Travel Diary: Phuket, Thailand

I’m backkkkkkkkk!! 😀

Hey guys!!! How are you all doing?! I hope you’re all doing well and had an amazing past couple of weeks while I’ve been gone.

As you’ve read from the title, today’s post is going to be a travel diary all about our trip to THAILAND!!!

If you guys follow me on social media (which, if you don’t you totally should! My stuff is always left at the bottom of my posts and on my home page), you would’ve seen that Diego and I spent a week in Phuket, Thailand and were posting a TON of pictures and videos while out there.

So, if you don’t follow me on social media, go do that now and show some loveeeeee to my Thailand posts 🤗❤️!

Sorry it’s taken me so long to finally get this post up, it was a little difficult getting back into the swing of things while dealing with jet-lag (if you’ve ever traveled a long distance and/or dealt with this, you know what I’m talking about); but I’m officially back in business, and so happy to finally be too! 🙂

Anyway, this is a trip that I actually completely planned out for us in order to celebrate Diego’s 25th birthday (which was on April 9th). It was a surprise trip that I’ve had cooking for us for about 6 months.

I actually can’t even believe how fast time went by leading up to the trip and then how fast the trip itself went by as well…ugh tragic. Again, if you’ve traveled really anywhere before that you were super excited about, you can probably relate.

Regardless, I’m excited to be able to completely relive the trip with you guys and give you the complete 4-1-1 on Phuket!

It’s probably going to be a long one though, so grab a snack and beware! haha

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Travel Time & Layover

The first thing I want to speak about is the travel time itself and what all of that was like.

The flight in total for us was about 22 hours (more or less the same going and coming).

Our first flight, GOING, was about 15 hours to Shanghai, China. Personally, even though the flight was long, it really wasn’t that bad for me because I (by some miracle) managed to sleep through relatively the entire thing, literally have no idea how, but there are just some things I’ve learned not to question haha.

Once we landed in Shanghai, we were there for our layover for a total of 13-hours.

It was actually really cool because we had made sure to set aside extra money to be able to travel to the heart of the city and explore a bit in order to kill time. It was a really interesting, fun experience and technically means we got to travel to 2 different countries within this one trip.

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While there, like I said, we got to travel to the heart of the city and see “The Bund,” which apparently to New Yorkers would be like our Times Square. It wasn’t as lively and packed as I thought it would be in comparison to Times Square, but that’s also probably just because we got there at like 5am so everything was just opening and everyone was just waking up/starting their days.

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We really lucked out because the weather was absolutely beautiful the entire day that we were here (70 degrees more or less), and it was PERFECT for walking around and being able to explore.

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We were in Shanghai for the majority of Saturday, and I’m not exactly sure if Saturday in general is some sort of holy day for the Chinese culture or it just so happened that the specific Saturday we were there was a holy holiday or holiday in general, but SOMETHING was going on because there were crowds of people everywhere and celebrations going on for something lol.

You would think that because we’re New Yorkers we would be used to those kinds of crowds, which to some extent we were, but generally, we don’t typically like crowds so it was still kind of a lot for us.

While walking around though we were able to find this place that sold dumplings (which Diego was DYING to be able to try when we got to China), along with also finding a Starbucks!!

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As you guys know, I’m SUCH a picky eater, so my biggest stress when traveling is the food aspect, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I actually LOVED these dumplings, so that was pretty cool. Although as far as trying Starbucks in another country, I wasn’t the biggest fan of it to be honest.

Regardless, we somehow managed to completely walk around the city AND find our way back to our starting-point all while also having ample time to be able to get back to the airport for our flight (THANK GOD Diego is good with directions).

Before we knew it though, it was time to head back to the airport to catch our next flight to our main destination, THAILAND!!

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Hotel

The specific flight getting to Thailand was not at all bad because it was only 5 hours long, so it was a complete breeze in comparison to our first one. We ended up landing in Phuket at 10pm their time, and by the time we went through customs, found our car service and actually GOT to the hotel, it was about 11-11:30pm.

I’m actually SO disappointed in myself for not taking NEARLY as many hotel pictures as I should have.

Normally I would take like a zillion of the room itself, the surroundings of the hotel, etc., but for some reason this time around, I barely got ANY. I suppose it was from all the excitement and fun we were having, but still…UGH!!

