thailand for twenty-six… last year’s birthday travel extravaganza

Last year, I went to Thailand for my birthday. In fact, I left a year ago today. I spent nine days split between two cities: Bangkok and Chiang Mai. And the best part of it all? I went all by myself. I felt like a legit grown-up, traveling internationally all alone. (I suppose there is something to say about me moving to South Korea all by myself, too, but being an international tourist on my own was a bigger deal to me for some reason.)

(One of the most exciting things on this particular birthday celebration trip was that Starbucks in Thailand had peppermint flavoring in their stores… which we didn’t have in Korea last year. Suffice it to say I had at least one peppermint-flavored Starbucks drink every day while I was there. Lucky for me, Korea caught on this year and surprised me early with peppermint.  Yay for me!)

While I was in Bangkok, I went to the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market and saw crazy cheap clothes, handbags, soaps, scarves (my Asia-birthed obsession), and a slew of other things. Chatuchak is the largest market in Thailand and apparently has live animals, like monkeys, for sale. Somehow I missed this part of the market… Looks like I’ll have to go back again!

While I was at Chatuchak, though, I stopped at a cute little restaurant for lunch, which was served to me in a pineapple. It was delicious!



The following day, I made my way over to the Grand Palace. Gilded in gold, it was truly incredible.  I spent a few hours there, gawking at all the amazing temple entrances and quietly making my way through the throngs of worshippers and tourists. I removed my shoes a few times and stepped inside to see the beauty within. Of course, out of respect and by request, tourists were not allowed to take photos inside the rooms. But I got a ton of the outside walls!

Grand Palace buildings

Grand Palace buildings

You’ll notice I was wearing a long dress and cardigan (that means light sweater, male readers) in all my GP photos. Again, out of respect, women are required to cover up. Shorts are not allowed, nor are exposed shoulders. The visitation office even has garments for loan for visitors who don’t come prepared to abide by the rules. I went prepared, and let me tell you – even in November, “winter” in Thailand, it was still sweltering and I sweat like a gleaming pig.


After three days in Bangkok, I took a nine hour bus ride up to Chiang Mai in hopes of seeing a glimpse of the annual Yi Peng lantern festival, which is one of the many things on my life list.Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the festival itself, but I did see some lanterns and even released one myself on my last night there.

I also took a day-long cooking class while in Chiang Mai, which was super fun! Of course, I took photos and uploaded them to Instagram with the hashtag, “I made this.” Cooking hasn’t always been a strong ability of mine, but I made some good food that day. I had such a great experience!

pad thai... yeah, #imadethis

pad thai… yeah, #imadethis

My second full day in Chiang Mai, I went on a walking tour of the small city and saw the many different temples in town, as well as walked around “old town.” I even visited a McDonald’s for a sundae, because honestly, who wouldn’t stop at an international McDonald’s?…

My last night in Chiang Mai, I went back to “old town” and visited the daily “night market.” I stocked up on more scarves, sunglasses, and a few gifts for friends.

The next morning, I got on another bus and made the nine hour trip back to Bangkok to catch my 1 AM flight out and back to Seoul. It was an awesome trip and I’m itching to get back there and explore more. I didn’t make it to any of the beaches, so that’s on my list for my next visit.

Thailand for twenty-six. It was awesome.



  1. paulygirl74 says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing your pictures, so beautiful! Looks like you had a great time and were able to do a little bit of a lot of things.
    You are my inspiration . I’m 40this year and have yet to travel alone. I haven’t even done so in the US !!
    It’s on my “out of my comfort zone” list that I want to accomplish.
    Very cool you!
    (Ps I love your blog!!!) :-)

    • shops4shoes says:

      Wow, thank you so much!! It’s so encouraging to read comments like yours. :) Definitely take an opportunity to go “see” somewhere, even in the States! Our nation is so beautiful and has so much to offer. When I finally make it back, I look forward to exploring America more. Have you considered any placed you’d like to see? I’d love to hear about it! Maybe a trip alone is something you can add to your goals for 2015?!?! I’m excited at the prospect for you!

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