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for my birthday, I got the alps

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for my birthday, I got the alps

It's taken 29 years, but I finally learned the trick to having an amazing birthday.

  1. Do something really hard the day before, something that you think you can't do.
  2. Wake up the morning of your birthday psyched. You're stronger than you realized. 

For me, that something hard was trekking up Schneeberg, the biggest mountain in lower Austria. The difficult part wasn't so much the hiking as it was carrying a tent, sleeping bags, pads, kitchen stuff, food, water, warm clothes and a 2 year old up. 

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Our porter I mean friend, Wolfgang Kronberger, carried up Miriam's bag most of the way, so she could carry this sweet thing. 

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Six hours later, we made it in time to pitch a tent, eat dinner, and watch the sun set over the alps. 

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The next morning it was birthday hugs and chocolate. We began lazily hiking down, stopping to eat and just relax. We were psyched with what we had done the day before and I was psyched to get some calories back in the form of that fine Austrian chocolate. 

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Wolfgang_Sam_walking_down
little_hiker_man
Wolfgang_on_Schneeberg

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this is empathy

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this is empathy

And you’re traveling by yourself? Aren’t you scared?
— pretty much every taxi driver, server, barista, person sitting by me on a bus or train

Scared? No. Wait, what? Crap. Should I be scared? What do they know that I don't? 

But then that same woman that asked me that question proceed to show me exactly I don't need to be scared, as they ride one extra stop on the bus to make sure I go the right way down the hidden alleyway to find my hostel in Prague.

And then the girl I sit by on the bus to Berlin tells me about BlaBla car, a cheap ride share around Europe, which ends up saving me loads of money. And then she takes out a pen and paper and writes out common German phrases and coaches me through the pronunciation for the rest of the bus ride.

And then in Slovakia I sit across the train from someone who sketches out a map for me with all of the stops on the train from now until my stop, so I won't second guess the Slovakian announcements. 

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And then when I miss my bus, this sweet couple change my Czech krona for Euro so I can buy a bus ticket and then brings me tea while I wait three hours for the next bus. 

And a hundred more moments like these, of people pointing out cool cafes, historical buildings, taking me out to dinner, to coffee, giving me rides, and connecting me with friends in other cities. And then several times, friends of those friends (who haven't even met me) let me crash in their apartment for a few days.  

And then I count the times I've sat on a bus in Minneapolis next to a non-English speaker, and helped them practice their English. Or sketched out a map for someone who is lost and doesn't speak the language. Or taken the time to stop what I was doing to help someone find the right bus. Am I even noticing these people?

Someday I will have a home, a job, a car, a normal life. And this trip will just be a memory; a collection of stories and photos. I want to store away all of these sweet little moments, these kind faces that have helped me every inch of this trip. 

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The stuff you don't share on Facebook

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The stuff you don't share on Facebook

The only sunburn I’ve gotten in SE Asia...on my lips. Apparently I didn’t put enough sunscreen on them and they swelled to twice their size. My celeb status just rose to B list. 

The only sunburn I’ve gotten in SE Asia...on my lips. Apparently I didn’t put enough sunscreen on them and they swelled to twice their size. My celeb status just rose to B list. 

"What's your name, where are you from, how long are you traveling? Over and over again. Hostels blasting house music, clichéd graffiti on the walls, drunk travelers trying to out-gypsy each other. Am I really doing five more months of this until I see a familiar face?" 

Its my last night in Bangkok and I'm having dinner with Scott, an old friend and one of the most experienced travelers I know. I admitted to him I was starting to get weary of this lifestyle, tired of Lonely Planet checklists, people 'doing' an entire country, having the same conversations with 20 year olds on their gap year. Scott laughed and told me I was hitting the four-month mark and it was normal. People start to look and sound the same. I’ve met you before, he would think. Slow down, find a place you like, it will get better.

