How I Let Go

I get a lot of questions about how I gave up the unrealistic body ideals and diet mentality that used to control my life; a lot of questions about how I learned to be happy in the body I have now.  

I never know what to say because the real answer is so simple: I was tired.  No, I was more than tired.  I was so incredibly exhausted; exhausted to my core; exhausted by the life I was leading.

My brain space was constantly occupied by thoughts of calories and serving sizes and muffin tops (the food variety and the fat variety) and BMIs and weights and inches and disgust and frustration and sadness and questions.  So many questions:

Why didn’t I lose weight this week?

Is that guy over there not hitting on me because I’m too chubby for him? 

Why can’t I have the same willpower as people who don’t eat anything?  

Why am I bingeing? 

How many calories can I burn today?

How do I stop my hip fat from hanging over my jeans? 

How many calories in that pack of gum I just chewed? 

When can I eat another sugar-free Jell-O? 

Am I bigger or smaller than that girl over there?  What about that other one over there?  Am I prettier, too? 

Why am I so disgusting?

Will I hate myself forever?

Will I ever be able to eat like a normal person?

Those questions clouded my mind.  They took priority over most everything else.  Those questions made me so damn tired because I didn’t have answers to them; because they were stupid and meaningless.  But not to me.  No, to me, those questions were really, really important.

Until they weren’t. Until one day, I hit a point where I couldn’t do it anymore.

I couldn’t compare my weight and height and body fat to other people, trying to see if my numbers were higher than theirs.

I couldn’t measure out another quarter cup of almonds (raw – because salt is the devil’s seasoning because bloating).

I couldn’t spend another morning agonizing over my weight because it went up or didn’t go down enough.

I couldn’t research another diet, become enamored with the success stories and then fail.  Again.

I couldn’t continue give the control of my happiness to a measuring tape and a scale and a pants size.

I couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t, so I didn’t.  I had no other choice but to try to make peace with food.  So I did.  It took time and it was uncomfortable and difficult, but guess what?  I’m here.  I did it!  I made it!  I didn’t die!  I didn’t gain 1,000 pounds!  I didn’t eat only bagels and ice cream all day, every day (only some days)!  I re-learned how to eat intuitively and it was hard and sucky and awesome all at once.

And now here I am on the other side of that crazy obsession.  Yes, the number on the scale is higher now.  I had to buy new pants.  My ass jiggles when I dance (and when I twerk…. and when I walk… and when I run…lol jk, I don’t run).  But DAMMIT, it is all so, so worth the weight.

I just want to remind you that there is a light at the end of the diet-obsession tunnel.  One day, if you hit the point where you’ve lost all faith in diets and pills and magic fixes, just know that you have the capability to repair your relationship with food (I’m sorry; I feel like a douche referring to a “relationship” with food, but just go with it).  You have the capability to like yourself and love yourself and the way you look.  You can get to a place where you feel at peace and happy with yourself.

You can.  I promise.

And you should totally try, because it’s freaking awesome.

Since I’ve Been Home

I’ve been home from Thailand for about 2.5 weeks and I’m finally starting to get my life in order.  I start a 20-something hour/week nannying job and I’m buckling down with grad school applications on Monday.  I’ll hopefully also be volunteering several hours per week, but I’m still sorting out the details of that one.

But to be honest, I don’t want to talk much today.  I just want to dump a bunch of random pictures on you.  All have been taken in the couple of weeks since I got home. Cool?  Cool.

It was so so great seeing my little brother, Jesse, once I got home!  He’s in college now and he took me to a really cheap really amazing Mexican restaurant near his dorm.  He gets me.

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Salads.  Cheese and sunflower seeds are NOT optional.

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Baking.  Graham cracker crust, caramel center, and chocolate ganache top.  The recipe is from here.  I only used about 1/3 tsp of espresso and it was perfect for me.

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Weird sunsets.

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Good sandwiches.  Oh, I sure missed those in Thailand.

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My friends and I attended a showing of Frozen at a park.  We were surrounded by kids under age 10.

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Dad and guitar and the kitty.

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I PAINTED MY NAILS!  Oh you fancy, huh?

