Honeymoon Day 12: Cats, Couples Massages, Coleslaw

Ok! Let us return our gazes eastward, and finish up this honeymoon - the trip is almost coming to an end. Boooooo!!! I am already mentally mapping out our next getaway - I'm thinking the American West. Or Argentina! But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's take it one trip at a time here.

While planning the last leg of our itinerary, we were debating between a relaxing beach resort or an adventure to Cambodia to see the Angkor temples. Adventure won, of course, it really always should, but we compromised by booking a resort style hotel in Siem Reap, with a pool and a spa, and decided we'd give ourselves one lazy day in the sun before returning to Vietnam to fly back to the boring old U-S of A.

It was the right choice. Neither of us is very good at sitting still for long periods of time, this gave us juuuust enough time to be bougey, lazy, vacationing lumps before getting bored ant antsy. 

Just sub us for these two cats and that's pretty much what the day looked like.

cats cats cats

I kicked off the morning relaxing on our little balcony with coffee while Brian slept in, then we tackled the hotel's awesome breakfast buffet which included all the best western brekkie staples: eggs, toast, bacon, muffins, cereals, etc as well as a huge, iced chocolate cake. Ha! Just chilling, in the middle of the breakfast bar, a big old cake. One thing I love travelling between cultures is these small cultural or traditional confusions. Imagining the manager sitting down with the chef saying "What do western tourists like? Oh cake! Let's serve it for breakfast!" 

(And for the record, I mean this in a nice way, I assume foreign tourists come to the US all the time and see all the things we're getting wrong.) 

After breakfast we lounged poolside and swam around a little bit. We were pretty much the only guests hanging around during the day, the rest had gone off touring, so we had free reign of the common areas to splash around and smooch and be really gross and weird. 

Then it was spa time!! We embarked on the most romantic of endeavors, a couple's massage! Have you ever had a massage? Do you like them? I know some people are all about that life but somehow I'd never had one before, unless you count getting my butt cheek massaged in physical therapy which I'm pretty sure you don't. 

Now that I've dipped my toesies into the massage water, I can confidently say I don't think I was missing much. Why the hype?!

I honestly think I might not be cut out for them, I am just too high strung. My brain is not good at forced relaxation. All these things that allegedly should be beneficial for an anxiety monster like myself just send me into a tailspin: yoga, meditation, pedicures, apparently massage. The second anyone says "breathe and relax" my brain is like "RELAX! RELAX! Why aren't you relaxing????" and then I panic about not relaxing and just end up mores stressed than when I started, if that's even possible. 

(For the record I am VERY aware that I could use some professional psychological help, thanks!) 

So anyway, B and I checked in with the spa attendants and were showed to our room which was very peaceful and zen with little jars of stones and plants and gentle music, you know, massagy spa shit, all over the room. I thought we'd be nakey or at least wrapped in a towel - that's how all massages work on TV anyway - but instead they gave us these special outfits to wear which were basically like, one size fits all (aka GIGANTIC) navy blue scrubs. We looked like children dressing up in doctor outfits for Halloween or cast members of Orange is the New Black. Except here Navy was the New Black. You get it. The pants were so big, holding them out to the side looked like Jared the Subway Guy. 

BTW: What is he up to?!?! 

The room was divided by a curtain, one hospital bed with a face hole in it on each side. We lay on our respective beds and the massage artists (is that what they're called?) got to work. I honestly can't remember a THANG they did to my body because I was too busy going bonks in my mind. 

First there was the whole class guilt issue which, I KNOW, get over yourself, Liz, but I was already feeling gross laying by an infinity pool in a resort hotel while literally feet away from me, local families were lacking for clean drinking water and then here I was having this lady who probably makes less in a whole year than I do in fifteen minutes massage me, because I was so stressed and tired from my two week indulgent vacation. And then I had to feel bad about feeling bad and guilty about feeling guilty and cycle through that whole shame spiral for a while, which is honestly your pretty standard look into my brain. 

Thennnn I kept getting ticklish and trying not to squirm and worrying about how weird it would be if I farted and THEN I started thinking about Brian laying just across the curtain from me and wondering about, well, not HIM in particular, but you know, men in general and wondering if they become involuntarily aroused during massages and how uncomfortable that must be. And then I just started thinking about boners and giggling because boners are SO FUNNY and like, as much as the female reproductive zone is generally a walking nightmare, at least we don't have to worry about popping a woody at an inopportune time, you know? We can read Outlander on the subway alllll we want and no one will be the wiser. One small victory for the vajayjay...one giant leap for womankind. 

