Slow Boat to China


So I haven posted for a while but only because this trip continues to be amazing! We spent a few nights in Lombok in Kuta and Sengigi. Kuta was a pretty small little town not much going on so we only stayed one night. But in Kuta we did enjoy chatting with the locals and getting tips for our next destinations from fellow travelers, relaxing on the beach and only paying 17$ for room. It’s hilarious that every time someone finds out we are Americans they all say, ooh Obama he is my uncle! It’s so funny. The gas stations here are also hilarious they are little huts with reused plastic bottles filled with gas lol.

After Kuta we decided to go surfing for the day at Selong Blanik. Which was awesome, amazingly my first time ever surfing and I did pretty awesome. Our teacher Yogi was pretty awesome too. He fell in love with me, he told me I came to him in his dream. It was cute but I said I think the distance might be a problem lol. After surfing we headed to Sengigi which was a little bit more of a town than Kuta we went out for drinks and met some locals to show us around to all the good bars. It was fun but also a late night and we had booked an 8am slow boat to Gili Trawangan, which had been recommended to us by and Austrailian couple we met in Kuta. It was kind of a rough morning. Especially considering it was quite the journey. An hour bus ride then horse drawn carriage to the beach and hop on a boat for another 20 min ride to the island where they dump you out on the beach. Next we search search for a room, we start following this guy who says he has a room for 95000 a night, but its crap so we stumble upon this guest house in an alley way called Karisma. Bast place we could have possibly found. Hon, the hotel guy was awesome and we ended up with an air con room for 200000 a night, although our air con didn’t work. There were 5 rooms total and we had amazing neighbors! There was a group of Brit lads, a group of Aussie guys, a Frenchmen named Kevin who had been on the island for three months and was our personal Gili T information source, another group on Aussies who we went scuba diving with and another British guy that we met at the pool. It was our little Gilli T family!

Gili T was by far one of my favorite places. It’s just this little tiny island with beautiful beaches and no motorized vehicles only bicycles and horse drawn carriage and loads of stuff to do like scuba and snorkeling and tons of partying. Everyone on the whole damn island was young, single and hot! Needless to say we had an amazing time and met so many cool people. We weren’t sure how long we were going to stay there but ended up staying four days. Sadly we had to leave Gili T for Bali so we would be near the airport for our departures. It was another long travel day. We did scuba in the am and then booked a 3 PM fast boat to Bali and a bus to Jambarin which was about a 7 hour process total. Our driver was awesome though, he let us stop to buy some Bintangs and drove us around until we found a place to stay. It was one of the nicest places we’ve stayed so far. Air con, fridge and they even gave us soap and towels. They also had a gorgeous 24 hour pool which we utilized.

The next day we hopped in a taxi headed for Kuta. Arrived and booked a room. We spent the day lounging at the beach and got mani pedis from these little ladies. You basically can’t say no to them because they won’t leave you alone until you buy something. They must be making loads of money. We sat down at a “bar” for a drink (which was a dude with a cooler and some chairs selling beers and water) and next thing you know your buying a bracelet for everyone you know, getting a massage, a henna tattoo, and a mani pedi all at the same time lol. Then spent my last night with Samantha 😦 she was the best part of the trip! It would never have been the same with out her here! So sad to say goodbye she left for her flight around 1 and I will be heading to the airport at around 7 for my flight to Sydney. I still haven’t decided what will be next from there but I will work it out once I get there. I am a bit worried about customs there though because they are strict on anything organic entering the country so I may lose my spices and wood carving. I tried to post it today but since it is Sunday the post is closed. I should have done it yesterday but I didn’t even realize what day it was.

I am so glad that I decided to ditch my second tour and go it alone it has been awesome! Best choice I could have made. It has also been super easy to travel here the locals and fellow travelers alike are very helpful and honest and everybody speaks English.

So on to the next adventure we will see where this takes me…..

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Singapore Sling


Malacca was for sure our best stop in Malaysia. On our free day we roamed the winding narrow streets and explored the shops. We sampled the famous chicken rice balls, which were basically rice that had been cooked in chicken stock made into a ball. They were pretty good not that great though. We tried the Chendol, which is a shaved ice treat topped with molasses, i thought it was gross. We also visited the Baba Nyonya Heratige Museum which explores the marriages of the native Malay women and the Chinese business traders that immigrated to Malacca. It was in an original Baba Nyonya home of the Chang family who were spice traders. It was beautiful and it was amazing that the intricately carved teak staircase was built with no nails because the Chinese believe nails should only be used in coffins. They also said that when they were married the bride and groom would meet each other for the first time (arranged marriages back then) and they would drink sweet tea, to have sweetness in life and eat sticky food, to stick together. Then later the group enjoyed the night market and dinner together.

