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Viv's Voyage(s)

a travel blog by GoBlue

Hi Everyone: I'm sure you are as excited to follow me around the globe - ok, mostly just west of the Pacific - as I am to actually do it. Despite my "sharing is caring mantra," I'd like to temper any expectations of my blogging ability, frequency, brilliance, etc. That said, I highly encourage you to check out Carl's, Joc's, and Jennie's pithy and comprehensive capturings of our travels...since, I'll be with them the entire time. ;)
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Final Preparations...

Quincy, United States

Just wrapped up a fun weekend in Cape Cod celebrating the upcoming wedding of our friends Brian and Maggie. Carl, Joc, and I were greeted upon arrival by a full cooler of beverages and an array of grilled food items - yum! Split into Team Brian (my team) and Team Maggie, we started off the weekend with rounds of "flip cup." Despite our two years of b-school training that should have put all of us in prime form, Team Brian fell repeatedly to the "bad guys." Not ones to despair, Team Brian pulled it together for Saturday's Field day of elementary school yore. We battled out grueling matches of lawn bowling, bocce, obstacle course, etc. on a sunny and beautiful day. Team Brian narrowly won the day by taking three events to Team Maggie's two events. After a great meal of Cape Cod's "best fried clams", we mixed up the sides and duked it out in a beer die tournament. Although Maggie and I were quickly eliminated...we had issues catching the die :(...Joc stuck it out to be a member of the "great hands" duo to win it all...and by "all" I mean two great looking lobster goblets. Good times!

As I write from my Dad's place in Quincy, MA, Carl and Joc are are about one hour in on their 20 hour flight to Sydney. Jennie and I are making final preparations as we're leaving first thing in the morning for Hong Kong on Tuesday (15th), before meeting up with Carl and Joc, and our other friends Dave and Maddy in Melbourne in another week or so. 'Til then...wheeeee!

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 13, 2007 from Quincy, United States
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
tagged CapeCod, Viv, Vivian, Carl, Joc, Jennie, Brian and Maggie

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T-Minus 4 Hours

Quincy, United States

Despite being packed up and ready to go, Jennie and I are in a holding pattern for another couple of hours this morning. I received a phone call from United at 4:30am letting me know that our flight out of Chicago is delayed for 4.5 hours this afternoon (things that make you go "hmmmmm...") and that they've moved our Boston to Chicago flight back to noon. Good times. I think I'll go take a powernap now...

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 15, 2007 from Quincy, United States
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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Happily rubbing my belly...

Hong Kong (historical), Hong Kong

Wrapped up yet another great dinner in Hong Kong with my family. Jennie was quite the trooper and endured a full five days with my constantly eating and constantly feeding family. Can't say I didn't give her ample warning that our time in the city would be spent planning around meals! She quickly learned to say "bow," which means "full," as different family members wanted to keep piling food on her plate. :)

After days of shopping (ask Jennie about her new winter coat...yes, Hong Kong is in the tropics...), some time up in Victoria Peak - highest point in Hong Kong - via a tram dating back to 1888, a 25 minute cable car ride to visit the largest Buddha structure in the world, a trip to the Hong Kong Disneyland, and did I mention lots of good eating (?), I dropped J-Mac off at the airport train this afternoon and off to Bangkok she went. I'm sure she'll have a lot more to say about her time here in Hong Kong when she gets back online...yup, another case of viv-laziness. ;)

I'm off to Melbourne tomorrow afternoon on a red-eye through Singapore and will be catching up with Carl, Joc, Dave, and Maddy. I bet they'll be really excited when I burst into their rooms at 7am and start jumping on their beds... J-Mac will join us in about T-4 days.

Some pictures...

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 20, 2007 from Hong Kong (historical), Hong Kong
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
tagged HongKong, Jennie and WinterCoat

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Time Down Under

Melbourne, Australia

About 6 more hours to go in Australia before Carl, Joc, and I head off to Bali, Indonesia, and Dave, Maddy, and Jennie make their way to Koh Samui. It's been a fantastic week plus exploring Melbourne and spending a solid 6 days in the Grampians National Park and Mt. Arapiles doing some rock climbing and hiking. We had a really nice log cabin (pre-fab for all you Professor Ahuja "Sierra Log Homes" kids ;)) where we enjoyed warm wood fires, delicious home cooked meals, and super comfortable beds (right Maddy?!).

