An Ugly Day in Koh Tao Island: My Motorcycle Road Trip [VIDEO]

It was bound to be an ugly day in Koh Tao for me, even despite the fact that ​I was closing off an incredible year in Asia. I learned a new language after being awarded a full-ride scholarship to study in Malang, Indonesia. I had already enjoyed several days of incredible diving in Thailand. Yet… The stormy clouds above me were bringing back the demons of my struggle with chronic fibro pain. I could feel them, bone-deep, as invisible knives began to slash all over my body, cutting my freshly-healed hope open.

But the wonderful staff at Crystal Dive, Crystal Images, and Koh Tao Regal Resort fought back.


Is that what an ugly day in Koh Tao Thailand looks like? What it’s like to ride around the island in a motorcycle, while graced by gray skies, stray dogs, exploring rock climbing spots, hiking up viewpoints, jungle fitness courses, etc.?

Yep. Although it was a radically-different experience to me than what it seems…

I couldn’t dive that day. I was having another flare of my chronic, painful condition. Getting out of bed, getting out there, was so hard to do given how stiff and painful every limb of my body typically feels on a rainy day. Add to that that heck, I already knew how bad the roads could be when wet!

only day in Koh Tao motorcycle road trip

So yes, it began as an ugly day in Koh Tao for me.

But wow, what can the brain not do?

Once I took that first step, that first arm swing to brush my teeth, to clothe, to go outside, to breathe deeply… To really open my eyes and be thankful I could still see a sky, however gray it may be… To be grateful to be surrounded by people who want to make it all better for me…

The pain slowly faded into the back of my mind.

Don’t get me wrong: the pain was still there. I was still hurting despite all the smiles, climbing up and down, grabbing the camera and clicking the shutter. Gee, you have no idea how badly my index finger can hurt sometimes just by taking a few shots…

But that doesn’t stop me from continuing to take shots.

I focused on all the beautiful landscapes right in front of me that day — the day that was supposed to be an ugly day in Koh Tao and yet another painful day in my medical history. I didn’t allow the gray skies, both physical and metaphorical, cloud my perspective.

I didn’t allow the pain to take the spotlight.

I persevered by pushing it off, brushing it off, depriving it of any attention. It’s incredible how fast the rest of our body starts changing as soon as we start to shift our attention to other than the pain.

Some days are better than others – ​you don’t always get to spend ​an ugly day in Koh Tao – but keep fighting.

ugly day in Koh Tao Road trip bikini selfie

You may think I’m just lucky because I’m the travel blogger. Of course if the worst you seem to experience is in an exotic land – easy for you to say!

Chronic pain doesn’t care about your perceived “worldly privilege,” I’m afraid.

I’m in chilly Washington DC now — but I continue to seek and find beauty in different ways. I continue to find reasons to keep on wanting to push that huge wall that tells me I’m sick as I wake each morning.

I get my a** up, as hard as it may be, mind-fogging fatigue and stabbing pain overwhelming me and all.

Whether my bed has an ocean view or just another wall and a window facing even more walls…

Look around you – we are all surrounded by beauty, we just need to train our eyes to see it.

You’re stronger than you think. Please don’t give up. Keep on fighting in this world with me. Thanks for following – I am back 😉

Full 2017 travel recap AND 2018 travel plans coming up soon! <3

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Want more Koh Tao? Click here for my top things to do in Koh Tao

This ugly day in Koh Tao was sponsored by Crystal Dive, Crystal Images, and Koh Tao Regal Resort. Thank you so much for your hospitality — you went way above and beyond than my proposal! You have hearts of gold! Can’t wait to see y’all again

Guns and Roses Cover Band + AC/DC: Videos from Chiang Mai!

Where the heck did the Guns and Roses cover band come from, in the middle of freaking Thailand, you may ask?

Well well well… 😀

guns and roses cover band video

The spectacular Chiang Mai Cabaret show wasn’t the only highlight of one of my funnest nights in Southeast Asia. Right after that incredible performance, the Indian and the Spaniard trotted along the Anusarn Market Night Bazaar with me–too amped up to say goodbye to the night just yet.

