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Ho Chi Minh – day one

16 Jul

Day one in Ho Chi Minh was hellish. Hands down the worst day of our whole  trip. It was the perfect storm… Brian was terribly miserable because he was covered in a thousand mosquito bites (I swear that boy must be super sweet because those mosquitos LOVE him). I was terribly miserable with cramps and a rough bout of pms. We had a truly miserable flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh with a snotty and sneezing old man seated next to Brian and two very loud and annoying kids seated next to me. I honesty didn’t know two hours could feel so long. When we finally arrived in Ho Chi Minh it was 100 degrees and humid as F*%k, which made us both even more miserable. In addition we happened to arrive in Ho Chi Minh on a national holiday (May Day) and everything was pretty much closed (great planning on our part). Do you see where I am going with all of this? It was just one of those days.

We took a cab from the airport to our hotel, The Hotel Continental, which is a beautiful historic hotel located in the heart of district one (upside of the day). After settling into our room, we attempted to shake off our nasty moods by planning a fun afternoon. First up, we headed to Cholon, Vietnam’s “Chinatown”, home to over half a million people, making it the largest Chinese community in Vietnam. The area was something I was dying to see during our stay because I was keen on going to all the Chinese medicine shops.  Sadly, most of the shops were closed due to the holiday. So instead we aimlessly walked the  sticky, hot and humid streets of Cholon in silence (total grumps). Finally we stumbled upon one Chinese medicine store that was open- WINNING! I excitedly walked up to the two women behind the counter, equipped with my fancy English to Chinese translation app on my iphone and eagerly asked them for the magical herb I was on the hunt for. They both stared at me with a look of disgust and then rudely waved me off. I’ve never been so offended! Clearly, they were not fans. I left the store defeated.

We spent the next twenty minutes continuing to wander the sticky, hot and humid streets of Cholon, while I recounted the Chinese medicine shop experience over and over to Brian (clearly, unable to let it go). Then suddenly (as if things weren’t bad enough) the sky turned dark and it began to rain. This day was officially a wash. At that point we decided to call it quits and hailed a cab back to our hotel (which took forever due to the national holiday), where we holed up in our air-conditioned room reading our books for a few hours. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s ok to hole up in your hotel room while traveling. It’s impossible to be on the go non-stop for thirty days.

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After recharging our batteries we went to a fabulous dinner at a romantic little restaurant Brian found, May restaurant which served French/Vietnamese cuisine that was delectable. After stuffing our bellies we went straight back to our hotel room and climbed back in bed.

END SCENE.

 

trust your gut….

14 Apr

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This past Saturday I went to my first yoga class since my mini surgery a few weeks ago. Honestly, I’m not sure if I was technically “ready” to get back to working out but seriously I HAD to. I was so sick of being stagnant! I’ve also been missing the calm that my yoga practice gives me and considering I have been in a F-ing storm recently…I was craving the calm. Clearly, Brian (my loving and super cautious husband) did not think going to a yoga class with incisions on my belly was a smart idea but I assured him that I would mostly go just to “stretch”. It all got very dramatic…I even draped my hand over my forehead and said, ” If I don’t go to yoga,  I WILL DIE”. So, I went to yoga Saturday morning.

The minute I walked in, I was overwhelmed with negative thoughts….maybe I’m not ready to get back?…what if I make a fool of myself because I actually can’t do this?….what if I hurt myself??? But, I kept walking up the stairs because my heart needed it.

When I saw the teacher, Audra, I immediately informed her of my situation. She kindly listened and with a big, loving and gracious smile said…”trust your gut, literally!” Such a simple reminder but it hit me like a ton of bricks. I haven’t been trusting my gut recently- sadly, I’ve been silencing it. Over the last few weeks I’ve been delivered many blows and I think I could have avoided a few of them if I just listened to my gut.

I knew the minute my gallbladder attack hit that it had to come out. I KNEW IT IN MY BONES. But, instead I smiled, listened to the doctors, took the vicodin prescription, went home and planned for my best friends bachelorette party (It came out in emergency surgery a week later). During recent arguments I have silenced what I know to be my truth in hopes that I wouldn’t offend. (Never good). Recently, I have lost a few big accounts (Oh, money and bills…I hate the control you have over me) but instead of trusting my gut that it’s all happening for a reason I’ve been in a tailspin. TOTAL TAILSPIN.