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Brunch dates with a really dysfunctional group of people.  Also, SnapChat.

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Shopping, heyyyy.

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Birthday drinks (<< it didn’t end well).

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Cheese.  Duh.

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That’s all I have for you today.  HAPPY WEEKEND!

This Body.

This body is the result of my healthy relationship with food.

This body allows me to dance my ass off until sunrise.

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This body is broad-shouldered and hippy.

This body rocks it in a bikini.

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This body cannot, for the life of it, rock a monokini.  It just doesn’t work.  Nope.  Same goes for crop tops.  Uh uh.

This body has long legs and the stride of a gazelle, so for god’s sake, please don’t walk slowly in front of me.  And please don’t put your airplane chair all the way back for the entire 10 hour flight.

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This body has big toes that look like astronauts (don’t ask).

This body can sleep on a couch or the floor or a dirty old futon without hurting in the morning.

This body walked across the stage at graduation (without crying, GO ME!).

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This body handled eating curries and noodles and rice and pancakes for seven weeks straight without revolting.

This body lets me eat cheese and peanuts and lots of other delicious things that some people can’t eat.

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This body has grown and shrunk and grown again.

This body hates heels (even though I love them).

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This body sweats an abnormal amount.

This body hates the cold and responds to the cold dramatically by shaking and shivering and chattering.

This body has zero hip-shaking ability.

This body can twerk it ’til the cows come home.

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This body has been pierced five times, and has managed to hang onto three of the five piercings.

This body jumped out of a plane and off of a 160-foot platform.

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This body doesn’t fit into the jeans I wore in high school, because this body has junk in the trunk.

This body can handle a good workout.

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This body can handle not doing a “real” workout for almost two months (hello, Thailand).

This body can’t lift super heavy weights, but is strong nonetheless.

This body requires a $70 bra.

This body sucks at getting over jet lag.

This body is rarely represented in the media.

This body has been called “womanly,” “curvy,” “chunky,” “thick,” and “busty.”

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This body only fits into double-digit jean sizes.

This body is the only body I will ever get.

This body is loved.

This body is mine.

And I’m so thankful for that.

Reasons to Skip the Gym

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1. You got an invite to happy hour that coincides with your usual Bootcamp Booty Blast class.  And then happy hour runs long and you’re too drunk to go to the gym after.  I’m pretty sure you can get arrested for ellipticalling under the influence and we wouldn’t want to risk that.  (Side note: You’re also probably too drunk to drive home so just take a damn cab, okay?  I don’t want to have this conversation again…)
2. Any injury.  Don’t push it.3. Diarrhea.  Don’t push it.  Literally.

4. You got no sleep the night before due to Instagram stalking-induced insomnia (ever looked up #bagelandcreamcheese?  How about #unlikelyanimalfriends?  What about #chocolateseduction?  #shoeshopping?  Well now it’s 3am and you haven’t slept at all.)  Sometimes (usually) (always) sleep is more important than a workout.  You need a pre-dinner nap more than you need an hour spent on the stationary bike watching Food Network.

5. You forgot to bring your gym clothes to work.  Don’t be that person throwing around weights in jeans and bare feet.  It makes the rest of us feel weird.

6.  You got a new kitten.  Those things stay tiny and cute for approximately 8.3 seconds and every moment you spend at the gym is another moment that creature moves further from squishable cuddle bug and closer to angsty teenage feline murderer.

7.  You tore an easy-access hole in your only pair of workout pants.  Nobody needs to see the goods through the crotch hole in your LuLus..  Although I can think of one other form of exercise you might be able to use those pants for ifyaknowwhatimean.  Nope.  Weird.  Sorry.

8. Free pizza giveaway on the side of town opposite that of your gym.  GO GET THE PIZZA!

9. Free cookie giveaway on the side of town opposite that of your gym.  Free food always always wins.
10. The cast of Orange is the New Black gets lost and knocks on your door for directions and then wants to hang out with you all night.  Unless Porn ‘Stache is there.  In that case, please leave your house quickly and discreetly.