And then…my finely-tuned ears caught a glimpse of a Guns and Roses track.

But wait a second. That’s too real.

“That’s freaking Axl, man. That’s probably a really good live recording. Let’s head to that bar, it’s one of the few still open and at least they have good music.”

WELCOME to part 5 of my solo female travel chronicles throughout Thailand!

Guns and Roses Cover Band LIVE

JUMP to 0:53 seconds-on for the BEST close-ups and moves! ^

We couldn’t believe our ears.

This was a live band. An amazing Guns and Roses cover band.

We arrived toward the end of their “November Rain” rendition–me too flabbergasted to even press record on my camera.

Oh, but that performance was followed by an insane Welcome to the Jungle cover.

And then… They just kept going. We felt like we were at a freakin’ Guns and Roses reunion tour!

We were screaming like children.

Guns and Roses Cover Band in Thailand

But it didn’t stop there. Bon Jovi, AEROSMITH…even freaking AC/DC!

Say whaaaa?!

Man, they played American classic rock hit after hit. For hour and a half!

I can remember how much were the beers, but who cares? We had a blast.

Worth every single penny… of the FREE admission!

Band plays Wed-Sun. 9:30 PM @ Thai European Food & Bar, Chiang Mai!

My Video from the Spectacular Chiang Mai Cabaret

This week, you’ll watch a video + photos of two of my best nights out in Southeast Asia last summer. In Thailand, the rendezvous involved the gorgeous ladyboys from the infamous Chiang Mai Cabaret — and the most talented classic rock cover band I’ve had the privilege to see perform anywhere in the world.

Chiang Mai Cabaret Show Video

Ladies and gents, this shall be part 5 of my solo female adventures in Thailand!

Chiang Mai Cabaret: “BEST Of” Video

DISCLAIMER: after the 2-minute mark, I believe the video below is not safe for work and suggested to be watched by mature audiences. I recommend this entertaining video only to individuals over 17 years of age.

You’ve been warned 😉

It started innocently enough, with a curious walk around the Night Bazaar Anusarn Market. Then, as you found out the other week, I witnessed one of the best drag queen shows I’ve seen anywhere in the world.

Funny. Emotional (tearjerking, really). Surprising.

Naturally, I couldn’t wait to share this experience with other travelers.

And so, when the innocent Indian-American and Spanish boys shared with me at Wat Umong that they had never been to a ladyboys show, I had to take them to the Chiang Mai Cabaret!

Chiang Mai Cabaret Show

Granted, the night I took them my favorite number of all, Lady Marmalade from the Moulin Rouge, wasn’t performed again. BUT! They got to enjoy other pretty fun numbers–including a few favorites from the night before as well.

Their faces. My gosh. If I could’ve photograph them!

They were too busy telling me to record those video clips and take specific snapshots of their favorite ladyboys, though.

What’s crazy is this was the last night in Chiang Mai for both of them. We all agreed it was one of the funnest nights we’ve had in any of our travels throughout Southeast Asia.

What a hoot 🙂

Most beautiful ladyboy at the Chiang Mai Cabaret show

Chiang Mai Cabaret Show: Useful Tips

  • DO NOT bring children. This show is for adults only.
  • Tickets cost around 290 baht per person, which includes general admission + one drink.
  • Show starts at 9:30 PM, but be there by 8:30 to secure good seats.
  • DO NOT sit on any of the first tables in front of the 2 columns closest to the stage IF you don’t want to be touched, danced on or even picked to be part of the live show!
  • If you see the video, I sat right behind and in between the aforementioned columns. These, in my honest opinion, are the BEST seats in the house! Pick any of the tables in that area for phenomenal views.

VIDEO of the talented classic rock cover band NEXT WEEK! Stay tuned 😉

Chiang Mai Ladyboys, Monks, and Micro Flights

It always seems to be the case with me that, after an enlightening, wholesome experience, I go down the deep end — FAST. But deep end in Maria Alexandra’s life is just a night of absurd fun. Or 2. In a row. Minimal drinking required. Alongside the most beautiful Chiang Mai ladyboys:

Chiang Mai ladyboys

And an innocent Indian-American boy and a good 20-something Spaniard–whom yours truly both enlightened and corrupted in less than 24 hours.

