8 Tips for Traveling South East Asia

As I’ve been traveling through South East Asia for nearly 6 months, I’ve learned a few things on the road that I did not learn in my research ahead of time. I’ve been to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos. These tips apply to visiting any of these countries.

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

1. Carry extra passport-sized photos with you

This is recommended anyways in case you lose your passport. But what I didn’t realize until I got here, is that many countries require a visa on arrival, which will require one of these photos. If you are an American citizen, you can enter some countries with no visa, AKA a visa exemption. Those countries include Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. All the other countries will require some kind of visa to enter. And those visas require a picture. When you enter one of these countries, or if you apply for visa ahead of time at an embassy, you will be asked to fill out an arrival card, pay (usually in USD), and supply a visa photo. They create your visa on the spot for you using that photo. Take as many photos as you need to enter all the countries you plan on entering.

2. Take the bus!

If you are traveling for a while, and time isn’t that important, please take the bus! Night or day buses, but day buses are my favorite because you get to see the beautiful landscapes. A 10 hour bus ride honestly goes by so fast when you can look out the window. I get all my best ideas in these moments. I heard J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter on the train every day to work, and this makes total sense to me now.

Book buses 1 day ahead if possible. Even during low season, buses fill up quickly. And don’t string too many bus journeys together, because the buses are usually late to arrive. And if you have one shortly after another, chances are you will miss it. You can book your bus at the bus station (usually cheapest), through whatever hotel or hostel you are staying at (very convenient because they usually pick you up at your location), or through these three websites which I found very helpful: www.easybook.com, www.12go.asia, www.rome2rio.com. The tickets on here will be a bit more expensive because it’s online booking, but often it’s worth it.

Be aware, if you are in some countries, like Laos or Cambodia, a night bus is often a sleeper bus. Meaning you will be in a bed with whoever has the seat next to you! As a women traveling alone, I DO NOT recommend doing this, unless you have a friend to share the bed with. I’ve heard of women getting stolen from or groped on these night buses. The one time I accidentally took a sleeper bus alone, one of the bus workers got in bed with me in the middle of the night and I was extremely uncomfortable the entire time. The width of the bed is a twin! Not a double! I tried to tell him no, and to get another bed, but he refused. After 2 hours of laying with my eyes wide open, I finally decided to try and annoy him until he left – moving around, eating, unzipping my bag, pushing him onto his half of the bed. Which worked swimmingly, and he finally left!

3. Use apps like Grab for taxis or motorbikes

Grab is a popular app in many places in SE Asia. Another like it is GoJek, used for motorbikes in Bali. These are very useful in big cities, and if you have a SIM card so you can book anytime. You can see the drivers rating which made me feel very safe getting into a taxi alone. The prices are very fair, and often lower than if you just got someone on the street.

4. Share taxis when arriving in a city

Whether you arrive by bus or plane, you are usually a ways out from the city center, or wherever you plan to go. This is a good time to ask other travelers to share a taxi with you. It’s safer and cheaper. For example, if you land at the airport in Bali (in Denpasar), it’s about an hour drive to Ubud, which is where many of the tourists will be heading. Every time I landed at the airport, I walked out to the taxi area, and found other obvious tourist to share a ride with me, cutting the cost in half or thirds. And making friends along the way!

5. Expect fees

I have an international credit card through Chase that has 0 international transaction fees which is really wonderful. However, it’s a bit rare that I can actually use this card. Only in big cities, or sometimes when paying for a hotel. And in many places, if you use a credit card, they will ask if they can charge you a 3% fee. They ask…but you don’t really have a choice. The other way to get money is using a debit card at the ATM. This is usually what I do. But unfortunately, this comes with two fees. The ATM fee which is usually between $3-$5, and my bank’s fee which I believe is 5%. So it’s quite steep! I try to get out larger chunks of money, and do this as infrequently as possible. But you have to balance this of course, because you never want to carry too much cash.

6. To SIM or not to SIM

If you choose not to have a SIM card (maybe you are really cutting costs) definitely download the app Maps.me. Somehow I did not find out about this until 5 months in, but it is CRUCIAL. It’s a complete offline maps app and works very well. So when you are in your hotel, you’ll have wifi. And when you aren’t, you’ll have maps access which is really important for safety and fun.

