Posts Tagged With: travel

Visitors, a dozen of them!

Visitors! I’d love to go into full detail about each guest and at happened while they were here, but I’m too eager to catch up to the present day! With that said, I’m just going to sum up the 10 wonderful months of guests (for my selfish reflection and future reference).

First there’s Florian. If I could bundle up happy, creative, smart, funny, quirky, loyal and loving… he would be it! I met him over 7 years ago at my first Oktoberfest in Munich Germany, (a tradition that went on for years to follow) and continued to reconnect around the world. Prior to Barbados, there was a a surprise trip to Recklinghausen, a quick stop in Amsterdam , a week in Crete Greece and the unforgettable vacation he took to visit my home state of California!

Florian’s visit was over a year ago and I was able to make a post about it (I just didn’t want to leave his smile out of this article). If you’d like to see that one, please click here!

Next up was Amanda, a driven, hard working, beautiful friend that I met while working out. Who would of thought a few partner burpees would lead to a friendship and a visit out of the country?! She was also the first and only guest to get me out to run a casual 5k with her… on a Saturday… just for fun. Only you Amanda!

Kira and John, the first couple to come see us. I was so honored that they were willing to jet off (leaving their 3 kids with Nana) and stay awhile! I don’t think I had laughed so much in a matter of 5 days until these 2 showed up. Too much fun and memories for a life time!

Cole is a photographer, videographer, musician and owner of the quickly growing Enlightened Studios. Such an intriguing guy to have a round, especially when him and Matt would often nerd out on camera talk. Fun facts: Cole is the one that recorded our engagement! Fun fact #2: Cole and Matt now work closely together as they expand Enlightened Studios!

Sweet Erica… hairstylist, yogi, free spirited and a pocket full of sunshine. Her arrival overlapped with Coles and made for a great combo. She joined us with the cruise and a mud n’ paint party fully embracing the local celebration. My favorite part of her trip was our girls day out adventure! Accidentally driving the off road course, animal flower caves, a sunset glass of wine and a toast to the next chapter.

Josh is a long time friend of Matts and a new time friend to me! Adventure came full force when he landed, with hiking, climbing, surfing, dancing and a vegan dinner every night. Josh seemed to fit right in with his flexible personality and willingness to experience it all!

Matts mom Terri, her fiancé Jack and his daughter Lauren came out to see what all of our talk was about this beautiful island. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to get to know them even more! Island tours, boat cruises, beach days, local cuisine and a girls night (just me and Lauren) were just a few of the events welcoming this crew to our home.

Reni was Matts best man in the wedding and stayed with us for the days leading up to it. He doesn’t go unnoticed with his bright smile and not-so-subtle character. It definitely wouldn’t have been the same without him! What added to his energy? Only my dear friend Bree! An equally enthusiastic person with a lot of love and energy to give. These two at our place during the same time made for constant laughter and a family feel right off the bat! We were focused on the wedding so there weren’t too many casual photos taken around the house. Here are a few from the celebrations!

So in the short 10 months that Matt lived in Barbados with me, we got to house-sit 5 different homes and hosted a dozen visitors (not including the 25 at the wedding)! I’d like to claim a small success in sharing the beauty of my favorite island, so thankful we had the opportunity.

Categories: Accommodations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Here comes the bride! 9-28-17

The term destination wedding refers to a location outside of your hometown that generally involves a gorgeous landscape in a distance place. Typically it lands at a snow capped mountain resort, inside a foreign castle or in my case, on a stunning tropical island. I called Barbados home for just long enough that it really wasn’t a “destination wedding”, however for a handful of our guests, it most certainly was!

If you’d rather just skip to the amazing Wedding video, click here!

Let’s begin with the landscape. Well, for starters it’s a beach!! We chose a quaint little surfers bar overlooking the southeast coast called Moonraker at Surfers Bay. It offered a partially covered outdoor seating area with a U shaped bar and an open section for my favorite part, the dancing! Our guests had the option of kicking their shoes off and walking in the sand, dancing on a wooden deck or socializing around an oversized bonfire. So we had love, earth, wood, fire, water, sun, stars, open air and an abundance of positive energy from all of the friends and family that gathered… a recipe for the perfect wedding.

Accommodations – Surfers Bay restaurant and bar was conveniently on the property of a colorful hotel called The Moonraker.

The wardrobe – Most of you have read a story or few that included my dear friend Bree. From our adventures in Chiang Mai, Thailand to her first visit to Barbados, she’s been a beautiful addition to my traveling adventures. What you may not of known is that when she isn’t backpacking, she’s an incredible fashion designer that has even worked in NYC for Ralph Lauren (friend bragging moment). As her gift to me, she designed and tailored my gown start to the very last pin before I walked the aisle. Matt wore a classic beige jacket that was once wore by his dad who was there with us in spirit.

