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Hanoi, Vietnam : day two

30 May

On day two I woke up at the glorious hour of 6am, guess that makes sense considering I went to bed at 8pm. The minute I woke up I heard the sound of rain- not just a light drizzle but heavy, pounding, sideways flowing rain. I was amazed Brian wasn’t awoken by it. Considering, it was our last full day in Hanoi before departing for Halong Bay I was a tad sad by the rain and immediately went to the weather app on my phone to see the forecast…

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The lightening bolt was a nice touch, don’t you think? At this point I became worried about our two nights and three days, on a boat in Halong Bay. I wasn’t keen on the idea of floating around on a boat, in Vietnam, in a torrential downpour with the chance of lightning. I’m not much of a boat person in general; I much prefer land. So I spent the next hour going through all the options in my head – do we just go with the flow? Do we move the Halong Bay trip back a few days? Do we skip Halong Bay all together? Luckily, by the time Brian awoke the rain had become a soft drizzle (and was lucky enough to avoid all my neurotic thoughts) and we decided to go with the flow and make the best of it. The hotel equipped us with umbrellas and off we went. The city was actually beautiful in the rain- it. gave it a romantic feel. Being used to such downpours , the locals just put on their ponchos and go about their business.
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We decided to make day two more culturally driven as opposed to yesterday’s heavy food focus, so we set off in search of a temple and museum we wanted to visit. First up was the Temple Of Literature, built-in 1070 under the reign of King Ly Thanh Tong and dedicated to Confucius. It was also home to Vietnam’s first university, which was established within the temple to educate Vietnam’s bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and other members of the elite. The university remained open from 1076 to 1779.

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The grounds were absolutely gorgeous and very lush and green after the morning rain. It was a nice break from the chaotic bustling streets. There was a big gorgeous pond surrounded by a stone wall that we peered into and saw a bunch of large toads hopping around. How magical, I thought. That was until I heard a horrified Australian women shriek that we were stepping on teeny tiny baby frogs. I looked down and saw the teeniest tiniest black specs jumping all around us. Oh, yes you would be correct…we are stepping on teeny tiny baby frogs. Sadly, I fear we may have killed a few prior to our knowledge. That doesn’t count, right?

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After The Temple of Literature we strolled across the street to what appeared to be a little lake and were greeted by this women, fishing. Don’t you just love her? She clearly means business.

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Then we strolled a few more blocks down to the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, home to an extensive collection of Buddhas. After the museum we were starved and decided it was time to delve into the world of Vietnamese Pho- something taken very seriously in Vietnam. I had read that the North and South disagree over who has better Pho which was confirmed yesterday by our food guide, Chinhg, who made a point to say the southern version wasn’t as “tasty and balanced” as the northern version. This of course made me want to compare the two. So we headed to a restaurant called, Pho 10 for our first bowl of Vietnamese Pho. We were the only tourists in the joint which I took as a very good sign. We ordered two bowls of Pho with steak and not even one minute later were enjoying said bowls. The noodles and broth were really good- very flavorful, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the meat- it was a bit too fatty for my taste.

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If you can’t tell from the above photos Brian likes to add hot sauce to his Pho. That boy was literally drenched with sweat and after finishing. He makes me smile.

After lunch we decided we were in need of beers and stumbled upon Cong Caphe, the cutest little cafe located by the St Joseph’s Cathedral. It really showcased how much Hanoi was influenced by the French. I felt like we had stepped into Paris. Worked for me. It was filled with twenty-something locals sipping coffees and drinks. We holed up at a cozy table upstairs in the corner by a big window. The rain had completely stopped at this point, so all we felt was a warm breeze waft through the window. Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang” played in the cafe- which is a favorite of Brian’s and mine, while the cathedral’s bells chimed in the distance. To say I loved this place would be an understatement.

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At night we tried Cha Ca La Vong, a restaurant that serves only one dish – Cha Ca, which is grilled fish served alongside various kinds of herbs, rice vermicelli, nuoc cham dipping sauce, sliced chillies and roasted peanuts. It was incredible, definitely my favorite meal in Hanoi. You also had to cook it at your table yourself, which made it rather fun. One of my favorite things about Vietnamese food is their use of herbs, it makes every dish so flavorful.

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After dinner we decided to take a walk to go and see the Opera House, which was built at the turn of the 20th century to keep the French entertained. After years of renovation it reopened in 1997 and hosts regular performances. Sadly, we did not think ahead and get tickets for a performance so we had to settle on the view from the street. It’s situated right in front of a large roundabout, and I loved the image of all the cars and motorbikes zipping by it- keeps with the frenetic energy of Hanoi.

