Singapore and Bali

Singapore and Bali were fantastic to say the least. It was our first time in Southeast Asia and we loved every second of it! I went a tad shutter crazy over here… it was so beautiful I couldn’t help but snap away. I can only share so many pictures in one post, so I’m going to split them up into a few different locations that we visited (Singapore & Uluwatu | Ubud & Sekumpul | Canggu & Seminyak). Here’s a summary of our day-to-day, where we stayed, ate and explored. Starting with Singapore and Uluwatu! Stay tuned for Ubud & Sekumpul + Canggu & Seminyak posts to come!

Below is a clip of  our trip highlights!

-SINGAPORE-

We had 21 fun hours in Singapore! It was short, but action packed. Ev said it felt like he’d been on vacation for a week after our first day in Singapore. Yes. Mission complete.  Singapore is  beautiful, sparkling clean (they don’t even sell chewing gum here), efficient and so unbelievably cool. It will blow your mind – skyscraper infinity pools, giant jungle domes, fast transportation, gorgeous temples, friendly people and amazing food. If you can snag a layover here, make it worth your time and see the city. You don’t want to miss this one!

Where we stayed:
Boutique Hotel Singapore | Nostalgia Hotel
77 Tiong Bahru Road Singapore 168727
T: +65 6808 1818  F: +65 6808 1815
Nostalgia Hotel Singapore

Places we checked out:
Tiong Bahru Food Market & Hawker Centre
Chinatown
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Sri Mariamman Temple
The Ministry of Communication and Information Building
Gardens By the Bay
The Marina Bay Sands Hotel
Spago
Nostalgia Hotel Singapore

Nostalgia was a wonderful, affordable hotel conveniently located via 10-minute walk from Tiong Bahru MRT Station. The rooms were small, but comfy and equipped with the chilliest AC. The bed felt like fluffy heavenly nest after a long sleepless flight. There is a glass-wall pool on the 3rd story that overlooks a bustling intersection (rooms are still quiet). This place was a great find and a 2 min walk from a yummy hawker station (food court) around the corner.

We landed after a 20hr direct flight from Los Angeles to Singapore and jumped on the MRT (mass rapid transit). The MRT connects to the airport so getting around is super simple. It will take you about 30 minutes to get to the city center from the airport. Buy a ticket at the computers in the station…you can’t miss them. I think it cost us about $2 vs a $30 taxi ride. Well worth the bit of extra research effort.

We woke up a 6:00AM the next morning and had an early breakfast at the Tiong Bahru Food Market & Hawker Centre. Pork noodles, wonton porridge and browned butter condensed milk coffee with a side of fresh mangosteen.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
Then we caught a taxi to Chinatown ($5) and toured the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. It’s free and fascinating! This Tang-styled Chinese Buddhist temple gets its name from what Buddhists regard as the Sacred Buddha Tooth relic! Make sure to take off your hat and cover your knees and shoulders when you go inside. You’re invited to see the tooth relic on the 4th floor, just leave your shoes in the cubbies by the elevator and keep quiet as you walk around the temple and observe people in prayer and monks in meditation.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
There is an orchid garden on the rooftop of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, as well as a prayer wheel.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
A 2 min walk from Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is the Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu Temple). It’s a melting pot of religions and cultures in Singapore! This was another free and interesting place to visit. Be sure to leave your shoes at the entrance.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
More exploring in Chinatown^^^ice cream and cold bottles of water!  With the humidity and temperature both at 85, we were drenched.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
After Chinatown we walked about 2km (15 min) to The Ministry of Communication and Information Building just for kicks. These windows are extremely satisfying to look at, am I right?