Because I knew I was traveling long term, I chose to cancel my phone plan entirely back in the US, and buy a SIM card each time I entered a new country. I transferred my phone number to Google before cancelling, so that I would not lose my phone number that I’ve had for years. If you fly into a new country, getting a SIM card is very easy and convenient at the airport. They know what they are doing and usually speak English quite well. If you enter by bus, you’ll need to go to a convenience store and get a SIM. This is usually more challenging, but doable. Either way, have your passport ready. They need this to sell the SIM card to you. General cost for a SIM card that lasts 30 days with a reasonable amount of data is $10-$20. Pretty cheap!

7. Workaway

I highly recommend including a workaway into your journey if you have enough time. Workaway.info is an amazing website that connects travelers with people all over the world who are looking for help. Any type of help you can think of! Animal care, painting, building, teaching, community work…whatever skills you have, someone will be glad to host you. You usually work for 4-5 hours a day, in exchange for a free place to stay and free food. It’s an amazing opportunity for both parties.

Many of my favorite travel experiences have been through workaway. Taking care of Poitou donkeys in France, insulating a house in Italy (that’s a story for another time haha), caring for horses in Malaysia, teaching English in rural Myanmar, painting signs for a jewelry store in Laos…the list goes on! It’s an amazing way to get a better understanding of local culture and lifestyles, and make life-long friends. And of course, it is the most affordable way to travel.

8. Don’t plan your trip using instagram

South East Asia is a wild place! In many ways, it’s so different than the Western world. And, of course, that’s why we are so attracted to it! But things do NOT look like they do on instagram (This is an important life lesson actually 😂). Anyways, some of the most beautiful spots I went to were very beautiful in one corner, or from one angle (the angle you see in photos), but the rest of it was covered in trash (trash is a real problem in SE Asia), overtaken by tourists, filled to the brim with shops and taxi drivers asking if you want a ride. It’s just different. Unless you really go deep into the jungle, things are always a bit dirty, dusty, noisy, and chaotic.

I have this photo of Little India in Singapore as the cover for this post because it is a perfect example. I saw someone post almost this exact photo on instagram a few weeks before I went, and I thought, “oh my gosh, I must go to Little India! It must be so beautiful.” Let me tell you, this was literally the one wall that was beautiful in Little India. The rest of little India was crowded shops and very dirty streets overflowing with trash.

Another example is the Gates of Heaven in Bali…an instagrammer’s dream right? Beautiful lake in front of those gates, right? Nope! It’s a tiny mirror, held up to the base of you camera, to create an entirely fake reflection after you stood in line for 3-4 hours. Moral of the story, I would not look to instagram photos to plan your trip because 99% of them are completely photoshopped or not encapsulating what is actually going on.

For more tips, like how to pack, check out my post on packing for long-term travel!

How to Pack for a Year-long Warm-weather Trip Abroad

As many of you know, in March 2019, I set off for a year long solo trip through South East Asia. My bag and my items have become my steady companions. They are my home and my comfort. I take good care of them, and use packing cubes to keep things organized and pack with care. I always kept my home very tidy, and I like to do the same with my bag. It’s a life-changing experience to live out of one bag for so long, especially coming from a culture where consumption is the rule. I love the concept that you can really carry everything you need right on your back. It’s truly freeing!

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The backpack I use is the Osprey Porter 46, and I absolutely love it. I’ve had it for 7 years and have used it for all my longterm and short term trips since I bought it. For my day bag, I am using this that I got off Amazon. I really like the looks and it is quite sturdy, but I do wish it was a little bigger. I use this cross-body bag as my purse, but please see my blog post of How My Things Were Stolen as I still am not totally sure about this bag in terms of safety.

I spent a long time working on my packing list. And now that I’ve been traveling for 5 months, I can honestly say I did a damn good job. I’ve used every single thing I brought multiple times, and I haven’t needed to buy anything (except restock) since I began traveling. I have gone on a few shorter trips in previous years (2 weeks – 3 months long), so I had some good experience with packing that helped me figure out what a year would look like. Actually, I pack nearly the same for a 3 week trip as I do for a 1 year long trip, but basically just add some more meds!

You can access the full list below through pdf download. Some of these items I would consider luxury, and not a complete necessity, so I have added a * to those items. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions. And happy packing!

Click here for the free pdf download of my packing list

In Ubud, Bali, getting ready to go to the airport in Denpasar. Not pictured: my cross body bag

In Ubud, Bali, getting ready to go to the airport in Denpasar. Not pictured: my cross body bag

Ginger Snickerdoodles with White Chocolate

I made these for that same New Year's Eve party, and they were a big hit, particularly with Gui, who isn't a huge fan of desserts normally. They are super soft and pillowy like you'd expect of a snickerdoodle, but then they have that ginger snap taste and big chunks of soft white chocolate. Yummmmmmm!

