December 31, 2014

15 in 2015

Hi lovelies,
The new year is literally just around the corner and I am super excited for all the amazing possibilities and opportunities that I believe God will send my way.

Whilst on my mini staycation, I took some time to think about what I wanted to accomplish in 2015. I got the idea to create a 15 in 2015 goals/resolution list from a really great blog I came across a while back.  There's so much great and inspirational content on there. Definitely check it out if you get a chance.

Anyway, after much reflection, here are my goals for 2015 in no particular order. I am not limiting myself to accomplishing only these goals. As the year progresses this list may get longer or get a little tweaking.
The point of this list is to set a standard of living that allows me to feel that I'm not simply existing but living each day with purpose.

As they say here, Inshallah (by God's will) I can accomplish all of these.

What are some of your goals for 2015?
I would love to hear from you guys.


December 26, 2014

Friday Confessional #3

Hey lovelies, 
Happy Friday!!! And a belated Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.
I have just a few more days left on my Vietnam adventure. Booooooo (insert sad face).

Another Christmas has come and gone folks. This is my third one away from home. 
As fun as it is to travel, I really missed being with my mom for the holiday. The only good thing about being in Asia is that Christmas here is pretty much like any other day so I wasn't terribly over come with emotion about not being around family and doing all the Christmassy things. 
Since I wasn't going to be home for a traditional Christmas feast, I signed up for a food tour through 
I had the same tour guide from another tour I did a few days ago. Thank God, because all the other people who showed up for the tour were couples. ***eye roll. 
Two couples were friends already so they pretty much had their own thing going on. The 3rd couple was more open to conversation and less clingy to each other. 
They were all friendly enough but I didn't make a connection with anyone in the group. 
The tour guide and I chatted most of the time. 

I enjoyed the tour overall though mainly because I love to eat, therefore I love a food tour. We did a lot of walking. It was supposed to last two and a half hours but ended four and a half hours later. That was good  because it gave us a chance to walk off the meals we had eaten and get a little history of Hanoi while we were at it. 
The food was good, we tried things I would have never known to eat because all the signs are in Vietnamese and unless you see someone eating it, you have no clue it exists much less get it. 

This dish was a type of steamed pancake wrap with minced pork topped with dried shallots and shrimp. You're supposed to dip it in the sauce and take little bites of the piece of roasted pork at the same time. It was really good and of course I would never know to get this. I don't even remember the name of it.

Later we stopped at this B-B-Q place. This was a bit easier to navigate since all the meat was on display and you could pick what you wanted to eat. There was every kind of meat and seafood you could think of and imagine including frog. We didn't sample the frog which was okay with me. We had pork, beef and chicken. This was also really good, who doesn't love a good bbq? 

Here's the group. Don't I stick out like a sore thumb? Lol

For dessert we stopped at a hip little spot where all the teenagers hang out, this was what the tour guide told us anyway. Lol, we were the crypt keepers especially me since I was the oldest at the ripe old age of thirty-one. 

It was mixed fruit salad in coconut and condensed milk. You top it with two tablespoons of crushed ice and voila you're ready to go. Yum! 
The American couples were afraid to eat it since they had read that you should avoid eating fruit and ice in Vietnam. and the other couple  gobbled it down and I'm fine. No dheli- belly here. I may have a stomach lined with titanium though.
My philosophy is wherever there's a crowd that's where I'll eat. The food doesn't sit for long and is usually freshly prepared.

We ended the tour at Ca Phe Pho Co located on Hang Gai street. It's really well known for its egg coffee and view of the lake. I wasn't impressed by their coffee but the view at nights is great. It's one of those places you have to go when you visit the Old Quarter in Hanoi.

Not a bad day, I reckon there are worst ways to have spent the day. 

December 24, 2014

Hanoi Today

I wandered around Hanoi alone today, getting lost along the way to no where in particular. I happened to stop in a tiny little food shop in a tiny alley to eat. A few minutes later a young lady came in and sat down. She also looked like she had been wandering as well and it was serendipitous that we just happened upon this out of the way place at the same time.
We were the only English speakers and so we began talking. After eating we explored the streets together and just chatted and laughed. She invited me back to her home-stay  where her host was cooking dinner. I felt a little apprehensive about just showing up but I went anyway and received the warmest welcome. 
Turns out the host who goes by the name of Perfume cooks and feeds her guests and their friends all the time. She even buys them beer. The sweetest thing is that she refuses to take money. She will feed anyone who shows up at her door and she is such a gracious host. 