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As Brian snapped photos (I love being married to a photographer) it began to drizzle. In that moment I was reminded how grateful I was to be in Vietnam with the man I loved. I am always the happiest and most alive version of myself when I am traveling.

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“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

 

 

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Hanoi, Vietnam : day one

28 May

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The first stop on our honeymoon was Hanoi, Vietnam. We decided to start the trip in Vietnam and end it in Bali knowing that Vietnam would be filled with frenetic energy and Bali would be calm…and we wanted to end the trip on a calm note. After twenty-four hours of traveling, Brian and I arrived in Hanoi at 11pm. I always find it off-putting to arrive in a foreign country at night. It only adds to feeling totally out of sorts. After battling the longest customs line ever created, we walked out of the airport doors and were immediately swarmed by a sea of cab drivers trying to get business from us. For some reason everything we had read about negotiating the fare first went out the door- I blame the twenty-four hours of traveling and the long customs line.

So after getting ripped off by our cab driver (lesson learned- always negotiate the price BEFORE getting in the cab) we got dropped off at our hotel located in the Old Quarter, also known as the “36 Streets”, one of the oldest parts of Hanoi. Formerly a center for resistance against the French, this part of town evolved in the 13th century when artisan guilds were concentrated along each of the original 36 lanes. Tinsmiths were found on Hang Theic (Tin Street), bamboo basket makers on Hang Bo (Bamboo Basket Street), Hang Bac (Silver Street), and so on. While much of the Old Quarter has become modernized with cafes, restaurants, hostels, hotels and shops, you can still see the remnants of the original 36 streets- a very interesting juxtaposition.

After a solid night of sleep we woke up ready to explore the city by foot. I quickly learned that getting around bustling Hanoi by foot is a harrowing adventure. The narrow streets are packed with motorbikes, bicycles and cars; crossing the street feels like you’re playing a terrifying game of chicken. Considering there is rarely a break in the traffic flow, you just have to brave it and cross, in hopes the sea of motorbikes move around you. My plan of action- close my eyes and let Brian lead the way across each street.

We spent the morning wandering around the Old Quarter & Hoan Kiem lake, taking in the city.

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My favorite thing we stumbled upon during our morning walk was this scene by the lake- a bunch of very happy Vietnamese women dancing together to loud music. The more I watched, the more it became clear that it was some form of a (public) group exercise class. You couldn’t help but smile watching them- so lively! I was about to join in, when the music abruptly stopped, clearly, saving Brian from definite embarrassment.

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After a few hours it was time for our food tour – something both of us were very excited about. Prior to our trip, I learned through my research that hiring a guide to take you on a food tour was very helpful. One, because the street food scene is better understood by a local and having a guide who spoke both Vietnamese and English was very helpful when trying to order at non-tourist spots. We were not disappointed by this experience. The food was like nothing I have ever experienced before, each dish was an intoxicating mix of new flavors. Our guide, Chingh, a twenty-five year old girl born and raised in Hanoi was incredibly knowledgable and had quite a spunky personality. She didn’t just tell us about the food at each stop but also shared stories about her family life and her drive to work in tourism despite her parents disapproval of a career that it considered better suited for a male in Hanoi. She had such a great spirit. I always love talking openly with locals- it makes the city come alive and opens up your eyes to the world around you.

We made seven stops on our food tour. SEVEN!

1st dish – Mien Luon (eel noodle)

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2nd dish – Nuoc Mia (Sugarcane juice)

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3rd – Bun Bo Nam Bo (southern beef noodles)

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4th – Cha Ca (grilled fish)

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5th – Banh Cuon (mushroom + pork roll)

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6th – Banh Trang Tron (mixed noodle dish)

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7th – Cafe Trung (egg coffee)

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With our sweet guide Chingh

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After eating our weight in Vietnamese food we decided to head over to the backpackers district, more specifically a street named “beer street”…for as I’m sure you guessed…a beer. We had been reading about “Bai Hoi”- the local beer made fresh daily and sold for the insanely cheap price of 3,000 dong per glass which translates to 16 US cents. Hard to believe, right? So we found a patio spot and sipped beers while taking in the scene (this area is filled with young travelers from around the world, although Australians seem to make up the majority). IMG_  62

After a few beers (not the best beer I have ever had but certainly refreshing on the hot afternoon), we went back to our hotel to take a nap before heading out for the evening. We had a quick dinner at a neighborhood Vietnamese spot – before setting out on foot through the Hanoi night market, also known as Dong Xuan night market, which is a weekly market held on weekends in the Old Quarter.  I originally thought it was going to be just a food market but instead the stalls were packed with clothing, shoes, jewelry, decorations, toys, etc, as well as a few food stalls. The market was crazy and a tad overwhelming with jetlag, but equally fascinating. The market was filled with locals who seemed to come to the market not just to shop but as a social activity. Young couples strolled arm in arm as little kids excitedly ran around at our legs. The market was a complete sensory overload.