So basically I just spent the hour flipping back and forth between anxiety and immaturity. Par for the course! 

When it was over, did I feel relaxed? Not really! Did my muscles feel better? Meh. Would I do it again? Honestly, guys, probably not. I just don't get it! Seriously someone tell me why massages are fun.

ALSO seriously, fellas, please tell me a story of an awkward massage boner, because that sounds hilarious

Post massages, we went full colonial, laying by the pool eating BLT's and drinking Gin & Tonics delivered right to our chaise lounges. It felt really authentico sipping all that quinine just the way god intended. 

G&T life

But, true to form, after a few hours of lounging, we started to get very nutty and spent like, an hour goofing around with the panorama function on our iPhones, taking really strange and unflattering photos of each other. 

panorama baby
panoramoa dos

PS: those basket chairs are actually very uncomfortable and hard to sit in. 

See what happens when we spend too much time sitting around? We start to get REAL weird, real fast. 

Luckily for us and the world, just as we were starting to get super silly, it was time to jet back up to Hanoi. The flight was two hours of bumpy terror, made ever-so-slightly better by one of the strangest in-flight meals of my life. We were served a roll, a bowl of cole-slaw, a pale tomato wedge and several pieces of cold, pale sausages. I don't know if it was to be like, picnic themed or vaguely American or what they were going for. I shoved it all together to make a lumpy sandwich and it wasn't too bad. It almost had me yearning for another bibimbap! 

At least they fed us, which is more than I can say for most flights so I'll take all the pale cold sausages I can get! 

Upon arrival we checked in for one more night at the Hanoi Elite, popped down to the Bia Corner for a nightcap and then tucked in for one more sleep in 'Nam. Waah! 

 

Honeymoon Day 11: Angkors Away! (Get it?)

When initially planning our big trip, we had this wild idea that we'd visit basically all of Southeast Asia in a two week timeframe, an itinerary we quickly realized was, perhaps pushing it. After making Vietnam our primary focus, we decided we'd gone so far, we might as well take advantage and add on juuust one more country, a fast hop-skip over to Cambodia to visit the Angkor Ruins. One of the most famous (and heavily visited!) ancient sites in the world, 'twas too good to pass up. So we booked ourselves for essentially 48 hours in Cambodia, including transit time. It was bonkers and exhausting, and with the flights, additional Visa and other fees, expensive, adding at least $500, if not way more to our "budget" trip. Whoooops! 

But despite all that it was 100 million percent totally worth it! 

I MEANNNNNNN...

Angkor Sunrise

...and that's just the beginning! 

We arrived in Siem Reap around 6 PM, encountering truly the most insane airport experience of all time, which I will not recap here because that might take all day. Essentially it involved grouchy security guards, mysterious paperwork, fingerprinting pads, hordes of Chinese tourists plowing people down with their matching rolly suitcases, sneaking past customs because we somehow never got a customs form, invisible ATMs and a lot o' stressing on the part of your chill, intrepid world travellers.

Now that we've done a big, crazy foreign trip, we swear we'll be calmer on the next one. (Yeah! Right!) 

We checked into our lovely hotel, had a delicious dinner at their restaurant and a night swim in the pool, before tucking in for an early night's rest, as our Angkor tour guide was due to arrive at 4:50 the following morning. 

The Angkor Archaeological Park, now around the modern city of Siem Reap, houses the ruins of the ancient city of Angkor, which thrived from around the 9th to 15th Centuries and was believed to house .01 % of the whole world's population at one point. I had gone into this trip thinking it was just one or two temples next to a town - big and old, but just a few - when in fact the whole Angkor region consists of 500 acres, housing the ruins of over 250 buildings, primarily temples and palaces. I sort of described the experience as visiting Yellowstone but with old crumbly ruins instead of mountains. Not at all an equal equation but you get the picture, I hope! 

It's a LOT to see and do in one day but not impossible. Basically you have to book a great guide, start early and be cool with knowing you won't see everything there is to see. We read a lot of reviews of other people who visited and all said it's possible to get "templed out," which is kind of true, so if you have the time, do maybe 2-3 shorter days but it's absolutely possible to see a TON and have a worthwhile trip in just one day! 