Anyway, because I wasn’t able to take that many pictures of the hotel and its surroundings, I’m going to be using some images of them from the actual hotel site to give you guys an idea (which I obviously do not own).

I do have a few pictures of my own, that which I’ll be sure to pinpoint for you guys.

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I do not own this image.
I do not own this image.
I do not own this image.

I literally don’t think I can say enough amazing things about this place. But for starters, I guess I should tell you guys the name of it right? Haha. The name of the hotel was Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort And Spa. 

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This is my image.

The pools, the food, the drinks, the surroundings, the PEOPLE, the workers, the service?! All AMAZING. Checking in and out was SO quick and easy. All of the staff members were so nice and accommodating for anything/everything we needed; it was really a great all around experience.

Karon beach was also located directly across the street from the hotel, so that was super fun and convenient (although the waves at the beach were kinda ridiculously strong!! 😭).

For our particular trip package, I had chosen to get a Romantic Room, with a private plunge pool (a.k.a. Jacuzzi), pictures of which are shown above. The room was pretty spacious and comfy, and was cleaned daily.

As I had mentioned earlier on in the post, the main purpose of this trip was to be able to celebrate Diego and his 25th birthday, so you guys KNOW I had to do a little something extra for him, especially since we were out of the country and I couldn’t get him any balloons or cake like I typically would.

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So, I coordinated with one of the ladies at the front desk (who was SO sweet and helpful the entire time we were here and I really wish I had gotten her name to be able to give her a special shout-out 😩), and managed to be able to get them to decorate our room a bit for him AND accommodate us with a steak dinner and complimentary wine (which he LOVED).

It wasn’t much, but it was all SO perfect, and he was so surprised and loved every minute of it, which made me very happy to see.

We met so many amazing people in the hotel alone that it was actually really bittersweet when we left (for more reasons then one obviously, but one of the biggest was because of the people). SO many that came up to us personally to say goodbye and wish us safe travels back home, and some that even asked if we would be back next year to celebrate their new year with them (which we were literally JUST missing by like a day or 2).

They were all just so friendly and genuine that it just made our trip THAT much better honestly.

100% recommend this hotel to anyone that is looking to travel to Thailand.

And for those wondering, we booked our package (which included flights going & coming, hotel, car service and an excursion) through travelocity.com.

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Excursions

While on our trip we actually managed to do and see A LOT which was great because we were both a little worried about what the jet-lag may or may not do to us throughout the trip; BUT luckily, it really didn’t affect us much during the day so we definitely took advantage of that.

I’m going to breakdown everything we did and saw by the days that we were there since we did something new every single day.

Day 1, Monday, April 8th: Wat Chalong Temple & Big Buddha!

This was technically our first official day out and about on the town. I didn’t have much planned for us because like I said, we weren’t sure how jet-lagged we were going to be, so I figure, why not do some sight-seeing? So that’s exactly what we did.

We went to see 2 of the biggest and most famous Buddhist landmarks (so to speak) in Thailand. They were also both free which was a plus.

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As fun as both of these things were to see and learn about, I actually felt REALLY bad because I went into this wearing a tank top and shorts (what did I know?), and once I got there was asked to put these longer garments on to cover-up out of respect for the Temples and Buddha.

Now as I said, what did I know? But I just felt bad because had I known, or someone told me, I would’ve gone into this much more covered up. What was good was that they had these garments on hand for all women that were showing too much skin, so I obviously was not the first and would not be the last, but nonetheless, me being how I am I just wish I would’ve known.

Overall though it was a really great time and great way to soak in some Thai culture.

We also even got to sign these tiles (which were extra, we paid to do this part)!! So within The Big Buddha, I suppose they’re still doing a ton of construction of some sort, so right outside of it they were selling these plain white tiles to be able to sign and eventually it will be used to continue construction IN the Buddha. I mean yeah, who’s to say it’ll actual happen and who knows if we’ll ever get to go back and see this at all, but it was still a cute little thing for us to be able to do to leave our “mark” in Thailand 😅❤️

Day 2, Tuesday, April 9th (A.K.A. Diego’s birthday!! ❤ ): Tiger Kingdom!!

Although I knew that he would end up loving EVERYTHING I had planned for us throughout this trip, I thought that, out of everything, Tiger Kingdom particularly would be his favorite on his birthday.

THAT was definitely an experience.

