising since shopping isn’t exactly one of my favorite activities. However, it is quite an experience to visit the night markets, not just for the souvenirs, but also for the sensory experience. The sounds, the sights, the aromas of Chiang Mai will surround you in such a way that you won’t mind so much that you are sweating through your clothing in the sweltering humidity and heat.
Last stop was Bangkok, where we spent two nights (“two nights in Bangkok”…I know, it’s supposed to be one night…) consuming fantastic food, visiting more temples, the Golden Palace, and getting fantastic massages at Perception Blind Massage. During the earlier part of our Thailand trip, we had made the mistake of going to two different massage places (one right on the beach while in Koh Samui, and the other in Chiang Mai) which were cheaper, but the masseuses were of questionable skill, and the massages were NOT good. But Perception Blind Massage in Bangkok (800 baht for 60 minutes, which is about $28) and Natural Wing Spa on Koh Samui were exceptional and well worth the extra expense.
A Thailand vacation is very reasonable on the pocketbook, so you will be able to explore the country in many different ways without breaking the bank. Typical dishes in most restaurants run around 50 to 80 baht ($1.70 to $2.70 right now), and a GOOD massage will run about 800 baht ($27). Hotels are also very reasonably priced, with a 5 star hotel in Bangkok averaging about $90 per night.
Over two decades ago, my first seemingly dreamy and unattainable goal was to be involved in a yearly Japanese-American festival in Los Angeles known as Nisei Week, which was established back in 1934. Aside from a period of seven years between 1942 and 1948, during which World War II raged and carried a solid and jarring impact on the Japanese-American community, the Nisei Week festival has continued to run throughout the decades.
As a child, I remember seeing the Nisei Week Queen and court each year, and it became a dream of mine to be selected as a court member when I got older. However, I got sidetracked by life and didn’t bother to enter the competition for the local queen selection until the year I turned 25. I was stunned when I was chosen as the Queen of my community center (the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, or SFVJACC) for that year.
Once I was selected, I spent the next three months in regular meetings with the queens from the other eight participating communities, meetings in which we would practice all the routines for the beauty pageant which would mark the beginning of that year’s Nisei Week. We competed in that pageant for over 1,000 audience members in a 3 hour event, and though I didn’t win the Nisei Week Queen title, I was happy with being a Nisei Week Princess. We rode on floats, visited businesses, and fostered good will throughout the Japanese-American community.
When we were on stage, on parade floats, and on visitations, we would wear our sashes, a definite marker which identified us all as queen and court. On some occasions, we would wear our crowns, and were either clad in matching dresses, or in kimono.
Queen? Princess? I guess so, at least in pageant terms!
Here’s another informative article by Sheila Olson
just in time for the new year! fitsheila.com
Drastic diets and torturous exercise classes don’t work for long-term weight loss, and these days, we know why. In part, this is because depriving ourselves of things we love is not healthy or sustainable. Instead, we should all try to approach weight loss through wellness-focusedactions and self-care. Here’s how to do that.
The best kind of exercise is the one you actually do. This means that finding an exercise routine that’s both fun and convenient is crucial for long-term weight loss.
A home gym can be a great way to do this -check out this guide by HomeAdvisor to figure out the best exercise equipment for you and where to place it. If exercise is enjoyable and accessible, you have no excuse to avoid it. If you do still find yourself skipping workouts, try asking yourself these questions to find out why.
Sleep is what allows your mind and body to relax, refresh, and prepare for a new day. What few people know is that a lack of good sleep can also lead to weight gain by messing with your hormones and stress levels.
Set up a nightly “good sleep” routine. It should be soothing and relaxing, making your body and mind feel ready for rest. You should also avoid digital screens in the hours leading up to your bedtime, as these may be negatively impacting your sleep.
Weight loss happens in the kitchen, not the gym. Ourbodies aren’t that effective at burning off calories we consume, so it’s unrealistic to expect exercise to do all the work when our diet remains unchanged.
However, we also need to remember that food is wonderful and useful. It is not the enemy. We have learned to classify certain foods as “good” or “bad,” but this creates an unhealthy relationship with nutrition. This article by Well and Good has some great tips for getting rid of this mindset and finding balance in our diets.
Many of us tend to forget the importance of health, both physical and mental, when trying to lose weight. By focusing onhealthy habits rather than the numbers on a scale, we shift our attention to our internal well-being rather than external appearance. In the proces, weight loss becomes a consequence of a healthy lifestyle rather than the driving reason for having one.
Almost every time I look at my computer these days, I’ll see at least one featured article on Yahoo! which discusses retirement. I’m not exaggerating when I say it happens almost daily, and it’s making me mental.
I know the population is aging, and that baby boomers and GenX’ers are trying to prepare and plan for their golden years, but this is getting ridiculous. The media and the internet have unabashedly latched onto the subject, and now there is a constant barrage of anxiety-provoking articles with headlines and titles such as:
Do you have what you will need to retire?
Are you prepared for your golden years?
Beware of the pitfalls of investing in an IRA
Watch out for these “retirement killers”
I’ll read one article which sets me at ease, because I am on track with what it says I need to do. Then the next day I’ll read an article which either contradicts what I read the previous day, or which has such a doomsday vibe that it basically states that almost everyone is in danger of not having enough money to ever retire. Does this mean that we will all be living under freeway overpasses, eating dog food?
Honestly, all these articles seem to do is to stir up worry which affects how I function throughout the day. And though I can try to let it go, the next day another article will appear which will wash away my feelings of security and accomplishment regarding my retirement portfolio.
Who else has noticed this trend?
I’ve had a fixation with beach-themed bathrooms for over a decade now, and love using shells and beach-themed décor as fun accents to remind me of the ocean and the beach. When I moved to a new residence this past January, I decided to really have fun with the beach theme, and I took it to the extreme.
One of the features I have displayed in my bathroom is a collection of clear containers which hold sand and shells from different beaches I have visited. Included in this collection are sand and shell samples from Hawaii, Costa Rica, Bali, Thailand and the Maldives. Whenever I look at my collection, I am transported back to those magical destinations which captured my heart and spirit.
Whenever I feel like escaping to an island getaway, but I am stuck in Los Angeles, I’ll take a bubble bath while surrounded by my sand and shell collection, lit candles, and starfish lights. It’s a wonderful way for me to recharge and to surround myself with reminders of my favorite terrain. I also love the fact that I finally have a full bathtub in my bathroom after 20 years of having shower stalls. Whenever my schedule allows, I try to take a relaxing bath, which beats taking a quick shower any day.