Bah, Humbug: How to Cope with Holidays Abroad

How to cope with holidays abroad

This is the part they don’t talk about. Quit your job, travel the world, you will have the best adventures, change your life and find yourself. But what about the hard stuff? Moving across the world can’t always be easy… Missing weddings, holidays, birthdays, and all of the silly days in between is not easy. Sure, you are the one who chose to leave but that doesn’t mean you don’t miss the people who you left behind. It doesn’t mean that half the stories out of your mouth aren’t about your family, this one time in college or the adorable photos you just got of your niece in the Nutcracker. The travel blogs and instagrams you idolize may not show photos of them tearing up in the middle of the street because they just want to go home. Or the feeling when all of your family is together and you are sick in bed. As usual, I am committed to being raw and sharing all parts of my adventures with you, so here is the truth behind never being home for the holidays.

Moving abroad to Thailand and Australia and being able to teach and adventure in both places have been the most rewarding experiences of my life but that is not to say they haven’t had their fair share of lonely moments as well. Yes, you will feel homesick. Yes, you will get sick of being the face on the Facetime screen, so close and yet so far from being involved in all the memories happening at home without you. The holidays make it especially difficult so I wanted to send some encouragement to my fellow expats, travelers, or anyone who can’t make it where they consider “home” this holiday season. This is the most wonderful time of the year, but like all good things, that puts a hell of a lot of pressure on you to feel merry and bright. Here is how I survive the holidays:

Bring traditions with you– If you are far away from home, find a way to decorate and spread a little Christmas or Hanukkah cheer. Watch your favorite Christmas movies, bake your Grandma’s famous recipe and make sure to share it with the people you’ve met or love abroad. Sharing our traditions with others makes them special for a whole new set of people. Luckily, I am a teacher so I always get free reign to teach my students all about American culture and holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Dear Sydney…

Dear Sydney,

The past week has been overflowing with more reflection than usual for me. If I gave you an hour inside of my brain I assume you would be quite exhausted and possibly terrified. I am celebrating a year of living here in Sydney. I moved to Australia at the end of July 2015 but I went backpacking for two months up the East coast and I landed in Sydney at the end of September 2015, for what I thought was a few weeks. When I moved to Australia it was my intention to live in Melbourne. My teacher besties I met in Thailand moved there and when I visited the fall before I fell in love. I came to Australia not knowing exactly where I would end up, but I had an open mind and an open heart. After a few weeks in the hostel I was running out of money, so I knew it was time to get another job. My job search began and I made the Library of New South Wales my go-to spot. Something about being in a library makes me feel safe and at home.  It was while I was living in this cheap hostel, searching for a job, checking my bank account after every purchase, exploring the city on my own, that I began stressing about the future and if I really made the right decision. I struggled with loneliness and intense anxiety.  I wrote in my blog a year ago how I took myself out to dinner for the first time at a fancy restaurant and forced myself to enjoy my own company, without my phone or any hesitation. It felt weird and uncomfortable but overall, it was liberating.

A year ago I had no idea that at this hostel I would meet the man that I am now in love and happily living with. I had no idea that my passion for health and wellness, helping others, and sharing my journey would turn into such a huge driving force in my career and my life. For all my travelers out there, I know you can understand why traveling makes you so reflective but if you don’t travel much, I would love to explain why. When you travel or live abroad, especially for long periods of time, your life goes into a time warp and months seem like years and days seem like minutes. It feels like you just left home but it also feels as if you have existed in this universe forever. You develop a routine in your new turf because despite the need for freedom and adventure, human beings are all creatures of habits. When you move away from everything you’ve ever known, you are left with yourself. You are left to define yourself, in whatever manner you desire. The people you meet may learn about your past from stories, photographs and Facebook stalking, but a traveler meets everyone at face value, as the person they are today. It’s a beautiful way to approach life and a particularly comforting way to approach people.