A word on booking a guide: Just do it. You could probably tour around on your own but it is SO big and vast and there is so much to learn, it's best to have an expert by your side. This was one thing we failed to do before leaving the US, thinking our hotel would just assign us one, and it led to our one and only mini-fight of the trip as we stressfully poured through TripAdvisor the night before we left Vietnam. Somehow we managed to hit the jackpot despite our delay, booking Guide Pal Sauron and tuk-tuk driver David, both of whom were funny, intelligent, charming and so knowledgeable about the area. A tuk-tuk is basically a little cart pulled behind a motorbike. The funnest!!!  Sauron knew the history and legends of the temples but, more importantly, had such an genuine enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge and for being a tour guide. They kept us well supplied with water bottles and cool towels at every stop. There are about five hundred zillion tour groups available on Tripadvisor, from solo guides to bike tours to big bus trips to hiring someone to drive you around in an air conditioned BMW. I'm sure most of them are fantastic, but we couldn't recommend these two higher!

Sauron and David!!

I suppose now would also be a good time to explain our ensembles, huh? SO! Angkor is considered a sacred site and some parts are still working temples. Because of this, it is asked that guests cover their shoulders and knees. This is just a courtesy in most parts of the park, but in some areas you are not allowed to enter if not appropriately dressed. This primarily applies to women, which I, of course, irks me, but I try to be gracious to other schools of thought and respect mores and traditions of other cultures and religions even when they are directly opposing to my own. (Brian tells me this called moral relativism , a topic I've been reading up about lately, super fascinating stuff!) The dress code is heavily communicated, too. We of course knew all about it because we did our research, plus our tour guide told us in an email AND our hotel told us when we checked in, so it's not like we didn't have a clue what to expect. We were blown away by how many other people rolled up in inappropriate attire - both too skimpy and just generally inappropriate for the zone, wearing high heeled sandals, dresses, carrying white leather handbags around a dusty archaeological site. Like, where do you think you are?? I know Brian and I tend to over plan and research but truly how did you arrive here, after all these warnings and things not appropriately dressed? Did you fall down from another planet? Sometimes people are morons. 

On top of these restrictions, Cambodia is hot as all get-out. It was 85 degrees when we left the hotel before sunrise and eventually peaked in the high 90's, with blazing sun. We knew we needed to figure out attire that was both full coverage and fully breathable AND comfy to walk in for many hours soooooo we picked up a few pairs of these breezy "pillow pants" from the markets in Vietnam (all the idiot tourists walk around in these. I now own three pairs!), Brian brought a hat and an extra t-shirt to cover the back of his neck and I packed a light scarf, which I  rocked Virgin Mary style, to protect mine. We also wore sneaks for all the stair-climbing we were set to do. My sneakers had been rubbing my heels, so I wore a pair of Brian's higher socks which happened to be bright blue. All of this together, coupled with our awkwardly lanky limbs made for quite the look. 

ANKLES

Greatest photo of all time? LOOK AT OUR ANKLES!!! Brian showed this to me while we were had braked (breaked? Were on a break?) for lunch, and I may have been a little delirious from heat and hunger, I almost passed out I was laughing so hard. We look like cartoon characters. Like Doug and Patti Mayonnaise: 

doug doug doug

Amazing. The best-best part of this is all is that for once on our whole honeymoon we had a third party to take couple photos and Sauron LOVED taking pictures of us. At every stop he'd have us pose for a dozen pictures, it felt like our wedding day. So of our whole two weeks of looking mostly cute but having no one to commemorate it, all of the photos of the two of us from our trip we look ridiculous. 

Totally worth it. We stayed cool and fit the dress code and now I can look at these pictures and laugh and laugh and laugh. 

OUR ANKLESSSS. 

Ok, moving on. Angkor is so big and expansive, to recap fully would probably take a year and a half, so I'm mostly going to let the pictures do the talking. (Yeah, right, you know me I'll ramble endlessly at every pause...but I'll at least try!) We visited basically five temple sites and took a few stops to see other places along the way. I'll give a little intro, show photos, pepper with my witty commentary and link to Wikipedia for all the educational stuff. Sound like a plan? Great, let's go! 

Angkor Wat: The most well-known and recognizable of the temples, it is actually the largest religious complex in the world! Built in the 1100's, it has served as both a Hindu and Buddhist worship site. We (and eleventy hundred other tourists) arrived before dawn to watch the sun rise behind the towers. It wasn't the transcendent experience the internet had made it out to be - again with these high expectations! - but it was a gorgeous way to start the day.

Angkor Wat
angkorr wattttt!
again with AW
relief sculptures

Angkor Wat took about two hours in total to poke around, and none of these photos really do justice to the sheer magnitude of it all. Crumbling stone walls covered with intricate relief carvings telling Cambodian history and legend, steep stone staircases leading to imposing towers, statues of Buddha or Hindu gods watching down from every corner. It was mesmerizing. 

