Wrap Up: February 2017

Koh Mak, Thailand at Sunset - Asia Travel

Hello friends and welcome to my brand new monthly wrap-up series! In an effort to stay relevant and keep you informed on my current travels (since this blog is usually a month or two behind on where I actually am), I’ve decided to start writing personal wrap-up posts.

So, without further delay, this is what I got up to in February!

Can I just start by saying how fast 2017 is going already. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten more into a routine where I’m based on this little Thai island, but the weeks have been flying by.

It doesn’t help that February is such a short month, but boy, it has made me realize how much I want to get done this year and that I need to re-focus.

Bangkok Aquarium before I went down to my little island paradise - Thailand Travel

As I mentioned above, February was all about settling down and leaning into island time. And it has been relaxing, wonderful, and good for my productivity. I was still a little on the burnt out side by the end of January, but now that I’ve been able to take a breath or two, I’m back to my wanderlusty self.

I still love hanging on a small Thai island, but I’m definitely feeling more of an itch to go travel again soon.

And travel again soon, I will!

I’m already in Vietnam where I met up with one of my best friends from home – Kelsey, who has already made a few regular appearances on here. We had a jam-packed itinerary for the few days she was in Ho Chi Minh City, and now I’m off on my own to explore more of southern Vietnam.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam - Asia Travel

I wasn’t the biggest fan of this part of Vietnam last time I was in the country. Well, I guess I only really went to Ho Chi Minh City. So, I’m excited to give this area another chance, and see if I can love it as much as I loved the north a few years ago.

I’m already enjoying Ho Chi Minh City much more than I did last time – it seems almost peaceful compared to Bangkok.

I’m hoping to go diving off Phu Quoc island, and maybe make a stop in Can Tho on my way back up to Ho Chi Minh City.

PLACES & MEMORIES

Koh Mak | That’s right, beside a quick trip to Cambodia for a visa run, I managed to stay in one spot for a whole month! I’m surprised too! There’s something about Koh Mak that makes it hard to leave.

Night out with the BB Crew - Koh Mak, Thailand - Asia Travel
Going out with the BB crew in Koh Mak.

It helps that there are newborn kittens that I get to see everyday on the island. If you follow me on Snapchat, you’ll know how obsessed I am with them. And in general, I’ve been meeting a lot of locals and settling down nicely here.

Meet Cleopatra, one of the kittens at the dive shop.

Although I haven’t done much sightseeing around the island (it’s pretty tiny at 10 square-miles), I have managed to get a lot of work done in a beautiful location, which is great by me.

Koh Kong | As mentioned, I had to leave Thailand for a night to do a border run in Cambodia. We knew it was going to be a headache going across this land border in particular, and it still sucked. We waited for at least two hours to try and negotiate the price of the Cambodian visa multiple times with the military border guards.

They will originally try and charge you $45 US when it should only cost $30 US. We finally got them down to $32.50 US each, but it was horrible and they weren’t the most pleasant guards to deal with.

Lesson of the story – get the online Cambodian visa ahead of time if you know that you’re crossing over a border that is rife with scams and corruption. We were going to apply for the online visa, but only remembered to do it two days before our trip and it takes up to three-days to process.

It was almost laughable how easy it was the next day when we crossed back into Thailand. It’s sad that so many people abuse their position at the border control in Cambodia.

Koh Kong seemed nice enough for a border town, but again, we were only there for a very short time. Enough to eat, meet another traveling couple from Poland, and get more passport photos taken.

SCUBA DIVING

You guys! I got to go scuba diving in February, yippee!! I went out with BB Divers and it was awesome to be back in the ocean and underneath the sea. I had a rough first dive. I’ve had trouble with my ears and equalizing in the past, and it was really painful when I first went down.

As soon as my instructor reminded me to swallow while equalizing, it became a lot easier although I still had off-and-on ear issues throughout my two dives.

Snorkeling in Koh Chang, Thailand - Asia Travel

Ear problems aside, there are so many cool things to see in the waters of Thailand. This area isn’t as popular for diving as the PADI factory of Koh Tao on the other side of the gulf, but that makes it even better because there are less people in the water.

My two dives were also the best visibility I’ve had as of yet, which meant I was able to see a whole lot of colorful coral and fishies underneath the sea!

There was one point where I was surrounded by the thickest school of gold fish I’d ever seen and I twirled around in glee. That was my reminder of why I fell in love with diving in the first place – it’s such a different and colorful world down there.

READS

As you probably saw in my last post, I’m on a mission to read 30+ books this year. However, I slowed down with my reading in February because I’ve been so focused on work. I’m hoping to get back on track for March.

I’m still re-reading His Dark Materials trilogy and I’m now on the third book.

I’ve enjoyed reading that series again, but similar to Harry Potter, it’s much different reading it as an adult. I’ve found that I don’t enjoy the Golden Compass books quite as much as I did when I was younger, but it’s still a wonderful series.

Health Goals

After being seriously ill in Myanmar and throughout my travels for the past three months, I’ve been focusing more on getting healthy and boosting my immune system.

I’m thinking of writing a post about how I stay healthy on the road these day, but my recent habits have done wonders in keeping me from succumbing to sickness. Think daily vitamins, electrolytes, and plenty of sunshine!

Health Goals in Koh Mak, Thailand - Asia Travel

I also just discovered that there are daily yoga classes twice a day on the island for 300 baht each (about $9 US), so that’s another fitness goal that I’m looking into for the next month or so.

I would love to get into yoga again if I can afford it. In fact, I’ve been thinking more and more about becoming a certified yoga instructor at some point this year or next. It doesn’t hurt to have another job skill that I can travel with, right?

WHAT’S NEXT?

Visiting Ho Chi Minh City this month - Vietnam Travel

After Vietnam, I’ll (hopefully) be heading back to Thailand for a month or two more and trying to see more of the country while I’m at it. I’d like to get back up north to Chiang Mai area and beyond, and Songkran is coming up so I’m looking forward to finally experiencing the Thai New Year in Thailand.

The rest of the year is up in the air. I’m still hoping to make it to the Middle East this year and maybe a travel blogging conference or two, but that’s a further reach with how expensive it is to get to Europe or the US where most of them are.

That was my February! What did you get up to this month? Did you have any cute animals in your life too? 

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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