Perhaps the best part about the cabin was that it was located on a kangaroo sanctuary, despite being called the Emu Holiday Park... We got up close and personal with some joeys and slightly older 'roos. Will post pictures soon. The crew hopped onto the Great Ocean Road from the Grampians yesterday morning and have just been roadtripping away and doing some sightseeing. Off to do more of it... :)

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 28, 2007 from Melbourne, Australia
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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Oh boy it's warm!! REALLY warm!

Bali, Indonesia

Always knew I preferred cold to heat...must say that I was perfectly peachy in our 40-60's temps in Australia. Here in Bali, I'm trying not to melt; turns out I need to become one with the sweatier me. Especially hard as I try and dodge them fiesty mosquitos...Good times. :)

I won't write too much since Carl and Joc have been furiously typing away for the past couple of hours while I took care of a few other things (yes, MERP, anything for you!). I'm enjoying my time here and transitioning nicely to SE Asia after my time in Australia. Being back in this region reminds me of how much fun it is to get lost exploring the winding roads of the town (while avoiding the motorcycles racing around you of course!). It's been also great to catch up with my friend Migs and his wife Saori. Migs dates back to my undergrad days and has been working out of the World Bank's Jakarta office for the last few years. It's been fun catching up and having a quasi-expert of the area around - and great timing since he's headed back to the DC headquarters in a few months.

Anyhoo, have fun checking out pictures up until this point - thanks to Joc for loading up multiple cameras' worth! And a big Happy Birthday to Joc too! Carl, Joc, and I are off to the beach. Life is tough for us right now...

permalink written by  GoBlue on May 31, 2007 from Bali, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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Cooking in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

We've all just finished two days staying at a boutique resort just outside the city (Jasmine Rice Village) and taking cooking classes (Chiang Mai Cookery School) - it's been relaxing and A LOT of fun. Learning to cook with lots of chillies (the joys of having half the class coughing from the chillies' smoke! =) ), the difference between coconut cream and coconut milk and when to you use what, all the different spices, etc. - just awesome! Granted, having "prep fairies" who hand you everything from the meats to the spices that you need in the correct amounts and already cut up makes things easier. I guess I now know how the chefs on the cooking channel do it? ;)

Our main lesson yesterday was an introduction to the basic Thai ingredients (basil - 3 types, galanga, coconut milk, chillies, palm sugar, etc.) in a classroom setting before we struck out on our own at individual "wok" stations to prepare 6 dishes over the course of the day. Today's lesson was all about curry...and just how many types are out there! Everyone learned how to make red curry from scratch using dried spices and fresh herbs using a mortar and pestle. Once that was done, we all cooked our own chicken red curry - YUM!! We then went on to make 5 additional dishes. Did I mention that we eat everything that we cook? Talk about needing to rub my belly... =)

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 10, 2007 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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Rubbing bellies and hugging rocks

Chiang Mai, Thailand

5 pounds heavier and with loads of Thai cooking knowledge packed into my head, I successfully wrapped up 3 days of cooking classes. Can't wait to try out some recipes when I get home! Ben and I opted for 3 days with Aaron joining us on days 2 and 3. The rest of the crew opted to give their stomachs a break after two days and explore a bit more of the city. I really enjoyed the cooking classes, particularly day 3 when class started in a local market. Ben, Aaron, and I walked around with one of the school's teachers and were explained the different produce and products being sold. It was really cool to see the market set up, locals shopping for food, and the mounds and mounds of expertly stacked fruits. Most impressive were the rambutans; currently in season and stacked to Aaron's height.

I followed up cooking school with another day of climbing with Carl, Joc, and new to the rock Ben and Aaron. We rented a car and found our way back to where I'd spent my first full day in Chiang Mai climbing and where Carl, Joc, and Jennie had spent the prior day when Aaron, Ben, and I were cooking up a storm. It was great fun all around. My extra pounds from eating non stop for three days luckily didn't hold me back too much. ;) Big thanks to Carl and Joc for continuing to mentor me on the ways of the rock. Joc taught me the basics of lead climbing and talked me through my first lead climb ever. Whee!

