Luang Prabang… say that ten times fast!

Years ago I remember someone telling me to skip Laos if I went to South East Asia. They said there wasn’t any point in going, “it’s looks the same as everywhere else.” That person was so wrong.

Luang Prabang was beautiful. It felt like a small country town. There was plenty of nature and above all else, it was quiet and calm. Just flying in was beautiful as we flew over rivers and mountains.

Sadly, this picture can out super hazy.

The airport we flew into was really neat because the walk ways were outside. All I could think about was “this would never happen in the US. ” Ha ha. Customs and immigration was also a breeze!

Outdoor walk ways

I love the sight of a small customs line!


Our first night we settled into our lovely hotel (they brought us afternoon drinks every day and were so helpful) and then wandered around the night market.

The ally way our hotel was on

Court yard of our hotel 

Day two:

Our hotel arranged transport to the waterfalls and even suggested when the best time would be to go. The waterfalls are the main sight seeing things to do and they have a bear rescue as you walk into them.

Relaxing in a Tuk-Tuk

Bear rescue

Waterfall on the sets as we hiked up the hill

Yes, we jumped into to the freezing water!

We we’re glad we went early. It got hot and more people started arriving as we left.

We wondered around town the rest of the day, napped, and then climbed a few hundred steps up Mount Phu Si (not really a mountain, more like a hill in town) to see a view of the whole city. It’s a good place to see the sunset, but it was so much hazy, we decided to go have dinner instead.

Up we go

This bridge is rebuilt after every rainy season.

TV anyone?

Day 3

We walked around and saw a couple of temples of which there are many!

We took an afternoon boat ride to see a cave full of Buddha’s. It’s takes an hour to get there and really it’s about the boat ride and the scenery. The cave wasn’t that impressive. We ran out of gas on the way there which was a bit nerve racking, but thankfully there was a gas station on the river.

Our long boat

Water buffaloes

Gas station
Cave full of Buddahs

On the way back from the caves we stopped at a little village

Last day

The library!

Royal Palace (Museum). We were not allowed to take cameras or phones inside. The USA gave Laos moon rocks on two different occasions. They were in the museum. 

The restaurant we ate at for lunch

The food

There is a restaurant in Luang Prabang called Khaiphaen which is part of the Friends International group. They are an NGO our of Cambodia that trains street kids how to be waiters and cooks and helps spread information about child labor issues. We ate at their restaurants in Cambodia so we were really excited when we found this one! We ate there twice (the next two pictures out from that restaurant)

Super fancy mango sticky rice! I could eat mango sticky rice everyday!

Sweet potatoes laying out on the street to dry

The only downside to the whole trip was the air quality. They were burning off fields so it was so hazy and gross!



Sri Lanka

Photo credit

February 2-9, 2019

(I just need to let you know that as I was typing up this blog WordPress was being very fickle and my formatting is all messed up because of it. At this point I’m letting it go and posting the blog anyway. The spell check function was also not working, I’m sorry in advance).

You know a trip was good when you continue to think about it after you get home. It’s been a month and half since my trip to Sri Lanka and I still find myself day dreaming of rolling green hills, elephants, and endless cups of tea. If Sri Lanka is not on your list of countries to visits I recommend you add it.

We arrived very late at night into Colombo do to a delayed flight. (Three out of our four flights during this trip were delayed). I recommend not spending more than a day in Colombo. It’s a big city with not a whole lot to do. We were there during Sri Lanka’s independence day and because of this some areas of town were closed off to get ready for a parade. There was also a heavy, and I mean heavy military presences. It made me a bit uncomfortable when I first started noticing it. We learned from one of the tuk-tuk drivers that it was all for the parade the next day. Don’t worry, Sri Lanka is a very safe country. Aside from consistently being stared at and asked if we needed a tuk-tuk ride we didn’t have any issues.

View from our hotel balcony. Not super nice, but you can see the ocean!


