I am not usually a worrier. I have pretty easily adopted an “anything can happen anywhere” attitude while we have been on the road. But I have to admit that these past couple of weeks, I have been worrying. We … Continue reading
Category Archives: Wednesday Write-Up
Wednesday Write-Up: Waging War on Giving Up
There are many things that I have gladly given up at one time or another while traveling. For example, freshly dried clothing-like in a dryer (isn’t sun-dried so much better anyway, well except for towels I think), or all-natural Tom’s toothpaste, or makeup that matches my skin tone, or even being able to bake (no ovens in Asia for the most part). There is only one thing that I truly (truly truly truly…) miss.
My fun hair color and style.
Yep, I know it is completely vain, and that I am on the trip of a lifetime, and I am safe and healthy, and living in Thailand. I am so thankful for all these things and more. But I miss my well-coiffed, straightened, platinum blonde (plus what ever other crazy color I felt like) hair.
For the back story, you can read my original post, Breaking Up is Hard To Do about what I had planned to make traveling easier. In short, I was going to dye my shoulder length hair a normal color and then let it grow out naturally as we traveled. I did not think that I would be able to find hair stylists that could bleach my hair correctly (I turned out to be right about that actually).
We left in April of 2013 and I had shoulder length red hair, I continued with that until we had been in Portugal for a month or so. My hair started looking more and more like a mullet. It would not grow longer in the front and the back kept getting longer. I had done too much damage throughout the years bleaching it and it was telling me it was time to start over. So I chopped it off, well, a rad hairstylist we met in Lisbon, cut it off. I left her house with a pixie cut. I had never had that short of hair before and I loved it! It was easy, my curls were almost non-existent because it was so short, and I found out that my ears were not as big as I had thought!
Then I got bored with the red hair and decided to dye it black in Budapest. Bad idea! Black is impossible to get rid of and very hard to grow out.
I kept getting my hair trimmed along our travels, never really running into any problems. Until Thailand. I decided to get rid of the two-tone hair that I had at the time (black and my natural roots) and cave and bleach my hair and get it cut. I needed something more trendy. More me.
I came out of the mall hair place (yes, I went to the mall and stupidly thought that the hair place there would be good) with three tones of hair and a pretty bad haircut. That is when I decided that I was going to grow it out. For reals this time. I haven’t touched my hair since.
And now I am getting to that point, that point that everyone goes through when they are growing out their hair. It’s the dreaded “in-between stage”! I am doing my best to get through it, but now that we are heading home to visit next month I am feeling more and more that my “travel hair-style” is not working for me anymore. I am going to try to power through, but you may start seeing the pictures of me in this blog sporting pink or blue hair or something. I am going to try to win this war, even with every morning trying to do something with my hair is another battle.
Wow, who knew I could write so much about my hair. Leave a comment and tell me what have you done to make it through the “in-between stage” with your hair? Or better yet, tell me a time when you got a really bad cut or color to make me realize my hair isn’t that bad.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to follow the blog, follow me on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
Wednesday Write-Up: Pondering the Present
Thailand is full of surprises as I mentioned in my last post. But most often they are good surprises.
Our lovely landlords here in Phuket live two doors down from us and are the sweetest, most helpful people. For example, today they had a third air conditioner installed in our house. We now have a whopping three a/c’s in our house. I can now officially keep meat frozen in almost any room of our house. My dreams of a being a butcher are close at hand! Ok, not really, but now there is at least the possibility. I am so thankful that we have such conscientious people renting us their house. It’s a welcome surprise after our previous landlord in Hua Hin, who was much less than helpful. I doubt that we would be without running water for 12 days in this house without some sort of help from our new landlords.
One of the things I have read on the internet about the people of Thailand is that they often are late, just that culturally it is not as important to be promptly on time for anything despite its importance. This is another area that I have been surprised by. We have taken the “Thai time” into account twice now and have actually had the people show up early! I am sure people are often late (as they are anywhere) but so far I have yet to experience it. I guess one shouldn’t assume about a whole culture just by reading some blogs posts or forum discussions…. Who would have guessed?! True experience is the only way to really know what a place and it’s people are really like. (I already knew this but sometimes I need reminding.)