11. You accidentally drank too much last night and saw that hot personal trainer from your gym out on the town and might have serenaded him with a sizzling rendition of Olivia Newton John’s “Let’s Get Physical” and then puked mozzarella sticks all over the stage.

12. Your body and your mind and your sore legs are telling you not to go.  If you decide to skip a workout, it doesn’t mean you’re making excuses or that you have no willpower or that you’re not committed to your health.  It just means that you’re a grown ass human who can make his/her own decisions.  Sometimes you gotta push through and get that workout in.  Other times?  No.  And that’s okay.

IN THE COMMENTS:

Reasons to skip the gym… GO!

Home from Thailand

I’m home.  I made it from Koh Phangan to Koh Samui to Bangkok to Tokyo to San Francisco to home.  Being home is lovely and comfy and so, so weird.  How is this trip over already?  How have the past 7 weeks gone by so quickly?

I’m just a bundle full of questions lately…

How do I recap this trip? How do I put into words all of the ups and downs I experienced? How do I tell you how much I loved the kids at the school and how challenging the teaching was? How do I tell you about all of the times I felt overwhelmingly lost in another culture’s rules? How do I articulate the astounding (sometimes unnerving) kindness of complete strangers? How do I explain the homesickness that coexisted with my love and attachment to a new place on the other side of the world? How do I describe each person I met in a way that conveys his/her hilarious quirks? HOW? This blogging shit is hard, you guys…

This whole trip feels a little bit like an extended “you had to be there” moment and I hate it. I want everyone to fully understand my experience, but if you all understood it, then it wouldn’t be my experience anymore, would it? So the best I can do is share my favorite pictures, ramble a little about each one and hope to capture even the tiniest spark of my Thailand trip.

Some of these have been shared in previous posts, but oh well.  I want to share my favorite pictures and moments from this amazing experience.

The Grand Palace Temple in Bangkok.  Walking around and seeing the temples was such an incredible experience.  Not only were the temples beautiful, but it was pretty empowering (and surprising) that I could manage to get around a foreign city by myself.

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So, so many selfies were taken.  Despite the totally unflattering angle, I think this picture really captures my excitement and joy.  What it doesn’t capture is how fucking HOT it was.  The denim jacket was a bad choice, but also a necessary one due to the temple dress codes.

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My view from Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn.  The steep hike up about nine billion stairs was so worth this view.

 

 

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Enjoying (<< actually “choking down” would be a better description) a bucket with some backpackers on Khao San Road.  I’m so glad I met other travelers in Bangkok.  I was really starting to get sick of being by myself.

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My first view in Koh Phangan.  A pretty good start to the trip, don’t you think?

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Part of me really wanted to ride an elephant, but the other part of me knows how horribly the elephants are treated, so I didn’t.  Seeing an elephant walking down the street was a fair compromise.

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Our first Koh Phangan party — The Half Moon Festival.  We had SO much fun (and didn’t make it home until about 6am).

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The kids!  This was class three (my favorite, but don’t tell anybody that).  I sure miss them.

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Our weekend trip to Koh Tao and Koh Nangyuan.  I can’t believe that views like this actually exist in real life.

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Longtail fishing boats.  So colorful and sassy.

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Oh, how we loved the fire dancers.  I found them totally mesmerizing.  I also did fire limbo on this night and completely failed at it. So go me.

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Grade one girls hamming it up for the camera.

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One of my favorite parts of the entire trip was the night market.  I absolutely loved being around the hustle and bustle of tourists and locals eating cheap, delicious food.  One of my favorite snacks was this giant fried potato thing.  I’m gonna miss you, potato twister.

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The dogs!  Oh my god, the dogs.  There were stray dogs everywhere.  For real.  EVERYWHERE.  Hundreds of them.  Like a dog army.

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There were even dogs on the backs of motorbikes.

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Hitching a ride into town!

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Grade three again, because I love them.

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Nothin’ not to love about a sunset, amiright?

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Not naked, I swear.

Or am I?

Nope, I not.

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BUNGEE JUMPING!  Such a fun adventure.  I’m so glad I did it!  I never thought I would, but now that I’ve done it, I honestly think I would do it again… Eventually.