While at Angkor Wat we experienced our VERY BEST moment of the whole entire trip. While waiting for sunrise, we were people watching / people judging hardddd because that is our number one favorite thing to do as a couple. There were these two idiot women just prancing around totally underdressed, one was wearing a spaghetti string mini romper and the other was essentially wearing a bra and underpants, each carrying their own selfie sticks, posing duck-face in front of the temples, pushing their cameras up in the faces of little Cambodian children who were begging or trying to sell trinkets. They were truly disgusting examples of humanity. 

AKA our dream people to judge. 

Angkor Wat is three levels and the top one is a working temple, so it is one of the zones where modesty is required. You actually had to line up and go through a check point before climbing the steps up. Guards were fully turning people away for super small infractions - a hint of knee, the outline of a shoulder or tummy. Like, Catholic School nuns are lenient compared to these guys. Our two girlfriends were right behind us in line, taking NO notice of their surroundings and we waited gleefully for them to get turned away. And OH IT WAS AMAZING. Even before they reached the checkpoint, a security guard pointed to them and said "no," motioning for them to get off line. They were completely dumbstruck and had no idea what he was telling them. "Out of line?" they asked in accented (I think French?) English, "but why?!!" When the guard told them they were not dressed right they argued with him, then asked him if they could rent clothes somewhere, then got mad at him that he didn't have any clothes to rent and then he yelled at them for holding up the line and was about to forcefully remove them before the finally flounced out in disgust. 

GLORIOUS!!! We saw a lot of beautiful things on our trip but there is truly no more wonderful sight to behold than douchebags getting a public comeuppance. 

#blessed.

Thanks for the memories, ladies, I'll cherish you forever. 

Ok that's the wordiest I'll get about a temple, I swickety swear! Onto the next one! 

Angkor Thom: This was the last and longest running capital city of the Angkor region, operating until the early 1600's when the whole region was abandoned. Within Angkor Thom are dozens of temples, palaces and monuments. You enter across a long bridge and through a stunning, imposing gate. Our guide helped us scramble up to the top of the gate to survey the land...clearly there were a LOT o' tourists visiting! 

bridge to Angkor Thom

The bridge is lined with sculptures of warriors on one side, demons on the other. Sauron made us pose like this, I swear! 

DSCN1066.JPG

The gate is carved with four faces on either side, the face of Buddha and of the King Jayavarman VII, who comissioned the building of the city. He was a humble guy! 

Gate of faces

Bayon Temple is one of the most famous sites within Angkor Thom, again with faces of Buddha/the King carved into the temple towers, 216 smiling faces looking in every direction!

Bayon!
close up face

All the cool tourists pretend to be smooching the faces. Brian's NOT feeling this... 

bayon kisses
smooches!!

Again. Cheesy pose not our idea! 

We then bopped over to Baphoun, which was originally constructed as a Hindu temple, before being reconstructed by the Buddhists, including a 70-foot reclining Buddha carved into the side. This temple was big and gorgeous with lots of steeeeep stairs and a thin long bridge that I can only imagine is gorgeous during the rainy season...but fun to play under when dry! 

Baphoun
Bridge to Terabithia
Atop Baphoun

Brian was feeling pretty fly in his hippie doofus backpacker ensemble. 

hippie doofus

(He's so cute!!) 

Next in Angkor Thom we visited Phimeanakas, a temple that only the king was allowed to visit. According to legend, he spent every night there laying (biblically) with a Naga woman - a snake who became a woman at night. If they did not meet every single night, a curse would fall on all in the kingdom. Oooooohhhhh. 

Snake sexy stuff

We then walked through some ruins of the king's palace, pretty much only some foundations and old pools (where he would bathe with his literally thousands of concubines) remained. Seriously on the thousands, though. These guys LOVED them some concubines. I don't know where anyone gets the energy for that, you know??? 

palace things
concubine swim lessons

And then to the Elephant Terrace and Leper King Terrace, stages where the king would sit and watch people perform for him ... or watch executions. Fun stuff like that. Fun fact: These are built at this height so he could ride up on his elephant and step right off onto his stage! 

elephant terrace
elephants!
Leper Kings

Still with me? GREAT! 