Right now I am writing this post while laying on Nai Harn beach. And it is a beautiful sunny day with a timely breeze. I am again surprised that this is our home for now. I am just incredibly thankful for our trip so far and that we have been so blessed to be able to fully immerse ourselves in so many different cultures along the way.
I am continually surprised that this is my life. It’s a dream life. I am thankful.
What were some of the surprises that you experienced when you settled into the place that you live?
Wednesday Write-Up: Making My Home
This past week we have been settling into our new place here in Phuket. I have actually had to clean my own house since we have moved in. I know it sounds like I truly have been spoiled to the point of rottenness, but I am telling you it is so cheap to have a housekeeper here that the attitude of most expats is a resounding “why not?”. In fact we had one that came weekly while we lived in Hua Hin, she was included in the rent. To be honest this is the first time I have had to really do any true housekeeping since we had an apartment in Lisbon, Portugal at the beginning of our trip. It has been months. Believe me, I am certainly not complaining about the luxury of having someone clean my house for me, but I am enjoying taking care of my own home again.I thrive on feeling the accomplishment of a glistening floor, or freshly laundered clothing on the line drying. I know some of you are silently hating me or wondering when I hit my head that made me crazily want to clean my own house when I really don’t have to, but I guess it makes me feel more like this is “MY” home. I feel so blessed and thankful to have the choice. Living in Thailand is better than I ever expected. (So come visit already!)
What do you do to make your house feel like your home when you first move in? Leave a comment and tell me! Thanks again for reading, following, and sharing!
Wednesday Write-Up: Singapore Part 4
Our fourth day in Singapore landed on a Monday. We had been running around and seeing the sights in Singapore and now it was a day to do some not-so-fun things. Well, only one not-so-fun thing really…It was our only day to find the Thai embassy and apply for our visitors visas.
For those of you that have never had to do visa runs, each country has an allotted amount of time a tourist is allowed to stay. In Thailand the time for a landing visa (for Americans) is 30 days, but for a small fee and the time of filling out a few papers, one can get a visitors visa that is 60 days and can be extended without having to leave the country. We had to find our way to the Thai Embassy in Singapore and drop off our forms and payment and pick up our
hopefully approved visas the next day. In Singapore you have to drop off your paperwork between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 am and then have to pick it up the next day between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm. It was a short window of time and we COULD NOT mess up.
We decided to take a taxi to the embassy. As we waited and tried to flag a taxi down we realized that they would only pick up on our street at a taxi stand near the SMRT station. So we went and waited in a line for a taxi. It was finally our turn and a taxi came up with “On Call” on its little sign on the top, the guy behind us cut in front of us and said, “Sorry i called it”. Hrmph, we were a little bummed, but soon after we got a taxi that drove us to the closest taxi stand near the embassy. What we realized later is that the train station would have been just as close as the taxi stand that we were dropped off at. Oh well, it was a learning experience that it is always better to take the train in Singapore.
Our time in the Thai embassy went quickly and even though Chad had to run and make copies of our flight in to Thailand (they only say the flight out of Thailand on the website) it went fairly smooth.
We were STARVING and so we decided to eat breakfast at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf across the street. Then we walked around the mall/shopping center that the CBTL was in. We were so very excited and happy to find organic and all-natural stores (2 of them!!!) that carried all-natural non-aluminum deodorant! It was the first time we had found it since we left the States! And we only had to pay S$12 for each ($9-10 USD). And now you all know how important all natural deodorant is to me, and I feel slightly awkward. But it was probably the highlight of the day for me!
We headed back to our house and gave Z her first proper nap since being in Singapore. We all needed an off day I think. We let ourselves rest for about an hour and then were up and ready to get going.
We made our way to Little India, which is another easy ride on the SMRT away. We love Indian food and our main reason for going was to find a place to eat dinner. We walked around for a bit, past the gold shops, mini-markets, fruit and veggie stands. Some of the buildings were beautifully painted and decorated, some looked pretty run down. Overall though the area almost seemed to be a step back in time, there were no skyscrapers, in fact most of the buildings looked to be 4 floors or less and the buildings seemed old and worn.