My yoga practice was slow that morning (I spent a lot of time in child’s pose) but my practice has never felt more honest. My ego about performing was gone, my gratitude for being able to move my body (I have been naive enough to assume that this is a given) was strong and my love for my journey was deep.

Moving forward I promise myself that ….I will always trust my gut. So, thank you verrrrry, tiny little organ for teaching me…again…to always trust my gut…oh, and for making me pause.

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This is when the magic happens: right when you feel like everything is going wrong, shift your attitude to accept that it’s actually going right.

If you’re going through a storm, hold the belief that it’s the perfect storm for you.

You are always taken care of, exactly where you need to be and your efforts are rewarded exactly when they need to be.
—Jackson Kiddard

UBUD

3 Apr

T minus 21 days until our honeymoon!! Since I’ve been doing a lot of lying around since my surgery I’ve been spending a lot of time daydreaming about our honeymoon. I cannot wait to travel with Bri for a few weeks. We really need it. The last few months have been a crazy whirlwind…with some difficult moments/lessons sprinkled in. I need a break. I think I’ve already mentally checked out. I can almost feel the sand between my toes.

We just got confirmation that the villa in Ubud, Bali that I have been salivating over is available the dates we want. Yay! Isn’t it gorgeous?!

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I die over this bedroom. DIE.

inspiration photos: halong bay

12 Mar

This past weekend Brian and I put the finishing touches on our Vietnam itinerary and I am getting SO damn excited for our honeymoon. We leave next month! One of the things I am most excited for is our three-day boat trip with Buffalo Tours through Vietnam’s Halong Bay- Halong translates to ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, According to local legend, the Vietnamese had to ward off invaders when they began to develop their country. To assist them in defending their land, the gods sent a family of dragons as protectors. This family of dragons began spitting out jewels and jade. The jewels turned into the islands and islets dotting the bay and linked together to form a wall against the invaders. Magically, the numerous rock mountains appeared in the sea ahead of the invaders’ ships, and the boats struck the rocks and each other. After winning the battle, the dragons chose to live a peaceful life on Earth and made their home in this bay. The place where the mother dragon descended was named Ha Long.

Don’t you just love that story?

For three days Brian and I will sleep on a small 12 cabin wooden junk (boat) and float around the jade bay exploring caves, swimming at different beaches, kayaking & eating fresh seafood from the floating markets.

And from the looks of pictures…it seems like it is going to be a magical few days.

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989b957c21349d1c4fbc91bd0e2904feI mean… it looks like heaven right? Has anyone ever been? I need tips!

around these parts…

16 Jan

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the above picture has nothing to do with this post- I was just compelled to share the cuteness with you all.

I could not be happier that the weekend is almost here. It’s been a bit of a blah week for me. Not for any specific reason..my head space has just been BLAH. I think I might finally be coming down from the high of the wedding. I didn’t really have a chance to mourn that it was over because we went straight into the excitement of the holidays. It was a joyful few months and I don’t think I was prepared for it all to end. I’m not saying that life can’t be joyful after the wedding…I’m just saying I’m a little sad it’s over.

Despite my blah mood, I was able to make some progress with a few of my goals this week.

I worked on a travel essay about our trip to Nepal, which I plan on submitting as soon as I finish it (hopefully this weekend).

Brian and I finally settled on our honeymoon destinations- Bali and Vietnam here we come. I just LOVE having a trip to look forward to.

I have my very first date with my little sister, Briana set up for this Sunday. I still have no idea what to do with her…must come up with something…soon.

We’ve also made a lot of progress with our home this week- we picked paint colors, met with a furniture builder and found two killer pieces at the rose bowl flea market this last weekend- a fabulous new turkish rug and mirror for the entryway. The mirror is currently white but I plan to paint it coral this weekend!

Other than the thrilling activity of painting the mirror coral this weekend…I plan to do a bit of cooking (paleo cauliflower soup), reading (finding your own north star), writing (travel essay), organizing (the clutter that has developed in our cabinets is crazy…I was almost killed by a falling juicer the other day) and taking a few walks on the beach with my pup and husband.

Hoping that I will have a little more umpf next week!

On another note…did you see the new header on the blog?! I love it. I just die over Frank’s regal pose. Thank you, One Part Gypsy for creating such a fabulous header for me.

