Friday, January 30, 2015

Donuts and rickshaws

Andrew and I have officially been traveling in Southeast Asia now for over two weeks. We have taken planes, buses, ferries and trains; eaten more street food than my mother should know about; and experienced more of a culture I knew next to nothing about. We have had times of frustration, amazement, and curiosity. It has been a trip of all sorts and despite the lack of romance in these 3rd world countries, I can't imagine our honeymoon any other way. 

If you have any dreams to travel these parts of the globe, I highly recommend it. It takes a lot of patience and flexibility; ability to be away from the comforts of home (think flushing toilets); and a sense of adventure. It is like nothing I've ever seen or experienced in all my travels. I assure you, it is worth it! 

Here's what we've found so far...
• Thailand is much more westernized than I'd imagined. McDonald's, KFC, 7-11 are quite present and most Thai people speak a bit of English. 
• Pollution, carbon monoxide and cigarette smoke must lead to increased lung Cancer in these countries!
• Every male in Thailand is a monk at some point in his life, if even for just 1 week
• The rumors are true, you can get 1 hour massages for $5 and nice hotels for $20, including breakfast! 
•The New Year in Vietnam isn't celebrated until February and they party for 2 whole weeks! Times Square ball drop looks lame to these guys.
• 1 million dong in Vietnam = $47
• Toilet paper is a luxury. Hoses are a must. And holes that you stand over are the norm.
• Crossing the street should be a sporting event. Imagine the running of the bull but with motorbikes. 
• In Hanoi, Vietnam, you must want a donut or Rick-shaw ride if you are a foreigner. Every block...
• Street food is as the name implies. Food cooked right on the street. Just pull up a plastic stool. 
• Asian babies are the cutest. Gerber should get new models.
• These people know what true hard work is. We could learn a thing or two.
• Markets are in every city and town - you can find it all...tongue, pashminas, dried fruit, porcelain dishes, and puppies.
• The average income in Vietnam is $125/mo. We have so so much to be grateful for in our lives!! 

We have 10 more days to explore more of Southern Vietnam and Thailand; eat rice noodles and Papaya salad; take it all in with eyes wide open; and hang on for the ride. 

Hope everyone back home is warm, safe and with power! Xo

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Pack for Thailand

how to pack a duffle bag for thailand

I'll be honest, packing is always the most stressful part of any trip I take. Past, present and future. My anxiety runs high. I constantly second guess myself. And I drive my husband insane. Even though I've spent years cramming my belongings into duffles I haven't really progressed as a seasoned traveler.

I embarrassingly start packing days in advance. I make piles and shuffle those piles around the floor for days. I compile lists upon lists on various pieces of paper. These are my brain. If I don't have them, I would show up to the airport practically naked with no suitcase. I've had this dream before.

I blame it on the fear of the unknown. That feeling of "what if I need it" consumes me. It is hard to imagine yourself in another culture, another climate from the one of the present. And I convince myself that less in this case, is definitely not more. I suffer from chronic over packing syndrome.

I also blame it on the duffle bag. No matter the size, it is a given that I am going to cram as many items in that bag until the zipper is on the brink of rupturing.  You laugh because you have done this exact same thing!  I also suffer from last minute cramming. The morning of the trip I secretly put 2-5 more items in the bag in a last second panic of "what if I need it". I can't help myself and frankly, I bet I'm not alone.

My minimalistic husband on the other hand, he has his own way of packing. He packs just the essentials, nothing fancy, just the basics. He places it all neatly in the bag, zippers all intact.  And within an hour of starting the process the night before we leave, he is finished and his bag is by the door. It is MADDENING!

Packing for Thailand was no different.

I started the process on Sunday afternoon. Frankly I was overwhelmed at the thought of packing for a month in a carry-on duffle bag. Seriously, what woman does that?! While we were in the BVI last week everyone on the trip, with the ring leader being my husband, convinced me that my honeymoon would be more enjoyable if I brought less stuff. I am still not entirely convinced, but I accepted the challenge and ordered a Patagonia 60 liter duffle bag. And I filled it to the brim. And then some.

