Guest Blog – Stacy & jeff do SE Asia (29 of 40)

east bay phi phi

east bay phi phi

on to phi phi don…
“a comfy air conditioned ferry ride later, we’ve arrived at what some say is the most beautiful island in the world: phi phi don. you probably will recognize it from pictures, the twin bays, and it’s sister island phi phi leh, is the famous beach of the movie the beach. beautiful it is, but crowded as well. everyone always wants a piece of paradise. more lounging, swimming, snorkling, and then we experienced our first monsoon rain. it’s the beginning of the season. a quick bucket of a downpour, and then steamy afternoons. a beautiful island, you can see in the pics, unbelievable water colors and cliffs. after one night and two days, we headed onward to phuket.

jeff escaping the monsoon

jeff escaping the monsoon

here it’s a vacation away from our vacation. lovely house, scooters for all, and for jeff and i, we’re so familar with the area, it’s like the comfort of coming home. some more monsoons, swimming, shopping, and always eating and drinking, we’re closing in on indonesia. jeff is so ready, he’s more than ready. so here we come! first a stop over in malaysia for a few days to take care of our indo visa (in order to stay 60 days, you have to prearrange it) and then we arrive in bali and let the surfin begin.

p.s. we can’t believe we only have two more months to go!!! time went so slowly in the beginning, now it’s flying by…. if anyone has any ideas on how to stay on longer, pass them on! we’re not ready to come home just yet, holiday lifestyle is too good to us :)

xxoo”

trail up to the phi phi don view

trail up to the phi phi don view

phi phi don island

phi phi don island

jeff & stacy

jeff & stacy

phi phi

phi phi

monkey!

monkey!

its real!

it's real!

eyebrows & eyelashes

eyebrows & eyelashes

mom cruisin down the highway!

mom cruisin down the highway!

beer sunset

beer sunset

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (28 of 40)

thai crew team

thai crew team

traveling om
“after we reached our “om” in cambodia with ancient towers and local laughs, we ventured on back into thailand.  our second time entering thailand, and this time like the first, the country seems to be at unrest.  from our taxi ride over the border and into bangkok, much more was visible this time around. swat teams on every corner with the plastic shields and army officers manning their perches, all with rifles.  still, in our little touristy neighborhood of koh san road, life goes on as normal.  little did we know, the morning we arrived one of the main current party leaders (a yellow shirt) was attempted assignation on (by red shirts) in his motor parade by assult rifles.  scary stuff, but lucky for us, the swat and army teams on corners was the only witness we had.  but, i’m guessing it’s gonna take some major time and consideration before thailand is at peace with itself.

approaching raley

approaching raley

after our short stay in the city, we flew south to krabi, land of emerald seas and rock climbers dream limestone cliffs.  first night was spent in krabi town (the province is also named krabi) which is nothing more than a boat launch to the islands around.  but we did catch a great weekend market including karaoke, marching band, and delicous food carts. from krabi we headed out to the penninsula of raley.  this is the paradise at krabi. split into east and west sides surrounded by towering limestone painted with rockclimbers everywhere.  mom and cindy stayed on the fancy west beach while jeff and i bargined for a great bungalow in the center in a breezy grassy valley in the midst of limestones, only 5 minute walk to west or east beach. there’s no cars, only boats, monkeys, birds, great beaches.

raley cove

raley cove

on arrival we realized we were just in time for the ‘awards ceremony’ for the annual rock climbing cup and fire dancing contest. so by night the west beach turned into a stage and fire show with live music.  after some impressive fire dancing, jazz and then calypso music, we were suprised to see our token thai reggae band, job 2 do, headline the show.  jeff and i first heard of them in phuket and then spotted them throughout thailand but we were always a day or 2 behind their shows. so it was fate we’d see them eventually. it was a great show.  dancing, drinks, and we got it all recorded…jah rastafari.

bungalow

bungalow

after exploring more hidden beaches for a day (by the way, the water temp, way too hot, by far the warmest water any of us have ever swam in), we left onward on a speed boat tour of surrounding islands: hong island, paradise, and two others whose names escape me.  we loaded on our speedboat with 16 others and were on our way. cindy, mom and i sat in the front of the boat while jeff got left in the back.  the driver said it may be a bit bumpy so beware. man oh man were we in for a ride.  there were four others up there with us and we went flying in the air, thank god for the railings we were able to grab ahold of. 20 minutes later we arrived at hong island.