I met a few other travelers and we shared stories of our lives and travel. Although there wasn't any lasting friendships made, it was just so nice to meet people and make a connection despite our backgrounds even for a short time.

I'm enjoying this experience so much and I am already planning more solo trips in my head. It's definitely not scary. 

December 23, 2014

Life Lately, Vietnam Style

Hey lovelies,
It's day 4 of my solo trip to Vietnam and so far I'm not regretting my decision to come.  
The truth is I haven't spent much time alone since embarking on the trip. I met two friends from Abu Dhabi who were on their way to Saigon and we linked up. I spent my first evening and most of the following day hanging out with them. 
We drank tons of beers, ate from strangers at little street side shops and laughed a lot. I'm still recovering from staying out until 4 in the morning drinking beer two nights in a row. 

I tried Pho for the first time and loved it. 

Also tried these fertilized duck eggs. I noticed some locals going HAM on them while we were out at a little street side bar. They couldn't explain to me what they were so they let me try.Yeah, won't be doing that again. 

What was better were these quail eggs. 
I actually liked them. People sell them in little plastic baggies on the street and they're great with beer especially at 2 am. 

Last night I got to Hanoi and when I went out to dinner I met 2 English teachers who were visiting from Korea. I spent the evening with them sharing travel stories, drinking cheap beer and exploring the streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter. 

Today I went on a booked tour of Hanoi. Luckily for me the other pople who had booked the tour canceled so I had the tour guide all to myself and it meant I didn't have to rush. I visited the pottery village in Bat Trang where most of the pottery sold in Vietnam is made. 
I spent hours there looking at all the beautiful hand made ceramics and marveling at the craftsmanship. I imagine if other people had been there they would not have been happy with me. 
As we were walking we happened upon a little restaurant that was full of locals. They sell only one dish and it's called Bun Cha. It's marinated pork served with rice noodles. It's one of those dishes you have to try when you visit Hanoi. Add it to your list of must eats cause it's pretty good. 

Part of the tour also included visiting the silk village. I wasn't impressed so much by this village as only a few homes still practice silk weaving. It was just meh. 
After returning to the hotel it was dinner time and since I was too tired to go searching all over the city for food, I consulted my Lonely Planet guidebook and discovered that one of their recommended places  called Xoi Yen was just around the corner from my hotel. Winning.
I saw a local lady eating something and it looked really interesting so I got the same. 
I know it looks weird but you have to trust me on this one, it's really yummy. Seriously, also don't ask me what it is cause I can't exactly explain. I know it has chicken and sticky rice and that's about all I know. Wel, that and the fact that it was cheap, filling and good. 

Spent the time chatting up the local lady whose English was excellent. She recommended an ice cream place further down the road on Trang Thien road so that's where headed for dessert. 

Tomorrow my plan is to relax. I may go out in search of a cheapie spa/massage place and a coffee shop to chill in and read. 
I'm definitely going to try and sleep in. 
Chat you guys up later. 

December 18, 2014

Friday Confessional #2

Hi lovelies,
I'm procrastinating.
I should be washing dishes (my kitchen is a HOT mess and a half) and re-packing (because I kinda just threw random items of clothing in my suitcase and now I'm worried that I'm going to look homeless) but instead I'm sitting here obviously writing this blog post and reading other blogs.

Tomorrow morning I'll be leaving for Vietnam. Everyone keeps saying how brave I am for going alone. That's making me nervous, lol.
I mean, it's not like I'm going to some remote land where I have to hunt and gather my own food while trying to fend off predators and sleep in caves.

I'll be going to a big bustling city, where food is available on every corner. I even splurged on hotels this time around. And by splurge I mean I'm paying 25 bucks a night for a room with free wifi AND breakfast.
Hello lavish living!!!

I guess the idea of going to a foreign land alone is daunting for most people but for someone who has packed up her life and moved to a foreign country with no family or friends and survived for almost 3 years, a ten day trip is cupcake.

My plan is to smile a lot and pray that some nice people will take pity on me and invite me to eat with them. It worked when I was in Thailand and I made some lovely friends who I still keep in contact with almost a year later.
Plus, many solo travelers say that you make more friends when you travel alone because you seem less intimidating.
We shall see.

The next time I chat with you folks, I should be in Vietnam. My first stop is Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City.
Till we meet again!