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Speaking of New Year's, I'm still working on getting my resolutions together. But I'm set on doing monthly "themes" and ideally developing those into habits that I carry into the future. My January theme is "Strengthen Friendships." I have a tendency to be a bit of a recluse, and even though I text my friends, I'll go months without seeing them. Then I get in a bad mood and I wonder why! 

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp baking soda

3 tsp cinnamon, divided

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter, softened

Directions

 

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: 2 c flour, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp ginger.

3. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 c granulated sugar and remaining 1 tsp cinnamon. 

4. In a large bowl, cream together 3/4 c butter, 3/4 c brown sugar, and leftover 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Add in the syrup, egg and vanilla extract, and mix.

5. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix until combined. Add in white chocolate chips and mix. 

6. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and coat in cinnamon sugar mixture that's in your small bowl. 

7. Bake for 7-9 minutes, until the bottoms are just brown. As soon as cookies are out of the oven, sprinkle the tops of cookies with leftover cinnamon sugar mixture.

Cranberry Orange Shortbread with Dark Orange Chocolate

I made these cookies for a New Year's Eve party. I wanted something festive and holiday feeling. I've always wanted an excuse to use edible gold dust, and this felt like the right time! These cookies give you all the buttery goodness of my traditional shortbread, with that sweet/tart orange/cranberry combo, anddddd the rich dark chocolate! They are also really fun to make! 

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The cookies end up looking really beautiful too! I did half the cookies with the right half dipped, and the other with the left so they would look really pretty either stacked or laying on the plate! 

Ingredients

2/3 cup sugar

2 Tbsp fresh orange zest, divided

3/4 cup room temperature butter

1/8 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups flour

 

1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

5 oz. dark chocolate

edible gold dust (optional)

1-2 tsp vegetable shortening

1. Use a food processor to combine the 2/3 c sugar and 1 Tbsp of the orange zest to create orange-sugar. 

2. In a large bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter, the orange-sugar, and salt. 

3. Gradually incorporate 1 1/2 cups flour to the wet mixture.

4. Mix in the 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries. 

5. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

6 Roll out the chilled dough to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Use a cookie cutter to create desired shapes. 

7. Chill on a cookie sheet for 20 more minutes in the refrigerator.

8. Preheat 350°F

9. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until the edges are golden brown. 

10. Once the cookies have cooled, use a double boiler to melt the 5 oz. dark chocolate. Add the orange zest and the vegetable shortening to the dark chocolate and stir until smooth. 

11. Dip half the cookie into the melted chocolate, and transfer it to wax paper to set. Sprinkle on the gold dust, or any other desired topping. 

P.S. I only dipped the front of the cookie so that the chocolate wouldn't be too heavy and overpower it. 

Zion National Park – Hiking The Narrows

Zion was amazing. First of all, driving into the park itself was unreal. It almost felt like we were in Avatar with the floating mountains. And there were all these amazing terraced rocks everywhere. I made my dad pull off on the side of the road so I could climb it. 

There's a lot we didn't get to do that I would like to do next time. For example, Angel's Landing was highly recommended but it was a 4 hour hike that we just didn't have time for. But you could easily spend 2-3 days here if you have that time! 

But we spent most of our time hiking The Narrows. The pictures obviously aren't going to do this place justice. Because we were hiking through water, I just took my iPhone in a water-proof case, and not my nicer camera. 

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We hiked (and swam) for about 5 hours. It took less time to hike out than it did to hike in because we were going upstream, and we were also stopping a lot to take in our surroundings. Mostly the water was about ankle deep, getting up to your thighs every now and then. And once I hit the 2 hour mark, I did have to swim some parts of the river. 

It was just absolutely stunning. The canyon walls are so high, and once you get in about an hour, you'll realize why it's called The Narrows as the walls come in closer and closer. It's an experience I wish I could take all my favorite people on, and definitely one I will return to one day.

Here you can see it starts to narrow significantly. It's really magical. 

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Here's some pictures of us hiking. Scroll right to get a good idea of what you'r up against. It's really not too difficult or treacherous. My dad, who is 69, had a harder time than me and he didn't go as far as I did into the canyons. But you can go in quite a ways before having to swim. And I saw lots of people with children hiking. 