gang on the beach

gang on the beach

here, we kayaked around the island into a beautiful lagoon, emerald with white sands.  once we reached the lagoon, already tired from our paddeling, we decide to go for a swim. jeff asks the guide if there’s a certian area, and he points to the sandy part.  unfortunately, mama wasn’t near us to hear these directions, so she leaped off her kayak onto a blanket of coral – sharp glass-like coral.  too quickly, her toes and feet got sliced (as seen in the graphic picture). luckily she didn’t loose any limbs, but she sliced her big toe and middle toe pretty bad, as well as the bottom of the other foot.  strong as she is, we continued our kayak trip and then back at the beach had the ‘life guard’ do a quick tape job that lasted a short two minutes. we pressed on. we snorkled until it was time to go onto the next island for lunch and more snorkling.  by the end of the day, we’d snorkled, swam, sighted a giant monitor lizard which roam these islands, lunched, and bumped our way back to mainland.  next day on to phi phi don…

xoxo”

happy couple

happy couple

fire show

fire show

fire dancin

fire dancin

jah

jah

job 2 do concert

job 2 do concert

paradise beach, raley

paradise beach, raley

beach view

beach view

beach panorama

beach panorama

beach shells and crab holes

beach shells and crab holes

fertility cave

fertility cave

cave close up

cave close up

caterpillar

caterpillar

beach sign

beach sign

raley west sunset

raley west sunset

jeff bravin the seas

jeff bravin the seas

hong lagoon

hong lagoon

Bluefields Bay, Jamaica

Bluefields Bay, Jamaica is a breathtakingly gorgeous and highly secluded vacation spot in Jamaica. It is sixty minutes away from Montego Bay and forty minutes away from Negril. Because of its untouched beauty and exclusivity, it is an idealgetaway spot and it is perfect for hosting weddings, dinner parties, important family events or birthdays, or any special occasion. The spectacular venues that can accommodate up to forty-two people overlook the Caribbean Sea and hosting an event in one of the venues would be a private and memorable occasion.

A must-see sight in the western part of Bluefields Bay is the Paradise Park which is a serene, 1000 acre private estate. Anyone that has been to Paradise Park will bear testimony that its name is an accurate reflection of its nature. The park is mainly a cattle and dairy farm located on a tropical savanna with flourishing, grassy fields and colorful flowering trees and shrubs. You can take a tour at the park which takes about an hour and a half and then explore the paths of the topical forest, swim in the blue waters of the bay, picnic in the park, or just seep in the serene, soothing atmosphere. The park is enjoyable at any time of the year; make sure that you are dressed casually and comfortably.

Bluefields Bay offers a wealth of activities for tourists that include snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, sea kayaking, playing water sports, scuba diving, golfing, horseback riding, going to beaches, and hiking along the beautiful trails of the Bay. There is also a vibrant culture of drinking, dancing and dining that you can explore—over the weekends, you can visit one of the indigenous reggae bars or the lively clubs in Negril and have the opportunity to mingle with the locals of the town. There are also many traditional Jamaican restaurants in Bluefields Bay that are worth visiting. Incidentally, you can eat world-class food cooked by a renowned chef at your own villa! A tour of historical sites would be very interesting because Bluefields Bay has a rich past having been occupied by the English and Scottish colonists. It goes without saying that a trip to Bluefields Bay will be a very enjoyable, relaxing and memorable experience for you.

Hardaground – A waterfront beach rental on Abaco Island, Bahamas

Hardaground, Abaco Island Vacation Rental

Hardaground, Abaco Island Vacation Rental

Discover the vacation of a lifetime in this spacious waterfront four bedroom air-conditioned house located on the southeast side of Lubbers Quarters Cay in Abaco, Bahamas, with a white sandy beach and your own private dock at your doorstep.

This two-story, four bedroom vacation rental home, sleeps 8 comfortably – 1 king, 2 queens, and 2 twins.  It has one and a half baths plus two outside showers, one of which is enclosed.  All linens are supplied except beach towels.

Every room provides a view of the turquoise sea of Abaco.  Leading from the living room is a large screened porch which provides a place to relax in a hammock and enjoy the fabulous panoramic view.

Nearby Nippers Beach

Nearby Nippers Beach

Other amenities include:  Large Gas Grill, Phone and Wireless Internet available, VHF radio, Books, Movies, Direct TV, DVD/VCR, CD/Stereo, Dishwasher, Microwave and fully equipped kitchen.  Laundry service available by the load.

There’s a lot to do right off the dock of Hardaground:  lounge in the beach chairs, swim in the crystal clear water, watch the parade of sailboats go by, stargaze at night, fish, snorkel, or comb the nearby beach for sea glass… and much more.  There’s also plenty to do around Abaco!

