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You would think that transitioning back to 10-degree weather and a snow storm would make a person depressed after spending two weeks in 80+ and sunny Thai luxury, but frankly, I’m just jetlagged.
This mild exhaustion has bound me to a loveseat and my fingers to the keyboard… oh, and all the amazing stories that I can’t wait to share!
Like I mentioned in my previous honeymoon blog, I wanted to make this the best honeymoon ever! And it totally was.
My mission in life is to be ultimate sexy and adventurous, and I believe that I executed this goal every day of the honeymoon.
I always envy the beautiful women who travel with 4” heels and chiffon blouses. With the perfect makeup and hair that isn’t greasy. I have no idea how they do it…. but here’s what I did to achieve this look, the semi-functional way.
I wanted to step out of the plane at Hangzhou, China, looking like a supermodel for my Jamie dear. So I planned the most comfortable travel outfit that looked amazing and was functional for 24+ hours of travel.
When I left Pittsburgh there was 8” of snow on the ground and a 3-hour flight to Chicago followed by a 16-hour flight to Hong Kong. Clearly, this was not a time for heels. But there would be heels….
I was lucky enough to score this ultra-soft and comfortable form-fitting dress from my girlfriend who believes in ultimate comfort at all times. Since it was butt-cold degrees in WV I layered my outfit with thick thermal underwear, Darn Tough Socks, and my trusty Keen boots. I had a clean face, washed hair, and peeling underboob and ass.
At least I looked nice on the outside.
I left the house at 4:30 in the morning worried that road would be bad from the snow that dumped on the ground overnight. As I left town I realize the roads are perfectly cleared and I will be just fine on the drive to the airport. About halfway there I get a notification that my flight delays for an hour. Not only will I be really early for my originally times flight, but I will also be a whole hour less of sleep for the new flight.
I was not dampened by this as I scored a well-placed parking spot near the airport entrance. I exercised one of my first travel hacks of the honeymoon by checking-in at the alternative checking counter at Pittsburgh International. It’s just a flight of stairs up to the right and an empty hallway later you’re all checked through security.
I board my first flight to Chicago and landed in just three short hours.
If you ever have to fly into Chicago, Ohare, do yourself the favor and don’t. It’s always a mess, even on this fine weather day it was a mess. My flight to Hong Kong was in a completely separate terminal which could be reached by walking all the way there which forces you to actually walk out of security which means you have to go back through security. No thank you! Or opt for the travel hack and walk to the creepy side of the airport and catch an airport bus that takes you to the terminal, no additional security check needed.
I switch from American Airlines to the trusty wings of Cathay Pacific, hoping that I can upgrade my seat to first or business class for the long 16-hour flight ahead. (I thought the flight was only 10 hours and after speaking to my row partner he assured me it was 16 hours!!!)
No matter how much money you throw at the flight attendant at the desk, when you book with miles you cannot use money or miles to upgrade. Sad story.
Not only could I not upgrade to any class my sea was 47E…. the seat in the far back next to the toilets. Luckily my only other row mate was not too talkative and understood non-verbal cues of “I don’t want to talk right now”.
Many hours later and the sorest ass-cheeks imaginable, we landed in Hong Kong. Knowing I would be there for 10 hours I took my time exploring all possible waiting areas and scouted some lounge-ish chairs in the quiet side of the airport.
I searched for some simple food and opted for beef noodles and a Tsingtao and sat at a high-top. Being completely warped by time change and minimal airplane food I took three sips of my broth and a nibble of beef and decided it was all I could stomach. I easily finished my beer and headed back to the lounge chairs.
When it counts, my sense of direction can be rather precise, but when exhausted and jet-lagged, finding the secret lounge chairs became a trial. Three times around this not so large airport terminal I found the chair area again! It seemed that this area wasn’t as secret as I believed as there were occupants in every chair.
All but one chair was open and it was in the same “pod space” as an English bloke. I was given the green light to occupy the space and snag the only free bench. I settled in for the night but was sad to awaken 20 minutes later by the knocking of beer pee on my bladder. I quickly snuck away to the toilet doing the one thing your not supposed to do in an airport.
