Learning to Travel

At one time I considered myself a traveler, but now that I moved to another country, I know differently. There are some who are professional travelers, and I hope to never be one of those. I need a place to call home and a kitchen to cook in. Moving across the ocean has opened up all kinds of doors to travel. With each train, bus, plane, scooter, and tuk tuk, we learn a little bit more.

Some indispensable tools:

  • Benjamin’s Saddleback Leather bag (left). Not only does he receive compliments on it on every flight, the leather looks better the more we travel with it. Note to ALL… buy Saddleback. “They’ll fight over it when your dead.”
  • My rolling Samsonite carry-on. I almost moved here without a bag like this, and my sisters told me I was crazy and took me to buy this and a new backpack hours before we boarded a plane to Central Asia.
  • Eye mask. On overnight flights, this is a must. Unfortunately, the elastic on my last one quit on me. Note to self… buy a new one.
  • Comfortable headphones. Let’s be honest, the Apple earbuds are not comfortable for any length of time while trying to rest your head and sleep.

Some essential resources:

  • Lonely Planet. Someone gave us the book on Central Asia, and I have used this many times over. Right now their website is offering a special on their country guidebooks, buy 2 get one 1.
  • Trip Advisor. Everyone already depends upon it, because it is everywhere! It led us to some great restaurants in Thailand and helped us pick a good hotel.
  • Airbnb. I am a recent convert, and we are hooked. We had our first experience using the service in Bangkok, and we have 2 more booked for this year. Great deals are out there, and staying in someone’s condo is a lot cheaper and more comfortable than a hotel room.
  • Blogs! Before traveling to Thailand, I googled travel blogs and found 2 that were interesting:
    • Nomadic Matt. He is a professional traveler and blogger. He has been to a lot of countries and can give some good advice, especially on traveling cheaply.
    • Migrationology. This guy lives in Bangkok but travels around the world not to see the sights, but to eat. This is my kind of travel blog. He is entertaining and adventurous in his food choices.

Lesson Learned: You never know where  you might find nuggets of good information… like on the back of coffee cups.

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Selfie State of Mind

Question: What is the chief end of man? Answer: To glorify himself and his image forever. In other circles, that question is usually answered, “to glorify God forever.” Lately, however, the overall attitude of mankind seems to lean towards the first answer. Around the world now, people are obsessed with the selfie. I will be honest and say from time to time, Benjamin and I do take some pictures of ourselves (people like to see we are still alive and healthy), but what I saw on the beach in Thailand was something entirely different. We were sitting on this beautiful beach and my view was constantly interrupted by not one or not two but by multiple amateur photo shoots going on at the same time at the water’s edge. I watched people come down from their hotel rooms perfectly coiffed and in a great outfits, pose for 15-20 minutes, and then return from whence they came. They didn’t enjoy the scenery that God had created. They enjoyed a great backdrop to showcase… themselves.

What is the answer to this? Never take a selfie? Probably not, but at some point, we (myself included) have to step back from this extreme of constantly showcasing ourselves or else we may never look away from a mirror.

Lesson Learned: Continue to resist the desire to buy a selfie stick.

Cooking Thai-style

My husband’s work took us to Thailand for a business trip. During one of our free afternoons, I took a cooking class. While there are a lot of touristy things to do here this is one that I would highly recommend. You get to eat a lot, interact with the culture, cook on vacation, get some new recipes, and in general, have a good time. Most of the cooking schools do a lot of the legwork for you, so despite the fact that you are cooking on your vacation, it is a pleasant and easy experience. The school I chose picked me up from my hotel, included all of the ingredients, let me choose which dishes I wanted to cook and provided me with a cookbook of all the recipes. In a full day course, you usually cook 7-8 dishes, but in the afternoon course, I was able to make 3 entrees and a curry paste. The dishes which I made were Pad Thai, Holy Basil Chicken, Phanang Curry Paste and Phanang Curry.

I loved all of it. The curry paste was by far the most work, and sadly is the least reproducible due to the fact that not all of the ingredients are available in Central Asia. Knowing this, I bought a few things like coconut milk from a Thai grocery store called Tesco Lotus before getting back on the plane.

 

Lesson Learned: Skip the elephant ride and take a cooking class.