Designer. Writer. Traveller.

A preview of our trip to Thailand and Cambodia

Morgan EmmessComment

I've siphoned through 4,000+ images to curate a mini-preview of the various places we visited and the adventures that ensued on our Thailand and Cambodia vacation just a short, few weeks ago... Okay, more like a month ago.

Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou, China was our stopover on our way to Thailand. We were only there for a couple of hours and didn't have time to leave the airport, but it was an exciting experience nonetheless.


Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok was better than we had hoped and we made the most of our two days there. We went to muay thai fights and go go bars and sipped our first of many Thai beers, all the while attempting to acclimatize with the culture.



We regret not spending more time in Cambodia... it was the shortest part of our trip aside from the stopover in Guangzhou and our one night in Phuket. We try to visit different countries when we travel in hopes to see as many as we can, but Cambodia is a country we will definitely come back to.


Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is what we're calling the hipster capital of Thailand. Located in the northern part of the country and surrounded by distant yet humble mountains, the city thrived on its artsy hipster night market culture.


Phuket, Thailand

Finally, a beach. We only stayed in Phuket for one night because it was the 'stopover' part of our journey - we were on our way to Koh Yao Yai which is an island in the south from Chiang Mai in the north. And, as fate would have it (we don't often get good luck so this comes as no surprise), the hotel we stayed in turned out to be the best on this trip... For one night.


Koh Yao Yai, Thailand

I was looking forward to this part the most because I expected it to be quiet, secluded and romantic... it was. The villages were small, the surroundings were gorgeous and everyone was incredibly nice... unless you wear too few clothes into 7-11 to buy beer ice cream... did I mention it's a Muslim island?


Ao Nang, Thailand

We knew Ao Nang would be a busy, populated tourist spot and it definitely was, but it didn't feel overcrowded like it easily could have. What I mean by that is you didn't have to stand in line for hours at every point of purchase... you could order food quick, get on a boat within ten minutes and haggle for a successful bargain at a moderate pace.

Yes, those are wooden penises in the photo above.


As I'm writing this I'm conjuring up so many other stories not hinted at here. I'll try to keep the coming posts to the point and within reasonable length, but I'm not making any promises... so, expect some long reads ahead

- xomo

A (very) honest personal rant

Morgan EmmessComment

It's been a long time since I've been here. Too long in fact. So much has happened and so much has changed, including myself... something of which might appear obvious through the tone of my voice, but I feel good. More honest, more accepting. I've struggled with personal issues from time to time (who doesn't?)... I just did an exceptional job of hiding it, but not an acceptable job of being okay with it. I am now, however, at the point of realizing that life really is way too short, and if I want to live out my years to the best of my ability, I need to let this ridiculousness go. We are not perfect, and while some people are okay with it from the get-go, some just need a bit of time to learn it... in my case, 34 years.

(for all those reading this who are rolling their eyes because I'm "still so young", I know. But you never know when you're gonna go, so I'm just being wary of that. Because if I continue worrying that I'm not good enough, then I'm not going to be as happy as I know I can be and that, to me, is a waste... we're blessed to be here, we need to make the most of it)

We live in a media universe, and while I'd like to say that it hasn't influenced me, it has, and possibly other people's ideas of perfection as well... which, as I'm learning, is stupid to strive for. I used to be intimidated by Victoria Secret commercials because I didn't look like them, and on numerous occasions I would drive myself to the store for ice cream, cookies or whatever else I felt like bingeing on.

I'm not saying we should change the advertising industry or blame them (I'm in it for goodness sake)... the problem is when we allow it to make us feel like shit.

Regardless of what I've just shared with you, I have always loved the life I live, but now, I'm going to live life even better... for me.

- xomo

Antigua part 3: Nelson's Dockyard and sick beaches

Morgan EmmessComment

Sadly, the third part of our Antiguan vacation began with a lot of goodbyes... Everyone who came to the wedding was leaving with the exception of Mark and I, and Jamie and Christina who were staying at the resort another week. We were en route to another area of the island... Nelson's Dockyard, where we would spend our last few nights in a hotel that is rich with history.

Before we said goodbye, however, we continued to explore the island and stopped at a quiet beach where I found what I had been craving the entire time... curried goat. If you ever get a chance, try it! I first tried it in Niagara Falls when we stumbled upon a Caribbean food truck and ordered curried goat roti... after that I was hooked.

Antigua, we discovered, is covered in mongoose, which were imported to the West Indies from India more than a hundred years ago to control an explosion of rats on the sugarcane plantations. They also eat snakes and have since wiped out the once thriving snake population.

After licking my plate clean and fending off the mongoose, we set off for the hotel but first made an impromptu stop at one of the many sugar mills on the island. Mark and I quickly poked our heads in to take a closer look.

(So, this is when we actually said goodbye and made our journey to Nelson's Dockyard, which was very, very pretty.)

We stayed at the Copper and Lumber hotel, one of the original buildings constructed by Lord Nelson. And, as the name suggests, it was used to store copper and lumber for ship building and maintenance.

We booked ourselves in here thinking this would be the romantic part of our vacation, but with me still being really sick and Mark starting to get sick too, it wasn't as enjoyable as we had hoped. We did what we could to practice mind over matter in an effort to make the best of our final few days in this beautiful, historic little town.

(Notice the outside wall?)