I left my bags. Tired of lugging a roller, a giant girl purse, and third bag, because I’m a girl. It was the most heavenly pee I had experienced in the last 24 hours. To pee without your luggage is like what mothers feel when they pee without children.
Since I was grateful for his watchful eye (he was asleep) I didn’t feel like I could abandon my chair pod partner and I went back to sleep.
My eyes opened just in time to exchange a few words with my airport friend and we said goodbye.
I proceeded to sleep and charge my phone and walk around and around Hong Kong airport waiting for my gate to be posted.
After 10 hours of waiting for my gate posted on the info board and I make my way across the terminal, just a few steps closer to Jamie!Josh Sorenson
Then, out of nowhere, this adorable Filipino man introduced himself and said we were on the last flight together. He was gently signaling to join him for lunch, but I am a good sweet wife and I tell him I need to make my way to my gate.
Where my overlight lounge chair was practically heaven in an airport, this section of the terminal smelled like urine and bus fumes. Though doors were opened every few feet, loading people onto buses, there was simply not enough airflow. How that urine smell lingered so heavily was mystifying my mind for the long 40-minute wait.
After staring at a sweet old Chinese couple arguing for the better part of an hour, my plane was ready to board. I got on the bus, I got on the plane, and I’d be seeing Jamie in just an hour and a half. Oddly enough, I felt like I was boarding a plane home.
Four-inch heels, a dress, and perfectly powdered face. I became, a stunning woman.
Jamie didn’t even recognize, even though I was the only white person on the pane, but the extra four inches really threw him off for a minute.
Of course my eyes were searching for his iconic leather Aussie hat, eventually, our eyes found each other through the crowd.
I was wearing massive heels, so I let him run to me a little.
We jumped in the back of our friend’s car and made our way to the city.
We had a big lunch with old friends, like Fran, and some new friends, and all of the time change and traveling finally was catching up with me.
I could hardly eat a bite!
China is like Italy about food. Except they don’t really force it down your throat; they just quietly look at you sympathetically as to why you are not eating. It is an offense.
I tried my best to eat the delicious boiled greens, boutsa, duck blood curry (a real favorite), and heavily seasoned meat, but all I could do was drink a tsingtao and nibble on a duck blood jelly square.
They noticed. I wish they understood the massive travel I just endured single-handedly and why I wasn’t quite ready for a feast.
Anyways, I survived lunch and got the chance to relax at the hotel.
The very fun thing about traveling in Asian countries is that things are generally cheap there.
I particularly am a hotel nerd.
I love rooms with tubs, sexy glass wall showers, tiny shower caps for the lady’s hair. And it costs as much as an Eco Lodge, but they are nice rooms.
Instantly I began running the hot water for a bath and pulled out my essential oils for a calming and rejuvenating bath. Yes, I put a shower cap on for the fun of it.
A small nap later and then we were off to meet a new friend of ours, Win.
Jamie had agreed to play a music show at our friend’s music shop a few months back, and of course, it’s the same night that I land.
We pull onto the sidewalk to pick up some steamed pork buns from a friend’s shop, then zoom away to this amazing noodle place.
These big fat handmade noodles were the best I’ve ever had in China. So plump and juicy with every bite. The spicy chili sauce was perfect on a cold night. I still dream of these noodles.
Before we knew it we were packed back into the car and headed to the music shop.
Win’s shop was an adorable cozy space. He has little stools already set up for the guests to come and watch Jamie preform.
We opened a few Vedettes and Jamie began to sing and play the guitar. Friends and students began to trickle into the studio and soon enough the place was filled up with bodies.
Jamie was playing his originals, mixed in with Country Roads and some other pop music so we could all sing along. Win got inspired to join in the musical performance and he bounced around from bongos to chimes to drum kit.
The windchime sound gave each song a Chinese influence and Jamie’s music was strangely adapted this Eastern ting.
Soon enough a good friend of Win’s, Jerry, grabbed a guitar and began to play accompaniment to Jamie’s Originals.