Don’t jump into conclusions so fast, though.

WELCOME to part 4 of my impromptu solo adventures in North Thailand!

Chiang Mai nightlife

Chiang Mai Ladyboys, Monks, and Micro Flights

After my magical afternoon tea time at the Makka Hotel, I walked down the old city until night fell. Then, some catchy music caught my years at the Night Bazaar inside Anusarn Market.

Out of the blue, gorgeous Thai women started to approach me. It only took one of their friends walking after for me to realize that,

Chiang Mai ladyboys Cabaret


Many of these Chiang Mai ladyboys were more gorgeous than me, though.


And so, I was convinced to pay the ~290 baht entrance fee and enter the magical world of the celebrated Chiang Mai Cabaret.

All by myself. Right in 2nd row.

ladyboys Chiang Mai

brightly-colored Chiang Mai ladyboys!

I laughed until my tears were so salty my eyes stung. Almost immediately after, another act moved my heart toward another bout of tears.

HOW, in the world, could a ladyboys show be so funny, so entertaining, so sultry, feisty, and yet moving — all at the same time?

I’ve been to my fair share of drag queen shows and let me tell you, Chiang Mai’s was peculiar. And far more fun.

Maybe I’ve never been to a particularly good one? It was my first trip to Thailand, after all. Maybe next time I should go on a ladyboy Cabaret tour around the country.

(that sounds fun as heck)

the next morning…

MICRO FLIGHT TIME! ‘Cause I don’t waste time between my thrills.

Another last-minute arrangement of mine in Chiang Mai: to fly high above the sky and see the region from yet another perspective.

At the crack of dawn, I was scootered to the Old City by my Couchsurfing host to be whisked away to a tiny airfield at a nearby town.

WOW is all I can say — some of you have seen the Chiang Mai micro flight video from a previous post. Here are some photos again!

micro flight over Chiang Mai

My host Julien had yet another busy morning playing online poker for a living, so it was time for me to crash a hostel patio one more time to make more friends and rally up a new crew.

I first met up with José* (the young handsome Spaniard) again after he decided to join his friends at Pai a day later.

Then, super randomly, a good-natured Indian-American crashed our duo.

I can’t even remember how it happened–we were kind of talking about what we would do for the day and he said something along the lines of “hey! My name is Vader* — can I join you?!”

Nightlife in Chiang Mai: Tips

And just like that, the new 3 Musketeers were born. At least for a day.

Our Top 2 Off-The-Beaten-Path Chiang Mai Temples

The day flew by: I showed them some of my favorite Chiang Mai temples from the day before, in addition to going on the hunt for some off-the-beaten-path gems.

What really happened is I got lost again, drifting them into local labyrinths.

And so we found beautiful things somewhere between suburbia and the forest:

off-the-beaten-path Chiang Mai temples

Wat Ram Poeng

1. Wat Ram Poeng: a fascinating monastery that now serves as a popular meditation center for both locals and foreigners alike. Charming 6-acre campus.

Why I call it off-the-beaten-path? It is only popular with people who are extremely serious about meditation, going on 10 to 26-day courses.

We were the only visitors there who were not enrolled in such a course. The calming energy that enveloped us was incredible.

2. Wat Umong: conveniently located close to my Couchsurfing host’s apartment, we ended up here after a long, long walk from Wat Ram Poeng. The smartphone map said it was close! (we probably got lost and took a parallel road. Again).

This was the most touching, as it blended seamlessly with the surrounding forest:

off-the-beaten-path Chiang Mai, Wat Umong

Wat Umong

There was even a lake and intricate caves doubling as temples:

We spent several hours there, until I had to go back to my host’s apartment to hang out and have dinner.

BUT WE SCHEMEDDDD *insert evil laugh here*

After a wholesome afternoon exploring some of the most gorgeous, off-the-beaten-path temples around Chiang Mai, I started to tell the boys about my crazy time at the cabaret the night before.

