Travel Pic of the Week

Cambodia Vietnam Border

Steve was snooping through my photos and came across this gem.

This was our vehicle….our trip started with a dead battery and the breaks going out….and ended with us making our ferry to Phu Quoc with only a minute to spare… literally. This was a seven-seater van,which in Asia equals a 15+ seater van. I was lucky enough to get a seat up front between the driver and a cranky old German… mind you there were no seatbelts and the breaks didn’t exactly work….

Notice the guy wearing the hat, mask, and wielding a meat cleaver…lol…. only in Asia!!!

How to Pack for A Week in an 18L Backpack

So Steve and I did alot of moto trips when we were traveling through Southeast Asia and most of those trips were about a week long. We always left our large packs behind at the guesthouse and then we would take take our small day packs with us. Packing for these week long excursions was always fun, and we definitely had to get creative at times. And honestly we only packed the essentials. People were always amazed by how little we had with us, but it was really liberating. By the end of our 6 months abroad I was ready to completely ditch our big bags and continue with only our little ones.

Bali Waterfall

Rockin’ my pack… Steve and I made a side trip to this little waterfall on our way back toward Canggu.

Next time we go on a long trip I think I’m going to take my 30L Backpack (although it’s not as comfortable as my big pack) and leave my big Gregory Deva 60 Pack at home. My Deva pack is my workhorse, it’s been all over Asia, and on wilderness backpacking trips and it’s always comfortable even when it’s loaded with 18 kilos of stuff (which it’s rarely that full). My little 18L Miwok Backpack is also a Gregory, it’s tiny, I love it because it doesn’t have a frame, so I can roll it up and stuff it into my bigger pack and it doesn’t take up much room. I guess I’m a little partial to Gregory packs….they’re really comfortable and hold up pretty well, even when they are “well loved.”

All of this stuff can fit into the Miwok pack….well, everything except the shoes. So when we were on the bike we always had shoes on, and the flip flops were stuffed in the pack.

Tanah Lot moto trip

Tanah Lot moto trip

1 Week Packing List


1 pair of flip-flops
1 pair of hiking shoes/trail runners
1 swimsuit
1 pair of shorts
1 pair of pants
2 tank tops
1 short sleeve
1 long sleeve
1 Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Coat
2 pairs of socks
2 pairs of ExOfficio Low Rise Bikini or other quick drying underwear
1 sarong
1 pair of sunglasses

1 first aid kit
painkiller (ibuprofen or excedrin)
toothbrush and toothpaste
shampoo and conditioner
castille soap (for your body, clothes, water bottles, etc)

camera(s) and their chargers
GoPro and charger
Kindle and charger

mae hong son loop stretching

Steve and I did our first moto trip in Thailand where we did the Mae Hong Son Loop. Riding a moto for multiple days means lots of breaks for stretching, beer, coffee, sightseeing…anything is a good reason for a break!!! But here you can see my backpack…that itty bitty blue thing!!!!

Planning a big trip? I have a comprehensive packing list that I put together for our trip to Southeast Asia here.







Must Like Stairs: Day 1

Our plans to hike to Everest Base Camp were completely hijacked by fog that had settled into Lukla and the Nepali domestic airport’s complete lack of organization. We spent an entire day sitting in the domestic airport gorging ourselves on Snickers bars and Pringles, while we waited for the airline to decide whether there would be any more flights going out that day. We were even considering canceling our tickets and joining up with some others to charter a helicopter. Thankfully we didn’t go that route!!! But we learned a valuable lesson that day and it is this: If your flight is not the first or second flight of the day it will not go!!! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Don’t be hopeful, don’t let some stressed out fool try to convince you to pay $400 per person, for a helicopter ride. It’s not going to happen, so book the first flight of the day. End of story!!!!

We luckily had a fairly flexible schedule, with 6 full weeks allotted for Nepal alone, so after a full day of sitting on the concrete floor of the domestic airport, we decided to cancel our flight and rebook it for a few weeks later. We weren’t going to accept anything, but the first flight of the day!!!!

With the Everest Base Camp fiasco solved, we decided to head over to Pokhara and the nearest large town to the trailhead for Annapurna Base Camp. We had been planning on doing the Annapurna Sanctuary trek anyway, so we were perfectly okay with the change of plans.