Off on our first Tuk-Tuk ride of the trip
We stumbled upon a street fair which we went back and visited later that night


This tree reminded me of the trees in Cambodia


The Buddha in Viharamahadevi Park


Town Hall


That tower looked like a lotus flower and would light up at night


Gangaramaya (Vihara) Buddhist temple which is famous for having so many artifacts.


Not a real elephant


So many buddhas! (Sorry the lighting in this picture is so poor)

Again, not a real elephant




The outside of the temple


The outside of the temple


Seema Malaka lake temple on Lake Beira


Street art

This was an old Dutch hospital converted in to stores. The internet made it sound really neat. It was a total let down!


Inside the Dutch hospital


Colombo had a lot of really neat architecture

Old Parliament


Old Pettah. Again, another place the internet made sound cool and it wasn’t. It was loud and really busy.


Market in Old Pettah. We noticed all the stall owners were men. In Vietnam they are mostly women


The National Museum. This came highly recommend. Sadly, we were so tired, hungry, and hot by the time we got here we didn’t want to go in. It’s a beautiful building though!


If I remember correctly this is a statue of Queen Victoria


Independence Memorial Hall. This was built when Sri Lanka gained it’s independence from Britain in 1948.

I was trying to take sneaky photos of all the military stuff set up for the parade. I probably didn’t need to be sneaky about it.

At time laps video of a tuk-tuk ride in Colombo

Day Two: We left Colombo and headed to Kandy.
We hired a driver/guide for the week (which I highly recommend doing) and this was supposed to be the day he picked us up. This day started with a huge hiccup! Our driver’s car got hit by a motorbike on his way to pick us up and he ended up at the police station. We ended up taking a “pick me” (their equivalent of Uber) to Kandy, which was about 3.5 hours away. I know that sounds expensive but it was only around $40. When we got to the hotel we had another hiccup. They didn’t have our reservation and tried to say we booked it that day (it had been book in November). Then they magically had a room for us. It was not a room we were willing to stay in. Thankfully, our driver knew of a nice hotel, which ended up being amazing! Before going to our hotel we spent some time in Kandy visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. They have a tooth from when Buddha was cremated, however it is in a case and you can not see it. Because it was a holiday is was very busy and we chose to walk around the grounds instead of paying to go in the temple.

Man-made lake in Kandy
Happy Sri Lanka Day!

The next few pictures are from around the grounds of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Our guide said, on more then one occasion, how much he hated monkeys. I have to agree with him. Wild monkeys are awful little things.

He’s hard to see, because he blends in so well, but there’s a giant lizard in this photo

This used to be the Ambassador to Britian’s house. Now it’s a fancy hotel.

Store fronts


Our hotel was amazing!

Day Three: The worlds most beautiful train ride.
We did not do the whole train ride which is Kandy to Ella. We only went half way to Nuwara Ellya (which took 3 hours).
Oh man, did it live up to the hype! We initially didn’t have seats and were willing to ride third class and stand. Thankfully, another driver approached our driver and offered to sell us seats that he had bought as long as we were willing to be on a ticket with another couple. It was cheap so we agreed. It was worth every penny! I spent the better half of the last two hours sitting on the floor of the door way with my feet hanging out watching the country side zoom by. Breath taking! Pictures do not do it justice. If we would have been in third class this would not have been possible do to the amount of people in those cabins.


Waiting for our train, which was delayed

 After the train ride we went to a tea plantation for lunch and well, tea! It was during this tea break I mentioned I wanted to some day buy a nice tea-pot. Our driver heard this and recommend we visit the Noritake outlet (the only one outside of Japan) just outside Kandy the next morning. I had no idea what Noritake china was. Turns out is fancy!

Tea plantation

Before having dinner our driver took us to a “jewel museum.” Sri Lanka is know for its Sapphires. We watched a video on how precious stones are found and then they took us upstairs and laid jewelry our for us to see. I felt very wealthy but also very uncomfortable as I wasn’t planning on buying anything. 

Below is a sunset from the restaurant we had dinner.