Lake in Chiang Mai Forest Temple

They were more than intrigued: they had never been to a dragshow. EVER

Like, nowhere in the world. In their entire lives.



My host Julien shied away after my proposal, so he went back home after dinner–while I proceeded to have one of the funnest nights of my solo travels anywhere in Southeast Asia…

Chiang Mai ladyboys after Cabaret

CLICK HERE to watch the Chiang Mai ladyboys VIDEO!

Chiang Mai Temple Hopping and Thai Food PHOTO Extravaganza

Big nose boo-boo and embarrassing temple desecration aside, I continued my exciting trot around Thailand solo. The next day would be full of even more Chiang Mai temple hopping and mouthwatering Northern Thai food.

Chiang Mai Temple Hopping and Foodie Crawl

As my delicious Northern Thai food guide shows, I had an incredibly tasty time this day. What I haven’t shared with you yet though are the details of the beautiful Chiang Mai temples that were mixed in with that equally-beautiful food.

temple hopping in Chiang Mai

I always get insanely lost (how do I manage to travel the world, I wonder?!), so I was a good 40 minutes early (so I didn’t get lost this time! yay!). Which, would prove to be, the best thing to kick off my day:

A Thai Temple all to myself, except for a monk or 2.

temples in Chiang Mai

Wat Chiang Man temple was relatively small, but intricately decorated. The golden adornments shone brightly against the sun–and the carpet inside seemed to have absorbed an intense amount of holiness from the many prayers to have been lifted from it.

It was, really, inexplicable magic.

Chiang Mai temples

The magic spell was broken by a couple of scantily-clad travelers breaking into the silence. With their uncovered spaghetti straps and loud conversation, I bounced.

Right on time to meet two other travelers and our guide!

This, by the way, was a last-minute arrangement. I decided to go on it and luckily they had space. There were only 3 of us. I love the low season.

As previously mentioned, we proceeded to devour Chiang Mai’s best foods:

foodie temple hopping Chiang Mai

We walked and walked. We also hailed a red cab or 2 for longer jaunts. The most enjoyable way to go Chiang Mai temple hopping–all while learning about the history of Northern Thai food and the city.

We visited local shops while stopping by some of the most popular temples on the way–and also discovering other tiny ones, hidden among the maze of alleyways that I didn’t even know crisscrossed the Old City.

best Chiang Mai temples

My second favorite moment, though, was having a few seconds with 2 monks and myself at Wat Chedi Luang:

Those are some of my favorite photos from my entire trip to Thailand.

Oh & this colorful Asian-but-Spanish-Conquistador-looking door. And altar.

But THEN! Then

Tea time at the Makka Hotel’s mini library, the last stop of our cultural foodie crawl, was just as holy and memorable:

Chiang Mai Makka Hotel

Then, I spent 3 hours after everyone left on my own, in that very library, reading books about Buddhism and their Enlightened authors.

I had an epiphany or 2. Some life lessons learned.

Among one of the quietest, most delicious afternoons of my entire life.

And yet, all alone.


It is in the so-called “void” that we sometimes find the most enjoyment.

Coming from me, you must be sure by now that this is a very, very special place.

Chiang Mai Temple quote

Read part 4 of my solo adventures in Thailand by clicking here!

My Couchsurfing Chiang Mai Adventures: Winging It in Thailand Pt. 2

Welcome back to part 2 of my “Solo Female Traveler Winging It in Thailand” series! This week I delve deeper into my Couchsurfing Chiang Mai experience, so you know what it’s really like to surf a couch… alone. With a guy.

Missed Part 1? Read My First 24 Hours in Chiang Mai!

my Couchsurfing Chiang Mai host

my Couchsurfing host, Julien, and me!

Couchsurfing Chiang Mai: What It’s REALLY Like

Dozens of stalls lined the university gates, just a few minutes walk from Julien’s nice apartment.


