On the Road with LaunchSquad: Thailand

by Cat Ku, Account Associate

After almost a year of inspirational, roll-up-your-sleeves storytelling work at LaunchSquad, I was ready for my first extended vacation. Destination: Southeast Asia. Armed with passports, sunscreen and not a single word of Thai, a friend and I headed off for ten days in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand and Taipei, Taiwan.

I arrived in Bangkok after 24 hours of travel that included a few detours involving a lost taxi driver, a few angry stray dogs and a very nice security guard on a scooter who saved the day — all before 4am. The natural reward after that ordeal was breakfast aka the best mango sticky rice I’ve ever had. (Dessert counts as breakfast if you’re in a different country, right?) I ate at least a mango a day for the rest of the trip.

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We had a great time exploring traditional and cosmopolitan Bangkok, going from gorgeous old temples to shiny shopping malls via tuk tuks, river boats and Uber.

It’s rare that I’m in a place where I don’t know the local language or I’m not traveling with someone who does. But I was still able to find a bit of home at an “authentic” Mission taco stand in a mall food court…

… and a reminder of LaunchSquad, too! The first sight to greet me in the Bangkok airport was a JCDecaux smart billboard (powered by our client Jasper) advertisement for Konica Minolta (also a Jasper customer!)

Once we’d had our fill of “high-so” (Thai slang for “high society”) Bangkok, we flew north to the much more relaxed city of Chiang Mai, where a friend is spending the year working at an NGO.

The highlight of this leg of the trip was a visit to Baanchang Elephant Park, home to elephants rescued from logging camps. (Many of them still bore scars from their mistreatment). We got to be “mahouts” (elephant caretakers) for a day.

My elephant, Kanika, was a big fan of sugar cane and plantains. Girl can eat.

After feeding time, I hopped on for a very bumpy ride. (Think I’ll stick to biking!) We rode to a pond, where I gave Kanika her bath… or actually, she gave me one.

Another memorable moment, thanks to the recommendation of LS Account Executive Christine Heerwagen, was a massage at a women’s correctional facility in Chiang Mai. Prisoners with minor offenses learn traditional Thai massage to equip them with employable skills after they’re released.

Of course, no trip to Asia is complete without food. Since we couldn’t only eat mango sticky rice, we also got our fill of street food. In between all the eating, we took a traditional Thai cooking class and learned the secret to Thai cooking: oyster sauce, fish sauce and lots and lots of palm sugar.

After a quick pit stop in Taipei to visit family, it was back to real life in San Francisco. And as amazing as the trip was, I’m happy to return to actual Mission tacos and weather that doesn’t feel like a sauna. I’m already looking ahead to next year’s trip, wherever that may be!
(Source: launchsquadpr)

My stay in Prague was amazing experience

Well I’m back on a train, now heading to Vienna. My stay in Prague was quite short compared to the ten days in Berlin, but it was none the less eventful.

We arrived in Prague at 8 pm local time. After navigating the intertwining streets and finding our hostel out first mission was beer and food. Beer was easy to find but we didn’t find food until our third attempt. We all ordered the Pilsner Urquell, which was the first Pilsner ever made right there in the Czech Republic. Urquel directly translates to your grandfathers grandfather, so the Great Great Grandfather Pilsner. It was pretty great and it’s true what they say, beer is cheaper than water, at least in restaurants and bars.

The next morning Kate and I took advantage of our hostel’s free walking tours. We visited the clock, which apparently is the second most overrated tourist attraction in the world, behind the Mona Lisa. In my personal opinion I would recommend seeing it and hearing the story behind it. I thought it was beautiful and intricate, but I can see why people might think it’s underwhelming. We then stopped by the Cathedral which also had an interesting story for the differences in tower sizes. Apparently the real reason was someone screwed up, but they created a story in which the different tower sizes represent Adam and Eve. I’d believe it if no one told me otherwise.

At that point we decided to ditch the rest of the tour and go to the Lennon Wall with a few new friends we had just met. Finding the wall was not exactly easy but eventually we managed. It was really a lovely place. The wall was covered in art and Beatles quotes. A busker showed up and when he began to sing Here Comes the Sun, everyone joined in. It was beautiful.

After lunch Kate and I grabbed some cherries and more beer, of course. And headed to the river for a paddle boat. It was a 26 degree day and being on the river was the perfect way to beat the heat and see all the beautiful buildings, the bridges and the castle.

On my last day I ventured off on my own. One thing every tourist in Prague must see is the Castle. It is has a pretty large footprint, almost a village within itself. My favourite building was the Cathedral. The gothic architecture stood out around all the renaissance facades. The stained glass windows inside were breath taking.

