365 Days of Funemployment

18 Apr
A year ago, Bali seemed like a dream. Yet here I am, taking a break between dives on Gili Trawangan.

A year ago, Bali seemed like a dream. Yet here I am, taking a break between dives on Gili Trawangan.

I’ve officially been unemployed, or funemployed as I like to call it, for a year now. I still pinch myself because I can’t believe this is my life. The life that I’m living. The life that I’ve chosen. First and foremost, I could not have done it without the ongoing support and encouragement (eerily RIGHT when I need it) and the incredible, pure, love that I’ve received from my friends and my family. Words can’t express how thankful I am for you–whether it’s checking in on me to see how I’m doing during one of my trips or offering to pick me up from the airport with a burrito when I land to reading my posts to messaging my friends or family asking about my adventures (you’re always welcome to message me, I do respond ;-)), to leaving me an encouraging (and sometimes envious, I’m sorry!) comment on one of my photo, every bit counts. I credit you guys with much of what I’ve done, not just over the past year, but over the years, yet you humble folk always turn it back around and send me more love, which then gets us into a vicious complimentary/love giving circle that leaves both of us feeling energized and uplifted.

Some days it feels like 365 days have flown by and other days it seems like I have all the time in the world. To answer your questions:

1) No, I don’t know where I’m going next.

2) No, I’m not sure when I’m going to ‘stop’ traveling. I don’t think I’ll ever not travel, but I do miss having a little bit of a routine and a purpose.

3) Yes, the funds are running out. Savings are pretty much tapped. I have no idea what I’m going to do about a job, or if I could return to a corporate job but I do need to give some thought (and take action).

This has become a familiar sight over the past year

This has become a familiar sight over the past year

Continue reading

Where to Eat in Ubud (Part 1)

16 Apr

A few days ago, I shared a list of the things that I did in Ubud during the week I spent there with promise of sharing my eating and sleeping experience next. Note: several of the excursions that I did, such as white water rafting or the Mt. Batur sunrise trek can also be done from other locations in Bali as the tour companies will pick you up from most major starting points, your pick up time will just be different.

Onto eating! I like to use Swarm (part of Foursquare before they split it into two) when I’m traveling so I can remember where I ate, and sometimes get tips from others. I ended up eating at 15 different places (or that’s how many I checked in at–that’s not including breakfast because my room came with it, the lunch that was included in the cycling tour and the lunch we made at the cooking class) over the 8 days I was in Ubud. At times, I snapped pictures of my food when I remembered and other times, I was too hungry to wait. I’m breaking my post into two parts so it’s less overwhelming. Hint: Part 2 includes one of my (newest) favorite restaurants in the WORLD.

Laughing Buddha Bar I had just gotten into town and wanted to eat somewhere that was close by. Laughing Buddha had live music (a band called Afro Moses) so it was the perfect spot for me to grab a seat at the bar, order some food and a drink, and be anti-social after my long trip to Bali without feeling like I was being too anti-social. My food was okay, but the vibe was cool. I walked by the next night and there was a latin band playing and people dancing, really cool. I would go back for the music and drinks, not necessarily the food.

Green smoothie and a view? Yes, please.

Green smoothie and a view? Yes, please.

Tropical View Cafe I wanted to go to Venezia Day Spa for some spa services, but they could only get me booked for an appointment that started in an hour, and I hadn’t eaten yet. Cue Tropical View Cafe. It was across the street, had nice paddy field views and the service was fairly quick. I was surprised by how much food I got and it was decently tasty. I would return for the views and for drinks and fast service, but the food wasn’t memorable in my opinion.

Tapas from Nomad

Tapas from Nomad

Nomad I sought Nomad out after someone commented on a Bali thread in a travel group I’m part of and since my dinner there, I’ve passed on the recommendation. I went for the tapas here, ordering 6 different Indonesian/Balinese dishes, and it was delicious, fresh and cheap! Nomad also has this cool vibe of explorers; the table next to us was a group of performers who had just attended the Bali Spirit Festival. I’ve never done this before, but I spotted a gal eating by herself at a prime table, so instead of sitting at the bar, I asked her if she minded sharing a table and ended up gaining some company over dinner. (Of course, if she didn’t feel like talking, I would have kept to myself.) I’d go back to Nomad and would recommend it to others as a good (and affordable) meal. Continue reading

What’s There to Do in Ubud, You Ask?

13 Apr
I could go back for a third time

I could go back, again.

When I thought of my trip to Bali, I envisioned riding a bicycle (with a basket) through town with a smile on my face, going to daily yoga classes, sitting in cafes to write in my journal and blog on the computer while I enjoyed Bali’s beauty, and going to get a massage or spa treatment every few days. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I’ve now been in Bali for a little over a week and the only time I got on a bicycle, it was during a torrential downpour, I haven’t gone to a single yoga class, I’ve sat in cafes but I’m usually fanning myself before I turn into a puddle on the floor, and my journal has gotten some love but the blog has barely gotten a hug. I have, however, gone to the spa on four different occasions. As much as I wanted to (and could) unplug and unwind and relax, my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was way too strong to allow for that.

