Guilin and Yangshuo Continued

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Yangshuo

I had a good night sleep.  The roosters certainly made for a solid wake-up call.

We had a good breakfast followed by a Tai Chi class.  This turned out to be pretty relaxing and of course, entertaining.  I am definitely not coordinated, nor am I graceful when it comes to slow and steady body movements.

Following this lovely morning, we went for bamboo boat rides.  These were definitely a tad sketchy and our ‘driver’ wasn’t very graceful himself.  It was pure relaxation with the exception of disgusting water being dropped on us.  We definitely got rafted over to a ‘splash’ zone where photos were taken.  We didn’t realize we were in Disney!  It was pretty funny, except I got soaked; we had to head back to the hotel so I can change my pants.  That wasn’t expected!

We had about a 2 hour drive back towards Guilin.  We stopped at a pearl factory and then lunch.  The afternoon was awesome as we visited the Reed Flute Caves.  These were humid, colorful, mysterious… of course Li told us to use our imagination but insisted on what every natural nook and cranny was known as.

Then off to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong!

Yangshuo

Yangshuo

Reed Flute Cave, GuilinReed Flute Cave, Guilin

Guilin and Yangshuo

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Boat from Guilin to Yangshuo

We arrived late at night.  Our guide, Li is chatty Cathy…

Our hotel was decorated by Liberace.  The breakfast was segregated b/w the white people and the Asian people.  We started our morning with a 4 hour boat cruise.  This was very picturesque.  We had lunch on board and by the time the boat ended, we were more than ready to get off the boat.

We started our walk through the markets before heading off to do our hike.  When we finally got past the markets to where our car was picking us up, we immediately realized our luggage was gone.  Panic much?  Turns out our driver decided to be ‘pro-active’ and drop it off at the hotel; however we were told at all times it is under his watch and we can change into our sneakers and such before our hike.

Well then, plans changed and we headed back to the hotel.  All was fine.  Instead of a hike we ended up on a village walk which was pretty.  It wasn’t the afternoon we expected, but we made the most of it.

We got rid of our asshole guide as she was so in our face.  She kept trying to dictate what we should take pictures of.

Anyhow, we had some afternoon tea.  Got some massages and had an awesome dinner.

A guide can certainly make or break an experience.  Li definitely ruined part of my day.  Did I mention how she tried to sell us tickets for a show.  We never heard anything about the show, nor did we want to go.  She said she made reservations weeks ago and we would be fools if we missed it.  We said no.  She asked six more times throughout the day…

Boat from Guilin to YangshuoYangshuo

YangshuoYangshuo

Panda Panda Panda

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Chengdu Pandas

Feeding the Pandas apples:

Chengdu PandasChengdu Pandas

Chengdu Pandas

Baby Pandas:

Chengdu PandasChengdu Pandas

Me and Oreo:

Chengdu PandasChengdu Pandas

Lazy Pandas:

Chengdu PandasChengdu Pandas

Chengdu Pandas

Red Pandas:

Chengdu PandasChengdu Pandas

Ok, Ok… we were all tired and cranky.  Now that it’s Panda day, we all were alive and ready to rock and roll.  We signed  up to volunteer with the Pandas at one of the largest Panda Sanctuaries in the world.  We immediately put on some booties and walked into a huge kennel for the Panda bears.  Here is where they keep them over night and in the morning make sure they are well fed.  We got to meet 4 panda’s.  The 1st was a friendly boy around 10 years old.  The 2nd we called grandpa as he was 28.  Then there was called ‘naughty boy’ who was only 5 and the last was a 5 year old ‘shy girl’.  As feeding them with a stick with an apple was exercise to them, we were encouraged to bring the stick up and down so they would follow the apple and stand up and down a bit.  This was so cool.  Pandas are massive creatures!  As we volunteered, I also cleaned up some bamboo poo with a smile.

Afterwards, we went to the different areas that house other Pandas.  Babies were just born about 2 months old.  They couldn’t walk or move much yet.  It was incredible.  I was inspired to do another program which I thought entailed feeding a Panda with a bottle.  Oops, I was wrong.  I made a generous donation where I got to meet Oreo, a 17 month old Panda.  He was already 250+ pounds.  I was a bit nervous but got to chill with him.

We then finished walking around this incredible park.  We saw some peacocks and some red pandas  – all in all was amazing!  What a great morning!