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let’s do this 2014

6 Jan

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My vision board for 2014 is finally done! It took me a bit longer than anticipated. I usually finish it in one day but this year I found myself more contemplative (is this a sign that I’m getting older?) about what I wanted on it. Since 2013 was focused on my home life…I hope 2014 can be a year focused on my career…and maybe 2015 the year of the baby? Brian just read that and probably lost his breath a bit. HA! I have so many career goals and I felt like they took a back seat this last year. I’m not complaining…I feel like some years have themes and everything ebbs and flows. But now I am raring to go. That doesn’t mean I want 2014 to be allllll about my career because that would be just plain boring. Life is so much more than just your career.

My 2014 goals…

TRAVEL / SOUTHEAST ASIA

I can’t imagine a year that I won’t put a travel goal on my list. I live and breathe travel. My life feels the most full when I am traveling. The first year I stared this blog my goal was to travel across the country and I did just that with my lovely girlfriend Rachel. It was a wild adventure…a wild adventure that had us sleeping in tepees…, getting chased by what we thought was a tornado…exploring haunted cemeteries in New Orleans…touring Graceland…and so much more…it was a month of bliss. I still think about that trip, often. Last year my goal was to travel overseas with Brian and we ended up heading to Asia…we explored Hong Kong and trekked the Himalayas in Nepal. That trip changed me. Seriously, it changed me. It opened my eyes and my heart in ways I hadn’t expected. I had never been to Asia prior to that trip and I fell in love…hard. The experience left me wanting more. So this year Brian and I are planning on taking our belated honeymoon through parts of southeast Asia. The four locations we are looking into are Thailand, Bali, Vietnam & Cambodia. Depending on many variables…we could end up going to one location or all four. I’m sure you can imagine I would love to go to all four but we will see!

VOLUNTEER / BIG SISTER

Last year one of my goals was to join the BBBS program and become a big sister. I was niave enough to think this would be a quick and simple process but, it is not. After submitting may application…it took months to hear back…than I had to go through background checks and interviews…once given the OK I had to wait until I was matched with the right child. I will say that I think it’s amazing how thorough they are. They give a lot of thought on which child to pair you with depending on your likes, dislikes & background. When I finally got a call saying they had a child in mind it was a few weeks before our wedding and I knew it would be irresponsible of me to take it on at that moment, considering my head was being pulled in a million directions. So I told them I would call back after the dust settled in December. When I finally did I went through an interview with the family…first the child alone (to see if she liked me)…then her parents (to see if they liked me) and then each of us sat down with a case worker to see if we all liked each other. I’m kinda thinking this is the future of dating, no? Seriously! In the end we ALL liked each other! PHEW. Starting this month Brianna, my new little sister (who happens to be the sweetest, cutest and most creative 13-year-old girl) and I start our bimonthly dates. I’m so excited and slightly nervous I won’t be able to come up with fun activities.

WRITING / MY BOOK

Oh, my book….my book…my book. It’s been on my brain for two years now. I wrote the book proposal many moons ago…then the first chapter…a chapter in which I’m pretty proud of. But the problem with books…they just don’t contain one chapter. Writing a book also take a lot of time and focus…two things which I seemed to have none of this last year. But I’ve finally arrived at a place in which I have both time (well other than my new commitment to watching every “Walking Dead” episode- I’m obsessed) and head-space to create. My goal is to have a finished manuscript by the end of the year that I am ready to submit.

PUBLISH / SIX ESSAYS

I am a huge fan of personal essays.  I love reading them in all the forms they come…short, long, funny, sad, depressing, uplifting- I love the insight they give into different people’s lives. Because of my interest I took a personal essay writing class with the incredibly talented Taffy Brodesser-Akner a few months ago and decided that I not only wanted to read personal essays but I also wanted to write them. So I’ve made it my goal to publish six essays this year. Wish me luck!

HOME / DECORATE

As many of you know we moved into our new home well, shit, almost a year ago and our office still looks like a bomb went off in it, we have no dining table & our walls are white. Try having people over for dinner without a dining table…dare you. I wasn’t aware of how far back we had fallen until our building hosted a loft tour for owners to show-off their units to other owners. You know…a fun way to meet neighbors and compare decorating tips. Clearly, I wasn’t stupid enough to sign our home up on the tour but I also wasn’t expecting to walk into units and feel like I was in the pages of Home Decor. Each unit felt wildly different and they were all beyond gorgeous. After the tour ended…I walked into our loft and I vowed I would change it…SOON. The funny thing is I love decorating- I find it so creatively full-filling. I blame our wedding for the fact that our house looks like we just moved in. I swear weddings…such time suckers! So now that the wedding is off our plates, I want to focus on finishing our home this year.

my motto this year:

“Your life shows up for you, when you show up for your life.” – Marianne Williamson

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check-in

7 Mar

When I originally started this blog a year and a half ago, it was ALL about accomplishing my goals. My obsession with it was actually verging on insane! I was NOT going to turn 30 without accomplishing all of them.

