A Family Affair in Hoi An

As I said in my last post, my mom came to visit us here in Vietnam last month. It was such a great visit and we packed a lot in to the 2 weeks. Our first trip that we took was down to Hoi An for 4 days. Luckily my niece Sarah, who lives in Singapore, had a long weekend so her and her fiance joined us for a couple of days.

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How do I describe our time in Hoi An? Wow… Let’s just say it was full of shopping, tailoring, eating, boat rides, bike rides, beaches, rice paddies, swimming, temples and more!

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In this post I’ll just talk about Hoi An town itself. Hoi An is a traditional town with beautiful old buildings and lanterns absolutely everywhere. It is very peaceful since no motorised vehicles are allowed in to the town center.

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I must admit that it is very touristy with every building being either a shop, tailor or restaurant, but I absolutely loved it there! It was such a nice getaway from noisy Hanoi.

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So I have mentioned tailors a couple of times so far in this post and that is because Hoi An is THE place to go to get clothing tailored.

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While we were there I got some beautiful leather ankle boots, a dress, a pants and shorts tailored. Jason got a pants and 4 shirts tailored and my mom got 3 pairs of shoes made.

Overall we were happy with the items that we got made. For my dress and one of Jason’s shirts we went to one of the bigger well known tailors that had a lot of reviews. Then while walking we happened upon a very small tailors with a lovely woman inside, she was offering to make shirts at a much cheaper price so Jason said he’d order one and see how it went.

The next day we went back and found that it was perfect, no adjustments needed, unlike the bigger store so we ordered more from her and were happy with everything we got made.

Now, a month later, the pants and dress have become staples in my wardrobe, I’ve only worn the boots once because it’s summer but they looked beautiful. I still haven’t worn my shorts but I’m sure that I will soon. Jason found all of his shirts very comfortable and perfect for work. The name of the tailors was Thu Linh 2 and the address is 40 Tran Phu Street. There are thousands of tailors in Hoi An but this is my recommendation.

As for my boots. I love them! I got them made at Friendly shop (18 Tran Phu). They are quite well known for making quality leather products and they offer a 6 month guarantee.

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I can’t wait to write more about our time in Hoi An, especially the different day trips that we took!

Have you ever gotten anything tailored? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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Currently…May 2017

What a whirlwind couple of weeks we’ve had! I was so fortunate to have my mom come visit us here in Hanoi. It was her first time in Asia and we absolutely loved showing her Vietnam. We took some time off work and managed to visit Hoi An and Halong Bay with her. I’ll be writing about our time in both of those places hopefully sooner rather than later.

Other than that, we’ve also started looking for a new apartment. We love our current apartment but we’ve found that we aren’t saving as much as we were hoping to. We’ve been looking at places that are about $400 cheaper than our current place and are still really beautiful! Just the other day we looked at a one bedroom apartment in an old French building with a balcony looking right over the lake. We are going to look at some more tomorrow and are definitely excited to find our new place!

I’ve also been researching Masters programs and I think I’ve found the program that I want, the best part is that it offers a chance to get a teaching license after the completing the Masters program.

We found a swimming pool with a view near our apartment so I have a feeling that we’ll be spending a lot of time there as the weather gets hotter.

Willy had to have a minor surgery recently. He’s had a cyst for over a year that we had gotten checked before but while my mom was visiting it grew huge in a few days so we had to get it removed. But he did great and is back to his normal self again.

Work has been going good…busy but good. I’ve been learning so much in my role as a senior teacher. In the five months that I’ve been senior teacher I’ve had a chance to train new teachers, observe current teachers, write blog posts for the company website and create and deliver an academic workshop. I’m hopeful that I’ll continue learning even more as time goes on.

That’s about it for now, but I’m really hoping to get better at writing more frequently in the future!

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I’m Back!

After taking nearly a year off from blogging for various reasons, I’m finally back and so excited to continue writing about my adventures. A lot has changed since I last wrote and it would probably take more than one blog post to explain everything.

But basically, I now live in Vietnam!
I absolutely loved Colorado, seriously, it was the best place ever! Unfortunately, the job market there, not so much. I struggled so much with trying to find a decent job, which I never actually did find. This led to me feeling depressed and worthless. I was stuck in a job that I didn’t like and earning terrible money. It was the first time in my life that I started regretting all of the amazing experiences that I’ve had. But, myself and Jason also volunteered at a local college in Denver to help refugees and immigrants learn English. This was an incredible experience and it made me realize that I enjoy teaching and since I have so much experience in teaching ESL, maybe I should focus on getting the qualifications related to this.

We also realized that it would be near impossible to get Masters in Colorado with the jobs that we were in and not rack up a huge amount of debt, so this led to us looking for work abroad again.