We chose a vegetarian restaurant called Komala Vilas Restaurant which smelled divine. We were shown to a table on the second floor and given menus. there was not that much to choose from (I didn’t see the HUGE menu on the wall to the left of me that offered all the popular Indian favorites such as masala and paneer, oops) and none of it was anything I had ever tried. I ended up ordering the vegetable briyani plate and chad ordered the rice plate. We ordered Z a cheese dosai. Our food arrived and we dug in. It was probably the best indian food I have ever had. Z’s dosai was served to her like a teepee and she ate almost the whole thing. Not only was it wonderfully delicious, but every time we finished one of the vegetable dishes, they would come by and give us another spoonful. I do not even want to thing about how much I actually ate. It was worth it though.
We decided a walk was in order after eating so much. We took the SMRT to the Singapore Botanic Gardens (which was nicely situated two stops from our house). It was nearly dark when we arrived, so we walked in the cooler temperatures of the evening. I was impressed with layout and upkeep of the park. The grounds were immaculate and we were able to walk safely as it was well-lit. We decided that we would need to come to the gardens again, as there was a children’s area that was already closed when we arrived there. So more on the Botanic Gardens in my next post.
We had been running through Singapore, packing in so much everyday. This was a great day to just take it easy and set a slower pace. Or at least we thought we had, looking back, we still did quite a lot of fun things.
Friday will be my last post about Singapore (unless we travel there again). I have been keeping notes on what new things to write about here in Phuket, so stay tuned.
So, I have given away one of my silly highlights of our trip (Hooray for all-natural deodorant!), now it’s your turn. What has been something you have truly been over-the-top excited about while traveling, or just in your normal life that some people may think is silly? Leave a comment and share in my awkwardness. Thanks for reading and sharing all!
Wednesday Write-Up: Singapore-Part Two
I try to write about how we are doing on my Wednesday Write-Up’s, not what we have been doing, but I just have so much to write about Singapore that I have to keep writing about it. I am hoping that you will not be completely fried on Singapore by the time I am done, but want to visit it and check it out for yourself! (And for those of you who write blogs about Singapore yourselves, thanks for reading even though I am sure you have done these things yourself more than once.)
Singapore Part Two
On our second day in Singapore, Z woke
the whole house us up bright and early to enjoy it. We planned to spend the day at the Singapore Zoo. Almost everyone we talked to when we were planning visit to Singapore told us that we HAD to check it out. I have always loved zoo’s and we have been to a couple of them along our travels so far (You can read about our time at the Taipei Zoo here and the Budapest Zoo here).
We took the SMRT from our house a couple of stops to the Ang Mo Kio stop on the Red (North South) Line. We stopped at the AMK Hub for a quick coffee and chai tea latte (Hooray, my favorite!!) before grabbing the 139 bus that heads directly to the zoo.
We didn’t know how far out the zoo is, but it is pretty far out from the center of town. The bus ride took about 40 minutes, but it did stop often so I am sure the times will vary. It was an easy and cheap way to get there though, as our SMRT tourist cards worked for busses as well.
When we arrived at the zoo, there were signs everywhere saying you could save 5% off admission if you bought the tickets online with your smart phone. It was a little bit of a pain as the website had a couple of issues, but Chad patiently kept trying and finally we had our tickets. We decided to also buy tickets for the Night Safari, another zoo adjacent to the main one that opens after dark. All together we paid around $120 Singaporean dollars.
We had gotten a late start to the day, despite our early wake up
toddler call and didn’t arrive at the zoo until around 1:00 p.m.. We started by walking around while looking at the map and getting utterly confused as to where to go first. We decided to look around a bit and then eat lunch quickly before heading to a the Rainforest Show. We started with the white tiger, then the baboons, jackals, chimps, and so on. Most of the animals were pretty out in the open, the cages or barriers well hidden, and the orangutans were actually “free-range” meaning that they could be in the trees above you anywhere in their area. It made me feel as though we were in their habitat instead of them being in ours. I loved it and the animals seemed very happy and healthy. Chad and I realized that this was the first zoo we had been to where the animals were so active (including the pygmy hippos mating… while people were casually taking their kids pictures in front of them… awkward to say the least).