While it is still is a blog about setting goals and making them happen, it has also become a blog about everything that happens in between! All the lovely moments that make up my life.

The other day it dawned on me though…holy shit I am more than half-way through my 30th year?!!?!? WHAT!? Seriously? WHAT?! I’m going to be 31 in four months?!?! With this daunting realization I thought it would be a good time to check-in with myself on my progress with the goals for the year….

– Overseas trip (CHECK!)

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When I put overseas trip on my list I had no idea where we would end up traveling. I just knew I needed to get out of the states and go on an adventure with Brian. We settled on Hong Kong and Nepal and I am so grateful that we did because what an adventure we had!! If you haven’t read about our trip you can below!

Big news / the travel doctor / the toe  / Hong Kong 1 / Hong Kong 2 / Arriving in Nepal / Kathmandu / Patan / the monkey temple / Bhaktapur / trekking: the group / trekking: the water buffalo / trekking: the starry night.

more posts still to come…

– Volunteer as a big sister

I made a bit of progress with this right out of the gate, settling on the organization I wanted to work with and filling out the paperwork. Then the strangest thing happened…I did nothing after that. Life got in the way and I’ve had my application folded up in my date book ever since. But, the good news is I plan on sending it in this weekend once we finally set up our printer and fax! Fingers crossed that they think I am a suitable candidate to be a big sister.

– Artist dates (CHECK!) 

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I haven’t done as many of these as I would like but I have started them! You can read about them here, here and here

– New living space (CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!)

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As much as I loved our little bungalow by the beach I wanted to move on because I couldn’t stand sharing a miniature closet with Brian anymore. That and the kitchen drove me nuts- the oven didn’t work for most of the time I lived there.  Let’s just say it was the perfect bachelor pad!

I was ready for us to have a space we could grow in. So I put this one the list thinking we would just rent another slightly bigger apartment by the beach. But sometimes the universe has bigger plans for you! Because we ending up finding a loft that we loved, made an offer, beat out seven other offers and now have a new home to build a life in. High five, Universe!

– Get a French Bulldog

Frank : inspiration photo

Frank : inspiration photo

We couldn’t get Franck until we moved but now that we have  it’s time to find our little boy and bring him home! I’m thinking we still need to settle in our new home a little bit more before we add a puppy to the mix. Soooo, maybe July? Maybe as a 31st birthday gift to myself!

– Publish my writing 

I work towards this goal everyday with my book agent. But alas I have not snagged the right book deal yet. Maybe in the meantime I should focus on publishing my writing other places. Do any of you have any fabulous leads?!

– Ballet classes 

I start a 6-week course at Align Ballet March 30th!! So very excited to get back to the barre. Posts about the experience coming soon!

– Yoga retreat (CHECK!!)

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Awwwww what a magical weekend that was. In three short days I had some major breakthroughs, adopted the motto “Be Fucking Amazing!“, laughed more than I thought possible and met two lovely ladies whom I now call dear friends. Oh, and came home to a surprise engagement!!!

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Speaking of engagements, let’s be honest, I wanted to put “get engaged” on my list of goals for the year but didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment! I also thought it would be slightly awkward to put such a thing on a public goal list. But it was on my secret list! So check that one off too!

What an interesting, life changing and fun eight months it’s been!

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
C. S. Lewis

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trekking in Nepal : starry night

27 Feb

The starry night in Nepal will forever go down in history as Brian’s best night on the trip and my worst. After an eight-hour day of trekking through the mountains, we spotted our home for the night, a little teahouse nestled in the village of Ghorepani. With an altitude of approximately 9,500 feet, it was very cold but had epic views of the mountains. I couldn’t believe that it was were we would be staying for the night. Was this real life??! It was so breathtaking.

