Punk’d….again!

Fool us once, we should have guessed it. Fool us twice, we’re still idiots. Ahhh the tourist traps. Kitty and Santa tried their best to stay away from the them but within the first few weeks in Thailand found themselves buying into luxurious trips which ended in no such manner. Their first mistake was planning a lovely family outing in Phuket, an island hopping cruise!

“A private boat offers the flexibility to choose those perfect snorkeling places away from the crowds and, when the tides and water clarity are perfect. Boats are comfortable and fast, fitted with all safety equipment and have large covered areas. Wine & dine yourself while enjoying the beautiful surroundings that the islands of Thailand have to offer ” Kitty, and Santa scanned the cover of the trifold OooOOoo-ing and AhhhHhhh-ing. THIS is something they had to do.

Maya Beach, Koh Phi Phi Leh Island, Krabi, Thailand, AsiaWhat the pamphlet really should of said was… ” Welcome abroad you spotted cows, you. We are going to shove 500 people jammed onto a loud and slow barge with plastic chairs and terrible snacks. (Kitty and Santa can’t stand when the snacks are bad)….

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We will transport you at 4 miles an hour to an island where you won’t even be able to see the sand because so many people are standing shoulder to shoulder on the beach trying to get a photo. We then will push you all into the water to snorkel! As you grab your gear be sure to check out our photo exhibit of all the people who were injured in the water! We hope the bloody messes in all the photos will gear you into excitement to jump right in and explore (SAFETY IS ALWAYS NUMBER ONE FOR US, as you can tell we have no idea how to stop all the blood, we only have bandaids on board. We wont tell you how to stay safe but hey, this is an adventure. Figure it out or we will add you to the poster!).

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So enjoy your snorkeling, except you wont see any fish, you’ll only see legs of the person you were sitting next to on the boat. 500 people floating together with their heads dunked under the water, It’ll take you right back in time to your favorite Titanic moment, but with warm water!! After an hour of watching different color board shorts and bikini bottoms flounder around next to you we will let you back onto the boat to sit some more. If your thirsty, grab a warm beer for $5.00 or some saltine crackers for 3 small payments of $19.95. BUT don’t worry, you’ll make your money back on our all you can eat island buffet. We offer a fine selection of local mystery meats smothered in something weird and a chef’s special of hard, old white rice. When you finished eating say MOOOOOO and get back on line to board the ship. If you get there early enough you may even get to sit down in a chair! After just a short hour and no free time on the island we will head back to beautiful Phuket. I’m sure everyone will be exhausted and crabby from a 7 hour tour of nothingness. Our staff will be sure to hide from everyone during this time. Thank you and please, please YELP your exceptional experience aboard the WORST CRUISE IN THE WOLRD.”

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So Kitty and Santa made a mistake and their families had to suffer through a day of herding cattle. Live and learn right? Except they always seem to forget the learning part. Kitty and Santa arrived in Bangkok just to jump on a train a few days later and head to Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai! WOO!! They went to the train station and smiled politely to the attendant, 2 tickets to Chiang Mai please! “No Chiang Mai train, NEEEEXXXT!” Santa quickly stepped in, her normal panic state “I’m sorry, what?” “Chiang Mai train no working now. You take bus, upstaits. NEEEEEXXXTT!” They stepped away from the front desk and were quickly approached by an overly nice woman who was trying to help them out of the good of her heart (and a small commission fee if we booked with her, but mostly from her BIG ol heart). Kitty and Santa moved aside to discuss the issue, looks like they were going to have to take the bus either way. Flights were mostly booked and the train wasn’t working, what other options did they have?!

The overnight bus to Chiang Mai was….fancy. “A beautiful double decker bus fully equipped with restrooms, fully reclined chairs, luggage space below, 2 full meals and drinks all included for just $85 one way! The bus departs around 10 PM and gets in at 7 AM so you can enjoy a full nights rest aboard and wake up with a smile in sunny Chiang Mai.” “WOWWW!” Santa’s eyes grew big with excitement as the guy showed her pictures of a tour bus that looked VIP enough for Kanye & Kim to tour in. “Lets do this, lets definitely do this Kitty.” Kittys face was blank and unamused at what this guy just did to Santa. She looked at Santa and said “Lets go outside and talk about this” Santa immideatly thought she was playing hard to get with the guy and jumped up pretending to agree. “Oh, ya. Pssh. We’ve seen better deals” As the girls started to walk away the man at the desk shouted “FOR YOU $45.00! “OK! SOLD! Kitty that’s like half off” Santa jumped with excitment, Kitty still did not look convinced. “Santa, outside. NOW.” The girls walked outside and Kitty was hesitant. Santa agreed but what other options did they have. At least with this they get food, drinks and some sleep. They were saving 1 nights worth of money for lodging and so it would all even out in the end. The girls walked back in and agreed to the VIP bus arrangement. The next day they were off.

