Cameron Highlands: Tea Time

5 Min. Read

If you happen to be exploring peninsular Malaysia and are looking for a peaceful and relaxing spot to unwind with a cup of tea… 

then look no further than the colonial town of Cameron Highlands.

An excellent stop to enjoy some nature trails and recharge your batteries if you’re criss-crossing through SE Asia.

Mossy Forest life

Located in the Pahang district in northern Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands is home to a unique subtropical ecosystem with 8 mountains, fruit & vegetable farms galore, flower nurseries and numerous tea plantations.

Everything very green.

Developed in the 1930’s and originally planned as a health sanatorium, this hill station was extensively used by the British colonials during their time there and is one of the oldest tourist spots in all of Malaysia.

The plateau’s highest elevation is at 5,259 ft. above sea level and is noted for its cool weather, sometimes dropping to as low as 9 Celsius (48 Fahrenheit), making it a good place to escape Malaysia’s hot summers.

And luckily for them, the area was also found to be suitable for the production of tea. 

(Nice for the British.)

The area itself was named after the British explorer and geologist, William Cameron, after being commissioned by the colonial government to map out the Pahong-Perak region in 1885.

And he uncovered the regions true potential.

Cameron Highlands seemed to have just about everything: Rivers, waterfalls, mossy forests and lakes. This made the area even more appealing to the settlers there and soon afterwards, farmlands, nurseries, orchards and tea plantations began to pop up. Along with of course many hotels, residences and country clubs.

Tea Plantations

Despite the land being developed and settled, 71% of the area is still forested and is home to over 700 plant species, making it a very diverse and interesting ecosystem in Malaysia and SE Asia in general.

Now you may be wondering what is there to do here.

The answer is A lot.

Especially if you’re a green thumb.

Like my Mom, now that I think of it.

Cameron Highlands has a Lavender Farm, a Strawberry Farm, a Bee Farm, Flower gardens, a Cactus Farm, Farmers Markets, a Butterfly garden and so much more.

A beautiful Chinese Temple. (Sam Poh)

Numerous waterfalls. (Thompson Falls, Robinson Falls and Parit Falls)

And of course, the BOH Tea Estate. The popular tea company  which has been making tea since 1929 and a fine example of the region’s numerous tea plantations.

In short, there is no shortage of relaxing activities in the area.

Believe me.

How to get to Cameron Highlands.

Unfortunately the The Cameron Highlands is not accessible by the Malaysian railway (KTM), yet there are several bus services operating back and forth from Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang and Tapah.

And obviously, you can also arrive by car. 

Route 59, highway 185 and highway 102 all lead to the Cameron Highlands depending on wherever you’re coming from; Georgetown, Kuala Lumpur, etc.

When to Visit

Because of the elevation, the Cameron Highlands is pretty cool throughout most of the year. It does rain from time to time but less so during the winter and summer months.

It also sometimes gets crowded during the weekends and holidays, so I would consider at least spending two nights in the area to enjoy it properly.

Where to Stay

There are numerous hotels in the area along with some hostels. Be sure to book in advance for a nicer hotel. If you are backpacking through Malaysia you may also want to book a lower budget hotel or hostel in advance but you probably wouldn’t have to much trouble finding a place to sleep even if you show up without any reservations.


Traveller Bunker Hostel: $5-$6


Kea Garden Guest House: $10-$15

And there you have it!

A little sneak peek of the Cameron Highlands!

How you may feel when you get here.

Just in case you get lost… (I totally didn’t).

Johor Bahru: Glass Temple of Kali Ma

5 Min. Read

In the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia, lies a peculiar temple. 

A temple devoted to the Hindu Goddess Kali… 

One that is made entirely of glass.

It’s called…

Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman. 

Originally built in 1922 on land gifted by Sultan Ibrahim of Johor, the temple started out as a small shrine in a hut that was inherited by the current temple’s Chief Priest Sri Sinnathamby Sivasamy in 1991. 

Story has it that Sivasamy was inspired during a trip to Bangkok. One night when he was riding in a tuk-tuk, he saw a bright light shining about 2 kilometres away.

When he asked the driver where the light was coming from, the tuk-tuk driver informed him that it was coming from a Wat (Buddhist Temple). 

The driver then took the priest to the temple and upon arriving did the priest realize that it was the glass artwork at the entrance of the temple that was shining.