The jewelry – I felt so honored to walk the aisle with an arm full of authentic bangles and an ankle decorated with jewel covered bands, all from India (another gift from Bree and her family). My wedding ring set is a combination of Matts opal birthstone and a diamond band given to me by his mother, a ring that was once given to her by his father…. again, I’m honored. The unique funky earrings? Those were $7.99 from Claire’s (a handy accessory boutique in the states).

The flowers – Instead of pre made bouquets or red roses, I went to a local florist (the day of the wedding) who so graciously allowed me to pick 12 flowers from a variety of local bundles in their back freezer. I don’t know too many businesses elsewhere that would of been so eager to help a last minute Gypsy bride.

The ceremony – my walk down the grassy aisle lead me to a dozen of my dearest girlfriends from around the world, each holding a single tropical flower. As I hugged and thanked them for their friendship, attendance and love, I collected each flower leaving me with a bouquet tied up by a strip of lace that was left over from my dress. This was all being serenaded by Matt on the guitar before he passed it along to come and greet me for the rest of my walk. The service was guided by our dear friend Derek who peacefully spoke about higher connection and divine love. We said our own vows, exchanged rings and sealed it with a kiss.

Drinking and dining – The Bajans and their heartfelt gifts. Instead of presents we asked each local guest to bring a dish to share. (If you’re wondering what the island cuisine consists of, take a moment to check out the posts Welcome to Barbados, let’s eat! and Mr.Delicious doesn’t serve pig tail . Our wedding spread ranged from traditional recipes to creative desserts and most definitely extended beyond what any catering company could of offered. Drinks? Not a dry mouth in the place, if a guests didn’t bring food we invited them to bring a beverage to place on the open bar. Wine, champagne, cases of local beer, liquor, juice, soda and what Barbados festivity would be complete without rum punch! Música! Personally speaking, I can survive any party regardless of food, drink or decorations as long as I have happy people and good music. As if our plans couldn’t of gone any smoother, in walks Dj Trev! He perfectly mixed every genre we wanted to hear, left out all of the songs we didn’t want and had a dance floor that never went empty. He was the icing on our wedding cake!…and the party kept going… and going! I’m so grateful for the experience and love we were able to capture, I’ll hold it dearly forever!

…to be continued.

Categories: Accommodations, Edibles!, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

…5 years later

What makes her happy trails so happy? Let me just share a few reasons that have recently been amplified in this beautiful journey I call life. 
First off, we have this glorious planet offering a variety of stunning landscapes and wondrous elements. Then there’s the creatures that keep us intrigued from under the sea to the tops of the highest peaks. Let’s not forgot the loving, creative, crazy humans that enhance the entire magnificent experience.

My last post wrapped up a season in Barbados which sends me off on another trip back to the states to see family and friends. Before I get to that, let’s acknowledge another happy part of these trails. Connection! Simply one of my favorite things about traveling. You meet a stranger on a bus, in a hostel, the line at a market, no matter where the universe allows it, your paths are supposed to cross. Maybe just for that moment, or continuing through a week of friendship along the trail, or even for a lifetime. It’s magical when you recognize a purpose behind every smile you connect with. 

Exactly 5 years ago, I was on one my first solo international trips. I say “solo”, but although I planned this alone, it was on a semi-guided tour with a company called Contiki.. The route took me and 2 dozen other travelers from Italy to France, down through Monaco and ended in Spain where I parted from the group. 

Along the way I met a dozen or so wonderful people that I’m still in touch with today. Here’s a few meeting to reunion photos!

The most recent reconnection was during my travels from Barbados to Oklahoma with an unexpected magical pit stop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had a 14 hour layover which meant I had a typical over night stay which entails a cold airport floor with the sounds of the custodians popping chewing gum over the humming of their vacuum. I invite you to check out the posts called Work out and rest up in Asian airports and Floor seats in the Lima airport, unforgettable nights for sure! I’m usually bundled up with every heavy piece of clothing item in my backpack in order to endure the below comfortable temperatures while using my backpack as a makeshift cot. The morning consists of me walking the terminals to get the blood flowing again while waiting for the cafes to open so I can get a cup of hot water for the one single tea bag I keep in my wallet. I take a wet wipe shower in the bathroom and although I brush my teeth with real paste and actual water (verses spit and shine in the back of a camper), it still feels like I have backpackers breath as I board my flight with one eye open and the fleeting thought, “I forgot deodorant”. 