We got a bit lost on our way out to the eating area but finally made it to the entrance/exit. There was a KFC, a sandwich place, and a place serving Singaporean food. We chose the Singaporean place and had Nasi Lemak, a rice and chicken plate with sauces, and Laksa, a coconut based soup with shrimp. Zoë doesn’t handle the spicy food so well, so she had cheese pizza from the deli. All of the food was fairly inexpensive and delicious. Later in our travels we found the food court that is actually inside the zoo, and it looked great as well, but be aware it closes at 6 p.m..
We spent the rest of the daylight walking around the zoo, seeing all of the shows (each lasting between 15-30 minutes), The Rainforest Fights Back Show, The Splash Safari Show, and The Animal Friends Show. We all enjoyed all the shows although the splash safari show was a little long and we ended up leaving a bit before it ended, Z just wasn’t that interested in the sea-lion.
Zoë’s favorite part of the zoo was Kidzworld. This area had a large water play area, pony rides, petting zoo, and other physical activities for kids. Chad was my hero and took her to run around in the water so I was able to sit and relax in the shade. What a guy, right!?
We only made it through half of the animals before closing time at 6:30 p.m. I wish we would have had more time there. We did a quick run through of the souvenir shop, it had much to choose from and not all the items were that expensive. We may have spoiled Z just a little more and gotten her an orangutan stuffed animal magnet to commemorate our visit.
After the main zoo closed we decided to head to the Night Safari area, which was about a two-minute walk from the main zoo entrance. We were told there were places to eat there so we went to go find our dinner. The Night Safari does not open until 7:30 p.m. so we leisurely looked around at the places to eat, finally deciding on the international food area and having some okay Indian food. The food is very expensive in this part of the zoo, so I would suggest that anyone not wanting to pay S$17-30 a person either eat outside the main zoo entrance or bring your own food.
There is much to do in the Night Safari, we decided to start with the tram that takes you on a ride through different world locations to see how the animals live at night. We really wanted to see the lion feeding and were able to get off the tram and head down to the lion cage just in time to see them throw meat at the lions from a safe position. It was rather anti-climatic in my opinion. Not only that, but we realized as Chad was holding Z on his shoulders to see the lion feeding, that Z had pooped her pants. Yes, I was that mother standing there smelling her child’s rear end and then running for the nearest bathroom with her.
Luckily there was a bathroom near by and luckily I had one more pair of clean underpants for her. What we did not have was another pair of shorts, so we tied Chad’s Harley Davidson bandana around her waist the best we could, making a very cool rocker skirt. I was pretty glad it was dark and hot still. I don’t think anyone noticed at all. Another lucky thing was that the poo did not go through to Chad’s shoulders. Oh the joys of being a parent.
We were able to hop on another tram within 5 minutes and continued our journey through the night wildlife. The coolest part was that the animals that were not harmful or aggressive were free roaming for the most part, so we were within arms length to Tapirs and different kind of deer (gazelles? not sure what type they were except they looked like deer to me) and water buffalo and such.
By the time we rounded the last bend on the tram ride, Z had fallen asleep in my lap and we decided to just head back to our place. We missed out on the walking trails that you can take through the park, and the show about night creatures, but we were all ready to go home and rest.
Our second day in Singapore was quite an eventful and fun day. Have you been to the Singapore Zoo? What did you enjoy about it?
Leave a comment and tell us about it! Thanks for reading, following, sharing, and commenting!
Wednesday Write-Up: Making It Work
Well, after a wonderful trip to Singapore, we have arrived safe and sound back in Phuket, Thailand. I will be writing all about the touristy things we did while in the fascinating city-state for the next couple of weeks for sure. I cannot wait to give you all the details!
It’s funny though, as I thought I would be coming back to a hotel with working wifi, and it turns out we have no wifi tonight! What a cruel world… Yes, I am being a tad dramatic I know.