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They waited in line for what seemed like a very long time to board the bus, “What is taking so long?” As the line grew closer they noticed the bus was short staffed. It appeared a random man was in the luggage compartment, smoking a cig and sweating profusely while trying to load in the luggage. Kitty leaned over and started to whisper to Santa an important bit of information she forgot….”My friend told me that sometimes these night buses are highjacked by thieves and in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep they throw a smoke bomb on the bus that knocks everyone out for real. Then they steal everyones luggage and stuff, and then they leave the bus stranded in the middle of no where. Its happened before, its true.” She leaned away from Santa who was next in line to throw her luggage in the compartment. Santa looked at Kitty in fear and Kitty just nodded with a “I’m so serious right now” face. They boarded the bus, Santa still in a state of shock. “Its a little dirtier than what I hoped for but we still got the food to look forward to!” Kitty said to brighten the mood. She sat down on her rock hard chair and pulled the lever up to test out her seat in fully reclined mode. BOOM. Her seat was basically lying on the seat behind her.”Ooops! Good thing no one was sitting there when I did that” she laughed. As people were boarding Santa looked at Kitty struggling with her seat “Kitty! Put your seat up, these people need to sit down.” Kitty’s face was glowing red, “Its stuck!” “what?!” Santa began to laugh. “I’m serious, it wont move. I’m trying.” People filed in and sat down around Kitty and Santa as they noticed the 2 girls frantically panicking with Kitty’s seat. One guy made a comment about how he was happy he didn’t have the seat behind Kitty, she was a little too comfy for his enjoyment. “I’m not sitting like this on purpose, ITS STUCK!” Kitty squeaked. The man tried to help Kitty but there was no such luck. After 10 minutes of pushing, pulling and smacking her chair it finally sprang into a far too forward position. Kitty went from riding dirty to folded in half. In fear that it was going to get stuck again she let the chair be.

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The same man who was smoking cigs and loading luggage came and asked for their tickets and handed them an old child’s blanket for sleeping. Confused at who this man was and what the stain on the blanket was  they handed the tickets over. 10 minutes later the man was handing out snacks. Looked like a one man show. Kitty got super excited, I wonder what it is. They were given 2 hoho looking cake treats, one lime green and the other bright pink and a juice that looked to be made of antifreeze. “IS THIS OUR MEAL?” Santa asked. Kitty was absolutely positive it wasn’t. “It said 2 meals, not one. This is a snack for sure. Not a meal” Kitty then politely asked the strange man what was on the menu for the evening dinner. She didn’t eat anything since lunch because she was so excited about the free food. Thai food? Maybe Indian? Nooo it was probably some kind of noodle dish. She rubbed her hands together and tried not to drool. The man looked down at her “Meal one. Meal two” He pointed to each of the colorful weird looking cakes. Santa swears a tear almost fell from Kitty’s eyes in that moment. As she tried to focus on the cakes the last passenger boarded the bus, with a screaming baby and guess where the baby sat, YEP! Right behind Kitty and Santa. This bus ride was going to be a cake walk. Literally. Santa scrambled in her bag for a second, Xanax!! Kitty and Santa popped a stress relieving pill and hoped to fall deep into a coma for 9 hours. As the luggage loader, ticket puncher, waiter got into the drivers seat of the bus they prayed if the robbery was going to happen they would be out for it…Hopefully they would be waking up with a smile on their face in beautiful Chiang Mai in the morning…. (To be continued)

Ashton Kutcher −2        Kitty&Santa −BIG FAT NOTHIN.

Philippines – Part 1 – Helmet Heads.

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Kitty as Santa packed their bags and headed to the Philippines for a well deserved week of sunshine on Boracay Island. They arrived on the island of Caticlan where they were told they could hail a tricycle to the boat docks. Kitty and Santa were skeptical of these tricycles they spoke of. If the 7 year olds on the island drove as bad as the 7 year olds in Korea they might never make it to the beach. Kitty and Santa knew this trip was going to be a memorable one from the moment they climbed into the rickety metal side cart on a motorbike and were handed a beer. A tricycle built for 3….or 7 or 10.