When Andrew suggested yesterday that I not bring my small backpack as well, I looked like a kicked puppy. I put my foot down on that one. A 60 liter duffle for 4 weeks is crazy, but no small backpack either?? That's just unrealistic. And so I filled that bag to the brim too. And then some.

And then you may ask, what exactly is in your duffle bag? How do you pack for Thailand and Vietnam?  

Well folks, having never been to either of these countries, I did a bit of research, made some assumptions, and thought about my comforts and came up with this...

packing the essentials for a trip to Thailand and Vietnam

The Essentials:
Passport | Lonely Planet guidebooks | sleeping mask | gummy bears

Malaria meds | z-pack | Benadryl | Aleve

Mini toiletries:
Sunscreen | soaps | tampons | travel detergent | mosquito wipes | band aids 

Sneaks | bikinis | tanks | layers | scarves

packing essentials for a plane trip to thailand
For Boredom and more Mosquitoes:
Nook | sunnies | mosquito repellent sleeping bag | international adaptor | cards | iPod | iPad 

Boom. We are ready. The bags are packed, my anxiety is at bay, we are enroute to NYC and will fly over 22 hours tomorrow and arrive in Thailand on Thursday. 

Ready, set, let's honeymoon! 

Friday, January 9, 2015


Whew…it's been awhile! Happy New Year everyone! 

Andrew and I have been doing the whole duffle bag thing for almost 3 weeks and have just gotten home to catch our breaths before our honeymoon.  Between the holidays in Virginia and a work trip in the British Virgin Islands, we have been going 90 to nothing. It has been a whirlwind of planes, ferries & automobiles and we both are thankful for some down time before our big trip to Thailand & Vietnam!  2015 has gotten off to a rockin' start and we are excited to see what 2015 brings!

With temps in the low teens & snow starting to fall, today has been the perfect excuse to sit at home, sip hot tea, and catch up on life. I got to thinking about the whole duffle bag thing and our trip to the BVI.  How lucky we are to have professions that take us to tropical, exotic destinations and breath in a fresh perspective on life. In my previous life, when I lived in the islands, I was thankful every day for those opportunities. And in this current life, I am still thankful for people who call us up and ask if we will sail them around the BVI and show them this beautiful chain of islands.

We had a wonderful trip to kick off the new year. For starters, our clients were delightful - flexible, fun, and eager to see the genuine people & islands. The weather was the best I've seen in years - 12-15 knots, minimal swells, abundant sunshine and few showers.  We dug our toes in the sand, felt the warm rays on our skin, went for hikes & swims, and watched incredible sunrises & sunsets. It was heaven.

One of the most unique and memorable parts of our trip was anchored off Norman Island on our last night. Behold the….

It's not really called the iBoat, but I bet if he were still alive he would have named the boat as such. This sleek $120+ million dollar yacht "Venus" was designed by and for Steve, but sadly he died the year before it was finished.  This 260 foot yacht is built entirely of aluminum and has 7 iMacs at the command center. As my friend said, it kind of looks like a big hunk of cheese. Of course, a much more sleek & space age type of cheese, not to mention, more expensive than your typical hunk of cheese. 

It's crazy to think that all week we were surrounded by iPhones & iPads, and in the same harbor was the ever present iBoat. It is clear that Steve Jobs is still influencing the way we work, live & play today. If you haven't read the best seller biography of Steve Jobs, I highly recommend it! Just incredible to see the way he has transformed our way of thinking and the future as we know it. The iBoat is no exception.

And so we are back in this New England winter wonderland, far from the sandy beaches and fruity drinks of last week, and back to living in drawers.  But 2015 has bigger plans for us - we will repack our duffles once again this weekend and head out for our adventure of a lifetime, Thailand & Vietnam! 

Stay tuned for my lofty goals for 2015 and how in the world I am going to pack for 4 weeks in a carry on duffle!  Happy Friday y'all!! 

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