I headed to Cambodia, thinking a change in scenery would help, but the next few days were filled with insane heat and bad luck. My heat rash had spread and with it came a new rash that turned out to be bed bugs. I got the worst sunburn I've gotten in SE Asia...on my lips. I looked like an off-brand Kardashian, but eating spicy food with sunburned lips isn't so sexy. The power was out in Siam Reap so I cooled off throughout the night by hosing myself down with a bum gun (exactly what it sounds like). 

That night as the power came back on, the reports of the earthquake in Nepal came with it. My heart sank as I thought about my two good friends there, Kristen volunteering in Kathmandu and Josh trekking on the Annapurna Circuit. I had a ticket to join them in just a few weeks and had planned on spending five months in Nepal, the longest I was to spend anywhere. As news stories started to gather more information and first hand accounts, the death toll started rising. I began to really panic. The earthquake had been one of the worst in a long time and it had triggered an avalanche on Everest. I reached out to my two friends, our mutual friends, and some family members. I hopped online. Refresh page, refresh page, refresh page. I tried to distract myself by going to the night market in Siam Reap, but was met with the stomach churning mix of drunk, white tourists and Cambodian kids begging for food and something to drink. 

I hopped on a bus and headed south, hoping a sleepy river town would provide the quiet and natural beauty I needed to relax. Why was I here? Traveling for the sake of traveling had lost its novelty. I felt like I was stumbling from city to city, meeting the same people in each hostel, crossing things off a list that I didn’t make or care about. I hate small talk and I found myself repeating the same conversation with everyone I met. Was I going to have these same conversations for the next five months, like some sort of endless networking event?

More than that though, the earthquake in Nepal was a poignant reminder of how short life is – so what was I doing? I have an incredible community at home, so many amazing friends and family that I am so proud to call mine. Did I leave them for a bunch of pretty photos? 

I missed community. Once I realized it, I felt relieved. Of course I missed community. That's what Scott had been saying. And if I get to pick, why not go with one of my favorite types: climbers. Instead of motorbiking my way up the coast of Vietnam like I had planned, I flew all the way to my final destination in the north of Vietnam: Cat Ba Island. I emailed Asia Outdoors, the biggest adventure tourism company on the island, and asked about volunteering as a climbing guide. 

It has been over a month since I showed up here and it has been exactly the antidote I needed to feel like myself again. There is something beautiful and warm about being known. We share rooms, clothes, gear, watch Game of Thrones, push each other on hard sport climbs, sketch out on scary trad, eat, and get drunk together. It's messy and imperfect and just so freaking normal. This was all too good to leave so I renewed my visa and decided to spend a few months here on Cat Ba Island. 

I know I am missing seeing most of the sights I'm supposed to see in Vietnam, but I don't care, because this trip is nothing without community. 

 

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Vietnam, 40 years after the war

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Vietnam, 40 years after the war

This post is five months late because it took me that long to figure out how to put words to how I felt as an American in Vietnam. 

A few days after arriving in Saigon, I toured an American/Vietnamese war museum and seeing the victims of agent orange was a heartbreaking experience. I chose to do it alone and was glad, as I had the time and space to process the photos and read about the war from the Vietnamese perspective.

You guys, it was horrific. 

The chemicals we sprayed from planes caused the most extreme deformities you can imagine, and it's still affecting children and civilians even 40 years after the war has ended. Though I felt the anti-American propaganda unnecessary and distracting, the photos and the impact of agent orange is entirely real. I left the museum sick to my stomach, having left after watching a video of an 8-year old boy with feet attached to his hips crawl around his bedroom.

The next day I joined an Australian friend on a tour exploring the Cu Chi tunnels about 45 minutes outside of Saigon. I was one of the only American's on the tour, so I felt incredibly self conscious as I boarded the bus. But our guide was wonderful, walking us through the timeline from the Vietnamese perspective, which was so interesting to me as the Vietnam War is so glossed over our American history books.

