On our second day in Chiang Mai, we signed up for a Thai cooking class with Oui from Trichada The Cookery Home, recommended to us by a friend of Katie’s. Oui picked us up from our hostel at 8:30 and we went straight to the market. On our way there, we selected the dishes we’d be making for the day from a menu of Oui’s teaching recipes. We’d be making a starter, a soup, a curry, and stir fry, and a dessert.
When Kate and I decided to officially add Thailand to the second half of our adventure, I already knew I wanted to visit Elephant Nature Park. I’d read about it on Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site, the same blog where I found AuPair.com. In researching various tours, I also came across this article, a heartbreaking piece on elephant abuse by trekking companies, which led us to decide against any tours that involved trekking, or elephant riding. Elephant Nature Park offered us the opportunity to get up close and personal with elephants but acts as a sanctuary for the animals.
*from June 17, 2015
You guys didn’t think I’d spend a year in Australia and not try surfing, did you? OK, maybe those of you who know how scared of sharks I am might have thought that, but I did it anyway! Katie had heard from a friend that Byron Bay was a really cool town, and since I hadn’t been yet, it was the perfect place to end the “road trip” portion of our East Coast adventure before flying to Sydney. Facing another poor weather forecast, we took our chances and booked a morning class with Byron Bay Surf School. Against the odds, we lucked out and had a cloudy morning with no rain. Our instructor’s name was Simon. He was from Victoria and had THE BEST Australian accent I’ve heard this entire year. We wiggled into our wetsuits and hit the beach.
While spending the night on a sailboat wasn’t on my bucket list before I came to Australia, I added it and checked it off anyway. After touring our way around Cairns and making a quick stop in Townsville for one rainy night and morning, Katie and I parked ourselves in Airlie Beach the day before our sailing adventure. Airlie was gorgeous – the hills rolled all the way down to the ocean and beautiful sailboats decorated the marina. We did most of our exploring on foot during an afternoon run to shake off the morning road trip and then hiked most of the way up Mount Whitsunday, an incline not for the faint of heart but with first class views.
This is a hard one to write. Today, I left Australia on a plane bound for Phuket, Thailand. Australia. The place I’d dreamed of since I was 8 years old. I still haven’t processed how amazing this year has been, much less that it’s come to a close. Katie and I spent our last three days in Sydney, exploring the city that never gets old to me. Seeing the Opera House for the last time (this time) was exactly like seeing it for the first time. I was in awe. More than anywhere, standing in Circular Quay reminds me how lucky I am to have had this experience and how everything happens for a reason.