Think 14 hours seems a bit much? Check out 51 hours to get 1/2 way around the world!

Well not this time folks! World meet Karyne (pronounced cuh-reen) She’s another one of the amazing friends I first met in Rome back in 2011. After parting ways in the streets of Spain, Karyne and I remained in contact through good ol Facebook. Now, she’s offered not only her home but a lift to and from the airport and an unexpected dinner out. I sat here for too long trying to think of a creative name for the award she should recieve for her hospitality. I felt so welcome and we spoke like it was just yesterday that we were sipping sangria on the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona.

Here is our then and now pic (sorry for the blurry photo, it was a good night in France).

Her house was right up my alley with instruments, personal artwork and a beverage cart for all to share. 

What was completely foreign to me however, was her spare room aka her closet!

The morning after our catch up session we hustled back to the airport to say our farewells as I departed for my final stop. Such a better ride than the usual airport shuttle!
Bonus highlight! I met this adorable couple on the flight over. Amanda and Tyler share a passion towards biology, art and travel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see them again, but I can only expect exceptional things in their future. Thanks for the stimulating conversation and supportive energy towards spreading the joy of travel! 

In the next post you’ll see what Oklahoma has to offer me but I’ll close this write up with a collage that shows 3 roads I traveled in 3 consecutive days. Gotta love the beauty in variety! Barbados-Florida-Oklahoma

Categories: Accommodations, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting shot in Peru

This story will forever be embedded in my book of memories. It was my buddy Hayden’s first time backpacking and I say this because he put full faith in me and all of my experiences. I had planned the trip, reserved and booked all of our transfers and even sent him a “must bring” and “leave at home” list. With that said, picture this…

After hiking Machu Picchu and spending a week exploring the beautiful city of Cusco, we arrived at the airport to make our way North to Costa Rica. Walking with confidence and speaking in my advanced (broken) spanish we approached the ticket counter to check in. Passports, yep. Tickets, yep. Yellow fever card? Hmm….
“I choose not to get shots, but thanks for asking”. I said politely.
“Lo siento señorita, su necesaria para viajar” (sorry miss, it’s necessary to travel).
“No sir, I’ve been to Costa Rica before and I didn’t need a yellow fever card then, why now?”
Turns out coming from the north you don’t need it, but coming from the south you’re at a higher risk, so the shot is required before entering Costa Rica.
At this point, I’m still relaxed regardless of Hayden’s face expressing the “we’re doomed” look. “Where is the nearest doctor? We’ll go get the shot right now and return for the flight”.

Fun but not helpful fact: the shot must be in your system for 10 days prior to travel. This was unacceptable due to the fact that Hayden had his flight back to the states out of Costa Rica in just 8.

The man at the desk replied with a “best we can do” scenario and puts us on a flight to Lima which is the capital of Peru. He suggested that we might have more options there. So here we go, boarding a plane with no guarantee that we can connect to our final destination.

While sitting on this little transfer, my mind is searching all options. We could ditch the final flight and just take a bus over the border to try and sneak our non-yellow fever card carrying selves to Ecuador. Maybe we could hitch hike north until another opportunity presented itself or why not just jump to Mexico? They have beautiful beaches!

Landing in Lima, we gathered our backpacks and decided to approach the ticket counter as if there was nothing was to be concerned of. As the story goes, the same conversation began with the employee confirming that we will not be flying out of the country without our yellow fever card.
Turing to walk away with several thoughts running through my mind, we were casually signaled over by a woman who appeared to be a apart of the airport security. “You need your yellow fever card?” She asked.
Eagerly I responded with a guilty nod, “Ci!”. She gazed away ever so slightly as to avoid eye contact as she suggested we find a man in a red vest and tell him we’re in need of “Air Sanity”.

No time for questions, we’re now on a hunt through the Lima airport desperately looking for a red vested jolly man with, what I imagine, having a stash of yellow cards we can buy off him and be merry on our way. Wrong.