I jumped out of the red taxi pickup truck, greeted Julien again by his scooter, and off we went on our first foodie adventure: a.k.a. stuff my face with every Northern Thai snack I have not tried yet.

Couchsurfing in Chiang Mai snacks

delicious snacks by my Couchsurfing Chiang Mai host’s place

Those were only appetizers, though. Later that night, my Couchsurfing host and I acted like very naughty tourists by having a a full-blown “Western dinner” at The Red Tree Restaurant.

HUGE is not big enough to describe it:

Couchsurfing in Chiang Mai

each of those was ONE entrée! My biggest meal while Couchsurfing Chiang Mai for sure

But as we say in Puerto Rico:

Barriguita llena, corazón contento!

That line perfectly captured my first 24 hours Couchsurfing Chiang Mai (and beyond): filled belly, happy heart indeed.

The next DAY

My Couchsurfing hosts had to work a few hours in the morning (he plays poker for a living online. I’m not kidding), so I took advantage of this to update my Instagram account and post some photos to my LatinAbroad Facebook page as well.

Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to go go go all the time.

It actually ended up raining in the morning. Wet season upon us.

Conclusion: WORTH IT!

Around midday, Julien and I hit the wet pavement for a scooter ride around town:

We did a fair bit of temple hopping, with my Couchsurfing Chiang Mai host hitting some sites he had not seen himself while living there.

Temples start at 4:48 below! 😉

Then, it rained again! But it doesn’t matter, I kept having fun!

Bring it, Mother Nature.

Then I did something really, really bad. Like, I-may-go-to-Buddhist-hell bad.

Our last stop before sunset was the Silver Temple (Wat Sri Suphan). As its name suggests, it is a temple made out of real silver. It’s the only one in Thailand.

Shiny, unique, entrancing. Of course I wanted to step inside.

And I did.

Chiang Mai Couchsurfing, temple hopping

After snapping those selfies, one old and one young monk came up to us, almost-yelling in Thai.

I say almost yelling, because they were peaceful monks trying not to look like they were angry, even though they were clearly upset.

Their fingers started to fiercely point at a sign on the ground, which actually happened to have pretty large lettering, spelling the following:


Both in Thai and English.


This day, however, would prove to be a little more embarrassing than that.

I managed to make myself blackout later that night. With no alcohol, whatsoever.

Now read THAT Chiang Mai photography workshop story here!

Couchsurfing in Chiang Mai, photography

I would have laughed at myself as well, ladies

Part 2 of my shenanigans winging it: Couchsurfing & Temple Desecration (!!)

My First 24 Hours in Chiang Mai: Winging It in Thailand Pt.1

I almost skipped North Thailand. Wet, cloudy, muddy days aren’t the best antidote to my fibromyalgia. “But you just have to go…” my soul strangely whispered.. A $25 flight from Bangkok, 3-hour search, and defeating $7 hostel booking later, there I was: on the airport floor, anxiously awaiting a response from a Couchsurfing host…wondering what my first 24 hours in Chiang Mai would be like…

…but it wouldn’t come, it wouldn’t come…would it? 

What now?

24 hours in Chiang Mai, jungle stupa

My first 24 hours in Chiang Mai – the Couchsurfing waiting game

Waiting on a cold airport floor wasn’t exactly how I planned to spend my first day in Chiang Mai. Defeated, I looked around–quickly perking up as I spotted a couple with a driver. With big brown Latin puppy eyes, I convinced (errm, hustled) them to let me hitch a ride for a fraction of the fare.

Less than 20 minutes later, I had made it to my hostel, convinced some travelers on motorbikes by the front to wait 5 minutes for me so I could join them, and hit the road.

Chiang Mai solo female traveler, scooters

As I swiftly changed clothes, though, I got the response I was hoping to hear 3 and a half hours earlier on that cold airport floor:

“you’re welcome to stay!”

His name was Julien and, thanks to some Spanish travelers leaving to Pai today, I could now crash at his place.

But, the motorcycle trip…

“I’ll be there tomorrow morning! Thanks!” I typed, as I struggled to hop on the high seat of the backpacker’s motorbike.