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(top photos by my fellow trekker Margaret)
As we approached the teahouse, we giggled with excitement over all the things we planned to do when we arrived, but first we’d try our luck with a hot shower! Hot showers weren’t always available due to the fact that the water was solar heated. If you were lucky enough to snag some hot water, it usually only lasted 2 minutes. So Brian and I decided that we would shower together to up our odds!
We were so that we excited we started racing to the teahouse!

When we finally reached it, we learned that there was no hot water and that the power was out. My first question was, “well, when do you think it will come back on?”. To which the answer was, “it’s been out for a few months”. Oh Nepal, you are a special little place.

We decided to skip the cold shower and drink beer in the last rays of sunlight instead. For a girl who’s not much of a beer drinker, I certainly became one on this trip. Really, there was nothing better than a cold Tuborg at the end of a long day. Granted, my options were limited, it wasn’t like they were offering buttery chardonnay up there.

We sipped our cold beers and huddled up by the miniature fire to keep warm. Soon the sky began to darken, the view of the snowy mountains faded and the chill of the mountains set in. Everyone put on their headlamps and another layer of clothing.

We all sat around a big table lit by candlelight and ate our dinner. Surprisingly it ended up being one of my favorite dinners with the group. It was all rather romantic in a funny way. I mean, I was with my new fiancée in the snowy mountains of a foreign land eating by candlelight with people I really enjoyed. As cold and dirty as I was, I was in bliss. I felt like I was really living my life.

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Another name for this trip could have been “the time Kate ate carbs with abandon“. Every single night I cleaned my plate of rice or noodles- sometimes both and sometimes I even started with a plate of momos. If there had been dessert, I would have happily eaten that too. I was insatiable.

With full bellies, Brian and I decided to call it a night. So what it was 8pm! So what the locals were setting up the music in the main room to celebrate the Festival Of Lights! We were exhausted.

We strapped on our headlamps and proceeded to get ready for bed. Let me tell you, brushing your teeth with only a headlamp is harder than you’d think. I pretty much just spit toothpaste on my hand and shirt a few times and proceeded to climb into my sleeping bag. I was so tired I didn’t even care. I hadn’t showered in four days, my hair was a mess, I hadn’t washed my face in two days, my feet were sore to the bone and I am pretty sure I smelled oh, AND I didn’t care. The only thing I cared about in that moment was sleep.

It was then that Brian had a moment of inspiration- night photography! He had to go out into the dark and photograph the stars! I am not one to stand  in the way of inspiration, so I wished him well and he packed up his equipment, kissed me on the head, said he’d be back in 10 minutes and closed the door to our little box of a room.

I laid there in the dark thinking about my day and how lucky I was to be in such a powerful place, how humbled I was by the mountains and the people of Nepal, how nice it felt to be away from everything and it was then that I realized it had been a good 20 minutes and Brian still wasn’t back yet. I also realized I had to pee – a terribly annoying realization considering this meant I would have to get out of my warm sleeping bag, put on my headlamp and pee in a squat toilet in the dark. UGH.

I unzipped my sleeping bag- FREEZING! Strapped on my headlamp- RIDICULOUS, went to the door and pulled. It didn’t budge. Ummm, what? I pulled again. NOTHING. It took me a moment to realize what had happened. Brian had locked the door from the outside. Keep in mind we weren’t working with door handles and keys here. We were in Nepal where you either locked the door by sliding the bolt from the inside or outside. Brian had done so from the outside. FUCK.

I was locked in a dark 10 x 10 room with only a headlamp for light, no form of communication and oh, did I mention I am TERRIBLY claustrophobic. This was probably the worst case scenario for me. Panic washed over me. I sat back down on the bed and tried to figure out what my next move would be. My palms began to sweat. My heart rate began to quicken. I looked around the room for a way out. Instead all I got was the image of the light on  headlamp darting around the room. It was like something out of a bad horror film. I tried banging on the door but nobody could hear me over the loud music. I tried to reassure myself that Brian would be back soon and this would all be over quickly but with every minute that passed I began to go over the deep edge a bit more…and hate Brian a bit more.

I tried to escape out the window but quickly realized that the only thing on the other side of it was a dirt wall. Thirty minutes passed. Forty minutes passed. Fifty minutes passed. With tears streaming down my face I rocked myself  back and forth on the bed and tried my hardest to forget the fact I was locked  in a dark room with no form of communication. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts.