Amazed at how far he was able to see it, this inspired him to create a similar effect in his own temple. 


So, in 2008 he began work to completely cover the interior of his temple in mosaic glass tiles and finished it in October 2009. The project cost over 2 million Malaysian Ringgit (almost 500,000 US) and was made with imported glass from Belgium, Japan and Thailand.

There are over 300,000 pieces of glass tiles arranged in geometric patterns, with the colors being red, blue, yellow, green, purple and white.

And the place is a curious sight to behold.

With crystal chandeliers illuminating the temple and the light bouncing around, it’s like walking into a diamond with every corner of the interior shining and sparkling. Like a beautiful and strange, elaborate house of mirrors.

Inside there is an area to worship Kali herself, along with other statues of Shiva, Ganesha and Brahma.

And interestingly, there are also statues of the Buddha, Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ and Guru Nanak, which I suspect is to evoke a sense of religious tolerance, peace and appreciation. 

Nicely done, Sivasamy.


Who is Kali?

In Hinduism, Kali, also known as Kalika, (meaning the “Black One”) is the Mother of the Universe and the destroyer of evil forces.

Kali is usually represented as a terrifying warrioress with four arms holding a bloody knife and a severed head, and wearing a necklace of other severed heads or skulls and a skirt of arms.

The knife that she holds signifies divine knowledge and the decapitated head represents the death of the human ego, which is necessary to attain Moksha, or liberation, from Samsara, the neverending cycle of death and rebirth.

Kali also represents Time, Death and Doomsday but is also considered a strong mother figure and a symbol of motherly love. (Mothers…).

Where is Johor Bahru?

Johor Bahru, also known as JB, is located on the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula along the straits of Johor next to Singapore. At 220 sq. km and with a population of almost half a million, it is Malaysia’s 9th largest city.

Johor Bahru has some attractions other than the Kali Ma Temple such as the Johor Bahru Chinese Heritage Center, Johor Art Gallery and Plaza Seni (an Arts Center).

Along with this there are also a number of malls in the city to be found, such as the KSL, JB City Square, Paradigm Mall and R&F Mall.

Many people do tend to skip Johor Bahru and opt to go straight to Malacca or Kuala Lumpur, and perhaps for good reason.

Johor Bahru isn’t exactly a city geared towards tourism and the city itself is notorious for it’s high crime rate which has been the country’s worst in the past several decades.

Some of the more common offenses are: Robberies, snatch theft, carjacking, sexual assault and kidnapping, with gang and unarmed robberies accounting for 76% of it’s crime. Car cloning is also a big thing in JB.

Who knew?

I, for sure as hell didn’t.


To be honest, I only learned about the city’s infamous crime rate and somewhat sleazy reputation afterwards when I did some research on it in Kuala Lumpur.

That being said.

Don’t let that discourage you.

I was there for 3 nights and had no problems whatsoever and I’m sure you won’t either.

So, if you DO plan on visiting Johor Bahru, just remember to practice some common sense, don’t stray around too far at night and always be mindful of your surroundings.

Do all these things and you should be alright, you adventurer you.

Check out the tight handiwork here.

How to get to Johor Bahru

From Singapore you can go to the Queen Street bus station and purchase a bus ticket to Johor Bahru for about a $1 and it’ll take you to the Johor Bahru Sentral bus station, which takes about an hour.

You can also fly into Johor Bahru through the Senai International Airport which is 32 km northwest of the city.

If you do take the bus from Singapore, you will have to disembark at the border and go through Malaysian Customs and Immigration. After you’re stamped into the country you then have to jump on another shuttle bus that will take you to JB Sentral.

Easy Peasy, Lemon squeezy.

As for the Visa requirements, most countries either get 90 days or 30 days visa-free travel throughout Malaysia, but double check the requirements for your respective country before entering.

Americans, Canadians and Europeans all get 90 days visa-free.

Crazy good. I know.


I know this post is about the Kali Ma Temple and Johor Bahru but…

If you are visiting Singapore with plans on visiting Malaysia and are limited on time, I would actually suggest skipping Johor Bahru all together and go directly to either Malacca or Kuala Lumpur and then Georgetown, as these places are full of history, attractions and have a vibrant nightlife. 

Johor Bahru just isn’t a touristy place.

To be quite honest, I did not run into a single foreigner there during my stay.
(Which is totally ok with me.)