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Gettin’ it going for the Full Moon Party.  Thousands and thousands of travelers come to this crazy beach party.  It was the greatest.

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Our day to Angthong National Park!  It was definitely one of the best days of the trip.  I mean, just look at that!  Holy shit!!

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The cove for snorkeling.

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Loving life.

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Our favorite restaurant in town, Mama Pooh’s, was run by a parent of one of our students.  Although the parent spoke no English, after one of our meals, she brought out this plate of fruit for us to enjoy as a “thank you.”  So cool.  And the fruit (rambutans and mangosteens) was amaaaazing.

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My cooking class!

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‘Member when I ate bugs?  Me neither… I’m trying to block it.

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THE KIIIIIIIDS!!

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I met a buffalo at Jungle Experience (another party).

 

 

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AND THEY LET US WEAR THE MUAY THAI GLOVES.  So, so cool.  I mean, not really because they smelled like B.O., but still.

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There was this fancy resort right near our bungalows and they had free kayaks for guests.  Except there was never anybody there manning the kayaks, so nobody knew that we weren’t guests.  Don’t tell on me.

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Maxine’s birthday dinner!

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Oh, there’s that rainy season everyone has been talking about.

Settle a bet: do we look more like aliens or giant condoms?

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Grade 5.  They gave us some trouble but clearly loved us in the end.

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Am I… Am I allowed to pick them up?  Again, please don’t tell on me.

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Our last day.  One of the English-speaking students (one Thai parent, one Western) gave us a little “thank you” speech on behalf of the school.  It was the cutest, most wonderful thing basically ever.

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Each kid came up, two-by-two, bowed onto our knees, and said “thank you, teacher.”  I couldn’t stop smiling.  It was one of the most memorable moments of the trip.

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One of the teachers presenting us with gifts (which ended up being these beautiful elephant tapestries).

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Our last picture!  SO MANY EMOTIONS.

 

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We did it up fancy for one of our last meals on the island.  HEYY-O!  I’m really gonna miss restaurants with floor seating.  Who doesn’t love lying horizontal while eating?  It reminds me of eating Dominos at 11am in my room while watching Netflix… Not that I ever did that or anything.

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Saying good-bye to Eiu, the woman who owned our resort and helped coordinate the volunteer program.  Gonna miss her!

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Our last dinner together.  We were in Koh Samui (the island with the airport) at this point.  The food was okay, but the night was awesome.

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Good news:  On the last night of our trip, we finally found somebody who finds us funny.  Only took 7 weeks of searching.

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AWWWWW!  Last night out.  Sad.

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Okay, when can I go back?  And who’s coming with me?

No Food Left Behind

The beach is lovely.  Meeting new people is fabulous.  Seeing a different culture is so enlightening, and teaching the children is beyond rewarding.  But you guys… The food.

Oh, the food.  Food is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best way to experience a culture.  And it tastes good.  And it’s at the very bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which makes it, like, really really important.  I think sleep and sex are also at the bottom of the hierarchy, so food is clearly in good company.

I’ve eaten a whole lotta food since I’ve been here on the stunning (and delicious) island of Koh Phangan.  Seriously, it’s an astounding amount of food and since I photograph nearly everything I eat (#millennialproblems) that means I also have an astounding amount of photographs of food.  I’ve definitely tackled this trip with a “no curry left behind” mentality, but then I didn’t want the noodles and rice and street pancakes to feel left out, so I didn’t leave them behind either.  That would just be cruel.

Today I’m sharing the best of the best – my tastiest meals here on the island so far.

Fruit Plates.

This one is from Phangan Cove, the restaurant at the resort we’re staying at.  Watermelon, papaya, mango, pineapple, orange, dragonfruit, cantaloupe, banana, kiwi, and an unidentified phallic-looking thing, all for the equivalent of less than $3 USD.  I know.

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Frozen Drinks.

Let’s play a fun game:  Guess which drinks have booze in them!  (Hint: most of them).

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Papaya Salad Sandwich with Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

From the Green Leaf Cafe, an organic cafe that doubles as a yoga studio.  This meal looks so, so simple but it was really good.  Papaya salad on bread with melted cheese, and nice roasty sweet ‘taters on the side.