Bantaey Srei: This was one of my favorite temples, known as "Lady Temple" (not, as I thought, because they worshipped women there, but because it was small, delicate and pink...whomp whomp!) It was about 40 minutes tuktuk ride away from the downtown area and the journey there was a site in and of itself, giving a glimpse of the Cambodian countryside and rural life. (I'll get into this another time, but Cambodia is VERY VERY VERY poor and it was eye-opening and difficult to see and process. I'm still processing, I think.)

countryside

Built in the 900's, it wasn't discovered until 1914. Can you imagine that? This whole beautiful ruin just hiding away in the jungle for years. Gorgeous. Bantaey Srei is almost Angkor Wat in miniature, little doors, little towers, tiny, intricate carvings along every wall.

Banteay Srei
lady temple!
nerd sauce

This particular pose WAS my idea... and we don't look too bad in the pants, so long as you can't see our ankles! 

carving

Maybe the second funniest moment of the Angkor trip (after the banishment of those idiot ladies from Angkor Wat, of course) came at Bantaey Srei. As you'll have noticed, there are a lot of towers present in the architecture and the phallic symbolism is very, very much on purpose. Apparently these are "lingam" a form in Hindu culture that among other things, yes,  represents the big D. Every tower, our guide kept pointing out all the "phallic lingas" and was not shy about it. I feel like in Western architecture, everyone's like "Whattt? That monument looks like a penis? I had no idea!" but he was like, "yup, dick, dick, dick." It was awesome. 

AND: in addition to lingam, they have "yonis" which represent female fertility. Or, as our guide said, AND I QUOTE:

"The yoni represents the woman. You know, the pussy."

Andddd we died. We are so mature. I do kind of feel like a jerk laughing, I imagine that somehow the slang term just made its way into his English and he now he just drops it like it ain't no thang and I wouldn't want it to embarrass him - lord knows what kinds of accidentally dirty words I'm saying in other languages, but OHHH how we laughed. 

So here you go, a statue of a pussy:

uni

Nice, bro. 

(PS: forgive me if you are Cambodian/Hindu/Buddhist and I'm mixing up all of this history & religion...I'm basing ALL of this off the notes I took in my journal from what I remember hearing a tour guide tell me so I could be messing it up bigtime. Which also  means if you're using any of this info to write a research paper on Angkor, um, you may want to consult some other sources.) 

After all this sexy talk,we'd worked up quite an appetite, so we tuk-tuked back towards town for a traditional lunch, well, "traditional Cambodian" in the way that a pizza place next to St. Peter's Basilica is "traditional Italian" and a little rest. By this point we'd been up for about a million hot sunny hours and getting a bit nutty. But we were rejuvenated by coke lights and curried rice and soon were on the move again! 

TaPhrom: Known as the "Tomb Raider" temple, they famously filmed the Lara Croft movie here, and elsewhere in Angkor. This may have been our favorite spot. Built in the 12th Century, and abandoned in the 1700's, it lay neglected by man for centuries, but not by nature. The jungle essentially overtook it again, with trees and vines growing right up and over the rocks. After its discovery in the late 1800's, conservationists have worked to preserve this mix and I think it is just astounding and humbling, the reminder of the power of the natural world. 

Tomb raider!
nature!!

Can you see the little face peeking through the roots in this one?! 

hidden face
trees!

We were getting prettttty loopy and delirious at this point. Not gonna lie, this pose was totally my idea.

badass

How cool is nature, guys??? And how cool are humans too? Like, people built these immense structures over a thousand years ago before electricity or bulldozers or any of the technology we have today. Mesmerizing. What a world!!! 

Kravan: This was our last stop of the day, a small but super old temple, built by a king to honor his parents in 921. NINE!! It blows my mind that we touched and saw something that was constructed over one thousand years ago. 

kravan
kravan 2

And that was our trip! By this point it was about 4 PM and we'd been out exploring temples for coming on 12 hours and were b-e-a-t. So we hopped in our chariot and tuk-tuked home. 

lovers in a tuk tuk

We again had dinner at the restaurant, cooled down in the pool and crashed, hard. It was a hot, long, exhausting, AMAZING day. Absolutely worth the travel insanity and money, and then some.

And on the next day, we rested! But I'll save that saga for the next post. This is long enough as it is! Just two more days to go (plus a hilarious flight home). I'm getting kind of sad as we come to the end here, I've been enjoying reliving the trip by blogging about it and now I'm reliving the sadness of it ending all over! 

Whomp. Time for another vacation I guess!!

xoxo Liz Ho 

#Hottravels: The Honeymooners

Xin chao, y'all. We're baaack! They honeymoon is over, sigh. But what a honeymoon it was! 