After wondering around the castle for awhile I made my way back into town and picked up, in my opinion, the BEST souvenir ever. A brand new tattoo! I’ve known what I generally wanted for awhile and it has kinda becoming tradition to add onto my arm every May. Plus one of my friends got tattoo’d while he was traveling and it gave me the idea to get a tattoo while abroad. I did research before I left Canada and I was really hoping to find someone in Prague. Literally every studio I looked at had amazing artists. I ended up booking an appointment at Tribo Tattoos with Fillip Fabian. I don’t think I could have found someone better. He took my very vague idea and made it a masterpiece. He even ended up free handing some extra stuff, like the triangles, all the colour and the white highlights. I could not be happier. The price was much cheaper than Canadian prices.

After I experienced the struggle of not having a working phone. I. attempted to meet up with Kate for dinner at the Brewery near the castle with no success. But hey, I enjoyed a nice hike up there. Once being reunited at the hostel we figured it was late enough for a walk across the Charles Bridge without feeling claustrophobic. At night the statues are lit up and it gives them a whole new look.

Prague was taken at a much slower pace compared to Berlin but I enjoyed not having a schedule and just allowing myself to get lost in the city, which actually happened quite often, it’s kind of a confusing city.

Now Vienna, Austria is next and Kate and I are on the train, attempting to cut some Brie with dental floss! Never a dull moment.
(Source: deathbeforedecafdestinations)

Sukhothai – Oh Wat Fun!

Just a little Half lotus!End of the road for our trip through the rice paddies!

Sukhothai – Oh Wat Fun!

After an overnight ‘sleep’ in a 3rd class seat, a fried rice breakfast on the streets of Bangkok and another 6 hour train North (with AC and even – oddly – ‘inflight’ snacks and meals!), Garden House in Sukhothai was like reaching heaven! We checked in (after a sweaty 2km walk from the bus station of course!) to a cute little wooden Bungalow with an outside veranda.

We had a scrumptious dinner of noodle soup street food (60p in case you are as bothered about price as we are) before dropping to sleep to the sound of mangoes crashing down onto the roof.

The next day we cycled around the central ruins of the old city. We saw countless mighty Buddha statues surrounded by chedis (or stupas in Sri Lanka or India), crossing outer walls and moats of ancient worship grounds (representing the outer wall of the universe and the cosmic ocean – apparently!), just loving cycling about on our old school bikes.

All ruin- ed out and reluctant to pay to look at any more, we instead cycled South to a few forgotten Wats (temples, so the chedis in this case) that sit proud but crumbling outside of the touristy area. We took a few different bumpy off roads, ending up cycling in between rice paddies and through banana groves until the path ran out and we followed a little smiley Thai lady heading out of the fields!

After our sorng-taaou back to New Sukhothai, we ate our Noodle soup at the side of the road, savoured ice cream at the night market and had some street side pop corn to boot!
We love Thailand!

(Source: janetandsam)

How to Find the Cheapest Flight Tickets Online

The cost of air traveling can be a costly exercise. Many individuals’ high rates each day, while others learn the tips and techniques which help them look for the most cost-effective journey offers on the internet. This implies that the person seated next to you on the aircraft, may have compensated half if not less for their solution than what you did.

There are various ways to book domestic air tickets offers on the internet with the most apparent one being to guide in advance. The majority of airways provide early special offers, this indicates that the moment you know you have to fly; you get onto the internet and start your search. You will discover some of the offers provide you thirty percent or more lower price if you guide your solution there and then, making it one extra day can result in you paying considerably more.

Shop around; don’t always go for the first flights you see. There are a variety of airlines that will fly to the location you are visiting; each one will provide their own costs and offers.

It’s always recommended when looking for the cheap flight offers is to be flexible. Versatility can preserve you a lot of cash on your leaving and appearance flight tickets. While you may have your keep schedules starting on the Thursday, when you evaluate the flight tickets you might discover that making on the Wednesday will conserve your funds on your journey. Consider modifying your schedules to fulfill the more reasonable costs on provide.

Consider selecting less noisy times. Most airways increase their costs over the end of the week, you will discover Fridays, Thursday and Sundays are generally the most popular times when most individuals will journey whether they’re going to a holiday in the sun or they are going home to get ready to go back to work. The end of the week is also a time when individuals want to evade, even if it’s only two times, so flight tickets usually guide up quickly on Fridays and Sundays. Flying from Wednesday to Friday can really be cash saving, assisting you make use of the cheapest flight tickets online.

In addition to selecting a less noisy day to fly, you will also discover that different times of the day are generally on the less expensive side. Early morning hours flight tickets are generally more costly as individuals want to get to where they are going as beginning as possible. This is where flexibility comes in again and if you are willing to take a little bit later journey, you will discover that you can save cash in the long run.