An HOUR later, Brian walked in and discovered me standing in a corner with my headlamp on, crying. I proceeded to take my headlamp off, throw it in his direction and scream, “I hate you!” hahhahaha. Seriously over the top, right? But it was a really traumatic experience! Terrifying actually. Luckily, we laugh about it now but in that moment Brian had no idea why the hell I was flipping out. Imagine his surprise since he expected me to be sleeping. HA.

Brian’s side of the story- he had gotten caught up in the moment with the gorgeous stars and then watched the villagers perform their “festival of lights” dance for a bit. What a dear, huh?

Really, the only good thing to come out of such a horrid experience are these EPIC photos below by BHG!

the villagers dancing!

the villagers dancing!

20130224_7A9A232620130224_A9A232920130224_A9A2367Aren’t these amazing?? The last one takes my breath away every time I look at it. Magic!

The next morning, as the group ate breakfast, everyone chatted about the sky filled with stars the night before and the fabulous dancing that took place at the festival. When someone asked me if I had enjoyed it, I glanced at Brian, smiled and said, “I missed it”.

More on our adventures in Nepal soon!

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trekking in Nepal : the water buffalo showdown

21 Feb

Well, I can officially scratch “getting charged by a water buffalo” off my list of things to do in this life. It was certainly less fulfilling than one would think. Let me set the scene for you: Shree (our guide), Ann, Brian and I were walking along the winding dirt path. It was another eight-hour trekking day (oy), so we were taking it slow to conserve energy. We followed Shree and his colorful flower walking stick while listening to him sing a song that went something like this…“sometimes trekking, sometimes dating, sometimes a donkey, sometimes a monkey”. I couldn’t really tell you what this meant, so take what you will from it.

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Considering Shree was much more adept at maneuvering the narrow uneven rock strewn paths than the three of us, he quickly picked up speed and his singing began to fade. This was normal though. Everyone walked at their own pace and eventually we all ended up in the same place. We walked along talking about our families and life back in the states. Ann was quickly becoming my favorite.

A few minutes later, we spotted the sweetest looking family of water buffalos walking in a row behind us. At this point into our Nepali adventure, we had seen our fair share of water buffalo. They were a common occurrence on the busy streets of Kathmandu,  mostly they could be found basking in the hot sun on the corners of the streets. But up until this point, I had never seen a whole family of them. How cute! Ever the photographer, Brian had to stop and take photos of them.

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(the above picture was taken by Ann)

We let Ann go ahead of us while Brian snapped away. The water buffalo inched closer and closer and I began to think…well, now what? What the fuck are we supposed to do when they reach us? The path was so narrow and they were so big. I didn’t like the equation one bit.

So, I asked Brian, “well, now what?”

Brian calmly said, “honey, go ahead to the opening on the path and pull off to the side”

For some reason I heard, “Run as fast as you can to an opening and hide.”

So that’s exactly what I did. I was almost laughing as I took off down the path. I mean I wasn’t really that scared of them. In all my other encounters with them they seemed so docile.

There I was running away from a family of water buffalo in the mountains of Nepal! Was this real life?! Such an adventure!

I turned around to share my laughter with Brian but quickly stopped when I saw the head water buffalo, who also happened to be the largest, running, or rather, charging down the narrow path towards us. Poor Bri guy didn’t know what was coming either, as he slowly packed up his camera bag.

So I screamed, “Brian, RUN!!!”

Brian turned around, quickly took the scene in and began running too. Now we were both running from the huge water buffalo and I thought…now what?

So, I screamed, “Now WHAT?!!?”

Brian screamed, “Jump in the bushes!!!”

So that’s just what I did. I jumped my ass into the prickly bushes and crouched down. Brian jumped in shortly after me, hitting me in the head with his massive metal tripod in the process, accidentally, of course. But man, did it only make matters worse. Not only was I terrified but I was also seeing spots.

The water Buffalo approached, locking eyes with Brian and me and I whispered, “I’m scared” and Brian whispered in my ear, “Shhh, act small.” So we both crouched down even smaller and turned our heads away from him.

“I mean you no harm buffalo. I mean you no harm buffalo. I mean you no harm buffalo”, I whispered to myself.

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The buffalo walked past us slowly, turning his head every few seconds to make sure we hadn’t moved. He had put us in check. We didn’t move an inch until the whole family safely passed and then we let out a huge sigh of relief.

Brian’s first words were, “Why the hell would you run from them?!?!? Don’t you know that that makes them think you’re being aggresive??!!”

I don’t know, Brian. It just seemed like the best idea at the time”, I said softly

And then we both burst out laughing. We laughed so hard we began to cry.