Pokhara view

The view from the top of our guesthouse in Pokhara.

We gave ourselves 9 days to do the whole trek, 8 would have been plenty, but having the 9th day meant that we could spend an entire day soaking in the hotsprings at Jhinudanda and stuffing our faces with momos.

I had done my research, so I knew there would be LOTS of up and down on this hike. I knew there would be lots of stairs. And I knew that it was going to be exhausting. At the time, this trek was the most days of consecutive hiking I had done EVER!!! We coined three phrases on this trip:

1) “There it ain’t”- referring to the next town, which would always be down the valley and up the other side.

2) “No guide, no porter, no problem”- referring to our lack of a guide/porter

3) “Yak/yeti crossing”- Anytime we passed gas

The views on this trip were seriously epic and totally worth every step….some of the sets of stairs I can still remember every single detail.

Day 1 Phedi to Dhampus to Landruk

Elevation of villages along the way:
Phedi: 1130 m.
Dhampus: 1650 m.
Bhichok (Pitam) Deurali: 2100 m.
Landruk: 1565 m.

Distance between Phedi and Landruk: approx. 12 km

Time: Phedi to Landruk: approx. 6 hrs

The trail begins with a set of stairs. You’ve been warned…. we were warned. There will be lots of stairs and you will learn to love them, actually you’ll probably never love them, but think about all of that booty firming that is going on. But it’s not all stairs (I promise); the trail meanders through farm land, and practically goes through people’s yards as it makes it’s way up the hill.

Nepal ABC Phedi

Looking down the valley from Phedi….the haze was incredibly thick until we got up above Dhampus.

You will have views of the valley and river below, but you won’t be able to see the mountains, well atleast we couldn’t. The valley at this elevation is still very hazy, as are most of the valleys in Nepal. But when you get up high enough, which doesn’t take long, you will be rewarded with view after view of mountains, valleys and farmland.

Nepal Phedi terraces

Terraces everywhere.

Dhampus Himalayas

Our first glimpse of the Himalayas from the roof of one of the restaurants!!!

After an hour or so on the ” stair climber” we reached Dhampus. We totally weren’t expecting to see the Himalayas from Dhampus, but we were pleasantly surprised to Annapurna, Fish Tail and the others. What a reward for tackling the first major hill and set of stairs!!!

Autumn in Dhampus

First set of stairs complete!!!

From Dhampus to Landruk the trail goes over the pass at Bichok (Pitam) Deurali at 2100 m and then descends all the way back down to Landruk at 1565 m., which (you’ll love this) is lower than Dhampus….hah, of course. We also started using the phrase “Nepali flat,” which is never actually flat. To enter the sanctuary you have to get your TIMS card checked in Pothana (maybe 4 km after Dhampus), so make sure you stop. They will check it again at Nayapul on the way out.

Prayer flags

Our first prayer flags…

One of the picturesque villages along the trail

One of the picturesque villages along the trail

traditional home along the trail...

Traditional home along the trail…

Village on the way to Landruk

Village on the way to Landruk

Angie and Autumn... catching our breath

Angie and Autumn… catching our breath

ABC bridge

One of the MANY bridges on this trek

We learned early on that there is a ton of elevation change on every single day of the trek. No matter where you are (except up at the base camps) the trail has continual steep ascents and descents. Thankfully half of the time you’re gawking at the views, so it doesn’t seem quite as treacherous.

Angie and Steve ham it up....

Angie and Steve ham it up….

Goats Annapurna Sanctuary

What’s cuter than a baby goat??? Two baby goats

Goats Annapurna Sanctuary

I’m pretty sure I have atleast twenty pics of these guys, but I’ll only subject you only to these two.

Down the valley up the valley, repeat, repeat, repeat

Down the valley up the valley, repeat, repeat, repeat

Our guesthouse in Landruk for our first night on the trail

Our guesthouse in Landruk for our first night on the trail

We arrived at our guesthouse early afternoon and the clouds had already started to descend into the valley, so we had no idea how majestic the view would be in the morning.   It was warm enough for us to enjoy all of our meals outside on the terrace and enjoy the fresh mountain air. After being stuck in Kathmandu and Pokhara for nearly a week we were loving the smell of the trees and smog-free air.