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After the market we crashed at 8pm. It was the perfect way to end our first day in Vietnam.

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find me elsewhere: instagram @kate365, twitter, facebook 

 

weekend

24 Aug

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I promise this blog isn’t going to turn into a once a week post entitled “weekend”. I’ve been trying to get back into blogging a few times a week. This creative space has become such a big part of my life and I miss it when I don’t.  I’ve been soaking up the last few weeks of summer. My favorite season is right around the corner! I’m coming for you fall! My work is always a little quiet this time of year so I’ve had more time to play the last few weeks. My weekends have been four day events rather than two and I am not complaining.

Friday

Friday morning I met my girlfriend Crystal for a hike in Hollywood. Crystal and I have known each other since we were little kids. The history between us adds so much depth to the conversation and it’s fun to reconnect at different stages in our lives. Our dates usually focus around being active in some way. She had thrown out the idea of hiking to the iconic Hollywood sign and it was hard to say no considering I have never hiked to it! This coming from a girl who was born and raised in Los Angeles. It’s so sad when you live in a fabulous and exciting city but end up sticking to your boring routine and neighborhood. It’s nice to be reminded to get out and explore. The hike is easy to access (here is the info) from Franklin Ave and parking is plentiful in a lot at the base of the park. We followed the dirt trail all the way up the mountain (The hike is around 6 miles roundtrip and a relatively easy inline on the way up) until the path dead ended at Mulholland Drive. We could see the sign from above the tree tops but still didn’t have a clear view. So we hopped a fence onto DWP property and from there we were able to get an unobstructed view of the sign. Winning!

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Friday night Brian and I went out to get pho for dinner. We usually go to our favorite spot, Phorage when we are craving pho but decided to branch out and try a new restaurant, Pho Show  (don’t you just love the name?) that we had heard good things about. It was an equally delicious bowl of noodles despite being filled with completely different flavors than I am used to. It almost tasted like cinnamon. Although, I don’t think that was the spice they were using. Maybe cardamom?  It reminded us of how different pho could taste depending on the region in Vietnam it was from. We are experienced pho eaters after our trip through Vietnam last year. We sampled a bowl of it whenever we could get our hands on it.

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After dinner we did what we pretty much do every Friday night and watched a movie at home. It’s our favorite way to wrap up a week. We ordered “Dark Places” based on the book by the same name by Gillian Flynn. Neither of us loved it. Something about it fell flat. It had good intentions though! Did you guys read the book? Are you going to see the movie?

Saturday

Saturday, was “painting day” at the Glodney house. I have been wanting to paint an accent wall in our bedroom for ages. Actually, I want to paint the whole house but I have to ease my husband into these types of things (he doesn’t do well with change), so an accent wall was a good place to start. I am head over heels in love with the result. The color is this interesting mix of gray, blue & green. I will share finished pics of the room tomorrow.

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After spending the morning painting we spent the afternoon doing nothing. I personally spent the afternoon soaking up the new vibe in our bedroom while reading  “You Are The Placebo” in bed under the newly painted wall.

I wrapped up my Saturday with a hair color appointment. I am officially very blonde again (as you can see from the photo above I was in need of a color touch up). I’m not quite sure why I waited until the end of summer to do such a thing.

Sunday

Sunday I had a date in the books with my little sister, Briana. Our plan was to head to Hollywood and grab lunch and see a movie at the arclight but our lunch at The Waffle took forever (Briana said her waffles were totally worth the wait though. I opted for a boring veggie scramble and I can’t say the same) and we ended up missing our movie. So after lunch we made a stop for ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery in West Hollywood. If you live in LA do yourself a favor and stop at Sweet Rose Creamery for a sweet treat. They have the best ice cream EVER. I opted for a cone with a scoop of toasted coconut and a scoop of salted caramel.

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I got home Sunday evening to a surprise dinner made by my sweet husband. He grilled us up some ahi tuna and served it with green beans and potatoes. That boy can cook! And really…is there anything sexier than a man in the kitchen?? After dinner we watched the new series “Fear The Walking Dead” on AMC. Did you guys watch it? I think it might be something I get into. I love “The Walking Dead” so I assume I will feel the same about this series.

