Check Out a Traveling Pro’s Tips

The Wall Street Journal offers a glimpse into the incredible traveling tips of Alice Shin, the advertising copywriter from Miami who beat out 600 applicants to become the launch blogger for Pei Wei Blog Asia. For the job, Shin had to blog while on a three-week, all-expense-paid trip to eight cities in Asia.

Check out her helpful tips and steal some for your own.

Diary of a Traveling Friend: More of India

More from my amazing traveling friend’s photo diary:

Varanasi early morning boat ride down the Ganga River

People bathing in ghats of the Holy River

Crossing the pre-monsoon season bridge

Red Fort in Old Delhi

Red Fort

Delhi by night

The gorgeous Taj Mahal

Golden Temple in Amritsar

Nighttime falls on the Golden Temple

India/Pakistan border ceremony

Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama

Happy Birthday to the Dalai Lama!

Monsoon flooding on the way to Manali

Bike ride from Manali to Nagar

Vishisht, view of the Himalayas

Talented tightrope-walking gal

Diary of a Traveling Friend: Annapurna Base Camp

Here’s a little update from my fabulous traveling friend, seeing as how I am currently grounded after my own fabulous, fantastic trip…

Start of the Annapurna Base Camp hike

First Sight of Annapurna South

Man U fans at the top of the Himalayas

ABC from a distance

The peace loving gals left signs all around the base camp

Sunset at the ABC

Annapurna South Face

Sunrise at Tatapani

Diary of a Traveling Friend: More Thailand Adventures

May 16, 2010

Just wanted to say another quick hello before we head off to trek. We got to Nepal last night and it’s a  pretty interesting city. We will be trekking for about 2-3 weeks in the Annapurna region, staying in little tea houses with no power along the way and roughing it.

The full moon party in Thailand was absolute madness. We stayed in these amazing bungalows on the Ko Phangan. The Red Bull is literally like crack and we were wired all night. The night was filled with fire jump roping, fire ring jumping, fire dancing and slides into water puddles. Everyone was all painted up and sweaty dancing messes—super fun night!

Next we went to Karbi and Ton Sai beach, which had amazing rock climbing, both with ropes and over the deep water. We took a ferry to a mini-bus to a bus (then the bus broke down and another one came 3 hours later) to a bus to a tuk tuk to a train to a taxi and we made it to the North (Chiang Mai) 48 hours later. Chiang Mai was really nice, but still a bit touristy, so we decided to go off the beaten path and head to Chiang Rai, which was 3 hours away. In Chiang Rai we went Hill Tribe treking, which was a crazy experience! We trekked for 3 days in 100 degree heat and stayed in bamboo huts and experienced local culture. Our guide was from the Hill Tribe we visited on the last day, so we were able to meet her family. She actually suffered from insomnia and had a ceremony scheduled to get her spirit back, so we got to see it. First they slaughtered a pig, chicken and dog. Then they prayed for 1.5 hours, then shook a bamboo stick and flipped some leaves, at which time the spirit doctor told us her spirit has returned…which was obviously great news. Then he prayed for 1.5 hours more, and we feasted on all the animals that were killed. Yup, I tried dog. Just a little piece though, and it wasn’t that bad with a lot of rice and chili paste. In Chaing Rai we also rented bicycles and biked to some temples. They pretty much don’t have any traffic laws in Thailand, so it was a pretty scary and cool experience. We also wore helmets, and all the locals were laughing at us because a) we were tourists biking everywhere and b) no one wears helmets. Also in Chiang Rai we ran into some Spanish boys we met in Chiang Mai (from the Canary Islands). We drank with them and went to a Thai disco where we were the only Westerners. The disco was a bunch of Lady Gaga type performers and Thai’s swaying their little booties……

Diary of a Traveling Friend: More of Gorgeous Northern Thailand

While I unfortunately missed a Skype call last night to discuss in further detail how my friend’s amazing trip has been, I do have more fantastic photos to share. Look, and envy:

Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai

Doi Suthep Temple, Chiang Mai

Being a faithful Buddhist follower

Chiang Rai at the start of hill tribe trekking

Elephant Trekking

Up close and personal

trekked in 100 degree heat to Lahu tribe village

having stare downs with the local cows in rice paddies

White Temple Chiang Rai

Diary of a Traveling Friend: A Photo Essay to Envy

Courtesy of my amazing traveling friend, take in the gorgeousness that is New Zealand and Thailand, seen through her eyes:

From New Zealand:

Auckland City

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

New Zealand sunset

Bay of Islands in Northland

A funky New Zealand bathroom

Ta Mahuta Kauri trees

Mauri Temple

Hot Pools Rotorua

And on to Thailand: Locations include Baan Dada, Erawan Falls, Koh Phangan, Ton Sai

View from Bungalows

Ton Sai beach

Deep water soloing = climbing on rocks without ropes (also = my nightmare)

As an aside, my traveling friend and her traveling companion also happen to be volunteering at orphanages and clinics along the way which, as you can imagine, also allow for some amazingly adorable photos of kids. However, for the sake of the kiddies privacy, I have refrained from posting those particular photos. It was hard. They’re adorable.