100% recommend to anyone that is interested in doing this but may be a little on the fence about it for one reason or another.

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This little nugget was only 3 months old!!

As I mentioned in my Instagram post when I posted some of these, please keep any and all comments about animal cruelty away and out of this post. If for whatever reason you do have a comment or concern about these, feel free to DM and/or email me privately for us to discuss it.

I hear it all the time, and I heard it during our time here about these Tigers being beaten, starved, and/or drugged and I just want to let you guys know that me of all people would NEVER in a million years ever go to a place like this that may be harming in any way, shape, or form these creatures.

I made sure to do a LOT of research beforehand, read a lot of reviews and ask a lot of questions. The entire time we were here, all of the caretakers were very caring/loving towards the tigers, giving them treats when they wanted, playing with them very much, etc. AND they were very much active. Obviously they are tigers which are wild animals, so they may not be as active as they would be in the wild, HOWEVER, that doesn’t actually mean that because of that, they are being harmed and/or mistreated.

As I say about everything I experience and share/recommend to you guys, come to your own judgments about this, but we both really enjoyed our time when we were here and never once felt unsafe or uncomfortable because of how the tigers were being treated.

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Day 3, Wednesday, April 10th: The Elephant Sanctuary!

This was really an amazing and eye-opening experience for both of us, and was not at all what either of us expected (in the best way possible).

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We both went into this thinking we were going to be SUPER interactive with the elephants; feeding them, cleaning them, even riding them, because that’s what we had seen and heard about other places in Thailand that had elephants like this.

It ended up being the complete opposite, I mean, we got to feed and learn about them, but that was it.

Ultimately, this place is exactly what it says in the name, a sanctuary for elephants. In fact, it’s actually a place that rescues elephants from certain places (some, not all) that allows you to do the things that I just mentioned.

Again, make your own judgments about this place and the others, but we did learn a lot about how some of these places actually harm the elephants to be cooperative and actually do these things for us, in subtle ways that we would never really see and/or notice.

And you’re probably thinking, well what’s the difference between this and Tiger Kingdom, and how do you know that’s not the same thing? Truth be told, I don’t, but again, I’m going based off of my own judgments and everything that I saw and learned this day.

By the end of it, we were both SO glad that it didn’t turn out anything like what we originally expected.  We did have a great time and learned a lot though, which was enough for us.

Oh, and this particular excursion had lunch included as well, which was just an added bonus 😀

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And finally Day 4, Thursday, April 11th: Phi Phi Islands (our last day)

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This was another excursion that we were pleasantly surprised about. I don’t really know what we thought or expected, but it ended up being pretty much an all-day thing, from 11am-6pm. We were on a speedboat that was taking us around, and we ended up island hopping to like 4-5 different islands, all in relation to ‘Phi Phi Island’ (which is not just ONE particular island, but in fact several).

There was one island where we got to do some snorkeling, one that had the monkeys on them where we didn’t actually get off the boat, but we got close enough to see the monkeys and have an interaction with them, and 2 that we got to get off and wander on for a while.

All of the islands were absolutely beautiful; white sand and crystal clear blue water….absolutely stunning.

This excursion also had lunch included in it and was actually the one that I had booked with my entire vacation package that I mentioned earlier.

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Diego and I had the most AMAZING time while in Thailand. It was literally probably some of the best experiences of our lives thus far and I hope you guys enjoyed this post of me/us being able to somewhat relive the trip while also having it be as informative as possible (without being TOO long, although that part was probably inevitable haha).

It feels SO good to be back to writing and blogging! 😄

Let me know in the comments what you guys thought about our trip, and if you have any questions or want to see any other separate, detailed posts about the trip and vacations in general!

Thank you guys so much for reading, please like, share, follow and comment and I’ll see you guys in the next one!

-Xoxo, LeoGirl ❤
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The Christmas Tag: Let The Festivities Begin!

Hello and happy Sunday everyone!

Another end to another weekend…as bittersweet as it may be, I hope you guys enjoyed it and rested up for the start of the new week tomorrow!

I’m super excited because today I’m going to be officially starting my first day of Blogmas!!