Just a few minutes walk away lives a commercial fisherman, Michael.  He also runs a charter boat.  Fresh fish, Lobster and Conch can be purchased from our ‘island fish mart’, also owned by Laurie and Michael.  Michael runs daily fishing charters, so when booking Hardaground, pick your dates in advance for your fishing trip.  You can contact him at (242) 366-3143.

Enjoy the nearby beach!

Enjoy the nearby beach!

When travelling to another of the Cays (Elbow/Hopetown, Guana etc) then you may want to rent a golf cart for a full or half day.  Some restaurants/bars on Elbow Cay have a free ‘shuttle’ van to pick you up (Sea Spray, Abaco Inn, On Da Beach), or you can pull directly into their dock with your boat (Sea Spray, Abaco Inn, Harbour Lodge, Harbours’ Edge, Capt’n Jacks).  But if you want to explore the island and the lovely homes, a golf cart is the only way to go.  They cost about $40-50 for a full day; here are some of the rentals:  Hope Town Cart Rentals, 366-0064; Island Cart Rentals, 366-0448; T&N Cart Rentals, 366-0069.

Remember that Abaco is fairly secluded – you will need to think about certain necesities ahead of time.  Groceries and food can be heavy, and beverages are really heavy.  A twelve-pack of beer or soda weighs ten pounds!  Those items are readily available at about twice the US price in Abaco.  Milk, water, bread, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and those sort of basic things are always available anywhere.  You won’t find a lot of good beef, so that may be something you might consider bringing in.  A bag of chips or cookies can easily cost $5, so get used to high prices – it all has to be imported, and then it’s taxed.

Relax on Hardagrounds private dock!

Relax on Hardaground's private dock!

Maxwells in Marsh Harbour is the place to go for everything but Liquor.  There are several good liquor stores in Marsh Harbour too – just ask your taxi driver.  Go to the stores first and then go pick up your boat.  Bear in mind there is no grocery store on Lubbers and you will need to go to Elbow Cay or back to Marsh Harbour if you need to re-stock.  Also consider that some of the smaller airlines will charge you extra for bringing in your coolers.  There is a new service called AbacoEase that also will shop for you, prior to your arrival so you just pick up your food items from them in Marsh Harbour when you arrive, maximising your vacation time, so their service sounds potentially very useful.

Top Southern California Beaches

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Southern California is known for its beautiful people, great weather, and gorgeous beaches. All along the most southwestern tip of the USA are an assortment of beaches with surf and sand to enjoy at almost all times during the year.

Whether you’re looking for surf, excitement, a family beach, or the prettiest views on the coast, there are plenty of options to fulfill every desire you have.

Newport Beach offers decent waves and a relaxed atmosphere. Newport’s beaches aren’t too crowded despite the beautiful surrounding, making the area a great place to skim or just read a book while soaking in some sun. Newport also offers several oceanside cottages for rent, making staying there an attractive option for people looking to “get away” at a more affordable price.

Huntington Beach is known for its excellent surfing. The beaches tend to get more crowded, but offer the excitement of a social atmosphere as people throw footballs, play volleyball, and walk the enjoyable Huntington Beach Pier. Huntington is a great place to start an exciting weekend off right.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach offers secluded, beautiful beaches. There are family-friendly areas that tend to be more crowded, but travel further down the surf and you can find beaches where you can isolate yourself and enjoy some gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. The sand is hard-packed and easy to walk on, making a romantic walk on the beach a great idea for blossoming Southern California lovers.

Santa Monica is one of the most popular beaches in Southern California, offering a nearby amusement park and an enjoyable volleyball scene. The world renowned Muscle Beach can also be found in Santa Monica, along with the newly renovated Chess Park.  During the summer you can also find free live concerts on Thursday nights.

Venice Beach is featured in movies such as White Men Can’t Jump and the TV show Pacific Blue. Street performers litter the coast, offering entertainment for all who are willing to watch and participate. You can also find small beachside shops that make shopping while enjoying some rays an easy endeavor.

Santa Monica Pier

While these five offer some of the most diverse and enjoyable locations for spending your day on the coast, there are several other beaches to enjoy in the Southern California area. Generally, you can’t go wrong. Beautiful weather and clean beaches can be found almost everywhere, so pack up your towel, a smile, and a pair of swim trunks, and you’ll most definitely enjoy your day in the sand.

____

Ross Hudgens is a travel writer for Low Fares Blog. Lowfares.com is the number 1 travel website for cheap flights and discount airfare.

