Nick's Travel Bug http://nickstravelbug.com Travel Often, Create Adventures, and Live Vicariously Through Yourself Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:47:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 FotoFriday: The Grateful Dead Househttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-grateful-dead-house/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-grateful-dead-house/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:47:14 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5115 This week’s photo was taken in front of the Grateful Dead House in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco. Located at 710 Ashbury Street, this is where the Grateful Dead got their start.

FotoFriday: The Grateful Dead House is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo was taken in front of the Grateful Dead House in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco. Located at 710 Ashbury Street, this is where the Grateful Dead got their start.

Grateful Dead House

FotoFriday: The Grateful Dead House is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: The Painted Ladies in San Franciscohttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-painted-ladies-san-francisco/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-painted-ladies-san-francisco/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 18:17:12 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5032 This week’s photo is of the Painted Ladies in San Francisco, a series of colorful houses best-known from the opening shots of Full House.

FotoFriday: The Painted Ladies in San Francisco is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo is of the Painted Ladies in San Francisco, a series of colorful houses best-known from the opening shots of Full House.

Painted Ladies in San Francisco

FotoFriday: The Painted Ladies in San Francisco is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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That Time I Was Stuck in New Delhi Airporthttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-advice/stuck-in-new-delhi-airport/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-advice/stuck-in-new-delhi-airport/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 18:03:15 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5024 Sometimes it’s not worth the hassle to save a few bucks on airfare. I learned this the hard way when flying home from Thailand a few months ago and getting stuck in New Delhi airport. This trip from hell began … Continue reading

That Time I Was Stuck in New Delhi Airport is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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New Delhi Airport

Sometimes it’s not worth the hassle to save a few bucks on airfare. I learned this the hard way when flying home from Thailand a few months ago and getting stuck in New Delhi airport.

This trip from hell began in Bangkok. I had to be at the airport at 5am for a 7am flight to Chicago with a connection in New Delhi, India. Even at 5am I knew this was going to be a long day. The flight from Bangkok to Delhi wasn’t bad, only about 4 hours. However, this is when the fun began.

I arrived in the relatively new Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi around 12 noon. The problem was that my flight out of there wasn’t until 2am. That’s right, a 14-HOUR LAYOVER! Followed by a 16-hour flight to Chicago. Normally I would say to myself, ok I saved $200 so I’ll just hop on my laptop, watch a couple of movies, surf the Wi-Fi, and get through it. The problem here is that in order to access the Wi-Fi in the terminal, you must have an Indian cell phone number. Immediately, I thought of several solutions to this in my head.

1st Plan: I can just pick up a SIM card from one of the shops in the lobby. Oh wait, my phone fell in a pool in Bangkok. Scratch that plan.

2nd Plan: I’ll just find someone around here that’s an Indian citizen to let me use their phone number. There are a billion or so people in this country so it shouldn’t be that hard to find someone. This turned out to be much more challenging than I expected. I even made friends with the Vodafone sales rep and he let me use his number, but it turns out that he had already used his allotment for the day. Scratch that plan.

3rd Plan (this one will be a charm right?): I went to the information desk because they can usually solve most issues with the greatest of ease. Why this wasn’t my first plan I’m not sure. Anyway, I talked to the woman at the desk for a bit, and she gave me a code for 15 minutes of free access and told me that I could buy more time right away with a credit card.

So I was finally thinking, SUCCESS!

Then I got onto the Wi-Fi, purchased 2 hours of time with my card, and got a message saying that they sent the confirmation code and password to my email. It didn’t occur to me until this point that I couldn’t access my email. I have 2-step authorization setup on my Gmail account which requires a randomly generated code from an app on my phone each time I login. Since my phone had been waterlogged, I couldn’t access anything on it.

FAIL!

4th Plan: I’ll just find someone else to buy time for me, get the confirmation code out of their email, and give them cash. Unfortunately, even with all the friends I had made in the airport by this point, nobody was willing to do this for me. So no Wi-Fi for me and only 13 hours left until my flight. Wonderful.

I wandered around the airport for a while asking some of the workers if they had any other ideas I could try.

