Monday, August 7, 2017

All Around The World: Honeymooning in Thailand and Hong Kong

Krabi, Thailand

Traveling to Krabi has taught me something important: There are beaches, and then there are beaches. Ones that are formed within volcanic mountains, covered in awe inspiring greenness that take your breath away. Like this:
Hong Island
For our honeymoon, we stayed at the uber luxurious Phulay Bay, also knows as the resort that was rented out for the movie The Hangover Part II. This area of Thailand is incredibly popular in the film industry, so trust me when I say you've seen a lot of these beaches in a slew of Hollywood movies throughout the years.

Phulay Bay Hotel Overview

The grounds are 54 acres with 54 rooms, which means you rarely see other human beings. You know how pools are usually crowded and you run out of lounge chairs? Not here. Phulay Bay (pronounced poo-lay, in case you're curious) has a ginormous pool and, with the low amount of occupants, that means you never run out of anything. I think, at the max, I was sharing it with *gasp* four whole people.

You have plenty of options on-site. There's a temple to check out, a huge gym, a super cute boutique, walking trails galore, a spa, and several restaurants. The resort offers excursion options, some of which are included in the prices, such as a daily trip to Hong Island. The resort, in and of itself, is breathtaking. Absolutely every single inch of it is gorgeous. As are the rooms.

While we were there we stayed in three different villas; it's a long story. Let's just say customer service is top of the line here, people. In one of the villas (which was crazy amazing as it was) there was an electrical problem (that we didn't really care about at all) and they took it upon themselves to move us to their most luxurious room. We're talking The Villa of all Villas.

I can't leave out the beds! It's hard to put into words the luxuriousness that is the Phulay Bay beds, but it's basically like sleeping on giant clouds right from heaven. And I do mean giant. One bed could easily fit ten people, no joke.

On top of that, we had our very own 24/7 butler, Tanya, who was basically there to get us whatever we wanted, when we wanted it, not to mention being our personal chauffeur. Tanya was super sweet and super thoughtful. Ryan got sick one night so we cancelled our dinner plans, and out of the blue Tanya shows up with a hot tea remedy to help him feel better. We could not have asked for a nicer person. We declined a lot of things, like the chauffeuring, but it was nice to know she was there for us.

This is the bathtub of each and every one of my bathtub loving dreams.
The temple.
Making our daily trek to breakfast.
The on-site seafood restaurant.
Beach views everywhere.
Views upon views.


Gluten Free Dining at Phulay Bay

Now, for the good stuff. When I travel I don't expect a ton of gluten free options outside of the normal things, like veggies and fruit and meat. Here, almost everything was an option. Breakfast is by far the most magnificent meal of the day. The buffet has endless options and is gigantic. Every day there are new smoothie flavors (shout out to the coconut one, my personal favorite) and - get ready - there's a dedicated gluten free pastry section! Guys...guys...they have mini croissants that are to die for. If I could find a way to get those babies shipped to my house, I would do that on the regular. No joke.

But that's not all...

*sounds of trumpets blaring and angels singing*

...the pastry chef made me gluten free surprises every day. Breakfast quickly became the most important part our day, and I say "our" because this amazing chef would basically make the two of us enough food for a family of four. We would do our damnedest to eat it because he was A) so excited to be making all these GF goodies and B) had put so much thought and time into it, we really didn't want to let him down. I had pancakes, pastries, and waffles galore. On top of that, he'd make it a point to heat up my mini-croissants (and any and all other GF pastries he had) every morning. I love him, obviously.

This man went above and beyond, and if I had any say, he would be making a gazillion dollars because he has earned it. I don't know what his secret is to making everything taste amazing, but the food I ate was hands down some of the most delicious gluten free baked goods I've ever had. Seriously, you guys. I'm trying to figure out how I can get back there on a regular basis just for breakfast.

New smoothie flavor every day.

The gluten free breakfast section. Just some of the options you get.

Things to Do

Located about 20 minutes away is Krabi Town. Here you will find really cute shops with awesome unique goodies to take back home. You can also check out all the different tour options to and from the plethora of beaches in this area.

As mentioned above, at the resort they offer daily trips to Hong Island. While other resorts use this island too, it is still far less crowded than almost any other beach option you have. While Hollywood movies have done great things for the economy, they have made visiting the many gorgeous islands somewhat tricky. And yes, I say this knowing I'm a tourist.

The pristine beaches from the movies are no longer so pristine. If my research serves me correctly, Thailand officials have started shutting down islands to everyone except locals because of how badly the islands are getting destroyed. This is why I really appreciated Hong Island. It's a limited amount of people, for a limited amount of time, which helps keep it clean and usable.