I have learned that much of long term travel is about just making it work. I was always a hard-core planner with lists and alarms and spreadsheets to help me along. For the past few months, I have given up on the planning. Well, at least the planning of little things (like wifi connection) because I have found that when the small things don’t go as planned, that’s when I get the most stressed out. Of course I am not going to stop planning ahead for flights and cities to visit, or great big details like that. But I have stopped trying to plan exactly what we will do each day. Or what way we should pack our bags. Or to have a working wifi connection.
A good example was the Airbnb host that we stayed with in Singapore. We have used airbnb.com on numerous occasions in many different locations around the world, but this was the first time we actually rented a room in someone’s house. We had always just rented apartments that we had all to ourselves.
We booked the room on Airbnb and it sounded fantastic, it had two great reviews and was pretty inexpensive in comparison to renting a hotel room in Singapore. We were excited and nervous. Excited because we love trying new things and nervous because one never knows how loud a two year old can be until you want them to be quiet and not disturb people who like to sleep later than 6:30am.
We arrived at the two story apartment in a high rise, which was wonderfully close to the MRT station and seemed like it was in a nice enough neighborhood.
Peggy and Jun were excellent hosts and were kind and helpful. The room was clean and spacious. Peggy and Jun even had fresh oranges and water bottles in the room for us. It seemed perfect.
That night we realized the problem with the wifi. They had advertised high speed wifi, but it wasn’t a big deal, we worked our way around it using a week long SIM cards from a Singapore cell phone company. That gave us access to the internet at least. Chad couldn’t work often, but at least we could still keep in touch with others and I could still write my blog posts. Disaster averted.
The next morning, there were two strange men (they weren’t creepy or anything, just that we didn’t meet them before and they left that day) in the kitchen making themselves breakfast as we trundled down to make ourselves breakfast. As it turns out, Peggy and Jun were not only renting out the room we were staying in, but the two others upstairs. So we were sharing the”private” bathroom with 3-5 people the whole time we were there. Lucky for us, our two year old is an early riser, so we always were able to shower before anyone else was awake.
Having to share a bathroom was not a real problem, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Darn expectations, get me everytime.
These were just minor things in the grand scheme of things, but these are the type of things that used to ruin my days. They would make me into a negative jerk. That is, until I stopped letting them get to me (as often at least).
And that is another reason that I feel so blessed to be on this adventure, it has taught me to just make it work. No matter what could, and often will happen to throw off my day in a negative way, I have learned along this road that there is almost always a way around it, even if it’s just to ignore it.
So… Would I rent a room on Airbnb again? Yes! Who knows what lessons I will learn from it!
Have you ever rented a room in someone’s house while traveling? What did you think?
Also… When you have traveled, what lessons have you learned?
Please leave a comment and share!
Wednesday Write-Up: What’s Been Going On
I feel like I have written many posts about parts of what we have been doing, but not many on the normal stuff we are doing. I mentioned a little portion of it in my last post, but I decided that I wanted to catch up with you all today. I am going to try my best to make sense as I currently have the stomach flu and a head cold (I guess I am getting my yearly sicknesses over in one fell swoop).
We have been in Phuket now for two weeks. We started our time here at a guesthouse just about a 10 minute walk from Karon Beach called Pineapple Guesthouse. Steve and Lek, who own and run the guesthouse, treated us wonderfully. They have a daughter who was 8 years old, but there were also a few other girls that hung out there that were nearer to Z’s age and would play with her every day. Z loved her pineapple house, as she called it. When our week there was up, we were sad to go, despite the fact that we were not very happy with the Karon Beach area.
Just to give you a little of my perspective on Karon beach (and the neighboring beach, Kata), it was far too touristy. The food and drinks were all very overpriced (900 baht, or $25 a person for a Thai food buffet… you have got to be kidding me!), which means a ton to me. I like to eat, as you all know, and I hated having to cut back on my eating. Also, the locals that worked there seemed a bit jaded and unhappy. On the plus side though, Kata and Karon beaches are absolutely beautiful and for 100 baht you could rent a chair with an umbrella and waste the day away. I think a week vacation in Karon is fabulous, but I wouldn’t want to stay there long term.
This past week we have stayed at the Palm Garden Resort. The resort, which is 24 Thai style bungalows that surround a gorgeous pool, is much more fancy of a place than we normally stay in, but it has been such a treat. Not only is the resort great, but the day we moved in so did another family, with another Zoe, who is one month younger than our Zoë. They became fast friends, it always makes my heart full to see Z so happy and playing.