5th Plan: Someone suggested that I just go up to one of the airline lounges and use the computers up there. Excellent. Since I was flying Air India, I went to their lounge first. Not surprisingly, she explained to me that the computers in the lounge were only for passengers flying business or first class, but if I was desperate I could pay the equivalent of $7 per hour to use the internet. I hopped on, happy as could be.

After a few hours I was running out of money. I had gone through the rupees I had collected from the coffee shop downstairs, converted the Thai baht I had left, and only had a couple larger American bills just in case. Well, this was a just in case moment. I handed her a $20 bill and she looked at me like I was crazy because she apparently didn’t have enough change for that. Ok fine.

I thought I’d just go to an ATM and pull out enough rupees to satisfy my internet and coffee bills for the rest of the day. Surprise, there aren’t any ATMs in the airport. There was one right outside the airport, but I couldn’t leave because I didn’t have a visa. My plan was just to go to one of the shops and buy something small and have them change the money for me. Too bad nothing in the airport (except Prada, Gucci, and designer Swiss watches) costs more than a few dollars so trying to get someone to make change for a $20 was difficult. The owner of the bookstore downstairs finally agreed to change my money if I bought a $7 paperback book, which relative to other things in the airport seemed expensive, but I NEED MY INTERNET!

After 6 hours of internet time and 2 unneeded books purchased solely for the purpose of exchanging money, I was out of cash. But I still had 3 hours to go before my flight. I decided to curl up on the floor in the middle of the airport, somewhat laying on my backpack, and try to sleep for a bit without missing my flight. I had intended to avoid sleeping as I had a 16-hour flight coming up, but I didn’t have anything else to do and I was bored out of my mind already.

Luckily, I made it onto my 16-hour flight to Chicago and had 4 seats all to myself to lay down on. In between sleeping and watching some terrible Bollywood love stories, I finally made it back to Chicago, still dreaming of the diving I had left in Thailand a few days before.

Lesson learned: Pay a little more for a flight without an insane layover or plan ahead and get a visa to be able to leave the airport. These were 2 of the longest days of my life and I have never been so glad to be off of a plane.

That Time I Was Stuck in New Delhi Airport is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Street Art in San Franciscohttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-street-art-san-francisco/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-street-art-san-francisco/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:38:24 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=4846 This week’s photo is of some creative street art in San Francisco. Street art is one of my favorite things to check in a city and San Francisco had a lot to offer.

FotoFriday: Street Art in San Francisco is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo is of some creative street art in San Francisco. Street art is one of my favorite things to check in a city and San Francisco had a lot to offer.

Street Art in San Francisco

FotoFriday: Street Art in San Francisco is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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My Attempt at Taking a Thai Cooking Classhttp://nickstravelbug.com/thailand/thai-cooking-class/ http://nickstravelbug.com/thailand/thai-cooking-class/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 21:24:30 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=4823 Anyone that has been to Thailand knows that Thai cooking is wonderful. Between all the curries, Pad Thai, and delicious street food, it’s like food heaven. So even given my inability to cook, I decided to try taking a Thai … Continue reading

My Attempt at Taking a Thai Cooking Class is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Homemade Pad Thai

Anyone that has been to Thailand knows that Thai cooking is wonderful. Between all the curries, Pad Thai, and delicious street food, it’s like food heaven. So even given my inability to cook, I decided to try taking a Thai cooking class while in Pai.

Pai is a little town in the north of Thailand, up in the mountains a few hours from Chiang Mai. For being fairly small and remote, Pai is pretty busy. There are lots of bars, restaurants, and other stuff to do. Plus, the surrounding scenery is gorgeous.

Tallest Mountain in Thailand

We found one restaurant that we kept going back to called Charlie and Lek’s Health Restaurant. One night during dinner I noticed a flyer for a Thai cooking class that they hold there, so I inquired. They offer half-day classes where you make 5 different dishes that you choose between your group. Each person makes every dish, but you all make the same 5 dishes. Now being that there were 4 of us (Emily, Mark, Ryan, and myself), we chose pad thai, a massaman curry, a green curry, papaya salad, and spring rolls as the common choice.