Guest Blog – Pass-Crabbing in Florida

Pass Crab Fishing, Boca Grande, Florida

Pass Crab Fishing, Boca Grande, Florida

On my most recent trip to North Captiva Island, I had the opportunity to go “pass – crabbing” with my friends Captain Dennis and Captain Gretchen. I must say it was a blast! While Dennis and my husband were fishing for the “big fish,” Gretchen and I had our nets out for the pass crabs. Crabs are great bait for many species in Florida waters.

Pass Crabs are almost identical to Blue Crabs in shape, but they only grow to approximately four to five inches in width. You can catch Pass Crabs in south Florida during the outgoing tide on the surface, usually floating along with grass as it flows toward the Gulf.

Tarpon Tales Beach House Vacation Rental, Boca Grande, Florida

Tarpon Tales Beach House Vacation Rental, Boca Grande, Florida

You simply take a long handled net and dip them out of the water. There are a few bait shops in south Florida that sell them, but they are few and far between. The primary use for pass crabs is for tarpon in the Boca Grande area, but they are just as good, maybe better, than blue crabs for a variety of fish. Hook them in the same way as blue crabs – through the back leg hole and out the top shell.

Beachhouse.com Staff Blog – American Girl in Tokyo

Beachhouse.com staff member, Crystal, has just landed in Japan to kick off her 6 month study-abroad adventure.  Her journey will begin in the small town of Mitaka, Japan and will end in Belguim.  And even though all of us can’t be there with her, we will get to read all about it on her weekly blogs!

“After a 12 hour plane ride to Narita Airport and a 3 hour train ride to Mitaka City, I finally arrived at the ICU campus! A former classmate of mine who had studied at International Christian University before, jokingly referred to the university as “Insane Crazy Utopia” and now I understand why. The campus is located on a beautiful and lush wooded area away from the city, creating a very relaxed and peaceful atmosphere.  Check out my pictures below!”

International Christian University

International Christian University

Home for the next few weeks!

Home for the next few weeks!

Study/Work

Study/Work

Sleep

Sleep

Campus

Campus

More of the Campus

More of the Campus

Even more of the campus

Even more of the campus

hallstreettreesgrassbamboo

Guest Blog – North Captiva’s Historical Ice House

Fish house following hurricane Charlie - It has since been restored

The Calusa Indians, who dominated South Florida for more than a millennium, were skilled sailors and fisherman. Their large canoes of hallowed out cypress logs were capable of reaching Cuba. They thrived through living in harmony with our Southwest Florida environment. Pineland on Pine Island contains some of the most extensive Calusa mound sites and canal works.

The Calusa Indians fished with nets made from Cabbage Palm fibers. After the demise of the Calusas from European conquest and the introduction of diseases like smallpox, new settlers became adept at commercial fishing. Pine Island Sound was peppered with fishing camps and later, ice houses, which eliminated the need to preserve their catch through drying and salting.

One such ice house was built in 1924 by the Punta Gorda Fish Company at the north shore entrance to Safety Harbor at North Captiva Island. One story rests on a wooden platform supported by wood pilings. The Ice House is one of few remaining buildings documenting the system of remote, water-based fish industry ice houses.

The structure was built as an ice house to serve the fishermen and run boats in the loading, unloading and storage of freshly caught fish. The structure is a specialized form designed to function under potentially adverse weather conditions, relative isolation, and the possible requirement to relocate the building to follow the migration of the fish.

California’s Central Coast’s Beach Communities

Cambria – Located just off of California’s Pacific Coast Hwy 1 is Cambria – a picturesque artists community set amidst the pine trees and foothills half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Head to Cambria’s “East Village” for a selection of small restaurants and cafe’s set between gardens and old historical buildings. There is a cute downtown village area with boutiques, antique shops, flower stores and art and jewelry galleries. Cambria has a selection of great hotels to choose from.  The FogCatcher Inn has beautifully appointed rooms – I highly reccomend a stay in one of the oceanview rooms. Centrally located, Cambria is a great place to head out on day-trips from.   Vacationers can head a short distance to tour either Hearst Castle or to San Simeon, home to one of California’s largest populations of elephant seals. Moonstone Beach is also nearby, which is a great place to walk the beach before dining at one of the delicious restaurants while you take in some amazing ocean views.