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We left the hotel at 6AM for Singapore yesterday and it was quite the interesting journey, at least for me anyway. We drove about three hours to the border and went through the exit point of Malaysia then reboarded the bus to drive over the straits of Mealacca and enter Singapore. We arrived at the border of Singapore to go through customs, being sure not to have any illegal contraband. including chewing gum, we had a gum chewing party while we packed the night before to use it all up before crossing the border. I get up to the customs agent and hand over my passport. It won’t scan. He tries and retries. He tries at the neighboring agent’s desk, no luck. The rest of the group has already gone through and is waiting at the bus and they shuffle me off to the sixth floor to a waiting room with several other people. I watch as the agents behind the desk scrutinize passports and one by one call people into the back like a doctors office only to release them and not let them leave yet. I ask the Indian guy next me how long he has been waiting there, he says 30 minutes. I have no way of contacting anyone from the group and I had already been briefed that the bus would leave after 20 minutes. They finally call me into the back for questioning. They ask me all sorts of questions, how much cash do you have with you (random small amounts of several currencies and no Singapore dollars), how long will you stay in Singapore (one day), do you often travel from country to country (once in college), Have you ever been to Singapore before (no), where do you travel next (Lombock, Indonesia). In my head I’m thinking this story sounds more and more like a drug smuggler the more I tell it. They finally decide that I am not a threat and allow me to take my passport and enter the country, after about 40 minutes. I find Anik waiting for me on the other side and we take the next bus into the city. The others went a head on the first bus. Turns out that since my passport was issued in 2005 it is the old version and does not scan in their scanners, however it is completely valid so I’m not sure why that should matter.

Finally Anik and I arrived at the hotel and relaxed for a minute before we went to lunch at a nearby food court. I had chickens feet with noodles which I was happy about because its only the second time I’ve seen them on a menu since I’ve been in Asia and the first time they were fried and were not as good as the black bean sauce kind. Later we waled around the city and it is for sure a modern westernized city. Also the first city in Asia where they actually follow traffic laws! Lots of impressive modern architecture and shopping malls everywhere. We even enjoyed a cocktail on the rooftop of the boat building, it had great views. We also sipped Singapore Slings at the famous Raffels Hotel, where apparently Hemingway used to do the same.

We also said goodbye to all of our trip mates, which was sad. They have all been so great and I will miss them all. I’m sure we will stay in touch via Facebook and hopefully share all of our photos. The one thing that I think I will miss out on the most by skipping my next tour is the people. I will meet plenty of others though I’m sure.

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Melaka, Malay, Malaysia


We arrived in Malaysia about four day ago after a pretty long travel day crossing the border. It was a bout 12 hour journey which seemed worse since we were extremely hungover from our last night in Thailand. Had an amazing day out on our private longtail boat made some new friends who joined our boat and we met them later for drinks at the Chang Bar behind Burger King. Our boat driver suggested this are and it was tons on fun.

We arrived in Penang and we were there for two days. We had some Chinese street food and indian food in little india. Little india was the coolest spot there. I imagine it is much like india and I would love to go there. However I’m not that crazy about indian food but I guess I just don’t know very much about it. Our hotel there was quite dirty but free breakfast and they had a pool.

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Another 5 hour drive on a super awesome bus we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. It was clean, good A/C, and super comfy seats. It was quite comfortable. Once we arrived we checked in to our hotel quite clean, It had weird plugs though the we had to rig to fit out adaptors and the hot water only lasted about 1 minute. The coolest thing we say in KL was for sure the National Mosque. We even had to put on robes to cover ourselves. Our guide there was so nice and he spoke to us about several very interesting and unexpected aspects of Islam. I wish we would have had more time there. I would have also liked to see the mosque when 15,000 people come to pray on Fridays. We also got to go out on wednesday night, which is apparently ladies night in the whole city, free margaritas for all! It was good fun.

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This afternoon we arrived in Melaka after a two hour bus ride. It is a really neat little place, by far my favorite city in Malaysia that we have visited on this trip. The city occupied at one time or another by the Portuguese, Dutch and British so a lot of history and mixing of cultures. On one single street in the center of town there is a Tao Temple, a Buddhist temple, a Catholic Church, a Hindu temple and a mosque.