Exotic Fruits at Market in Pai

Once we decided on our dishes, Lek (our instructor) took us on a tour of a local market down the street to pick out all of our ingredients. After wandering around there picking out all of our exotic fruits and peppers to make the curries, we headed back to get started.

Ingredients for Thai Cooking Class

Let me say that when someone is going through step-by-step how to prepare a dish it makes it so much simpler. I think I would cook more often if that was the case all the time. That being said, I have a new appreciation for the process of making Thai food. There is a lot more to it than I previously thought, even just with making the curry paste. Once you chop up all the ingredients, then you put them in a mortar and grind them into a paste.

Making Curry Paste

Once we had the curry paste (by far the most time-consuming part), it went into a wok with the rest of the pad thai ingredients. Then we added a pinch of this and a dash of that and VOILA…pad thai! What do you think? Do I look like a good chef?

Nick Chef

Enjoying Our Hard Work!

Enjoying Our Hard Work!

After taking a quick couple of bites, it was on to the next dish – our first curry. We first made the massaman curry, which is potato-based. For an idea of everything that goes into a curry, we added cumin seeds, coriander seeds, salt, pepper, cloves, cardamom, tumeric, galangal, lemon grass, shallot, garlic, and dried chili. That was just for the paste! Then you add potatoes, chicken, bay leaves, roasted peanuts, coconut milk, tamarind paste, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar. The soy, sugar, and tamarind you can adjust to your liking.

Massaman Curry

From there, we made the spring rolls and the papaya salad. Look at how golden brown my spring rolls were.

Spring Rolls

Papaya Salad

Once we finished the first 4 courses and were all feeling pretty full, we still had one more round to go. No one told me I should have been training for this delicious Thai food marathon we were embarking on, but it was definitely worth it.

The last dish was the green curry. The process was similar to the first curry we made, but interestingly, there was the most variety here between the 4 of us.

Green Curry

Our wonderful instructor sent us all the recipes for the dishes we made and more. While I had a great time making them when I was there, I highly doubt I’d be able to recreate any of them on my own.

If you want to test your culinary abilities, I highly recommend enrolling in a Thai cooking class. You’ll be amazed with what you can come up with and you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for Thai cooking.

My Attempt at Taking a Thai Cooking Class is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Dragon in Chiang Maihttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-dragon-chiang-mai/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-dragon-chiang-mai/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 21:53:53 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=4820 This week’s photo is of a lit-up dragon in Chiang Mai, Thailand that was part of the celebration in the week leading up to the Yi Peng lantern festival.

FotoFriday: Dragon in Chiang Mai is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo is of a lit-up dragon in Chiang Mai, Thailand that was part of the celebration in the week leading up to the Yi Peng lantern festival.

Dragon in Chiang Mai

FotoFriday: Dragon in Chiang Mai is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Sunset in Koh Taohttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-sunset-in-koh-tao/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-sunset-in-koh-tao/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 16:52:05 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=4816 This week’s photo was taken at sunset while laying on the beach in Koh Tao, Thailand. I wouldn’t mind watching this sunset in Koh Tao every night!

FotoFriday: Sunset in Koh Tao is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo was taken at sunset while laying on the beach in Koh Tao, Thailand. I wouldn’t mind watching this sunset in Koh Tao every night!

Sunset in Koh Tao

FotoFriday: Sunset in Koh Tao is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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5 Tips for Your First Trip to Thailandhttp://nickstravelbug.com/thailand/tips-for-your-first-trip-to-thailand/ http://nickstravelbug.com/thailand/tips-for-your-first-trip-to-thailand/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 00:25:58 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=4786 I recently went to Thailand for the first time and it was almost immediately one of my favorite places I’ve traveled. Here are 5 tips for your first trip to Thailand. 1) Negotiate EVERYTHING First and foremost, just about every … Continue reading

5 Tips for Your First Trip to Thailand is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Long-Tail Boat in Thailand

I recently went to Thailand for the first time and it was almost immediately one of my favorite places I’ve traveled. Here are 5 tips for your first trip to Thailand.

