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The BF and I are in the midst of planning a road trip through Montana/Wyoming. More specifically, we’re headed to Yellowstone and Glacier National Park for hiking, nature-filled fun! We’ll be flying into the smaller Bozeman airport, as opposed to Billings. I’m super excited! The BF and I are really great road trippers. Road trips usually mean that we’ll detach ourselves from our phones (no service anyway) and our laptops (even now, we’re both sitting in front of separate laptops).  There’s going to be a lot of long drives ahead of us and we like to travel on a budget when we do road trips. So, today, I headed to my local public library and picked up some free travel resources!

Budget Tips for the Road Trip:

Audio Books: I’ve been on long drives where the scan button on the radio seems to loop and loop over and over before it hits a station that I absolutely can’t listen to anyway. Static is no fun. So, I picked up 3 audio books at the local library. I’ve heard this was a great source of entertainment on road trips so I’ll be trying it out. I love the classics. Don’t judge.

Guide Books: I actually didn’t even know public libraries had guide books until I saw a student who was working on a project with 3 Hawaii guidebooks. Luckily, I found a lot of great books on Montana and Wyoming. I picked up a copy of Lonely Planet: Yellowstone & Grand Teton and Frommer’s: Montana & Wyoming. Frommer’s is an older edition, but I figured that the information on the national parks couldn’t have changed much from year to year. After all, the mountains don’t move, right?

The cost of it all? NADA. NOTHING. ZILCH. ZIP. ZERO. Assuming that I’ll return it on time, I’ll have all of this stuff for 21 days!

I recently took a 2 week course in a very vibrant area of Los Angeles, Highland Park. I’m sad to say that I don’t know that much about the area, but from what I’ve seen of it, it’s amazing. I recently heard Trekking Los Angeles, an organization (spawn out of LA Commons and UCLA School of Urban Planning) that promotes the culture, food, and art of a few neighborhoods of Los Angeles via a walking tour. I haven’t done this yet, but I’m planning on attending the one in Highland Park! Check it out!

We decided to get out of LA for a weekend of hiking at Grand Canyon. From LA, it took us roughly 6-7 hours to get to Williams, AZ on a Friday night. There, we spent the night at a motel and in the morning we got up early to go hiking! This was our first national park hike of the year so we were so excited! Looking back, we probably should’ve prepped our bodies just a little more because the hiking at Grand Canyon was NO EASY ADVENTURE. Different Hiking Trails in Grand Canyon include: Rim Trail, Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Hermit Trail, Grand View Trail. We decided on doing the South Kaibab Trail.

Tips on hiking the South Kaibab Trail (pdf):

1. Parking: While the park recommends that you park at the Visitor’s Center, there is a little parking lot at Yaki Point (the beginning of the trail). The plus side of parking there is that you don’t have to wait for the free shuttle. However, the upside of parking at the Visitor’s Center is there are clean restrooms there. Something to think about if you’re going to spend 6 hours hiking.

2. Steep: This hike is very steep! The first half was very easy seeing that you’re going downhill for most of it. But the second half is KILLER.

3.Points:

Ooh Ahh Point: This point comes up very quickly. On the day we went, the weather was beautiful and had mild temperatures. We were able to go past this point and continue on. However, the BF and his friends got to this point 3 summers ago on a very hot day and this was their turn around point. Consider the weather before you go on.

Cedar Ridge: Most day hikers seemed to stop at Cedar Ridge. There is a port-o-potty there and it’s a great place to rest. Lots of hikers stopped to eat and rest at this point. The view is gorgeous here. The return hike up is tough at this point, so consider that if you are hiking with small children.

Skeleton Point: This is our farthest point. The park does not recommend hiking from Rim to River in one day. We hiked for 6 hours round trip (including picnic lunch) and we barely saw a tiny section of the Colorado River from this point. I can only imagine how much farther it would have been. On the day we went, this section of the trail was pretty empty.

4. Bring Water and Salty Foods! I can’t stress this one enough. I saw a lot of new hikers with little tiny bottles of water. The park recommends 1/2 to 1 liter of water an hour per person. Between the 2 of us on a mild day, we brought 5 bottles of water and we drank it all! I can’t imagine what it’s like in the middle of summer. Also, it’s always good to carry some food. It makes for a nice picnic overlooking the view. But, most importantly, you need to recharge. Bring some trail mix or sandwiches. You’ll thank me later.

Additional Reading and Resources:
Hiking Tips- Grand Canyon National Park

The BF has been talking about Grand Canyon forEVER. For the longest time, I really was just not that interested in going at all. I mean everyone already has a picture of standing in front of a giant hole. How great can it be?
Let me tell you.