December 17, 2014

Wednesday Word of Wisdom

Hey lovelies,

These words are lyrics from a song that I used to listen to all the time when I was younger. The song is called Drive by a band called Incubus.

I heard it last night on Pandora (how amazing is Pandora btw?) after many years and the sentiments of the song still resonates with me.
It talks about finding the strength to overcome fear and making decisions that set you apart from the crowd.
When you take charge of your life and live for yourself rather than for praise/validation from others, you find the light within. You gain the confidence to embrace each day without apprehension regardless of what may come.

One of my greatest endeavors in life is to live life fearlessly; following my heart and truly living a purpose filled life.
I never want to look back and regret not having done the things I wanted becasue I was afraid.

Give it a quick listen. I hope that you will be inspired.

December 8, 2014

Weekly Wishes #40

Hi Lovelies,
I hope y'll had a wonderful weekend.

Only 1.5 weeks separates me from my trip to Vietnam. I'm super excited to go and eat Pho for the first time. I've heard how delicious it is and I've been saving myself for the most authentic experience. Where better to eat something than where it originated from?

Last Week's Goals
  • spend some alone time being reflective and refocusing on self. I am really happy with the way my week turned out. AS I mentioned in this post, I deleted my Instagram and Facebook apps from my phone. As simple as this sounds it made a huge difference in my life in a very short span of time. I spent time reflecting, goal planning and enjoying my own life experiences. 
  • Read. I began reading a new book, which is awesome. It's entitled Echoes of an Angel. It's the true story of a little boy who lost both his eyes to cancer but lived an extraordinary life. Such a motivation and inspirational story. 
  • Finalize my trip itinerary. Check!!! I'm sooooo excited
  • get passport pictures taken for my trip. Have to get this taken care of this week or over the weekend. 

This Week's Goals
  • Finish my book
  • gym 3x
  • get passport pictures taken
  • shop for travel items for trip
  • drink tons of water 
Alrighty my dears, enjoy your week and stay positive. 

December 5, 2014

Friday Confessional #1

Hey lovelies,
Happy Friday!

So this week I've been on a mini vacay and it's been so delightful. I wanted to really take some time to focus on myself and reconnect with the things that matter to me.
One thing that I realized while doing some reflection was how much time I've been spending on social media such as Instagram and Facebook.

I was so consumed with constantly checking Instagram and Facebook that I became more critical of my life when compared to what I was seeing on social media. I was losing sight of all the awesome things I have going on becasue it didn't look like other peoples' awesome. I was losing my joy and I knew it stemmed from the amount of time I was checked out of my own life.

Some thing had to change, extreme measures needed to be taken. I figured a little social media detox was in order.

So I uninstalled both the Facebook and Instagram apps from my phone. My only access to FB is on my laptop which I don't spend much time on.

Even though it's only been a few days, I can already feel the difference. I'm present and enjoying the little moments. My God, I'm watching tv and not being distracted because I'm checking my phone. I love it!
Now I get on Instagram once a day and that's enough for me.

My goal is to make this a permanent change. Wish me luck!

Have a wonderful weekend my dears.

December 1, 2014

Weekly Wishes #39

Alhamdulillah lovlies,
My mini staycation has begun!
The ol' brain has been on vacation since last week, so I'm happy that time finally caught up.
Bwt, happy December!
Twenty Fifteen is right around the corner y'll.  Has anyone started goal planning yet?
Where the heck has time gone off to? I was not prepared for how quickly things have escalated.

Last Week's Goals
  • Rest. Failed again. Going to have to really work on this. 
  • Put away the laundry. Still sharing my bed with the clothes. At least they don't snore 
  • Read. this didn't happen either. Sad :( 
  • Pedicure. Finally!!! and my feet rejoiceth. 

This week's Goals
  • spend some alone time being reflective and refocusing on self. I've been spending way too much time on social media and while it can be fun and distracting, I've realized that I've gotten way too caught up in other peoples' (staged) realities. I've begun to compare my hair and body and life to what I see on instagram and as Theodore Roosevelt once said "comparison is the thief of joy". I want to spend this week nurturing me and finding contentment in all God has blessed me with. 
  • Read. I bought 3 new kindle books and I'm excited to spend some time relaxing and reading. I may even go by the pool or to the beach. 
  • Finalize my trip itinerary. 
  • get passport pictures taken for my trip

I hope that you will have a lovely week. Seek out opportunities to be happy and make others happy.