The whole concept of the travel bug sounded silly to me at first. It sounded cliche and overused and quite frankly, trite. But a harsh reality you face in this world, is that cliches only construct meaning in your life when they are relevant to you. The travel bug isn’t a creature you want to take lightly. Now that I have lived abroad for 2 out of the last 3 years of my 20’s, I am heavily addicted. I am in love with the way it feels to explore new cities and look at every minute moment as something special and worth remembering. I am in love with the feeling of coming and going because it constantly reminds you how good you have it. When I travel home, I see the same city I grew up in with fresh eyes. All my favorites of home become that much more divine and sacred. Even though I have lived in Sydney for a year now, it still feels fresh and exciting to me. When I got my teaching job, experienced a few weeks of summer in Sydney and met my handsome Englishman, I felt an overwhelming feeling of contentment. I felt satisfied, grounded and “home” in a way that is difficult to verbalize. I asked myself out-loud, and many of my friends, “Why would you ever choose to leave this?”

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Kicking off 2016: Dry January

My last post was Christmas Eve, so hello again friends. I hate to sound like a broken record because every time I realize how overdue I am for a blog post I start writing and apologize for my inconsistent nature. I have a personal goal to write SOMETHING every single day but that doesn’t always translate to blog material. Sometimes it is simply thoughts & musings in my planner, rants in the notepad on my iPhone or scribbles on my lesson plans. As I’ve said before I am someone who is very self-aware, both of my strengths and of my weaknesses. Suffering from ADHD gives me an incredible energy and ability to take on loads of projects but it also leads me to bite off more than I can chew. I want to do it all which makes it very hard to do it all well, consistently. This is something I cut myself slack for but when it comes down to it, I know that my behavior and my habits are in my control. My creative mind seeks space to grow, breathe, wonder and wander but my Type A side needs routine, control, and stability. I am an open book when it comes to my shortcomings and I refuse to “accept” things that are within my control as the “way it is”.

This is where the fitness aspect of my life is crucial. After a month of my 60 day exercise challenge and 5am wake up calls for workouts I am feeling motivated, determined, focused, dedicated, empowered, committed, and excited (clearly we have been working on forming adjectives in my ESL classroom this week). Having physical fitness goals and a program to follow gives me the discipline I need in my life. I am very skilled at doing whatever the hell I please. But, I am wise enough to want more. I know I can push myself to be more than average, ordinary, or satisfactory. Fitness reminds me you have to work HARD for what you want. You have to put in the effort on days you feel like it and especially on days you don’t. You have to commit and stay consistent in that commitment to see results. When you are wishy washy in your commitment your results are wishy washy and ordinary. With the start of 2016 I naturally reflected upon my journey through 2015 and how many ups and downs I had. When I bite off more than I can chew I manage to swallow anyway but it is a personal goal of mine to channel my energy into fewer projects this year with MORE mindful focus and intentionality placed on the chosen ones. 2015 has been a year of monumental growth from the inside out. The funny thing about figuring yourself out is you continue to change while doing so and hence, have more to figure out! You must believe you CAN do anything but accept you can’t successfully do everything(I know, I know…but you still wanna try). I know that my anything begins with using my words & sharing my constant journey to a balanced, healthy lifestyle full of adventure & genuine happiness.

I had two incredibly different teaching jobs in 2015, one that was so stressful, emotionally draining and exhausting and one that is currently uplifting, flexible, and my classroom once again feels like a place where I feel my creativity is celebrated. I feel like I am positively influencing my student’s lives every day.  I am happy to go to work every morning. I have also slowly but surely dove into building my own business as a health and fitness coach. This is something I never in a million years imagined I would do but as I progress as an individual I realize that most people don’t turn out to be or do what thought they were going to be. That’s the fun part about life. We don’t know what the future holds but we are surely in control of building ourselves up into the best possible versions of ourselves. Jim Rohn said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” As I mature, I realize that when I make myself better I in-turn become better at whatever job or life obstacle is in front of me. The more I encourage others to take risks, take action and live the life of their dreams the more I continue to do it myself.