It was so hard leaving Colorado, the sunshine, mountains, beer, Denver, mountain towns, friends etc. but we have been in Vietnam for about 6 months now and are enjoying our time here. We are also researching Masters programs which is exciting and if all goes well, I will be starting mine next year.img_20160815_211359

 

I will still write about all of the fun things that we did in Colorado and of course write about our time in Vietnam. I’m so happy to be back!!!

My Top 5…Moments of 2015

IMG_7947Oops, I’m a bit late with creating this post since it’s already over a week into 2016, but I guess late is better than never!

 

2015 was an incredible year and one that I won’t forget anytime soon! Myself and Jason are, for the first time, heading in to a new year with so much uncertainty and a bit of fear. I hope that 2016 ends up being an amazing year, but for now I’m going to focus on how great 2015 was.

So here are my top 5 moments of 2015:

5. WWOOFing in Washington

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This was a great chance for both myself and Jason to firmly leave our comfort zones. We worked hard, learned a lot and most importantly had fun while working at Paradisos Del Sol Winery in Zillah Washington.

I highly recommend WWOOFing to anyone interested in getting off the beaten path and seeing the world in a unique way.wpid-img_20151003_084246.jpg

4. Weekend trip to Seattlewpid-img_20150910_074009.jpg

For Jasons birthday I got him tickets to see the Mariners play baseball. That, coupled with the gourmet food tour that our friend Ian gave us, created an awesome weekend full of fun memories that I’ll cherish for a long time to come!wpid-img_20150908_120110.jpg

3. Beomosa Temple Stay

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What an incredible experience! We got to live in a temple for the weekend, meditate, pray, eat and drink tea like monks. We also learned a lot about Buddhism and were able to clear our minds for that wonderful weekend. IMG_9292

2. Finally Spending Christmas with Family

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It had been 6 years since I’ve spent Christmas with any family. Both myself and Jason were getting down in Denver thinking about spending another Christmas alone, so we made the decision to load up the car, drive 2 days to Washington and spend the most incredible 2 weeks with his family! We even had a white Christmas…it was so perfect and gave our spirits a badly needed lift.
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1. Our honeymoon in Singapore and Bali

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Ever since myself and Jason got engaged we both knew that if we had to choose, we wanted our honeymoon to be the highlight instead of the wedding. At the end of the day, we care way more about travel and experiences than we do about dresses and place settings so we did exactly that, had a low key wedding and enjoyed the most wonderful 2 weeks in both Singapore and Bali. We splashed out and stayed in an amazing villa with a private pool in Ubud and the memories from our honeymoon are going to stay in my mind forever.wpid-img_20150224_073315.jpg

 

So there we have it, my top 5 moments of 2015. It was so nice to look back on them while writing this.

How about you? What are your favorite memories of 2015??

 

My Top 5 Uniquely Asian Activities

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of my Top 5 posts and as I sit here in a wintery Colorado, my mind is currently being transported back to wonderful Asia.

As you know, It is impossible to choose just five but here it goes, in no particular order, These are my top five uniquely Asian experiences.

Doing a temple stayIMG_9198

This was such an amazing experience that I will treasure for a long time to come. Asia is the best place to find a temple stay that will teach you about Buddhism and meditation. It’s a great way to strip away any stress that you may have and also learn a bit about the country that you are in.

Hiking in the Himalayasimg_4378

They are an amazing mountain range with the highest peaks in the world. There is nothing more magical than knowing that you are standing on the roof of the world and seeing beauty around every corner.

Seeing the Taj MahalIMG_5171

Few famous buildings live up to their hype but the Taj Mahal definitely isn’t one of them. I remember just being in complete awe when first setting eyes on it. It is amazingly beautiful and will leave you breathless.

tip: Go first thing in the morning to beat the crowds.

Seeing Orangutans in Borneocb61f-malaysia058

Okay, Asia has some wonderful wildlife and you can just as easily replace the word orangutans with turtles, whale sharks, tigers or rhinos. But for me, when I got to see orangutans up close and personal without barriers at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, it was astounding. It was something that I had dreamed about for years and when it finally happened I was left in awestruck.

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Yes, I know that karaoke exists everywhere in the world, but to enjoy a karaoke session somewhere in Asia, it’s a completely different experience. Most singing rooms are small and fit a private group of people. While in the room, you snack on food, drink alcohol and sing songs while playing the tambourine. Also, most of these places are open 24 hours so you can enjoy it after a night of partying. I have had way too much fun in singing rooms over the years, especially the ones that have costumes!

 

Okay, so that’s my list…how about you? is there anything that you’d add, or remove from this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

My Top 5 Islands in South East Asia

There’s something about a South East Asian beach that conjures up images of white sand, clear water, delicious cocktails, friendly locals and massages on the beach.

I absolutely love South East Asia and it’s beaches, choosing only 5 of my favorites was a tough call!