After our walk to the colorful windows we decided to catch a taxi ($8) to the Gardens By the Bay to see the Cloud Forest Dome! SO worth it guys! You’ll have to buy a ticket for this one – it will run you about $15 to visit one of the domes or $20 to see both domes. The Cloud Forest dome is the one with the waterfall. The outside gardens and supertree grove are free and the catwalk in the trees is $8. We only did the cloud forest dome – worth every penny! Plus it was a welcomed escape from the heat!
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
Singapore Cloud Forest
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
We walked from the Gardens by the Bay to The Marina Bay Sands Hotel via the bridge located inside the gardens. It’s about a 10 min walk. We made it to Spago (Level 57, Tower 2)! I think all first time visitors need to see the pool deck at Marina Bay Sands…instead of paying $23 to go to the observation deck (that actually puts you at the far end of the hotel, so you can’t get a good view of the pool), get a drink or appetizer at Spago. It’s right next to it! You’ll get to experience the view of the city skyline and sip on “I Love You Long Time” cocktails – a much better option if this pool view is on your bucket list. Only hotel guest are allowed to swim in the pool, but this is the next best thing! If you’re worried about the cost, I think I paid the equivalent of $19usd for 1 cocktail and the boys paid about $12usd for a cider and beer. It’s not cheap, but you’ll definitely get a better view and it’s less money than the observation deck that gives you jack squat. Go for it! I don’t think you’ll need a reservation around lunch time (we just showed up and were seated right away), but I’d suggest reserving a table if you’re planning on sunset drinks or dessert.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
We then caught the underground MRT (at the hotel) back to the airport for our connecting flight to Bali. What a crazy, spectacular 21 hours! We were so exhausted at this point, but really glad that we had an extra long layover to experience this wonderful place. By the way…Singapore’s airport is the best airport in the world! I’d love to write a post on it some day. A 4-story slide, butterfly garden, sunflower deck, spa, mall, movie theater, hotel etc. Singapore, you’ve become one of my favorite destinations!

-ULUWATU, BALI –

Where we stayed:
D’padang
Jl. Labuansait, Pecatu, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
A tad hard to find. Use this.

Places we checked out:
Jeffy’s Cafe
Single Fins
Suka Espresso
Padang Padang Beach
Nyoman local food
Uluwatu Temple
Labuan Sait Beach

D Padang
D’padang was just far enough from the craziness of Single Fin, but close enough to all the great surf breaks in Uluwatu. You can rent scooters for 70,000 rupiah ~$5usd a day (from the villa). There is a great breakfast spot across the street called Jeffrey’s and Nyiman Local Food and Suka Espresso are a 4 min walk down the street – Balinese food and Aussie style health food. D’padang was a comfortable stay and the staff were very friendly. They even let me make noodles in the kitchen and hooked us up with a ride to Ubud.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
Single Fin – a bar & restaurant popular among tourist and surfers for its stunning sunset views. Single Fin is one of many restaurants and small warungs located on the cliffside overlooking the best surf spot in Uluwatu. Continue down the path to the left and make your way to the bottom of the cliffs to find the entry point for the Uluwatu surf break.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
The first night in Uluwatu we walked to the cliffside at Single Fin and grabbed a bite to eat at a warung (family owned cafe) a few houses down from the top. It smelled wonderful…lots of garlicy mie goreng noodles, ice cold Bintangs and fresh fruit smoothies.  A great place to watch the sunset and waves.

It’s a bit of a rough crowd by Single Fin. I never felt unsafe, but it’s not the best area, mostly party goers looking to relax and cut loose. There were a few drug dealers peddling hashish and mushrooms.  Move along please. Drug laws are very strict in Indonesia. Punishable by death or life in prison. No joke. Besides this one encounter, Bali felt very safe and welcoming – full of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. Just be aware of the skeezy peeps and drunk scooter drivers around popular bars and hangouts.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
^^^10ft perfect waves for days. Apparently they were 15ft the week before we arrived!
Suluban Beach Uluwatu Surf Break
Below the cliffs, down some steep stairs and across a janky bridge you’ll reach the sea cave entry point to the Uluwatu surf break.  This might just be the coolest and sketchiest of entry points I’ve seen.  Once you’ve reached the water, you’ll have to paddle out between these narrow sea cliffs. At the end you’ll be rewarded with some of Bali’s best and longest lefts!  Check out this old video clip of two men paddling through Uluwatu’s cave. Shiiiiiiza. No. Max high tide is way too dangerous. Best time would be mid-tide on its way down. Careful of that reef!
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
The next day we had breakfast at Suka Espresso, omelets, avocado, beet puree, peanut butter banana crepes with dragon fruit sauce and coconut milk chia n fruit parfaits. Great Aussie style healthy eats.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
After breakfast we ventured to the Padang Padang. For some reason many people think Labuan Sait Beach is Padang Padang, when it’s actually the long stretch of beach to the left (see below). Make sure you know which one you’re going to if you’re meeting up with friends.

