But Wait, Where is Suriname?

Hey kittens, it’s about time for David and I to head off on a corporate-sanctioned adventure of ten days or less.  This time, we’re heading to South America, a continent neither of us has ever visited.  Machu Picchu, you ask, or perhaps Patagonia?  I hear Brazil has some lovely beaches, too, right?  All of those destinations, while lovely, seemed a bit too mainstream for us (or, let’s be honest, flights were a bit too expensive and required too much transit time), so instead of Ipanema or Buenos Aires, we’re off to the least visited nations on the continent: Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana!

If you’re thinking, “Where is Suriname?” then you’re in good company.  The most Googled thing about Suriname is “Where is Suriname?”  Most folks, upon telling people I was heading there, thought it was in Africa.  Others, taking a clue from the film adaptation of “The Silence of the Lambs,” thought it was in Asia.  In truth, Suriname, along with Guyana and French Guiana, is nestled into the least explored section of the Amazon Rainforest, on the Northeastern corner of the South American continent. I probably don’t need to say this, but the region is largely untouched by foreign tourism. Read more

Hanoi, Vietnam, without Plans

I’ll be honest with you, I was a bit afraid of Hanoi before we went there.  Most of what I’d heard about the city was contrary to our travel style: it’s busy, disorganized, full of scammers, loud, etc.  I’ve had friends travel there that have absolutely hated it, but also friends that absolutely loved it.  I was worried that, after three days relaxing in Luang Prabang, Laos, Hanoi’s energy would be too much for us.dsc_0849-2 dsc_0886

As luck would have it, when you have a bar set pretty low for a place, the conditions are set for it to really knock it out of the park.  And while I’m not sure my opinion of Hanoi would be the same if we’d been there a full week instead of a mere 48 hours, I’m glad we spent the time we did in Hanoi rather than skip it altogether. Read more

Big Concrete and Bigger Nature: Central Asia 2016

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been captivated by Central Asia.  My father runs an antique rug store in the Seattle area, and since I was a wee child I’ve been surrounded by Central Asian textiles, from Uzbek suzanis to Kyrgyz shyrdaks.  For one reason or another, I’ve yet to make it to the region from whence these textiles came, but that is about to change.  David and I are heading on our second trip of the year – to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.  And I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/depenbusch/
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/depenbusch/
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mibuchat/
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mibuchat/

I long thought that Central Asia wouldn’t happen for me until I was older – its remoteness proved to be a hindrance, with only expensive and lengthy flights serving the region from my relative backwater of Seattle.  However, with Momondo flight alerts set, I stumbled upon round trip tickets to Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, for under $1,000 and with only one stop (in Frankfurt, of course), for precisely the times David and I would be able to travel.  I jumped, and bought the tickets, and decided to figure the rest out as the cards fell. Read more

Off the Beaten Path in My Google History: July 2016

As a full time employee of Corporate America, I spend a lot more time daydreaming about travel than actually traveling.  I toyed around with the idea last year of posting about the places that take me down wikipedia and travel blog rabbit holes, but with little follow through.  And as I’m kind of spent talking about Southeast Asia for the moment, I couldn’t think of a better time to revisit my various wanderlustings.  So without further ado, find below the five spots keeping me up at night, planning adventures well into the 2020s.

Mozambique

I have never been to Africa.  And while there are a million places I would love to visit there, Mozambique is at the top of the list.  I know a few people who have had the privilege of traveling there and I have only heard amazing things.  From the unspoiled Indian Ocean beaches (the country stretches from South Africa in the south all the way to Tanzania in the north – that’s an impressive coastline), to a fascinating and tragic history of Portuguese colonialism, to the diversity of people found there (like many places on the Indian ocean, trade routes catalyzed cross fertilization of cultures belonging to the nations surrounding the body of water), everything about Mozambique is attractive to me.  There’s even a healthy dose of modernist architecture to be found in the larger cities of Maputo and Beira.

Well, maybe everything but the million hours and several thousand dollars it takes to get there from Seattle.5984289274_0b89e1edfd_z 23533936000_f4703e77f9_z Read more

Getting a Tattoo in Siem Reap, Cambodia: Where You Need to Go

David and I are big tattoo fans, and we each have quite a few that adorn our bods.  Mine are all related to travel and experiences I’ve had in different places around the world, and after spending a week in Cambodia, I knew I wanted a piece of local ink to express my feelings about the complex nation. DSC_0412 (2)

As it turns out, David was on board, too, and we set off developing our different designs.  As or more important as the design, however, was finding the right artist to do the work.  We have an artist we use here in Seattle, and we wanted to find the right artist in Cambodia, with whom we could develop a similar, easy-going rapport. Read more

Exploring with Locals in Subotica, Serbia

I think it’s common knowledge that the quickest and easiest way to get to know a place is with someone who lives there and knows its ins and outs.  It cuts down on the learning curve, which can be especially difficult in places off the beaten path – like some parts of Serbia that aren’t as frequented by tourists, especially in the winter months.  So when I was doing my manic googling (as I do before any trip), I was very excited to come across the Subotica Greeters Program – a program that enables tourists in the Vojvodina city to explore with someone who knows the city well and has access to all of the gems it has to offer.december-balkans-85jpg_24271343136_o december-balkans-86jpg_24271346426_o Read more

Bitchin’ Balkans 2.0: Activate!

Hello, hello, hello!  Things have been quiet as of late for a couple of reasons (maybe probably most likely because I’ve been working 55 hour weeks, but no matter!), the most prominent being that I’ve been keeping a secret.  Not very well, because I’ve told quite a few of my upcoming, secret travel plans.  But hold your breath no more – because I’m here to announce…

We’re going back to the Balkans!  Again!

On Saturday! Read more

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5 Reasons to Travel in the Off Season

When one thinks of a vacation, usually it’s very much associated with the summertime, when good weather is almost assured and families with children are able to take time off to jaunt to exotic locations around the country and the world.  This said, of the three big trips we’ve taken over the past year, two have been in the off season, and one in the almost off season.  

And we certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.  Traveling in the off season is, for us, a much better alternative than traveling in peak season.  Here are the reasons why:Jpegs-470Jpegs-460 Read more

Desperately Seeking Trinkets at Sofia’s Bitaka Flea Market

I am a shopper.  When David and I go on vacation, one of our best practices is to arrive in our destination with only carry on luggage, and then check luggage (full of trinkets, naturally) on the way home.  I have some hoarder-type tendencies (it ranges from tchotchke to canines) that are very real, and perhaps they most strongly manifest in my accumulation of things when I travel.IMG_20151017_090328510 IMG_20151017_094034835

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