Great.

A few general tips on visiting Grand Canyon:

1. South Rim and North Rim: There are two major parts of Grand Canyon. The South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim (the most popular area) is open all year round. The North Rim is at the southern end of the Kaibab Plateauonly and it is only open in the summer seasons (open May 15, 2010).

2. Hike: We love hiking! This trip was our first hike of the season and we were super excited. However, if you visit their website, they have a whole section on tips and warnings about hiking Grand Canyon in the summer. We’re pretty good hikers, but it was really good that we took a lot of their warnings seriously and brought a lot of water. Between 2 people, we brought 5 liters of water for one of the more moderate hikes. It was not a hot day and we still finished all 5 liters easily. Also, there are lots of people who think they can hike from rim to rim (South Rim and North Rim) in one day. Be very prepared with all the hiking necessities and be in very good shape. Read up on the warnings on the website. This is not easy.

3. Lodging: We tried to get lodging in the park, but it was sold out really fast! Do this early! We ended up staying in nearby towns,  Williams and Flagstaff. For some reason, we love staying at Super 8 hotels. For no other reason than that’s our budget road trip motel of choice.

While hiding out from the Northern California cold this afternoon (look, I’m a wussy when it comes to the cold… even when it’s only 50 degrees), I mournfully recalled to my lunch companion about the cold night in Taipei when The BF and I ducked into a Japanese restaurant serving DIY yakitori. There sizzling on top of hot coals were the most amazing slices of beef tongue we’ve ever had. Sounds like eating and making out at the same time? Well, MORE FOR ME! Months later, I still regret not picking up a business card knowing that if I were to head back to Taipei, the chances of locating that restaurant was slim to nil. I can’t even remember how we got to that street, or what street it was on for that matter.

Sigh.

One good thing about keeping this travel blog is that I record all the details of my travel that I’d normally forget. Since I’m also a very food driven traveler, here’s my list of the great travel eats in 2009.

1. Portuguese Egg Tarts at Margaret’s Cafe y Nata’s in Macau

Edificio Kam Loi, Macau, China 853 2871 0032

2. X-small sweetwater oysters at Hog Island Oyster Farm at Point Reyes, CA

20215, Highway 1, in Marshall, CA. 49 miles north of San Francisco, 10 miles north of Point Reyes Station and 23 miles south of   Bodega Bay

3. Cerviche and Lechon at Astrid y Gaston, Lima, Peru

Cantuarias 175, Miraflores, Lima, Peru 242-5387 – 243-2574

4. Peking Duck in Peking Garden, Hong Kong

3 Salisbury Rd., 3rd fl. (Canton Rd.) Hong Kong, China. Ph: 2735-8211

5. Cajun shrimps at Boiling Crab at Alhambra, CA

742 West Valley Boulevard, Alhambra, CA – (626) 576-9368

6. French breakfast at Macrina Bakery and Cafe in Seattle, CA

2408 1st Ave, Seattle – (206) 448-4089

(source)

7. Uni at Koiso Sushi Kihei, HI

2395 S Kihei Rd Ste 113, Kihei, Maui, HI 96753-8635. Tel: (808) 875-8258

8. The Office Burger at Father’s Office, Los Angeles, CA

3229 Helms Avenue, Los Angeles – (310) 736-2224

I hope 2010 will be just as filling as 2009!

  • Edificio Kam Loi, Macau, China
  • 853 2871 0032

Aloha! I’m in Maui right now wrapping up a 4 days trip out here with The BF. Strangely, it seems that The BF and I can never really have relaxing trip. For the four days, we woke up everyday at an obscene hour to head off to some adventure. Yesterday, The BF and I headed to Molokini for a 5 hour snorkling trip. I’ll save the information to that for another post, but let’s just say there aren’t many pictures since I was too busy doubled over the side railing spewing freshly churned  fish food off the side of the boat. Hey, anything to help the fish population.

Since a good number of the people on the boat were my new barfing buddies, there was a lot of seasickness tips being shared. Here are a few tips for the land animals headed out to sea:

1. Dramamine: I really hate to put this one up, since I took one and it FAILED me. But perhaps it saved me for a fate worse than barfing WHILE snorkeling. Yes, give The BF props for swimming through vomit. I’ll never ask for anything again. However, dramamine usually does help me a lot for air and car sickness.

2. Ginger: Someone had recommended something called ginger gravel (sp?) to me (can anyone tell me what it is?). I may be spelling it wrong, but that’s what it sounded like to me. She said that it was a good alternative to pharmaceutical pills. Other things like ginger ale and ginger candy were constantly being eaten on the boat.

