For those who do not know me very well, I love to travel! Even if it is for a weekend getaway, a week long or months long. I started to travel by myself when I was 21 years old. I went to Costa Rica to celebrate my 22nd birthday! It was the greatest gift I gave myself because I find traveling is a learning experience and putting yourself out there and trusting the universe unfolds itself with all it’s magic! I told myself go to a new country or place once a year. This year for me I chose Thailand! Throughout this blog, I will write about my favorite places and things to do in Thailand, how to budget and of course how to eat healthy during vacation and maintain a plant based lifestyle anywhere you go!
One of my favorite places was Chiang Mai, which is in northern Thailand. I stayed at this beautiful hostel which really seemed like a hotel, called Green Tiger Vegan & Vegetarian House. May I say, when I arrived I was welcomed by their warm and friendly hospitality and the atmosphere had a zen vibe to it. My highlight was their Reform Kafe, they used no MSG, and used organic produce from local hill tribe farmers. It was central and a block away from three temples which is nice because you can take a walk around the neighborhood and see all the giant Buddha statues.
I did three tours while I was in Chiang Mai, my first one was a day trip where we explored hot springs, the white temple, golden triangle and Karen Village (long neck). They provided us lunch, I had to request a vegetarian meal. They took us to a lovely viewpoint hotel with a buffet and made a special dish for vegetarians. That was a plus! My favorite moment was when we visited the white temple, it was beautiful and intricate.
My second tour was playing with elephants! In Thailand, there are a lot of places where they mistreat elephants for tourism and abuse them horribly,so I chose not to support them and went to a elephant sanctuary instead where they took care of the elephants with kindness and love. I did a half day tour, which I think is plenty of time. The tour included feeding the elephants snacks (they love sugar cane!!) taking a mud bath with them, followed by washing ourselves in the river and checking out the nearest waterfall. These elephants were adolescent so they weren’t as big as usual. The elephants were beautiful, kind and intelligent. They knew were the sugar cane was hiding ;) Sneaky elephants!
My last tour was Thai Secret Cooking Class! Yay! Learning a new cuisine inspires me to create new dishes to share with my clients. The tour consisted of a trip to the market and our teacher (Mai) taught us the different chili’s, herbs and vegetables. Afterwards we went to her lovely home where she held the class outside in her organic garden using all of her own personal produce. It was inspiring as one of my dreams is to have my own organic garden and teach classes on plant based meals. In her class, you may chose an appetizer, entrée, curry paste and a curry. The items I chose was a papaya salad, vegetable miso soup, pad thai, green curry paste following a green curry dish. All the dishes turned out delish! Not to mention, Mai taught us some Thai secret tips for Thai curries ;) Overall, the whole experience was a blissful one and meant to be. Mai’s husband was from California and attended the same Culinary Arts Program in San Francisco as I did! We knew some of the same chefs and I highly recommend anyone to take a cooking class tour if you are ever in Thailand!
A lot of people question how do I do it? Traveling may be expensive but I believe it depends what kind of traveler you are. Are you the person who loves to stay in fancy resorts all inclusive? Or are you the one who doesn’t mind staying in hostels or cheaper hotels? Overall, the answer is budgeting throughout the year and saving money for your one trip of the year! I am the free flowing traveler where I do not mind staying in cheaper hostels/hotels to save my money for tours or special activities. Not to mention, South East Asia is relatively inexpensive compared to the United States. Thailand is a very popular tourist destination so it is now developed to be more expensive than before. Meals in Thailand are awesome! Spending $8 or less for a grand meal! I mean $8 can take you with appetizer, main entrée, drink and dessert!
When you are on the high of eating healthy and do not want to lose touch of your achievements, I find these tools are helpful to maintain a plant based lifestyle when you are out and about exploring.
Key points are to bring your own snacks! During flights, I tend to bring superfood trail mix, granola, instant oatmeal packets, apples, nut butter packets, protein powder packets, superfood green powder to mix with my water or juices and, I always bring probiotic pills and activated charcoal when I go international just in case if I get sick with the stomach. I also found mini hummus packets that you can carry around, which is a perfect snack to munch on with veggies or crackers/bread.
Look up vegan-friendly restaurants on the Happy Cow website. I’ve found that they have the most comprehensive list of vegan-friendly restaurants worldwide. Do a quick search in the area where you’re staying and print a list of your options at home before you hit the road. Or, download the Happy Cow mobile app to choose a restaurant on the fly
For road trips: I find these kinds of trips are easy to control! Since you have your own vehicle, you can bring whatever you like! I always bring my own cooler and my lunch bag with ice packs. On the road is not veggie friendly sometimes. I tend to always prepare my own food, snacks and beverages. It does take more time and effort to prepare but it is so worth it. On the plus side, you save money & eating healthy!
Don’t forget to also indulge in a little bit of fun too! Especially when you are traveling internationally! Such as coconut ice cream with coconut meat on top! Yes, please!