All we had with us was a backpack with snacks, so nothing could really get ruined if we got submerged.

You've got to watch out for the squirrels! This little guy was neck-deep in trail mix before we even realized it! They aren't afraid of humans at all.

You've got to watch out for the squirrels! This little guy was neck-deep in trail mix before we even realized it! They aren't afraid of humans at all.

This was  the  best ice cream cone I've had in my life. Partly because it was just really tasty, and partly because it really hit the spot after a 5 hour hike.

This was the best ice cream cone I've had in my life. Partly because it was just really tasty, and partly because it really hit the spot after a 5 hour hike.

The Practical Stuff

When to go:
GO IN THE MORNING. Seriously, as soon as the shuttle starts running, you should be on that first shuttle. I think we got into the canyon around 9 (which wasn't even as early as we could have) and we had a great experience, with minimal people. But on our way hiking back out, there were TONS of people, and the experience was not the same. And the paths had also become really muddy and slippery with so many people trekking through. 

How to hike:
You'll definitely want to rent water socks, hiking boots, and a hiking stick...maybe even two sticks. Do NOT skip out on this. I thought I could wear my Chacos and my dad forced me to rent gear from a place in Springfield and he was so right. It's rocky almost the entire way, so you want to be able to put your foot down without fear of hurting your toes. 

You'll likely want to take a light jacket as well, as very little sun gets in and it can be a little chilly in there.

What to expect:
The water is a bit cold, but you get used to it right away, and the water socks help. Depending on how deep the water is in certain areas, your difficulty walking through it will obviously increase. Expect to use those thigh muscles! If you start at the bottom of The Narrows, you'll be walking upstream so that makes it a bit more difficult as well. 

Is it dangerous?
Generally speaking, the rocks are big and rounded off, not jagged. So falling might be annoying, but it's not dangerous. And the water is mostly shallow enough that you wouldn't get swept away. Basically, you'd fall, get wet, and then just get back up. 

There's also a flash flood potential to be aware of. Because the canyon is so long and narrow, it can be clear skies above, but raining a long way away, and cause a flash flood which is obviously very dangerous. You'll want to be aware of weather in surrounding areas, and Zion also has some signs saying how likely flooding is that day. 

How do I get there?
There's a free shuttle service in the Canyon that takes you to all the places you can hike. It's about a 40 minute ride from the visitor center all the way to the entrance of The Narrows, with several stops along the way. Take the shuttle to the very last stop, and then you'll hike about 30 minutes to the base of The Narrows where you can begin!

Alternatively, you can get an adventure company in Springfield to drive you to the top of the Narrows, and you can hike all the way down to the base that the shuttle takes you to. We met one couple who did this, and they said it was about an 8 hour hike. There's no turning back on this one. 

Some random tips
Pack a lunch! This is such a cool experience. The last thing you want to do is turn back for hungers-sake. We packed peanut butter and bread from the hotel and stopped on a rock for lunch. Then we were reinvigorated for more hours of hiking. 

The deeper you go into the canyon, the deeper areas of water you'll experience. I hiked in about 2.5 hours, and near that time mark, I had to swim to get where I was going. But up until then, I had only gotten wet up to my thighs. 

And here's a deer who is also totally nonchalent around humans! 

And here's a deer who is also totally nonchalent around humans! 

Road Trip 2017: Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada

Father-daughter trip 2017. Full disclosure, my dad planned this entire thing. (Honestly I barely weighed in besides "I want to hike a lot.") And because my dad planned it, the trip was 1: meticulously and thoroughly executed, and 2: not my usual super inexpensive trip! We stayed in nice hotels and had nice dinners and gambled in Vegas! I think total for both of us for 7 nights ended up being around $3000.

It was a seriously amazing trip though. I was so inspired by all the beautiful things I saw, and it felt so good to leave the busy/technology-riddled world behind and spend 7 nights on the road. We went the first week in September, and the weather was perfect. 

Rocky Mountain National Park

This was so lovely. We took the 11 mile precarious dirt ride up the side of the mountain all the way to the top, and stopped a few places along with way to hike. We saw elk, marmots, a fox, and even a young bear! YES a bear! 

I took a solo hike on one of the trails, and it was really life-giving. The air was crisp, and the stream was cold, and the atmosphere was teaming with that thing you only find out alone in nature. That thing I'm not sure quite how to describe...

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How we got there:
Flew into Denver Colorado. Drove to Estes Park and spent the night. Got up early in the morning for Rocky Mountain National Park.