3. Ice: It sounds weird, but sucking on ice helped me. One of the crew of the boat mentioned that it helped her. It helped me enough to stop barfing, but it definitely took a little while. Perhaps it was helping me cool down a little or just hydrating me, but i sucked down 2 cups of ice and i felt a lot better.

4. Eating breakfast: I ate a little bit before we set sail, but in retrospect I really should’ve eaten a good breakfast first. It sounds weird, but I think being on an empty stomach made me more tired and everything I barfed out was just juice and a tiny muffin. Sometimes dry heaving and bile is not the ideal choice in barfing.

5. Open air and horizon: After the 4th time I hurled, I sat outside at the very front of the boat and watched the horizon. This didn’t work for me initially, but after I got everything out of my stomach I was able to eat lunch and suck on more ice. Surprisingly, that really helped me enjoy the rest of my trip.

Here’s a great site that shares some seasickness prevention tips. Happy sailing!

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I’m normally a pretty healthy person, so I really try to make it a point to stay healthy even while on vacation. Who the heck wants to come back and have to lose those 5 lbs from vacation eating? Of course, I’m not perfect, but I try my best to keep some healthy habits on vacation.

Healthy Tips while on vacation:

1. Share Meals: I’ve definitely been guilty of over eating while on vacation (let’s not even speak of my trip to New Orleans! Why is the food SO good there??). So my BF and I try our best to share meals. That way, we’re never too full that we can’t go sight seeing. It also cuts back on costs.

2. Veggies and Fruits: This sounds ridiculous, but we always try to get in a side of veggies to balance out our meals. Also, if we had a very heavy meal before, our next meal will be much lighter and with more veggies. It’s tough on the body to eat a Philly cheese steak for lunch and then ribs for dinner. Trust me, I’ve tried.

3. Fiber Pills: Who wants to be backed up for 3 days while hiking up Machu Picchu? NOT ME. It’ll keep you regular and your insides happy. Check with your doctor first.

4. Water: These days, I rarely have any flavored drinks and prefer water. Be sure to have plenty of water. Don’t let bathroom breaks hinder you from drinking that H20. I’ve also heard that a lot of people mistaken dehydration for hunger. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. It’ll really make a difference in your energy level.

5. Active Activities: Most vacations are so jammed packed with walking that I don’t think about this too much. However, sometimes when it comes down to renting a golf cart to tour the gardens of Versailles and walking Versailles…. pick the latter. Another great way to see neighborhood is to include a quick early morning run around the hotel while your travel buddies sleep in.

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UPDATE:  Congrats to the winners, Denise, Alice, and Nancy!

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This week I’m giving away THREE copies of Fodor’s Thailand Guide with side trips to Cambodia and Laos, 11th Edition.   It has tons of gorgeous full color pictures and would be a great  resource to have! Check out the “8 Essential Experiences” to have in Thailand on Fodor’s.

Thailand

If you’ve seen the movie The Beach, you’ll know exactly how gorgeous Thailand is! Interested in winning? In the comments section, share with me which movie has you dreaming about a destination! Giveaway ends this Friday at 8pm pst.

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ferry building

(Ferry Building @ Embarcadero)

When I first moved to San Francisco, I really had no idea where and what all the neighborhoods were. So as a tourist, it’s really helpful to have a sense of the different types of neighborhoods so you can customize your visit.

1. Fisherman’s Wharf: This is obviously where the famous Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Ghiradelli Square and Boudin’s Bakery is. With that said, this is a huge tourist trap! The parking is atrocious and expensive (i once paid $25 for 3 hours in a lot!). Is it worth visiting? If you’re a first time visitor, always. Jump on the SF’s Muni F line and sit back on one of their historic street cars. Walkable.

2. Financial District: This busy neighborhood houses a lot of big financial companies on the west coast. It’s fun to get caught up in the hustle and bustle on the week day, but it’ll be a ghost town on the weekends. Walkable.

3. Union Square: Another popular tourist and shopper’s destination. Hands down, this area is the best shopping area. If you can think of a store you like, there’s probably a 3 leveled one here in the neighborhood. After a tough day of shopping, head over to the Westfield food court and get some fresh cream puffs from Beard Papa. Walkable.

3. SOMA: An acronym for SOuth of MArtket, SOMA is a youngish area filled with lofts, furniture stores, art spaces, tech companies, and warehouses. The Museum of Modern Art housed here near the Yerba Buena Gardens. Personally, I don’t think there’s much to see after 4th street, unless you’re going to the famous Folsom Street Fair… which… well… you’ll probably see more than you want to see.