Accepting that my path is incredibly different than an average American 20-something has given me the power to listen closely my heart and actually TRY different things to find what makes me genuinely happy. The hard part is this process is never ending and at times can feel daunting but I have some truly hysterical people in my life who remind me not to take anything too seriously. It is amazing to me what different people teach you and as a traveler, teacher and coach I am constantly influenced by so many interesting and dynamic individuals.  It is a fascinating world and my favorite way to experience it is through the stories of strangers and new memories with friends.

Between all these goals, plans and dreams for the future I refuse to forget the invaluable moments that are happening right now.

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Simply Straya& Serendipity

It’s been a while but I’m back with a ridiculous surplus of adventures to share from the past two months of my life. I’ve felt more alive in the past two months then I can ever remember. I feel as if I have said that before on my blog but with little fear of redundancy I dare say it again. I must be doing something right if I continue to feel more and more alive with each chapter of my journey. As if moving to Australia wasn’t exciting enough I also stumbled into what still feels like a fairytale right before I left home. There are so many clichés that can make you crazy, especially about love, more specifically about love when you are doing everything in your power to not be tied to anyone or anywhere. But the old cliché that “it always happens when you stop looking for it” has reared its ironic little head into my life. I had no idea who I would find, staggering through Benjamin’s with more wine than blood in my veins, but I couldn’t be happier that I did. Our circumstance seems impossible but as always I am a firm believer that everything works out the way it is supposed to. I am trusting in my gut, the universe, whatever you want to call it and I’m sure everything will fall into place. Thanks to my new partner in crime my last month in America was kicked into overdrive with lots of new friends, good food, long nights, surprises, Coronas and heart to hearts and the grand finale of jumping out of a plane for the first time. We went skydiving the day before I left for Australia and it epitomized how the last month felt; intimidating but extremely exciting, vulnerable but free, anxious but genuinely joyful. I guess it’s most easily explained as serendipity, finding something good without looking for it. And honestly, I still can’t stop smiling.

The next day I hopped in the minivan with my parents, my ridiculously stuffed backpack(s) and boarded the plane with my new traveling partner, and lifetime partner in crime, my older brother Nick. We started off strong by being dropped off at the wrong terminal at JFK. After 27 hours, lots of bickering, and an exploded beard oil can (leading to an extreme drug dog scare at customs) we finally arrived in Australia(or Straya…what we lovingly call it now). We got a shuttle to our hostel in Brisbane, which is the center of the east coast of Australia. We had one night booked at our hostel and absolutely no further plans. I am not exaggerating. We explored the city all day, hit up a street food market and called it an early night. We decided to book another night and wait for the arrival of the final member of the #Wandernuts trio, Jackie, to arrive from Fiji. The owner of the hostel just laughed as we came down to reception the next morning and asked to book another night. He said, “Yeah I planned on coming to Brisbane for a week… 9 years later…” Nick and I looked at each other with an “OH SHIT” kind of glare and #9yearslater became a running joke for the rest of the trip.

It is absolutely mind blowing how many people I have met in Australia in the past month who had no intentions of staying one place or the other but were enticed by the beauty, the freedom and the kindness that saturate every corner of this country. Brisbane served us well and who knows how long we would have been trapped there if it wasn’t for Nick & Jackie’s deadlines to get back to America. If you are visiting Brisbane be sure to check out the XXXX Brewery tour, Koala Sanctuary, rent bikes and tour the riverfront, botanical garden and lagoon. If you are looking for an amazing hostel check out Brisbane City Backpackers, awesome location, sweet set up and the staff was so helpful. The people we met in Brisbane truly made that city come alive. In the blink of an eye, we went from having no plan to having every single day, bus, hostel, ferry and boat trip planned for the next two and a half weeks. Shout out to Jake at Wicked Travel Brisbane, thanks for simplifying our lives and making our holiday experience perfect!