Every day has felt like a week. I went on excursions, I switched hotels, I shopped, I wandered, I even met people! (FYI: I’m terribly afraid to initiate conversations with strangers. I’ll engage in conversations, but starting a conversation with strangers by myself? No, thank you. But I’m working on it!) Ubud was more fast-paced than I thought, or maybe it felt that way because it was my first stop in Bali so I felt this pressure to go do stuff (and I was still in go-go-go-travel mode from India and Nepal). Whatever the case, I did a lot.

Facebook is for more than just playing Farmville and Candy Crush. (For the record, I don't play either, but I do play WWF and Trivia Crack!)

Facebook is for more than just playing Farmville and Candy Crush. (For the record, I don’t play either, but I do play WWF and Trivia Crack!)

When I woke up on Saturday morning, mere hours after arriving in Bali, a million and one thoughts were running through my head. What am I doing here? What am I going to do? Am I doing all of the right things? Am I missing out on anything? How do I do that? Am I sure I want to do that? Is that the best way to do that? Fortunately, Uncle Google, Facebook posts, travel families like Nomadness Travel Tribe, and helpful friends are there to provide some guidance.

Thank you, internet. You’ve been so helpful so here I am, paying it back. (Note: There’s more to do in Ubud. In fact, I didn’t do quite everything that I wanted! This is just my take on the things that I did.)

Word to the wise: I walked into a shop to ask about some statues they had and ultimately got distracted by some of the brochures for excursions the owner had on display. I walked out without a statue, but with 3 bookings for 3 different excursions for under $85 USD total. You would think that you get a better price when you book a tour directly with the company–not the case here. Some of the excursions had their price listed as $45 USD on the brochure but by booking it through a counter when in Bali, it was ~$27USD. I’d think you could negotiate the price even more if you have a group interested in purchasing tickets. Tip: Have an idea of what you want to do/where you want to go/how much it is online, find a ticket counter when you get to your destination and work out pricing at that point. When I talked to people in the same group on the excursions I went on, I found that I paid about the same or less than they did.

Venezia Day Spa – A trip to Bali isn’t complete without a spa treatment, or six in my case (in my defense, they were split up between two visits). This place was recommended to me by friends as a good place to get treatments for really cheap. We’re talking $30 USD/390k IDR for 4 hours at the spa (an hour body massage, an hour body scrub/bath, an hour facial, and a hair conditioning treatment with head and arm massage). It was so lovely, that I went back a second time for a Four Hand massage (two people massaging you at the same time–loved it!) and another hair cream treatment. There are so many places to choose from in Bali that you can’t really go wrong, just check reviews/the facilities before you agree to make sure it meets your standards. If not, go down the street and there are more spas to try.  Continue reading

Gone Too Soon, Rest in Love Viet Anh

11 Apr
Summits always make me feel closer to loved ones who have passed away. I didn't know it at the time, but I had gained another angel.

Summits always make me feel closer to loved ones who have passed away. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had gained another angel.

Thursday was a whirlwind of a day. I was picked up by a trekking company at 2am from my hotel as we set off to climb Mount Batur, an active volcano in NE Bali, in hopes of catching the sunrise. Spoiler alert: it was tough, but I did it and it was completely worth it. (Details on the trek to come). On the way down, I was chatting with one of the people in my group who is Vietnamese-American. Though he has family there, he’s never gone to Vietnam and was jealous that I had the chance to visit. As I was telling him about my trip, I made a mental note to figure out when I could go back to Vietnam to visit my family there, all 73 of them. I didn’t know it at the time, but that number went from 73 to 72 by the time I came down from the volcano.

Goofing around with Cohort 2, including Anh, before they returned back to the US

Goofing around with Cohort 2, including Anh, before they returned back to the US

When I was working at Intel, I took on a side development opportunity as one of the Program Managers for our Intel Vietnam Scholars program. The program provided scholarships to 73 students over the course of 4 years to come to the US, finish the last two years of their bachelor’s degree in engineering or supply chain management at Portland State University, and return to Vietnam where they worked for Intel for at least 3 years. (Tuition, housing, a stipend, a paid summer internship at Intel Vietnam and a paying full-time job upon graduation were all part of the program, making it highly competitive and highly sought.) My role was to be their Intel contact when they were in the US and essentially help them adjust to the US, plan training weeks for them and encourage them to enjoy their time in the US by planning things like ski trips to the mountain or a weekend trip to Seattle. While it was technically work, it was more fun than anything else and I gained 73 friends-turned-family over the course of the program. Not only were all of the scholars smart and highly capable, they were so much fun! They loved taking photos and capturing every moment, they approached everything and I mean EVERYTHING with enthusiasm and a smile, and they were always so infinitely appreciative and grateful for the opportunity in front of them. Being part of the program and meeting them is easily one of the highlights of my career. That’s why hearing that one of my students (or my ‘kids’ as I’d fondly refer to them) passed away after battling cancer shook me. Continue reading

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