Bangkok puns are too obvious

well, it's that time again!
time for me to make silly excuses and/or pretend that the ridiculously long gap between posts never happened!
as the forgettable minor character Klaus of How I Met Your Mother would say about me, as a blogger- "you are maddeningly inconsistent!" 
this is who I am and you love me. 

a long while ago I posted about our brief stay in Dubai. wasn't that fun and pretty?! try and remember!
the next stop on my world tour was Thailand, and Brandon joined me for that too. we spent a week exploring Bangkok and Chiang Mai and even took a day trip to Cambodia. it was a wild ride. a humid, sweaty, confusing, delicious wild ride.
(that sounds like a very descriptive yet unimaginative sex tape title, right?)

Bangkok was bananas. it was hectic and hot and gloriously new. we spent our time looking for things to eat and finding things to look at. there are so many cool things to see in the city but, at the risk of sounding incredibly lame, the standouts were the many ornate and dazzling temples. 
the temples and the humidity. but the temples were better.

as a lead-in to my Thailand posts I thought I share some photos of that sweet Thai architecture. to get you in the mood. to inspire. to give the illusion of organization.


(man, literally everything you say about Bangkok sounds sexual.)

IMG_5997 IMG_5973 IMG_6011 IMG_5946 IMG_6032 IMG_5994 IMG_6014 IMG_6023 IMG_5975 IMG_6054 IMG_6016

more from Thailand, coming soon! ♥  

...I would Dubai you a green dress

(but not a real green dress, that's cruel.)

I've been back in New York for a month now. a whole month- it doesn't feel that long. I feel like I entered a time warp somewhere between sand and swimming and constant stimulation and ended up somehow in December. 
it snowed this past weekend!

just a few weeks ago I was in the United Arab Emirates with Brandon, definitely not cold and definitely not binge-watching Christmas episodes of The Office to try and get into the holiday spirit.

Dubai was where Brandon met up with me and joined me for about 10 days of the trip. we were actually planning to meet in Thailand but the flights were ridiculously long (even for me, coming just from Hungary), so we decided to make a quick stopover at whatever place seemed convenient. that place was Dubai.

even though you'd expect a two-day stopover to be hectic and rushed, Dubai was quite the opposite for us. it felt leisurely and luxurious. I could feel myself relax after two weeks of traveling alone; I slept in, didn't make a schedule, didn't really make plans at all. we kind of let ourselves have a vacation vacation, for once.
I mean, just for two days. but it was enough of a refresher to prepare me for the hustle and bustle of Southeast Asia, which I'll get to soon enough.

the tallest building in the world.

indoor waterfall at the Dubai Mall.

Brandon getting a little taste of home in the Middle East!

I had never really pictured camels at the beach before...

when you have a travel buddy you can get cheesy pictures at JBR beach!

when I say Dubai was "luxurious" I don't mean we pampered ourselves or splurged on fancy things or extravagant meals; we didn't exactly live in the lap of luxury. I mean luxurious in the definition of comfortable and self-indulgent. we wandered through the delightfully over-the-top Dubai Mall, lounged at the beach, and downed free orange juice at the top of Burj Khalifa. no schedules, no crazy sightseeing, no pressure to "experience the real city" (god, I'll address the pretentious nature of that whole idea sometime soon, too).

and we had a great time! Dubai is a vibrant, cheerful, and beautiful city. even though it has a reputation for extravagance and opulence, the city and its people were very welcoming and down-to-earth. everyone was friendly and smiling, and things weren't outrageously expensive like we were led to believe.

there also seems to be a lot of civic pride; every person we talked to, from elevator attendants at Burj Khalifa, to taxi drivers, to tour guides raved about how much they loved living in Dubai. they talked about how clean it was, how little crime, how much they liked the local government. many of these people were immigrants from other parts of Asia or Africa and, while it might sounds silly, it was kind of heartwarming to feel like the city was full of happy people. it made for a very pleasant atmosphere.

the Burj Khalifa looking pretty impressive at night.

my travels switched from European cold to tropical very abruptly.

our camel desert safari friends!

my new friend Caro. 

we got to experience a more traditional side of Dubai on our desert safari evening with Platinum Heritage. they offer "unique, sustainable desert experiences highlighting the local Emirati culture"; Brandon and I did the camel desert safari experience, and it was incredible. I won't go into detail describing all the events and things because you can find that out on their website, but I will say that the staff were wonderful, the activities were awesome and informative, and the food was delicious. the whole thing is a little pricey, but it's a six hour event and so worth it. 

someone told Brandon not to do a desert safari because they were cheesy (and suggested that we go to the clubs instead because clearly this person did not know us very well) but it ended up being our favorite thing that we did!

incidentally, my new favorite color is "sunset in the Arabian desert." see below for details.   

a rare photo of Brandon and me together.

a sunset falconry demonstration!

a traditional Emirati dance for after-dinner entertainment (this was the only shot that wasn't a blur because the whole dance involves enthusiastically whipping your hair back and forth).

the traditional bedouin camp where we spent the evening.

Caro looking snappy in the Arabian sunset.

it was a short visit to the Middle East but I think we made the most of it. I would definitely recommend a visit to the UAE. it's exotic and modern at the same time. Dubai is a frenetic city and everything is manmade and shiny and "the biggest in the world"- seriously they have so many records for the biggest whatever in the world- but then you can drive into the desert and learn about falconry and eat in a tent and look at the stars. there really is something for everyone.

it's also worth noting that, even though I was with my husband at this point in my trip, Dubai is known for being very safe for solo female travelers. I got that sense too, even though I wasn't alone.

in conclusion, there are a few things I can definitely recommend:
- Platinum Heritage desert experiences. 
- Dubai Mall. it has an indoor waterfall, an aquarium, access to the Burj Khalifa, the world's biggest fountain, and it's insanely pretty. plus, air conditioning!
- Uber. it's too crazy hot to walk, and while public transit runs to the main attractions (read: malls) it's faster and just as cheap to take a car. plus, air conditioning! 
- Burj Khalifa. it's much nicer than other typical "top of the building" experiences. you get snacks and drinks, and there are lots of comfy chairs and lounges where you can hang out and take in the view. which is spectacular, by the way. 
- Leila. a Lebanese restaurant with good prices and great food. the bi-jit riz is fantastic.
- the beaches. they're right in the heart of the city and so beautiful. we went to JBR, and it was lovely, but I think Jumeirah beach has better views of the Burj Al Arab (the sailboat building).

happy trails, or whatever!

(note: we used Airbnb for accommodations and it turned out to be a hotel. it was fine; nice, clean, had a pool, nothing to write home about. seemed pretty standard for cheap-ish accommodations in the city.)