Monday, January 10, 2011

MONSTER fishing outside of Bangkok!

For my birthday, Aubrey surprised me with something I hadn't done since my days in Michigan-a fishing trip. She arranged a full day of fishing after researching the best fishing company in Thailand, Kiwi Fishing Bangkok ( About 45 minutes outside of Bangkok, their Bung Sam Ran location offers a lake stocked with giant Mekong catfish just waiting to take your bait and challenge you to a fight. Kiwi showed us to our bungalow (complete with a bed, fan, and TV for Aubrey) and we got down to business. Kiwi, from New Zealand, has been catching whoppers his whole life and was an incredible guide. He carefully explained the equipment and the basics of catching these enormous fish. We affixed the bait to the hook (a Kiwi family secret recipe) and cast into the dark water. About five minutes later, I had my first monster hooked. This is only the beginning of the catch, however, because these things fight you. The beast I had hooked on my life fought and pulled and fought some more. Finally, after about 30 minutes of sweating and reeling, I brought my prize to the surface. "That one's just a baby", said Kiwi. The baby turned out to be 20 kg or 44.2 lbs! We fished from 10AM until 9PM straight, with only a break for lunch! Aubrey even got in the fun as she hooked a 20-pounder. The time flew by, mostly due to always catching huge fish and Kiwi's hilarious banter. Kiwi's wife, Kat, came out to show us how fishing is really done. She cast her line twice as far as I could and easily reeled in some big ones. As the sun set, Kiwi brought me a homemade birthday cake to end my perfect day of fishing. But I had only caught nine fish? My goal was double digits! No worries, said Kiwi, let's hook one more! I did, and my day (and night) of fishing turned out to be a perfect ten.

AubParkThailand's gift to the Boys & Girls Clubs of SE Michigan

Hi everyone! After a busy end to the school year and over a month of traveling around SE Asia, Aubrey and I have returned home to Michigan, USA. It is great to be back home and see family, but we already miss our students and friends in Thailand. When we got home, one of the first orders of business was to make our $1,000 USD donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of SE Michigan. Our home state, Michigan, has gone through some rough economic times in the past few years, and Aubrey and I have always been passionate about helping out kids and the city of Detroit. The Boys & Girls Clubs of SE Michigan provide "high quality youth development programs, sporting activities, events and a safe haven for children from all walks of life. In addition, the Clubs have been credited with “saving lives” of children who often have no one to turn to in times of family problems, poverty, failing grades and other difficult situations." We were given a tour around the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus/NFL-YET Boys & Girls Club and met the Director of the club, Jackie Banks. The Dauch campus provides a safe and fun environment for hundreds of kids and it is located in an at-risk area of the city. After talking with Jackie, it was evident to us that we made the right decision by donating $1,000 of our prize money to a great organization like Boys & Girls Clubs of SE Michigan.

Skydiving in Pattaya!



For my 27th birthday, Aubrey and my friend Evan (who was visiting in Thailand at the time) decided to surprise me by telling me we were going skydiving. One small problem however; I am TERRIFIED of heights. I can't even get near the railing on a tall building or look down while on a ski lift. But as they say, "this is Thailand" and I felt like it was the time to let it rip. After all, if I was going to die, it would be on my birthday. The people at Thai Sky Adventures were so friendly and gave us plenty of instruction, but my adrenaline was pumping big time. As Aubrey and I got into the tiny plane, my heart was practically beating out of my chest. Houses looked about the size of ants and I asked my tandem jumper, "are we at altitude"? He laughed and told me we weren't even halfway there yet. You can see my shock in the video when I see one of the guys who was doing a solo jump launch out of the window. Yes, we were skydiving, but I just really did not expect someone to just jump out of airplane. That's when the sheer terror kicked in...I was next. I had told my tandem partner and guide, Wayne, that I wanted him to flip me out of the plane (if you are going to do something crazy, you might as well do it really crazy), so I heard a ONE, TWO, THREE and I was dropping like a brick. The first couple seconds were terror, and then the most amazing experience ever. It was almost and otherworldly experience to be free falling through the air and it all happened so fast. After about a 60 second free-fall from 13,000 feet, the chute was pulled and I was able to take in the spectacular views of Pattaya, while Wayne let me control the parachute and maneuver left, right, and do some hard spins. This once-in-a-lifetime experience, plus the fact that my old high school friends arrived on my birthday, would have to make this the best birthday ever.

Want to try? We definitely recommend Thai Sky Adventures, call them at 085 900 3412-

free pickup from Bangkok (Koh San road)...