Totally worth getting out of bed for

Totally worth getting out of bed for

Epic sunrise on Day 2. Hello Himalayas!!! For the next 8 days we hiked up and down and criss-crossed this valley so many times it’s easy to lose track.



Raja Ampat Biodiversity

We spent an amazing week with Deni, but all good things come to an end. Our friend Maryse had been raving about her stay with Raja Ampat Biodiversity, the amazing dives, and the incredible food. So, Steve and I huddled around our small pile of cash to figure out if it would even be possible for us to afford a stay at Biodiversity. And we could, we could afford exactly one night, paid in Indonesian Rupiahs and US Dollars. But by the time we got back to them they were full. Solution: we slept on the floor of the budget room, that wasn’t even finished yet. Rey and Patricia (the amazingly generous owners) were able to provide us with a sleeping mat, linens and a mosquito net….which honestly was all we needed.

raja ampat biodiversity budget bungalow

Our last minute budget digs… so perfect!!!

This has got to be one of the best places to stay in Raja Ampat! Completely unpretentious, knowledgeable owners, amazing food….and the location on Gam Island is nearly pristine. It doesn’t matter where you are on the property of the eco-resort you’re a mere few feet from the jungle or the reef.

raja ampat biodiversity

When we were there they had two beautiful beachfront bungalows. I’m not sure if they’re planning to buid more or not

The food was amazing!!! They are truly blessed to have such an amazing chef…. so many flavors. I wanted to keep eating well after the point of being full.

raja ampat biodiversity

All of our meals were served here….loved dining in the open air

We went diving at Blue Magic, a wall dive (that I unfortunately don’t remember the name) and their house reef. All the dives were amazing and literally teeming with life. AND they were long!!! I’m talking 85-90 minutes. It doesn’t get much better than that. I’m really hoping Steve will put together a video of our dives.

raja ampat biodiversity view

The view…not too shabby

I’m thinking Steve and I will need to come back here…maybe an anniversary trip???? It would be amazing to be able to spend more than 1 1/2 days with Biodiversity….next time we’ll definitely budget for an entire week.

You Want Me To Write What????

A research paper!!! My jaw immediately drops to the floor and my head spins just thinking about it. For my yoga teacher training we’re required to write a 5-8 page research paper on yoga (and give a 30 minute presentation)….any aspect of yoga, it can really be about anything we want. It took me 3 1/2 months just to pick a topic and now it’s due in three weeks!!!! Eeek!!!

Yes, I’ve begun the research, but it’s so easy to get distracted. Do I really want to read medical studies or do I want to look at pictures of beautiful women doing amazing asanas?(have you seen my pinterest?)…and then try to recreate them…albeit not so beautifully or gracefully or even at all. It’s been tough to stay focused. My goal tomorrow is to atleast get it outlined and maybe one or two sections done.

Oh yeah, my paper’s on yoga and the immune system, which really just boils down to yoga, stress management and it’s impact on the immune system.

If my paper turns out “okay” I’ll post it here, but no promises.

So here’s to having no life!!!

A Walkabout at Gunung Mulu National Park

We had a little extra time on each end of our Pinnacles trek, so we took the opportunity to wander around the park grounds near the headquarters. And of course we took a ton of pics….here are a few of them. Gunung Mulu is an UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s easy to see why…

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu

Incredible sunset just outside of the park

Malaysia, Mulu walkabout

Gawking at the jungle (Sorry this pic is out of focus, but it’s the only one I took of the path.)

Malaysia, Mulu Giant Fern

Giant fern where I found the stick bug

Malaysia, Mulu Bridge

This is the bridge that you cross to reach park headquarters.

I love finding weird bugs and creepy crawlers and I found a ton….it’s kinda like a scavenger hunt for nerdy adults.

Malaysia Mulu bug

Hello there little bug!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu spider

Giant spider on one of the Gunung Mulu Park signs

Malaysia, Mulu Hammerhead Leech

Hammerhead leech…and yes, that is my hand

Malaysia, Mulu bug

I don’t know what kind of bug this is…maybe a pill bug…or maybe it’s a grub…yum

Malaysia, Mulu moss

I don’t know what this picture is supposed to be of…I thought there might be a very camouflaged bug, but I couldn’t find it

One of the big draws to Gunung Mulu National Park is the mass exodus of bats every night. Each night at dusk millions of bats fly out of Deer Cave to feed. We didn’t have very good weather in the evenings, so we didn’t get a chance to see it. Luckily doesn’t mind sharing peoples pics.