Vietnam and Cambodia were wild and beautiful and vivid and overwhelming and green and delicious and warm and exotic and majestic and old and bustling and AMAZING. 

hoi an

It was nothing at all like I imagined and somehow so much better

We kayaked, biked, rode motorbikes, learned to cook, walked and walked and walked some more. 

bridge

We saw ruins and rice fields, villages, temples, fishing nets, men rowing boats with their legs, monkeys swinging around the jungle, chickens running around the city streets, old ladies doing tai chi in the park, puppies in baskets, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of motorbikers, sunrises and sunsets and war bunkers and dragon boats and white sand beaches completely untouched by modern time and palm trees and bougainvillea and banyan trees growing sideways over thousand-year-old tombs.

rice fields
IMG_1506.JPG
taphrom

We ate our body weight in rice noodles, generally washed down with a crisp, cool, 30 cent brewski. (Once we caved and ate a pizza.)

pho sho

We got sunburn and one of us is still recovering from a particularly unsightly heat rash, and yes, OH YES, we got food poisoning. Brian maintains he has no regrets. (Me? I'm still not so sure...) 

vietnom

We made some BOLD fashion choices. 

pillow pants

And played countless games of rummy and navigated foreign terrains and crossed some new, um, sound barriers in our relationship, and made out all over Southeast Asia had the adventure of a lifetime and did NOT get sick of each other, not even once. 

on a boat

I have so many stories and pictures, I can't wait to share all about it! Jet lag + that whole catching up from two weeks out of the office scenario have me strugggggling but I'm finally climbing back to some version of normalcy so you can look forward to me completely blanketing your interwebs with more details about our honeymoon than anyone could even fathom. GET EXCITED!!!! 

xoxo Liz Ho 

 

Hott Reads: Vietnam Edition!

Did I hear someone say they were hoping I'd continue listing, down the the very finest of detail, every single thing I plan to pack on my upcoming vacation?! 

OK!!!!! 

Herewith is a rundown of all the non-clothing, non-cosmetic, non-medicinal items we'll be a-packin'. Aka: the fun stuff!

fun stuff

Camera & Camera Cord: We received a new camera as a generous Christmas gift from my mom. After lots of research - primarily Googling "best point and shoot for travel" or "easy to use, non-crap camera for basic morons" we went with the Nikon Coolpix (what a stupid name) 9700.  It got great reviews for our needs so hopefully it's a good one! 

Electrical Adapters: This is going to sound stupid / ethnocentric but I DON'T mean it that way, I am genuinely serious because I don't understand science...why can't all countries just use the same electrical plugs?? Is it some kind of voltage issue? Is electricity different in Asia than it is in Australia?! I just don't get it!!! Doesn't all electricity just happen when lightning hits a key that you tied to a kite in a rainstorm?!?! Maybe they don't have kites in Vietnam? At any rate, Vietnam has different plugs than America and even within the country they have 2 different kinds of sockets (get it together, guys) so we're bringing two different adapters, Type C and Type G. We found these in a multi-pack that we stole from my mom but you can buy them online all over the place! 

And for anyone travelling to Thailand in the near future, specifically my friend Joe who is so nice he said, AND I QUOTE that he was "looking forward" to reading about electricity adapters, so you can all thank/blame him for this novella, here is a helpful article about what you'll need for there! 

Phone Charger & Phone (not pictured because I needed it to take this photo. I guess I could have used Brian's but I just thought of that. Just use your imaginations and conjure up an iPhone): B & I are both bringing our telefonos and just one charger to share. This will probably be the hardest challenge we face as a couple on this trip, ha! I guess we could bring both ... they don't take up that much space. At any rate, we decided not to get an international phone plan, we're just going to use hotel WiFi as needed. People lived for hundreds of years sans cell phones, we'll survive. (We will be updating the 'gram from time to time, let's not go full prehistoric here. Follow me @lizho914!) 

I keep trying to think of a honeymoon hashtag but can't come up with anything clever. The best I got was #HOTTChiMinh but I feel like that's insanely offensive.  

(By which I mean I know that's insanely offensive. Some things I probably shouldn't say outloud...) 

Earbuds: For rocking to my jams! I have Spotify premium which is supposed to work offline, but I had real issues with it when flying for work earlier this year, so I listened to the one and only album I own on iTunes on repeat over and over like 15 times in a row. The album? Taylor Swift's 1989...duh! Like you even had to ask. 

Playing Cards: We're about to encounter a LOT of one on one time, we'll need some entertainment. The only 2 person game we know how to play is rummy. Any other suggestions?! 