We then went to an awful late lunch which was followed by a temple which I wondered off into the gardens.  The leisurely afternoon was nice as we separated and went to Jinli Street.  This was an awesome street with lots of shops and funky food – both tourists and locals everywhere.  It was very relaxing and enjoyable.  Then back to the airport for our flight to Guilin…

Terracotta Warriors

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Terracotta Warriors

We had a ‘free’ morning.  The only thing this means is that we do not have enough activities planned throughout the day of our tour; therefore we start a little later in the morning.  I did sleep until 8am which was a tad lovely.  We got picked up at 11am to make our way to the Terracotta Warriors.

Upon arrival, the area is massive – the mountains, the greenery, it was nice.  Basically there are 3 excavations sites.  After seeing the main one which is ginormous, it was all sort of boring.  The history is assumed, not actually factual (besides what is obvious via artifacts).  The archeologists are confident there are 7,000 different warriors created.  Since they have been at the excavation process since 1974? I am just overwhelmed for the people who continue to find this entire ‘collection’.  It’s like putting the largest puzzle in the world together.  They are also still keeping many pieces underground until they find a solution to keep the colors on the warriors.

After the warriors, we had some lunch and made our way to the airport.  This is the lousy part of tours; Sitting in the airport for over 3 hours for a 1 hour flight.  It is what it is.  I am OK with it – except we didn’t arrive at our Chengdu hotel until after 11pm to find out our pick-up the next morning is 7:30am.  It’s Panda time… so no complaints here!!

One last note – the original farmer who discovered the warriors sits and smokes cigarettes in the museum.  Kinda cool.

Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta WarriorsTerracotta Warriors

Xian

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We arrived late at night from Beijing.  Besides checking into the hotel and heading to sleep, there wasn’t much to explore our 1st night.

Our guide insisted on starting at 9:30am.  This gave us the option to take our time in the morning which was nice.  We started our day at a local artist’s gallery called Tang Dynasty art museum to learn about the history of art and the different dynasties.  I couldn’t reiterate anything I learned unfortunately.  I saw and learned way too much in a short period of time.

We then went to the insides of the city wall.  Very pretty, but overall just a very long walk.  The sun was out which was good as it was not even 40 degrees.  We then went to some fancy hotel for lunch.  We ate homemade noodles which were delicious!  They put a ton of chili sauce which made me sweat a bit (no complaints here)!

We then headed to the Muslim quarters which were awesome!  It was not what I expected.  It was charming and colorful.  The markets themselves were not as overwhelming as they could have been.  As it is low season, everyone wants to negotiate!   We visited the mosque which was absolutely beautiful.  The gardens, the landscaping were all well done.  We also went to an old home in the Muslim quarters which was also rustic and mysterious.  We stopped for a Chinese puppet show.  Did you know the puppets are made of different animal skins?  Gross!  It was short and hilarious.

After a long day, we headed back to the Sofitel (close to our hotel) where we got hour long foot massages and a 30 minute head and neck massage.  We spent $60 each for 90 minutes of services.  Not so bad!!  I miss the days when you can stop at a place on the street for a $9 60 minute massages in South East Asia.  Unfortunately they ask us not to go to those places as there are many happy ending places and we don’t want to get in trouble for going.

Off to see the Terracotta warriors tomorrow!!

Puppet - Made of Donkey SkinXian - City Wall

Xian - MosqueXian - Muslim Quarter


The Wall

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Great Wall

I think about how I may feel when I arrive at a famous landmark.  Even though there were 1,000’s of people at the Taj Mahal when I visited last year, I felt like I was the only person there.  I was in amazement for 3 hours straight.  When I went to Angkor Wat I was impressed, but didn’t feel an emotional connection.  At the Pyramids I felt like a kid in a candy store!  When I went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, I thought why would I cry?  I couldn’t stop… the tears started and wouldn’t stop for an hour or two.  Victoria Falls in Zambia made me laugh hysterically as I was drenched in 10 seconds flat!

Upon arriving at the Wall, I was all smiles.  I was there with close friends and immediately did nothing but feel like I went back in history.  I couldn’t even grasp the idea of how large this thing was, how many people died putting it together and how many millions of people come to see this wall annually.  It was a wonderful experience and I am certainly glad we made the trip!

It was a tad chilly and with the strong wind gusts, I managed to get quite the wind burn.  One of my friends freaked out as she was scared of heights.  It was upsetting for her, but she did get to see some of the wall.  The rest of us walked as much as we could as some parts are steep and the stairs are in pieces.  All in all, it was incredible!

Post wall, we went to lunch in what seemed like the Amazon (indoor forest).  I love Chinese food, but am certainly getting a tad nauseous from it all…  We stopped at a Cloisonne factory.  Of course we fell in love with the pieces.  I walked out of there with a few special pieces.  Oops, now my luggage is overstuffed.