Thanks to the research my husband conducts when we go away on vacation, we knew there was a really nice beach nearby... and being sick will never stop us from finding the best beach. So, as awful as we felt (the heat didn't help), we set off on a mission to find it. It was a lengthy walk, but we made it and rewarded ourselves with strawberry daiquiri's to ease the sharp pain in our sore throats. It worked, albeit temporary it still worked, and the beach was indeed beautiful.

By the time we made our way back to the hotel, all we wanted to do was curl into bed, drink some tea and sleep, but because it was our last night and Nelson's Dockyard was home to some amazing restaurants, we mustered up the strength to enjoy one last meal... but no wine. And at the point at which we order tea with dinner in a place like this, you know we're sick.

- xomo

Antigua part 2: St. James' Club and Devil's Bridge

Morgan EmmessComment

The second part of our Antiguan adventures continued on a different side of the island where the wedding was taking place, at St. James' Club. (If you missed Part 1, click here). About a 45 minute taxi ride from Jolly Harbour, we drove high into the mountains and through some really gorgeous scenery - none of which I have pictures for because I was too busy trying not to be sick from the winding roads, the heat and being in the back seat of a minivan. But boy, was it worth it.

We arrived at the hotel and met up with Mark's brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law right away, since they just happened to be in the lobby. After some giddy excitement, a few beers and a walking tour of the property, the rest of the family started to arrive, and with that, shenanigans ensued. It. Was. SoMuchFun.

A really good family friend, Judy, decided to come last minute. Everyone had kept it a surprise, so to see the look on my father-in-law's face and the tears in his eyes when she walked in was so incredibly special, especially since they hadn't seen eachother in about 15 years.

After that (and a few 'welcome' cocktails in the lobby), we congregated on the balcony of the villa where we were staying and spent hours catching up. And, because my mother-in-law is amazing, they had already stopped and gone shopping for food and booze, so we were all set and good times were rollin'.

Now, you may be wondering what the heck is in this picture below? Well, let me tell you...

After dinner a few of us kept the party going at the hotel bar. All of a sudden, Christina (my almost sister-in-law) comes running around the corner to me screaming "there's a bunny on the dance floor". Without hesitation, I ran over and there he was - a white rabbit hopping around all by its lonesome. Long story short, there was a magic show earlier and as the magician was packing up, he let the rabbit roam around. Did we ask to pick him up? Uhh, of course! That's when we found out there was a dove, too. And they were friends. So without further ado, meet Cotton and Peter! (I'm not gonna lie, I completely forgot the dove's name so I made this one up and for some reason Peter seemed fitting). And yes, they're sitting in a black top hat.

We tried to keep them but eventually (after running around the bar showing everyone including my husband who was super impressed), we had to give them back. But this picture is proof that we weren't crazy or hallucinating on drugs.

The following night everyone headed to Shirley Heights where the view was spectacular and the party was happening. The place was a logistical nightmare and you'd have better luck battling Genghis Khan than trying to get a hamburger, but it was worth it for this.

After the wedding, we rented a car so we could go exploring. Our first stop was Devil's Bridge, and while it's incredibly beautiful, the story behind it is quite dim. Devil's Bridge is a natural limestone arch carved from the sea, where slaves used to go and throw themselves overboard to their death. Hence, the name... Now how 'bout we revel in this marvelous natural formation?

More to come, stay tuned for Part 3.

- xomo

Antigua part 1: Sunburnt adventures and the 4 o'clock club

Morgan Emmess6 Comments

We recently flew to Antigua for my brother in-law's destination wedding, and if you're wondering where the heck that is, it's in the heart of the Caribbean right beside St. Kitts (see map). Being our first tropical holiday in a while, we were super stoked for palm trees, beautiful, blue water and some non-Canadian sun... which, we regretted not 24 hours after we landed as we burnt various random parts (armpit, kneecap, lower calves and belly rolls to name a few).

The island was lush with tropical forest and surrounded by beautiful beaches. And, as we found out when we landed, contained an impressive mountain range. We already knew about the mountains (my husband definitely does his research), but we were impressed with how big they actually were. The largest mountain on the island, Mount Obama (yes, the name was changed once he became president), stands 402 meters high or just over 1300 feet, which is nothing compared to the Rockies, but still offered one fabulous vista.

We spent our first three nights at a hotel called Sugar Ridge, just outside Jolly Harbour. The wedding was being held on the other side of the island, but we thought we'd get some quieter time in before we met up with everyone for the wedding. But then, the 4 o'clock club came along and quiet time was a distant memory.

Our first order of business when travelling is always to go exploring. And by exploring, we mean head to the pool bar. We became fast friends with everyone there and the 4 o'clock club was born, which basically means you know you'll see the same group of people, at the bar, around 4 o'clock. Makes sense, right?

On our last day at Sugar Ridge, we decided to go on a hike with the group. A local gentleman by the name of Vonn, offered to take us through his village which he did - for 3 hours. For 3 hours we walked (and sweat) our way through parts of Antigua you may not normally see. We visited his family home, various gardens where he taught us about the plants, fruits and vegetables that grew there - mango, lime, okra, tamarind, carob, the black pineapple (which is indigenous to Antigua) and a few more I can't remember the name of - and even a local boy getting his hair cut, who I'm pretty sure didn't appreciate all eight of us cramming in to watch.

It was hot, but beautiful and so worth it. And the best part? We were back by 3:55.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3. Also, notice the armpit burn!?

- xomo