How we travel light

When I travel to a new place I am instantly on “go” mode. I don’t want to spend a lot of time lugging around heavy suitcases, unpacking and repacking. I mean vacation time is so limited with our work schedules and we simply want to make the best of it and enjoy every minute possible. So we decided that we would invest in “tech gear” in order to travel in a more convenient way. This mini blog will basically cover all the gear we use to travel thus far.

  1. Backpack: we each only carry a backpack during our travels, including our 3 week trip around 4 countries in Southeast Asia. We used the Minaal Carry on  Minaal 2.0 backpack. Yes we know it is quite expensive but believe us it is worth it! We also purchased the hip straps, and Ryan bought the packing cubes. As a fresh grad with no income I decided to purchase cheaper packing cubes from amazon eBags Small Packing Cubes – 3pc Set. These fit perfectly and even allowed extra room in my bag.
  2. Clothes: For hotter climates we each invested in breathable items. Ryan bought a few airism t-shirts, a nice Outlier short sleeve dress shirt (Mojave pivot shirt) to wear for more casual outings, 2 pairs of new way shorts, and 1 pair of climbers long pants (also from outlier but have been discontinued).  I brought 2 pair of shorts from American eagle, 1 pair of Anatomie Skylar skinny pants, 2 Uniqlo Airism shirts, 1 dress, 1 bathing suit, 1 sarong, 2 Uniqlo tanks. We each brought 5 pairs of underwear, his were from the Uniqlo Airism line. We had our laundry done about every 2-3 days, which was fairly inexpensive.
  3. Shoes: we bought matching  Nike Pegasus 32, which we customized to our liking. For sandals I used the Teva capri sandal because they are super comfortable but also dressy enough. Ryan used the Teva Katavi sandals. We were both very happy with our choices and spent most of the trip in our sandals. Recently we purchased Water shoes for our trip to Costa Rica. They are available for both men and women. The Salomon tech amphibian shoes worked really well for our canyoning trip, the only downside was that it caused a bit of friction on the right side of my ankle. So next time I use them I will place a Band-aid in that area.
  4. Toiletries: We try to minimize the amount of liquid we carried, remember that you can always purchase additional items at local stores. Anyhow, we brought 3 travel size shampoo and conditioner bottles. We use 1 bar of soap each and also bring along a travel size loofah. For sunscreen we purchase Neutrogena sunscreen stick, and1 travel size  Repel 100 Insect Repellent is enough for both of us.
  5. Other: This Daypack is super useful to carry the things we need during our daily adventures( towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, repellent). And this pocket size blanket has been useful to lay on at the beach. We have been using a belt with this Hidden travel wallet to keep our passports and money safe. Our emergency kit is fairly small, we keep some bandaids, an Ace wrap, and some meds ( Aleve, Tylenol, Peptobismal tabs). If going somewhere with hight risk of traveler’s diarrhea we get a prescription for Azithromycin 500 mg tabs to treat td, which we got in Vietnam.

And that is it! you can get creative with packing depending on the trip. So far this has worked very well for us. No need to wait for luggage at the airport, we just grab our backpacks and go!

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Rain rain go away

As we arrived in Luang Prabang, the rain season has finally caught up to us :-(. We have tried to make the best of it; unfortunately, due  to the weather, we were unable to visit the town’s biggest attraction: Kuang Si Waterfall.  The Mekong River was brown due to all the rain, but we were fortunate enough to still enjoy the beautiful panorama. 

Our first evening here, we arrived at a beautiful guesthouse wih a great riverview. Unfortunately we soon learned that we were too far away from town; there were no nearby restaurants and the only forms of transportations were bikes or mopeds…. now can you imagine Ryan or I driving a moped? 

We decided the best course of action was to book a different place in town, and so we did. A tuk tuk driver took us there, approximately  a 20 minute ride.The place was full, and the host apologized for the computer glitch which allowed us to go through with the booking. He called his cousin, Eric, who also managed a guesthouse and promptly arranged accommodations and transportation for us.  Eric was also able to give us helpful information. 