You can access  the real Padang Padang from the dirt road that leads to Thomas Homestay or the dirt road across the street from Suka Espresso (it’s a big u-shaped road). Follow it a few hundred feet and you’ll see a man sitting at a little bamboo shack. Give him a few bucks to watch your bike while you spend the day at the beach. I don’t know if it was completely necessary, but it seemed like the nice thing to do.
Uluwatu Padang Padang Map
Here’s how you can get to this beach if you ever find yourself in Uluwatu.
uluwatu-map
I really enjoyed this beach, compared to the popular Labuan Sait Beach around the point, which is much smaller and more crowded. We walked down the hillside and met a kind women placing banten in her family shrine. She offered us rooms for $5 per night…right on the water and breakfast included! What a deal! Unfortunately we had already booked a place.

We made it down the cliff. We had the whole stretch of beach to ourselves, just a few huts with locals tending to fires and cooking for their families. The beach had 3 rope swings tied to big rubber trees, women selling silk sarongs, bracelets and giant coconuts…literally a 10lbs coconut that I had to wrap my arms around when we walked down the beach. I chatted with the local ladies Dany and Wayana,  drank coconuts and learned about a full-moon ceremony.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
That evening we rode down to the Uluwatu temple. It’s a nice place to walk around, laugh at monkeys and  enjoy the view! They offer a cultural fire dance at sunset. We skipped out on the dance, because of the crowds, but it would be a fun experience if you’re traveling with kids.

We had dinner at Nyoman Local Food – just a few minutes walk from D’Padang (on the map above). We ate big plates of curry chicken and mie goreng for pennies; pet the owners pups while Indonesian cartoons played on a tv to entertain her little girl. I love places like this. You can feel apart of a family on the other side of the world, even if t’s just for one meal.

Our last morning in Uluwatu, we hitched a ride with Made (friendly guy from the restaurant) down to Labuan Sait Beach – a beautiful spot where jungle meets the beach and monkeys swing overhead. You’ll have to pay 50¢ to enter this beach (to a man sitting in a booth at the top). There is a staircase that lies between two rocks, just wide enough for one person to pass through. The beach itself is lovely at low tide, but can potentially take-out sunbathers at high tide and flood the left side of the beach. I actually preferred the the less busy Padang Padang around the point to the left (map above – paradise). But this beach is so iconic we had to see it + Dan and Ev enjoyed the waves here.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
^^^Fun cave entry to Padang Padang. Notice monkey above my head. He attempted to steal my camera, but I won. Cheeky little guy…
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
^The boys were very happy today.
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
A Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and BaliA Bit of Bees Knees | Singapore and Bali
We left Uluwatu that afternoon and headed for Ubud. We had a wonderful time in Uluwatu…especially the surf rats 😉
Ubud & Sekumpul + Canggu & Seminyak posts are on their way!


Taking a Leap at Skydive Elsinore [First Time Tandem Skydiving & What to Expect]

Skydiving
I went Skydiving with my Mamma and our friend Tena in celebration of my 29th! Woohooo last year of my 20’s. You ladies are troopers and I’m so grateful you said yes. And thanks to my Hub for pushing me to fulfill my life-to-do’s… I had many sleepless nights before this day and you never stopped encouraging me. You’re the best babe. I know jumping out of a plane is not your idea of fun, but you knew it was mine and you gave me endless support and I love you for that and so much more. Here’s to stepping outside of my comfort zone, trying new things and living life to the fullest. Love you guys.

Here’s how my day went and what to expect on your first tandem jump.

Anticipation is the worst part. I’d suggest making your appointment a few days before you go…no need to make it weeks before like I did. There were too many days filled with watching YouTube videos of skydiving gone wrong. Don’t do that! Check the weekly weather report for your drop zone and pick a day that is sunny with low wind.

