Entries from August 31st, 2012

August 31st 2012

I was a late bloomer when it came to Vietnamese food. My first time I was almost 20, well into my sophomore year of college, when my roommate acquired a 40 year old admirer, who also happened to be the socialite-y owner of a Vietnamese restaurant down in Nolita. 

We let his stalker tendencies slide as we chopsticked spicy grilled squid and spring rolls during that spring of ‘03. Our 10pm reservations routinely stretched til midnight as we binge drank dirty martinis, puffed on Parliaments and waited for our literal meal ticket to take us to Bungalow 8.  

I’ve had many experiences with the cuisine since, but tonight’s takes the proverbial cake. Bale Well, pictured above, is a local hotspot here in Hoi An, famous for its make your own spring rolls (which is coincidentally the only thing that they serve). Barbecued pork is fired up in the corner and served steaming and skewered alongside plates of fresh greens, pickled veggies, shrimp pancakes, peanut chili sauce and rice paper for wrapping, dipping and devouring!

Inside the Imperial City

August 29th 2012

 

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Inside the Imperial City (Hue, Vietnam) (Taken with Instagram)

hi! i was wondering how you find places to stay and things to do (like volunteering and activities) ?

August 28th 2012

Hi!! I love this question because I think sometimes travel can feel overwhelming when you don’t have a place, figuratively, to start. Here are some of my suggestions:

1.) Lonely Planet is always a good first step (both their books and website). In addition to providing you with hotel & food recommendations, they always list the can’t-miss activities. They’re specific and accurate no matter how remote the location. Plus, there’s always history and helpful tips (and a map!) on the overall region which helps me feel more familiar and gives me a better idea when it comes to a broader plan.

2.) I love LP for big picture planning, but both the risk and the reward is that you’re doing what everyone else who reads it is doing. You’ll meet lots of like-minded travelers, which is awesome! But to get off-the-beaten track, I like to talk to locals. It’s hard when English isn’t their first language but you can usually ask someone who works at your hostel/guesthouse what they like to do on the weekends, which is their favorite temple, etc?  Or, you can just observe—look around and see what street stalls are packed for a great meal. It takes a little more research and risk to find under-the-radar places but the payoff can be great.

3.) People you meet along the way are an incredible resource. Stay in guesthouses and hostels and chat people up who have come from the direction you’re going—they’ll usually have great recommendations, volunteer experience and invaluable advice on what to avoid.

4.) For places to stay, hostelworld.com is my favorite site. You can search a specific location and list all of the hostels there based on an overall percentage rating, as determined by fellow travelers. You can also read reviews which helps you avoid anywhere dirty or dishonest. You can book directly through the site (which is great as many smaller places don’t have online booking) but note that they do charge a small commission.

5.) I don’t trust tripadvisor.com entirely when it comes to restaurant reviews, but I find that their “Things to do” section is always accurate and has led me to discover lots of great activities.

6.) Worldtravelist.com, started by fellow blogger TravMonkey, compiles travel articles from well known bloggers around the world. It’s sort of like a digg but just for travel. Search specifically by country and city to get inspiration and itineraries from some serious jetsetters.

7.) Sometimes I google New York Times + (where I’m traveling) to find ideas, as well as concierge.com and Conde Nast Traveler. While geared for a more upscale traveler, they still often have a few inexpensive ideas scattered throughout.

8.) There’s tons of websites that can help match you with a great volunteer opportunity; if it’s something that you want to enhance your travels with (as opposed to planning around it), then asking at hostels is your best bet.  You can usually find a local library that accepts volunteers or a more established organization (Lonely Planet usually lists these). Do be aware that the place you choose may require a time commitment or an introduction seminar.

Hope this helps! And safe travels!!

August 27th 2012

Lots of Things!

August 27th 2012

  • I had an article published on Thought Catalog yesterday. Read it here.
  • Thanks to said article, I got a wave of new followers. Hiii!! So appreciative. If you sent me a message/asked me a question I’m trying to answer them all, give me a few days. 
  • I’m in the exciting process of redesigning my blog. Would love any feedback you have for the process, i.e. features and functions you’d like to see or blogs with great layouts for inspiration (my faves: sousstylecupcakesandcashmere and manrepeller).
  • In two hours, I hop on a 17 hour bus to Hue, Vietnam for a Citadel sighting and an excursion through Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home of the world’s largest cave.
  • I’m actually excited for the above bus ride because I’ve downloaded and started watching The Wire. I know I’m a little late to the game (like 10 years), but super psyched to be playing! 
  • I’m enrolled in an online class. For fall. At Harvard. Specifically CS50x: Introduction to Computer Science. Is it a bad sign if I don’t understand the entire course description? I just want to be smarter. 
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