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Travel Reads

15 June 2012

While traveling, I've been trying to do a fair bit of reading.
I started off well, finishing a book in the first week.
However, the husband got me hooked on HBO's Breaking Bad,
and we've been watching those episodes during our relaxy time.
Nevertheless, here are the deets on the two books I finished.

This is the second book in a trilogy.  The first book is called Divergent.  I read the first book as a 'fill the void from the Hunger Games' book, and I really liked it.  Then, painfully, I had to wait several months before the second book was released.

Wow, wow, wow was this second book great!  I was sucked in immediately, read it during every spare moment, and thought about it for days after finishing.  The books are about a futuristic society in which people are part of a faction based on their personality traits {either selflessness, knowledge, peace, or fearlessness.}  The books are written from the perspective of a young heroine who finds herself going against the grain.  And there's a little romance, too!

This book was recommended to me by Clare, from C Squared W.  As much as I love Clare, I did not love this book.  The story follows different characters that work for a newspaper in Rome from the 1950's to present day.  However, the author jumps from one character's story to the next, without ever fully finishing the story.  That really bothered me.  I love character development, so to leave me hanging at the climax in each character's plot, when you might truly get to know them was frustrating....and it felt like a cop-out.  The only silver lining is that it was a quick, easy read.

What have you been reading lately?

Linking up with  Heather and Katie for Book Club Friday.

Blissed out in Bali: The Food

14 June 2012

Being the indulgent creatures we are,
not only did we make daily trips to the spa in Bali,
but we ate like royalty.
Bali is food-heaven for vegetarians,
and my meat-eating hubby found tons of dishes he loved too.
There's enough of a tourist & international vibe,
that many of the restaurants cater to the 
overseas//hippie//organic//yoga lovers.

1// A little coffeehouse on Monkey Forest Road that claimed to have the "Best Coffee in Bali."  
The coffee is okay {not the best in Bali}, but we loved their upstairs open-air lounge.
2// Goat cheese piperade from Cafe Des Artistes.  Yum!
3// Mini mezze plate from Kafe.  Oh.Em.Gee.  This was heavenly.  The beets are honey-soaked.
4// Papaya smoothie {poorly positioned to focus on the Perrier, but whatevs.}
I drank so many fruit smoothies. 
I literally should have turned into a papaya or a watermelon by now.

{clockwise from upper left}
1// Did I mention yet how much we loved LOUNGING everywhere we went?  
Pillows on the floor is the way to go.  
We're thinking of incorporating this style seating into our future home.  
2// Taco salad bowl from Taco Casa.  We loved this place and, as chance would have it, 
we ran into a friend of mine from college while dining there.!  
Haven't seen her in 7 years, and then we bump into each other in Bali of all the Taco Casa.
3// Pink treat juice--a combo of beets, honey, ginger, mango, and other ingredients I cannot recall.  Delish!  Husband had the mint lemonade {from Sari Organik.}
4// Mulberry pie from Kafe.  Meh.  Mom's homemade blackberry pie is better.
5// Organic buffet from Yellow Flower many great Balinese dishes to try.
6// Veggie salad from Kafe.

1// Husband looking super serious with the local beer, Bintang.
2// So many amazing oreo flavors in Bali.  This one was super delicious!
3// Vegetarian platter from Cafe Lotus.  Great food & gorgeous views of the lotus pond.
4// Sweet corn & shaved coconut dessert from Betelnut.  
This was so-so.  Not sweet enough to be a true dessert in my book.
5// Burrito with chicken from Kafe--the husband loved it!  
Can you tell we're mexican food starved after a year away from SoCal?
6// More lounging.  Yes! {at Sari Organik--enjoying the rice paddy views}
7// Mangosteen...delicious super fruit.  

So yeah, Bali was the land of indulgence for us.  Despite doing so much eating, it all felt healthy & reasonably portioned, so I don't think we gained any weight while there.  Either that or I only wear stretch pants on vacation.  There's always that.

And, not a single meal cost more than $10pp.  If I could transport these restaurants straight back to SoCal with me, I would.  Then I'd immediately triple the prices on all you poor suckers.  Don't hate.