Jamie took a break and let Jerry play one of his favorite songs, Chicky Chicky, and sure enough, the whole room was buzzing with fun and song.
My favorite part of the whole night was taking creepy photos of Win’s adorable daughter, Cici. She put around the studio with a very grandmotherly-stride and attention to fine details, like all of the decorative guitars being lined up correctly.
She was adorable, cue the photo to prove it….
After the show, we went to a local dive bar one of Win’s friends owned. We got the chance to talk to some of Win’s friends and a couple of students. We shared some American Spirits, Coronas, and Sunflower seeds.
We talked about American culture and what living in the United States was like. We compared to the Chinese culture and how they operate day to day.
Talking to the people of a different place is what opens your eyes to the world. You hear new friends telling you how they live, how they share meals, how they respect the laws, and how some laws are more suggestions.
In Chinese culture, they respect traffic laws, though it’s absolutely bonkers if you’ve ever seen it, but laws like underage drinking or tobacco smoking… it’s more suggestive.
In America, the speed limit is suggested, and so is driving sober, but god forbid if a child drinks a beer with the family.
This is what Jamie and I seek when we travel, learning how the people and their world works.
We woke up the next morning, January 16th, one day before Jamie and I leave for Thailand.
We take our time getting up and we head down to breakfast to meet some friends. We ate noodles, baotsa, marinated eggs until our bellies were full.
Today was going to be nice as we didn’t have any plans until later with Win.
Jamie, Fran and I hung out in the hotel room, smoking cigarettes through a cracked window and drinking some Glenlivet (we had to drink up the bottle before we left, of course, we do this at breakfast). We head out for the world and instantly decided we are hungry so we walk across the road and head to a restaurant.
This place was so cool. All the dishes they make are laid out on plates or bowls and you just point and tell the waiter, who follows behind you like stuck toilet paper on your shoe, what you want to eat.
This is any non-Nadia traveler’s nightmare. I always want to eat everything. If it has eyes and limbs, it’s more likely I want to eat it. Lucky for Jamie and Fran I stopped, for them, at chicken feet.
To be honest, I’ve had chicken feet many many times growing up, this was more of a treat to myself watching Jamie and Fran eat them. Fran did no eat them.
We did eat amazing fish, eggplant, stir-fried chilis, and greens.
I highly suggest cooking or eating like the Chinese. They make many individual dishes, mostly greens, some protein, and usually a clear broth in there, and they do this for almost every meal. The result… you eat mostly vegetables some meat to keep you going and wash everything down with some nice chicken broth.
From our experience, rice and noodle dishes are mostly to just fill up. Rice is served at the end of the meal and only eaten if you’re still hungry.
Just as we were finishing up Win joined us and then insisted on paying for a meal that he didn’t even eat! Italian style I grab Jamie’s Yuan and run to the cashier. Luckily, Win did let us pay for this one, my WVU track skills came in handy here!
Tonight’s the night I have been waiting for on this trip…
I was going to learn how to cook a traditional Chinese dish with Win’s wife, Mung Yao.
I was so excited! Something new to add to my culinary brain and to share with my readers! I would finally know the secrets to stir fry and fermentation. This was the chance of a lifetime experience.
Win took the three of us to RT-Mart, a massive grocery store with all kinds of smells, live things, bagged things, liquor… Anything you could want!
Just as we set foot into the grocery I had to pee. I told Win I would just find it, but he insisted that I would not. We began to shop quickly, grabbing the beer and other necessities. We emerge to the produce and seafood section of the store and my eyes widen.
If you haven’t figure out that besides sexiness, food is my other love. When I go grocery shopping you might think I was at an amusement park.
I immediately shoot to the live fish and seafood section, eyes wide in wonder at all the specimens they had there (If you have a weak stomach maybe skip this paragraph). Yes, there were live lobsters and bass, and also goldfish, and red-eared sliders, and softshell turtles and tripe.
Don’t be mistaken. These critters are all intended for eating, not petting.