How was your weekend? What did you do?!

 

vision board – 2015

7 Jan

FullSizeRender Oh 2014…you kinda sucked. Almost from the get go you did too- such an overachiever you are! Sure there were moments that I really enjoyed…our honeymoon in Bali and Vietnam most definitely topping that list. But all in all…you sucked. Everything from money, work, health (remember the gallbladder?), family drama & friendships felt trying. When I started writing this post I had a paragraph explaining in detail why the last year was difficult. But when I reread my post I thought…what’s the point of even talking about it anymore. Put it to bed! It’s done! Over! In the past! So I deleted it. Which felt good.

I couldn’t be more ready for a fresh start and I have a very good feeling about the next 365 days. My vision is clear- new business, writing work, finishing our home, building a family, traveling & feeling vibrant & healthy. Every year I do a vision board (yes, I lit last year’s on fire a few days ago while giving it the finger…only kidding) of things I hope and desire for the year ahead. Usually I do this activity on the first of each year while sipping champagne and eating bagels with lox. But considering we were in Sedona with Brian’s parents on the first of this year, my board had to wait. It actually did cross my mind to bring all the vision boarding tools to Sedona with me. Then I imagined myself going through security with his parents and a huge board filled with images of women in yoga poses and cute babies and stopped. It’s an activity better suited for one’s home.

I took great pride in this year’s board. I would not rest until I found the “perfect” image or quote that I had in my mind. Did you hear that 2015? I’m not taking any shit. If you’ve never created a vision board before they can really be a lot of fun. They are simply a visual representation or collage of the things that you want to have, be, or do in your life. It consists of a poster or foam board with cut-out pictures, drawings and/or writing on it of the things that you want in your life or the things that you want to become. The purpose of a vision board is to activate the Law of Attraction to begin to pull things from your external environment that will enable you to realize your dream.

{How To Make Your Own Vision Board}

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Compile your pictures. Start by going through magazines and compiling all the pictures that you can find that are relevant to your goals. Don’t evaluate the pictures or start pasting them onto your board. Just stack them into a pile. Make sure that each image that you put on your board resonates with your heart and makes you excited at the mere look of it. It’s also important when selecting pictures to include anything that is congruent with your goal, such as any changes in your life that might result from obtaining your goal. So if your goal is to have a six figure income, then select pictures of a lifestyle that is congruent with your six figure income. Asking yourself the following questions might help you design a congruent vision board:

What would you do differently when you realize your goal? Where would you travel? Where would you live? What would you wear? What things would you own? What kind of vehicle would you drive? What would you do for work?…Or would you work? Who would you help?

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Sort and Cut. Go through your pile of pictures and select the ones that impact you the most emotionally. Cut the extraneous material away from the image.

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Arrange and glue. Start arranging your pictures creatively on your board. Don’t worry about being artistic—that’s not the point. The point is that your board should resonate with your emotions. Arrange your pictures in a way that gives you an emotional connection to your vision board. After you are satisfied with the arrangement, glue all your pictures in place. Additionally, you might want to add writing or drawing on your vision board if you feel that it would better resonate with your emotions.

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Strategic positioning. The most important part of having a vision board is having it in a strategic location that gives you as much visual exposure to it throughout the day. For most of us, this is in the office, but if that is not possible or appropriate, then try your living room or your bedroom. Some people I know mount their vision boards on the ceiling above their bed so that it is the first thing they see when they wake up and the last thing they see when they go to sleep. If you are sensitive to what others might say of your vision board, then be sure to keep it in a safe area where only you will see it. Negative criticism or justification of your dreams can kill the energy that your vision board releases.

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Update your vision board. Your vision board has to inspire you. It has to charge you with renewed passion every time you look at it and over time and as you progress closer towards your vision, you might find that some of the images or pictures on your vision board don’t really carry as much emotional impact on you as they did before. When this happens, you’ll want to update your vision board with new fresh images that do inspire you. You’re vision board is not a finished piece of art after its initial creation. It’s a dynamic piece of art that shifts and changes as your vision shifts and changes. Therefore, if you find your level of passion that your vision board gives you is growing weaker, then update it to bring fresh new emotions to it.

{Steps found on selfgrowth.com}

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“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”

Albert Einstein

east bali

1 Dec

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The last stop on our honeymoon was five nights at the insanely gorgeous Alila Manggis located in East Bali- a quiet section of the island known for its lush forests and the active volcano, Mount Agung. After traveling for almost a month through Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh, Ubud & Nusa Lembongan, we were both pretty exhausted from the non stop movement.