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The sound of motorbike echoed in the air as they rode shotgun with their driver, Ramal, down the dirt roads through the lush tropical forest. Warm air blowing in their faces, the sun on their transparent winter white skin and the smell of sunshine, palm trees and freedom in the air (yes, were talking about that amazing scent).  They reached a port where they got on a boat and were taken to Boracay Island. Kitty and Santa checked into their hotel and immediately headed across the street to the beach.

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Paradise greeted them with cocktails and refreshingly happy and welcoming islanders. Kitty and Santa made friends fast while sipping cocktails. Their new local friends, Ramos and Denmar, helped them set up a few activities for the next few days. They watched as the sun set turning the sky into a swirls of orange, red, pink, purple and yellow. Talk about a sunset.

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Kitty and Santa woke up in the morning feeling like they could go for some true R&R after a night of cocktails so they headed to the beach where they paid $3 for a massage under a private cabana, it was worth every peso.

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They soaked up the morning rays & then met up with Ramos and Denmar for a little adventure. Helmet diving! Kitty and Santa had read about this popular tourist activity and decided to give it a try. They headed out on a boat where they were given a brief instruction on how to lower themselves down to the ocean floor with a giant 15 pound helmet on.  The helmet was open and sat on their shoulders connected to oxygen that pressurized the inside of it. Its kind of like when you put a cup in water and the air keeps the cup from filling up, except Kitty and Santa’s heads were going to be in this cup. Their eyes grew big as they started to question this decision. “Are there sharks? What if science fails and water goes into my helmet? What if the oxygen runs out? What if I get lost down there?” The what ifs went on for 5 minutes before the locals shushed them. They put the giant cement helmet on Santa’s head and started pushing her down a ladder into the ocean. A scuba diver waited for her in the water making sure she got down properly without blowing up her head from all the pressure. Once at the bottom of the ocean Santa stood there all alone waiting for Kitty to join her. She laughed hysterically to herself at the thought of what this must look like. Oh wait, here’s a shot.

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Once Kitty was down there with her they both just stared at each other with that deer in the headlights look. The diver gave them a piece of bread to hold and they were attacked by a sea of tropical fish. They felt like they were in a very strange video game. Kitty’s eyes were large with fear the entire time they were down there. The guide tried to get her to move around but she said no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t seem to gain mobility. Santa started to feel like she was going to throw up in her helmet so she tried to get the guides attention. Apparently she didn’t listen very well during instructions and he thought she was saying that she wanted to go for a walk. He grabbed her and kitty and started pulling them around the coral reefs. Santa was turning white in the face when she tried to motion again that she needed to go up. The guide understood but decided to take Kitty first since she looked like she was going to have a stroke. Santa again was left standing alone on the ocean floor, eyes wide, turning in circles slowly wondering if sharks are attracted to throw up.

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After a short 30 minutes back on land they were shuttled off to go parasailing. Santa was feeling shaky but thought being in the air would help so they geared up and latched onto their superman parachute for liftoff. Up, up, up & away!
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Kitty and Santa couldn’t believe how cool this was! The views were breathtaking.
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About 10 minutes into it Santa again became very ill. This time kitty was afraid the wind might forcefully involve her in the situation. Santa braced herself for the worst as they were being lowered down back into the boat. One of the  workers was kind enough to capture the entire thing on Kitty’s camera. They guessed going from the ocean floor to the clouds in the sky within a hour probably wasn’t the smartest idea for someone who has regular motion sickness BUT they would do it all over again!
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Kitty and Santa travel quotes:
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While waiting for the flight attendant to check their tickets, Kitty has her music blaring in ears and leans over to tell Santa a secret. She SCREAMS “HE SMELLS LIKE CIGS REAL BAD!” Then looks back at Santa like did you hear me or was that too quiet. Then proceeds to shout “BAD. LIKE REAL BAD SANTA” Santa dropped her head down hoping the guy didn’t speak english, or couldn’t hear.
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The customs worker in the Philippines asked Kitty if she had any checked luggage. She looked at Santa and grinned like an excited school boy “Did he just ask me if I want chicken nuggets? I love this place.” Santa didn’t have the heart to tell her what was really going on so Kitty politely answered “Of course I do!” She was confused when he took her luggage and didn’t give her any nuggets. Next time Kitty, next time.
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Santa’s hearing is no better:
Guy: “Have you ever been in a helicopter?”
Santa: “NO. What is that?”
Guy: “A helicopter? You don’t know what that is?”
Santa: “No, but I would love to hear more about where I can find one.”
Kitty: “NO. She would just love to HEAR. SANTA HE SAID HELICOPTEEERRRRR!”
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Busan-ing Around

Kitty and Santa had a long weekend due to the Korean holiday, Chuseok, and decided to head south to enjoy some R&R on the beaches of Busan.