ATR arriving at Mulu Airport - Picture of Mulu Caves, Miri

This photo of Mulu Caves is courtesy of TripAdvisor

If you want more insight into a trip to Mulu I have two other blog posts about our trip.

The Pinnacles

Welcome to the Jungle: The Pinnacles (vimeo video)



The Pinnacles

Last year, as I was planning our 6 month honeymoon through Southeast Asia, I stumbled upon a hike in Gunung Mulu National Park called “The Pinnacles”… and I’m pretty much always coming up with “great” ideas that involve doing really stupid s#!t, this may have been one of them. I saw the video, I read the reviews, I even contacted the national park, and yet I still wanted to do the hike. So the persuading began… I may have left out a few of the details when trying to convince Steve and Angie that “yes” this would be a great experience and that “no” we weren’t going to die.

Pinnacles Panoramic

A little pano pic of the Pinnacles

After 6 weeks in Nepal we were definitely craving some beach time, but not before one last mind bending “hike” deep in the heart of Borneo. We took a MASWings flight from Miri to Gunung Mulu (which you can book online ahead of time for about $50-60USD roundtrip). As we descended into Mulu we could see the emerald colored mountains all around us. We stumbled out onto the tarmac and were immediately hit with the tropical humidity. I couldn’t help, but smile and think “finally!!!”

From the airport it’s probably only 1.5 miles to Gunung Mulu National Park and the homestays (although there is a homestay on the airport road and a resort further passed the turnoff to the park). We stayed at the cheapest homestay, duh, we’re cheap asses. It was SWELTERING, but we were right on the river and they had a toilet and shower inside. It was enough for us: it was a short walk from the park entrance and a couple of  restaurants.

Malaysia, Mulu Guesthouse view

The view from our guesthouse…not too bad for $5 or $10 bucks a night

There is NO market in Mulu. All of your food will be had at your homestay, or one of the restaurants (when they are open). Make sure to bring food from Miri to Mulu, or you will live on crackers, cookies and noodles for the three days of the trek. We didn’t know this cucial detail and the only place to get pre-packaged snacks/noodles was the gift shop. Beer is fairly expensive around the park, but we didn’t care. We were slugging down beers and doing shots of rice “whiskey” in no time.

You know a trek is going to be awesome when it begins with a trip upriver in a dugout and your guide tells you that you might have to get out to help push the boat upstream. Part of the Pinnacles “package” includes a trip to a “traditional” village to do some “shopping”…. which was pretty uninspiring, but we also visited one of the caves. I don’t remember the name of it (I know it’s part of the Clearwater Cave System). If you’re into caving Gunung Mulu has tons of options from easy beginner trips to advanced caving trips. I was able to get a few neat pics from inside the cave, but we didn’t come for caves.

Malaysia Gunung Mulu Cave

Thankfully the Malaysians aren’t as tacky as the Vietnamese when it comes to lighting the caves…no neon disco lights here.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Cave Stalagmites

More stalagmites

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu National Park, cave

Awesome formations everywhere!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu, Cave Skylight


We continued up the river a bit further to our drop off point and the beginning of our 8-9 km trek to Camp 5. The trail to Camp 5 is well-marked and completely flat, so we had plenty of time to gawk at trees and bugs.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Bridge

Typical bridge along the trail…it took a little getting used to

We got into Camp 5 around mid afternoon and had time to take a dip in the very cold river. Unfortunately a storm came in that evening, so our clothes didn’t get a chance to dry out, the river swelled (no more swimming), and one of the couples that was part of our group finished their hike in the rain. Rain in the jungle means only one thing: LEECHES!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Canopy

A view of the canopy…I was always looking up into the canopy for birds, bugs, monkeys, etc.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Dragonfly

Yep, I took this dragonfly pic.

Day 2 is when our little jungle trek got really crazy. Our guide told us flat out that we would know if the hike was for us within 200 meters of starting out (that’s when you come to the first rock face) and that he would turn us around if we didn’t make it to the “little pinnacles” by 10 or 11.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Mini Pinnacles

Woohoo…we made it to the Mini Pinnacles before the cut off time… time to stash water for the trip down

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Mini Pinnacles

Already sweaty, but loving every minute of it.

