Saturday, June 16, 2018


Hands down, playing with elephants at the Phuket Elephant Retirement Center will go down in the books for one of THEE most unforgettable, surreal experiences in my life. We were able to feed, play, walk, give mud bathes and swim with these gentle creatures for about 4 hours and I will always treasure these memories! There were about 10 elephants at this center who had either been mistreated in the past or have been rescued from abusive environments. They ranged from a HUGE pregnant elephant mama to a baby elephant named Adele. They ate whole bunches of bananas out of our hands and loved to cuddle us with their trunks. They were so friendly and eager for love and attention. We gave baby Adele a mud bath and to say we got covered in red mud was an understatement. Afterwords we washed her off and splashed around in the water. Baby Adele would squirt water at us with her trunk and it was the cutest thing I've ever seen! These asian elephants are officially my favorite animal and I can't wait to tell my kids about this one day! It was a dream come true!



Click the video below to see the film I made of the entire Thailand trip! 

Where do I even begin with this post??  I have been thinking so hard about what to write because I just don't think I can accurately describe in words how incredible and life changing this experience was to travel to Thailand. It's something I will remember for the rest of my life and something I hope to share with Tyler in the near future because it truly changed me. First off, a little backstory for the reason for this trip. Around Christmas time my friend Delaina calls me and tells me about these SERIOUSLY CHEAP PLANE tickets she found to Phuket Thailand and she wanted to go. So I did literally the most SPONTANEOUS thing I have ever done in my life and we purchased the tickets at the same time right then and there on the phone. I was laughing/happy screaming the entire time and also having 10 billion panic attacks because: 

1. The only place I had ever traveled out of the U.S. was Mexico. 
2. I would be going without Tyler and that made me sad and nervous
3. I would be going with one other girl and I wasn't sure if that was safe or not (it ended up being 3 because our amazing friend Chanelle came as well!!)
4. I am absolutely terrified of planes and flying over the ocean so this was huge for me. 

Tyler was my biggest cheer leader yelling " DO IT!!" "JUST DO IT!!" as I pushed the button to buy the tickets. He was so excited for me and it meant the world. So there it was! I was officially going to THAILAND! So fast forward a few weeks and my friend Delaina who has done the commercials for Downeast Clothing and Furniture company and recently did a commercial for Limericki swimwear calls me freaking out because she had mentioned going to Thailand to Limericki and the most incredible thing in the world happened. THEY OFFERED TO PAY FOR OUR ENTIRE TRIP!! We had already bought the plane tickets, but everything else they wanted to sponsor if we photographed and filmed their swimsuits in Thailand. Accommodations, playing with elephants, transportation, private tours in the longboat, food, EVERYTHING. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I'm not one of those influencer people who get paid to take pictures for instagram. This was a real-life, game-changing business opportunity for me. And for someone who has always wanted to get into fashion and commercial photography this was a dream come true. And trust me, it wasn't all fun and games. Hauling your $$$$$$$$ camera equipment halfway around the world is so terrifying. But I would not have changed one thing! We were able to get our friend Chanelle to come and model for the company and have the most amazing girl's trip ever! So us three were able to photograph the swimsuits for Limericki all while having the most insane trip of a lifetime! Check out my photography blog for some of my favorite shots I took for the company  and Check out one of THREE videos Delaina filmed for the company down below, and check out their website to see my photos and Delaina's videos in action! My photos are also on the billboard at the Riverwoods in Provo if you ever drive past there. SO FREAKING COOL!!! 

So now onto the actual trip! You guys. 3 days before this trip I got so sick. The sickest I've probably ever been in my life. I had the chills, couldn't move, the sorest throat I've ever had, the worst cough I've ever had, and to top it all off, I couldn't speak. The night before I left, I went to my parent's house so my dad and Tyler could give me a blessing. After the blessing I burst into tears hugging my dad and Tyler. I was so terrified of being this sick in a foreign country and my dad blessed me that I would feel peace about the entire trip and that I would feel better. We flew to LAX, then 15 hours to China, and then 3 more hours to Phuket Thailand. And even though that 15 hour flight was the worst thing in my life. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't swallow and my coughing was unbearable. The SECOND I got off that plane in Thailand. My sore throat was gone and my energy was back. And even though I had ZERO VOICE! Seriously I couldn't talk the entire trip because my sickness had turned into Bronchitis, I felt 10 times better and I felt peace. Peace about everything. 