What most impressed me most though was the grace he gave while speaking about the United States and the American soldiers. He explained that many U.S. soldiers didn't agree with the war and found themselves in a kill or be killed situation. He even talked about the many American soldiers returning home after such a gutting war to a nation that didn't support them. Telling a story about such a traumatic and political war while still creating empathy for both sides was not an easy feat, but one that I felt so grateful for. 

When we arrived at the Cu Chi tunnels, I was beyond amazed at the advanced infrastructure, especially from a nation with so little resources. I could barely fit through most of the openings of the tunnels, which were intentionally sized for petite Vietnamese soldiers. The tunnels were hot (even for Vietnam), tiny, and claustrophobic. I couldn't believe the Viet Cong soldiers lived in them for over 10 years. 

Over the next few months I struggled to process what I had seen. The more research and thought I put into it, the more my my anger settled on our government. And not even in a protest the war kind of a way. We're not the first country to do something really shitty like this, but in order to learn from our mistakes we can't bury them. If we know that history repeats itself, why don’t we as a nation own what we did and educate people on the American/Vietnam war? 

We need to talk about this, about the weapons we chose to fight with, and the effect they had and are still having.  

But while I was processing, I noticed something. The Vietnamese people offered me nothing but lightness and warmth. Wait - they're being so kind. My curiosity led me to some cautious conversations with a few locals about the war, starting with the man pictured playing the guitar. 

My uncle was a medic in that cave on this very island. 
Really? Wow. I can't imagine trying to treat people out of a cave. So how do you feel about Americans now?

Oh I like Americans.
...oh. Well tell me this; looking back on it, how do you feel about it now, are you angry?
No. Just glad it's over. 

Being in a country that we warred for so long could have been an uncomfortable, if not terrible experience. But instead, I benefitted from so many Vietnamese taking the high road, helping to create relationships between a new generation of people. But to be offered this kind of grace was nothing short of inspiring. 

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Babes in Thailand

How do you know you've found a good one? When he flies 8,000 miles across the world to spend two weeks with you. And when he arrives he says things after dinner like, we should get some chocolate tonight. And when I'm tying in to the sharp end, you've got this babe, swift and brave. And when I ask him what we should do tonight, oh I don't care, I just want to hang out with you. All of this following the time he pulled rain pants, a steripen, a solar charger, and tampons out of his bag. Freaking love this guy.

We had our ups and downs. Days filled with brapping around the island in search of chocolate and coffee, reading by the sea, and getting to explore the beautiful limestone rock in Laos together. And we had long travel days, filled with sticky humidity, heavy bags, miscommunications, bad sleep and bad food. 

The best parts though, were the parts we didn’t bring a camera for. That long afternoon spent hiding from the rain in a veggie café, drinking beer and ginger tea while listening to the old rasta hippie owner talk about everything from the Thai political system, to his beliefs in what happens when we die. The mutual excitement over filling our bellies with banana nutella pancakes, psyching out on tufus and stalactites, being lazy in the mornings and little punky gremlins in the evenings. Here are a few of my favorite moments with this sweet dude of mine.

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I used to have things

"And we'll arrive at 6:00 am, yes? On a sleeper bus? With beds?"
"Yes, yes, 6 o'clock, yes. Sleeper, yes." 

We're talking to our hostel owners in Vang Vieng. I had met Alex, a cool British dude, in my last hostel and we decided to travel together to Luang Prabang, home of the most beautiful waterfalls you can imagine. We'd both had rough experiences on SE Asian 'sleeper' buses (janky buses with no beds), so we're springing for the more expensive tickets on the sleeper bus, because we are such clever and proactive travelers. 

"Okay, then. 6:00 am arrival on a bus with beds. We'll take two tickets."

Fast forward to that night. Our bus pulls up and we climb on to see two rows of...seats. Okay, so no beds. Whatever, I can sleep sitting up. We settle into watching a few episodes of True Detective and miraculously fall asleep around 1:30 am, heads gently banging back and forth. 