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Cheese Baguette with Potato Chips.

Believe it or not, but this is not a traditional Thai meal.  I love it anyway.  It’s my favorite post-teaching meal.  I go to 7/11, buy a packet of potato chips, then order a cheese baguette, put the chips on top, and go to town.  It’s embarrassingly good, even though the cheese in the sandwich is complete shit.

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Pineapple Fried Rice.

INSIDE OF A PINEAPPLE!  Inside of a freaking PINEAPPLE.  Ten points for presentation, and another seven for taste.  Sweet and savory heaven.  This was another one from Phangan Cove.

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Massaman Curry with Chicken and Rice.

I love curry.  I love it so much.  (From Phangan Cove, again…)

Although I must say, the Massamun curry that I made in my cooking class really gave it a run for its money.

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Crispy Noodles with Gravy Sauce.

You pour the gravy sauce on top of the crispy noodles and they get all soft and perfect.

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Papaya Salad.

Made with green papaya, which is super crunchy and nearly flavorless.  And then you add shit tons of flavor with peanuts and chili and beans and other amazing magical things.

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Yellow Curry with Rice.

From Mama Pooh’s, one of my favorite local restaurants.  It has the most amazing and supposedly authentic dishes around.  Plus Mama Pooh is adorable, so that doesn’t hurt at all.  This was one of the best curries I had for sure.  I asked for “mild” spice and my mouth was on fire, so I’ve ordered every subsequent curry with “no spice,” which is still slightly spicy for my Western tastebuds.

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Fried Big Noodles.

Another Mama Pooh’s win.  I wish you guys could taste this.  Should I bring some home?

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Homemade Cookie Ice Cream.

I got this the first weekend I spent on the island and I haven’t been back since because I forgot the name of the ice cream stand.  Damn.

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Raspberry Cider and Chocolate Mousse.

From the Belgian Beer Bar.

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Chocolate.

Organic and vegan, but I didn’t hold those things against it.

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All of the Street Food.

Like literally all of it… The night market in the main town (Thong Sala) was one of my favorite parts of the island.  I love snacking my way through dinner, testing out cheap, smallish portions of tons of different things.  Plus all of the food was SO DAMN GOOD.  I think the street food will be the food that I miss the most.

Check it…

THE STREET PANCAKES. 

With Nutella and peanut butter.  These were definitely a trip highlight.  I’m not even gone yet and I already miss them.  Crispy, buttery, and slightly salty, smothered with the melted toppings = happiness.

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THE SPRING ROLLS. 

Fresh or fried, I don’t really care.  Just throw them in my mouth and nobody gets hurt.

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THESE GIANT COCONUT FLOUR THINGS. 

Three of these cost less than a dollar and could probably feed a family of four for about a week.

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THE STREET MEAT. 

Chicken, because it feels safest and I’m a big baby.

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CORN FRITTERS.

Just look at that.  Look.  LOOK AT IT!  Right?  I know.

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THE FRUIT SHAKES. 

OMGGGG YAAASSSS.  I could drink six a day, and at only a dollar each, I think it’d still be more economical than one Jamba Juice.

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THE NOODLES.

Oh yeah baby.  Ohhh yeah.

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THE POTATO TWISTERS. 

On another level.  My favorite flavor was the cheese powder.  These are perfection in food form.  Possibly my favorite street food ever.  You should feel sad and empty if you’ve never eaten this.

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THE… BUGS?!  

Yes, I ate bugs.  I promise I’ll stop talking about it eventually, but for now just pretend to be super impressed, okay?  Check out the (embarrassing) video here.

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I have six days left to shovel all of the food in Thailand into my face and I promise I won’t disappoint.

IN THE COMMENTS:

What’s your favorite Thai food?

Ever eaten bugs?  What’d you think?

Should I Open a Restaurant?

Because I took a cooking class and can now cook six Thai dishes, so… Seems like a good post-graduation plan, right?  Isn’t the statistic something like 90% of restaurants succeed in their first year?  I think I’ll do it.  I’ll just go for it.  I don’t want to hear your protestations quite yet.  Check out my restaurant-quality pictures and meals before you discourage me from this new endeavor.