Like I said, seeing what a different culture is really like is what makes your eyes open and grow. Win did say he did not eat these things and looked as squirmy as I did.
After taking a million pictures of this my brain started ticking. I shout to Win that I’d like to make something for dinner. He agreed and next thing you know we are both racing like kids through the store on the adventure of ingredient hunt.
I suddenly remember that I have to pee and he takes me to the WC.
I stride out of the bathroom with the most massive grin on my face, I was on my way to learn a Chinese dish and bake an American apple pie for my new friends!
We arrive at Win’s place and meet his mother, and again his wife and Cici.
The table had bowls and plates of prepped veggies and meats and it was obvious that Mung Yao had been in the kitchen for a long time now.
As soon as grocery is unloaded Win whisks the boys across the street to his shop so Jamie could buy a guitar. This is fine. But now it’s just me and grandma making an apple pie with Cici.
Neither Cici or Grammy know how to speak English and they were just as confused as I was about everything. In China, ground cinnamon does not exist, but diligent grandmothers with a sharp paring knife do. As I made the crust and cut up apples poor grammy had to shave away on this cinnamon stick. After about a teaspoon had been procured she looked at me to say “is this enough?” I sadly shake my head and she gets back to the grinding bark.
Soon enough she is released from her imprisonment and the pie is in the oven. She takes the cue and hands me Cici and high-tales out of there.
I attempt to ask Mung Yao if she needs help with cooking and her response was to push me out of the kitchen and close the sliding door. My eyes like a deer, staring straight at the sliding door in confusion and realization as what was going on.
Cooking with Mung Yao is like cooking with Nonna, you watch as they work. You get the feeling that it’s not about them not wanting to bother you, more like they don’t want you to fuck and thing up.
I was shunned to the couch and SpongeBob on the tv with Cici and Mung Yao gave us sesame candies to keep us occupied.
Finally, the boys came back, after a desperate text to Jamie about loneliness, and Mung Yao started to plate dishes on the table.
We cracked open a couple Vedettes and sat down just as the Todofu was placed on the table.
If you’ve never visited China or smelled Todofu, it’s something that you’ll never forget. Usually smells trigger memories in your olfactory, but when Todofu hits your nose, it blows the whole thing up. If memories can be salvaged they would be about horse stalls, fertilizer, and a soup of manure.
Fran had been suffering from a stomach bug the last few days and I was barely eating because of jetlag and we happen to sit in the front of the todofu.
Being good company, I decided to start the meal with a bite of todofu and then wash it down with the rest of the meal.
I put a decent size of stinky tofu (this is not offensive, they call it this too) in my mouth and chew and swallow.
At least this is what I was telling my brain to tell my throat to tell my tongue to do.
That tofu weighed heavily on my tongue, sitting in the middle of my mouth as my eyes start to water.
I try to swallow and the fucking piece of tofu just sat there. Four times I attempt to get this piece of food down my throat and it came back up each time. By the end, it started bringing friends up with it.
Obviously, out of respect, I could not spit this out in a napkin, it had to go down. This was an unusual thing for me as I am the queen of odd foods and flavors, you could say I have an oral fixation.
After much brain coaching and throat coaxing, I got the pea-sized todofu down and I quickly drank a beer, feeling like I have just done something amazing or Guinness Records worthy.
I look up and watch Jamie, Mung Yao and Win eagerly eat bite after bite of stinky tofu talking and chatting like they didn’t just put a piece of black turd in their mouth.
For the rest of the night, I stick to bbq pork, greens, and noodles.
Just like the first lunch, our friends noticed that I ate so little, Win also noticed my frequent trips to the bathroom.
Both times I would whisper to Jamie “I think they noticed etc.” he would say I was just being self-conscious. This was not my strange brain fears, this was real.
Win asked if I was okay, which I was, but I was suffering from unsettled bowls, I blame the todofu, but who knows what did me in. I was also suffering from beer pees, and lord knows I have a tiny bladder. Instead of being efficient and taking care of both issues at once, my body decided that as soon as I washed my hands, the other bodily function demanded attention. It was 30 minutes of 30 trips. Yea, Win noticed.