Morro Bay – Surrounded with natural beauty, Morro Bay is a great place to spend the day or the weekend.  Whether you like shopping, hiking, boating or all of the above, this harbor town has it.  Morro Bay’s Natural Estuary has great hiking trails, and is home to the Museum of Natural History and a Heron Rookery Preserve.  Continue down Morro Bay’s Coast and you will find more bluff trails, the Elfin Forest and the Sweet Springs Preserve.  The entire bay is home to many different species of birds making it a bird-watcher’s dream.  Morro Bay also has a great beach, with certain parts that are dog-friendly.  Local surfers enjoy “the Rock” – not only does this break have a killer view of Morro Rock, but the water is a few degrees warmer than the surrounding water thanks to the

Avila Beach – For a funky little beach town that’s not much larger than a neighborhood, Avila Beach sure knows how to make headlines. In the late 90′s and into 2000 the community got an almost complete makeover after it was discovered that a Union Oil Co underground pipeline had been slowly seeping oil into the ground for decades. But now Avila is back and better than ever, with a re-vamped boardwalk that hosts a farmer’s market each Friday afternoon, delicious deli’s and an assortment of upscale eateries. Locals and visitors enjoy Avila for its unpretentious and friendly atmosphere where flip flops and sandy toes are practically a uniform. Looking for some great grub? Be sure to wander over to nearby Port San Luis to Fat Cat Cafe – it’s so good that Sunset Magazine wrote about it!

Shell Beach – Unlike the others on the list, Shell Beach doesn’t have a central downtown or main street, per se, and really is more of a neighborhood. If you turn down Silver Shoals Road off of Shell Beach Road, you will dead end into a grassy area on the bluffs of what the locals have dubbed “Silver Shoals Beach.” This park is a great place for picnics and people watching. There is a dirt trail that leads down to the beach where, even on a windy day, is perfect for sunbathing as the sand is protected from the elements by the sea wall behind you. Feel free to bring your furry friend – the crowd is usually mellow and on the younger side so nobody minds that you are voilating the “no dogs on the beach” policy that most California beaches seem to have.  If you’re looking to stay in Shell Beach, check out the lux Dolphin Bay Inn – not only is is gorgeous, set atop the bluffs with panoramic views of the Central Coast, but the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean stayed there while they were filming on the nearby dunes!

Pismo Beach – If you want some action, Pismo is the beach for you – there is more going on and much more to do here than at any of the other beaches on this list. Pismo Beach offers great shopping. Vacationers can find everything from surf stores, antique stores, candy shops, souvenir stores and more.  Pismo’s sandunes are a great place to camp, go off roading and ride horses.  The pier at Pismo Beach is a great place to fish, people watch and get tasty treats including hot dogs, ice cream, and snow cones to name a few. As you stroll the beach, look for the volleyball nets – there is often pickup games and the courts are also the location of tournaments during certain times of the year. You must allot time for a trip to Splash Cafe. Be prepared to wait, but I assure you that even a half hour wait is well worth it. There is a lot to choose from on the menu – and all of it is good – but this place is famous for their clam chowder.

Travel Tools – Frommer’s Review

Back in 1957, Arthur Frommer, a corporal inthe U.S. Army, wrote his first guide – it was meant to be a resource for the GI’s that were stationed in Europe.  Frommer’s first published book was a civilian version of his original idea and was called, Europe on $5 a Day.    In the 50+ years since then, Frommer’s has expanded their scope of coverage and has become one of the most popular and bestselling authors of travel guide books in America.  Travelers can now use the over 350 guidebooks to plot out their next journey – or simply head to the award-winning online portion of the Frommer’s empire – Frommers.com.

What’s Good: Search by destination and get a complete “Guide Book” at your fingertips – and besides the usual hotels, attractions and restaurants, the gang at Frommers has also researched side trips, customs, history, and provided a super helpful write-up on the different neighborhoods in your destination city. Also check out the “Deals & News” section for a smart mix of timely travel advisories, current travel related events and the coolest places offering the hottest deals.

What’s Bad: Much of the reviews and information comes from the site’s namesake, Arthur Frommer, making reviews and observations kinda one-sided. Also, after a little browsing, it’s apparent that the site doesn’t exactly cater to the budget-minded traveler.  Also, if you plan to travel somewhere that isn’t included in the 20 (really – only 20!) travel destinations that Frommer’s has selected to post under their “Destinations” drop-down menu, it can make it difficult to dig up valuable information from the lot that shows up in the results after you search using the “Search” bar.