Our vacation was making us tired…take out the tiny violin, right?

Considering neither of us wanted to fly back to Los Angeles without our batteries fully recharged, we allowed ourselves to do the unthinkable for people like us…do absolutely nothing for the last leg of the trip. We fought it the first day, both feeling bad about not scheduling more things during our stay. We spent the first day by the pool sipping fruity cocktails and flipping through the hotels activity brochure in search of something. An afternoon of sailing? A scenic bike ride? A sunrise trek up Mount Agung? Although, I simply couldn’t fathom waking up at 3am to trek to the top of Mount Agung. Since we couldn’t settle on anything, we just kept sipping fruity cocktails by the pool. Normally, this would have been a pool/beach combo but this section of Bali isn’t known for its beaches. Transalation….there really isn’t a beach, especially at high tide. So we pooled it. I wasn’t disappointed though because the pool at Alila Manggis was epic. It begged to be sat by for five days straight. It would have been unfair to it if we didn’t.

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Our daily routine was pretty solid…wake up by 9am…eat breakfast (which happened to be an amazing complimentary feast. It kept me full for most of the day)…go back to our room to change into our bathing suits and proceed to the pool to swim, read (I laughed and sobbed my way through “A Fault In Our Stars”), eat, drink & sleep, usually wrapping it up around five when we would go back to our hotel room to lounge around in bed until we got hungry for dinner.

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We left the hotel grounds once…once!! How crazy is that? On day five we finally put the fruity cocktails down and ventured out for a little culture, a guided tour through Tenganan Village, which is often referred to as the original Bali.

The tour through the village will be up on the blog next!

photos by Brian Glodney Photography

LA eats – phorage

6 Nov

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Brian and I fell in love with the dish pho when traveling through Vietnam this past spring. There is just something so satisfying about a big bowl of noodles with slices of tender meat and fresh herbs, especially when you add hot sauce to the mix! We have both been craving it ever since we returned, so we did some research and found a restaurant in Los Angeles, called Phorage that had great reviews. It was decided that we would go there for lunch rather than dinner because really is there anything worse than going to bed with a belly full of noodles? I think not.

You would never know that the restaurant was there unless you were looking for it. It’s a teeny tiny place located in the corner of a strip mall. This immediately tells me I’m in for a horrible or fabulous meal- there really isn’t a middle ground in such a situation. Luckily, the meal was fabulous. The menu is small but that doesn’t matter because they do each dish right. We had three options when ordering our pho…washugyu beef and brisket, free range chicken or natural oxtail. Brian and I both settled on the beef and brisket combo. Brian also ordered a Jidori chicken Banh Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) & a Cafe Sua Da (Vietnamese ice coffee). Clearly, there were going to be leftovers.

The meal was so damn good. I felt like I was transported back to the streets of Vietnam!

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Phorage LA

3300 Overland Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90034

Ubud : day two

18 Aug

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After a lazy morning at the villa (I could spend hours staring out at the green rice paddies)…

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We decided to hire a driver to take us on a sightseeing tour of Ubud and the surrounding areas. It seemed much more efficient than taking the bicycles out for a spin again. The manager at Desa Bulan helped us put an itinerary together as well as find a new driver since Nyoman was booked that day. We ended up with a handsome young local man named…get this… Nyoman as well! This is when I learned an interesting fact about the Balinese people, they are all named one of four names, Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut- both men and women! Every child is simply named by his or her order of birth. The first-born, boy or girl, is Wayan. The second born is Made (pronounced ma day). The third born is Nyoman. The fourth born is Ketut. That’s it, simple and sweet. Not to mention it certainly makes naming your child easier. The second Nyoman was just as nice as the first Nyoman. Seriously, the Balinese people are incredible. Everyone I had met thus far had such a joyful presence.

The first stop on the itinerary was Goa Gajah (also known as the elephant cave). I happen to love elephants (especially when their trunks are in the air!) so I was looking forward to this stop. Although I had no idea what to expect from an elephant cave? Nyoman dropped us off in the parking lot and kindly informed us he would wait for us there. Once we made it past all the stalls of people selling cheap souvenirs (quite a feat I tell you! Especially for a girl who hates saying no) and a man with a massive snake that one could pay a small fee to take a photo with (no we did not stop) we made it to the front entrance. After paying the entrance fee we were informed that we would have to cover our legs out of respect to enter the temple. Luckily, they had sarongs that you could borrow. Doesn’t my husband wear a sarong incredibly well?