4. Civic Center/Tenderloin: As Dave Chappelle puts it: “There’s nothing tender about the Tenderloin”. There are a few bars, art galleries, and Vietnamese restaurants that are worth going to, but it’s definitely a tough neighborhood. The Civic Center also houses city hall, the SF opera, and the Asian Art Museum. Is it the best area to walk around in? Probably not.

grace 2

5. Nob Hill: Be prepared with your good walking shoes! Nob Hill is one of the hilliest neighborhoods in San Francisco, but it houses a lot of SF landmarks. You can still see a lot of the old buildings from SF’s early gold rush history.

dolores

6. The Mission: Personally, this is my absolute favorite neighborhood in SF. A slightly down and out neighborhood, this quickly gentrifying area has a lot of great (and cheap!) dive bars and restaurants. Grab an ice cream cone from Bi-Rite Creamery and head over to Dolores Park and people watch. If the day is nice, you’ll be able to catch a great view of SF from the top of the hill. Walkable.

7. Chinatown: Aside from NYC’s Chinatown, SF’s Chinatown is actually really interesting and full of Chinese people (I’m looking at you DC Chinatown. Where are all the Chinese people there?)! I personally don’t think that the Chinese food is very good here, but Golden Gate Bakery (nob hill?) makes the best egg tarts in the city. It’s shockingly good. Walkable.

castro

8. The Castro: Surprisingly, this neighborhood isn’t very big, but it’s definitely a lot of fun and great people watching.  This vibrant area is  SF’s LGBT neighborhood. It is also the place that Harvey Milk got his start and where the historic Castro Theater is housed. The restaurants are good and the bars are plentiful. Walkable

9. North Beach: Adjacent to Chinatown, this area is the little Italy of San Francisco. A very cute neighborhood has lots of cute restaurants and bars. After a long brunch at Mama’s On Washington Square, head over to City Lights Bookstore and soak up all of it’s literary goodness. Walkable

sf

10. Embarcadero: On a sunny day, this waterfront area has a gorgeous view of the Bay Bridge and the water. Locals and tourists alike head to the Ferry Building every Sat morning for the best farmer’s market EVER. Things might be a little expensive, but you can graze from stall to stall for free samples. After, head over to Hog Island for fresh oysters and a grill cheese. Walkable

haight

11. Haight-Ashbury: The famous Haight is what people always think about when they think about SF in the 60s. Today, it’s still fun walking from boutique to boutique (although a little more touristy). Walkable

12. Japantown: A small Japanese neighborhood, Japantown is a good place to get some mochi, ramen, and little Japanese knicknacks. Tired from a long day? Head to Kubuki bathhouse and soak in their same-sex communal bathhouse for the rest of the day. There are also free walking tours starting at Japantown’s pagoda.  Walkable.

11. Sunset/Richmond: Both Sunset and Richmond district has a lot to offer, but it is mainly a residential area. I’ve combined these two neighborhoods because the beautiful Golden Gate Park separates the two districts. GG Park is a great place to walk through and is even home to buffaloes (seriously!). After visiting the DeYoung Museum and the California Science Museum, head over to either of these two neighborhoods and grab a bite to eat.

12. Hayes Valley: This neighborhood is ridiculously cute. It has lots of great brunch places and small boutiques.Walkable

painted ladies

So many more neighborhoods! (Marina, Noe Valley, Pacific Heights, Potero Hill, Alamo Square, etc etc) There’s tons of other neighborhoods I didn’t cover, but if I did this post would be huge! Have fun and explore SF’s many many diverse neighborhoods.

(all photos courtesy of Kevin W: thanks!!)

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thumb1(Source)

Just read this interesting New York Times interview with Ben Bachelder a contributor to Digihitch.com. Personally, I would never consider hitchhiking because I’m a big wussy, but would you? Sounds like a great adventure, huh?

Q: First things first. Is hitchhiking dangerous?

A: Yes. But I’ve got to qualify that. It’s dangerous in the sense that you’re putting your life, your trust, in someone else’s hands. But that could also be said for a lot of other things: like your trusting that the cars are going to stop at a stop sign when you’re crossing the street; your trusting that the pilots are not going to fall asleep at the stick of the plane…

Check out the full interview here.

Additional Reading and Resources

Digihitch.com- Hitchhiking, backpacking & Budget Travel

Hitchhikers.org-The worldwide hitchhikers agency

The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide- Douglas Adams (Book)


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