You know how you can get woken up and feel terrible? Like it would have been better to not sleep at all? An hour later Alex is shaking me awake, we have to get off the bus. HUH? It's the middle of the night, what the junk? I look out my window to see our driver tossing my backpack on the dark street. So...we're in Luang Prabang? Uhh yeah, its a few kilometers up the road, Alex explains.

Pounding headache that can't be squeezed out of my temples. Sticky eyelids that keep forgetting to open. Sore back and butt from leaning against the window. 

We start walking toward the dark town, the only ones awake apart from the stray barking dogs. There were only six of us on the bus and each pair seemed to have a different strategy. Two opted to sit on the curb outside a cafe and wait for it to open...in five hours. Two more pounded the pavement, pathetically attempting to wake hostel owners by rattling fences. Its 2:30 am. This is not good.

And then it hits me: this is going to be my first night sleeping on the street. For no reason at all, this cheers me up. Maybe its some sort of right of passage. How could I travel the world and never get to experience this? 

We manage to find a market (pictured right) with a cement ridge partially concealing an elevated sidewalk from view of the street. Concrete below us, backpacks threaded through our arms, we park it for the night. I used to have things, I think. A job. A car. An apartment...huh. Night Alex. Night, Elizabeth. 

We're woken to a broom and man telling us to move. I start singing riff raff, street rat (Aladdin song) as we scramble to our feet exhausted, but proud. We did it. 

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Trekking: A lesson in getting what we paid for

You'll spend three days and two nights in the jungle in the National Park. The first night will be a village home stay, where you'll spend time with locals and eat local food. The next night you'll build your own camp out of materials we will find in the jungle. Your meals of sticky rice will be supplemented with food we collect in the jungle.

I'm in northern Laos, eating up whatever rubbish the trekking salesman behind the counter feels like telling us. Seated next to me are badass Israeli girls Amit, Bar, and Dal, and Dutch dude, Jelte. As I watched the girls negotiate our trekking cost in half (Israeli style!), I immediately knew I liked them. Jelte and I had already bonded in our van ride from hell on the way there (mountain roads + 95 degree heat + pissed off driver - aircon  = all the bad things). So I knew he was down for adventure too. 

And we did have adventure. That adventure meant the surreal feeling of having someone shake your hand, saying 'Hello, I am Namthee, welcome to my village.' It meant a lovely night playing sweet village kids, doing cartwheels, playing wheelbarrow and teaching them hand claps. Words not necessary. And it meant bonding with my new friends, playing dumb games, slipping down muddy river beds, and getting drunk serious over the bonfire. It meant watching our guide make a water bong out of bamboo and tap out beats while making up quirky songs in broken English. 

But other times it meant joining up with another group of 10 trekkers on thin trails, heads to butts style, so our pace slowed significantly. And it meant only going into the National Park when we begged, and even then being snuck in to the edge of it, as we learned our guides hadn't paid the entrance fee. And most importantly for me, it meant not getting to collect our own food or build our own camp, since the language barrier made it no doubt easier for the guides to do it on their own. 

Even still, my memories of this trek are warm. I grew close with the other trekkers, as you do when you are in a make-the-best-of-it type of situation. And besides, its impossible not to respect a guide who can make a water bong out of bamboo. 

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Kuang Si Waterfalls

Kuang Si Waterfalls: bigger, taller, and way more beautiful than I imagined.  

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Pro tips:

  • Definitely rent a motorbike instead of taking the tour, not just because its cheaper, but because you can spend as long as you want there. We petered around, exploring different paths that led to huge, beautiful infinity pools and caves. 
  • If you want to see the bears, go early. We thought we'd see them on the way back out and missed them, as they go to sleep around 4pm. 