I found C&M Cultural Center on Trip Advisor and, wow – it was an incredible experience.  Cherry, the woman who ran the cooking class, was hilarious, knowledgable about Thai food and Thai culture, and super chatty.   Clearly I loved her.  There were eight of us in class and everyone was super nice.  We started the class at 3pm with a briefing on traditional Thai fruits, veggies, and sauces.

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The class was held right on a gorgeous lake.  It started dumping rain during our lesson but we all stayed nice and dry.

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We started off by prepping ingredients.  Chopping spring onion, crushing cashews, cutting veggies (with a decorative knife, fancy huh?), and slicing lemongrass.

Ingredients

Our first dish of the afternoon was…

Spring Rolls with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce.

We sautéed veggies with various sauces (fish sauce, oyster sauce, soya bean sauce, etc etc) and glass noodles.  After cooking them up, we added the mixture to a bowl of bean sprouts and got ready to roll the rolls.

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Cherry teaching us proper rolling technique…

Spring Rolls

Fresh out of the fryer!

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Mmm, check out those beauts.  The spring roll closest to the camera was in a traditional spring roll wrapper.  The one further away was in a rice paper wrapper.  Both were insane.

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Sweet Thai chili sauce topped with crushed cashews and coriander.

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The verdict: Simple, quick, and delicious.

After we all sat down and enjoyed the first dish, we geared up for dish #2:

Coconut Soup.

With lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves and galangal and veggies and chicken and OMG IT WAS SO SO SO GOOD.

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Look at that!  We used fresh, homemade coconut milk as the base and added in brown sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, chicken stock to flavor it up.  Then we dumped in chicken, veggies (baby corn, pumpkin, carrots, potatoes, peas, peppers, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves) and topped it off with a squeeze of lime.

How pretty is that?!  I made that!

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Sucked that one down in no time.

And then it was onto the noodle dishes.  First…

Pad Thai.

No egg, please.  I just can’t deal with eggs.  I so wish I liked them, but I can’t get on board.  Ick.

The base of Pad Thai is a medium-sized rice noodle and a sauce of soya sauce, black soya sauce (<< super concentrated), palm sugar, salt, oyster sauce, fish sauce, tamarind, a splash of oil, garlic, and shallot.  All cooked up with whatever veggies you please!

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After inhaling that Pad Thai, we moved on to…

Fried Big Noodles.

I loooove big noodles, and although some people despise the texture, I find it delightful.  We used a similar sauce as the Pad Thai, plus more fresh veggies.  I ate a few bites and then bagged the rest up to eat later.

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One we were all noodled out, we moved on to my favorite dish of the day…

Massaman Curry.

We started by making the curry paste from scratch, which was awesome.  We ground up coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, cloves, salt, dried red chilies, galangal, lemongrass, Thai lime rind, garlic, shallot, and a few other things all into a paste.

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Then we began the curry sauce.  Coconut milk, chicken broth, the curry paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, and a few other ingredients became the actual curry.  We added in potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, green beans, chicken, cinnamon, and kaffir lime leaves before letting it all simmer away.

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Topped with cashews and eaten with rice… AMAZING.  I made some questionable moaning noises while eating this.  SORRY EVERYONE.

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We finished off the evening with a classic Thai dessert: mango with sticky rice.  The mango here is unreal.  Seriously unlike any mango I’ve ever had in the states.  I’m gonna miss you, mango.

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Thanks for the awesome class, Cherry!

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So what do you think now?  Restaurant ready?  No?  Really?  Are you sure?

Damn…

A Day of Adventure

This past Saturday, Maxine (the other volunteer) and I spent the day at the Angthong National Marine Park, which is (you guessed it!) a national marine park in the Gulf of Thailand, consisting of 42 (stunningly beautiful) islands.  We went with a company called Orion and had the most wonderful day.