Finally, we got moving and headed to KTV with Win and meeting some of our Canadian friends and other Chinese friends.
If you’ve never done KTV, the same thing as Karaoke, you must. Always get the private room, this is when it’s really fun. The 10 of us pile into this room and we start to pick out the songs we love. A mixture of American and Chinese songs are queued up and the table of beer and snacks had been ordered.
Win plopped a date into my beer and said it made the beer taste good, it was true. For the rest of the night, I knew which glass was mine, the one with the turd in it.
We all did our best performances of The Beatles, Queen, Journey and of course all the Chinese hits.
Before we knew it there are dozens of empty beer bottles on the tables, old cigarette butts, and pumpkinseed sells on the floors.
It’s about 10:30 and we still had to drive all the way to the airport to catch out flight for tomorrow at 7 am.
I fall asleep in the back of our friend Harvey’s car as he and his wife take Fran, Jamie and I the hour trip to the airport hotel.
We arrive, check in, and pass out after some drunk silly conversations.
The airport in Hangzhou is so adorable and lovely.
Everyone is nice, there’s no need to take off your shoes, the security guards smile at you and say good morning.
The three of us stood in line at Starbucks for our coffee, me a London Fog. We all took turns with using the bathroom and exploring the tiny airport in great detail. The luxury of traveling with a group. No British man to abandon my luggage with this time.
This leg and the connecting flight to Bangkok from Hong Kong were booked business class, but Jamie and I thought that was the middle part of the plane. Where you get extra legroom, but your meals still look like cat vomit. I’ll tell you, the three of us walked into that airport as equals, but Jamie and I boarded that plane first class.
I was dying to watch Fran go by when he would inevitably enter the plane, however, on this flight first class go its own entrance. Separated from those not first-class types. We did not carry the joke out by going back to taunt him. Instead, we geeked out: the ability to fully recline, adorable champagne glasses, and the warm towels we were given.
Yes, I stole the nice, actual metal, baby spoon from this flight. I would also do this on the next flight, once I was done eating my ice cream and my second glass of port. I was tempted to steal the blankets, but Jamie made me feel bad and I left them. This was okay.
I also want to take the opportunity to say that first class in magical and special and a dream come true for the HONEYMOON!!!! It was seriously amazing, wooohoo flying points!
We land, totally drunk and ready for romance.
As I glide off the plane I snag a priority departure ticket and walk off to find Jamie. We head to the exit but must wait in the security line first. Having my priority ticket we head over there and quickly are ready to present.
Poor Jamie had to deal with my drunk attitude.
Plus it was hot so I was overheating.
This first poop of a Thai person was this immigration guy. First of all, the departure card that no country ever does anything with and doesn’t care about…. The Thai care. In some ways, the departure card is more important than your passport to them. I didn’t have my departure card. Jamie didn’t have the priority lane ticket thingy that was passed out exiting the flight.
It was all very clear and innocent and we were married, so in my mind, I felt like we had all the parts to the puzzle. Also, there was a nice couple next to us in the very same predicament and they went through just fine.
No, Jamie and I had to fill out departure cards. Then wait in line, we decided to go to the guy who let the other couple through.
He was poop too.
Of course, I scrambled down the information and my passport number. He handed me a pen and made me write it again! He could very clearly see that my scratched matched the number on the passport that was in his hand. He could read it, he was choosing not to.
After what felt like a 15-minute stare-down he finally let us pass, even though we only had one priority passing ticket. I may have loudly and forcibly said “he is my husband, he is traveling with me” several times with the evil eye.
Several rants and bouts of frustration later we find a taxi and head to the hotel.
Jamie and I are outgoing people, one this that happened on this trip was that we made friends with pretty much everybody (minus the airport security and a bathroom attendant, yet to be mentioned).
A taxi ride to Bangkok was no ordinary ride. We realize that we know nothing of the Thai language, so we grill our adorable taxi driver about how to say Hello, how much, thank you, okay, and some other words.