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Leaving the Land of Smiles

After a bit of a mishap in the flight department (I’ll skip the story due to my own embarrassment) we finally made it to Thailand and back to our favorite island, Ko Phi Phi. It was so strange to be back in Thailand after being in such a westernized culture for two weeks. But even more strange was how NORMAL it felt. It was normal to not understand anything going on around you, for men to be screaming “I LOVEEE YOU”, to see a family of four on the motorbike next to you and to see more 7-11’s on one street than in all of Australia. Since we had such a hard month in Bali and Australia we knew we would need time to kick up our feet and relax in Ko Phi Phi for our last week abroad. Hey, c’mon you can’t hate us for planning the best vacation ever. 😉

Unfortunately the weather in Thailand was not cooperating with us. We were there for 7 nights and we probably had two days of sunshine. Lots of rain and mud puddles which caused us to find recreational activities inside… There isn’t much to do on an island when the weather is bad, especially Ko Phi Phi. We kept ourselves entertained with lots of stories and laughs from our trip, food, and an adult beverage or two. I finally got the chance to meet up with my friend from high school, Fallon who started teaching in Thailand in March. It was so awesome to catch up with her, reminisce on life in Syracuse and bond over our unexplainable desire to find what we need out of life even if that means traveling all over the world to find it. As the rain fell the reality of the end of my journey getting closer and closer washed over me. We didn’t want to talk about moving home because that made it real. I was so excited to see my friends and family, meet my nephew, squeeze my puppy, eat real pizza and finally feel clean but I couldn’t help but hate having to leave behind this place that I have learned to call home.

Thailand is a magical place for many but for me it changed my life in a way I will always revere. Thailand taught me what it means to be myself. That is the most beautiful gift anyone can give you. By no means did I feel “lost” in life before, but Thailand opened my eyes to a world I needed so desperately to see. A world beyond sorority formals and football tailgates. A world where people don’t have shoes on their feet or have to share a small room behind their restaurant with 13 family members. A world full of dreamers, teachers, and travelers; young people who have the same desire to see new horizons as I do. Like I said in an earlier piece, I joined a club I didn’t know existed. There are so many people, so different than I am, who went to different unis, speak different languages, were raised in diverse situations that have the same fire burning inside of them. This fire can not be extinguished or “gotten out of your system”. There is a whole world full of people who want to experience life, other cultures, have heart to hearts at 3 am on cruise ships in Vietnam, explore ancient temples in Cambodia, eat traditional Indonesian food at 6 am with locals and talk to strangers about their lives simply because it matters. I am so grateful for each and every one of you I have met along the way and you have inspired me to continue dreaming, no matter what anyone thinks.

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Cheers, No worries. Cheers, No worries.

After Bali we jumped on a plane and headed to Australia. Once again I was in complete awe that this was not just a dream destination in the far off “future” but a plausible real experience happening….right now. After a whirlwind journey, a layover in Malaysia with some exceptional red velvet cake in the airport, a trip to duty free for some essentials (two bottles of Absolut) we finally arrived in Sydney. Due to a change in plans Jackie and I were using her parents timeshare and staying at the Marriott in Circular Quay, which is the tourist heart of Sydney with a two minute walk to the Sydney Harbor, Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge. Every restaurant, bar or activity we needed was either a short ferry ride away or within walking distance. Within minutes of being in Sydney we realized it was happy hour and we were starving, obviously this needed to be taken care of. It felt so weird to be a country with predominately white people, the signs were in English, and it was so clean I could eat my dinner off the sidewalk. Not to mention, there were so many attractive young men in business suits Jackie and I thought we may have to cut the trip short due to a heart attack. We met a group of people whose office building was close by and they came to this place often for happy hour. They gave us tons of advice about Sydney, Australia, and we enjoyed many laughs and cocktails. We were very grateful for their hospitality and they put a great taste in our mouth for Australia. The next five days in Sydney were a whirlwind of beautiful beaches, incredible food, extremely friendly people, picture perfect waterfront towns and one of the most badass cities I’ve ever encountered. I could seriously go on forever so I’ll stick to the highlights.