We learned a lot in Beijing from our amazing guide, Bruce.  Bruce is his American name, but his real name was a bit too long and complicated to remember.

1) There is a lottery to own a car.  Not all folks in Beijing can legally own cars unless their name is chosen.

2) There is a caste system.  If you are in a 2 star family, you can’t marry into a 4 star family.

3) There is a 1 baby limit by family.  This law is changing soon which seems to be good news.  In old times, all families wanted boys as they were more likely to take care of their families.  Now, most Chinese families prefer girls as they are less expensive.  Boy’s family has to pay for wedding, has to pay for apt, etc…

Off to Xian…

Great WallGreat Wall

Great Wall


Day 1 in Beijing

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Forbidden City

I heard so many mixed things about Beijing before arriving.  I am almost glad they were mixed as I had zero expectations on what to expect.

We arrived at our hotel – it was a local guest house feel.  There was a courtyard in the middle of the hotel.  It was to show us how the locals live in Beijing.  My bed was up on a platform, similar how the emperor’s bed was laid out.  I didn’t exactly feel like an empress, but it was fun and silly to think about.

We started at Tiananmen Square.  This is nothing to write home about – besides the history surrounding the square.  We spent all of 20 minutes before crossing the road to get to the Forbidden City.  This was absolutely amazing.  With over 9,000 rooms, we were able to see about 1/3 of the entire City.  This was most of the morning.

Following the Forbidden City, we took a tour of Hatong via rickshaws.  This little town was beautiful.  It was colorful, on a lake, surrounded by a ton of bars and restaurants.  I almost wished we stayed close to this little town!  We got a tour of one woman’s home which she shares with 7 others and 2 cats and a dog.  Her husband was an artist so we of course spent the time staring at his beautiful pieces.  Of course we all ended up buying something.  Following the 1st home visit, we then headed to another woman’s home for a home cooked lunch.  It was by far one of the best meals we have had to date!  She was adorable!

We stopped at a silk factory.  I bought way too much stuff for my new apartment which does not fit in my suitcase.  I negotiated like an animal, but I believe their prices are absolutely ridiculous.  They claim a 20 year warranty as they will replace any pieces that get destroyed.  Oye.

Following this, we headed to the Summer Palace which was the most inspirational part of the day.  The sunset, the water, the landscaping, the old buildings, etc… were breathtaking.  Even though the temperature dropped to around 30 degrees, we were all in heaven!

We got dropped back off at our hotel after 7pm.  We decided to stay in as we were all extremely jetlagged.  We headed to the bar where we met the band – Club 8.  My o my – I spent some time speaking to the bassist – he was gorgeous!!  They were on tour with some US band from Brooklyn – he sung me 1 of the songs which I knew, but for the life of me can’t remember the name of the actual band.

Tiananmen SquareForbidden City

HutongHutong

Summer PalaceSummer Palace

Summer Palace

Next Adventure – CHINA!

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It’s only 6am!  I woke up in a guest house in Beijing this morning around 4am.  As I fought to stay awake last night after the 13 hour flight, I was toast by 7:30pm.

This trip is different than any other I have taken in the past.  It was the 1st time I planned an entire trip with the help of a local guide…. for me and 3 of my friends.

Rewind 8 months, I was with 4 of my friends in the Cayman Islands.  While we were there, my friend discovered she was being relocated to Hong Kong.   We made a pact right then and there to come visit her.  Being who I am, I can’t just make a trip to one city… so I arranged an 8 day power tour through different parts of China.

This past year was a challenging one.  I am still at the job I feel in love with.  A few months back we had some new management changes.  I am still getting adjusted and it really hasn’t been the same.  As I have made such a difference in the division I started, I want to see it through to become the power business I envisioned when I first started.  I fortunately and unfortunately have dedicated way too much time and effort into this position.  It has become a love / hate relationship.  As we have expanded, I hope to take some time back for myself.

On a personal front, not much has changed since my time in India.  I almost forgot what I shared and didn’t share in my blog last year.  I fell madly in love with a man who asked me to marry him.  It was the 1st time in years that I felt that I could spend the rest of my life with this person.  To say the least, the proposal wasn’t real.  It was a spontaneous outburst.  Silly me.  Silly me.  He turned out to be another commitment phobe and unfortunately, my friends doubted his overall life sincerity.  We all started looking deeper into his stories and doubted everything he ever told me about himself.  I thought CIA or FBI the way he spoke about / or should I say didn’t speak about his role.  Who talks about marriage anyway to get level 1 clearance?