Morning of, we drove out to Skydive Elsinore and checked-in at the office. We watched a funny outdated video – an older guy with a majestic beard discussing the dangers of skydiving. Brilliant, they already have me laughing…I can’t take ZZ Top-in-a-suit seriously, so I’m just going to sign these release forms. We signed about 10 different papers stating that we wouldn’t sue anyone if we ended up hurt or dead. And then we were filmed as we read a short statement out loud and signed one last document.  Done and done. Try not to let this deter you from the experience – it’s merely protocol. Tandem jumps are preformed by professionals that have hundreds, if not thousands of jumps under their belts. Sign away and it’s time to get stoked!

We were some of the first tandem jumpers that day so we didn’t have to wait long. I heard if you pick a later time slot that you might have to wait around the drop zone longer, because earlier jumps are postponed for whatever reason (weather, plane maintenance, late arrivals etc). Plan on being at the drop zone for 3-4 hours. Bring some items to help you pass the time or just hangout and watch other skydivers land. It’s pretty fascinating watching them zip down so quickly.

We had about 45 minutes of downtime. I walked out to the Skylark and watched a military plane takeoff with a bunch of camouflaged divers packed in like sardines. Training maybe? I sat on log near the runway by the old Airstream trailer and Winnebago and called my friend Julia who had jumped a few months before.

“So Jul’s I jump in just a few minutes…any tips?”

“Just smile and enjoy it.”

“Oh God, OK. I can do this!”

I was the first to meet my instructor – Marcelo Zoni, who came up to greet me with a smile and the tandem harness in hand. I got suited up and he made sure everything fit correctly. I remember feeling that the harness wasn’t tight enough… “don’t worry I’ll tighten it later in the plane.” He gave me the lowdown on what I needed to do – “keep your arms in close to your body and hold onto your shoulder straps. Keep your head up and tilted back while we jump out. Once we’re out I’ll tap to signal when you can put your arms out to the side. Don’t forget to arch your back while we fall.” So I listened and replayed his instructions over and over in my head…and then my thoughts turned to how I would frantically attempt to save both of us if something happened to him because of all those damn youtube videos that I had watched days before. I bet I would qualify for an AFF 1 jump, with the amount of skydiving research I read over the past weeks. Oh Lord. Think happy thoughts Britt. You can do this. You’ve always wanted to do this. Everything will be fine. This is an exciting, happy day…

I found myself asking stupid questions like, “so how many times have you jumped (which I’m sure every instructor gets asked multiple times a day)? How old are you? Do you have a family? Children? You need to be there for someone right?  Just checking.”

Uggghhh.

Sorry for the mild interrogation Marcelo, but that’s what comes out of my mouth when I’m terrified. Check, check and check. OK, I’m feeling better. I also discovered that it was his birthday that week as well, so that was neat.

My videographer interviewed me on the ground and in the plane… he asked several questions about whether I was nervous and if it was my first jump etc. I said something like…”oh I hope we make it, I love you family. Send my love to my hub.”
Skydiving
Before I knew it, it was time to go. I’m sure every plane is different, but ours held 14 people with two benches and a few floor spots. The plane took off and we climbed higher and higher until we reached about 12,500 ft. It was cold and loud inside our tiny plane. I was the closest to the door when the single jumpers rolled it back. My heart raced and I grabbed my shoulder straps while looking out the door. Wow this is really happening! And then the first team of 3 singles jumped out. They just fell out door in a cute little party pack and disappeared. Weird. My mind seemed to disconnect at this point. This is all so funny. People jumping out of planes…how is this OK? Then the next guy literally swan dived out the door. I remember watching him get smaller and smaller. Well, I’m up.
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
We scooted up to the door. I knelt down on one knee looked out and saw the curve of the horizon.  Amazing! My photographer put his hand on my shoulder (I’d like to think he was praying for us), I think it was just a technique to stay level with us when we jumped. Haha. I smiled at him, but couldn’t see his face clearly under his helmet. I hoped he was smiling back. And then I felt a hand on my forehead – a reminder to keep my head back before he threw me out of the plane.  I was definitely in shock of what was about to happen…just grinning from ear to ear and feeling out-of-body. It felt like a dream. Then he gave two swings and pushed away from the door.
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
Oh my God…

Those first 3 seconds took my breath away in the best possible way. It’s wasn’t scary or painful. I didn’t panic.

It’s pure magic.