 We soon discovered there was no running water! Apparently it gets shut off when there is excessive rain. As you can see, this was a very challenging day. We walked to town for dinner and shared a beer. 

Water was back on, yay!!!

The next am we woke up very early, but too late to watch the monks during giving of alms. We went to the morning market. The locals sold all sorts of things, from crabs, to live frogs, water snakes, fruits, vegetables. This experience was a bit much for me to handle :-(. Afterwards, Ryan had breakfast and we returned to the hotel for our workout, followed by a very long shower. There was finally some sunshine, and so we went to walk around town. 

Exit at morning market. 

The bamboo bridge was covered by the river, also due to the rain. However, we did get to try some very delicious Laotian food at Bamboo tree restaurant. The owner, Noy, was very friendly and welcoming. She explained the menu items and helped us select our meals, then she went into the kitchen to make it all. When the food was ready she came and explained every item and how Laotian’s eat the food. We tried the catfish, Laos vegetarian sampler, and lime soda. All were amazing. 

We continued walking around town; it was very sunny and humid.  We then went back to our room for a 2 hour study session…

And came back out around 4 pm to go pick up our laundry (it cost $2.50 !). Then we walked to Mount Phousi to try to watch the sunset, but the rain had returned. Nonetheless, we still had a beautiful view of the mountains. 

2 boys playing by Mount Phousi temple. 

Dinner followed at a swanky place called 525. However, there was no Laotian food there. But they had the most amazing cheesecake! Topped with mango and pineapple, the latter was our favorite.

Ryan likes his old fashion. 

The most amazing cheesecake! the lighter is pineapple  (our favorite). 

 Dinner was followed by a walk in the rain back to the hotel, in hopes the rain would dissipate overnight so that we could visit Kuang Si. 

Unfortunately, it was raining cats and dogs the next day. So we got dressed,  and tried some mangosteen  (soo yummy, it had almost the texture of butter).

 We brought our bags downstairs with plans to return to the hotel about 2 hours prior to our departure. And off into the rain we went. Tai, one of the hosts, gave us an umbrella, but despite it we still were soaked during our walk to get breakfast .

 Afterwards we  decided to study for a few hours at this great little cafe, and then walked back to pick up our bags and ride to the airport.

 Our flight to Vientiane was supposed to be 45 mins, we arrived in less than 30! Went to the hotel, S Park Design which was quite interesting. And then headed down to the restaurant/ bar for dinner. There was a boy band and they sang Ed Sheeran’s thinking out loud and Love yourself. 

Went to bed after, and woke up fairly early to arrange the day and squeeze as much of Vientiane sightseeing as possible. We began our workout regimen and got ready for a day of sightseeing!  Many many temples! 

We began at Wat Si Saket 

Then a quick selfie at Presidential Palace

 
And walked to Haw Pha Kew

Our driver Mr Ngo brought us to Siam riem temple. 

Then to the very curious Buddha Park, we had lots of fun exploring the sculptures here. We started by sharing an ice cream, and then climbing this apple shaped structure.

Ryan told me I should ask this guy for directions in hopes he would point us to the right way. 

The ice cream we shared. 

As you can imagine all of the sightseeing made us hungry, so Mr. Ngo took us to a Laotian restaurant,  the waitresses hardly spoke English,  as I tried to find phrases in our book, Ryan struggled to communicate with the girls and said “all right this isn’t working out”. 

We somehow managed to get our orders in, but received a larger portion of rice than we thought, it was still a great meal. 

Here is a selfie we took with the waitresses. All in all it was fun trying to communicate despite the language barrier.  

Alright, 2 more temples.

That Luang Stupa 

 Patouxai. 

Of course we climbed to the top. 

Goodbye Mr Ngo!

And now we are off to Vietnam!