We stayed in a hotel near the airport and got a couple hours of sleep before our shuttle picked us up to go to the Elephant Retirement Park. I'm not going to post every picture from the Elephants, just some favorites because I have SO many and you can see A WHOLE POST DEDICATED TO THE ELEPHANTS HERE. But we were able to play, walk, feed, give the elephants mud baths and swim with the elephants! I don't think I've ever laughed and smiled so much in my life. They are such loving creatures and we got to spend a ton of time with the baby elephant Adele. It was surreal. I couldn't believe I was actually playing with elephants! We also were able to take a cooking class and learned to make Pad Thai! It was SO YUMMY!


After the elephants we headed to a ferry and headed to the PHI PHI ISLANDS where we were able to drink fresh fruit smoothies on the beach, eat delicious street food, stay in a hotel nestled into the cliffside, explore the island, and take an authentic longboat out to places like Maya Bay, snorkeling in Pi-leh lagoon, Monkey Beach and more.  


After a couple incredible days at the Phi Phi Islands we headed back to Phuket where we spent the rest of our time on the beach, took a tour to James Bond island, canoed through gorgeous lagoons and rock caves, visited a floating village, ate even more incredible street food and explored the surrounding night markets including Phuket's main weekend night market that was CRAZY! I've never been amidst more smells (good, bad and exotic), chaos, beauty, incredible food and little shops than ever before. We also explored some temples and I gawked at the attention to detail and the peace we felt as we watched monks take care of the grounds. We left the craziness of the busy town behind us as we took our shoes off and entered the temple to explore. I loved every minute of the gorgeous colors, details, statues and painted murals we found inside and out!

Last but not least while we were canoeing with like 100 other canoes all filled with tourists. Our guide decides to take us into a deep cave where all the other canoes were just passing by. As we went further and further into the darkness all three of us began to get a little nervous. We saw a very dim light  IN THE WATER at the end of the cave. Our tour guide stops rowing and says "Swim" all three of us were like "What??" And he continues to try to explain to us "Swim under! Lagoon! Beautiful!" And then it hits me! He wants us to get out of our canoe and swim to the light. So YOLO!!! We decide to follow what he says and fall out of our canoe into the darkness and we start swimming towards the light. I squeeze my head through the smallest crack and enter into THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LAGOON!! It was a lagoon filled with towering jungle, vines, limestone and the beautiful green water. And we had it ALL TO OURSELVES! Our guide swims with us and we float and pretty much freak out that we were able to ditch the 100 other tourists and have this little piece of Thailand all to ourselves. It was only for a few moments but not one other person besides the three of us got to visit the secret lagoon and we will forever be grateful! Here is a funny go-pro video of the experience. (Ignore my deep, rough, horrible, bronchitis man-voice)

One of the things I learned about Phuket Thailand is that it's organized chaos. Beautiful, amazing, organized chaos. There are a million people riding scooters, tuk tuks (small, open aired taxi type things which we rode A LOT, it was so fun ha ha), walking every which way. And the most thrilling thing to do is EMBRACE IT! This is all part of the experience. I mean there were things that freaked me out a little bit ha ha, we witnessed three motorcycle accidents, a bus accident and a guy that was hit with his head cut open (blood everywhere) but we also experienced the most FUN and KIND people who were thrilled we were there and made us laugh and connect with the people and culture around us. And boy was it a beautiful culture and world over there. I loved every little thing about it from the smells, to the people, to the jungles and oceans, to the chaos and craziness to the peaceful and serene temples where you can feel and see the respect the Thai people have for their religion and lifestyle. 

This trip changed me. I went home with desire I didn't know I had until this trip. A desire to see the world and experience new cultures, food, people and places. There was a moment on this trip where I accidentally left my phone at a store in the midst of hundreds of shops on the Phi Phi Islands. I didn't realize it until we were back at our hotel and the worst feeling of dread filled me. And as I sprinted as fast as I could for what felt like miles I had an out of body experience. I was running in the night amidst the sounds and smells of another part of the world. I ran through streets with lights and music and laughter and LIFE. It was 90 degrees and the humid air was thick but I wanted to soak it all in as I ran. Long-story short I found my phone (pretty much a miracle.) But on the way back taking it all in a bit more slowly, I realized that this was only a small part of this giant world that I had fallen in love with and I had a burning desire to see the rest of it. I haven't been able to shut up to Tyler about Thailand and all the rest of the places around the world I want to travel to and experience. We both decided to make it a goal and priority to try to travel every year and see all of what this beautiful world has to offer. I can't wait to take Tyler back here and to explore the REST of Thailand as well. If you've made it to the end of this NOVEL YOU ARE A CHAMP! :) Till next time Thailand!