It’s out of this world one of the most amazing feelings. You’re falling but you don’t feel like falling. You feel like you’re flying on a windy day. It’s very odd, peaceful, thrilling, happy and freeing all at once. There was no anxiety, no tension, no worry about plummeting towards the ground. I know this description is eye-roll-worthy but it felt comforting in a spiritual way. What was I afraid of? This is beautiful. (side note…I bet a solo dive is completely different. The best part about a tandem is you get to sit back and relax).
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
^^^A message to my Love at home who took over my work shift and told me to jump out of a plane…so sweet of him. I think 😉 Love you babe.
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
Skydiving
Then there was a quick jerk up and a moment of heaviness. Our chute had opened and the wind had stopped. Back to reality. I think I yelled “It opened!” and he said “Of course it opened!” He showed me how to direct the parachute, pull left for left turns and right for right. Pull both to slow down and let loose for full speed. It was surprisingly easy. Happy Birthday Brittany! Thanks, Marcelo! Happy Birthday to you too! Then we just cruised and enjoyed the view. Still slightly in shock, I must have said thank you a thousand times.

The landing was fairly easy. He pulled a few quick S turns to position ourselves for the drop zone. At the last moment he flared the chute and we landed graceful on our bums! Not even a grass stain on my jeans. Nice job! Very impressed. Thank you, thank you, thank you for such a fun experience.
Skydiving
Skydiving
My mom and Tena landed right after me. All three of us had an amazing time, one that I will never forget.

Later that night after googling more jumps I stumbled across the Fresh Prince himself who had some wise words to share and I quote, “at the point of maximum danger [that first second you jump out] is the point of minimum fear. God places the best things in life on the other side of fear.” I couldn’t agree more. Anything worthwhile in this life will make you nervous – all those big decisions and moments. The rewards are so spectacular once you have the courage to commit. Sometimes you just need to trust your gut (or in this case a complete stranger) and take that leap. I’m so glad I did and you will be too. It’s fun to see what we are capable of. Life is good. Everyone needs to experience this at least once in their life – or maybe more. Sign me up again!


How Was India?

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Picture By: Tony Rath

I’m still thinking about it. Grateful, happy, confused – so many feelings for this place. It was a wonderful opportunity to see how love, family and weddings are celebrated on the other side of the world (wedding post). I enjoyed visiting the South, watching the world float by on that little boat; people in Kerala live a life that is much slower and different than my own. It was nice. Very peaceful. City life is electric here, the sounds, tastes, colors, wealth, poverty, joy, sickness…everything always stirring and competing for your attention. It makes you feel compassion for the whole human experience, leaving your heart hurting in both good and bad ways. The truth is, India is as harsh as it is accepting and inviting- depending on who you meet and where you go. All you can do is go with the flow, relax and remain open. You’re bound to have an incredible adventure.

India was exciting loud and crowded. There were days when walking down the street was fun and days when it was overwhelming. The taxi and rickshaw drivers weaved in and out of head-on traffic, lots of near collisions and narrow escapes. Exciting and scary…but a no good story is ever shared from an experience lived within your comfort zone.

I witnessed beautiful, moments – children playing in the water while their Mother washed clothes in the river or the strangers who rushed to help the boy who fell off his motorcycle. Most people are extremely hospitable, kind, caring and welcoming. There were also sad and confusing moments – so many sick people begging for money or the little girl crying for food while we danced in our silk saris at the Baraat. It’s hard to process both extremes at the same time.

India made me cry and laugh and on more than one occasion, India made me sick. Over the course of our trip we experienced lovely things and difficult things – I’m thankful for being exposed to both.

I’m glad we got to be a part of this place for a few weeks, even if we were just outsiders looking in. There is something special here that I haven’t seen or felt anywhere else. I can’t quite explain it, nor do I claim to understand it.

We were lucky enough to have a talented photographer – Tony Rath (and his rad family) join us at the wedding. He did a wonderful job at capturing the life and spirit of India. He was kind enough to let me share some of his pictures with you. I added a few of my own pictures along with some fellow travelers of India to help depict the moments I wasn’t bold/brave enough to  capture on my own. Here are a few fantastic shots.

(*links are under each picture giving credit to the original photographers / no link means they are my own).
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Picture By: Adam Cohn

^Most streets in the cities we visited looked like this one. It was fascinating watching people scurry around. Organized chaos.