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Goa Gajah was nothing like I imagined considering there was not a plethora of elephant statues (although, I did find one as you can see below). I learned that it is instead referred to as the elephant cave due to its close proximity to the Lwa Gajah (Elephant River). The entrance to the cave is actually a bit scary. There’s a monstrous face with bulging eyes and carvings of animals and humans running away in fear. Despite being a bit dark, the stone work was absolutely beautiful – it was so intricate. For such a popular tourist attraction inside the cave is actually quite small. Inside the T-shaped cave you can see fragmentary remains of the lingam, the phallic symbol of the Hindu god Shiva, and its female counterpart the yoni, plus a statue of Shiva’s son, the elephant-headed god Ganesha

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The next stop was the Gunung Kawi, which is a Hindu temple complex, that dates back to the 11th century  located in Tampaksiring. Nyoman informed us that it would be a very long trek down some very steep stairs to get to the ancient site. This information was slightly disconcerting considering it was incredibly hot and as we all know…what goes down, must go up. Although, after weeks of traveling through the very hot and humid Vietnam, I was starting to find the heat less debilitating. So off we went in search of the magical Hindu complex.

This time we did not make it through the souvenir stands unscathed. We were approached by a group of lovely Balinese women selling sarongs. It all happened so fast…somehow Brian was lead in one direction and I was lead in another and next thing I knew we were in dueling shops being wrapped in sarongs in the store by a group of smiling Balinese women. In a matter of five minutes I tried on every sarong the store had to offer (those ladies worked quick!). I decided to just go with it- they were all so gorgeous! In the end I purchased one that caught my eye- it was a gorgeous blue one with a lively pattern. Hey, I needed a sarong for the all the temples, right? When I finally made it out of the store I found my sweet husband standing in the street wearing the SAME EXACT sarong! Clearly, this is a sign that we are meant to be together, right?! The couple that sarongs together, stays together.

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In our newly purchased sarongs we took off in search of the site. Nyoman wasn’t lying…it was quite a trek down. The highlight of the hike was most definitely the man we stumbled upon who was selling fresh coconut water- complete with a machete no less. It was amazing! Much tastier and way cheaper than what I normally buy at whole foods back in LA!

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The site was absolutely stunning and totally worth the trek. It is covered in shrines carved into stone honoring kings and queens from the 11th century.

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After Gunung Kawi temple we were dropped off at the Tirta Empul Temple (also known as the water temple) which provides holy water for priests and bathing for ordinary Balinese, who believe bathing in the water can bring good fortune and health. It was definitely my favorite stop of the day. I loved watching people soak in the holy water. I regret not bathing in it myself! I think I was a bit intimidated (which isn’t the norm for me!) by the holiness of it all. There were so many rules and I was convinced I was going to screw something up and terribly offend somebody. Also I didn’t have anything to swim in and the idea of sitting in the car sopping wet for the hour seemed well, not so fun. So instead I watched. There was something so calming about it. It was a seriously magical place.

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Lastly, we took a drive through the Tegalalang rice terraces. Talk about AMAZING. Ever since our trek in Nepal I have been obsessed with terraces. I mean, they are just simply stunning.

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 After the four-hour driving tour both Brian and I were starved and in need of you guessed it…a beer! So we opted to be dropped off in central Ubud to grab lunch.

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After lunch we decided it was time to go back to the villa and cool off in the pool. I mean it’s not a vacation unless there are a few hours in the day spent doing absolutely nothing, right?

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That evening we arranged for a local woman, Wayan Suriani (who came highly recommended) to come to the villa and prepare us a traditional Balinese meal. It was amazing! Definitely my favorite meal while in Ubud.

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Next up…my visit with Ketut, the famous medicine man from the movie Eat, Pray, Love!

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Ho Chi Minh – day 3

4 Aug

After eating breakfast at the hotel we headed back into the sweltering heat to explore. First up, a very sobering morning at the War Remnants Museum. So sobering in fact, I didn’t even make it through parts of it due to the graphic nature of some of the photographs. You forget how truly devastating the Vietnam War was. The morning left me in tears. Don’t worry this post gets less depressing.

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 After the museum we decided it was time to try the southern Vietnamese pho. As I mentioned in a previous post there is a bit of a debate as to whether the northern or southern pho is tastier. After polishing off a big bowl of southern pho, I came to the conclusion that it was the winner. I found it lighter and more fragrant. There were also more options with the vegetables you could put in, including basil (although basil is a herb isn’t it? but you get the point), which added such a nice kick. For Brian the pho debate was more of a tie…noting that he liked the meat better in the northern pho. So there you have it folks!