Yet, if you are an advocate of slow travel (like myself), then by all means visit Johor Bahru as you make your way through Malaysia. Check out the curious Kali Temple, try some Malaysian food and perhaps discover some other hidden gems. That being said, 2 nights are enough.

Kali Temple Visiting Hours

Daily: Open from 7am to 10pm, yet visiting hours for tourists are from 1pm-5pm.  

Entrance Fee: RM10 ($2.34) per person for Foreign Visitors. A small donation is always welcome and encouraged.

Address: 22 Lorong 1, Jalan Tebrau, Johor Bahru

Enjoy JB bro.

And there you have it guys!

If you liked this post or just want to say hi, don’t be shy and drop me a line!

Also, if you’ve been anywhere cool in Malaysia or anywhere in general, I’d love to hear from you!

Safe Travels!

Vientiane: 7 Things to See and Do

5 Min. Read



Warm capital of Laos and its largest city. Home of many Buddhist temples, beautiful statues, one of three bowling alleys in the country (not a lie) and the most significant national monument: That Luang. Friendly locals, spectacular street food and a lively peculiar nightlife await you. If it’s your first time in this beautiful and fascinating city and you don’t have any idea where to start, don’t fret. I got your list right here!

Let’s Begin!


First on our list and located in the center of Vientiane at the end of Lang Xang Avenue is the Patuxai, or “Victory Gate”. Built between 1957 and 1968, it is a war monument dedicated to those who fought in the struggle against France for their independence. Around the monument is Patuxay Park, where you can find some fountains and many Laotians going for an evening stroll.


Built in 1818 and in Siamese style architecture, this beautiful Buddhist Temple can be found on the corner of Setthathirat Road on Lan Xang Road. Considered to be the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane, the temple is also known for its cloister wall that houses more than 2000 silver and ceramic Buddha images.

3. Haw Phra Kaew

Just southeast of Wat Si Saket you can find this beauty, Haw Phra Kaew. It was first built in 1565 to house the Emerald Buddha but has thus been rebuilt several times. The Emerald Buddha stayed in this temple for over 200 years until it was seized by the Siamese and taken back to Thonburi, ultimately finding its way to Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok, where it is considered the palladium of Thailand. Haw Phra Kaew is now a museum where you can find some fine examples of Laotian religious art.


Originally built as a Hindu Temple in the first century, now stands Pha That Luang, a large gilded Buddhist Stupa in the center of Vientiane. The building includes many references to Lao culture and identity and is also considered a symbol of Laotian national pride.


If you’re looking for something curious outside of the city, then head to the Buddha Park or Xieng Khuan, a sculpture park just 25 km souheast of Vientiane. The name Xieng Khuan means “Spirit City” and although it is a tourist attraction, the park is known for its 200+ Hindu and Buddhist statues. In one sculpture you can enter through the mouth of a giant (pictured above) and climb up three stories to get a nice panoramic view of the entire park.

The entrance fee is 5,000 Laotian Kip.

Tip: To save some money and have a local experience walk to the Talat Sao Bus terminal and take bus #14. This bus leaves every 20 minutes and costs about 6,000 Laotian kip, or .68 cents. (That’s a bargain in my book).


For a better understanding of Laotian recent history and the impact of the neighboring Vietnam War it had on the entire country and its people, then I urge you to please visit COPE (Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) Visitor Center. It is a small non-profit organization in Laos which provides prosthetics and rehabilitation to the people that cannot afford it. Many of the patients are victims of UXO’s (Unexploded Ordance) mainly in the form of cluster bombs that remain in rural Laos and are still injuring and killing children and adults to this day.

For more information or if you would like to make a donation

please visit

7. Vientiane Night Market

After running around and doing everything on this list, finish your night off at the Vientiane Night Market located at the Mekong Riverfront. Here you can find a plethora of stalls selling all kinds of merchandise: handicrafts, clothes, street food, electronics etc. Here you can also find many restaurants along the river serving a variety of Laotian specialties. After dinner, do what I did and grab yourself a cold Beer Lao, try some Lotus Flower Seeds from a street vendor and watch the sun set slowly over the majestic Mekong River. Afterwards, if you’re looking for a livelier venue, then head across the street to Bor Pen Nyang and let the night carry you away.

Safe Travels!