Mystified by the city of Bangkok, we snap photos of jumbled up power lines, the iconic “Cowboy Street”, and tried to capture the insanity of traffic on video.
We stepped out of the taxi feeling a little smarter, ready for fun, and extremely tired.
The hotel lobby was exquisite. I felt like I was in the middle of a James Bond movie. Everything smelled like jasmine in a perfectly subtle way. We were at the Marriott Marquis, and we stayed in the first tower. Up to the 17th floor, we went, to the end of the hall (corner room!) and entered our suite.
Of course, the first thing I do was take my clothes off followed by pouring a glass of Glenfiddich from a free mini set of whiskeys I hustled off the duty-free shop.
We cheer, we kiss, and I shower.
Another awesome glass shower that is visible from the bed (unless you close the curtain, but that’s no fun for anyone). We lay on the king sized bed and take an assessment of how amazing this all is.
We head out for the night, not knowing where we will go or what we would do. Immediately I cross the street and harass the satay man. We grab a chicken and pork and I threaten him that I’ll eat a whole Thai chili (something I do often at home actually). We all laugh and we move on.
We crammed into a packed, and little, Thai place. I still was not eating very much and just ordered some simple veggie egg rolls, Jamie ordered our first Thai green curry.
That curry was the spiciest thing we ate on that trip, and pretty much ever in our life.
We ate the egg rolls and took turns powering through the curry. We got greeted by a busking band as we ate and drank our first Singahs.
Of course, Jamie and I were curious about Cowboy Street, so we walk a few blocks and are greeted by neon lights and girls in bikinis.
It was a party like NOLA, but every woman was in a bikini pretty much. Jamie and I walked by all the showgirls and drinking men, giggling like nervous school girls. I pull us inside an establishment and we just stand there.
A large grandma with a neon scrunchie suddenly shouts at us and makes us sit down. She tells us the drink special, so we do. We drink in strange bewilderment. It was like a pole-dance joint, but the poles were only 6 feet high and the girls didn’t dance so much as bounce. Truly, though I wasn’t opposed, I did not realize which rabbit hole I pulled us into.
Jamie and I felt lost and confused so we identify grandma’s scrunchy in the black light glow and then somehow we bought her a drink? She comes over with my free drink from the special, and a shot of tequila for herself.
She shouts and we laugh and we all smile and then she disappears. She kept reappearing randomly as we finished our drinks to deliver pieces of fruit. She gave Jamie and I specific kinds of fruits (to increase blood flow?) and we were not allowed to share either.
After we settled our tab with Grandma we busted out and headed to a dance club, because I love to dance.
We visit Insanity Nightclub on 32/2 Sukhumvit Rd. Jamie wasn’t allowed to enter with his Birkenstocks, and my long dress was okay enough to hide my Chacos. They made Jamie put on funny little Keds-knockoffs before we could enter. (This was something we had to be conscious of during the trip… what shoes to wear, and where)
The club was okay, it wasn’t early in the night, but from what I can remember, it was not very full. I didn’t care, and neither did Jamie. We got some whiskeys and started to dance. There was one center platform that all the drinkers were staring at, and were Jamie and I were shaking our booties.
Even in the night club, we make friends.
A few Chinese finally entered the dance floor once they discovered Jamie and I are goofy dancers and non-threatening. A man and his pal from Dubai enter the floor as do a few Thai girls.
It was awesome. The music was danceable enough, the Asians were awesome and Jamie and I Danced until 2 in the morning.
We made our way back to the hotel, stopping at least one pad Thai street vendor on the way.
It was a great first few hours in Bangkok, and a fun way to kick-off our honeymoon adventures.
Of course, it wouldn’t be real without some 2 am news that your dog sitter is allergic and now your problem child-pup is bunking with her brother. We didn’t just happily fall asleep easily that night.
It was the perfect Bangkok shit show of me crying about my problem child-pup, Jamie passing out, avoiding any conversation, me holding a pillow on the floor for an hour and then finally calming down and passing out next to Jamie.
Thailand, here we are!