Are you hungry yet?

Blissed out in Bali: Spaaaaaah!

13 June 2012

We arrived in Ubud, Bali, without any plans.
As we wandered around, getting to know the city,
two things became very apparent:
1) there are far too many taxi drivers, all trying to pimp out their services
2) there are approximately three billion spas, also trying to pimp their services.
Naturally, I went for the latter.
After taking one look at the prices, we rapidly began scheduling our days around spa treatments.
At a whooping $17.50US for a 90 minute massage & body scrub,
or $7 for a pedicure,
who wouldn't?!?

It's been the epitome of relaxation and indulgence.
We started at Verona Spa--Jeff with the Balinese Boreh,
and I got the Javanese Lulur.  Both treatments were a 60 minute massage,
followed by a 30 minute body scrub,
topped off with a 20 minute flower bath.

And yeah, the rice patty views?  Amazing!
Since then, we've tried Kayma Spa--
Jeff getting 90 minute shiatsu,
while I opted for the 60-minute balinese massage.

We returned once more to Verona for facials & a pedicure.
{Okay, only I got the pedicure.  My husband has drawn the line at pedicures.}
I thought the facials were sub-par,
most likely because I strongly dislike the smell of wet washcloth,
and I kept worrying about unfiltered water getting into my mouth.

We also went to ShangriLa Spa, on the recommendation of a friend.
They do some really unique treatments using Sound therapy.
At only 20,000 rupiah ($3 US), we thought it would be fun to try something totally different.
I selected the Sound Table treatment, described as:

"Explore the healing power of sound as you lay on our specially crafted Teak sound table. By using the harmonics of harp strings your body will start to float on a carpet of sounds to help you regain emotional and energetic balance and integrity. Your chakras will naturally open and rebalance themselves in this deeply relaxing and spiritual experience."

I thought this treatment was relaxing and interesting.  The harp strings under the table vibrated through my body, making it so I not only heard the music, but more importantly, I felt it.  As to whether or not it was balancing energetically, I can't really say.  I find that most things related to energy & vibration are very subtle, and positive changes can be difficult to trace back to a single source.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience.

This is my happy place!

Tuesday Travel Diaries: Namibia

12 June 2012

Jessica from Eternally Enlisted writes....
The basics:
I went to Namibia in July of 2010 to volunteer at Harnas wildlife sanctuary for three weeks, although after all my traveling was done I was gone just over a month.

What route did you take? And how much was the flight?
Here's an outline of my travel schedule.

Day 1: Departed early morning Phoenix --> Arrived Washington D.C. afternoon.

Departed Washington D.C. evening --> Day 2: Arrived late evening Johannesburg, South Africa.

Stayed night in Johannesburg.

Day 3: Departed late morning, Johannesburg --> Arrived Windhoek, Namibia afternoon.

Stayed night in Windhoek.

Day 4: Departed late morning, took group "bus" out to Gobabis where we met up with another "bus" and caravaned to Harnas. Arrived early evening. I was so grateful that night that I had finally arrived.

On the way back it was for the most part the same. I stayed an extra day in Windhoek though instead of Johannesburg, and I flew into the U.S. through JFK instead of D.C.

I only paid for the first and last leg of my trip (both ways) because my dad graciously let me use his frequent flyer miles to get me free flights from East Coast to South Africa and back. At the time this helped me cut costs so much since plane tickets had almost doubled in price in anticipation for the World Cup Finals. If I had had to pay my whole way there, it would've cost just under $3,000. Thanks to my dad I only paid around $800.

Who did you travel with? 
With the exception from Windhoek to Gobabis, I travelled all by myself (much to the displeasure of my mother). I had tons of people ask me if I was scared or nervous about traveling so far on my own, but honestly I wasn't. I knew how to navigate airports, and at almost every stop in Africa I had already arranged for somebody to be picking me up to take me to my next destination (the exception being, of course, in Johannesburg which I'll talk more about later).


Tell us where you stayed.
Because I was signed up as a volunteer, most of the time I stayed in a makeshift cabin - two regular walls and two walls made of netting - provided on grounds by Harnas. I also spent a couple nights on a plane, one night in a hotel, 3 nights at a hostel, and a week sleeping out in the bush by the campfire.