Bangkok: City of Dreams

8 Min. Read

On May 8th I woke up from my bed and rose to my first real day in Bangkok. The sun was peering through my window and I was ready to explore everything that the city had to offer. In my dorm I met Joni, a young guy from Spain who was also traveling through SE Asia, yet was on the last leg of his journey.

I decided that if I was going to be in Thailand for at least a month that I should get a sim card for my phone. I get dressed and head out to a nearby Tesco-Lotus store a couple of blocks down Rama I. The day was hot and humid and the streets were noisy with rushing traffic.

Inside on the third floor was a Dtac cellular kiosk and there I purchase a data plan for a month with a Thai number, which was around 400 baht ( $15.34). I return back to the hostel and download an app called Grab, which is like an Uber but for Asia, and then set out to see the city with Joni.

On the street Joni teaches me how to use the app and we first head out to Wat Phra Chetuphon, also known as Wat Pho to see the stunning architecture and the famous Reclining Golden Buddha statue. On the way there I noticed images of the new King; King Vajiralongkorn or Rama X, all over the city. Just a couple of days before was his coronation.

After getting dropped off, we make our way around the temple perimeter looking for the entrance and of course some tuk-tuk drivers stopped us and assured us that the temple was closed. One tried to sell us a tour around Bangkok to see the other temples but I knew that the temple was open and that this was a very common scam in the city. We smile and walk away.

Towards the back we find our entrance and pay 100 baht to enter the grounds. We pass through some groups of Asian tourists and make our way towards the Reclining Buddha, marveling at the Thai architecture around us. Completely golden and massive, it was a breathtaking wonder. The statue was resting on two box-pillows covered in glass mosaic and the Buddha had a slight peaceful smile with a relaxed posture.

At 15 meters high and 46 meters long, it’s one of the largest statues of the Buddha in Thailand. I’ve seen many pictures of it in books but I was happy to finally be in his presence and the serenity of the statue filled me with good fortune.

Circling around the area, Joni and I took some photos and paid our respects to the Buddha before exiting the building.

We continued walking around the temple complex taking in all of its splendor and entered the main hall, Phra Ubosot.

Inside there was another gilded Buddha statue sitting on a tiered pedestal and under a tiered umbrella. The Phra was constructed by King Rama I in Ayutthaya style and then later reconstructed in the Rattanakosin style by Rama III. Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples and has been around even before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand.

The temple contains many Phras and also houses over 1000 Buddha images, which is the largest collection of its kind in Thailand. There is also a school of Thai medicine and the temple is also known as the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage, where it is still taught and practiced today.

In addition, it’s also considered to be the earliest public education center in Thailand. The entire complex is filled with exotic Thai architecture and it is a definite must if ever in Bangkok.

After Wat Pho, Joni and I head out to Bangkok’s Chinatown to try out some of the famous street food there. On Yaowarat street, everywhere I looked there were signs in Chinese, traditional-herbal medicine shops, restaurants and food carts. The traffic was dense and crossing the roads was a challenge.

To do so, we would wait and then jump in front of traffic with two or three others, passing quickly as tuk-tuks and mopeds swerved around us instinctively.

In the street all kinds of food were being sold from the stalls: Thai curries, brothy noodle soups, dumplings of every variety, skewered BBQ pork and fried chicken, coconut desserts, fruit juices, jelly teas and of course the infamous durian fruit.

Joni and I shared some skewered chicken with sweet chili sauce and dumplings. We spoke with the locals and continued to get lost in the alleyways in search of more interesting and delicious food. We then came across what I had been looking for: Insects.

By the side of a small street I found a lady with her cart catering to three other local ladies snacking on the crispy bugs. Upon seeing it I was in awe. It was something I had seen many times on travel food shows like Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern and I was excited to see it. At first I was a bit hesitant, but I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

All of the Thai ladies were staring at me and upon seeing my curiosity, egged me on to try some of the insects. On the cart were crickets, grasshoppers, scorpions and fried caterpillars. Joni and I look at each other laughing and he tells me in Spanish that the fried caterpillars were good, so he has heard. I pay for a little mix of the crickets and caterpillars and she hands it to me in a small styrofoam bowl.

I grab one caterpillar and slowly bring it to my mouth. I crunch on it…and to my surprise it wasn’t that bad.

It had a salt and spice mix on it and it reminded me of the small Pik-Nik shoestring fries that we use on Cuban sandwiches back home.