Once we were picked up from our bungalows and arrived at the pier, we immediately scoped out the best spot on the boat: the very top.  We laid out our towels and got comfortable since it was about 1.5-2 hours until we made it to the first stop of the trip.  The good news?  We definitely got some color laying out all day.  The bad news?  That color was red.  And a little bubbly.  And then peely.  And a little painful.

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The colors of the green islands against the bright blue water was astounding.  I kept screaming, “you guys!  the colors!  it’s green!  and blue!  and omg!  isn’t it pretty?  hey, guys?  guys?  are you all listening?  I said, ‘isn’t it pretty?’” “oh, hell.”

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Our snorkeling stop was right in that little cove down thurr.  IS THIS EVEN REAL LIFE?!  WHAT LOOKS LIKE THIS?  HOW IS THIS EVEN REAL?  (<< The thoughts running through my head when we came upon the cove, which I probably ended up saying out loud as well.  Dearest apologies to anyone on the boat.)

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FISHIES!  HI FISHIES!

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Check out those sea urchins.  Did you know that people (fancy people, I think) actually eat them?  I don’t understand.  What?  How?  Why?  On what occasion?  Explain, please.

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After about 45 minutes of getting to know the sea life, we piled back into the boat and kept on driving.  Insert more beautiful scenery here…

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The next stop took us to Emerald Lake (or bay, I actually forget and feel too lazy to look it up).  I almost died of excess sweating from the hike up there (it was approximately 8.7 million of the steepest stairs you’ve ever seen), but the view was worth it.  Probably.  Or maybe I should’ve just stayed at the bottom at eaten an ice cream cone instead.

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After hiking back down and swimming in the sea for a hot minute (to wash off the sweat, obviously), we were back in the boat again and onto the next beach.  I just about died (in a good way, not in an “I’m about to have a heart attack because of the aforementioned 8.7 million stairs” kind of way) when somebody said that the place we were going to was called Monkey Beach.  I’m pretty sure my next conversation looked like a slightly less exaggerated version of this:

“Wait, Monkey Beach?  As in, monkeys?  Like, are there monkeys there?  Real monkeys?  Yes?  Are they wild or captive?  WILD MONKEYS?!  Are you serious?  Are  you sure?  Are you sure it isn’t just named monkey beach because it’s shaped like a giant monkey?  You’re sure?  Positive?  Really?  OMG EVERYONE WE’RE GOING TO A BEACH WITH MONKEYS RUNNING AROUND ON IT!  Do you think they’ll swim with us?  Do you think they’ll like me?  What if the monkeys don’t like me?  No, they have to like me, right?  MOTHER FUCKING MONEKY BEACH OMG!”

On an unrelated note, does anyone know why I didn’t make more friends on this trip?

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Hey-O Monkey Beach!

Now where are the G.D. monkeys?

To my dismay, there weren’t monkeys running around the island, but we did opt to go on a treacherous hike up to a crazy cave instead of building sandcastles with wild Thai monkeys.  Compromise is the mark of a true adult, right?

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I only took pictures of the easy part of the hike, but trust me when I say that it was rough.  I put my hand in what I’m 90% sure was monkey poop in an attempt to steady myself.  Twice.

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The cave!  We’re in a cave!  So adventurous.

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MONKEY SIGHTING!  YES!

We ended up seeing about 4 or 5 monkeys and it was awesome.

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The view from the hike down…

I’m not joking when I say I fell at least 6 or 7 times on the way down.  A couple of them were close to being bad, but I came out unscathed, except for a mud-covered dress and a monkey shit-covered right hand.

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Once we made it down from the hike safe and sound, we stripped down (TO OUR BATHING SUITS!  Pervs, all of you…) and got in the water to cool down.  It was the prettiest beach I’ve seen in Thailand so far.  I didn’t want to leave!

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The boat ride back was lovely; we talked with the other travelers on the trip, we snacked on some fresh fruit, and we enjoyed the sunset without the horrible mosquitos that usually make an appearance around dusk.

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A(nother) perfect day in paradise.

Living in a Postcard

My life right now is basically a postcard.