We started out strong, using our hands to pull ourselves up, trying not to trip or slip on roots. I don’t think you can call this trek a “trek” or a “hike” because half the time you’re using your hands to pull and push your way up. Ropes are available in the tricky spots (which we didn’t really need on the way up), metal beams connect limestone crags, and probably about 15 ladders are in place to assist you on your way up. Don’t expect your guide to help you, he won’t. He’ll wait for you at the top. It took us about 4 hours to reach the viewpoint, and it was totally worth it. The pinnacles look like skyscrapers jutting out through the jungle canopy.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu, Autumn and Steve


Malaysia, Gunung Mulu, Autumn and Angie

Us sweaty girls pose for a picture….

And now the really fun part…. going down the way you came up. Blah….my heart races just thinking about it…. turning around on top of sharp limestone rocks to lower yourself over the edge, desperately trying to find footholds, avoiding slippery roots and neon pit vipers. Yeah, they don’t tell you about the pit vipers. On our way down we saw one on a ledge just above the trail. I was too freaked out to take a picture…. Coming down from the Pinnacles is about the last place I would ever want to be bit by a pit viper.

I fell…I fell a few times, so did Steve. It started to rain on the way down, nothing crazy, but just enough to make the roots extra slick. I felt like I used my hands just as much on the way down as on the way up, lol. It took us probably about 4 hours to get back down. It was a long, long day…the trail climbs 1.2 km in 2.4 km, it was just silly, but I would do it again in a heart beat.

We stayed a second night at Camp 5 where we met Nye and Mauro, who became our travel mates for the rest of Borneo. This was also our first experience with the Hash House Harriers….drinking and running….sounds like a good idea!!!

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu Camp 5

Made it back in time to enjoy the sunset at Camp 5.

The morning of Day 3 we wished Nye, Mauro and the Hash House Harriers good luck on their climb, while we set off to finish the remaining 8-9 km of our trip as we headed back to our pick up point on the river.

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu River

Off we go…. back to civilization… kind of

Malaysia, Gunung Mulu

Our guides

Our trip downriver was much easier than our trip up river... more water = less pushing

Our trip downriver was much easier than our trip up river… more water = less pushing

I didn’t take any pics during the hike…the jungle was too steamy and I didn’t want to completely destroy my camera, but Steve did take some video…. mostly of my sweaty pants… I’ll apologize now. Steve’s GoPro has been put to work this year. I think about how many times it’s been dropped, banged into trees etc. and it still keeps working!!!

If you’d like to see pics from near headquarters I have a few pics here.

I haven’t written too much about Borneo yet, but it ended up being one of our favorite places on the trip. And I can’t wait to get back!!!


The Downside to Yoga Teacher Training

My YTT is spread out over the course of 7 months…that’s along time. It sounded great when I signed up for it. I thought it would really give me a chance to integrate yoga into my life, and I’m not just talking about asanas people….I do yoga every damn day (well almost)… I’m talking about living my yoga and living in a yogic way. This weekend marks the halfway point and I can honestly say, I’m like “niyama what?!!?!?!” “chakra where?” This is not boding well, and instead of catching up on my reading I’m writing about how I don’t know what the hell is going on. How did this happen? I unintentionally quit the spiritual journal; I thought I’d pick it up again after the new year, predictably I have not. I can’t sit still for a 10 minute meditation to save my life… and practicing kapalabhati…ugh!!!


My yoga teacher said there will come a point where I am hungry for all of this. Am I not there? I want to teach yoga, I want to live the yogic way, but when it comes down to actually doing it…. I am struggling to say the least. I have to turn in my spiritual journal at tomorrow night’s class…and it’s empty…completely. An entire month of empty pages. I am tempted to lie and just make up 30 something days of revelations and insights, but that’s not very yogic either.

Instead, I’m going to practice ahimsa (nonviolence) and try not to beat myself up over all of this lack of discipline. I need to remind myself that (as cliche as it sounds) it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey….and my path might just be a little longer than others.

Now to cram 6 weeks worth of studying into just a few hours!