Day Four: We started the day at the Noritaki outlet. I could have spent all day and all my money there! I wish I would have taken a picture inside. But I forgot. Here’s a picture of the tea cups I bought. Sadly, I’m still on the hunt for the perfect teapot!

The lighting is awful in the pictures. Yes, I meant for them all to be different. And yes, that is a hammock in my living room!

We then drove north to Dambulla and checked into our tree house hotel before went on an elephant safari at Wasgamuwa National Park. Pictures do not do justice to how amazing the safari was. All the elephants are wild and move between three national parks. Thankfully the full herd was in the park we were visiting.

Yes, there was a bathroom in the tree house!


Inside the tree house

After the safari we went to get traditonal Sri Lankan massages. This was interesting. The massage was arggessive and they made us sit on chairs and face each other to begin. After the massage we were told to sit in a steam room for 20 minutes completely naked. (Make sure you go with friends your comfortable with 😉 ). At the end we were not allowed to shower. As we left they told us we had to keep the oil on for another half hour. So, we went to dinner oily. ha ha

Day Five: When your guide tells you to get up early to do a hike, be sure you listen.
There is a giant rock called Sigiriya outside Dambulla that has a bit of a scandalous history to it. Short verson: In the 3rd century BC Buddhist monks used it. In 477 BC King Dhatusena had two sons. The non-heir son killed his father and took the crown. The older son, who was rightfully the heir to the crown, feared for his life and ran away to southern India to build an Army. The new King built a fortress on top of Sigiriya. The rock was painted with frescos of naked women (from the stories, it sounds like he was a bit of a playboy), which were later removed when the Buddhist monks returned. The King reigned for 18 years until his brother returned to take back his rightful throne! Realizing he was losing to his brother the King fell on his sword to end his life. If you want a more detailed hisorical version click here.
We arrived right as the UNESCO site opened. It’s not a hard hike but there are a lot of stairs and it gets hot very quick! Who ever created the path was a genius. You went up one way and down another so you did not have to worry about dodging people the whole time. The view from the top was gorgeous!

The deep grooves in the rock were cut there to make the rain fall away from the rock, like gutters.

An older lady came up a whispered to me in a creepy tone that I was talking to loud for the bees. I was so confused!












The rock is referred to as “lions rock” because all the entrances were once lions heads. You can see the paw of this one.
View from the top

The throne

One side up and one side down. So simple and efficient!

Our guide said it was lucky to take a picture under this rock












Rock shaped like a cobra



Remnants of old alfresco paintings

After our hike we drove to Negombo beach. On the way our driver suggested we stop to do a river tour and see some more temples. We did both.












Not the most comfortable way to get around

Our boat guide was very proud of the hats he made us

We visited a traditional village home were we treated to coconut roti. They had us scrape coconut from the shell

Old fashion iron
At the end of the tour they had a traditional meal for us

Next we visited Dambulla rock temple. It’s a series of 5 temples carved into the side of a hill.

Day Six: We walked in and out of the little tourist stores in Negombo for most of the morning. When it got to hot, we spent the better half of the afternoon laying by the pool.

Our hotel


The view from our balcony


When I leave Asia I’m going to miss being able to afford to stay at places like this




My store!


The beach


The best cut-up coconut I’ve seen!

 As we tried to book a cab to the airport we learned about a nasty little scam the hotels and tuk-tuk drivers are in on. If you book a driver through “pick-me” or Uber the tuk-tuk drivers will threaten them, therefore no one will pick you up in front of the hotel. The hotel then offers to drive you at an outrages prices. We ended up walking down the road from our hotel and being picked up in front of a restaurant. The Colombo airport is a zoo! Once you get through security it is fine with a few shops and places to eat. We unfortunatley were delayed. Our plans of spending a long lay over in Kuala Lumpur slowly slipped away from us. When we finally made it to KL we had enough time to leave the airport and hit up a nice grocery store (located in the airport after customs). Laugh all you want, I’ll happily wait in a customs line to by blue berries and sharp chedder cheese (things that are exteremly expensive in Vietnam).

