Archive for October, 2010

This summer, Drew and I have made a real effort to change our ways and eat close to the earth.  Part of this quest involved joining a CSA (which wrapped up this week).  That was a great experience, and I definitely ate a LOT of veggies.

Our CSA farm paired up with other local farms so when we picked up our loot for the week, we had the option of purchasing other products – eggs, yogurt, butter, cheese, meat, poultry, etc.  We slowly began replacing our grocery products with these local offerings most of the time – particularly eggs and meat.  We tried the fancy local butter once, but at $6/pound, it is sooooo expensive and just not worth it.  We get nice butter at the store, and it only costs about $3.

With these major changes, I’ve also tried incorporating some smaller daily changes into my diet choices.  At restaurants that do not source locally, I eat more vegetarian options (or fish…which I know can be a problem for some but sometimes the veggie options aren’t great).  I haven’t had “meat” at a fast food/chain establishment for ages.

In general, I’ve become more thoughtful about these things, which is good, but not easy.  When we visit Asia next year, it will be practically impossible.  I almost have less concern about those travels, because my primary issue with American products is the factory setting in which they are produced and frankly, they just don’t do that in Cambodia.  They all eat locally!

I’m not going to cross this item off my life list because I think it’s something I’ll work toward for my entire life.  BUT, I did want to write one note about the topic, to confirm that I’m still working toward this goal and will keep on keepin’ on!



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In my quest to get more of these films under my belt (see the Life List for full description of this project), I’ve been going Netflix crazy.  Netflix is awesome for old and obscure movies, so I’ve been taking full advantage.  Last weekend I watched a newer movie on TIME’s Top 100 List – City of God.

I need to be honest about this movie though – it’s in Portuguese, and I was trying to watch, read the screen and sew this project I’m working on all at the same time.  And I basically failed at all three.  That said, here are my thoughts of the movie:

1. It is super violent.  It takes place in a slum of Rio de Janeiro, and chronicles the growth of organized crime there.  The tagline of the movie is “Fight and you’ll never survive…Run and you’ll never escape.”  Just to give you an idea.

2. The movie is truly beautiful.  Even though it depicts a run down area, the scenes of the city and of the sandy desert-like neighborhood are amazing.  The film was nominated for a Cinematography Academy Award.

3. Even though the film is now on many top film lists, it didn’t start out that way.  In 2002, when it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, City of God wasn’t the recipient of any awards.  It went on to great success in Brazil and when released commercially in the US, it also did much better than most foreign language films.

Bottom Line: If you don’t mind violence, you’d like this movie.  If you have trouble with violence, or hate subtitles, skip it!

City of God - 2002

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The workshop went amazing.  I’m feeling refreshed and motivated and all those things I was hoping I would feel come the end of this epic weekend.  Yay!  To celebrate, a cupcake.  They were the bomb!

I made the icing from scratch!

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Workshop Weekend!

This weekend is the big workshop!  Since early September, I’ve been working with Molly of Stratejoy to find a location, compile a Rockstar Panel, and market the workshop like crazy.  Now that the work piece is almost over and I can enjoy a day in a workshop that I would have travelled to go to, I think I’ve learned a few things about myself.

I experience a lot of satisfaction in organizing, recruiting, etc., but find it incredibly stressful.  I’ve never owned my own business, nor do I find it that tempting of a prospect and now I know why.  I find comfort in corporate life where it’s not all on me and I don’t have to be the only person to work to make things happen.  I’ve never thought myself to be an entrepreneurial spirit and I’ve confirmed it yet again.  I’m really glad I don’t need to be the one to actually GIVE the workshop tomorrow – sitting back and participating is just fine with me. 

That being said, the satisfaction in knowing that I’ve done all this work and 10 amazing women have paid actual money to come to the event is amazing.  When the registrations started coming in I was practically jumping out of my skin.  And when I got up the nerve to ask people I don’t know to participate in the panel and they SAID YES, I couldn’t believe it.  They were flattered to be asked!  How crazy is that?!?! 

So tonight Molly and her husband arrive in Portland.  I’ll show them around, we’ll hang out, and hopefully they’ll leave Portland at the end of the weekend planning their next trip back and secretly wishing they lived here.  And we’ll all be friends!  And next time I go to Seattle I’ll have people to visit!

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A break

I’ve been writing crazy long posts in the past few days, catching up all of my loyal readers on our SE Asia planning (Hi Mom!).  Today, a break.  I was going through my photos from this summer – my first shooting with a decent camera – so I wanted to pull out my favorites.  We are now officially in fall, so days of shorts, sleeping with windows open and being hot are O-V-E-R.  I miss summer already.