Chuseok is basically the Thanksgiving of Korea. Its the one time a year where people travel to their hometowns to meet family, eat and honor their ancestors with a ceremony at their grave. Kitty and Santa love pounding food on thanksgiving and were very interested in what types of food would be involved on this day. Our “supersize” Americaness came out as we drilled a new Korean friend on the bus about what he was going to eat with his family. We were surprised when he replied with ” A delicious apple, maybe a pear, rice, kimchi, meat and probably songpyeon.” The fat kids in us felt slightly disappointed with that response. Chuseok is the biggest holiday of the year, the only day in Korea when everyone has off work. It is literally Christmas with no presents. Santa was sad.

These cases of apples are given as gifts for the holiday. For $33.00 USD I guess we would be pretty excited to eat apples on thanksgiving. again, be thankful for your produce.

Songpyeon or Korean half moon rice cakes are a traditional Korean desert. Its basically rice dough with a little brown sugar or red beans in the middle, then boiled. Not that sweet and for being the only desert on the thanksgiving table. We were pretty shocked and knew we were going to be missing the madness at home this holiday season.

“Black Friday: because only in America, people will trample over others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they have.” – B.Repp FB quote. 

Hyundai Beach, across the street from our hostelHyundai Beach, across the street from our hostel

Traveling makes you question the world as well as test you on your basic smarts. Kitty and Santa are really good at confusing each other, getting lost in the world and in conversation. Santa:”Will the sun set on this beach?” Kitty: “What Ocean is this?” Santa: “Does it matter what Ocean it is? Dosent the sunset have something to do with a compass?” Kitty: “There are 5 oceans so I don’t think we will see a good sunset.” Santa: “Wait, so what ocean is this?” Both:”mmmmm.” Kitty: “Google it, Want to get ice cream?”

Surprise gift for Santa’s dad’s birthday! Happy birthday from Korea!

The buses in SK are brilliantly decorated. Riding in style. Our new Korean friend on the bus impressed us with his English skills. He told us about his wine hobby “I drink 200 bottles of wine in one year only. I take a break but in June I will start to drink wine again. My wine friends and I drink 8 or 9 bottles in one day. Then we have chicken and beer. It so fun.” We made sure to get his digits – Kitty and Santa are joining his wine club for sure.

First stop, Yongkung Temple.

 Just an FYI : Santa’s actually not posing with a swastika , but the symbol for Buddhist temples most often used in maps. And yes, we had to Googled that.

Kitty and Santa weren’t sure what was bothering these guys. We figured they were also probably confused about the symbol behind them, understandable mistake guys. Cheer up!

It was as amazing as this looks. Santa was giddy like a child, Kitty’s eyes were popping. Better than Disneyland but not Disney World.

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky” – Buddha

Lunch never looked better.

Santa has been having troubles with the money system here. We pay in Korean Won and  for every $1,000 won is a little less $1.00 USD. Santa ran short of money on the trip and Kitty was nice enough to lend her a dollar…there is now an I.O.U. on the fridge stating that Santa owes Kitty $246,000.00 – now thats a real friend. While in Busan Santa kept confusing her dollars because of all the zeros. She was being baller at the bar one night but kept trying to pay for drinks with $1.00 and then going to tip and almost leaving $50.00. Kitty had to keep a sharp eye on money bags. She feared if Santa tried borrowing from the wrong person we would have guys showing up at our door next week to collect and break some bones.

Kitty got a little obsessed with searching for the perfect seashell. She kept picking up anything with a small hole in it “We could make this into a necklace!” Santa would take a look “Kit, I think thats an old baby shoe.”

Traditional Korean dogs. Totally normal.

Always up for a challenge. Kitty joined in the crowd all throwing coins into the Buddhist fountain. Anyone able to get their coin into his small pot he was holding was to receive good fortune and luck for life…Kitty: “Vegas gambling at a Buddhist temple. Makes sense but its worse because when you win luck for life you don’t even get a voucher to prove it.”

The trip was an awesome success. We hit up temples, beaches, bars, restaurants  shops, fish markets and met a bunch of new friends. As we got off the bus back in our home town we walked right up to the counter and purchased our bus ticket for Halloween weekend –  round 2 of BOOsan-ing around (ha, get it?)

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” -Henry Miller