Side note:  I sent four postcards about a month ago.  WHY HAVEN’T THEY ARRIVED?!  BECAUSE I PAID AND I SENT THEM AND NOBODY HAS ACTUALLY RECEIVED THEM EVEN THOUGH I WROTE TOTALLY LEGIBLY.  WHAT IS THAT?!  TELL ME!!!  Ugh.  Okay.  Calm.  Zen.  I’m good.

Let’s just look at pictures of sunsets and sea and take 10 deep breaths.

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This place is so, so beautiful.  If somebody could ship me some good cheese and my family & friends, I don’t think I would ever leave.

 

Food I Miss

The food here in Thailand is amazing.  Honestly.  The curries, the noodles, the fruit; it’s all freaking fantastic and you can bet that the minute I get back to the States, I’ll be whining about all of the food I had to leave behind.  But apparently we want what we can’t have, because the food cravings here are getting real intense.  Twenty-five percent of my conversations revolve around food I miss, so I figured I should put it all out there in a blog post so maybe I can start talking about something else.

If anyone wants to ship me any of these foods, I’ll repay you in shittons of curry and noodles.  Deal?  Please?  Please?  Okay…

1. Froyo. I miss the toppings.  All of the flavors.  The candy.  ALL OF IT.

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2. Macaroni and Cheese.  From a box, homemade, with fancy truffles on top.  I don’t care, just give it to me.

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3. Hamburger Helper.  This is a weird one since I haven’t had Hamburger Helper in YEARS, but food cravings aren’t logical, ya hear?

4. Good cheese.  The cheese here is so lame.  SO lame.  I told my parents that upon my arrival I need a nice cheese plate waiting for me.  I want Brie, sharp white cheddar, and maybe a good block of parm.  Do you hear that, Mom and Dad?  Add it to the grocery list for September 8th.

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5. Muddy Buddies.  To be fair, I’m always craving Muddy Buddies, even when I’m not on another continent.

6. Bagels and cream cheese.  This one might be the most intense craving.  I’ve yet to see one bagel on the island.  It’s hugely depressing.

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7. In ‘n’ Out Burger.  The ground beef here in Thailand hasn’t been awesome (so I’ve heard from other travelers) so I haven’t had a burger.  I think I’m missing In ‘n’ Out specifically because I’d always go with friends.  I miss them, too.  Maybe almost as much as I miss burgers.

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8. Good Mexican.  We had dinner at a Mexican place a few nights ago, and although it was AMAZING for Thailand, it was mediocre at best for back home.  I’m in need of some fresh-from-the-fryer tortilla chips, some juicy shredded chicken, and some black beans cooked with lard.

9. Jambe Juice smoothies.  The smoothies here are just different.  They’re blended with lots of ice so they have a totally different texture than JJ smoothies.

10. Deli sandwiches.  Omgggggg so much.  I want a sandwich with fresh deli meat, lettuce, red onions, some kind of spread or sauce, and tons of salt, pepper, oil & vinegar, all on a freshly baked sourdough roll.  I dream of it.

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11. Stone fruit.  The fruit here in Thailand is amazing.  The mango is so florally and fragrant.  The dragon fruit is exotic and sweet.  The pineapple is like candy.  BUT THERE’S NO FREAKING STONE FRUIT.  Will one of you please ship me a nectarine?

12. Ranch dressing.  It just doesn’t exist here!  Restaurants will give you a big ol’ heap of mayonnaise, but no ranch.  My pizza and onion ring experiences have been seriously lacking.

13. Greek yogurt.  I’ve had tons of regular yogurt here in Thailand, but none of the thick, tangy, delicious Greek variety.

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14. Diet soda.  The only diet soda they have is Coke Zero.  I know, diet soda is horrible for me and a terrible habit.  But I miss it.  Sue me (<< please don’t, I’m gonna be SO broke after this trip).

15. Asparagus.  Extra thin stalks, grilled with some balsamic glaze, preferably.

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16. Pears.  A big juicy one (that’s what she said).

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17. Caesar salad.  Salty dressing, crispy leaves, garlicky croutons, and parm shavings.  GIMMIE.

18. Chipotle burrito bowls.  With tortilla chips.  Duh.

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Just so you know, going through iPhoto to find these pictures was pure torture.  You better have enjoyed them.

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