 

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ode to the squatties

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ode to the squatties

Yeah sure I may have had dead ants in my toothbrush, a frog in my toilet, and slept on the sidewalk last week, but one of the hardest things I've had to get used to in SE Asia are squatty potties. But I'm proud to tell you that I'm no longer a squatty struggler. 

For those of you who haven't had the wonderful experience of getting low, a squatty potty is supposed to be bomb for at least three reasons:

  1. Health - lowers risk of constipation, hemorrhoids, colon disease, and helps with pelvic floor issues, says the squatty potty makers).
  2. Sanitation - think of how many butts have touched the last toilet you used. 
  3. Efficiency - no one is scrolling through any feeds on these mofos. See ya never bathroom line. 
It's always best to face the wall to minimize splatter. You get used to it, promise. 

It's always best to face the wall to minimize splatter. You get used to it, promise. 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 reasons to go to Koh Lanta

1. More than 30 kilometers of coastline looking like this.
There is a beach for everyone. starting on the north end of the island, the beaches are more rasta/hippie and crowded. The further south you go, the quieter and more relaxed they get. We stayed about halfway down, on Klong Nin Bay and loved it! 

2. The Lanta Animal Welfare Clinic
Wykstra and I both love animals and were psyched to support this clinic. They're run almost entirely by volunteers and they take in dogs and cats that have been abused or abandoned and give them the necessary medicine, treatment, and love to get better. We got to take little the little punk Bang-Bang for a walk on the beach. 

All of that lovin' is supported by donations from the nearby Lime Bar. So we went and you know, supported them supporting that. 

3. Motorbike rental for 250 BHT ($8 USD).
You can brap up and down the island, visiting the national forest, get a massage, or check out other beaches and what have you. 

4. The whole bottom part of the island is a national forest. 
With some casual hiking, monkeys erywhere, and views like this.

5. Crabs
They hated me, but will love you, plomise. 

6. SNORKELING
But just a warning: the 4 Islands Tour is a lot of tour and not a lot of snorkeling. maybe you can hire a boat on your own? just don't expect a ton of snorkeling, its a lot of shlepping around from island to island. I'm still including it in this list because its not the fishes fault. 

7. Animals, everywhere
Aside from our usual insects and critters living in our bungalow, we have chickens, cats, and dogs that roam around the island! I love them and they love me and its 100% mutual. 

8. That Thai kindness
I could probably say this about everywhere in rural Thailand, but the Thai people in Koh Lanta were so kind, thoughtful, and generous, with what little they had. Case in point the woman who took in this abandoned little monkey and cared for him (and let us play with him all the time). 

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funny thing about time

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funny thing about time

Want to know how you can slow down time? Wish for something. Want to make your week last as long as possible? Wish for the weekend. I swear my hair stops growing the moment I wish it was longer and I could make time go twice as slow by wishing it were 5 pm, the next weekend with no plans, the Spring, the third season of House of Cards. 

Measuring time by things I’m looking forward to is the most ironic thing because I make the waiting last forever as the things I enjoy race past me. 

Here though, time is the strangest thing. We don’t have weekends to look forward to, because every day is a weekend. We don’t have a climbing trip to look forward to, because we’re always on one. We don’t have good weather to look forward to, or good food to look forward to, or even a full nights rest because we can have those things whenever we want them. So because we’re not wishing for anything, we don’t elongate or stunt time; we just watch the minutes and experiences pass by steadily, as if sliding by us on a conveyor belt. 

Somewhere I read a really cool description of how time passes when traveling; its as if we’re in a car looking out at the horizon and time seems to move so slowly, but then you look out the side window and its zooming past and you’re unable to slow down or to stop the car and stretch a minute out any longer than it’s supposed to. 