I am, however, just going to be doing my own version of it, MEANING, although most bloggers and/or YouTubers tend to try and post every single day/night for the month of December, I’m going to just do it twice or three times a week. Nonetheless, I will be making sure that they’re as fun, creative and holiday-related (to some extent) as possible! 🙂

So, for today’s post (and technically first day of Blogmas for me), I thought it would be fun to do none other than the Christmas tag! Mentioning a few of my personal holiday favorites along with past experiences, traditions, etc.

So, without further adieu, let’s get started!

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  1. What is your favorite Christmas film?

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There are SO many (which I’m going to be doing a completely separate post about later on), but if I had to choose out of them all, I would have to probably say The Santa Claus movie(s), starring Tim Allen. I literally never get tired of those movies and think they are SO cute.

2. Have you ever had a White Christmas?

None that I remember on the day of, but there’s been some a few days before and/or after.

3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?

At home with family (my parents and brother) and Diego.

4. What is your favorite Christmas song?

The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You) by Nat “King” Cole.

5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

Amongst my family, the only thing(s) we open on Christmas Eve are our stockings, but aside from that, Diego and I usually tend to exchange gifts with each other and open them that day.

6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen…..(and Rudolph). And to be honest the only reason I really know them and can recite them so fast if you asked me in person is because of that one scene in Jingle All The Way starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (which, if you haven’t watched it before you totally should 😂).

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7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?

I guess I would have to say the Advent calendar my dad always gets my brother and I every year (no matter how old we are), watching the 25 days of Christmas on FreeForm, and also watching A Christmas Story all day on AMC  on the actual day of Christmas with my family.

8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

Fake!

9. What is your all-time favorite holiday food/sweet treat?

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I LOVE the holiday pillsbury sugar cookies. UGHH they’re pre-baked already, but god do they never get old 😍  (which fun fact: they have ones as E.L.F. themed now that I am SO excited to make!!!)

10. Be honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?

Honestly, if you know me you know that I LOVE giving gifts to others, especially the people I care about most, and even if I don’t get anything back from them in return. I’m just that type of person. I go all out every year for the people I care about. I love and would much rather know that I’m making other people happy in that sense then get anything else. To me, that makes me the most happy.

11. Most memorable Holiday moment?

Last year in general, although it was really hard, was also really memorable, because it was the first Christmas in YEARS that we had spent it without our cat Spencer. And everyone in my family knew how difficult it was for me personally, so they all (in their own separate ways/gifts) got me a lot of great things to help me not only cope, but also to just remember him.

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Like my mom got me this picture of me and Spencer blown up and put on a canvas, which actually hangs on the wall in my room now, and Diego got me a bracelet that was engraved with “For my love, From D & S,” which was pretty special and actually made me cry (both of them).

12. When did you realize the truth about Santa?

This is terrible, but I must’ve been like 9-10 and to this day I really don’t remember what was up my ass that one Christmas morning, or who pissed me off or why it happened, but I just remember being really upset and yelling at the top of my lungs to my parents “AND THAT’S WHY SANTA ISN’T EVEN REAL!!” and so from then on, my parents stopped all of the ‘Santa is real’ charade with me and just got me gifts like a grown-up (so to speak) 😂.

13. What makes the Holidays special for you?

Honestly, I just love the general feeling and giddiness that comes along with it all. The music, decorations, events, etc., it’s just all really fun and exciting and never gets old for me. I’m 23 years-old and to this day, I look forward to it and all of the cheesy little things that come along with it every year.

14. Have you ever made a snowman?

Not on or for Christmas, but yes my brother and I have tried (and failed) several times before.

15. How do you decorate your house for Christmas?

I/we (my family) love the holidays and always do our best to go all out. And personally,  more so now that I’m older, working and making my own money, I tend to go all out even if it’s just for my room (which I’ll be showing you guys in a separate post soon).

16. When do you start getting excited about Christmas?

Anyone who knows me knows that November 1st is when I start getting excited, decorating and listening to Christmas music lol.

17. You have been granted one Christmas wish….what would it be?

To have one big Christmas party/event with my entire family (from both my parents’ sides), because it’s been a LONG time since we’ve all gotten together in that way sadly, and I know it would be a great and memorable time for all of us if it were to happen.

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I hope you guys enjoyed this Christmas Tag post. Please like, share, follow and comment, and stay tuned for my next Blogmas post in a few days! 😀

-Xoxo, LeoGirl ❤

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Apple & Pumpkin Picking 2018!

Happy Monday everybody!