Walk from Coogee to Bondi Beach – Favorite part of Sydney! This also included the unique art exhibit Sculptures by the Sea. This was one of the most breathtaking 5 kilometers I have ever experienced. There are about 6-7 separate beaches along this ocean front path and each one was unique. Some had huge sand beaches, others were covered with rocks and cliffs. Each one was worth lingering on and as Jackie and I walked we talked about the world, our lives, our travels, just our average heart to hearts except in one of the prettiest locations ever.
Tarango Zoo– We got our fix of koala bears, kangaroos, wombats, crazy reptiles and our favorite the giraffes. Not only was this an awesome zoo it also overlooked Sydney Harbor giving the animals one of the best views of the city. Worth the trip.
Manly– A little neighborhood a short ferry ride away from the Circular Quay. Perfect water and beaches and you instantly feel like you are a in a suburb you could raise three kids, drive your Mommy Lexus and go to the Farmer’s Market on Sundays. We wandered through the streets picturing our future lives and landed at Little Manly, a picture perfect beach with about 5 other people on it.
Watson’s Bay– A ritzy suburb with a similar feel to Manly just add a few zeros to the residents bank account. We enjoyed an awesome brunch at the Dunbar House and soaked up the sunshine, despite the frigid wind.
Darling Harbour– Cute area with tons of restaurants, bars, shopping, the aquarium, animal center and various other tourist attractions. Jackie and I decided to post up at a waterfront beer garden and enjoy some of the famous hard cider and specialty beers.
Sydney Sky Tower– Sydney’s tallest structure (1,014 feet) with an awesome view of the city. Worth the trip! Wish we could have done the Sky Walk!
Pitt Street Mall– Adorable outdoor shopping mall that has everything a 20 something female could possibly desire, including handsome Australian man singing acoustic live music while you shop.

Overall, we did an awesome job playing tourist in Sydney. We brought flashpackin’ to a whole new level and I’ll never forget the question, “So you’re backpacking that’s cool…where are you staying?” “The Marriott”….. Shoutout to Pie Face for saving our stomachs and our budgets and all of the very generous Australian fellows who provided us those 12 dollar cocktails that we clearly couldn’t afford. I am awed by the friendly culture, cleanliness and overall badness of Sydney and I can’t wait to visit again. Then our trip led us to the other powerhouse city, Melbourne. We quickly found out from our Aussie friends before we even got to Australian there is a serious rivalry between the two cities. I am not sure how uniform this sentiment is across the Australian population, but in my own personal experience, you either love one or the other. It’s kind of like the New York/LA debate but on steroids with a tinge more animosity. Jackie and I were excited to experience both cities and form our own opinions.

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Bali Livin: Footloose and Fancy-free

As an American when I thought about Bali, it seemed like a far off distant Neverland that could only be dreamed about or pinned on Pinterest. When I moved to Thailand I truly had no idea that I would explore South East Asia so much while I was there. I quickly realized that I absolutely had to take advantage of being on this side of the world therefore any chance I got to explore a new country I took. After many separate groups of teacher friends made their way to Bali after our first semester in Thailand, I knew I had to make it happen. Just like that Jackie, Maggie and I booked our flights and convinced our friend Brittaney to come along with us. (Not that it took much convincing). We got tons of advice from friends which made planning our trip relatively easy. We also agreed to remain extremely flexible in our plans by only booking our first hotel. We started our Bali adventure in Ubud, which is north of the airport near the center of the island. Ubud is known for its rice fields and amazing scenery. I will tell you a little secret…Ubud is the best kept secret of BalI! We expected to spend a night or two, do some outdoorsy stuff and then head straight for the beaches. We were absolutely captivated by this town the moment we stepped foot in it. It was so quaint and interesting, with brick sidewalks and tree lined streets full of shops, cafes, spas and art galleries. There was a huge cultural influence woven into the streets due to the temples and ancient architecture still standing but converted into hotels, businesses and restaurants. It was a whirlwind experience and we ended up staying a few extra nights to soak up as much Indonesian culture as we could. Must sees if you are traveling to Ubud:

Monkey Forest– A short walk from the action of downtown Monkey Forest is a nature reserve and temple swarming with wild monkeys. They can be vicious (one bit Jackie & stole her sunscreen from her bag) or they can be very loving (at least 3 climbed on my head and gave me high fives). I think it just depends on the monkey vibes you give off. Clearly, there has to be part monkey in me somewhere.

 Sunrise at Mt. Batur– We woke up at 2 am and took a painfully winding ride to the bottom of the active volcano Mt. Batur. We proceeded to hike 1,716 meters up this volcano in the freezing cold and pitch black. Maggie was the ultimate trooper and completed the hike in FLIP FLOPS! On top of the volcano watching the sunrise above the fog is one of the most vivid memories I have of the trip. I felt like I was on top of the world. The hike down the volcano slowly brought us back to reality but that is the way things go with traveling, you gotta take the good with the bad.

A Coffee Plantation– Bali is known for its coffee and this made me ecstatic after suffering for a year with instant coffee in Thailand. We got the chance to visit a coffee plantation and taste test about 10 different types of coffees and teas. The most famous coffee was called Luwak Coffee. It is made by feeding the coffee beans to an animal, a Lombak, and waiting for them to poop it out. The bean ferments in their stomach and then it is roasted normally. It is casually referred to as “Shit coffee”. Jackie and I had to try a cup and it was honestly delicious. Good luck finding some in the states because it supposedly costs 50$ a cup!

Authentic Scenery- We had so many friendly tour guides/cab drivers who took us on excursions off the beaten path. It was incredible to explore the rice fields and secluded neighborhoods of Indonesia. I can picture the narrow roads in my head and I hear the ONE Indonesian song playing…that lasted about 25 minutes….and was on every time we got into a car. Nonetheless, it was magical scenery and so different than what you picture when you hear “Bali”.

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March Madness Final Round: America takes Thailand

It was such an awesome feeling returning “home” to Thailand. I really shouldn’t put that in quotes… this has been my home for the past 6 months and a wonderful one at that. It felt so great to be able to speak Thai again (no matter how little I actually speak), use baht, and feel comfortable with my surroundings. Not only was I home in Thailand but 3 short days later five of my closest friends from college were coming to visit me from America! Although I could not contain my excitement I also felt like my body just had been hit by an 18-wheeler. Over a month of backpacking will do that to ya. Luckily, I had two days to go back home to my quiet town of Suphanburi to unpack, do laundry, sleep, exercise and repack just to head right back out the door. Those two detox days were crucial to my survival for the rest of the trip. Not only did I have over two weeks left, I also had to play tour guide for 5 people who had never been to Thailand before! I needed to be on my game!

Waiting for them at the airport was one of the most nerve-racking, exciting sensations I have had in a while, and with all of my experiences lately, that is saying a lot. I knew their flight was delayed but when I got to the airport I had no way of contacting them. The flight board wasn’t updated yet when I got there and was on the opposite side as the arrival gate. Even when they landed their phones wouldn’t work internationally, so I just had to good old fashion wait. I made a little paper sign with an inside joke from college, “Wake up it’s Thailand time to pawty!”.