Did you encounter anything unexpected?
I could probably write a whole book about all the unexpected things I encountered. Most of the things that really stick with me though are the ones I encountered upon first entering Africa since I hadn't learned how to "go with the flow" just yet. I'll just name a few for you here though.

The rand I exchanged my American dollars for in D.C. was the same denomination people were counterfeiting in South Africa and Namibia and so wasn't accepted anywhere except banks and high end electronic stores. My hotel in Johannesburg also didn't exist where they said it did so I spent half my night in Johannesburg taking various shuttles, trains and cabs and talking to locals trying to find out where it really was. And after going through my bags on arrival, I found that some of my soap/shampoo had leaked out and completely soaked my camera. Bye-bye camera.


A few things were a great surprise though. After arriving at Harnas, I learned that I had been one of the people chosen to go out into Bushman Land (Nyae-naye area) and help set up a new research center - which turned out to be my favorite part of my trip. Because of that I got to spend a week camping out in the African bush with just a campfire and a rifle to protect us at night. Also I was pleasantly surprised at how nice everyone was to me. I know this may seem like an odd thing to say, but as Americans we really are quite rude and mean to each other in our day-to-day dealings.

Tell us about the food.
I'm actually not a picky eater, so most of the time I didn't really care what I was eating, nor did I ask. In Namibia they eat lots of meat though, so if you're visiting and you're a vegetarian you're going to have some problems. For the most part they have the same dishes as those in South Africa. My favorite dish (besides the Boerewors) was a Zebra steak I had a Joe's Beerhouse. Promise me you'll go eat there if you're ever in Windhoek.


The only thing I had a problem with at first is a dish called mielie pap (sounded like milli pop with a South African accent to me). "Mielie" means corn and "Pap" is a kind of porridge. So put them together and you have corn porridge. It was a big staple in our diet along with all the meat. They'd make a fresh batch at night and you'd eat it for dinner. Then in the morning you could add a little milk to it. And if you could stomach it you had it with your lunch. Then we'd let it sit for a day and then feed it to the Warthogs. I never really learned to love it, but after a while I didn't mind it.

Were there any must see’s?
Namibia is a very beautiful country, and just about everything there is a must see!! Tourism is a big part of their economy and just about every time I talk to someone about being there I learn about some new spot I should have visited while there. Probably my biggest regret was not going over into Namibia's Coastal Deserts though.

Would you go back?
In a heartbeat! I would love to visit Namibia again, although I'd really like to just live in South Africa. I'm still secretly trying to find a way to get R.J. (my husband) to relocate there. So far, no luck.

Anything else you'd like to share?
I know this is a shameless plug for volunteer work, but I'd really recommend using volunteer work in lieu of travelling. Most of the time they will provide food and housing for you wherever you are staying. And I think you really get a better sense and love of the culture and community than if you took the regular tourist route. Plus it's a great way to give back to the community where you are staying!


{Emily here} Wow!  What an incredible experience.  The animal lover in me is ready to hop the next flight.  Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this amazing experience, Jessica.  Readers--if you enjoyed Jessica's post, please go visit her blog, Eternally Enlisted, and show her some love!

If you'd like to be featured on Tuesday Travel Diaries, send me an email at
I'd love to feature you!

Fun Fact: The Office

11 June 2012

We love The Office in our household.
We've watched the episodes over and over,
we love quoting Dwight, and Michael, and Jim.
In fact, we've even seen Meredith twice in our neighborhood.

Does anyone remember the episode where Michael
goes to Sandals Jamaica, and comes back sporting this look?

When Jeff and I went to Costa Rica for our wedding,
we decided to have a little fun.

What do you think?  
Does he rock the Michael Scott?

This blog post is part of the "Fun Facts About Emmy June" series, designed to keep you entertained and following along, while I'm gallivanting around the globe for two months.

Spiritual Sunday

10 June 2012

"Each time a swarm of worries invades your mind, refuse to be affected;
wait calmly, while seeking the remedy.
Spray the worries with the powerful chemical of your peace."

-Paramahansa Yogananda
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