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (27 of 40)

group dinner

group dinner

crazy cambodia….
“and we love it.  we’ve started reading quite a collection of books of personal accounts of where we’ve been travelling through so we’ve enjoyed seeing it firsthand a lot more.  and cambodia fits in that category, though all the readings have to do with war, killing, sex, drugs, and guns.  so not the most plesant of subjects, but it’s amazing to see the country and meet the people who live here. cambodia by far has been our favorite people – well right up there with the balinese.

fish foot massage - creepy and weird!

fish foot massage - creepy and weird!

phnom penh was the city of contradiction, fancy in town, surrounded by ‘killing fields’ outside, and by far the most poverty or rather ‘gap’ we’ve seen.  coming over to siem reap, your surrounded by beautiful ancient temples and the nicest people. we stayed for 5 or 6 days, enjoying all of it.  we did 3 days (well I did, jeff’s toe hurt so he was out one day, and cynthia and my mom skipped out on the third day) of angkor wat. lots to see there.  the sad part is there is no recorded history about this ancient palace and city so everyone is guessing with different theories and what nots.  still an amazing site, right up there with machu pichu.

back to the people…beautiful. dark skin, big eyes and the biggest smiles around.  it’s no wonder angelina jolie adopted one. the kids are darling, its so hard to say no to all the ones in the park selling bracelets, flutes, you name it.  and our guesthouse was filled with hilarious guys working. passing jokes, telling stories, all of it so fun.

now we’re in bangkok heading south to krabi. late for the plane so gotta run!

xxoo”

fish nibble massage

fish nibble massage

a hilarious and tickling experience

a hilarious and tickling experience

the gang

the gang

stacys cambodian boyfriend, wan

stacy's cambodian boyfriend, wan

entering angkor wat

entering angkor wat

hindu buddhas

hindu buddhas

mine survivor band

mine survivor band

river carvings

river carvings

underwater buddhas

underwater buddhas

kids waterfall slide

kids waterfall slide

sky and bike

sky and bike

temple for sunset

temple for sunset

ladies

ladies

guardian

guardian

temple guardians looking out

temple guardians looking out

old

old

reflecting pool

reflecting pool

elephant terrace

elephant terrace

beautiful temple

beautiful temple

bathroom instructions

bathroom instructions

tree

tree

old tree

old tree

tree

tree

blue sky and tree

blue sky and tree

bracelet girl

bracelet girl

old bridge

old bridge

buddhist university

buddhist university

jeff and stacy

jeff and stacy

our buddy driver - love him

our buddy driver - love him

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asia (26 of 40)

killing fields memorial

killing fields memorial

exploring cambodia…
“phnom penh roads are filled with cars. and not the little skinny asian cars that we’ve seen thus far, but big sudans, trucks, landrovers, 4-runners, escalades, and…wait for it…. brand new hummers cruising around (we’ve seen 3 so far). crazy. there’s a lot of money in this town, but with it seems to be more curruption and the worst poverty we’ve seen yet.

we went out to the killing fields with some friends, got depressed, came back and got some good lunch at happy phnom penh pizza with an early happy hour and got un-depressed. we skipped the genocide museum but probably will hit it up when my mom joins us later today.

incense offering at the memorial

incense offering at the memorial

everything’s in dollars here, even the ATM so it’s a bit of an odd feeling at first, and everything things more expensive even though its really not. we hit up some street bars by night and got attacked by a giant rat. luckily it only hit jeff and dans feet. jeff had a river of rat spit/juice left over on the top of his foot after it scurried away….yummy. we’ve made a small routine of having some delish pizza at lunch and then doing nothing in the afternoon, it’s been quite relaxing…even got some pool time in. all the fancy hotels let you pay a small fee or just buy something and you get to treat yourself for the day poolside.

looking forward to mom coming today! then we’re back to the touristy sites and onward to the beaches. it’s one of the biggest cambodian holidays this week, khmer new years, so it should be some fun excitement… involving lots of food, dancing, music, the throwing of water and talcum powder to top it off! we shall see…..

chillin for now

xo”

killing fields

killing fields

prayer flags on grave

prayer flags on grave

96 degrees in the shade - real hot

96 degrees in the shade - real hot

america likes happy pizza

america likes happy pizza

monks preparing for cambodian new year

monks preparing for cambodian new year

Restaurant Review – The Temptation, Boca Grande, FL

Boca Grande Florida Best Little Beach TownRestaurant: The Temptation
Location: 350 Park Avenue, Boca Grande, Florida
Cuisine: Fresh Seafood, etc.
Price Per Plate: Lunch – around $20; Dinner – around $50
Verdict: Thumbs Up!

On our recent trip to Boca Grande, we had the pleasure of enjoying lunch at the Temptation.  Located at 350 Park Avenue, this Boca Grande bistro says welcome the minute you walk in the door.  The staff greeted us like we were family.  They were very courteous and attentive to our needs.