In our search for this “hombre de rojo”, Hayden spots a symbol resembling a Red Cross. We had nothing to lose as we approached a counter that was clearly a medical center. “Hola, necesitamos que nuestros… uhhh… amarillo uhh…”. She cuts me off, “You need your yellow fever card?”
“Yes please!”
She asks us to wait before returning with an elderly woman that had to of been at least 85 years old or 110 and looking great for her age. We followed her into a small room with a tiny business desk covered in several binders and random knick-nacks.
She proceeded to ask if we had a doctor from the United States that could confirm we have received the shots. The entire conversation went something like this:
“You have note with shots?”
“No señora, we don’t have the shots or a note.”
“Some Americans have doctor send paper in machine with card. Do you have a doctor?”
“No señora, I don’t. I’m sorry.”
By this time she is giving me the look of “I know you’re young, but come on lady, get my drift!”
“…but you can have a doctor with note?” She implied.
“Ohhh, ci señora… I do have a doctor with a note!”
“Good then, go with her” she said while pointing to a kind looking woman wearing an outfit that was nothing resembling a nurses outfit.
As Hayden and I made eye contact, I giggled with a shoulder shrug and scooted along behind her with relief knowing we’ll make our flight. Expected to be given a yellow fever card with a wink, I had another thing coming.

We ended our short walk in a room containing a deep freezer, a desk and blank walls decorated with graphs and a few disturbing posters with images of tropical diseases. She rolled out a dusty chair and proceeded.
“Please sit down. Who’s first?”
“I’m sorry, excuse me… what?”
All things became clear as she started to lay out two needles with a substance that, to this day, I have no idea what it really was.

“I’ll go!” I took a seat, and looked at Hayden as she whipped out the syringe. With no hesitation, I was being punctured in the upper arm and injected
with the mystery liquid. Now it’s Hayden’s turn!

To the best of my memory, I believe his words were something along the lines of “Erika, I knew your travels were crazy… but this is insane!”

A needle poke and a few bandaids later, we were sent back to the ancient woman’s room where she had two yellow cards. I watched as she turned back the dial on the date stamp confirming that indeed, we were in the USA 15 days prior and yes, our doctor sent a fax to her. On the way out, our unofficially-official nurse suggested we remove the bandaids before landing in Costa Rica to ensure they wouldn’t be suspicious of a recent shot.

Forty American dollars later, we had cards, tender arms and a half hour till our flight departed. Hoping for a different person at the ticket counter to avoid any awkward moment, we were not so lucky as we approached the same man who had previously turned us away. I walked up as if we had never been there before and plopped up our Passports, tickets and 2 brand new shiny yellow cards.
He looked everything over and glanced up at us, then stamped a few papers and concluded with a “Have a nice flight”.
With sweaty palms and the heart rate of a race horse, I walked away in relief that I had not completely let my pal down. If anything, just given him another story to share back home. Sweet victory!

Here’s the only photo from that day.

2015/01/img_3222.jpg

Categories: Not-so-happy trails, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My favorite Cambodian dish!

Once upon a time while volunteering in Cambodia, I took a walk in a local market to see what my tummy could find (shocking, right?). I rounded a corner and spotted out what appeared to be one of my favorite vegetables with some sort of goodness in the middle. Here are the actual photos from the quaint little market outside of Phnom Phen.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/img_3210.jpg

I looked around for a seat, quickly realizing that the pint-size stool at my feet was the prime location to experience the meal I was about to order. Squatting low with knees in my chest, I pointed eagerly at the dish and singled for one slice, followed by my palms together in gratitide. Considering I was the tallest, whitest lady at the miniature table, I was being observed by several locals for my reaction to the first bite.

With the toddler spoon that matched my shoebox chair, I scooped up a bite and gave it a go.

How to make best friends in a foreign market:
Step1. Order something they don’t expect you to get.
Step2. Try it in front of them.
Step 3. React sincerely.

It didn’t take but a second for me to realize I had found my new favorite treat. Needless to say it became a daily routine to greet my new friends, squeeze into my usual seat (visualize Will Ferrel sitting in the classroom in the movie Elf) and indulging. Was this lunch… dessert? A meal or a snack? I have no idea but it was delicious!

When arriving back into the states I started research to find something that would closely resemble the magical taste of pumpkin custard or Lapov Songkya (ល្ពៅសង្ខ្យា).

To be honest, I have yet to find a recipe but I’ve had fun trying! Here was my most recent attempt (attempt: an act of trying to achieve something, typically one that is unsuccessful or not certain to succeed.)