Moving on, I of course heard from my Mr. Big.  He asked me to see him in April.  He said he was ready this time and he would make it up to me (as for years he was full of absolute Bullshit!).  I have known Mr. Big for 6 years.  He has broken my heart so many times it became a joke.   Anyhow, he didn’t follow through – no surprise following our 1st meet and greet in almost a year.  But around my birthday he did start making more of an effort.  Within a few months, the chemistry had never been so magical.  I met some of his friends and we even spoke about having babies together.  It all came from his mouth – whether I would want children with him.  He asked if we can have twins as they run in his family.  OK, OK… I actually started opening up to these ideas and found myself happy thinking about it.  To say the least it was a blast… our 6 month expiration expired and he freaked out, yelled at me and told me via text he can’t do it.  He apologized 17 times as he felt terrible.  I decided to block him… permanently.  Enough is enough.  As a hopeless romantic, I have to throw in the towel.  There comes a time (which should have been over 3 years ago), that you have to let people go that will do nothing but continue to hurt you because you let them.

The biggest relationship of this year was with food.  Between working 10-14 hour days, not making ‘me’ time and wasting another 6 months on a total tool (who by the way convinced me he loved my new body and not to change a thing), I gained 25 pounds.  It is absolutely gross.

The good stuff… my dog, Harvey is still the love of my life.  He is one of the best and sweetest creatures I have ever come across in my entire life.  I sold my apartment!  After 8 years, it was time for change and for me to get out of my 500 square foot studio.  I bought a new apartment not too far away.  It is under complete renovation.  I hired a contractor who probably wants to kill me by now – he is a friend from college.  I hope to move into my new home by mid-January.  My new place is in a pre-war building, has a window in the kitchen and the bathroom.  Also, I have a fireplace!!  I am so excited to start this new chapter.

We are starting our China tour in 2 hours.  I am hoping this adventure re-energizes me as my passion for anything but work needs to change gears.  I am lucky to be surrounded by warm and wonderful souls this week!  Let’s hope we don’t kill each other and enjoy each day.

Harvey Keitel

Wrap Up of India in Time for New Year’s Resolutions…

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I saw my future… it was approximately 10 or 20 years from now.  From the surface I liked what I saw.  After to getting to know the 40 or 50 something year old me, I realized I wasn’t as happy as I could be.

I learned I need to listen more and ask questions. Read the rest of this entry »

Pushkar

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Heading to the holiest city in Rajasthan, I tend to wonder exactly what I am in for… Read the rest of this entry »

Octopussy in Udaipur

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One word.  Octopussy.  This is where the movie with Roger Moore was filmed.  It is a beautiful India town with the 2nd largest palace in all of India. Read the rest of this entry »

Almost Perfect R&R

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After leaving the campsite, we headed to the village of Bijaipur.  The first thing, were the kids once again screaming in excitement – just one, just one.  They wanted to see a picture Read the rest of this entry »

Lakeside Beauty

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We woke up at 5:30am for 6am breakfast to catch jeeps to get us to the local train which was scheduled to arrive at 7am.  It was freezing!  By 8am, we still haven’t Read the rest of this entry »

Bundi!

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Today was one of those memorable days.  My roommate nearly had a breakdown last night.  She was debating rearranging the next few days of the trip so she can attempt to see Read the rest of this entry »

India Thus Far

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There are many things that become the norm while in India.  Cows in the middle of the road, stray dogs everywhere, random monkeys, and zero traffic lights except for a select few in Read the rest of this entry »

Bollywood and Monkey Urine

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Our 1st stop on our free day was the mall.  Yes, we found tickets for the premiere of DaBangg 2.  It was opening day!  Some of the fancy theatres have been sold out Read the rest of this entry »

Pink Hustle

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I woke up at the fort after a night of laughing when I presumed it was haunted.  Our door wasn’t closed and the wrought iron bolt was shaking.  There was a photo of a man staring Read the rest of this entry »

Princess Me

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We left Agra bright and early to make our way to Jaipur.  Before hitting up Jaipur, we got off our bus in Bassi to be transferred by Jeep to the village of Madhogarh.

The jeep ride was a trip as there were no doors Read the rest of this entry »

Taj Mac Great

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I have tasted all sorts of Indian food.  I love when I ask a waiter what isn’t spicy.  I get 2-3 choices.  Then I end up sharing food with my roommate and she usually orders something without asking Read the rest of this entry »

Sensory Overload

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Upon waking up at 3am… seriously jetlag!?  I starred at the ceiling for a few hours until I got in the shower to get ready for the start of a long day.