I enjoyed the strawberry chicken salad which was extremely fresh, light and tasty.  Bronzed grouper was my daughter’s selection.  The menu summed this dish up correctly as they stated it was an “Island Sensation.”

Clearly my daughter enjoyed this immensely as she had the first clean plate in the group.  The grouper was prepared on a bed of sautéed Brussell Sprouts With Roasted Garlic, Shallots, Prosciutto, & Parmesan Cheese
Topped with an Orange Beurre Blanc.  My husband enjoyed the fried grouper fingers.  Typically he does not order fried food, but he described this being extremely light and some of the best fish he has ever tasted.

You can read more about the Temptation HERE.

Need an excuse to travel? Beachhouse.com has them for you!

The Economy - it’s the classic example of making lemons into lemonade – one countries Swine Flu can be another man’s ticket to paradise!  The economic downturn has forced the travel industry to get creative in order to get people back on the wagon – er, airplane? – and part with their hard earned money.  If you thought the “discount” flight/hotel/rental car vacation packages of last year were something to talk about, you will discover that they are so 2008.  Travel sites and agencies are now practically giving away freebies to popular destinations like Maui, Vegas and Cancun…think 7 nights in a swanky hotel for the price of 6, book a flight now and get a free rental car, etc.

Someone’s Getting Married - it happens to everyone at one time or another – that crazy summer where 8 of your closest friends all decide to get married.  Your emotions run the gamut…first comes happiness, hey, they’ve found that elusive special someone!  Next comes nostalgia – guys, you fondly think back to the times when you and your buddies genuinely thought girls had cooties, and girls, you remember all the times when your friends actually thought they were going to end up marrying their First Kiss. But then your mind clears and you realize that 8 weddings = broke by Fall.  The one silver lining?  Bachelor/Bachelorette parties!  Whether you settle on a weekend of The Hangover-style debauchery in Vegas, a trip to Napa for some wine tasting, or a relaxing spa getaway in Sedona, jump at the opportunity to get away.  One day you’ll all be old and married and these will be the times you reminisce about…if you and your wolf pack don’t get hit with a case of the “floories” and can remember them.

You Just Graduated - Before you hang up your proverbial “party hat” for good, why not embark on one last hoorah!? Gather up your fellow alumni and hit the road to put your education to the test.  Math:  if you’re traveling at a rate of 83 mph and that carload of cute girls next to you is traveling at a rate of 87 mph, what time will you guys meet in Miami?  Foreign Language:  what is the most grammatically correct way to say, “Can you please bring us another round of tequila shots” in Spanish?  Philosophy:  if, while the Earth is turning on its axis, you’re roaming the ocean on a cruise ship headed for the Bahamas, but you are also in your cabin with a serious case of the spins, does that mean that you’re really standing still?  You get the point.  So get out - before you join the masses and are forced do don a business suit rather than a bathing suit!

You Just Got a New Job - Congratulations – you’ve officially traded in your freedom for a paycheck!  Rest assured…in the long run, that is the smart and responsible thing to do, but in the short term, it can seem like in one handshake and one “Welcome aboard” from the HR woman, your life as you know it ended.  But instead, you’re reading this and contemplating where you want to travel to blow off some of your newfound signing bonus, while your official start date is still a week and a half out!

You Just Got Fired - Congratulations – you’ve officially traded in a paycheck for your freedom!  Rest assured…in the short term, it can seem like in one handshake and one “I’m sorry, but…” from the HR woman, your life as you know it ended.  But in the long run, if you hadn’t just gotten the axe, you’d be stuck in your cubicle right now. But instead, you’re reading this and contemplating where you want to travel to blow off some of your newfound severance pay/unemployment!

Kids - I don’t have kids.  But I can imagine that if I did have one/some, like with every job (regardless of how much I love it) I would eventually be ready for some time off.  Which brings us to, yet another excuse to travel!  Maybe you have one on the way and you need someplace to relax in the sun and cherish the last few weeks of your party of 2.  Or perhaps you and your significant other are thinking it may be about time to get down to – um, business – and are in need of one last wild week while you can still sleep in however late you want.  Whatever your situation, start practicing being a parent now – everyone knows that the best excuse for anything is to blame it on the kids!