24 hours in Chiang Mai, Road trip

There’s nothing like riding a motorbike to the outskirts of Chiang Mai in the shoulder season. Rain was delayed this year and so, we were graced with sunny skies…until sunset.

The vibrating seat, cooling breeze, moving gray clouds, and growling motor–combined with our infantile elation–felt more intoxicating than 5 strongly-poured vodka wells during unlimited $10 happy-hour Fridays in Tampa.

We got so lost, but we did not care. Not even the surprising afternoon downpour could stop us!

After about 30 minutes riding in circles, not only did we make it, but clouds slowly dissipated.

24 hours in Chiang Mai, Lake trip

The lake was peaceful, with a couple of local kids and families chirping in the background.

Practicing my broken Egyptian Arabic with an Egyptian-American girl as Army veterans told war stories–all ecstatic to be alive, there, at that very moment, in Thailand.

The high of traveling without a plan is more addictive than opium, apparently.

A video posted by Maria Alexandra (@latinabroad) on

Once back, we showered and hit the night market for dinner.

Oh man, it was everything I could want: my very first khao soi bowl. The cutest puppy I’ve ever seen. The most colorful little Thai dancer. An energizing, live drum band.

All that after the most relaxing, yet exhilarating impromptu scooter trip around Chiang Mai’s outskirts and Old City.

24 hours in Chiang Mai, night market

What a “half-day.” Too bad my new friends were leaving town after my first 24 hours in Chiang Mai..

the next morning

I met up with couchsurfer Julien to drop off my bags. He was working, but we planned foodie adventures for that evening.

Reality check: many Couchsurfing hosts work during the day, so don’t expect to be babysat around the city.

So, what did I do? Went back to the hostel I had just checked out of, hung out at the patio, and waited until I encountered some friendly travelers to strike a conversation with.

24 hours in Chiang Mai, hostel

Not even 5 minutes passed until I heard a traveler speaking Spanish. I quickly introduced myself, he said he was waiting for his friend, I asked if I could crash their day…


After his friend came out, we crashed the pool of a nicer guesthouse because it was too damn hot.

Chiang Mai solo female traveler, pool crashing

Post-refreshing splash, I hit the road again! With them, my new friends 😀

It was another half-day of aimless wandering. We simply wanted to see what popped out around the city–and drop by what drew us in.

I even met up with the Egyptian-American girl again at Doi Suthep.

24 hours in Chiang Mai, temples

By mid-afternoon, it was time to go back to the residential district where my Couchsurfing host lived: just outside the Old City of Chiang Mai, by a crowded university…

Click HERE for Part 2 of my “Solo Female Winging It in Thailand” series 😉

Crazy Bangkok Sights + Quirky Experiences: My Top Moments

As you know, there were many things on my to-do list as a first-time visitor to Thailand. After spending a chill 18 days in Koh Tao, however, I found myself drawn to more unique Bangkok sights.

While the following list may not seem extraordinary, these are some of the top moments that made my trip to the Thai kingdom unforgettable. Indeed, it is usually what you don’t plan for that makes you smile until your face hurts.

Unique Bangkok Sights: My Top Moments

egg-wrapped pat thai, unique Bangkok sights

Joining a cultural tuk tuk caravan crawl

My first tuk tuk ride was hilarious thanks to Bangkok Food Tours. I joined their midnight by tuk tuk foodie crawl, which involved a tuk tuk caravan prancing through town, stopping for local treats, hidden viewpoints, and deserted temples near their closing time.

I don’t know what I enjoyed the most: the shenanigans of fellow tourists and local drivers as we zigzagged the city… Or the unique egg-wrapped Pat Thai… Or the serene atmosphere of one of the most popular Bangkok attractions outside peak times.

I ended up with achy cheeks and a different perspective of this chaotic city.

Vintage van converted into a sports bar

Khao San Road didn’t impress me much, with its pricey bucket cocktails and low-end clothing. What really made my time there were the vintage Volkswagen vans some imaginative entrepreneurs have converted into bars!