We began by taking the metro.  The most interesting Read the rest of this entry »

Arrival in Delhi

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A 14 hour flight, a spill of cold water on my lap and my arrival in Delhi is here!!

Wow, 10.5 hours ahead.  I didn’t know if I should nap or force myself to stay awake.  The flight was an easy one.  I had a 21 year old college girl whose dad was relocated to Delhi for business Read the rest of this entry »

Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico

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I sometimes forget how people come into our lives.  I was sitting around the dinner table on Thanksgiving with complete strangers in a town I have never been in before.  The only person I knew I had spent all of 4 days with in my entire life.  Three of those days were spent in Barcelona, Spain.  The other day was spent in my home in New York City.   Read the rest of this entry »

My Day with Rose in Monteverde

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The entire evening was windy, rainy and freezing!  I debated staying in bed vs. going for our morning walk into the Cloud Forest.  Then I thought I don’t want to miss the opportunity to see something new and amazing.  Our pickup was at 7:30am.  As it was rainy and absolutely freezing, I layered every article of clothing I had on my body. Read the rest of this entry »

Monteverde

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We left La Fortuna around 8:30am.  We drove to Lake Arenal where we got on a boat.  About 45 minutes later we packed onto 2 vans (as there are 17 of us including our guide).  The roads to Monteverde are more like dirt roads, so to say the least… Read the rest of this entry »

La Fortuna

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I found out I am traveling with a professional traveler, a geneticist, an accountant, a biologist, an army doctor, and generally speaking – amazing and interesting people. Read the rest of this entry »

JFK to SJO

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And we are off…  I have tears in my eyes saying goodbye to Harvey Keitel.  Yes.  He is a dog, but as I previously mentioned, the love of my life.

As soon as I get in the NYC taxi, I get asked if I could pay cash.  OYE.  I took out cash for my time in Costa Rica so I tell the driver that I will pay with a credit card.  He gives me the evil eye. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good, The Bad and The Recently Very Ugly

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It has been a year since my last international trip.  It’s about time I go somewhere!

A lot has happened over the past year, the good, the bad and recently, the very ugly. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Things About Southern Africa

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  1. LivingstoneLion Encounter Walk in Livingstone, Zambia
  2. ChobeRiver Cruise through Chobe National Park, Botswana Read the rest of this entry »

Back to South Africa

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I left Zambia in the morning and headed to Johannesburg.  I headed to this huge B&B about 15 minutes from the airport.  Turns out I am the only guest.  My host for the night was Read the rest of this entry »

The Big Five in Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa

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I am one lucky girl!  During my last game drive, I finally saw leopard!  I wasn’t sure it was going to happen, but it did.  Here are my favorite photos of The Big Five.  Enjoy!

Kruger National Park

Kruger National ParkKruger National Park

Kruger National ParkKruger National Park

Kruger National ParkKruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Last Day in Zambia

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Before Locke left, he introduced me to Eric.  Eric is a local taxi driver who claims to have been a tour guide in his past career.  Anyhow, as many of the activities I wanted to do weren’t available due to the minimum # of people required – I hired Eric to take me around. Read the rest of this entry »

Brave Day

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Wake up is at 6am for a 6:30am pickup.  The tour is over but I still have another week ahead of me of selfish time.  I decided to do a Lion Walk Encounter.  Walking with the lions?  Really – hell’s yah!

Besides myself, there was a couple from Australia and a bloke from Read the rest of this entry »

Natural Wonder of the World

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Well, we crossed the border via foot (ferry) into Zambia from Botswana.  It turns out there are trucks waiting up to 5 days to cross the border via ferry.  If we kept our vehicle, we may have come across some problems, so we had a van waiting Read the rest of this entry »

Chobe

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We arrived in Kasane.  Locke and I took a drive into town where I was able to pick up some more bug spray.  Until this point, I am l am happy to report I only have 1 mosquito bite.  I am starting to get itchy even though I shower most days.  Between sporadic cold showers and Read the rest of this entry »

More Botswana – People of Gweta and Elephants :)

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My new buddy from the lodge in Gweta invited me back to the school in the morning.  I was excited by the invite so of course I took him up on it.  We visited the headmaster to get permission for me to greet the children and ask them some questions.  The difference from the day prior is that school was in session and all the kids were in their uniforms.  I visited some 5 year Read the rest of this entry »

Botswana

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The last 2 days have been amazing!  I woke up to find the open safari vehicle was waiting to take Locke and me to the Okavango Delta.  He headed over some dirt roads until we got to our mokora boats.  For the 2 of us, there were a total of Read the rest of this entry »

Hut, Stars and Bugs Galore

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I spent the last 2 hours sitting around a fire starring at 1,000’s of stars.  I have never in my entire life seen so many stars.  It was dark outside and the sky twinkled.  It was a nice night.  Getting here is another story.