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After filling our bellies (thank God we were walking as much as we were otherwise I am convinced I would have gained 20 pounds on this trip) we headed to “antique street” to look for…you guessed it, antiques! Brian and I love to come home with treasures from our travels- my favorites include…a bright blue woven hammock from Nicaragua, a plush orange blanket handmade in the mountains of Nepal and the colorful bells from Nepal that hang around water buffalos necks on the trekking trails to warn you that they are coming. I make Brian wear them around the house sometimes. HA.

That day I was on the hunt for a small elephant statue with his trunk in the air, which supposedly brings good luck. Brian was much more open to what his treasure would be. We strolled from tiny hot store to tiny hot store.

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After hitting the whole block we circled back to our favorite one to do some bargaining- something Brian excels at and I fail miserably at. You can pretty much sell me anything. On the table…one elephant with his trunk in the air, one buddha head and two opium pipes (to be used as table art and not for smoking said opium). I let Brian do the talking while I continued to explore the shop. I can’t even watch people bargain with out getting uncomfortable. Finally I heard Brian say, “Do you take American Express?” and I knew we had a deal. We were now the proud owners of an elephant, a buddha head and two opium pipes. Winning! Clearly our antique street success called for Bintang beers so we decided to head back to Tiny’s in the backpacker district.

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After a few Bingtangs we headed back to our hotel for the routine three-hour afternoon break in our air-conditioned room, but not without a stop at the famous pastry shop, Tous Les Jours. Yes, this trip to Vietnam was becoming quite indulgent. Because of the French invasion in Vietnam many French influences can still be felt and I quickly learned I had a favorite…the baked goods!

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After picking out a few (I blame Brian) we walked back to the hotel where we then proceeded to eat pastries in bed while sipping on iced Vietnamese coffees.

After our siesta, we went out for Greek food followed by after dinner drinks at Casbah. Casbah had a completely different energy than the previous evening. The place really livened up as the evening wore on. It was packed with people and there were even belly dancers! The place was jumping. Luckily we found a quiet spot outside and away from the chaos. After imbibing in a few too many beverages, Brian and I decided it was the perfect time to face-time with Frank (yes, you read that correctly), via my sweet mama who was staying at our house to watch him. We both did the math and concluded it was 10am in LA, so we dialed and eagerly watched the phone as it rang. Suddenly my moms sleepy face appeared on my screen and she confusedly said  “Kate??? Hi honey. I can see you? I can see Brian? Why are you guys calling me at six in the morning?” Two thoughts crossed my mind at this point…shit we woke her up!….and….I can’t believe she’s never face timed before? It was then she shrieked “Does that mean you can see me?!! OMG I’M NAKED!!!”. At that point the screen went black and all I could hear was yelling. Poor thing! Not only was she rudely awakened at six am but now she was convinced her son-in-law just saw her naked. I was laughing so hard I was literally crying. Moments later she reappeared in a robe and just as I was about to reassure her that we couldn’t see anything the volume of the music went from 0-100 and a belly dancer appeared in front of our table. Clearly, it was our turn for the show. I tried to yell over the music but she couldn’t hear me and there was only one thing to do…wave and hang up. She must have thought we were insane.

After the required belly dancing show we strolled back to our hotel laughing about the evening. My heart and my belly feeling very full that night…day three in Ho Chi Minh was a good to us.

365 til 33

30 Jul

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If you’ve been following along with my blog since the beginning then you know that I come up with a list of goals to tackle each year. The first year,  365 til 30 my goals included driving across the USA, learning French, learning how to tango, going camping, spending a week at Tassajara, Learning how to cook, volunteering, getting a French bulldog & publishing my writing. I was pretty damn successful that year in accomplishing my goals. To the point of obsession actually. Accomplishing those goals before turning 30 was all I could think about for 365 days. Brian was very happy when that year was over. HA. Over the last few years I have continued to create a list of goals…doing so helps me focus on the things I want from my life…a framework if you will.

365 til…33!

Travel

Every year you can pretty much guarantee that one of my goals will be travel related. I am a travel nut! Seriously, why can’t I just travel the world and get paid for it? (Is anybody listening? I’m totally available if you want to pay me to travel) During 365 til 30 my travel goal was to drive across the country (check!)…during 365 til 31 my travel goal was an overseas trip (Brian and I went to Hong Kong and trekked Nepal!)…365 til 32 my travel goal was again an overseas trip but this time for our honeymoon (we took a month off and went to Vietnam and Bali) This year my travel goal is much simpler, all I want to do is take a road trip with Brian. I love road trippin’ with that man. Actually, it was on our first road trip together that I knew I loved him. We were only a month into dating when I asked him if he wanted to take a road trip to Santa Fe with me to visit my friend Chantal. He must have thought I was crazy. Who would want to sign up for that many hours in a car with a person you’ve only been dating a month? The answer to that question is ME! And him I guess Brian as well because he said yes. Luckily, it was a total success. This year I’m thinking a road trip from LA to Seattle. My ideal stops along the way would be….Big Sur, San Francisco, Ashland, Eugene, Portland, Olympia & Seattle.