Ingredients:
A buttercup squash (Pumpkin, Kombucha, Delicata, etc.)
4-5 Eggs (I used whole and some whites)
3/4 cup Coconut milk (it suggests cream or full fat, I used lite)
1/3 cup Sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
1/2 tsp Salt
A dash of Cinnamon if you’re feelin spicy
Optional: In Cambodia they will often put shave ice and coconut over the top and drizzle with condensed sweetened milk. (See photos above)

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc1118761.jpg

Cut open the top of your pumpkin the same way you would for a Halloween carving. Take a spoon and gut your squash. For the sake of my sanity, please save your seeds and eat those too… They do not belong in the trash! Thank you.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc111878.jpg

Mix all of the ingredients saving the eggs for last.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc111884.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc111887.jpg

Grab a double boiler and fill with an adequate amount of water. Crank the heat until it’s boiling. Place your squash in the over sized steamer, cut side up. Poor the liquid into the hollowed out pumpkin and close the lid.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc111888.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc111889.jpg

Lower the heat and let the baby cook until the custard is cooked thoroughly and the pumpkin is tender. Remove and let cool.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc111890.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/c19/30878795/files/2015/01/pc111897.jpg

This is the part in which you eagerly slice into as you contain the water in your mouth before giving this amazing dish a try…

Or in my case, you slice into it and have all the undercooked insides come pouring out into the table as your heart breaks into tiny little hungry pieces. I’m not sure if this failure was the specific recipe, the substitutions I made or in fact, that I actually didn’t follow the recipe.

I have you know, I ate the pumpkin separately with dinner and enjoyed every bite! I took the insides (what should of been custard) added oats and ground flax seed, then poured it into a baking dish and made scrumptious bars out of it. Problem solved.

So, if you want to try this Cambodian delight, I highly suggest you google it yourself and find a recipe that you think will be golden. When you find it, let me know!

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sisterhood of the traveling bag

This multi colorful little bag came into my life back in February of 2011 from a woman on a side street in the tropical country of Barbados. Since then, it’s literally been by my side as I’ve worked my way around the world.

20130618-112112.jpg

Packed along with “Big Blue” (named by a sweet friend and blog follower), it’s traveled planes, trains, buses, boats and has walked uncountable miles over my shoulder. It’s been used as a purse, over nighter, seat cushion, grocery sack, carry on, pillow, beach bag, door stop, and I’m sure several other things that have gone unmentioned.

20130617-082154.jpg

Take a quick stroll with me as I recap some fond memories between me and my little travel buddy.

20130617-113402.jpg

20130617-113415.jpg

20130617-113445.jpg

20130617-113634.jpg

20130618-112511.jpg

20130617-113844.jpg

20130619-085844.jpg

20130617-113905.jpg

20130617-114109.jpg

20130618-111751.jpg

20130617-114254.jpg

20130619-054021.jpg

20130618-090513.jpg

20130618-090602.jpg

20130618-090628.jpg

20130618-112548.jpg

20130618-090727.jpg

20130618-111127.jpg

20130618-111234.jpg

20130618-111424.jpg

20130618-111505.jpg

20130618-111601.jpg

20130618-112258.jpg

20130618-112330.jpg

20130618-112404.jpg

20130618-112429.jpg

20130619-061540.jpg

A little over 2 years doesn’t seem like a long time, but after trekking almost 30 countries, it’s time to pass along my durable sack of many uses. I’ve been offered money for it, friends have requested a trade and someone even suggested I auction it off for more travel funds!

With all of these wonderful thoughts, the only person I’ve had in mind was a sweet young girl who’s loved it from the beginning. Little did she know, this was the day in which she finally got her sisters purse.

Please smile with me as you view the new owner of the traveling bag (that’s as big as she is).
My beautiful sister Sarah!

20130619-061405.jpg

20130619-061414.jpg

Next step… Start looking for a new bag!

20130619-085233.jpg

Categories: Fashion from a backpack, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Do you believe in blue giraffes?

I do! Welcome to the inspirational Blue Giraffe or what I now call the positive energy of Watercolor, Florida.

Why a giraffe? As said by the owners themselves, “Giraffe’s have really big hearts (two feet long and 25 lbs. on average) and a big heart is what drives our business philosophy at The Blue Giraffe”.

This unique place provides an opening experience for the eyes and mind with the abundance of color, texture and artistic variety. As you snoop through The Blue Giraffe, you’ll think to yourself and hear from others, “Ooh, look at that” or “I wonder what’s that made of” and my personal favorite, “Oh wait, that’s a necklace…you can wear that!”

20130112-073228.jpg

From local art to jewelry, books to knick knacks this stimulating boutique supports local designers and promotes recycling and reuse of what would normally be “waste”. Let’s check it out!
One must properly greet Jeanie the giraffe (named after her grandma) before you enter this magical place of art.
20130112-073316.jpg

A quick look around isn’t possible as every space is filled with one-of-a-kind items. With that said, here’s a glance at the store full of happy handmade creations!