Only in Nepal.

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favorite things about trekking in Nepal : the group

19 Feb

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After spending five days exploring Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, it was finally time for Brian and I to meet up with our Earthbound Expeditions tour group and begin the trekking leg of our adventure. Prior to the trip, we had reservations about doing a tour. We’re not really group activity type people. Actually, my dislike for group activities goes way back; it’s the very reason I never went to summer camp as a kid. I knew from an early age that it just wasn’t for me.

But we wanted to do a trek in Nepal and neither of us were willing to do it without a guide- we’re not that idiotic or stubborn!

Orientation was set for 6pm at the Thamel Eco Resort, which would be our home for the night before boarding buses the following morning en route for Pokhara. Brian and I spent our drive there asking each other questions like…What if everyone is in better shape than us? What if we hate them all? What if it’s a group of serious athletes and we can’t keep up? What if? What if? 

What did we get ourselves into?

When I walked into the orientation, I was shocked by what I saw- it was a group of totally regular  people! No hardcore athletes! Holy shit, there was even a couple that looked as if they were in their late 70’s!! If they could trek through the Himalayas, then I could too, dammit. At this point, I still wasn’t sure if I would like any of them but I was quite sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself on the mountain and that was a good start.

The group included Rick and Carolyn, an adorable retired couple from upstate New York. Ann, a gorgeous and  affable (and very tall) young woman from Michigan. She quit her job to go on a three-month trip around the world- I mean, seriously? How cool is she? Paul and Mari, a newly retired and constantly bickering couple from Australia. Sandra and Taiko, an estranged half-brother and sister team from Denmark on an adventure together. Margaret and Kim, a smart, attractive and witty mother and daughter duo from New York City. Maggie, an amiable but quiet young woman from Malaysia, who was traveling by herself. Donna, a middle-aged career woman from Chicago out to find adventure in Asia and Ben, a peculiar little man from Singapore, who made me laugh out loud at least once a day and who ended up buying a donkey to ride for most of the trek instead of walking. Oh and Brian and I, the newly engaged couple (yes that became our “thing”) from Los Angeles.

Oddest group ever. 

As we walked out of orientation, I said to Brian, “Well, hopefully we can steal away a lot on and do our own thing.” Aren’t I positive? But then a funny thing happened, they all became my friends and each and every one of them added something to the experience. Well, maybe not Paul. He took to racing most of us to the finish line each day, which drove me insane. But, the others now hold a soft spot in my heart. There is something very powerful about experiencing such a beautiful, almost spiritual trip together. The beauty on those mountains is unparalleled to anything I have ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, there were some incredibly difficult times sprinkled in there too. Those moments brought us even closer. We encouraged each other when someone was feeling exhausted by the hill. We shared equipment. We shared toilet paper. We shared laughter each time someone in the group had to brave a new squat toilet. We shared personal stories from our lives back home as we walked along the winding trails. We broke bread together every single night. Even when there was no electricity, we sat together in the dark with only a few candles and headlamps.

Not only did I fall for the group of people I trekked with, but I fell hard for our guide, Shree and all of our porters. Each one of them had such a wonderful joyful energy about them. They all seemed grateful just to be alive. You know when you meet somebody who’s grateful just to be alive? It’s such a powerful energy to be around. It seemed to be a Nepalese character in general. They were the hardest working group of men I have ever met- I don’t say that lightly either. They easily carried between 80-100 pounds of baggage for eight hours a day- with a smile on their face no less! At least ten times a day I would say, “how can that be humanly possible to hold that much weight on their backs???!!” It was seriously mind-blowing.

Each of us had our own personal reason for deciding to sign up for such an adventure. But the common bond of tackling it as a team made for lasting relationships. We tackled that mountain as one.

More on the trek up next…!

(ALL photos by BHG )

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this fancy bus got us to Pokhara!

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Brian and Taiko enjoying a beverage at the end of a long day

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Ann and Margaret

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taking in the view at lunch

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our guide Shree and his colorful walking stick!

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my favorite porter on the trip

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Carolyn, Rick, Kim and Margaret

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Ann, Le Shrimp (me) and Margaret

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Shree and Brian at the top of Poonhill

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can you believe how much weight they are holding?? Amazing right?

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the newly engaged couple

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Ben and his donkey

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all of our incredible porters

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“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
Mattie Stepanek