We have a free day tomorrow and following that we arrive in Singapore. I defiantly prefer Thailand to Malaysia. It was prettier, the people were friendly and it was dirt cheap. Malaysia is much more expensive. Everything costs the same or more than it does at home. I’m also assuming that Singapore will be the same. Singapore will be the last day of the tour. It has been so great I am so happy with intrepid and I would definitely travel with intrepid again. Our leader, Anik, has been amazing! He is so nice and very helpful. He really does his best to make sure everyone of his travelers get the experience they are looking for from their trip. I think it has also been great that tour is pretty flexible.

My original plan was to go on form Singapore to another intrepid trip Jakarta to Ubud. However I have decided to ditch the trip and go it alone over there for two weeks. Samantha and I booked flights today to go to Lombok and we will travel at our leisure from there to the Gilli Islands and then to Bali. I was not able to switch my tour but and its not that I don’t want to do the tour because like I said I think intrepid has been great but I want to push my limits a bit more and figure things out on my own rather than rely on the tour. I am so excited for it and it weird to be excited about a vacation while your on vacation!

Last Days


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Ember and I have been enjoying our last days on the rock before we head to the mainland for my flight early Friday morning. I’m nervous and excited at the same time. I don’t think there is anything else I can do to prepare for my trip and now I just can’t wait! I’m also hoping that monsoon season over there won’t be too rainy. I’m thinking it will be much like South Florida or Costa Rica in rainy season where there are sporadic heavy downpours but mostly sunny, (accept of course when I have friends from else where visit, then it rains for days). Anyway, only two days until my journey begins and the wait is so short now that it seems long, if that makes any sense.

To Pack or Not to Pack…


OK, I think I have managed to pack everything I need, while still packing light. At least I hope so. I was not able to fit everything into my back pack though. I am bringing an additional smallish duffel bag that I can attach to the bottom of my backpack. Although I did not want to bring an extra bag I just don’t think I can fit it all. The backpack is more of a day pack and with the camera compartment does not fit much. The benefit is that my second bag is practically empty so I can fill it with new goodies along the way.

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I was able to bring the following:
4 pairs of pants/shorts
5 tees/tanks
2 bathing suits
1 sandal
1 sneaker
1 night shirt
7 underwear
2 pairs socks
1 scarf
1 overshirt/light jacket
3 sun dresses
1 belt
1 purse
1 security wallet
Power cords and such
Toiletries
Utility items batteries, water purifier, bug spray, ect.
Camera
iPad
Paperwork

Quite a lot for such a small bag I think!!

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Also my dog Ember (the black one) and my foster dog, Sheila, were a HUGE help in this process, as you can see!!

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So does anyone think I can possibly fit it all in one bag!? To pack or not to pack, that is the question.

A Scouts Honor: Always Be Prepared


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There is a lot of information available out there for travel preparation. With this trip I’ve gone all out with my research. I don’t think I’ve ever been more prepared for a trip before, of course once I get there I’ll find out I’m not prepared at all, ha! But that’s all part of the fun. This was the first time I got vaccinations for a trip. I talked to a lot of people I know that have traveled to Southeast Asia to find out weather or not they got vaccines and weather not they thought it was worth it. Turns out it is about 50/50. After consulting the CDC website I decided I would get the recommended shots. Although I did not get all of them because Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies are more than $600.00 a piece! I did manage to get Typhoid, Meningitis, Hep A and Tetanus for about $200.00 total. Have any of you ever received vaccinations for a trip and did you feel it was worth it?

I also found a ton of country specific information on the Smart Traveler App. It has everything from Embassy locations and local emergency phone numbers to information on crime stats and health advisories. They also have an enrollment program in which you register your trip with the US Embassy of each country you will visit. That way they have all your emergency contact info from family members back home as well as on the road. I’m not sure how effective it is but it certainly feels good to know they know!

There is also a whole host of gear most websites suggest you need for this type of trip. One of the websites I found to be quite informative with their gear reviews was TravelFish. That is where I found this gadget for purifying water, which apparently as a westerner you should never drink over there with out purifying. Supposedly it works amazing. I tested it after receiving it in the mail and it takes exactly 2 minutes to purify. Sounds fast, but feels like an eternity so I guess I’ll find out if it is a pain in the butt once I get there. Anyone out there have experience with one of these?