Zoë and I have met a bunch of other moms and kids in the Chalong area and after hearing about how much they love living here, we decided to stay for a while longer. So now we are looking for a place to rent short-long term, 3 to 6 months or so. We will see if it all works out. But, before we can do anything else here, we have to do another visa run, this time to Singapore. I am quite excited to finally see the place that a couple of my favorite bloggers (Journey of the Fabulist and Kids “R” Simple) call home and write about. We are spending a little bit of time there so I will be writing a couple of posts about what we do there. I am pretty excited about that. Oh, and we are finally trying out the part of airbnb.com where you actually rent a room in someones house. I am hoping and praying that it goes well, it is a little nerve-racking.
So those are the mundane, everyday things we have been doing in our travels in the past couple of weeks. If you want to know more about where we have been or what we have been doing, feel free to leave a comment. There are more exciting posts to come, so make sure to subscribe, follow, and share if you feel so inclined! Thanks friends!
Wednesday Write-Up: Thank you, Thank you!
I was quite excited and honored to find out a couple of weeks ago that I was nominated for the Sunshine Award by the wonderful blogess, Mummy Flying Solo! sure to check out her blog, her positive attitude in her posts are contagious and her humor and insight will leave you hooked.
This award like the other two I have received so far (The Liebster Award and The WordPress Family Award) are technically chain letters without the gloom and doom of bad luck if you do not respond. I personally love the opportunity to participate in these as I enjoy sharing the blogs that I read and love. So without further ado, The Sunshine Award.
To accept this award, one must:
1. Link back to the blogger that nominated you
2. Tell 11 Facts about yourself
3. Nominate 10 blogs that you feel should get the Sunshine Award
11 Facts About Me:
1. I had this whole post written, and saved it numerous times (pretty much every other sentence), only to have WordPress lose it somewhere in the cosmos. So this is my second time writing this post. And it is midnight, so I am truly burning the midnight oil now. Thank you WordPress, I not so silently hate you right now!
2. I had never left my home country of the USA until we moved to Asia in 2006.
3. I was a cocktail server in Las Vegas for 2 years.
4. I was a hard core atheist, to the point of strongly disliking anyone that called themselves Christian, until I became on in 2006. God has a plan for me I guess. 🙂
5. Air conditioning makes my ears hurt, to the point of giving me a migraine.
6. Despite starting and stopping college numerous times, I still do not have a degree. This is one of my most embarrassing and disappointing things about me.
7. I was homeschooled since second grade, and graduated when I was 15 years old with a 4.0 GPA.
8. My favorite band of all times is The Beatles, I have read over 60 books about them and listened to them non-stop in my teens. I also totally ruined them for my parents at the time as well, Sorry Mom and Dad!
9. I have rather large feet, size 11 (US sizes, 43 in European) and find it almost impossible to find shoes outside the United States.
10. I love to sing Karaoke.
11. I hate to wear my glasses ( I am near-sighted) because seeing the frames in my peripheral vision makes me feel claustrophobic. On the flip side, I have to wear sunglasses outside because my retinas are white and the light is so intense that I get really bad headaches.
10 Blogs that I would like to pass the Sunshine Award along to:
I decided that I was going to nominate blogs that I have not nominated before, I love all the blogs that I follow and read and very much wish I could nominate everyone. This decision made it a bit easier for me to complete this part of the award.
**To all the bloggers that I am nominating, do not feel that you need to accept or participate, just know that I love reading your posts and look forward to them every week!
5. Here Today Vanagon Tomorrow
7. Barb Taub
10. A Wee Nest
Thank you again to Mummy Flying Solo for the nomination! Now I am off to bed, I am afraid that I will be seeing the sunshine sooner than I would like. Happy dreams everyone.
Wednesday Write-Up: WordPress Family Award
A few weeks ago I was honored to be nominated for another award! It is called the WordPress Family Award. Fanni at The Blackberry Boys was kind enough to nominate me. Make sure to check out her blog, she is raising … Continue reading