Chef Brindza: Engaged

Let’s just say this may have been the best two weeks of my life. My girlfriend was fortunate enough to get a full month off to come and visit me here.  I’m very excited to see her after being apart for a couple months, so I woke up early to meet her at the airport. I couldn’t wait to see how she would react to experiencing Bangkok for the first time. After a nap to get her internal clock set to the right time she was up and ready to go.

Photo by Brian Brindza

Photo by Brian Brindza

The whole week was filled with new street foods, rooftop bars with amazing views, crazy shopping centers, temples, the grand palace, Chinatown, Khao San road, riding in tuk tuks, and dealing with horrible taxi drivers. She loved it. Well, everything except for the occasional insect or rodent that would scurry past on some of the more dirty streets. She loved the food and the smells and all the new sights. I even got her to eat that fish stomach soup from a previous post.

I was teaching her about the different foods and how to speak some basic Thai in preparation for a mini vacation that I planned for us. I had a week off to either go back home or travel around Thailand and decided to stay here with my girlfriend and head down to the southern islands of Thailand. A nine day trip to island hop and adventure all over the Andaman Sea seemed like a great way to spend the time.

IMG_0492I planned this trip because it was going to be amazing fun, but I also had mustered up the courage to propose to my girlfriend. We flew out of Don Muang airport to Phuket early on Saturday morning. Phuket is one of the southern island provinces of Thailand with beautiful beaches, mountains and palm trees. We headed to the town of Patong where we would spend our first two nights.

The views of the ocean were amazing so we decided to get to the beach as fast as we could and soak up as much sun as possible before it set. We watched the sun melt in to the sea and then headed back to see the main nightlife spots.

The next day we rented a scooter and cruised around the island to some of the other beaches and hit a few waterfalls. I will say that driving a scooter in Thailand is extremely dangerous but incredibly fun.

After two days in Phuket we were off to the next island. A mini bus picked us up and took us to the pier for a ferry ride to our next stop that included the islands of Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Lee. They are located about a two hour ride from Phuket.

We got to Ko Phi Phi Don and headed straight to a boat in Maya Bay. This boat would be our home for the next few days. Maya Bay is a stunningly beautiful beach that’s sheltered by huge cliffs on three sides and situated on the island Ko Phi Phi Lee. This is the smaller of the two islands and right next to Ko Phi Phi Don, this bay was made famous by the movie The Beach.

IMG_0493We took our luggage to drop off at the tour guides office and just packed small overnight bags for this part of the trip. This was the highlight of the whole trip as we not only got to spend the night in Maya Bay, but I was going to propose at sunset on the beach. We headed back to the pier to get on Krabi Konnect, the boat we would be staying on. There would be about 25 other travelers that we would be spending the night with on the boat so my first order of business was to claim the sleeping spot on the roof of the boat so I could sleep under the stars.

This was the best move ever!

We headed to the beaches right before sunset and I was getting a little nervous because this was where I was going to pop the question. After spending some time walking around the island we went for a swim in the water and it started to feel like the right time to ask her.

With some mumbled words and maybe a stutter the words came out. “Will you spend the rest of your life with me?” At first she was stunned and maybe a little shocked but in the end she said YES! We headed back to the group and had an amazing dinner on the beach which included several buckets of mixed rum drinks. The whole group really had a great time playing games and singing by the campfire and celebrating our engagement with us.

We had a late night of fun but still had one last activity before we heading back to the boat to sleep. We got to swim in the deep waters with bioluminescent plankton. It was like a million little fire flies swimming around your body. It’s hard to describe, and really only something you can experience. After that we got our sleeping bags and pillows and headed to the top of the boat to fall asleep under the stars.

Photo by Brian Brindza

Photo by Brian Brindza

The next morning we woke up had some breakfast, did some more snorkeling and took a few more pictures of the beach. Then we headed back to Phi Phi Don, to spend another day. It was a very chill, small village with no cars and small tiny streets full of cats and backpackers.  We spent the night and did some trekking to the top of one of the peaks to get a great view of the tiny island.

Our next location was Krabi, another southern province full of amazing beaches and tiny islands. We stayed in a small beach town called Ao Nang. The last three days would be spent here so we decided to go big.

The first day we did some island hopping and hit six different beaches in one day on a speed boat. The second day we went on a jungle adventure and elephant trekking. We went swimming in natural thermal pools and did some jungle hikes. The last stop for the day was one of Southern Thailand’s most famous and interesting forest temples, Wat Tham Seua. Monks live, meditate, and worship within this maze of natural caves in a jungle valley.

We climbed the 1,237 steps to visit “the footprint of Buddha” embedded in the rock in the temple on top of the mountain. There were monkeys galore. One monkey even tried unzipping my back pack and taking things out!

The last day was a pool side day to relax and reflect on the amazing adventure we just experienced. I would recommend getting down to southern Thailand if anyone ever visits. After a long week we headed to Krabi airport and the trip back to Bangkok.

Posted in: Chef Brian Culinary Exchange

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