wayneYour Uncle Wayne - My roommate just attended a family reunion in South Dakota.  We live in Orange County, CA, so needless to say we knew she was going to be in for a shock.  What is South Dakota like?  What do people do there?  Where is it?  Granted, she probably wouldn’t have ever settled on Blunt, SD as a vacation destination, but she was down for an adventure.  She was excited to see family that she hadn’t seen in forever and even more excited to meet some family for the first time!  Well, now she’s back and all of my burning questions have been answered (Me:  Where did you stay?  Her: In Pierre – it’s the closest town to Blunt that actually had a hotel.  Me: What was the time difference?  Her: 2 hours – but it stayed light outside till, like, 10 at night!  Me: What did you do all day?  Her: One day we drove with my Uncle Wayne to see a rock formation … and so on)  She ended up having the most amazing time and she learned maybe one of the most important travel lessons:  it’s not necessarily the journey or the destination – it’s the people you travel with that give you the memories you will never forget!

A Recipe From Each Continent of the World (3 of 7)

North America:  America’s Best Burger Ever

(Recipe excerpted from ABC’s Good Morning America, host of Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Best Burger Ever Challenge – the winner was Allison Koplan’s Stuffed Bacon-Cheddar BBQ Burger)

Burger Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 lb. ground round
  • 2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tbsp. garlic salt
  • 8 oz. block of sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 medium Vidalia onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 bottle of sweet barbecue sauce (of your choice)
  • Hamburger buns
  • Lettuce (optional)
  • Tomato (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Onions
  • 1/4 cup Barbecue sauce for basting

Winner Allison Koplan and Chef Emeril Lasasse

  • Combine ground round, ground chuck, salt and pepper in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the coarsely shredded sharp cheddar and cooked bacon pieces. Let bacon and cheese mixture sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes to get soft. Then, shape mixture into balls (for however many burgers you would like to make)
  • Form 2 patties of meat and place one cheese/bacon ball in between them. Pinch the sides together to seal in cheese ball. Gently press formed patty, to spread out cheese ball. Continue until all patties are formed
  • Cook burgers on grill over medium flame for about 7 minutes on each side. While burgers are grilling, slice sweet Vidalia onions and saute them in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter. Once onions become translucent (about 4 minutes), add some sweet barbecue sauce
  • Flip burgers, and baste the cooked side of the patties with the same sweet barbecue sauce used in the onions. After about 7 minutes longer, the burger should be done (these are big thick burgers and may take longer to grill to your liking). Baste again with sweet barbecue sauce before removing from grill. Butter hamburger buns and place on top rack of grill for several minutes, until toasted
  • To build burger, take toasted bun, add patty, and top with smothered barbecue onions. You can add tomato or lettuce, if you’d like, but the flavors are great without them

Guest Blog – Stacy & Jeff do SE Asis (25 of 40)

monk kid

monk kid

leaving the breast milk for bigger and better things…
“sorry to say, but we were both glad to get out of vietnam.  a beautiful country but the ‘sales tactics’ were starting to wear on us a bit.  we would definitely recommend anyone of you guys to go there, you just have to be ready for the constant haggling and barganing.  that aside, a great country.

it’s amazing how much war the country has been through; it seems their whole existence has been based around war, with the chinese, cham empire, french, americans, and the khmer.  i think they really live up to the saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  and now, 30 years after the states left the country, consumerism is swallowing it up.  it’s no wonder that everyone’s eger to make a buck, or two or three off you.  for that reason though, people can come off real rash and hard.  but still, we would meet a jem every once in awhile that reminded us not all are just after your wallet.  and actually, in our last town we stopped in, chau doc, we weren’t ripped off the whole time and were given the locals price, no questions asked! such a relief after you’ve spent the last month wheeling and dealing.  not too many tourists stayed in this town, so you can see the ‘tourism dollar’ hadn’t made its impact yet.

commuter traffic

commuter traffic

after a grueling  boat ride and bus ride up to cambodia, we arrived in phnom penh, the city of contradiction. the boat ride was pretty, but loud and hot and air filled with deisel.  but we saw lots of little villages on the river side with kids and monks swimming and working the land.  after loading all 13 of us and our bags in our minivan, the 1hour ride began into the city.  in the first five minutes in the van, we bottomed out but kept on driving.  us in the back seat could tell right away something went bad with the tire.  sure enough, once we reached the center of the city, in the middle of a massive intersection, at a dead stop in traffic, the driver finally realized the rear tire was completely flat.  so we all loaded off the van, and onto the sidewalk, amidst zooming cars and motors, as well as roaring fire engines on their way somewhere.  fortunately there was a tire store right there so within 10 minutes we were back on our way.”

96 degrees in the shade - real hot

96 degrees in the shade - real hot