20130112-075117.jpg

20130112-075146.jpg

20130112-075210.jpg

20130112-075227.jpg

20130112-075234.jpg

<a

20130112-075740.jpg

20130112-075813.jpg

Mom pointed this one out to me, “That was made for you”. So when (if) I grow up and have a place of my own, you may or may not find this is on my wall!

20130112-080039.jpg

20130112-080045.jpg

Let’s take a closer look for all the inner “beach bum” in all of us!

20130112-075337.jpg

20130112-075357.jpg

20130112-075410.jpg

The following pieces are all made with sea shells or recycled broken glass.

20130112-080547.jpg

20130112-080553.jpg

Here’s my favorite corner as it bring attention to the reuse of everyday items to create an eye catching work of art. Can you figure out what these are made of?

20130112-080723.jpg

20130112-080733.jpg

Some creative shots with my pretend fancy camera.

20130112-081843.jpg

20130112-081851.jpg

20130112-081902.jpg

20130112-081908.jpg

Look who I found! World, meet Christi. This is the brilliant owner who shines just as vibrant as the walls around her. She will greet you with a smile (and a piece of chocolate) every time you enter her home of pride and joy. Christi, thank you for sharing your passion with us. Your enthusiasm towards supporting the local talent through representing their incredible abilities is much appreciated by all!

20130112-081956.jpg

…and a final goodbye to Jeanie as we depart till next time.

20130112-082033.jpg

Click here to be directed to their official website!

Categories: Art, Fashion from a backpack, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A ray of green light in Malaysia!

Hopefully it’s clear from my writing that I like to focus on the positive that surrounds my existence. From the vibrant people to exotic places, new food to priceless adventure, I hardly have anything to complain about.
So acknowledging that, please read the following post knowing that I mean it with love and great intention.

Something here in Malaysia that I’ve had a hard time adapting to is the eating habits. If you’ve been following my journey for awhile, you’ve seen my creative way to stay healthy by purchasing my own fresh food and choosing wisely with portion control if I indulge in local treats. The food here has a tempting aroma, the right price and a variety that lines the streets everywhere you go. The struggle I have, is the way it’s all prepared. Fresh greens and herbs? Yes! However it’s usually over cooked and covered in oil. Of course there’s fresh fish… deep fried. Rice noodles, egg noddles, flat noodles… accompanied with pork, chicken, fish paste, and more oil. Below is an example plate of fish, greens and grains. Doesn’t that sound like it should be full of nutrients, vitamins and goodies for your body? It was, until they prepared it. I also asked for a serving of “one person”.

20121023-101634.jpg

Here is a popular stand at the local night market. On a stick you can find a variety of tofu, vegetables, fish and other meats all prepared and ready to be cooked. When I say “cooked” I wish I was talking about grilled or steamed, but here is the deep fry station. You dip the stick in the oil and then finish it off with the sauce of your choice.

20121023-105847.jpg

20121023-105930.jpg

Time to turn this post around and introduce you to the ray of sunshine I stumbled upon…
As I walked down to the local market to pick up some fruit, I was taken back by the green walls and white teeth of smiles. What’s this?! A wellness cafe not only serving up aloe, tea and vitamin dense shakes but happy people chatting about a healthy world. Take a look around!

20121023-111302.jpg

20121023-111317.jpg

20121023-111353.jpg

20121023-111413.jpg

20121023-111450.jpg

The gentleman sitting at the bar is a native here and is beyond familiar with the local lifestyle. Marcel, a new partner in the world of health, found this little green heaven just in time after being diagnosed as a diabetic.

20121023-115442.jpg

Ironically I just saw on a local news report that over 60% of Malaysians aged 18 and up, had a BMI over 25. (A BMI of more than 25 means the person is overweight). Following that they explained that although North America has a higher rate obesity, Malaysia has a higher rate of diabetes.

20121023-114440.jpg

Meet Brian. He has a contagious love for nutrition and extreme desire to open the minds of the local people to a new way of living… Healthy!

20121023-110507.jpg

His enthusiasm towards health and his passion for life was nothing short of positive motivation! As I enjoyed my smoothy, he pleasantly shared his story from beginning to present and the journey that lead him here.

20121023-112020.jpg

20121023-112035.jpg

20121023-112100.jpg

20121023-112109.jpg

I don’t want to exaggerate numbers or dwell on percentages, I feel the point should be focused on necessary knowledge to create change. That my friends, is why I was so uplifted by this room full of kind hearts and energetic minds. Thank you Green Forest for the much needed and refreshing conversation. This also includes the scrumptious start this beautiful day!

20121023-115732.jpg

If you have any interest in contacting this ray of sunshine, please email me and I will connect you directly!