Bis bald, friends!


Diary of a Traveling Friend: The Beginning

Traveling down hill in a plastic ball filled with water? Sign me up!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a friend who is currently traveling around Asia volunteering, camping and just generally having the time of her life. Before she left, she mentioned that I could post some updates on her travels from time-to-time. So let this be the first in a series of email entries from her months-long adventure:

Date: 4/26/2010

Just wanted to write a quick e-mail while waiting for the bus and update you girls on my travels. New Zealand was amazing! Totally beautiful (both landscapes and boys). We rented a camper van and cruised around the island in it, camping in random spots along the road. We spent a good chunk of time in the central part of the North island and went on some really nice hikes, bungee jumping, ATVing, Zorbing (where they put you in a plastic ball with water and roll you down a hill), went to some wineries and saw some Kiwi birds!

Thailand is really cool and really, really hot! The minute you start moving (or not moving), sweat is pouring down your back. We went to see some really cool waterfalls where the fish nibble at your dead skin on your feet, so I got a cheap pedi. Also went up to see a friend who is working at an orphanage on the Burmese border and spent a few days up there hanging with the kids. They were all little monkeys, climbing on everything, including us. Hanging out in a small town outside of Bangkok now, which is nice and not extremely touristy. Leaving in about an hour to head down south for the Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan, so should have some interesting stories after that.

Miss ya girls, and would love for you to join us at any point!

Muchisimo Besos xoxox

I’ve emailed said friend back, imploring her for photos and as much more info as her little fingers can type (because, you know, I’d like to live vicariously through her!) Although she can’t call or text with her international phone, she can receive texts, so I’ll be sure to remind her of my need for constant updates.

Till next time, bis bald friends!

Arigatu Mr. Roboto

Yup, that's a volcano.

Finally, Chris’s account of his Japanese adventures from a few weeks before. Buckle up, and beware of the snowboarding stories:

14 hours later and touch down,  g’day Tokyo, niced to meet ya!

Here I am, land of the rising sun, snowboard bag on my shoulder, ready to take down Japan.

Just a couple of Tokyo subway rides, a short walk and I arrive at hotel heaven…  K’s House Hostel in Tokyo is exactly what you want a hostel to be—super clean, super cheap, super friendly and super location (I really stretched my vocab in that description).  Seriously awesome diggs —if you’re ever in need of some great accommodation in Tokyo, I couldn’t recommend it higher!

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She’s done it again

I want to go to there.

I have this one friend (the one who I went to visit in Hawaii), whose life I covet. I mean, I love my life, but she’s really got it down when it comes to traveling. She studied abroad in Europe in college, moved to Hawaii when she graduated and did tons of traveling around there, went to South America last year and now, she’s quit her Hawaiian job and is taking 6 months to travel around Asia, which will culminate in a month-long volunteer job in Vietnam where she will be working at a hospital teaching the PTs there (she’s a physical therapist) about the methods and techniques she’s learned in her years working at the hospital in Hawaii.

Not too shabby!

At our recent meet-up during her week home before she returns to Hawaii before she and her travel buddy jet-set off to Asia, she gave me her (relative) itinerary so that I could pick and chose a place and time to meet up with her, should I feel so inclined (the answer is yes, friends, I do feel so inclined). Here’s what it looks like:

Japan for 1 week
Vietnam for a few days
Cambodia for 1 month
Nepal for a little over a month
India for 1 month
Thailand for 2 weeks
Vietnam again (where she will be volunteering) for her final month

I asked her how her family felt about all her traveling around, especially after having lived in Hawaii for the past little-more-than-2-years. She sort-of laughed. “They’re wondering when I’ll be done,” she said.

I don’t know if one ever feels totally “done” when it comes to traveling, but maybe things just tend to die down in scale? I know recently I’ve felt a travel itch to up and move from Manhattan, take to the road or air or sea, see wherever I land and start new.

I probably won’t do it, though. My friend will. That’s the difference.

So I envy her, but for now, the least I can do is watch and live vicariously through her (and beg her to send me updates of her travels every few days so I can post them here).

Oh, and the other thing I can do is visit. With London and Rome in May and Oktoberfest in September, I’m not so sure how feasible it will be, but my friend promises me that they are traveling on the cheap, and that once I’m there, even if I stay for a week, I can expect to spend not much more than $100.

Really?!

That I could do. I’m thinking Thailand might be the perfect place and time for me to visit her. Plus, there’s no Visa requirement. I’ll have to look into it.

Although she did also leave me with a note of all the shots I’ll need to travel there— Hep A,B and C, tetanus, Malaria and Typhoid. Oh my.

Which place would you hop on in that itinerary?

Bis bald, my friends!