One of the things we opted to do was go kayaking through the volcanic canyons and into the mangrove forest. We went at low tide, possibly the lowest it can go, so we had quite the adventure. Our guide was pretty excited to take us down any and all paths he could find that were normally blocked off with water. We got stuck on the ocean floor, went deep into the mangrove forest, and got to hang out with some very acrobatic monkeys. It was perfect.

Hong Island.
And more Hong Island.
Kayaking adventures.
Getting lost in the mangroves on purpose.
Here's some more shots of the gorgeous Krabi area. Can you say holy sunset, because damn!

Bangkok, Thailand

While we didn't go to Bangkok on this trip, we were there last year for a quick stop and, clearly, it has some awesomeness to offer. We stayed right next to the very popular Khao San Road where you can literally find anything and everything you will ever need, including at least a dozen tattoo parlors. You know, in case you want a face tattoo.

I highly recommend grabbing yourself a coconut ice cream from one of the street vendors. They come in the shell of a coconut with peanuts sprinkled on top!

There's a lot of shopping damage to be done, so pace yourselves. I snagged some seriously awesome tank tops for a whopping $2 each. Super comfy and with a variety of cool designs.

There are temples galore to see all over Bangkok. Wat Pho has a rather impressive giant reclining golden Buddha that's worth a trip.

From a food perspective, dining GF wasn't really a challenge because of the huge variety of restaurants in the area. Anything with rice and meat and you're good to go!

One thing I would highly recommend is going to check out Ancient Siam; a huge park decked out to resemble all of Thailand. It's about an hour from the city, but it is so worth it. We rented bikes and spent the day taking in all the sights as we peddled around the massive park.

Hong Kong

We had a two day stop over in Hong Kong, which was just the right amount of time for what we wanted to do while visiting this awesome city. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, the world's tallest hotel. Ooo-ahh, right? The views were pretty spectacular and the hotel staff was very welcoming, as you can see.

Gluten Free Dining

We treated ourselves to a fancy dinner at Tin Lung Heen, a Michelin starred Cantonese restaurant located within our hotel. Gluten free dining was not a problem in the slightest and - bonus - they send you home with cute little boxes of their house green tea.

We also did a special afternoon tea tasting at Tosca (also within the hotel). This was, hands down, one of my all time most awesome tea tasting/eating/wow-ing moments. I contribute a lot of that to the fact that they easily accommodated my gluten allergy for all the treats by creating this amazing custom tasting for us. Tasting really isn't even the right word. There was a boat load of food. It was more of a tea feast, if we're keeping it real.

NoodleMi is a great inexpensive choice while you're out around town. The menu is uber GF freindly and I got to have egg rolls, you guys. That never happens! Grassroots Pantry is a suuuuuuper healthy restaurant you can check out, too.

Tea tasting at Tosca.
Grassroots Pantry

Things to Do

Hong Kong reminds me of New York City, but with even more luxury shopping everywhere you turn and a metro system that drops you off right smack in the middle of any of the dozens of malls. What I'm saying is, if you love to shop Hong Kong is your place. That being said, I had a hard time finding stores that I didn't have back home, but I luckily stumbled upon K-11; the coolest mall in all of Hong Kong (if you ask me.) K-11 is comprised of several floors, each with a theme. For instance, the bottom floor is called "Dress Up Island" as most stores have beauty products and fashion accessories. There are also some incredibly awesome/weird/funky chairs that you should check out on this floor in particular. We spent a lot of time twirling around in these babies.

The Peak is pretty cool to check out for views, plus shopping and this very cool 3D photo room, where you can take fun pictures like this:

The Symphony of Lights show at Victoria Harbour was nice, but I must admit it wasn't that spectacular. If you're only there for a couple of days and are trying to figure out what to do, don't worry if you skip this.

Getting around is easy with the metro. Sheung Wan Station is a solid stop with a lot to check out, such as Hollywood Road. There are quite a few stores and places to eat, plus some awesome graffiti.

Views from The Peak.
Symphony of Lights show at Victoria Harbour. 
Views from the Ritz Carlton. 

Travel Tip: This was definitely a trip we splurged on, but it was still affordable because of our memberships. Always, always, always have memberships with hotels and airlines and - most importantly - be loyal to those programs. Learn them, understand them. Membership at one place means you get to use the benefits of their affiliates, for instance, the Oneworld alliance program. The points and miles add up to huge rewards. Our flights were free and we got to experience some of the best room options available simply because of our membership status with the hotel line. Traveling a lot adds up! 

Check out my Society6 page for these photos, plus more!

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