Categories: Edibles! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I-Love-Budapest

Due to our small delay on the border, we arrive a bit late but that is nothing to stop sweet Niki greeting us with a huge smile and warm hug.

Here’s the dollhouse view from Niki’s adorable place. I personally love the men at work making there sandwiches on the job site.

20121008-205540.jpg

Our day in the city of Budapest was complimented with amazing weather, perfect for a bike ride!
Tempting… But we went solo this ride.

20121007-215157.jpg

20121007-215228.jpg

Here are a few photos on the way to the local market.

20121007-220152.jpg

20121007-220208.jpg

20121007-220220.jpg

20121007-220449.jpg

Market time! We locked up the bikes and went for a walk.

20121007-221255.jpg

20121007-221325.jpg

20121007-222656.jpg

20121007-222713.jpg

This is not my favorite part of the market, but I’ll add a few pics to give you an idea. Imagine the smell of this isle… I’ll stick to the fresh fruit!

20121007-221625.jpg

20121007-221645.jpg

Next is a quick walk to stop for lunch.

20121007-222053.jpg

20121007-222126.jpg

20121007-222112.jpg

20121007-222949.jpg

20121007-223010.jpg

20121007-223027.jpg

No need to debate if we were up for the challenge to visit the Citadel, a 19th century fortress that sits on top of Gellert Hill. This trek is generally done by foot at a nice pace or in a bus creeping up the windy slopes. A bus? No way! We’ere hauling our bikes to the top of this thing if it takes all day! We don’t even let a slipped chain slow us down…Marshall to the rescue!

20121008-192625.jpg

Marshall caught me cracking up at the fact that my camera wasn’t even on for the first few pictures (not seen here) that he took on the bridge.

20121008-192935.jpg

20121008-192943.jpg

20121008-193002.jpg

20121008-192704.jpg

This is where there are supposed to be a bunch of photos of us riding through beautiful greenery, and dirt paths, pushing up stairs and carrying our bikes up rock filled hills. Well, I was too busy doing all of those things so let’s just jump to the pictures at the top!

20121008-193607.jpg

20121008-193646.jpg

20121008-193655.jpg

20121008-193814.jpg

20121008-193904.jpg

20121008-193911.jpg

Of course this was the prime choice for the handstand shot!
“Buda” on the left and “Pest” on the right.

20121008-194017.jpg

As if the artillery side wasn’t interesting enough, this young girl hidden away stopped me in my tracks. Not necessarily her amazing art piece, but just the entire energy that surrounded her and the painting in front of her.

20121008-194358.jpg

20121008-194420.jpg

20121008-194438.jpg

What’s this? Don’t mind if I do! I must give huge credit to my amazing photographer Marshall, I had no idea he captured so many cool shots. Thanks pal!

20121008-194815.jpg

20121008-195029.jpg

20121008-195048.jpg

20121008-195107.jpg

20121008-195130.jpg

20121008-195139.jpg

20121008-195212.jpg

After dominating the climb and enjoying the view we headed down to cross the famous chain bridge. Some photos along the way…

20121008-195550.jpg

20121008-195604.jpg

20121008-195618.jpg

20121008-195638.jpg

20121008-195652.jpg

Brake… Hey look, it’s a Vegas sign! (For those of you just joining us, that’s where Marshall and I met).

20121008-201433.jpg

Made it to the base of the bridge to find more stairs. We love stairs!

20121008-201636.jpg

I forgot that I had left my camera on a this stormy effect. Glad I did, nice pics Marshall!

20121008-201835.jpg

20121008-201923.jpg

20121008-201955.jpg

I would have been totally satisfied just seeing this beautiful city during the day, but energetic Niki was determined to get us out during sun down. The first evening we got to meet one of her good friends Balasz, one of the nicest, most knowledgeable tour guides I’ve come across so far.

20121008-202943.jpg

Then we got to reunite with our buddy Jay! He was from the “Salzburg” post as one of the Irish Pub guests that helped us keep it going!

20121008-203250.jpg

20121008-203257.jpg

Here are the only night shots I snagged from two fantastic evening out. Entertainment full of unique clubs, Irish Pubs and outdoor lounges.

20121008-203452.jpg

20121008-203504.jpg

20121008-203522.jpg

20121008-203539.jpg

20121008-203616.jpg

20121008-203655.jpg

Check out the ladies room I found at one of the clubs… I feel sorry for the girls who had high heels.

20121008-203811.jpg

Hungry on the walk home? Forget the slice-o-pizza, it’s a hummus bar!