Our CSA membership this summer has been wonderful. We've definitely eaten our fair share of veggies.

I finally went to Acadia National Park - just as beautiful as everyone says.

In July I took a road trip. This is the photo I framed post-trip of Yellowstone. Love.

A lobster roll on a pier. Kinda perfect.

I wrapped up the summer in Ithaca, NY visiting family and loving every second. I Heart Ithaca. It's Gorges 🙂

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(First off, Laura, you can stop reading here.  My sister doesn’t like the nitty gritty detail posts and this one is ONLY details, so you can skip it.)

I am so excited that we wrapped up the hotel planning adventure of our SE Asia Extravaganza.  I am a travel research fanatic so I typically enjoy the work of scouring for the diamond in the rough hotel, but with so many locations and such a tight timeframe, this search would exhaust even the most diligent researcher. 

It is important to us to stay in hotels that have personality, get high ratings from previous guests and will ADD to our experience, not just be somewhere to crash.  Given the short duration of the trip, and our relatively high budget (no hostels on this trip), we also set a strict budget for ourselves.  Let’s discuss that shall we??

We did a little research ahead of time and figured that a realistic budget in big, major cities (Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur) would be $100/night, and in all other locations we shot for less than $50/night.  In many of the cities we’re visiting, $50 buys a LOT of hotel for one night.  We definitely took advantage of those deals as much as possible.  One city where we had a lot of trouble finding a good deal was Singapore.  Singapore is not known as a budget destination, but for $100 or less, every hotel is boring, has received questionable ratings and is in general, uninspiring.  We finally found the Aqueen Lavender, where we’ll be crashing but wow – do NOT visit Singapore if you have a super tight budget. 

All that being said, here’s how our hotel budget breaks down.  These costs include all forseeable taxes, and are in US Dollars.  Obviously exchange rates fluctuate in most countries versus the USD (I can fill you in on currency policy sometime if you’re interested…we covered it extensively in business school), so these are as of the booking date.  Plus, I must mention, that hotels are sure to be our biggest expense on our trip.  Hence all the research and tracking and geeking out online.

Hong Kong: 263USD (3 nights)

Bangkok: 186USD (3 nights)

Siem Reap, Cambodia: 60USD (3 nights)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia: 45USD (1 night)

Kep, Cambodia: 116USD (3 nights)

Saigon, Vietnam: 60USD (2 nights)

Hoi An, Vietnam: 90USD (2 nights)

Hue, Vietnam: 105USD (3 nights)

Hanoi, Vietnam: 84USD (2 nights)

Singapore: 351USD (3 nights)

Kuala Lumpur: 115USD + 124USD (3 nights in first hotel, one in the second)

Total = 1599USD, or 55/night for 29 nights. 

If we had been exactly on target with our budget, the total cost would have been 1950USD or an average of 67/night for 29 nights.  Yay for saving money!

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We have reached a milestone in our Southeast Asia trip planning.  We have officially booked or reserved hotel rooms for 29 out of 34 nights of travel.  And no, I’m not still working on the five remaining nights.  Two of those will be spent on a plane, two will be spent on overnight trains and one is in a city yet to be determined (after we leave Cambodia and travel into Vietnam, we expect to spend a night somewhere on the road before arriving in Saigon but who knows where the wind will blow us!). 

I have been the official hotel finder for our trip.  I wrote previously about my process – consulting online forums, emailing proprietors and owners, checking locations, etc.  When I have been torn between properties or needed some input, I would send Drew an email with a list and just have him pick one. 

Without further ado, here are the lucky hotels that get two amazing visitors in LESS THAN THREE MONTHS!!!

Hong Kong: Metro Park Wanchai

Hong Kong

Bangkok: Phranakorn Nornlen


Phnom Penh, Cambodia: The 252

Phnom Penh

Siem Reap, Cambodia: The Angkor Pearl

Siem Reap

Kep, Cambodia: Veranda Natural Resort


Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City: Beautiful Saigon Hotel


Hoi An, Vietnam: Betel Garden Homestay

Hoi An

Hue, Vietnam: Orchid Hotel


Hanoi: Hong Ngoc Hotel 5


Singapore: Aqueen Lavender Hotel


Kuala Lumpur (1st Hotel): Sahabat Guesthouse

Kuala Lumpur #1

Kuala Lumpur (2nd Hotel…last night of trip): Traders’ Hotel

Kuala Lumpur #2

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