I then try the cricket and it flaked off into pieces in my mouth and it felt like a was chewing on a thin piece of bark, which was unpleasant and had no flavor. Joni then filmed me trying the black scorpion on a stick and although the gross factor was there, I wasn’t too fazed out by it. I move the arachnid to my mouth, pause and bite down hard on the claw. I was expecting some kind of meat inside, yet it felt like I was biting into plastic. It had no taste and was hard to eat. It was obviously just an exoskeleton and a novelty food item directed towards curious foreigners. I don’t know how much of a delicacy it actually is in the region but I’m sure some eat it.

We explore a bit more and I try a lemongrass jelly drink that I found in a dark alley from the only stall in the area, which was quite tasty and refreshing. We also end up finding a small sweaty stall in another alley that was selling noodle soups. We have one each and pay the young girl before going to Khao San Road.

We get there around 6pm and begin to walk up the infamous road. To the left and to the right of me there were hotels, cheap hostels, restaurants convenience stores and massage parlors all with glowing signs. In front of these buildings there were all kinds of stalls and food carts selling all kinds of exotic foods drinks and treats.

One was selling crocodile meat that was skinned and skewered and grilling over some coals. Along the street, hawkers paced up and down slowly selling everything from selfie sticks and scorpions on a stick to small portable electric fans and silly tourist glasses.

Joni and I sit at an outside table at a bar called Khaosan 1986 to have couple of beers and people watch. I sat there taking it all in and gazed at the ebb and flow of people from all walks of life and of every description:

Hippies with dreadlocks sporting Hindu tattoos and wearing elephant print harem pants, young Europeans on holiday from school with oversized Osprey backpacks and hiking boots, bearded Israelis that had just finished their IDF service wearing velcro sandals and filling the air with Hebrew, old couples navigating through the craziness with Lonely Planet books in hand, groups of Chinese or Korean girls wearing beautiful flowing dresses and floppy sun hats, Thai punk rockers, ladyboy performers, soulsearchers, drunks, musicians and lost travellers tired of the west.

Everyone was here it seemed.

I went to the restroom quickly and when I returned there was a street magician at our table showing Joni some tricks. The magician guessed all of our cards from a shuffled deck and did a rope and ring trick that was absolutely amazing.

From the bottom of a thin rope tied at both ends forming a circle he would slide a metal ring up halfway with the string inside the ring and not touching the sides. Naturally, it should have fallen to the table once he released it but when he did, the ring would tie with the rope and not fall. He performed it may times and it left us completely baffled.

We chatted him up and he performed some other good tricks. We leave him a tip and pay our beer tab.

Joni and I then walk across the road to Charlie’s massage parlor where we get an hour long Thai massage for 250 baht, which comes out to around $8. The ladies take us in, wash our feet and give us some light clothes to change into. The lady lays me down on a thin mattress on the floor and Joni was laying on the adjacent one with his masseuse.

They closed the curtains and played some light Oriental flute music. The whole hour was very interesting and relaxing. She massaged my entire body using her fingers, elbows and forearms to hit all of the pressure points and used her body weight to twist and crack my spine using her feet.

She was very pleasant and we would make light conversation but she really went to work on body when she got to my neck and back, massaging me vigorously and working out any knots and sore spots. When the time was up Joni and I thanked the women, changed into our original clothes and headed back to the road feeling great.

It was nighttime and the road was buzzing with activity. Live music from the bars and the sound of travelers cheersing over Singha’s and Chang’s filled the air. Thais mixed with the foreigners on the streets conducting business and haggling on prices. Everyone seemed free and happy to be here and I was no exception.

We walk towards the end of the short Khaosan Road and decided to head back to downtown. On the ride back I began to think of how happy I was to be in Thailand and I thought of all of the travelers that had been here before me.

Of all of the people that came from faraway places arriving here for the first time. How excited they must’ve been, as I’m excited now, to be starting in Bangkok and to pass through the famous Khaosan Road… To make the first big step of a long journey.

“And now I’m finally here”, I thought to myself.

It was my turn.

Bangkok: The Beginning

5 Min. Read

From Lucca my father and I went to Venice and spent a couple of days there. Although, to our misfortune it was rainy and windy, but we did make the most of it and enjoyed our time talking and having some delicious food in various restaurants, like La Profeta. Yet, this is where my father and I parted ways.

He had decided to fly back to Spain and I decided to begin my Asian trip by flying into Bangkok. From the Venice Marco Polo airport my father was to head to Barcelona and I to Frankfurt, where I would then fly to my destination.