Finally here

What a week! We finally arrived to Koh Phi Phi after many hours of traveling. We flew from Bangkok to Krabi. We noticed many women were wearing a rainbow sarong, 

here is a picture with 3 women wearing it. Ryan is trying to convince me to buy one.

After de-planing in Krabi, we took a bus to a travel agency where we waited for a smaller bus to drop us off at Krabi pier. Ryan told me that the bathroom was the nicest he had ever seen. I thought he was being sarcastic so I went to check it out and oh wow. Look at the pics! 

Anyhow, we arrived to Krabi pier where we boarded the ferry towards Koh Phi Phi. This was a 1.5 hour ride, it was a nice ride. As we arrived to beautiful island a thunderstorm greeted us. We quickly raced to exit the ferry and were approached by many Long boat drivers to take us to our final destination. Ryan negotiated with one and got him to reduce the cost of the ride. 

Those are the long boats.

We boarded the boat, the sea was a bit tormentous so the waves were rocking us some. Ryan being great at preparing for the worst case scenario grabbed a life jacket which he held closely by. After about a 30 minute ride we arrived at the resort. The staff greeted us. Took our bags and presented us with a delicious beverage and an ice cold hand towel (we assumed it was to wash our hands). After checking  in we were driven to our cottage.

We took the longest shower ever. Put on some robes, ordered room service and fell right asleep. 

The next am we woke up around 6 am, went for breakfast and a leisure walk around the resort. 

Then headed up to our room for a work out, followed by snorkeling in the afternoon.  It was Ryan’s first time, and he did great! Unfortunately there weren’t too many fishes.. so I have made it a goal to take him somewhere with a great reef some time in the future. We took pictures with the water camera which we will upload when we return.

We went to dinner and watched a fireshow. 

Yum, banana fritters.

Today is departure day for Chiang Mai, so we stopped for some mango sticky rice in koh phi phi pier prior to boarding the ferry. 

Shaken Lychee iced tea.

Let’s see what adventures await us in Chiang Mai.

FYI, the feature pic is of our resort in koh phi phi.

Almost there

Hey, Ryan here. This blog thing… Anyone remember xanga? All the cool kids had one. Ana doesn’t know what it is, but I remember it being a big thing back in the day. That must have been 15 years ago.

Anyway, after a hectic week moving everything to Chicago, flying to Shanghai and transferring planes, we are finally in Bangkok. We’re waiting for a shuttle to take us to another airport, another flight, and a couple boat trips before we are finally at our first location. 

Ana planned out the entire trip, no tour group or anything (ok maybe she jacked an itinerary or two). That’s the benefit of having an experienced traveler at my side. (She’s not looking over my shoulder or anything.)

The picture above is us sharing Ana’s bag while we wait for the first shuttle to arrive. Check out that neck, that’s why I call her my giraffe. 

The airport here is pretty clean, has decent food, and is full of a bunch of other travelers like us who are sleeping, presumably also waiting for the shuttle. Hopefully we’ll have pictures of interesting food and places soon.

First Post

Hello world

Hello and welcome to our blog! My name is Ana and as of today, I have completed a Nurse Practitioner program. As a reward, my boyfriend Ryan and I are about to embark on our first international trip together. We’ve been thinking about visiting Asia for some time, and we’ve decided that now is the best time, prior to Ryan starting work next month and before I begin preparing for my new career.

In this blog, we’ll be sharing our experiences, photos and briefly talk about some of the items we are using. Perhaps this could help some of you in your future travels as well. Also, this is a way for us to update our families and friends on what we are doing, and to record our memories for the future.

We’re excited to fly out tomorrow, but first we have to drive from Philadelphia to Chicago, as you can see above. We’re completing our move to Chicago when we come back from vacation, and for now, we need to get my car there. With our flight in the afternoon, we’ll be driving all night to reach the airport on time.
Well that’s enough for now. Let the adventures begin! Wish us luck.