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Picture By: Tony Rath

^Tony has a gift for taking candids without being intrusive. He says, “I have rarely seen such raw joy, friendliness or genuine helpfulness. Bengalis would give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it…” well said Tony

Paan
Picture By: Adam Chon

^Paan was the wackiest thing we ate in India. It’s a digestive aid, that you eat after having big/spicy meals. Paan is a preparation combining betel leaf with areca nut and sometimes with tobacco. It is a tradition in South India and nearby regions to give two Betel leaves, areca nut and coconut to the guests (both male and female) at any auspicious occasion. It made my mouth go numb and tasted like sweet toothpaste. Very interesting. I heard there are lots of variations and “make your own” paan carts all over India.

kerala
Picture By: Salvo Pappalardo

^We spent 5 days in Alleppey (Kerala’s Backwaters) where we rented a boat and learned how to cook Indian food! It was such a blast and one of my favorite parts of the trip! I’m working on a whole post on how to book a boat of your own, where to go and what to look for. The task seemed intimidating before we left for India, but it’s quite simple once you arrive…here is a post with tips and advice to book your own adventure.

flowers
Picture By: Mat McDermott

^Flowers, flowers everywhere! The wedding was dripping with long garlands of bright yellow and orange flowers. I think my favorites were the delicate little white ones the women wore in their hair.

pink flowers
Picture By: Rom

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Picture By: Tony Rath

^A taxi driver takes a nap in Kolkata. The metered-cabs are mostly the “Ambassador” brand manufactured by Hindustan Motors (now out of production). Modeled after the British Morris Oxford, the Ambassador was the first car to be made in India and was once a status symbol. They have a fun 50’s vibe and many look/drive like they’re just as old. My favorite taxi ride was one we took to New Market from a taxi with both side mirrors sheared off.

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Picture By: Tony Rath

^You can’t escape the traffic in the city. But we didn’t mind… it’s all a part of the experience. Little kids hung out of bus windows to energetically wave at us. We’d smile and wave back which sent the whole bus into a frenzy of waving. People get really excited when they see foreigners.

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Picture By: Tony Rath

^An example of the strong, beautiful women of India,  Tony and his son Daniel “followed a nomadic camel herding tribe for half a day in a remote area near the Little Rann of Kutch. The women cooked breakfast, cleaned camp, herded pack camels, spent two hot hours packing the camels, and led camels along trail men left hours earlier, moving the 25 sheep and 50 camels in the herd. They move 10-15 kilometers every day, to find browse for their animals, then do it all over again.”
And I thought cleaning the house was daunting…India was a well needed reality check.

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Picture By: Carlospenalba

^Ganne Ka Ras fresh sugarcane juice is pressed on the streets. Sometimes it’s mixed with ginger and lime.

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Picture By: Tony Rath

^A sneak peek of the Jalan/Grams wedding in Kolkata. It was a dream… so romantic with bright colors, music, flowers, laughing, dancing and FOOD! Our first time attending an Indian wedding – an extraordinary experience.

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^A mellow moment sitting out on our 2nd deck, enjoying a warm breeze and the sound of rustling palms, cicadas and parrots.
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^Cruising through the narrow canals of Alleppy’s backwater villages with my Danny and trusty guide. One of our more relaxing days.
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^Our rice boat captain and King of the Sea King. We escaped the city and flew to Alleppey in Kerala for a lazy river cruise in the hot jungle and rice fields of the South. Ask for the Sea King at Finishing Point…they won’t steer you wrong. Fabulous crew and friends.
bike
Picture By: Suresh Eswara
^Rickshaws galore… walking, pedal or auto.
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Picture By: Evgeni Zoto

^Masala Chai, black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices, herbs, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ground ginger, and black peppercorn is an essential part of everyday life in India. The higher the pour the better!

chai
Picture By: Rajesh India

^Chai from a clay cup — that astringent earthy taste, mixed with sweet-gingery-milky tea is the taste of India. I would have 3 or 4 cups a day! Potters spin small cups out of river clay. The cups are dried in the sun and delivered to chai stalls. We inevitably ingested a bit of melted clay with each sip. I’d like to think it enhanced the chai’s character and provided a daily dose of multi-mineral supplements, right? God made dirt…dirt don’t hurt. When you’re done, you smash the clay in the street and they dissolve back into the earth.