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I also went ahead and purchased myself a backpack. Obviously an essential item. I was very interested in purchasing a PacSafe bag because of the great security features but I wasn’t happy with any of their camera bags since I will be traveling with my Nikon D5100. I ended up deciding on a LowePro model because it was less expensive (although way less secure) but it has a secret compartment for your camera that is easy to access. Which ultimately was my deciding factor, because what is the point of having the camera if you can’t get it out to take pictures! Does anyone use a bag like this and did you feel it suited your needs?

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On top of that there is a million of other products to bring: deet bug spray, sunscreen, universal plug, clothes line, personal care items, sleep sack, pad locks, cord locks, security wallet, reusable water bottle, poncho, first aide kit and of course toilet paper or wipes of some kind. It’s a lot!! So now my mission is to figure out how to fit all that and clothes into my very strategic packing plan. Which starts now. Help! My goal is to pack as light as possible for two reasons; I will be more mobile and it leaves more room for all the stuff I’m gonna want to buy! So here goes nothin’ I’ll be sure to let you all know how this goes. Accepting advice from any of you seasoned travelers out there!!

Bangkok has her now……


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I guess it was devastatingly pretty photos like this one that first sparked my interest in Thailand a few years back. (Admittedly not my photo but I’m not there yet! There will be originals to come.) How can you not want to experience a view so amazing? After my first trip to Asia, almost 10 years ago now, I was hooked. It was my first trip overseas and I guess I figured go big or go home, lets go to China. Following that I did a couple of stints in Western Europe and in between a few short trips to Costa Rica and the Caribbean.

I’ve been on few different types of trips. When I went to China I went with a company called eftours which is a student travel company that has super cheap prices and is mostly all inclusive. So if you are a student, look it up! Amazing deals. My trip was only $3000.00 including all flights, transport, hotels and meals!!

Then I was off to Europe about a year later. I did a study abroad program with my university, FAU in Florence. It was just amazing. Possibly the time of my life. Had a sweet apartment provided by the school as my home base to travel all around by train on the weekends. So I have to say if you are considering a study abroad, DO IT! I swear you won’t regret it.

These two trips vary greatly structure wise. With EFTours we had a schedule to follow with very little time to explore on your own. Which for how young I was and how foreign China is it was a perfect fit for me. My study abroad and the following months spent wandering Europe by plane and train was pretty much a free for all. We did whatever we felt like, which was well, awesome. I also feel that as a westerner it is much easier to navigate Europe on your own than Asia. So I think that a trip that has elements of both styles will be best for my next trip to Asia. A little wiser and more experienced now I don’t t think I need quite so much structure but still, considering I don’t speak or read the languages over there I will still be in need of some direction.

In my furious online research of traveling to Thailand I came across Intrepid Travel which has a million great trips that I want to take available. I also think that the tour structure will suit me perfectly for a few reasons. It is guided but you can choose to opt out of anything and they take care of all your accommodation and overland travel arrangements and you also have free time available to explore on your own. In addition many of the travelers are solo, so I can go alone and have new friends to make when I get there.

Since I am currently not working, I had been searching for a new job but the task just seemed so daunting considering I don’t know what I want to do. Do I just take any job just to have a job and then just hate it? In my frustration my web surfing wandered to Intrepid Travel website. In one of those hasty travel moments I booked a trip, Bangkok to Bali. My reasoning is since I’m not working I might as well go on a nice big trip and try to figure some things out along the way, right? Sounds like a plan to me, so I will be leaving from Ft Lauderdale airport at 7 AM on August 9th and arrive in Bangkok two days later, (the flights will be long for sure). Hopefully by the time I return I will have some clue of what I should do or most likely I won’t have any more clues but at least I will have been to Thailand.

Who Am I?


I am 28 and trying to figure out what I am going to do with my life. So far I’ve been a wedding planner, a human resources manager, an entrepreneur, an event designer, an intern and a server. Did I love any of these things? No. So what do I want to be when I grow up? I don’t really know yet and that is exactly what I am trying to figure out, and you know what I am sick of? Advice. “You can do anything,” everyone says. Well that narrows it down, thanks a lot for that gem. So what am I passionate about? Traveling is the only thing that ever comes to mind when I ask myself this question. Nothing can compare to the excitement of experiencing exotic flavors, culture shock, meeting new people and getting inspired by foreign architecture and landscapes. So I have decided to take a trip and take a chance that it will help me decide my future and you are welcome to come along for the ride…..

Hello World!


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So here I am 10 days before my journey to Southeast Asia, starting a blog. I am going to share my travels and experiences here with you! I am 28 years old and have no idea what I am doing with my life….so I’ve decided to travel to the other side of the world and see where it takes me.