Learn

This year I am dying to learn more about photography. For a girl who appreciates a beautiful photograph, it is a crying shame I can’t shoot one as well as I’d like to. Especially when it comes to this blog, I would love to post higher quality photographs. Well, I guess I do sometimes but sadly they are not shot by me and instead by my photographer husband. With that said, I will be signing my ass up for a photography class as well as making Brian teach me all his tricks. He even has an extra Canon Rebel camera waiting for me. Winning!

Writing

You can also pretty much guarantee that one of my goals each year will also have to do with writing. This year it is travel related. I want to publish my various travel (road trip, Hong Kong, Nepal, Vietnam & Bali) essays. Wish me luck!

Health 

I want to go vegetarian for a month. Ever since my gallbladder surgery a few months ago I have had the hardest time with my digestion. It’s been driving me crazy! I’ve decided that meat might be the culprit. This coming from an Irish gal who loves a good steak. Sigh. I thought what better time to test out vegetarianism then now! Oy…I’m scared. Any vegetarians out there want to offer some advice?

Home

Decorating our new home has been on hold for a bit now…between shelling out money for our wedding and honeymoon we have been neglecting our home. The space totally deserves more! I plan on decorating with the help of pinterest and my very talented interior designer mother. So here we go…one room at a time.

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Ho Chi Minh- day two

28 Jul

With our wretched first day in Ho Chi Minh behind us and a good nights sleep under our belts, we awoke in much better moods and excited to explore the city. First up on our itinerary was a stop at the Ho Chi Minh Museum. It was relatively close to our hotel so we decided to walk. The minute we stepped out of the hotel doors the thick hot and humid air enveloped us. It felt even hotter than the day before. How was that even possible? While I am not a huge fan of humidity, I quickly learned that my husband reallllllly doesn’t enjoy it. I won’t go as far as calling him a baby but I will say that there was some serious complaining going on.

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can you see the pain in his eyes?

After a twenty-minute walk, we arrived at the museum looking as if we had just showered. This weather was definitely going to take some getting used to! The museum was interesting (despite not being air-conditioned)- we both learned so much about Ho Chi Minh’s life before he became the president of Vietnam- I never knew he lived in France for a period of time working in kitchens or that he traveled many other countries in Europe working on a boat from 1911 to 1917. I’d say the museum is a must stop when in Ho Chi Minh…I mean the city is named after him and all.

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After the museum we headed over to Pham Ngu Lao, which is the backpacker district. It is made up of two parallel streets- Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao and a handful of tiny connecting alleys. I am a fan of exploring the backpacker district whenever I’m in a new city- they always feel more alive than the ritzy tourist areas. We wandered through the maze-like alleys taking in the sights (I could easily see into the locals homes from the narrow alleys, which was very exciting for a nosy person like me!) and smells (considering, nobody has air-conditioning and it was lunch time, the fragrant smell of food wafted out of the open doors…making me very hungry).

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With intense hunger pains now occupying both of our brains we decided it was time to break for lunch and picked a restaurant named Tiny’s at random. Well, maybe it wasn’t so random- it was the cleanest. We grabbed a table in the corner, luckily by a fan and quickly ordered two large Bintang beers to combat the heat. While I am not much of a beer drinker in my everyday life, it is pretty much all I ever order when I’m in Asia. Mostly because, my normal glass of chardonnay costs more than a meal for six and well, it just seems more authentic. You can safely say I wouldn’t be ordering a Bintang beer if I was in the south of France.

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After a decent lunch (nothing fancy at Tiny’s) of chicken hotpots (chicken, veggies & rice) we decided it was time for us to take break from the heat and headed back to the hotel. This became our daily routine – explore the city until around 3pm and then scurry back to the hotel for a few hours to read, write, shower (I showered three times a day in Ho Chi Minh) and nap in the cool air before heading back out for the evening. After our break we went to a Moroccan themed rooftop bar named Casbah that overlooked Notre Dame Cathedral for sunset cocktails (more bingtangs please!) and then had a truly amazing dinner at Thai restaurant named Golden Elephant.

Day three up next!

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find me elsewhere: instagram @kate365 / facebook / twitter