Family Ride on a Sunday along the Tank Bund Road (east shore of Hussain Sagar Lake) - Hyderabad, State of Andhra Pradesh, India - 26 July 2009
Picture By Janetandphill

^It was a common sight to see a family of 4 or 5 riding on one motorcycle – men, women, infants, children and elderly! Most women rode sidesaddle and clutched onto their children while dodging cows, traffic and other obstacles. Motorcycles and rickshaws rule the road – 2nd to livestock of course. Beeping is a must here and the main way of communication between drivers. The lines on the roads (if they’re even present) are more of a suggestion, no one uses blinkers (or tickers as they call them) and most cars don’t have seat belts. It’s a wild rush!

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Picture By: Rajesh India
^Yummy street eats
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Picture By: Takehiko Ono

^Tropical fruit for days – strung perfectly together with twine or stacked neatly in rows. You can have vendors make you a glass of freshly pressed juice or buy a whole bag to take home.

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Picture By: Hugh Mitton
^Grocery shopping?
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Picture By: Alan Morgan

^A “Shopkeeper of a Kinari Bazar flower shop has time in the early morning to read a newspaper and watch the passerby before the afternoon rush.”

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Picture By: Dan.Be

^We would often see children running and playing by themselves while their parents worked. Older kids would take care of younger kids. Little girls struggled to hold their younger siblings in their small arms. All the kids loved to say hi, wave or laugh when we smiled at them.

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^We woke up at 2:30AM and drove to Agra with our new friend Bandarhi – sipping masala chai’s along the expressway and watching the peachy sunrise over a glowing Taj Mahal. What a magnificent sight it was. It felt like a dream.
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^The clouds were having a flash dance party a few miles off in the distance. We slept so well that we missed the downpour on our little boat. We woke up to misty windows, a red sunrise and wet jungle. Just gorgeous!
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^ A video clip of our time in India. More posts, tips and pics to come.


A Week in Massachusettes & Virginia

A few weeks ago, Dan, Grandpa and I traveled to Boston for work. We had the best time exploring the city, eating some amazing food and learning about Boston’s history. Here is a little clip I made… mostly shots of D and me running around town during our time off. After a few days in Boston, Gpa flew back home to CA and Dan and I took a puddle jumper to Shan and Justin in Virginia {my newlywed best friend just moved to Virginia Beach with her Navy hub, where they’ll be stationed for the next 3 years or so}! It was so nice to see our buds and check out their new home. All in all the trip was a blast…

I’ll make a list of places we checked out at the bottom of the post. Hope ya enjoy it 😉 We sure did.

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During out time off, D and I bought a day pass for The T and explored Boston and the surrounding cities. We made our way over to Cambridge and checked out Harvard yard. We even sneaked inside one of the student buildings to take a look around. Wow…so cool! Giant fireplaces and fancy old velvet furniture…pretty much Hogwarts. Yes? We grabbed a cup of coffee and chai at Cafe Gato Rojo and moseyed around the school grounds. It was amazing…the trees here are spectacular and the buildings are gorgeous!
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On our way to Faneuil Hall we found the cutest narrow brick street with old houses. The street didn’t even have a name! We thought it was an alley when we walked by — almost missed it.  I loved how dark it was… surrounded by the towering buildings one street over, it felt cozy and I really loved the warm glowing lamps at the end. Oh and those leaves!
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^^^We followed the Freedom Trail around the city and relearned some US history. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long path (brick line) through downtown Boston, Massachusetts that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States. It winds between Boston Common to the USS Constitution in Charlestown. We saw graveyards, sites of the Boston tea party and massacre, Paul Revere’s house, churches, buildings, and a historic naval frigate. Interesting, leisurely and cheap! It’s an easy stroll trough the city with interesting things to learn about on the way.
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^^^Dan and Grandpa on the move to catch our morning bus to work. I thought it was cute, so I snapped a picture — the young and young at heart work’n side by side. Love you both.
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After our convention in the city, Dan and I had the option to stay and explore the Boston more or fly to Virginia to see our Shanny! The cost of plane tickets or hotel in Boston were the same so…of course we chose Shan! Awww I miss this girl. We’ve been best buds forever…my newly wed friend moved to VA with her hub Justin who serves in the Navy. We miss them tons, so I was fun to visit and check out their new hood.
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S and J took us to First Landing State Park to explore the magical swampy lands of VA. So gorgeous! I am in love with that Spanish moss!
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Massachusetts
Legal Seafood
558 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
617-692-8888
*Fresh seafood! Try the fried oysters and seared sea scallops!

