Monday, May 16, 2016

Why Cancelling Part of My Trip Was the Best Thing For Me

Here goes... The post that I've been absolutely dreading writing, but its something that I need to do. It's a long one and I would really appreciate it if you read the whole thing. 

I haven't been posting for the last month because I just haven't felt up to it. It's easy to tell someone that they should just do it because their readers are counting on them, or that they already have great momentum, so why stop now.... blah blah blah. It doesn't always matter. If you don't feel like you can put out a great product for everyone to see, then what's the point of half-assing something. 

As most of you probably know by now if you follow me on Instagram, I'm back in New York for the next two months. You probably all also know that I was supposed to be in Australia right now. It was a tough decision for me to make, I was literally battling myself for nearly three weeks about it, but coming home was just something that I needed to do for myself

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

vang vieng, laos

Vang Vieng was an interesting place... I had a lot of fun there, but the town was clearly a backpackers town. I had heard awesome things about tubing, but I had also heard some pretty crazy stories, so I wasn't sure what to expect. 

But first, lets backup a little bit... We went to Laos by sleeper train from Bangkok, which was a great option. We arrived well rested, something we hadn't experienced from the overnight busses in Myanmar.

When you take the train, you'll arrive in Nong Khai, which is just at the Thai border. From there, you'll be stamped out of Thailand and then take a short fifteen minute train ride over the border via the Friendship Bridge. You'll then obtain your visa on arrival at the Laos border. The whole process didn't take very long and was painless. 

We spent the day and night in Vientiane where there really isn't anything to do. The next morning, we took a three and a half hour bus ride to Vang Vieng. We arrived at our guest house, Jamee's House, which was very nice, but a little too far from the town for us (about 20 minutes). 

Asides from visiting the many "Friends Cafes" around Vang Vieng -- yes, they play episodes of Friends on loop, non stop, 24/7 at many places in town, there really isn't much to do besides tubing!

So, on our first full day, we headed down to the tube shop, paid 55,000 Kip as well as a 60,000 Kip deposit. If you don't make it back before six, you start to slowly lose your deposit. 

vang vieng, laos

We hopped on a tuk tuk, and were driven to the first of only two remaining bars.

The tubing scene in Vang Vieng has undergone MANY changes in the past few years. Where there are now only two bars, there used to be almost 25 bars scattered along the Mekong River Bank. Unfortunately, several backpackers have died over the years due to drowning, severe intoxication and even drug overdose. While tubing is still really fun, the overall experience is much tamer than it was in the past.

Let me preface this by saying we arrived WAY too early to the first bar. We couldn't figure out when we should leave because we wanted to float all the way down the river (which we would later learn, was not possible) and we were told it would take about 3 hours since it was still dry season. 

Don't show up until after 1:30. That's when people start to show up and the bar starts to get crazy. There are games, free shots and many more enticing things (the people working there will continually try to get you to stay at that bar and not leave to go to the next one). I wish we had stayed a bit longer, but I still had a good time. 

The second bar is a short float down the river -- about 30 minutes. It has a much "chiller" vibe, with a volleyball court, tables and seats to lounge on and a basketball hoop. We ended up staying there for awhile. 

vang vieng, laos

My favorite part of this story is coming up, so brace yourself....

If you go during the dry season, THERE IS NO WAY YOU ARE YOING TO FLOAT DOWN THE RIVER!!! There is not nearly enough water and you will find yourself constantly running into rocks. So, do yourself a favor, stand up in the water and walk with your tube around your waist when this is happening... It might sound silly, but it will save you from some pretty nasty bruises! 

There are tuk-tuks waiting all around the riverbank to pick up and ripoff the drunk tubers, so remember that you should be able to negotiate down, but be persistent! Most drivers will also want you to pay ahead of time in Laos for some reason (maybe they've dealt with a lot of runners in the past). 

We arrived with ten minutes to spare and were able to get our full deposits back which we then put part of towards delicious sandwiches. 

I'm glad I went tubing, but its the same idea as the Full Moon Party in Thailand....once was enough for me!

After tubing during the day, take a nap and have a shower and then head over to Sakura for some more fun!!

Don't Forget to Follow Along for Updates!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Straight Out of a Fairytale: Bagan, Myanmar

bagan, myanmar

We arrived in Bagan very early. Like two hours before the bus was supposed to get there (think 3:30 AM)... You have to pay a crazy fee to get into Bagan (your taxi will stop at a little toll booth -- its about 20 USD), which we had heard about but weren't sure what to expect. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Truth About Travel X

You might run out of money...

Seasoned travelers will tell you that the preparation for your first solo trip is much more important than for any subsequent trip. Having read this tip over and over, I spent the last few weeks leading up to my trip to Europe over-preparing for anything that could possibly go wrong. Or so I thought.

My first stop was Budapest, and I wanted to make sure that I had cash to pay for a cab from the airport to my hostel, so I exchanged some US dollars into Hungarian Forints and Euros before I took off (rookie mistake since the exchange rates in the airports suck). Anyways, I had about $100 Euro to my name by the time I disembarked the train in Munich a week later.

I blew through my cash in a couple of days, not expecting that I would have difficulty getting more. Then I remembered that I hadn’t received the pin number for my new debit card before I left for my trip. Whatever, I thought, everyone accepts Visa, so I would be fine. However, one thing that no one told me was that many places in Europe don’t accept credit cards.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How to Visit Inle Lake, Myanmar

inle lake, myanmar
I really began my backpacking trip in Myanmar. After a short stop in Yangon, we hopped on an overnight bus to Inle Lake, a place that had been high up on my list of cities to visit. I had heard absolutely wonderful things about the small town from some friends, so I was eager to get there.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Shopping: What's in My Beach Bag?

I've already been able to go to the beach once sit I started my big adventure and I will be heading to many more over the next few months. It's important to bring the obvious things like a hat and sunscreen and a towel, but what about the not so obvious things? 

This is what's in my beach bag: 

What's in yours? 

Don't Forget to Follow Along for Updates!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Surviving the Full Moon Party

We came, we saw, we conquered....well mostly. 

Surviving the Full Moon Party wasn't as hard as we had anticipated, and I'm glad we went and did it, but we won't be heading there again anytime soon. 

It. Was. Crazy. 
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