I hope you guys had a good, fun, relaxing and productive weekend like I did! 🙂 Today’s post is going to be about something SUPER Fall-like, which if you haven’t done, you definitely need to at some point!

I’m talking about going Pumpkin and Apple picking!!

This past weekend (on Saturday), me, Diego, a few of his family members, and some of our friends went to a farm to do some pumpkin and apple picking, and we had the BEST time. We went to Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, which if you are from New York, it’s in North Salem (Westchester). I’m going to leave their website linked here for anyone that is interested in checking them out.

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If you’re anything like me, then you probably haven’t gone to do something like this since you were a kid. Up until last year, I hadn’t gone to do this since I was in like 3rd or 4th grade and they took us as one of our school field trips!

Diego and I had found this place last year, but for one reason or another, only got to go by ourselves. We ended up loving it so much, that we KNEW we had to go back this year and bring some of the people closest to us this time around so they could enjoy it as much as we did the first time, and that’s exactly what we did.

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We spent the majority of the afternoon there up until it was closing time for them (which was at about 5:30pm). We all had an amazing time and got to eat great food, pick a TON of apples, and buy some goodies from the store they had on their location.

One thing to mention about this place in general though, is that it’s all cash-only. So if you’re going to make a trip up here, come prepared with that. Personally, I brought $100 in cash and that was more or less fine to hold me off for the day and everything that we did. However, worse comes to worse (although I know people try to avoid this because of the added fee(s)), they do have an ATM on location in case you wanted/needed to take out more.

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One of the really cute things this farm has is their little Country Store. It’s actually one of the first things you see when you’re driving in to the farm. It’s decently big, and super festive for the Fall/Halloween season.

Inside the store they have everything from baked goods, to produce that they grow themselves on the farm, to homemade jams of all different flavors, and even decorations and pumpkin carvers for the pumpkins you pick up there.

This is also where people would go when they place any orders for pies around the holidays to pick them up (which I’ll talk more about later on in the post).

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Although obviously the main attraction(s) here would be the apples and pumpkins, they also have a ton of other things to do as well. There were countless amounts of amazing food vendor stands, little games and activities for kids, somewhat of a petting zoo for kids (which included horses, chickens, and goats), and even live music.

The food was AMAZING. Granted, I am a picky eater and will mainly stick to the foods I know and love like burgers, chicken tenders, fries, etc., BUT nonetheless it was all good.

I’m sure people would say/think that the food is slightly overpriced for what you would normally get anywhere else, but I think it’s pretty worth it considering everyone there  makes everything right in front of you, so it’s all fresh for the most part.

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Something I highly recommend for people to try when you come here is the HUGE turkey legs that they always sell. From what I’ve seen, it’s definitely a best-seller. Diego absolutely loved it last year, and ended up being one of the first things he wanted when we came this time around too (pictured above).

Among the foods I just mentioned, they also had things like ice cream, fried oreos, cider donuts, fresh squeezed lemonade (which btw 10/10 recommend that you try the strawberry lemonade because WOW.), and pumpkin pie cheesecake.

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This is the strawberry lemonade. I believe it was $3 per container like this. We legit kept going back to get more, and by the time we left, we had gotten like 4 or 5 of them. SO good!!

One of MY personal favorite parts of all this was definitely the pumpkin pie cheesecake…….you guys, if you know me (as I’ve mentioned several times in several different blog posts), I am SUCH a picky eater, more so with regular food as opposed to desserts, but nonetheless picky.

 

HOWEVER, when Diego and I came last year, he managed to get me to try a sample of the pumpkin pie cheesecake they had there, and I swear I fell in love after that. So much so that I ended up placing an order for the big size that they had to be able to have that as one of the desserts at Thanksgiving last year, and I FULLY intend on doing the same thing this year as well!! So worth it, and they are all handmade by this cute little family that’s always at the farm!

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Overall, it was a really great and fun experience. Diego and I had a lot of fun last year when we went, but I think it was even better being able to experience it with some of the people closest to us this year as well.

If you haven’t been pumpkin or apple picking, but have been considering going lately and aren’t sure which farm to go to (and are in the NY area), I 100% recommend Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard. It’s a great place to go with a group of your family or friends, and is super kid-friendly as well.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post, and I’ll see you in the next one 🙂 !

-Xoxo, Leo Girl ❤

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