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Leaving on a Tet Plane

one happy pup

No, don’t be fooled.  This is not a real blog post.  This is simply an excuse to be a happy pup.  Life is good at the moment, Fine Friends.  Today we move into our brand new mega house.  It would be way out of our range anywhere else in the world but, since we are in Vietnam, it will only set us back a banana and a kiwi.  Then, quick, quick, it’s time to pack up again and head out to ring in the Lunar New Year in style – two weeks in Malaysia, Baby!   On top of all this, my students rocked their exams – well done, kiddos!- and JD is already good pals with Vietnam.

On that note, Happy Tet to you all.  May the Year of the Snake be a good to you!

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…That’s what Friends are For (puke)

Isn’t it wonderful to travel to new places?  Isn’t it divine to climb new mountains, explore unknown caves and walk along the shores of foreign beaches?

Sure.  But it can be lonely.  Coming to a new place means leaving behind all familiarities, from well-loved family members to delicious Ranch dressing.  Travel  guarantees moments of awkwardness, discomfort and – above all – a hyper awareness that you are all alone in the great big yonder.

And so it’s great to meet friends.

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In Defense of Ugly

Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder.  Although it may be indefinable and indescribable, it is also undeniable – certain things are beautiful.  And others aren’t.  The Taj Mahal: beautiful.  The city dump: not.  Sure there are the artsy among us who find beauty where it isn’t, but I’m talking about cheerleader shallow pretty; the things that smack you as gorgeous the moment you meet.  They are the pristine snow topped mountain peaks that show off on the covers of travel blogs.  They’re the magnificent old architecture that makes Paris Paris and London London.  They may be interesting.  They may be historical.  Above all they are beautiful.

So what about the ugly things?  What good are they to us?  Why hang out with the zitty adolescent of travel destinations when you could be with the prom queen?  Is there any value to ugly?

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Travel Makes No Sense

Ah, Cape Town…

Can you believe it?  My fourth day here and I ran into an old friend!  All the way over here in Vietnam!  His name is San Miguel.  We used to hang out a bit when I lived in Spanish Harlem, and suddenly right in the middle of the market…there he was!  Well hello, Delicious.  We meet again.

But truth is I did not move to Asia to drink San Miguel.  Or to eat KFC.  Or pizza – why does every person here ask if I like pizza?  Just because I’m American does not mean I love pizza.  Ok, fine, I do love pizza (damn you, Accurate Stereotype!), but that’s beside the point.   The question is: why did I move to Vietnam?

Because I’m a big, fat dummy.

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The One Who Let Me Get Away

My guardian angel didn’t look the way I expected.  I had always imagined big wings and a halo of sorts.  Instead she had a sharp Eastern European accent and told me to hurry up; she didn’t have all day.  And yet, it was undeniably, her.  She was the Delta airline representative who singlehandedly saved the airline’s reputation (at least for me) and saved me 32 unnecessary hours in the Atlanta airport.  She’s the one – the only one- I met in my recent airport adventure who agreed me that there must be another way; that having to wait an extra three days because of one delayed flight (that caused me to miss my subsequent connecting flight) was ridiculous.  She was even the one who recorded that my first flight was delayed due to mechanical problems, not the weather, so I could score a free hotel room for the night (*note to travelers: airlines offer no compensation if delays are caused by weather – go figure).  She is the one who let me get away – away from sweltering heat Atlanta and back to lovely Cape Town.

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How to Visit Expensive Places on a Low Budget

Even if you don’t wear fancy pants on a regular basis, you can afford to visit fancy pants locales.   The elite, exclusive and over the top travel destinations are possible to see.  That’s right even the bummiest of you bums can find a way to visit the South of France or the Hamptons.  What’s the secret to visiting an expensive place on a budget?

Fake it.  You don’t need to be rich to live rich.  By following the advice below you can make your dream vacation a reality.

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Trouble’s Coming to Town

Yebo, Gogo!  Guess who’s comin’ town?   That’s right, boys and girls, it’s my very own Yankee Doodle MOM-O!  Oh geez.  South Africa better brace itself for this baseball loving, (lame) joke telling, heap-o-fun in a teeny tiny five foot package.  Oh, sorry, little Mom, you’re actually five foot two (when you wear two inch heels).  So what, you may ask, is on the itinerary while she’s here?

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How to Overcome Travel Jealousy

Travel blogs love to talk about the backpacking community.  There’s this idea that all travelers are bound to one another by some cosmic energy; that their like-mindedness is the basis of a utopian society on the go.  In many ways I agree.  Mutual experience traveling – or even just a shared desire to travel – is an instant conversation starter.  Put me in a room with anyone who’s been anywhere and I’m interested to know their story.

But this world of Travelers Without Borders is not wholly perfect.  Just like in any community there is competition, misleading (intentional and unintentional) and jealousy.  Jealousy is a big one.

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Work Break

Here’s a nice start to your weekend.  I took this picture yesterday from my apartment balcony.  A maintenance worker from the building across the way was busy working on the roof.   I watched as he finished up and put away his tools.  Instead of moving on to the next thing, he made himself comfortable on the roof ledge, opened his book and started reading.  With the ocean behind him and a blue-gray sky overhead it seemed the perfect place for  a little break.

Traveling Contrast

In the midst of your jabbering work day, it’s nice to be startled.  The healthy green African bush contrasts so sharply with this perfectly preserved, burned flower that it startled JD and I on our most recent camping adventure.   Once again South Africa keeps me on my toes, just as I thought I understood the Cederberg Mountains.

Here’s to a happy – and startling – weekend ahead!