I found the little gem on the video above tucked away on a street adjacent to Khao San. Thanks to Hero, son of the owner of Khaosan River Inn Hostel, for the ride there!

best pat thai in Bangkok

Having the best Pat Thai of my life at a riverside alley

That unassuming Pat Thai was, hands-down, the best I ever had in my life. Its spices and flavor profile even beat Pad Thai Thip Samai‘s, which I tried on my tuk tuk tour!

Juicy, perfectly-balanced peanuty sweetness, cilantro freshness, and slight tartness.

Better yet? It was double the typical size and made out of a local homemaker’s kitchen.

The joint is located on a dark riverside alley by the hostel I stayed at. Another Bangkok hidden gem uncovered by Khaosan River Inn’s gracious host!

Golden Mount, popular Bangkok attractions

360° bird’s eye view of Bangkok’s traditional and contemporary skyline

Want to take in some truly unique Bangkok sights? Climb The Golden Mount.

I couldn’t truly appreciate Bangkok’s diverse architecture and history until I had a 360° bird’s eye view of it.

Glistening skyscrapers, surrounded by golden stupas and terra-cotta-colored clay tiles. So expansive, so diverse. So beautiful!

Bonus? The viewpoint has several Wi-Fi hotspots, so it was a great place to get inspired and write about my trip (and instantly Snapchat it to y’all 😉 ).

Indian food in Bangkok

Deep-fried Indian curry sandwich with cheese by Chinatown

Trying to find Chinatown and Little India on my own, I ended up in a curious cross street.

Little India is something I couldn’t quite find in Bangkok, minus a couple of Indian clothing stores, snack shops, and a restaurant or two.

BUT! Not all was lost when I spotted this quirky sandwich. The bread had been breaded (ha) and deep-fried. It was stuffed with potato Indian curry and veggies. And a thick slice of…Swiss cheese? Gouda cheese?!

It was so spicy I couldn’t tell amid tears. But wow: what odd, delicious Bangkok sights!

UMA Residence, Bangkok hotel

Crashing into a luxury hotel’s pool

There are perks to mingling with the locals, as you know from my Couchsurfing stories. The idea to crash the UMA Residence’s pool came from my hostel’s host, though!

Hero is friends with the hotel staff, so he takes willing guests to the luxurious pool area.

Man, that hostel stay paid for itself 😀 (UMA was very nice and relaxing, by the way. I certainly recommend the property to discerning travelers).

unique things to do in Bangkok, free meditation retreat

Being persuaded into a free 4-day meditation retreat

One of the top Bangkok sights is Wat Arun. Unfortunately for me, the complex was under extensive renovation during my visit this summer, so I decided to skip the pricey entrance and wander the (free) surrounding grounds instead.

What I stumbled upon was wisdom that would change my life forever.

A “free meditation class” poster caught my attention. I walked into the building and, one hour later, I was seating with an Indonesian man who had been living in Thailand for decades after spending two years on a solitary retreat in the jungle.


On my first session, I learned about the two different types of meditation and was briefly introduced to Buddhism. I was so intrigued, the teacher invited me to come back in two days, if my schedule allowed.

I ended up spending four days exploring all types of meditation, learning from him, and seeing the beautiful work he has done for hundreds of children who have been victims of human trafficking.

The Community Learning Center for Development of Humanity at Wat Arun is the nonprofit organization I found. What an incredible chance encounter. Please pay it visit and make a donation during your trip.

popular Bangkok sights, Patpong

My ping-pong show virginity taken badly

Hella funny moment now, but certainly not then! This is more of a word of advice for you and giggles for my friends…

Two travelers and I were walking down the Patpong Market in Silom district when we were approached by a very pushy old man. He sneaked “the menu” into our hands, promoting the infamous ping-pong show acts.

You know, one of the grossest, yet most intriguing of Bangkok sights.

I’m curious and always take risks for the sake of your entertainment, so I proudly haggled the price down to half the sketchy man’s initial offering and went for it.

What ensued was pretty ridic.