When I think about traveling for a year and a half, it seems like forever, but when I stop to realize its already been a month, its seems like its already going too fast. The breezy mornings, the tides, the long climbs, and the days of this trip pass by whether we want them to or not. The only way I’ve found to slow time here is to slow down myself, and take in the smallest details around me. It’s impossible to reach out and stop the sun that keeps falling into the horizon too fast, so we just try to watch as many sunsets as possible. We take the long way home to check in on how our neighbor spider's web has been faring in the wind, or to watch an ant to haul something four times its size across our bungalow porch. Anything to slow time and not miss a single moment of this trip. 

[Full disclosure: I’ve never been accused of being a time person. Even though my former job as a project manager demanded that I keep a schedule, I rarely followed one outside of work. Being aware of how long something realistically takes has never been my strong suit so I’m usually a bit, okay always late. So this could be a rambly bambly load of garbage from a person who has on more than one occassion snuck in the last pew after the bride walked down the aisle.]

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and we have a trip motto

"Oh hello, yes hi, sawatdee kahh...umm so, the wifi doesn’t seem to be working?"

I’m standing in an internet café, talking to the woman behind the counter. I'm kicked off the wifi for the gazillionth time as my parents and my sister sit 8,000 miles away at their laptops, waiting for me to come back on.

She smiles at me. 

I lift my laptop screen to show her the angry message on the screen, accusing them of not paying their bill. (remember, I'm in an internet cafe) I shrug my shoulders at her, as if to ask again.

Her smile stays genuine; she just blinks and announces, ‘ahhh, yes is a problem!’

I'm embarrassed to say we repeat this charade a few more times before I just agree with her. I mean, she's right, it IS a problem.

I return to my seat and laugh with Wykstra at just how very American I am. I'm so accustomed to getting things when I want, or at least as the customer, being used to being 'always right'. But this is Thailand, not the States, and things don't always work when I want them to. 

At least now I know what to say every time something goes wrong on this trip (i.e. throwing up, getting rashes, missing buses, no climbing ropes in carry ons now? really?) - ahhh yes, is a problem!

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Koh Yao Noi

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Koh Yao Noi

After a few weeks in Tonsai we started hearing about this beautiful island nearby with unpolished, steep limestone to climb and bungalows and food for even cheaper than Tonsai. The best part? We’d get to rent motorbikes to take us to the crag. We’d all been spoiled by the 45-second approaches of Tonsai and were psyched to have adventures on the way to the crag. Rolf, David, and I convinced our new friend Josh to come too and we all said goodbye to our wonderful Rasta friends (photo below) and headed west to Koh Yao Noi. 

Once we arrived, we quickly realized most of the rumors were true. Koh Yao Noi was remote and quiet, a beautiful Thai island untouched by tourism. When we discovered accommodation wasn’t quite as cheap as the rumors, we reminded ourselves its still crazy cheap by western standards and booked a few nights in THE NICEST BUNGALOW OF ALL TIME. Instead of facing west, we faced east and started to lose it over all the beautiful sunrises. The Thai’s here were warm and welcoming, going out of their way to introduce themselves and make sure we were comfortable. The owner of the bungalows, Mr. Leen, even stopped by to say goodnight. The land of smiles, indeed. 

Between the motorbiking and climbing, the next few days were an absolute blast. We brapped our way to the crag by squeezing driver-bag-passenger-bag on our manual trans motorbikes. David and I rode together and he was very kind, pretending not to notice every time I jerked us into the wrong gear. At least half of the approach (let me call it that, its more fun) was on holy-shit-we’re-going-to-die loose gravel, potholes, and steep hills. All made more fun by driving on the left side of the road. Everything went really well until the one night our jankfest of a headlight went out on a blind corner and we went slow-motion into the ditch. 

The climbs were cool too. Instead of the dramatic, red, drippy-looking rock of Tonsai, this limestone was white and more of the wall climbing we were used to. Once we parked our bikes, we hiked the last 15-20 hot minutes to the crag, making us (okay, just me) reconsider all the banana Nutella pancakes and cookies, but it was still so beautiful. Our last day of climbing we ended our side-by-side multipitches on the same pitch and got to see more sea, something I don’t know if I’ll ever tire of. 

