Do It While You’re Young: My First Trip Abroad as an Adult

It’s been a busy week for Wake Up and Dance! I was on Wandering Educators, The Tripping Blog, and Do It While You’re Young (DIWYY). DIWYY posted my story detailing my first experience abroad as an adult. This was written for their Friends Don’t Let Friends Not Travel (FDLFNT!) Contest. If you know somebody who wants to take their first trip abroad, nominate them to win a free trip in the contest. Enter by April 8, 2012.

Dining on Dak Galbi – Stateside

dak galbi

What’s my favorite Korean dish? Dak galbi. Dak galbi. DAK GALBI! 

Yes, I might be a little over enthusiastic, but it’s seriously delicious. If you haven’t tried it, then you can’t judge. I love the occasional daeji galbi, but I consider that a once every two weeks kind of dish. Bulgogi is fantastic also, but doesn’t possess that special something that entices and excites me like dak galbi does. It’s a little more run-of-the-mill. Now dak galbi on the other hand, is just down right delicious, exciting and addictive. Read more

5 Things I No Longer Have to Think About

Home sweet home. As much as I adore traveling, there are certainly a few things I’m happy to no longer have to think about. They may sound like silly miniscule details, but I assure you they are huge when you have to keep them in mind constantly.

1. NO MORE ANTS! Or any critters for that matter. I Ziplock bagged everything to keep the creepy crawlers out. I kept dirty clothes sealed away so they wouldn’t attract ants and I kept clean underwear bagged so it would stay isolated. I also Ziplocked my toothbrush in its case so that I wouldn’t end up brushing my teeth with ants. (Yuck!) All food items needed to be bagged so that Dave and I wouldn’t find ourselves accidentally eating bugs. We let our guard down once in Singapore figuring that an unopened package of Mentos was fine in a hotel room in the middle of a huge developed city. We were wrong. While watching TV that night, Dave started chomping on the Mentos without looking at what he was eating. He offered me one and I saw that the candy was swarming with small ants! He had thought the crunchy bits were sugar granules. The lesson? ALWAYS bag your stuff in tropical environments.  Read more

Beach Bummer

When I first visited Pulau Perhentian Kecil two years ago, I found a beach where a large monitor lizard liked to hang out. I was told that a German man came every year for a few months and spent everyday on that beach and fed the lizard. I thought that was sweet until I encountered the man and his band of beach gypsies on my most recent trip there. Read more

Noodle Panic

pad thai noodle panic

Noodle Panic [nood-l pan-ik]

noun

A sudden overwhelming fear or anxiety that emerges right before one leaves Thailand due to the belief that such delicious dishes might not be had again for a very long time. This results in behavior that includes irrational purchasing of any and all food that passes by or that the sufferer comes across. When such attacks of Noodle Panic arise, it is best for the sufferer to be supervised by a loved one and for their wallet to be looked after. Symptoms include: an inability to keep conversation, darting eyes, perspiration, shortness of breath, a slight dizzy feeling, trembling, and the desire to spend an unlimited amount of money on food.

Origin: The first case was diagnosed on a night train on February 12, 2012 by David Domagalski. While attempting to play cards, his usually sane girlfriend, was overcome with anxiety due to the fact that she was unsure when she would ever eat such delicious Thai food in Thailand again. This resulted in a very distracted card game as countless vendors walked the train car aisle selling noodles, snacks, and beverages. Despite her lack of hunger due to an impulsive Pad Siew purchase earlier that day, she repeatedly asked David if she should buy things, to which he smartly replied no. If the person suffering from a Noodle Panic attack is encouraged, an entire budget can be blown and more food than they can eat will be bought.

Crafting on the Road: Learning how to make traditional Lao Buddhist temple stencils

Crafting in Laos

In the past few years I’ve been in and out of many, many temples and can’t help but be mesmerized by the stunning artwork covering the inner and outer walls of each and every one. Every temple, even ones that are only one block away from each other, have a different look to them and I’ve taken to photographing the beautiful art at each one I visit. I hope to use my large collection of temple art pictures as inspiration for something one day.

stencil makingI had always wondered how the artwork was made and how long it took, so I was ecstatic to discover Yensabai Book & Art  in Luang Prabang, Laos that offers traditional stencil making classes. For 120,000 Kip (15 USD) we were taught how to properly cut the stencils out of handmade paper with straight and curved chisels on a plank of wood. Over a span of two hours Dave and I hammered away while occasionally sipping on Lao green tea (for me) and Lao coffee (for Dave). It was a very cathartic experience and we not only walked away with a better understanding of how much work goes into decorating a Buddhist Temple, but also two pieces of awesome art.

stencil tools and materials

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cutting my stencil

our finished stencils

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Gone are the days

Gone are the days when…

  • I found street food suspicious.
  • I dreaded squatter toilets.
  • cockroaches spooked me.
  • big spiders in my room surprised me.
  • ants in my room bothered me.
  • washing my hair daily was a necessity.
  • I thought days on buses, trains and planes were exciting and not exhausting.
  • the majority of travelers relied on internet cafes.
  • internet was too slow that I had to email new blog posts to my dad for him to post.
  • wifi was a luxury.
  • T.V. in my guesthouse room was shocking.
  • I stayed in hostel dormitories.
  • I shared rooms with newly befriended travelers.
  • I had to backup my pictures on CDs at internet cafes.
  • fellow backpackers understood that service and food would be different than it was at home.
  • people found their exotic surroundings more interesting than their iPods.
  • a select few had electronic reading devices.
  • it was easy to find somebody to trade a book with.
  • I didn’t have a truly awesome travel buddy by my side every step of the way.

 

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Native Foreigner

Native Foreigner is an online magazine for anybody who has traveled, is going to travel or knows somebody returning from an experience abroad. The first issue just came out and you can find my article on page 45. I highly recommend this publication and not just because I’m in it! The whole magazine is incredibly visually pleasing and the writing is excellent. This is a great resource for students returning from a study abroad experience, along with parents who want to know what their kids might be going through. I’m very honored to be part of the first issue. Go read it!

The Miracle of Greenitude

I love uncovering activities in Thailand where there are very few farang (foreigners) making loud ridiculous comments while toting large Chang beers that match their Chang tank tops. The International Horticultural Exposition: Royal Flora Ratchaphruek was exactly one of those great finds that the masses (foreign tourists that is) hadn’t heard about. It was foreigner friendly with plenty of information in English, but the majority of the people wandering around were Thai. Just my scene.

I was super proud of Thailand while walking around the huge horticulture theme park. The first road from the entrance, and the suggested path, takes you through the gardens and exhibits of a wide variety of government related departments including the Department of Livestock Development, Rice Department, Ministry of National Resources and Environment, Land Development Department, etc. I thought this was genius because it led people to the most educational sections first; sections they may have chosen to skip otherwise.

Dave and I were particularly impressed by the exhibit from the Department of Groundwater Resources. Read more