We left Windhoek, Namibia Read the rest of this entry »

Goodbye Crazy Lady

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We left Etosha.  I was sad to leave the beautiful watering hole where I found nothing but peace and quiet.  I didn’t get to see my rhinos yet, but I hear I will have plenty of opportunities the 2nd ½ of my trip.

We arrived in Windhoek to find Read the rest of this entry »

Etosha National Park

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After driving a few hours, we arrived at Otjiwarongo.  We headed to the one attraction in town – a crocodile farm.  As we all know, I heart all lizards so this was awesome!  They had areas for the adult crocs, the juniors and the babies. Read the rest of this entry »

Swakopmund

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We arrived in the early afternoon.  I have an entire day and ½ free to do whatever I want in this ‘Nazi’ town.  The entire town has German influence.  I have never been to Germany, but apparently it has a strong resemblance with German restaurants, street names, etc…  It even has shops with Read the rest of this entry »

Dunes!

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Today was an awesome day!  After one of the best home cooked meals of all time last night, we slept with no AC and survived as it was nice and cool out due to some rain.

Wake up was at 5:30am Read the rest of this entry »

Flooding in Namibia?

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Apparently, this is supposedly a very dry and rigid area of the world.  I come and there is flooding for the first time in… according to Locke – the first time he has seen it.  He is in his 40’s.

One thing that I never experienced before in my life is Read the rest of this entry »

Fish River Canyon

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Around 4:30am my battery died in my phone which acts as my alarm clock.  Oops.  I ended up stretching on the river front around 6am.  Breakfast was at 7am.  Linda showed up very late Read the rest of this entry »

Namibia!

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We started our drive from Lambert’s Bay, South Africa around 9am.  We stopped for lunch at 1pm.  We finally got to the border crossing around 3pm.  It was pretty smooth considering John Read the rest of this entry »

John Locke is My Leader

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So I rode shotgun during our 5 hour drive from Cape Town to Lambert’s Bay which is north up the coast.  Our meeting time was supposed to be 8:30am.  Lifeless Linda who was too good to stay at the lodge (I ended up with her single room for the night thanks to my brilliant tour manager Read the rest of this entry »

Robben Island, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cheetahs, Wine, and an Ol’ Biatch

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A lot has happened over the past 2 days.  I started my day yesterday wondering if I should go to Robben Island.  After reading about it, I realized I should probably check it out; however I really wanted to go to the botanical gardens as I LOVE gardens!  So my host convinced me as it was a beautiful day Read the rest of this entry »

Camps Bay

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After another long night of sleep, my host asked when I wanted to get moving.  I asked for 30 minutes as I was completely off center.  I threw my bathing suit on and 50 SPF.  We headed to Camps Bay.  My host dropped me off a little before noon.  He said he would pick me up at Read the rest of this entry »

Beautiful Town

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After my amazing dinner, I headed to sleep.  After some weird dreams, I woke up around 3am.  Startled I stayed awake for another 2 hours before falling back to sleep.  I haven’t even started taking my Read the rest of this entry »

Cape Town Baby

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Its day 1.5 or what seems like day 4.  I left my apartment in New York City on Thursday morning at 6:45am.  South African airways suggest you arrive 3 hours early no matter what!  OK then… Read the rest of this entry »

Packing Do’s and Don’ts

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Now that this journey has ended, I can officially say, I am an expert on packing.  If I decide to do something like this ever again, I know exactly Read the rest of this entry »

Hong Kong and a Bug

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After leaving Siem Reap, I flew to Bangkok for one last night before my flight to Hong Kong.  I simply relaxed by the pool and slept a lot while I was in Bangkok.  The last tour wiped me out! Read the rest of this entry »

Angkor Wat and a Side of Foot Fungus

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We arrived at 5:30am.  There were hundreds of people standing around and waiting; waiting for the sun to rise over these mysterious temples.  It happened slowly Read the rest of this entry »

Turkey…not so much

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It was one of the girl’s birthdays on the tour. About 9 of us went out for dinner to a ‘Westernized’ restaurant. It was Read the rest of this entry »

Hard to Handle Part 2

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After leaving Phnom Penh, we arrived in Siem Reap.  The first stop was the floating villages.  This is a huge and undesirable wake up call.   The people who live in these villages simply bathe, swim, crap, wash plates, etc. in the same Read the rest of this entry »

Hard to Handle

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We arrived in Phnom Penh.  Just yesterday the news broke how over 300 people died in Phnom Penh at the end of a celebration that turned into a stampede.  Today, the death toll was closer to Read the rest of this entry »

Cluster Bomb

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It was a moving and informative day.  We arrived in Vientiane which is the capital of Laos.  Our first stop was COPE which stands for Cooperative Orthotic Read the rest of this entry »

Vang Vieng

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The drive from Luang Prabang was pretty rough as we were warned.  On the way there, we stopped for some lunch overlooking some of the most beautiful views.  I was green at this point Read the rest of this entry »

Feeding Monks!