Cute Travel Journal: For all my cute travel thoughts. I'll be bringing a different, pen, though. I learned my lesson

LITERATURE!!!: Figuring out what books to bring on a trip is like 80% of the fun. On this particular trip I won't have a lot of space and most of my reading time will be limited to flights when I'm likely to be barely awake so I just want lots of fun books. Nothing too "educational," gross.  I took to the Facebook (or as my friend Jamie calls it "the Fach") looking for suggestions for "fiction, plot-driven, maybe suspense/thriller but not stupid and maybe it's kind of sexy but not trashy and hopefully not about a young American couple getting kidnapped abroad." 

Mah people did not disappoint! They came through with tonnssss of great suggestions and after much deliberation, I've loaded my Kindle with the following:

  • The Fever by Megan Abbott - an author I've been meaning to read for years
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King I have never read a single SK, can you believe it?!
  • The Outlander Series - This seems juuuust the right mix of sex, history and ridiculousness to keep me entertained as I'm half asleep somewhere over the North Pole. And then I can catch up on the TV show when I get home. 

I also packed one paperback because I just feel so weird and naked if I don't have at least one real book on me at all times. I've heard great things about this one and I do love me some sweeping, tragic historical fiction. 

At the end of this post is a list of the other suggested titles if you're in the market for a new read. I sadly wasn't able to pack them all (I need about 645 more vacation days for that) but filing away for future reference! 

Not pictured: passports, OBVZ, credit cards (don't let me forget to give the bank a heads up!), addresses of people to mail postcards to (do you want one? I'm not joking, I'll do it! Email me your address.), a folder with a printout of our AGGRESSIVELY detailed itinerary as well as print-outs of all of our hotel, flight & tour confirmations (I am just so chill and laid back, guys), several color photocopies of our passports and credit cards (each hidden in a different pocket of a different bag) (chill, chill, chilllll) and I THINK that's it.

And how will we be lugging all this around? IN STYLE:

backpack and stuff and hottness

What up, paranoid-traveler-approved fanny pack and neon teal backpack. Looking fly! The jammies are staying here, though. Those are my FAVORITE pair of pants, I love them so much and think they look legit adorable. I wore them around my family over the holidays and everyone ruthlessly made fun of me. GUYS! I look so cute! Ok yes they do look, as my mother kindly pointed out, like a five-year-old's pajama set but I stand by my decision. At least I'm not wearing flannel on flannel! 

Annnnd let's shut it down. I look forward, as I'm sure you all do, to the inevitable recap of some VITAL important thing we forgot or wacky hijink about how I left my one bag with ALL of my belongings in the airport, never to see it again. 

Oh lord, please don't let that happen. 

The END! Now go read a book!

xoxoxo Liz Ho 

Recommended Reading a la Liz's Pals:

The Eight by Katharine Neville

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (har har, this is one of my books but DO read it.)

The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth was my runner-up to Outlander!)

Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm (I actually already read & loved this!)

Revival by Stephen King

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

J.D. Robb's In Death Series

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

Anything by Beatriz Williams (I'm a HUGE fan of Secret Life of Violet Grant! Was going to read her new books coming out this fall but then I decided they'd maybe make me think about the office and I am avoiding that as much as I can! But YOU should read her books, they are gr8!)

Any Tana French (she's the bomb, read all of her books!)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (to be discussed in full later by me because I have THOUGHTS)

Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson 

Zoli or This Side of Brightness by Colum McCann 

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Department of Speculation by Jenny Ofill 

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (agreed! He's great! He has a new book coming out in a few weeks, too!)

And thennn a bunch of Vietnam War books which I should read before I leave but probably won't because I'm a horrible monster who would rather read about Scottish time travel sex shenanigans than the actual history of the foreign land I'm going to visit.  Whoops? Is #sorrynotsorry appropriate here or is it still smug and annoying like always? I'll go with the latter.

But FOR REAL what a list of books, guys! I hope these might speak to some of you and I can't wait to just check down the list book by book by book! 

 

 

 

 

 

ADVENTURE TIME: VIETNAM!!!

In twelve days (!) Brian and I are off on a grand adventure, our belated honeymoon to Vietnam and Cambodia. AAH! I'm so excited and a little nervous and not quite sure what to expect. I imagine more noodles but less public nudity than our mini-moon but really, who knows! Anything can happen.

So why Vietnam? Good question! While wedding planning, B & I decided to hold off on a big post-wedding trip for a number of reasons, mainly just to take advantage of Brian's amazing two week spring break and to extend the amount of time we can drag out newlywed attention. My boss super awesomely granted me two weeks vacay in the midst of a bananas season and I'm extremely grateful for this time but also extremely anxious about leaving the office for that long.