David also does a great job of explaining our experience on Koh Yao Noi, check out his blog to read more. 

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Travel Fails: where are all the Thai people?

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Travel Fails: where are all the Thai people?

Picture this: you’re 12 hours in to a 16 hour travel day. You’re sweaty, unshowered (obviously), and sweating in a hot van packed thigh-to-sweaty-thigh with other backpackers. The bus driver starts walking down the aisle asking for everyone’s final destination. Though the bus is headed to Krabi, your final destination is Tonsai Bay, the climbing mecca is SE Asia. The bus driver says she can take you to Tonsai, but it’ll cost you an additional $20. You reluctantly agree and as soon as the driver walks away, you overhear the people behind you decline saying, ‘we’ll figure it out, thanks’. You ask them what they’re planning to do? and they respond with the obvious: what the Thai’s do. They ask ‘where are all the Thai people? How do they get from Krabi to Tonsai?’ and this spurred the first of many lessons I’ll learn on this trip. If I’m surrounded by tourists, there is a good chance I’m overpaying. 

We found out later it costs closer to $4 to get from Krabi to Tonsai. Lesson learned.

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the why

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the why

zen_and_what_have_you

Its barely been a month and already I feel so healthy, so clear headed. Rolf, David and I are outside ALL THE TIME, climbing, swimming, reading, playing cards, and just puttering around. Our meals are a little over $2 each, our bungalow $6 a night, and we wake up naturally every morning, fully rested. I’m rarely aware of the time, much less the date, and our to-do lists are a joke (swim, yoga, work a climb, eat banana bread, juggle, fill out a post card).

What I’m trying to say is, this new life is peaceful. 

I knew before I went on this trip how big it was; I just couldn’t find the words to describe what it means to me. Its more than a vacation or a break from work. Its an uncluttered time to finally put words to the questions none of us really had a chance to ask ourselves: 

What do I need for myself? What am I good at? How much money do I need to make? Does making less mean more stress or less? How much work/life balance do I want to insist on - a 2 week vacation once a year or is it bigger than that? How important is living in a place where I can do the things I love all year round? How many things do I need to feel comfortable? 

Realizing that where I live, how much I work, the seasons I live in, how fast or slow my lifestyle is, and how much money and stress I have are choices has been both freeing and overwhelming. And I know this trip won’t answer all of my questions, but it will open my mind to new lifestyles and cultures, just by getting to see how people outside the U.S. have answered them. 

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oregon trailing it to Tonsai Bay

20 hours of train, train, bus, van, THE BED OF SOME DUDES TRUCK, and a long tail boat later, WE MADE IT! 

Tonsai_Bay_Thailand.png

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and just like that

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and just like that

I'm off. When I planned this trip, I thought it'd be fun to kick it off with a long weekend in Seattle visiting my friend Natalie. And I've never been to Seattle, never even been to the PNW at all and it is insanely beautiful. I can't even. The cool thing about leaving Minnesota in January to travel the world is you're just so damn grateful for any different weather. Oh its in the 40's and kinda rainy? Perfect, lets go for a walk. 

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in 23 days

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in 23 days

I'm freaking out. my brain can only handle so much, so it keeps oscillating back and forth between disbelief, excitement, and sheer panic. in 23 days my whole world is going to change. here are a few changes I can't stop daydreaming about: 

  • being outside. all the damn time.
  • exploring and pushing my comfort zone.
  • climbing some of the best rock in the world.
  • hanging out with some pretty amazing people.
  • not being inside. I really can't say this enough. 
  • sunshine. no one appreciates that like a Minnesotan in December.
  • paring my possessions to two backpacks.
  • living in bungalow. 
  • not looking at a spreadsheet. 
  • deep water soloing. 
  • the himalayas. I mean, holy crap, the himalayas.
  • slowing down and just being present.

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