Last November, Jamie and Rachel had a tour with us to Thailand and Bali, Indonesia. This amazing trip was recaptured by stunning photo and especially, through the real words of Rachel, one of two gorgeous girls. Now, take a closer look and read her story of the 20-year friendship with Jamie and how her dream came true as follows:
We quit our jobs, invested our savings and decided it was all or nothing.
Jamie and I have been best friends for 20 years. Since the age of three, we have been adding, and checking off, adventures on our Best Friend Bucket List. The societal norm for young adults, fresh out of college is to obtain a high -paying job with benefits so they can begin their “life”. At the age of 23, our adult 9-5, behind the desk jobs were suffocating us. Each day as we commuted to work, we lost sight of our dreams of traveling and completing the items we had compiled on our list; from swimming with elephants to swinging above rice fields in Bali, this “life” we were “living” just wasn’t for us.
So we did it. We quit our jobs, invested our savings and traveled to the place on our bucket list that we always thought would remain a dream, Thailand.
When young adults travel, it’s expected that they will travel on a budget, so they can afford things like next months rent. We wanted to do Thailand right, we wanted a custom tour that included as many of our Best Friend Bucket List Items as possible while seeing local attractions we hadn’t even dreamed of yet. We wanted the security and peace of mind of using a travel company, with the personalized service with a luxury touch only celebrities would receive. People thought we were slightly crazy to use a luxury tour company. We were two girls who were still paying off their college loans that were acting like they had won the lottery. Guess what? We had won the lottery! We found the courage to follow our dreams and embark on an adventure to Thailand. For the heck of it, at the last minute; we added a week in Bali. One more voyage to check off on our list of lifetime adventures together.
From the Moment we touched down in Bangkok we knew that we were in for an extraordinary journey. A private SUV chauffeur led us to our first adventure on the Chao Phraya River. Our tour guide steered us through the canal on a small teak boat, stopping at floating markets, orchid farms and water temples. We were in shear amassment, as each stop was more gorgeous than the next. The people and the culture of Thailand had taken our hearts on day one.
Chiang Mai was the most magical stop on our voyage. We were in Chiang Mai for the Yee Peng Festival; or more commonly known as the lantern festival. Celebrated on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month every year the locals believe the rivers are filled to their fullest and the moon is at its brightest. This is the perfect time to set your floating krathong or flying lantern off on the Ping River while making a wish for good fortune in the New Year. The festival made the already enchanting city of Chiang Mai even more mesmerizing. Our personal tour guide Pong made Chiang Mai an incredible experience we will never forget.
Before the Festival, Pong and our private driver showed us all around Chiang Mai from Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, the Gold Temple on the Mountain that overlooked the city, to an Elephant Sanctuary where we fed and swam with elephants (Check!). The Yee Peng Festival was truly one of the most moving experiences of our life, Pong’s gracious heart and caring soul made the festival a truly memorable experience. On her day off she came all the way back into the city from her home village (2 hours mind you), to drive Jamie and I into the mountains to celebrate the festival at her local temple. Jamie can attest, I was so moved by her kindness and hospitality, along with the beauty of the festival that I began to cry. Experiencing something so beautiful as a tourist is one thing, but being welcomed into the arms of someone’s home and holding the hand of their child as the sky lit up with thousands of wish lanterns is a sight we will never forget.
From Chiang Mai, we flew to Island paradise. Private Villas in Phuket, with horseback rides along the beach. Starting our days with cocktails by the pool and ending them with private sunset dinners on the peer. We snorkeled through the Phi Phi Islands on a boat cruise one day and spent all day splurging at the spa the next. At our Resort in Koh Yao Yai we had our own infinity pool that overlooked at least 100 Islands, with the most miraculous sunset you have ever seen. We didn’t have to think about a thing it was luxury paradise, each morning we arose with a new itinerary at our doorstep, transpiration and tour guides were already preplanned. Waiting for each new day to unfold, we were truly living in nirvana.
Little did we know that our adventure had just begun as we headed to Bali. Only a short planes ride away, Bali had a vibe of its’ own. Busy streets draped in stunning architecture with a mix of ancient culture and modern life entwined. We were spellbound as our private car transported us to a boutique hotel in the middle of a rice field just outside the city of Ubud. Each day we enjoyed a sunrise breakfast on our balcony before taking extraordinary excursions around the island. From the Royal Temple of Mengzi to lunch on the Mount Batur Volcano, our tour guide, Putri, created the ultimate itinerary to accomplish as many of our Best Friend Bucket list items as possible while showing us the hidden gems of Bali. Putri was our long lost travel sister; the three of us fed monkeys and sampled coffees driving all across Bali. Putri went swinging alongside us as we soared above rice field on the Bali Swing (Check!) and she held our hands as we hiked down to the Git Git Waterfall to take a dip (even though the water was freezing).
When spent our final night in Bali at the Ayana Resort, taking shots at the world famous Rock Bar, along Jimbaran’s pristine sunset coast. On tally, we accomplished 33 items on Our Best Friend Bucket list. We had chased our dreams and rebelled the traditional route. Our trip allowed us to accomplish so much more than those checks, we had truly started living again. There wasn’t any better way to explore Thailand & Bali than through our lavish, exotic voyage. Each and every day was filled with more exquisite excitement than the next. Because we were able to customize our own adventure we had an experience that truly changed our lives forever. Although we were headed home we yearned for more, we added destinations all across Asia to our list, from Myanmar to Vietnam we have the hopes of seeing and experiencing everything this world has to offer. Life was meant for good friends and great adventures, and that is exactly what I think I will do.
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