Bangkok attractions, ping-pong show

We entered the smallest, sketchiest “bar” I’ver seen in my life, quickly greeted by about three fully-nude “exotic dancers.” One of them was surely my grandmother’s age, but slightly wrinklier.

And theeeeeen? Skinny granny proceeded to play a small trumpet with her vajay-jay, shortly after bumming a smoke and taking a few drags with that same, errm, equipment.

Oh, it gets worse.

The noticeably-miserable waitress brought our “free round” of drinks at that very moment, demanding a tip. She was neither prompt nor nice, so I refused and told the other two travelers to do the same.

The young lady flipped me off, trotting away forcefully, cursing and yelling something in Thai to her coworkers. Then, the entire bar (as of, a handful of employees and 2 other local guests) started to throw the dirtiest looks back at us.

It didn’t quite help I insulted the biatch back, performing an equally-offensive hand gesture in return. Super Sofia Vergara style. Latin POW!

inside Bangkok ping-pong show

The guy with us must have pooped his pants from the look he had on his face.

Needless to say, he forced his girl and me out of there, drinks unfinished. Lucky for me, I got to keep my “free beer” to finish down the street, as hey, THIS IS THAILAND!

Moral of the story: no more ping-pong shows for Maria 😀

Tip: still curious about the ping-pong shows in Bangkok? Tyler found out that the appropriately-named “Super Pu$$y” offers an affordable, apparently less sketchy version of the one I experienced. Fair warning though: albeit a unique Bangkok attraction, it’ll probably be just as disturbing XD

unique Bangkok sights, converted van bar

Give me another drink, please!

Which are your top Bangkok sights, moments? Share below!

Unique Chiang Mai Attraction: Mountain Micro Flight [VIDEO]

It looked scary as heck. Seat on a metal bullet-shaped base, what looks like a giant kite, and a couple of metal fixings. Open air, exposed to the elements. The most unique Chiang Mai attraction on my itinerary would, quite possibly, make me pee my pants.

Unique Chiang Mai Attraction: Mountain Micro Flight

The buzzing sound of the engine revs up your adrenaline to levels I’d only experienced when I went paragliding in Indonesia. You shake, you giggle, you scream. Before you can change your mind though, you’re up in the air.

The rush of emotions you go through during a micro flight is hard to describe.

You feel so light. So free. Like a bird!

No pressure compresses you. Just noisy wind, rushing over your helmet.

And such a force of euphoria that tears stream down your face effortlessly.

unique Chiang Mai attraction, micro flight

The views are gorgeous, too, obviously. Thankfully, the micro flight is long enough that you have time to pull yourself together and enjoy the scenery.

Lush mountains, flooded rice paddies, golden stupas, and even a dam and artificial lake sprinkle the the vistas.

I even got to see what seem to be a pack of white geese flying over the fields right before landing!

It was so damn beautiful.

Chiang Mai micro flight view

I had not read anything about micro flights before arriving to Chiang Mai. So, upon my exhilarating experience, I looked into it to learn a bit more about the light vehicle that made me feel like a bird for a bout of time.

What I learned is a bit crazy: ultralight aircraft has only been around since the late 1970s or early 1980s!

As “young” as this type of aircraft might be though, they are extremely sophisticated and safe.

They can actually be flown with your hands off the control bar!

Unbelievably so, the ultralight aircraft automatically corrects for small disturbances when experiencing light turbulence in pitch and, to lesser degree, in role.

Don’t worry though: local Thai pilot Prayote won’t take his hands off.

(I would have probably passed out if he did, honestly 😀)

Chiang Mai micro flight aircraft

If you’re ever in Chiang Mai Thailand, I highly recommend you book this unique experience. Naturally, it highly depends on weather, so it is best if you plan your visit outside the rainy season.

Even though I visited in July, greater chances for bright sunny days fall between November and March.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Chiang Mai? Have you been there?

Khob kun kha to Prayote and his team at Sky Adventure for taking my micro flight virginity in Chiang Mai free of charge! The roller coaster of emotions I just described is genuinely part of my experience, though. Nothing about this piece has been fabricated nor did I receive payment for a positive review.