But alas, here are my top 5 islands in South East Asia:

5. Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (Islands just off of Kota Kinabalu, Borneo)kk1

Kota Kinabalu is such a great city and something that makes it even better is that it has a beautiful marine park with beautiful small paradise islands only a 15 minute boat ride away. Now I have to admit that you can only go to a few of the islands which means that there are some crowds…but that’s a price to pay for paradise.

4. Koh Chang, Thailand

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Koh Chang has such an amazing vibe. Especially Lonely Beach where we stayed. The island was very quiet when we were there but it just made it all the better. The beaches aren’t as beautiful as my other choices, but the locals, food and activities definitely make up for that. It also has a big jungle and plenty of things to keep you busy.

3. Koh Rong, Cambodia

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After spending a couple of days in Sihanoukville (the jumping off point to Koh Rong) I was very unimpressed with it and wasn’t expecting much from Koh Rong. But the second that we arrived on to the island I realised how wrong I was. It is so chill and for $30 a night you can have your own hut right on the beach. The sand was so white and it squeaked when you walked on it. Heaven!

2. Koh Lipe, Thailanda1c4d-img_2377

Koh Lipe is the place that dreams are made of. It has beautiful white sand and clear blue water. It has become a tourist destination and I presume that it is getting busier and busier as the years go by. But, for such a small island, each beach has it’s own vibe and offers different things. We stayed at the beautiful Sanom Beach which had a few huts with a small beach to themselves, absolute perfection!

1. Nusa Lembongan
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Nusa Lembongan is only a 30 minute boat ride from Bali but it feels like another world! It is so relaxing and the beaches are unbelievably beautiful! There were so many times when we were the only people on these perfect white sand beaches. Add to that a combination of friendly locals and delicious food and you’ve got yourself the perfect South East Asian island!

 

How about you? Are there any beaches or islands that you would add to this list?

My Top 5…Cities in Asia

I’ve decided to start a new feature on my blog called “My Top 5…” it will be about anything and everything.

To start off, I’m going to give you my top 5 Asian cities. I have been lucky to have traveled extensively throughout Asia (although there are so many more places that I still want to go to!)

It was tough to choose, and even after choosing I am coming up with many more cities, but here are my top five cities in Asia:

5. Kota Kinabalu, MalaysiaMalaysia 032

 

Kota Kinabalu is the largest city in the Bornean state of Sabah.

I absolutely loved this city because it had the perfect mix of everything that you could want from a coastal city, delicious fresh fish markets, beautiful architecture, amazing beaches just a short boat ride away and out of this world sunsets

It’s such a fun relaxing city that both myself and Jason really enjoyed. We had fun wandering along the coastline taking in the views and eating the amazing food!

 

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4. Kyoto, JapanOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

If you are looking for culture then look no further because Kyoto is a city that has beautiful culture everywhere. Whether you are looking for the more modern Japan, you want to eat some delicious food and drink some sake, want to wander down the beautiful backstreets where geishas roam or want to take a short subway ride to see the beautiful golden temple you can do it all in a few days in Kyoto.

Kyoto has everything that you need to have an incredible city break!

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3. SingaporeIMG_7857

I absolutely loved Singapore. It is probably one of the  most multicultural cities I’ve ever been to and what makes it even better is that all of the different cultures and religions seem to get along harmoniously.

…and the food, don’t get me started on the food! it was so good!

I think I might have spent most of my time there trying to change Jason’s mind about moving to America and to move here instead!

 

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I could definitely live here and be happy…

2. Shanghai

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Shanghai is one of those places where the different parts of the city feel like different worlds.

When we visited the French Quarter I was in heaven with the peacefulness, but getting on to the subway nearby brought me back down with a bang and made me realise that I would have a hard time living here with all of the craziness.

But to visit…it really is an awesome city destination.

You can spend your days wandering through old towns, shopping in the large malls, walking along the Bund in awe at the amazing architecture or drinking green tea in the beautiful old town.

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1. Kathmandu

The wonderful city of Kathmandu

WOW!

That was pretty much my expression for the entire time that we stayed here. The culture, food, architecture, people and sights all make this my favorite city in Asia.The wonderful city of Kathmandu

I have the fondest memories of sitting on rooftops with a tea, watching the people meander the beautiful old streets below. There are so many impressive buildings all over the city and even if you stayed there for a month you would still find something new and exciting to see everyday!

We found that we were never with a lack of something to do in Kathmandu. You can fly over Everest in the morning and stroll around the monkey temple after lunch.

 

It was such a cool city! I hope I get to go back there some day and especially after the horrible earthquake that happened recently, I’m sure that your tourist dollars would be much appreciated.

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What do you think?

Do you agree with my choices? Are there any cities that you would add to the list or take off the list?

I’d love to hear your opinion!