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Luang Prabang is an interesting place.  Some love it here; while others may find it a bit boring.  I think it’s a beautiful place with many nooks and Read the rest of this entry »

Boat, Bus, Tuktuk, Elephants… Simple modes of transport in Laos

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The day was overcast and chilly on the boat along the Mekong River.  I utilized 2 blankets and snuggled up in a ball and pretty much napped the morning away.  We stopped at a cave temple (Pak Ou Caves).  Honestly, this was super Read the rest of this entry »

Border Crossing!

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It was an early start as we were heading to cross the Thai/Laos border by boat.  As some of our group was hung over and Dean has started to get lazy and doesn’t want to become the bad guy, I definitely started Read the rest of this entry »

Chiang Rai

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We drove from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. We checked into our hotel before heading to unique hill tribe villages. These were fascinating as I had never seen anything like it my Read the rest of this entry »

Chiang Mai – LadyBoys and Monks

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After a lovely sleep on the overnight train, we arrived in Chiang Mai. The good news is that we actually arrived on time! I guess this is the same story in all 3rd world Read the rest of this entry »

Sleeping with the Cockies

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I am on my overnight train heading up North to Chiang Mai.  The day was spent in ‘touristville’ in Bangkok.  This included the Royal Palace and boat rides along the canal.  It was hot Read the rest of this entry »

Bangkok

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Ahhhh, sidewalks and streetlights finally!  What a relief from Vietnam.  The last few days flew by.  As I was fighting getting sick, I took it easy for the most part.  I enjoyed my beautiful Read the rest of this entry »

Vietnam…

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Vietnam is a phenomenal country.  The landscapes and cities vary drastically.  Starting in Ho Chi Minh City was a good look at an overcrowded city that was a bit Read the rest of this entry »

Vietnam… the Depressed, the Beauty and the Hangover

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My last day in Hue was wet and rainy.  I slept straight through the morning activities which including a cyclo ride (where you get pushed by a bicycle in a little cart – like a stroller).  Marley came back with a soaked Read the rest of this entry »

Rain and a Mute with a Neat Trick

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Its official, my sneakers are so soaked they haven’t dried in almost 2 days.  My feet have turned to prunes and I Read the rest of this entry »

Rained OUT

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November is supposedly the end of rainy season; however some call it the wet season.  I am confused.  Supposedly it is supposed to rain for an hour or two in the afternoon and that’s it Read the rest of this entry »

Hate of the Mosquito and War

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Even though I slept under a mosquito net and wore 100% DEET, I managed to get bit a bit too many times.  Within 48 hours, I have discovered 8 bites in total.  There is a girl on my trip from Colorado.  She simply said, gee, I hope you don’t get malaria.  If she wasn’t so Read the rest of this entry »

Sin Chao

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I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon.  I hop into a cab only to have a driver who thinks he can rip me off.  I ask the airport security if the driver knows where Read the rest of this entry »

Leaving Paradise…for the Next Big Adventure

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I am sitting on the largest bed in the entire universe right now.  This would comfortably sleep 4 adults.  I have never seen a bed so large.  It reminds me of Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 7 in Paradise

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I arrive at my hotel in Koh Samui.  There are many hotels on this island.  With the help of a friend (thanks RKY), I narrowed down staying in Chaweng Beach Read the rest of this entry »

Hello Jordan. Goodbye Jordan.