20121008-203917.jpg

Fun is up in Budapest as it’s time to make our way to Czech Republic. With the signs ahead, we have our stickers ready just in case Mr. Patrol man is doing his job (please see previous post).

20121008-204429.jpg

20121008-204437.jpg

Next stop, Prague!

Categories: Fitness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vienna to the border patrol in Hungary

After the 8 minute hike from the last post, we buckled up and headed farther east to our next destination of Vienna. A place I’ve heard beautiful things about and also the location of my next reunion!

We kept looking for “Vienna” signs…turns out they spell it “Wien”.

20121006-222825.jpg

Like responsible travelers we are, we take it easy our night in Vienna looking forward to the early rise bike ride. Since we only have half a day before we drive to Budapest, we thought a set of wheels would be our best bet. This decision was agreed upon with our new friend Michael. He’s another smiling, easy to talk to, ready for action traveler from New Zealand.

The bike ride was a little bitter-sweet for me. It was so nice to see everything, however with limited time there wasn’t much room for photos, cafe breaks or small street exploring. I dare not complain though, it’s a gorgeous place with many massive buildings holding rich character. A few pics from the ride.

20121007-122420.jpg

20121006-223144.jpg

20121007-122504.jpg

20121007-122609.jpg</a

This is our first stop, the famous Schönbrunn Palace!
(click here for the details of this magnificent Palace) .
Although the grounds stretch beyond our exploration, the gardens we did see were amazing!

20121007-124044.jpg

20121007-124052.jpg

20121007-124059.jpg

20121007-124116.jpg

20121007-124134.jpg

20121007-124146.jpg

Handstand pic!

20121007-124220.jpg

More through the city on our way to reunite with my friend.

20121007-124343.jpg

20121007-124410.jpg

20121007-124415.jpg

20121007-124430.jpg

20121007-124436.jpg

20121007-124444.jpg

20121007-124453.jpg

20121007-124508.jpg

20121007-124502.jpg

Last February I was lucky to have met this spirited one named Gypsy. He was one of my haircut clients in the hostel we were staying at. After great conversation, we spoke of meeting again somewhere, someday in the near future. The first pic was in New Zealand with a group of travelers and the following photo is us here in Vienna! So glad I got to see your smile in person, cheers till next time!

20121007-124906.jpg

20121007-124923.jpg

On our path back to the car, we make time to check out the local market. Although we’re in the middle of Austria, it was what seemed like to be a Turkish market. Again with the non complaining as it was still nice to wander through fresh fruit, herbs, spices, clothes, bags and more. The boys didn’t pass up the oppurtunutiy to start off with a doner kabob!

20121007-125225.jpg

20121007-125234.jpg

20121007-125301.jpg

20121007-125251.jpg

20121007-125327.jpg

20121007-125334.jpg

20121007-125343.jpg

20121007-125349.jpg

20121007-125406.jpg

20121007-125439.jpg

We got back to the car in time to say farewell to Michael and head on our way to Budapest!

20121007-162452.jpg

This is when I would usually end the post and cheers to our next adventure. Not this time.
So were cruising along, jammin to some Beastie Boys…

20121007-162610.jpg

20121007-162617.jpg

…when we come to the border leaving Austria entering Hungary. The patrol officer was just waving everyone through with ease until we approach… His arm holding a wand of authority slams down as he points us to the side of the road. I can only assume he’s not pulling us over to complement our dance moves.

Turns out you need to stop prior to the line we crossed and get a fancy little sticker that says you’ve payed to drive on their highway. It usually runs 12-20 Euros. Well that’s easy:

Marshall- “Sorry sir, we didn’t know. Where can we get a sticker?”
Officer- “Well there are signs everywhere telling you the rules”. (As he points to a bunch of letters smeared on a sign).
Marshall- “Oh, I don’t read German that well. So may we pay back there?”
Officer- “You pay me 120 Euros.”
Marshall- “Uhh, there’s no way to go back and pay?”
Officer- “How long are you staying in Hungary?”
Marshall- “Only 2 nights”.
Officer- “You’ve got two options” (this is when a slight sense of relief comes, I like options!)
Officer continues- “You can pay me 120 Euros in cash or with a card, your choice”.

Here’s our view during this whole conversation.

20121007-163743.jpg

All said and done, 120 Euros later and a sense of slight highway robbery we continue on our way.
I will say Marshall and I are fantastic at destroying negative energy with a positive attitude and blasting more road trip tunes! There’s now a different level excitement in the car knowing that we get to reunite with Niki, the adorable girl we connected with in Salzburg. Friends in Hungary, here we come!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.