Or Skype them at

A Stylish Experience: Ketawa Chiang Mai

For our stay in Chiang Mai, we were lucky enough to pick the Ketawa Boutique Hotel , located downtown. The staff was incredibly nice and friendly and our rooms were spotless. Ketawa is true to its motto on the sign, which says "Ketawa: A Stylish Hotel". Every room has a different color theme and the ultra-modern and simple decor fits its location in a quiet but central location in downtown Chiang Mai. Breakfast is included at Ketawa-DO NOT miss it! It is heavenly! Their trendy cafe serves up great cappuccino and THE BEST omelets in Thailand! Ketawa is a great find for a weary traveler looking for a peaceful stay in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai.

Six Senses Destination Spa-Phuket

One of our main prizes from winning the Ultimate Thailand Explorers competition was a two-nights stay at the Six Senses Destination Spa in Phuket. I knew I was in for something very different from the run-of-the-mill accommodations found in Phuket when we received our pre-arrival health and goals checklist weeks before our stay. By doing a bit of research, Aubrey and I learned that the Six Senses is a place for people to go to make healthy changes in their lifestyle. There are six life passages you can choose from, including detoxifying, de-stress, fitness and weight loss, enriching beauty, and more. Aubrey and I were looking forward to our short but healthy stay and aimed for learning about ways to eat and live healthier while living in Bangkok. Being a big time meat-eater, the "fishetarian" and raw foods menu seemed a bit daunting; however, I was pleasantly surprised by the delicious menu full of healthy choices. Visitors to the secluded island relax in comfortable private villas and have a schedule custom-tailored to their wellness needs, complete with massages and free classes and activities, such as muay thai boxing and a trip to a local village. Six Senses is located just a 5 minute speed boat trip away from busy Phuket, yet it seems a world away. I learned have never felt so rejuvenated mentally and physically after such a short period of time; I highly recommend this getaway to anyone looking to make healthy changes in their life.

Our Interview about the March red shirt protests

This month, there have been peaceful protests by red shirts in Thailand. Some word-wide media outlets have presented Thailand as a dangerous place to visit, but it is not. People have asked me if they should cancel their travel plans to Thailand and I tell them "no way!" In fact, Aubrey's family just came here and had a great time; their trip was not effected by the protests at all. Take a look at our video below and we answer some questions about the current political situation.


Solo Adventure in Ko Chang

I came to Ko Chang after staying for 2 days in Trat, and searched online to find a good spot to lodge for my short stay. I was looking for a relatively inexpensive spot where I could relax and unwind, get away from tourists and get some reading done. I happened to come across Paradise Palms bungalows and WOW...the place certainly lives up to its moniker. I was greeted by Tara, the owner Matt's wife, who waited for me despite me being delayed. I was warmly received by Matt and shown around the property. They are the nicest people and will go out of their way to make your stay a memorable one! They also have a lovely daughter who, the beach, Hadd Kai Mook (Pearl Beach), is named after! Paradise Palms is an old-school, family run place and you can really see the work put in by Matt and Tara; they really put their visitors first.

The accommodations are perfect-classic bungalows with air-conditioning and cable TV (should you need it) and a beautiful porch looking right out at the sea. Matt built these bungalows by hand, as well as the charming shore-side honesty bar, where you tally up your tab of Singhas and trade stories with the friendly family/fellow travelers. The sunsets are incredible! I really have nothing bad to say about this place and would recommend it to ANYONE looking for a unique, one of a kind experience in beautiful Ko Chang.

Ko Chang is a beautiful island where you can find peace and solitude as well as nightlife and shopping for local crafts. It is much less developed than Phuket or Samui, as there is no airport and you must arrive via ferry. Ko Chang, translated as Elephant Island, is mostly dense jungle lined by white sand beaches. It is also surrounded by 51 islands, so it's easy to jet over to a neighboring island and do some island hopping. Feeling a need for some adventure, I booked a jungle trekking tour through Kongoi Jungle Trekking in Ko Chang. Our guide, "Jungleman" Raht was awesome; such a knowledgeable and funny trekking companion. We explored the vast jungle for over six hours and saw a bamboo forest, rubber trees, huge burrowing tarantula spiders, monkeys, and vipers in their natural habitat. After working up a good sweat on the hike, we all took a plunge into a deep pool with a waterfall. Ko Chang is the perfect destination for the traveler who wants to experience nature and then chill out on a pristine beach.