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Reality bites.  I realize my last friend visiting me from home just left.  I almost started to cry as she got into Read the rest of this entry »

The End to Chapter 6

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One word: HOT. It was freakin super hot in Egypt. I know you aren’t supposed to sweat so much in dry heat… but I schvitzed Read the rest of this entry »

Tombs, Pharaohs and the Nile

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I had some free time in the morning.  I joined Jane and Andy, a lovely couple from the UK to see the Aswan Dam and Philae Temples/Island (can only get there by boat).  The rest of the group woke up at 3am Read the rest of this entry »

Back to the Heat in Chapter 6

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I stopped counting after 39.  It was time I gave up on trying to count how many times my taxi driver from the airport was going to honk Read the rest of this entry »

The Ending of Chapter 5

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I arrive at my B&B in Istanbul.  I get a room on the ground floor.  As a New Yorker, I don’t enjoy the ground floor Read the rest of this entry »

Last 2 Days before the Exploration of the Big City

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The main reason people come to Selcuk is to see Ephesus.   Ephesus is known to be the commercial, the religious and the social center of antiquity.  Well, the only thing that made this trip interesting Read the rest of this entry »

Cotton Castle

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Ahhhh…I had a lovely day of serenity.  I was with a group of about 12 people from all over.  This was one of the 1st days where there was no one Read the rest of this entry »

Get me to Chicken quick!

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Would you be surprised to know I sat patiently by the side of the road?  My bus driver doesn’t speak English or doesn’t speak in general, so therefore I have no idea what the problem Read the rest of this entry »

DUR (Stop in Turkey)

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So after a nice ending to Kas, I make my way to Fethiye.  The public bus system is interesting in Turkey.  The buses are like shuttle buses (not coach/not minivan).  Even though they have destinations Read the rest of this entry »

Girly Day

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So last night was unfortunate.  My stomach slapped me for some reason or another.  I drank a couple of liters of water…  I decided to stay close to the hotel in the morning so I literally drank some Read the rest of this entry »

Tired

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Getting sick when you are traveling is a terrible feeling, especially when you are alone.  I started with a cold and fought the shit out of it.  It caught up with me and I got worse Read the rest of this entry »

Surrounded by real backpackers and some not so real travelers

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I arrived in Olympus after a very long overnight bus and a 2 hour transfer on a smaller local bus…  I was staying at a bungalow/tree house place.  I got a bungalow which is a small wood Read the rest of this entry »

Future?

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Ok, so I have to tell everyone about my new friend – we’ll call him C.   C is 32 years old.  He has been working since college.  He took ‘leave’ from his job at Read the rest of this entry »

Smurf Land

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I am starting to feel like Smurfette. Day 2 in land formation whacky land, we started our day with a panoramic view of more weird rocks. I got the sensation of the grand canyon… kinda cool, but could have Read the rest of this entry »

Whackadoo Village

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I started to name my pet flies in my room.  Even though the temperature drops to about 40 degrees at night, my room is a little oven.  It is an oven with a bed Read the rest of this entry »

Long Day to smell some Cocoa?

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Wake up at 5:45am.  Shower, finish packing and grab some grub before my 6:50am pickup.  Arrive at airport at 8am.  Check in Malev Hungarian flight from Rome to Budapest.  Flight leaves 30 minutes Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 4 – Over and Out.

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2 weeks in Italy was not enough time.  I will have to make my way back to this lovely country one day and spend quality Read the rest of this entry »

Back to Rome

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The drive from Venice to Rome wasn’t as bad as I initially thought.  We arrived early afternoon and immediately started a walking tour of Read the rest of this entry »

Venice Flood

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Ahhhh… Venice.  When I thought about Venice I have always thought romance!  All I have to say after Read the rest of this entry »

My New Home

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We arrived at Lake Garda in the morning.  We hopped on a boat that took us around for about an hour.  It was Read the rest of this entry »

No Crimes Committed… then off to Milan

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So it turns out there were no video cameras in our hotel in Florence.  Turns out the guy who had his laptop stolen assumed it was our group as we were on the younger side.  Read the rest of this entry »

Florence

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One of the big driving days was upon us.  We woke up bright and early to leave Sorrento to get to Florence.  Besides the 7+ hours of driving, we made a lovely pit stop in the Chianti Region. Read the rest of this entry »

Heaven in a Cave

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Turns out there are 50 people on my Contiki trip.  Sounds overwhelming, but it isn’t at all!  Read the rest of this entry »

Arriving in Rome

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Jugslie left for NY around 1pm.  My flight wasn’t until 4pm, but I headed to the airport Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 3 is Wrapping Up

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Sleeping on a ranch in the middle of nowhere was one of my favorite experiences.  I absolutely heart nature Read the rest of this entry »

Sleeping With the Bulls

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Our last morning in Granada was spent with a luxurious breakfast.  Yes, a luxurious breakfast for the taste buds.  We splurged Read the rest of this entry »

Sun, History and Some Suckling Pig

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Our 2nd day in Marbella was lovely.  We went to the beach in the morning, got some sun Read the rest of this entry »

On the Road with Jugslie in Spain…

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We picked up our automatic diesel Mercedes at Hertz 1st thing in the morning.  We are super lucky Read the rest of this entry »