At the airport my father wished me luck on my journey and I gave him the biggest hug. It was a fantastic month traveling with him and I am truly glad to have been able to spend time together backpacking. It was really nice to be able to share crossing the Atlantic and exploring Italy together. But this was the end.

In the Frankfurt airport, I began to grow excited as I was eating some currywurst and enjoying a cold German beer. Finally, the country and region of the world that had eluded me for so long and the land that had been the subject of countless hours of daydreaming was approaching.

I was finally going to Thailand. The mysterious land of Muay Thai, misty mountains, delicious cuisine and friendly natives. The land of smiles was just 10 hours away and on the plane I was smiling the whole way.

Next to me were a young couple originally from Bangkok and they gave me the in’s and out’s of Bangkok and Thailand in general. They explained to me some cultural norms, some basic greetings and food recommendations. The flight was a bit long, but after some movies and a quick nap, the plane was just two hours away from the capital.

After landing, I collect my bag and thanked all of the flight attendants for their hospitality. I walk off the plane, into Suvarnabhumi airport and pass through customs and immigration. They stamp my passport and I had one full month to explore their beautiful country.

I had no real plans on how to go about my travels but I did have a rough outline of the places that I wanted to see: Bangkok, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Pai. I know from my previous travels that I almost always deviate from any original plan and go to a lot of small towns in between and learn about sites that shouldn’t be missed.

Or sometimes, I find a place that I like and stay there for longer. My aim is always to travel slow, talk with the locals, eat local, soak up as much as I possibly can and write down a good amount in my journal.

I take the Airport Rail Link, and make my way to the center of town by transferring to the BTS Sukhumvit line and get off at the Siam stop on Rama I Road. I had no cell phone service and no pre-booked hostel for me to stay at, so I walked into a large shopping mall called the Siam Center and come across a bubble tea kiosk on the second floor called The Alley.

Here I had my first bubble tea in Thailand, a delectable brown sugar and milk concoction with tapioca pearls. They didn’t have wifi, so I took off looking for another spot. And of course I found a Starbucks and used their wifi to connect and find a place to sleep for the night. I settle on a place called Lub d Hostel, which was right up the street on Rama I and close to the National Stadium.

I check in around 5pm, receive my key and was shown my room that had four beds in total yet was empty. The hostel was clean, large, had open air patios and was mainly blue in color. I get some much needed rest, since I had been non-stop from Venice and later in the evening do my laundry, because my filthy clothes desperately needed it and I was on my last pair of underwear.

Later in the evening I go out for a walk to explore the town by night and to find something quick to eat. I was on the hunt for my first street stall noodle soup and whichever would have been perfect. I stroll along the streets taking in the facade of Bangkok and was elated to have finally made it.

The buildings were old, lacked paint and had weeds growing from the cracks. Everywhere I looked, there were telephone wires crisscrossing and gathering into knots and locals making their way in and out of restaurants.

The night was damp and the moped traffic was fierce, which made crossing it a challenge. Each small restaurant that I passed by was like a little window into their business and world. The experienced elders would cook and the younger ones would take the orders.

From the stalls that dotted the streets, vendors would be chopping meat and all kinds of greens with their heavy cleavers making a loud “chop chop” sound or straining fine noodles into a bowl of steaming broth filled with morning glory and beef. All of the aromas filled my senses and I struggled to settle on a place, yet finally did.

A young girl no older than 15 approaches me as I sit at a small steel table and on a low plastic chair. “Sawadee ka” she says smiling and in a low voice. “Sawadee krap” I said and returning the smile. I then point to two plates on the plastic menu. Minced pork and tofu soup with some fried shrimp cakes on the side and a spicy plum lemongrass sauce for dipping. She jots it down on a paper pad and runs off quickly.

Thai, which I have only heard on occasion back home, now filled the air and it was melodious and exotic. Some would stare at me and some would smile as I ate, as I was the only foreigner there. It was all delicious and I pay the bill after thanking them.

Thailand had always captured my imagination and I always wanted to experience it for myself. And I could only dream back then. Every time I would hear stories from others that had been there, it only made me want it more.

I craved Thailand. All of it.

And now I was finally here. No real plan. No real idea of the city. No real sense of direction. And no knowledge of Thai. A guest in a faraway land. Alone and out of my element.

And exactly where I like to be.