After a brief stop at a delicious local restaurant (and by restaurant I think it was the back of someone's house) that Carl, Joc, and I had been introduced to by our guides the first time out to the rock, we went back to Crazy Horse and kept climbing. We didn't let the ominous black cloud that then let forth intense rain hold us back. Well, ok, it trapped us under a bamboo hut for a while. We climbed a route under a rock archway where both Joc and I were barked at from a hole that we wanted to use for a hold by something...a bat? an insanely large insect? Let's just say I didn't hold on long enough to find out. I made it about 2/3 of the way up before I could go no further. Literally hugging a large piece of rock, trying to move laterally right and having nothing below me, and feeling no hand holds or foot holds (sigh), I conceded to the rock. I got to enjoy a few moments of swinging around and pushing off the rock before Carl finally lowered me all the way down. Good times. :)

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 12, 2007 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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Honk honk!!

Sa Pa, Vietnam

If there's one thing I've noticed since arriving in Vietnam, it's that people like honking! The honk filled cacophony of Hanoi, Sapa, and even the trail through the different villages due to motorbikes has been amazing...and trying on the head.

Carl, Joc, Ben, Aaron, and I wrapped up our 3 day trek in Sapa and are heading back to Hanoi tonight on an overnight to meet with Jennie and Katie in the morning at which point we hop on another bus to get us out to Halong Bay. I'm excited to exit the city and hopefully get some calm on the bay.

More to come. (The good thing about being beaten to the punch on blogging Sapa and Hanoi is that Carl and Joc have just about covered everything I would - and specifically the "happy water" (aka rice wine) consumption that then led to duck preservation (Joc) or chasing (Aaron/Carl). Happy reading... :)) Some illustrations to help.

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 17, 2007 from Sa Pa, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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Hanging in Ha Long Bay

Ha Long, Vietnam

Upon returning to Hanoi from Sapa on the overnight bus, Joc, Carl, Aaron, Ben, and I met up with Jennie and Katie..ok, more like busted into their hotel room at 7am demanding to use their shower...we were dirty, and I mean 30km of trekking sweat and dirt + deet + sunscreen + no shower for 3 days type dirty. can't really blame us right??

Cleaned up, we all hopped on an 8:30am bus to Ha Long Bay (a 3 hour ride from Hanoi) where we jumped on a junk boat. (We bid farewell to Ben who had to take a shorter tour so that he could get back in time to catch his flights out of the country that would ultimately land him in Israel. Miss you BJ!) We spent the next couple of days puttering around on the water taking swimming breaks, hiking through the largest cave in the bay (a little cheesy giving the colorful lighting on the walls), kayaking in and out of lagoons (beautiful scenery and great to be active), and plain lounging about on deck - boy was the sun powerful! Night one was spent on the boat - luckily no one got seasick! - and night two was spent on Cat Ba island, one of the larger islands found in the bay. I thought we'd left behind all the people wanting to sell us things at the ferry; I was wrong. People with row boats full of goods were constantly approaching our boat. Pretty amazing.

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 22, 2007 from Ha Long, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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Hoi An Happenings

Hoi An, Vietnam

Arriving back in Hanoi after Ha Long Bay, Joc, Carl, Katie, Jennie, and I said "later!" to Aaron who headed off to Hue and decided ourselves to make our way to Hoi An a day earlier than planned. Unfortunately (um, except not), the only seats available for the following day were on business class. We took them, flew into Da Nang, and arrived in Hoi An (~30 km ride) yesterday evening. The transport to Hoi An led us along a long stretch of beach, past China Beach and the marble mountains, and through a *gorgeous* sunset.

Hoi An is known for its tailoring and has over 200 shops. Thus far, we've hit up a recommended tailor and put in some "test" orders. After flipping through a number of catelogs, I decided to go for a long linen skirt, a sun dress, and a bathing suit. It's all a gamble, particularly the last item for me, when it comes to tailor made, but a number of our friends who have already gone through these parts have had at least partial success, and it's all comparatively inexpensive. JMac picked up a dress, Katie ordered several, and Joc ordered jeans, pants, and a jacket...Carl just watched and provided input. (Fear not, we got a rather large beer in him before we dragged him along for the experience.) We try on our items tomorrow...yup, that's right a 24 hour turnaround...sit for any alterations and that's that. Fingers crossed as if everything works out, orders for suits will be forthcoming by Joc and Jennie. I, on the other hand, have more suits from my previous life than I know what to do with. Anyone??

permalink written by  GoBlue on June 23, 2007 from Hoi An, Vietnam
from the travel blog: Viv's Voyage(s)
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