1) Negotiate EVERYTHING

First and foremost, just about every price you see in Thailand is negotiable. Some things even surprisingly so, such as medical care at hospitals. Practice your bargaining skills at all the markets. Be firm, but friendly when negotiating. A smile goes a long way.

Note that the initial price a vendor will tell you WILL be outrageous. For example, I needed a new pair of sunglasses and Chiang Mai has the best selection of knock-off sunglasses I’ve ever seen. I saw a pair I kind of liked and asked how much. The guy told me 1,200 baht (about $40). I told him that was ridiculous and started to walk away. Almost immediately he dropped to 600 baht without me saying much of anything. Long story short, after trying them on several times, threatening to walk away a few more, and some hard bargaining, I got the sunglasses for 150 baht (about $5). Honestly, I think I still overpaid for cheap sunglasses but I was having more fun negotiating than anything.

2) Eat a ton of street food

Street Food in Thailand

Before I left, a lot of people (including my doctor) warned me not to eat local street food. However, I knew from a lot of friends that the street food is amazing and I knew I was going to eat as much as humanly possible. When I got to Thailand, it turned out that the street food was even tastier (and cheaper) than I expected. A plate of Pad Thai made fresh was around $1. Various seafood grilled on the spot were 3 for $1 usually. At least you know it’s fresh as it’s made right in front of you and it’s significantly cheaper than going to a restaurant. For under $5, I could walk through a night market and sample several different treats. So to recap, eat a ton of street food!

3) Scooters are the best way to get around

Scooter Rental in Thailand

Scooter rentals (including insurance) cost around $5 per day and are the best way to get around in Thailand. The exception to this might be in Bangkok because I think you’d be taking your life into your hands with all the crazy traffic. In Chiang Mai and other cities, the pace is a bit slower and more suitable to not dying on a scooter. You will have to adjust to the driving style, though, because there aren’t too many rules of the road and you just go with the flow. Riding up through the mountains was great because I could always just stop on the side of the road and snap pictures.

4) Learn to Scuba Dive

Learning to Scuba Dive

Learning to scuba dive was my favorite thing I did in Thailand. I learned on the island of Koh Tao and would recommend it to anybody. There are lots of colorful fish, a whale shark if you’re really lucky, corals, shipwrecks, and a multitude of other underwater life.

Do be warned. Once you start scuba diving, you might get addicted and want to do it all the time. I guess there are worse things to be addicted to.

5) Take a Thai Cooking Class

Thai Cooking Class in Thailand

While in Pai, my friends and I took a half day cooking class to learn how to prepare some of the delicious dishes we’d been eating. Let me just say that they are a lot tougher than they appear. From grinding the curry paste to all the little ingredients that go into them, there is a lot more than meets the eye with many Thai specialties.

So here are 5 tips for your first trip to Thailand. I could (and I will) give many more tips on visiting Thailand, but this should be enough to get you started. What are some of your tips for someone going to Thailand for the first time? Let me know below.

5 Tips for Your First Trip to Thailand is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Driving Up the Pacific Coast Highwayhttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-pacific-coast-highway/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-pacific-coast-highway/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 16:00:54 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=4788 This week’s photo was taken while driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, a.k.a. Highway 1, in Northern California.

FotoFriday: Driving Up the Pacific Coast Highway is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo was taken while driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, a.k.a. Highway 1, in Northern California.

Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway

FotoFriday: Driving Up the Pacific Coast Highway is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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FotoFriday: Waterfall in Chiang Maihttp://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-waterfall-chiang-mai/ http://nickstravelbug.com/travel-photos/fotofriday-waterfall-chiang-mai/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17:38:07 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=4774 This week’s photo is of a waterfall landscape just outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I love the colorful rock formations. This is where my camera went for a dip, although that’s a story for another day.

FotoFriday: Waterfall in Chiang Mai is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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This week’s photo is of a waterfall landscape just outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I love the colorful rock formations.

This is where my camera went for a dip, although that’s a story for another day.

Waterfall in Chiang Mai

FotoFriday: Waterfall in Chiang Mai is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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