Fun facts about Sri Lanka:
-When I asked about how Britain finally took control over the country I was told the last King was a drunk and his family sold him out to the British. The Royal family was then banished to a island.
-There are no road side rest stops or places to use the bathroom. You either hold it or go in the forest.
-They originally tried to farm coffee.
-They are early morning people so trying to find somewhere to eat dinner was tough as most places (outside of hotels) were closed. Be prepared for buffets. 
-You’ll eat a lot of curry and rice and drink a lot of tea



Suón Tiên- A Vietnamese Amusement Park

“Do you want to go to Harry Potter world and go go-karting?”

What an offer. And to think I almost didn’t go. I am so glad I did!!! There is an amusement park about 15-20 minutes from where I live. It’s not one you hear very much about and I only knew about it because I had a friend who went go-karting there. What sounded like a weird invitation ended up being such a fun day!

(As you scroll through these pictures just picture Disney music playing. No joke!)



Head tilt- “That;’s interesting”


When exploring a weird amusement park, one must take fun photos!


Unfinished walk ways

Harry Potter world


It ended up being a really dark Harry Potter haunted house.

With all the construction we thought this was a fairly new amusement park. Nope, it’s 23 years old.

Giant Chicken. And yes, that man is riding a motorbike in the park

An actual temple. I’m having serious flashbacks of the opening scenes of Aladdin!



I was born in the year of the rat


We decided that this was a wishing tree

I’m ready to go go-karting on a not-so-safe, no seat belts, helmet required, really fun track!

Seatbelts…. who needs seatbelts? (Honestly, I’m so used to not wearing a seatbelt at this point that I didn’t even realize there weren’t any until afterwards when a friend pointed it out.:/)

What’s 12D?

Hammocks to rent if you need a rest

Can you see us?


You could have your feet cleaned by little fish

This guy was welding as the roller coaster was running. 

No words…

Sure. let’s pour some concrete in the middle of the day on a main walk way. Why not?

We did not realize how amazing this snow castle would be

I wasn’t sure what to expect when they handed me this to wear. And the boots were wet inside, so that was gross.

And then we walked into this. An indoor tubing run! What?!?  Cue excitement!



Things I did not get a picture of;
Alligator park (which left the gate open at one point)
Water park
Four-wheel/dirt bike area
A garden
8,000 VDN (.35 cent) ice cream – we had two
Rides and games that weren’t running. We think they turned them on if you wanted to ride.
Dolphin show- figured this wasn’t going to be ethical so we didn’t go
Giant fruit sculptures

We paid to get into the park and then paid for the things we did. It was all very cheap.

Seriously, one of the most fun days I’ve had in a long time!



Where in the world in Kuala Lumpur?

Where in the world is Kuala Lumpur? I  was asked this question a lot after I started posting pictures of my trip to KL. It’s a fair question. Where is Kuala Lumpur…..


My friend Libby and I spent four days in KL over New Years. The city is a nice mix of the Western world and Asia and almost everyone spoke English. There is a huge muslim population to the point where they have “female only” train cars. There were less motor bikes then in HCMC so it was quieter.

First stop- Petronas Towers

We found a nice park to sit in to watch the fireworks. We thought they would be going off over the towers but much to our surprise they came from right next to where we were sitting. It was a really cool experience!



So many people!

Day 2- Theme of the day… getting lost

When planning this trip, we were excited that KL had a metro system. Little did we know how confusing that system would turn out to be. From what we understood the different lines are owned by different companies. Some use a token and some use a card. They all go out of the main hub (which is in a mall) but after that you have to get off one, walk, and find the next one (if your switching lines/companies). Confused? Yah….. we were. And because of that, our first try ended here. In a village on the outside of town. Opps!


Token for the train

But we made it back into the city and kinda found were we wanted to go. Sometimes half the fun is in getting lost!

The walk way outside Bukit Bintang Market

Bukit Bintang Market (Central Market) You could spend hours walking around in here

Bukit Bintang Market

Bukit Bintang Market

Old French Buildings

A temple

The Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur

The Sri Mahamariamman Temple

The Sri Mahamariamman Temple

Petaling street/Chinese market


Petaling street/Chinese market

There was the main walk way (pictured above) and then stores on either side of it. Lots of purses and luggage being sold.