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March Madness Second Round: Cambodia

I am not sure what I expected when I heard the word Cambodia, but I can honestly say I was shocked when I got there. The first thing I noticed while driving on the bus from Vietnam to the small beach town Sihinoukville, Cambodia, was how dirty the country was. There was literally garbage everywhere. I was trying to keep an open mind, but after 17 hours on a bus, (actually multiple buses with transfers and long waits at shady bus stops) I wasn’t feeling too confident. The surroundings looked very barren and poor. Eventually we got to the last stop on the bus on a random road and got out to grab our backpacks and make our way to the guest house. Literally, we got harassed by 17 tuk-tuk drivers trying desperately to get our business. The tuktuk drivers in Cambodia were so aggressive it shocked me! Finally, we negotiated a fair price with one of the drivers and piled our five battered bodies and 5 giant backpacks into one small tuk-tuk.

We were driving along the road and all of a sudden civilization appeared. There were bars and restaurants, supermarkets, tons of people walking up and down the streets, and of course dozens of tuk-tuk drivers. We checked into Sekal Guesthouse, which has a great location and clean rooms for a decent price (if you looking for a place to stay in Sihanoukville). We dropped off our backpacks, showered and ventured out to find some food. We stumbled upon a place called Mum’s Kitchen; which was a real hole in the wall place right across the street from our guesthouse. The food was incredible. At least one of us ate there, at least once a day for the entire week we stayed. Once we were full, we heard music and decided to wander into the bar next door called Utopia. Chaos ensued from there and we discovered that Sihanoukville may be a small town, but they sure know how to have fun. We spent all night dancing the night away running from beach bar to beach bar on the infamous Serendipity Beach.

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March Madness First Round: Vietnam

First, I would like to start by absolutely commending bloggers who backpack travel and keep up with their blog at the same time. I need to try to master the art, but due to a lack of Wifi, a lack of concentration, relentless hangovers and far too much shopping & sightseeing, I find it works better for me to summarize my journey at the end. I decided to brake up my backpacking trip blogs by the countries I visited; Vietnam, Cambodia and then back to Thailand for an amazing visit from my American best friends and the celebration of the Thai new year,Songkran(one of most unique experiences of my journey so far). I lovingly nick named our trip March Madness, in an ode to the NCAA college basketball tournament in America, but it ended up being just that; MADNESS!

So, I will dive into Vietnam first. I was so excited for my first time leaving Thailand since I moved here 6 months ago! My bestie and travel guru (shout out to Kelsey) planned our itinerary, but tried to keep it as flexible as possible (only booking our first flight and first hostel) everything else was an approximate guideline so we could stay places longer when our hearts desired. I was all packed and ready to go the night before our trip and I decided to double-check my passport, my Visas,and my wallet…. OH SHIT! My credit card…is…where? A frantic search of my room began disheveling all of my neatly organized and folded piles of clothes, toiletries, and electronics. WHERE IS MY CREDIT CARD!? This is actually one of the scariest feelings in the world in another country, with a non refundable 2 month trip planned scheduled to leave for the airport that morning at 4:30 am. My biggest problem was it was my Thai bank account, where my paychecks are directly deposited to; I don’t use any other money right now besides my salary so it was my only lifeline. Our flight was scheduled to leave before any of the banks opened and they didn’t have Thai banks in Vietnam or Cambodia…

Tears started wailing from my eyes like a two-year-old child having a tantrum. I stormed into Jackie’s room and told them the news. Of course they offered to help me but the problem was we were all living off the same salary and we wouldn’t be back to Thailand for a month! I knew there was no way they could lend me money while still enjoying and surviving their vacation as well. I couldn’t take them up on their offer even if they forced me.So, I called my super heroes, my lifelines, the two most supportive people in the world… my parents. Of course I got a small lecture about responsibility but they luckily understood and we began to figure out options. I traveled the whole next day with next to no money, I felt so helpless and aggravated. After a lot of tears and a lot of emails back and forth with my Dad I finally got the money Western Union-ed two days later. It felt like an eternity but I was so grateful to have such amazing parents who would literally do anything for me. (THANKS GUYS). And now the fun could begin!

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