Cut the cord, Liz. You're not saving lives here, the world will spin on without you. 

(End anxiety interlude here.)

We knew we had two weeks in late March, which is a kind of crapshoot, weather-wise, in most of the world and wanted to go somewhere totally new to both of us so we pretty quickly settled on Southeast Asia...somewhere. We had the grand idea to do Thailand and Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia but then realized that as long as two weeks seems when you're crafting your out-of-office memo, it's not actually that much time to travel about the world. A number of our friends had recently been to Vietnam and loved it, so we decided to spend the majority of our time there with a quick hop-skip-jump into Cambodia to see Angkor Wat

As we get deep into our planning, we're realizing it might be a little nuts to go into Cambodia for less than 48 hours, but Angkor is one of the most gorgeous and well-regarded heritage sites in the world, it seems silly not to take advantage of being so close. 

Here's our full itinerary, if you're curious, which I'm SO sure you are:

Whipped that fancy little graphic up allll by mah-self. Thanx Google Maps. 

We leave Saturday the 14th at 1 PM EST and arrive into Hanoi at 10:10 PM on Sunday the 15th. I may be rounding up a bit but the flight is approximately 89 hours, including a layover in Seoul, and we cross through 61 time zones. We did get sleeping pills from the travel doctor but sleeping pills make me so nervous! The longest I've ever flown is is about 8 hours from NYC to Barcelona. I think I had a glass of red wine and a Tylenol PM. I remember I put on that Valentines Day movie, the Love Actually wannabe, and I kept falling into these sleeps that seemed deep and long - I'd dream and everything! - only to wake up and realize I'd only been asleep for like 15 minutes and that goddamn movie was STILL ON. It was the most disorienting thing. I still feel woozy every time I see photos of Ashton Kutcher. 

We'll spend a few nights in Hanoi, then spend a night on a boat (!!!) in the Halong Bay which I"m incredibly excited about. I've heard it's kind of touristy and not as exciting as it seems on the web but helloooooo, gorgeous:

I'll put up with a few tourists if it means even a percentage of this awesomeness. The tour we're signed up for includes kayaking among the islands and hiking up one of the cliffs to see the sunrise. I am so excited!!! I'm also a little concerned about apparel. We're trying to pack in just carry on luggage (full post on that to come next week!) and the weather's to be pretty warm everywhere we go, but it may be brisk in the Bay and I don't know what to do about footwear. Should I buy water shoes? I really want to buy water shoes but Brian thinks it might be overkill. 

Help me! What kind of shoes to people wear to kayak and maybe climb a mountain???? 

After Halong Bay we visit Hue, the old imperial capital and then Hoi An, a cool little city towards the south of Vietnam that's known for hospitality and is right by the beach. We're taking a cooking class (!), maybe doing a bike tour and I'm hoping for a lazy beach day, too. It's also Anthony Bourdain's favorite city in Vietnam...for whatever that's worth! After Hoi An we bop over to Cambodia and then back to Hanoi for one more night before flying home. 

The time difference is even weirder on the way back. Our flight leaves at about midnight on the 28th, with another layover in Seoul. We leave Seoul at 10 AM on Sunday, March 29 and land in JFK at 11 AM the same day.

WHAT???!! Time is such a strange human construct, guys. What a world. 

Anyway! I am obviously super stoked for the trip. We have some great tips from friends of ours who've been and have been devouring travel blogs (Kate and Natalie are two of my favorite bloggers, both have been super helpful and this and this keep it real on some of the more difficult aspects of Vietnam travel), but I'm wondering, have you ever been to any of these places? If yes, is there anything we just must see/do/eat? I'm ALL ears for suggestions. What kind of shoes did you wear to Halong Bay? Did you ever get royally scammed? HOW BAD was your Traveler's Diarrhea???? I have a mean stomach in the best of situations so I'm anticipating some pretty gruesome intestinal shenanigans while we're in SE Asia... but I ain't scared. I can take this. Maybe I can even poo off my remaining winter padding. 

Gross, sorry. New blog, same filter: NONE. 

If you've got any tips, lemme have 'em! I can't wait to share stories and pictures of this trip with y'all. What's more fun than hearing about someone else's vacation? Um, nothing. Next up: my packing list. I'm trying to do two weeks in one tiny duffel...while still looking fly. Is it possible?! We'll find out, I guess!

xoxo Liz Ho