This, at some point, is going to be the taller building in Asia. It unfortunately blocked off a street we needed to get to.

This picture looks photo shopped!

Day 2- Seeing the sights

The National Mosque of Malaysia

The National Mosque of Malaysia

The National Mosque of Malaysia

The butterfly park was one of my favorite things in KL. It was a beautiful green oasis with so many butterflies!



The Sultan Abdul Samad Building- Such a cool looking building

Outside the City Art Museum

The Sultan Abdul Samad Building

I loved the flowers on the light posts

Masjid Jamek- Oldest standing mosque in KL

Along the walls of one of the subways was cats pictures.

The next three pictures are from the night market that we walked to from our hotel.FE71CA53-6D9E-4ABA-A738-0199324864C7C43F3ADE-E201-4557-9621-B693114669B119E984BF-B324-4613-A7D0-3FA46A1C8BB5

I want this in my apartment

Day 3- Batu Caves and fancy dinners

The Batu Caves are an easy 30 minute train ride from the KL’s main train station. They are a series of cave temples and the main cave was free to enter. If you want to read more about them click here 

There were so many monkeys!

Ready to climb all the steps

Lord Murugan Statue is the second tallest Hindu statue in the world

Monkeys  monkeys everywhere

Inside the cave. Off to the left they were building a restaurant


How many monkeys do you see in this pictures? (Hint: there are more than 5)

How I felt about all the mean little monkeys

Hanuman the green monkey god

Hanuman’s cave cost to get into and was a bit different then the Batu Cave

KL Tower at night

The view from KL Tower of the Petronas Towers


What a fun dinning experience

Dessert. Yum!


Last Day – The Aquarium and one last trip to a mall

Streets of KL

The aquarium had the longest shark encounter I have ever seen. It was so cool!





Jelly fish are my favorite

The park behind the Petronas Towers

I need to take a moment to address the mall situation. There were malls everywhere. When we walked out of the airport we walked into a mall, when we switched metro trains we had to walk through a mall, there was a mall for just electronics, an air-conditioned walk way through town that connected two malls, malls, malls, and more malls! I have never seen so many malls in such a small area. It was insane!


Air conditioned walk way.

It was nice to see English books


Dining at the mall…. so many choices

Getting my fix of two of my favorite western treats!

The main train station is in a mall.

This trip was a really nice way to end my winter holidays!



A “Great” way to spend a layover

I’ve been little behind with my blogging… opps! So sorry I’m about to hit you with two or three in a row.

I flew one from Germnay on Christmas day. Flying on Christmas is cheap, but kinda sucks. No, the airline did not do anything cool because it was Christmas. However, I had 16 hour layover in Beijing and I was definitely going to leave the airport. But how? It’s China. From what I’ve been told not a lot of people speak English and because they don’t use the Roman alphabet their signs are impossible to figure out. So I set out google. It’s the one part of my winter break trip I actually researched. I read various blogs and emailed several different tour companies. The standard visa into China, for Americans, is a 10 year visa and it cost $200, however if you are there under 72 hours and have an ongoing ticket you can apply for a free visa. This seemed like that better option for my bank account. I was able to book a drive and an English-speaking tour guy who would take me to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City.  I was stoked!

When I flew through Beijing on my way to Paris there was a huge line for this visa. I figured it was because it was later in the day (I guy I work with was on that same flight and he said it took him four hours to get through the line). I figured I’d have better luck because my flight would arrive at 4:45 am. My luck ended up being not much better.

I recommend that if you ever decided to try out this 72 hour visa you have patience. Buckets and buckets of patience. It’s a long somewhat chaotic process but don’t worry your tour guy will not leave you! (Something I was stressed about).