Yankee Lobster Co.
Boston, MA 02210
b/t C st & Trilling Rd
South Boston, Waterfront
*Great place to get lobster rolls and bisque

Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-1000
*Gorgeous campus! Fun to walk around especially during fall.

Café Gato Rojo
Basement of Dudley Lehman Hall, Harvard Yard
CambridgeMA 02138
* Student-run Café Gato Rojo is a magical place to imbibe the highest quality specialty coffee or tea. A fun place to sip coffee with students.

Haymarket Farmer’s Market
96 Blackstone St
BostonMA 02109
*Historic outdoor greenmarket specializing in fruits & vegetables, open Fridays & Saturdays.

The Freedom Trail
*A 2.5-mile-long brick path through downtown Boston, Massachusetts that passes by 16 locations significant to the history of the United States – the Old State House, Paul Revere’s House , the site of the Boston tea party, massacre and bunker hill monument to name a few. A pretty neat way to see and learn about US history.

Boston Common
139 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116
* Also known as “the Common” is a central public park in downtown
Boston, Massachusetts. Dating from 1634, it is the oldest city park in the United States. The Boston Common consists of 50 acres of land. A great place for walking, jogging or picnics

Jacob Wirth
31 Stuart St, Boston, MA 02116
(617) 338-8586
* Offering German cuisine in the Theatre District since 1868.

Bella Vista
288 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
*Yummy Italian Food.

Mike’s Pastry
300 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
(617) 742-3050
*Best Cannoli’s I’ve ever had. Their other stuff looks amazing too! Even wowed my Grandpa 😉

Winsor Dim Sum Café
10 Tyler St
BostonMA 02111
b/t Beach St & Kneeland St
Chinatown
* Fun place for cheap Dim Sum.

Virginia

Chrysler Museum
1 Memorial Place
Norfolk, Virginia, 23510
Free museum with incredible art!

Waffletown USA
2113 Pleasure House Rd
Virginia BeachVA 23455 *Small town feel waffle house. Great for breakfast.

First Landing State Park
2500 Shore Dr, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 412-2300
*Lovely park for walking or jogging.


My Best Friend’s Wedding

My best friend got married to her Navy man a few months back! I’ve been holding off on the post, because I wanted to share some of their gorgeous wedding pictures too! Thanks for letting Danny and me be a part of your special day! We love you both so much and wish you all the happiness in the world.

A little MOH love to her best friend and groom. 
A small slice of my cheesy speech… 

“It is impossible to not see the love, respect and friendship between you. It is the kind of relationship we should all aspire too…one that pushes you to be your best, to trust in your partner and to live by the motto — home is where your heart is / or home is wherever I’m with you. 
Love is powerful – it’s the virtue that holds all others together. Whatever plan God may have for your future, you will know with certainty that he gave you each other to get there as a couple
to love each other 
to support each other 
and to make each other stronger 
Cheers to Justin and Shannon and their greatest adventure yet.  May you both grow more in love each day and be surrounded by the support of family, friends and God’s immeasurable love.  Cheers to a lifetime of happiness.”

A little wedding clip I put together:
“All I Do Is Dream of You” by Debbie Reynolds and Bobby Van {S and J’s 1st Dance Song}

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My Best Friends Wedding
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Photography: jmfoto photographic co.  | InvitationsMinted  |  Venue: Twin Oaks Garden Estate  | Catering: Twin Oaks  |  Floral Design: “Petite Bouquet” | Linens & China: Twin Oaks | Wedding Dress:Allure Bridals 9121 | Suit Rentals: Men’s Warehouse & Navy Dress Whites  |  Hair & Makeup: Annie Mergenthaler & Camille Smith