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!

Vietnam

Vietnam has been amazing! As good as the other countries have been, it will be tough to top the “foodie” tour we did in Ho Chi Minh City. This time, we have about 70 pictures to post (and that’s after removing some and not including the water camera.)

So we arrived late in Hanoi and took a taxi straight to the hotel. It was located in the old quarter, right in the midst of all the action. Anticipating an early morning, we showered and went to sleep.

Day 1: At 7 am our guide, Ti, punctually arrived to take us on our day tour to Halong Bay. The trip was 4 hours long, but we stopped halfway for a 20 minute break. Along the way Ti taught us many things about Vietnam. He told us about Vun la, which is a holiday to celebrate the ancestors. Vun la is held in July 15th (according to the lunar calendar) and it would be on the next day during our stay in Hanoi. He also told us about the different cities that we drove through, and what they were known for.

We noticed many tombstones in the rice fields, Ti told us that after a war with Japan many Vietnamese people starved to death due to lack of food. And so when planting rice, many bodies were found in the fields. The tombstones were placed there in order to pay respect and a proper burial to the dead.

We arrived in Ha Long Bay at noon. We were quickly directed to board our boat, which ended up being a private ride for us since it was low season.
The waiters presented us with a  Vietnamese wine selection to accompany our meal. Here are the pictures.

The famous chicken rocks. I find the “male chicken” to be a lot prettier. After eating and cruising for a bit, we went to this floating village. The James bond film Tomorrow Never Dies was filmed here. We took one of the bamboo boats to see a secret lagoon. 

Then we climbed up to explore the Thien Cung Cave. We had lots of fun guessing the shapes of the stalagmites and stalactites. On our return trip, Mr Ti’s boss really wanted to meet us and gave us a small souvenir, as well as treated us to dinner at a very local Pho place, this felt like an Anthony B0urdain moment for sure. There is Mr Ti!We decided to walk back to the hotel…not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into. Crossing the streets in Hanoi has to be one of the scariest things I have done! but we survived!

The next day we had schedule a tour with Hanoi kids, which are college students who offer free tours in Hanoi, in exchange they get to meet foreigners and practice their English.

We had some free time prior to our tour so we grabbed breakfast and went to the museum. 

Famous egg coffee, very strong!

I’m not quite sure what’s going on here…

We saw many different types of  homes which varied by ethnic groups in Vietnam. We also learned about the many different languages and ethnic groups that exist in this amazing country. Some friskier than others judging by the picture below…

We rushed back to the hotel to meet with K. for our tour of Hanoi. First we stopped for some ice cream to cool us off.

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Then he took us around town and gave us the history, my personal favorite being the one about Hoan Kiem Lake. img_2273

img_2246The opera house.

img_2262Typical 19th century home in Hanoi.

We saw a group of young girls taking photos in wedding dresses and asked K. about it, and he said that somer girls take photos in wedding dresses and post it on social media to show what a beautiful bride they make in hope to attract a husband. Ryan responded by saying that in America that would chase the men away. img_2247

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I joined a massage chain by the lake on the way back.

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And then we headed to the water puppet show, which was  amazing. I wish we had a few more days here!

 

Next on our agenda was Ho Chi Minh City. We booked a foodie tour with XO tours, a group of ladies drive around the city in their mopeds! I was very skeptical, but I’m glad I trusted Ryan’s judgement. This was fantastic! img_2317Nga and Ngan kept us very safe and entertained. Here are some of the food we ate.

 

scallopsjumping-chicken-frog Ryan tried “jumping chicken” (frog), I skipped it. img_6664img_6656img_6646img_6636crabsimg_6606img_6611img_6613img_6630img_6633clamsbanh-khot

The next day we went to an Indian restaurant, which was surprisingly one of the best Indian food we have had. img_2319

Okay friends, next is Cambodia!

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.