So I arrive at 4:45am and went straight to the line. There are two different forms you have to fill out. One is at the counter next to the line and the second you have to ask the person processing the visas for. Interrupt him/her or they will never give it to you. There were maybe 7 people in front of me, however they were holding 5-6 passports each. I didn’t think anything of this assuming one person was processing a whole family of passports. Time dragged on. An hour passed and we still hadn’t moved much because there was ONE person processing all the requests. There must have been 150 people behind me (no joke). As it started to creep towards two hours things went down hill fast. First they ran out of the appropriate paperwork. People began forming a line next to the actually line just to get the paperwork. This would have been fine, however the people in front of me needed to get their families in line when it was their turn. This started causing a lot of issues. Accusations of cutting began to fly around, cussing happened, and a third line on the other side of the real line formed where other people decided to just start cutting in. What was once a nice orderly line turned in to a mob of people pushing. It was awful! When my paperwork was finally process I had to push and shove people to get out of the line.

I would like to hope that my experience isn’t typical. I have my doubts about that. There was one person processing paperwork and it took a lot of time. People were frustrated. A gentleman told me Shanghai is much better as they have multiple people processing the paperwork. After that line you have to go the actually immigration line to get your passport stamped. This didn’t take long.

It was definitely worth the wait and stress of the whole process. Just prepare your self to be there for a while.

My tour guide, Alice, (along with at least 15 other tour guides) was waiting for me at a Starbucks in the arrival area which was really easy to find. She took be to our car and we were off to the Great Wall. On the way she gave me a brief history of the wall and soon decided I looked too tired let me take a nap instead. (Actually, I was car sick from being over tired but didn’t want to make the driver feel bad). we went to the Mutianyu part of the wall. It was rebuilt in the 80s and you can still see parts of the original wall. We arrive and took a chair lift up to the top. You can take stairs but it was freezing and I was exhausted so I opted for the easier option. When we got to the top there was barely anyone there. It was so nice!


Gondola ride up

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We walked to four of the tours

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Every now and again I have moments where I’m glad I’m short!

Toboggan track you take to get down

You don’t have to take the toboggan down, but it’s the most fun!

After the seeing the Great Wall we headed to Tiananmen Square (“the Square of the Gate of Heavenly Peace’).  Tiananmen square is the largest public square in the world. I was surprise with all the security around the square. Because I was with a tour guide I was able to bypass all the lines!

Mausoleum of Mae Zedong

The Great Hall of the People

The Gate of Heavenly Peace

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National Museum of China

The Great Hall of the People from farther away


We then walked under the road via a tunnel and were at the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was a palace complex for the Chinese Emperors and is now a museum. It’s beautiful and has several palaces with in it which get smaller the farther in you go. The front was repainted for the Olympics so the colors were much brighter. My tour guided pointed out how so much of it was built around the idea of feng shui.


There were lions everywhere

About to enter

The first palace with the Emperors throne.

The ceilings were amazing

The complex was so big that you could spend hours just walking around it

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You weren’t allowed to walk on these, but leading up to every palace were different sets of stairs and walk ways. The middle one was reserved for the Emperor. They were amazing! I can’t even imagine how long they took to carve!

Emperor’s throne

 This belonged to one of the Emperor concubines. The Emperors wife could not give him a son so when he died the aire to the throne was the concubines son.

Inside the palace

A dragon lion

You weren’t allowed to go up there but that building over looked the gardens.

The back gate

A pagoda outside the palace walls

I know this picture is blurry. These yellow bikes were everywhere. You “rent” them and leave them where ever you want when you’re done. I think my guide said it was 1 YEN an hour. 


This was my guide, Alice. She was fantastic! Great English, very knowledge able, and kept offering to take my picture with out me asking! If your going to China I recommend looking her up!



Good-bye, China!

This was probably one of the best layovers I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend booking a driver and tour guide! China seemed like it would be hard to navigate on ones own and the Great Wall is about an hour outside the city. It was a great way to end my trip to Europe and a neat way to spend my Christmas!


Blogging is not something I’m necessarily good at and autocorrect and I have a love/hate relationship, so please ignore any typos, misspelled words, or all together wrong words. 😉