Arches National Park

Arches was great! I mean look at that picture! Beautiful! Also hot! There's so many arches to walk out and see, and each walk is a good hike in the relentless heat. So make sure you come prepared with water and some steal resolve to get to your arch. Also know your limits out there! 

One really nice hike that does provide some shade is Park Avenue, shown below if you scroll right. It's about a 30 minute walk

Because my dad didn't want to hike too far in the heat, we were choosy about which arches to go see. My favorite one was Sand Dune Arch. It was my favorite because it was in a narrow, shady, cool canyon, with really soft red sand. It was just a nice atmosphere. There were also some really fun rocks to climb back there, shown above if you scroll right.

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How we got there:
After Rocky Mountain National Park, we drove to Moab, UT to spend the night. Then we drove to Arches the next morning! P.S. The entrance to Arches is spectacular! 

Grand Canyon National Park

So the Grand Canyon was actually my least favorite part of the trip. But that's probably because we didn't do any hiking? We just went to the South Rim to a few of the overlooks. So once the initial shock of "holy shit this is huge and looks like a painting and am I actually on The Truman Show" wears off...it's time to move on. Honestly, the thing was just so big it didn't even look real. 

If I went again, the right move would be to go on some hikes down into the canyon. I think I could have appreciated it a lot more from that perspective. Standing on the overlook with a bunch of other people, vying for space really took away a lot of the majesty and romance of the place. 

My real next move is to river raft down the entire Colorado River! 

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How we got there:
After Arches, we drove to Flagstaff, AZ. The next morning, we went to the Grand Canyon! While we were in Flagstaff, we ate at The McMillan Bar & Kitchen which was v good. 

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend was really scary! First of all, it seems like it's "right off the road." But it's actually a good 20-30 minute walk with absolutely no shade. So take water. Back to it being scary....there is no guard rail, and there's sand, and rippled rock all the way to the edge, so you really need to be careful. Vertigo could be a real issue here, and it's about a 200 ft drop. 

There were also a lot of people getting dangerously close to the edge to snap the "perfect picture" which really had me on edge [ಠ_ಠ]. We basically walked down, snapped a few pics, and headed right back! I wouldn't recommend this if you have young children. But as you can see, it really is very beautiful, and totally worth a stop.

How we got there:
We drove from the Grand Canyon to Page, AZ. This is on the way there, on Hwy 89, just before you get to Page. 

Lake Powell

Lake Powell was quite lovely. The blue water butting up against the red dirt was really stunning, and unlike any landscape I've seen before. The water temperature was perfect and there were several people swimming. I would have gone swimming, but our trip here was impromptu and I was not prepared. 

You can rent boats here which seemed like a fun option for an afternoon activity. I also saw a jackrabbit when we were hiking around!

The Slot Canyons – Owl, Rattlesnake, Antelope

Here it is! You've all seen these in your favorite Nat Geo, as computer screen savers, and maybe in "127 hours"...slot canyons! Let me first say, these are obviously ridiculously stunning and majestic and almost otherworldly. But, you do have to see these on a guided tour. And a lot of these tours are "photo tours" which means your tour guide tells you where to stand, and when to stop, and what setting to put your iPhone on. It was just a little different than I expected...

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The canyons we went through were Owl, Rattlesnake, and Antelope. Owl and Rattlesnake were the most fun because we were in our small group of 9. And Rattlesnake was pretty cool because it snakes around [get it?] and you get to climb through small slits and up ladders and the like. 

Antelope is probably the one you recognize most, with the light shaft coming through it. That canyon was the most crowded, with hundreds of people filing in and out. It felt more like a museum than being out in nature. In fact, if you pan down about a foot in that image on the left, you'd see around 50 people just there. So again, very beautiful, but lots and lots of people and shuffling and photo taking. Less romantic than it seems, but surely worth seeing in real life. 

How we got there:
This is right outside of Page, AZ, and is Navajo* owned land which is why you have to take a tour. We used Antelope Canyon Photo Tours

*Our tour guide told us a sobering fact. The Navajo isn't even the term they call themselves. They call themselves Dene, which means "people" in their language. Actually navajo means "thieves," and was a name given to them by the Spanish. 

Zion National Park

Zion was way too cool! So it deserved a post entirely to itself! Hiking The Narrows was definitely one of the best things I've ever done. I think canyoneering might be my new thing??? (see also: canyoneering in Guatemala

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How we got there:
After our day in the slot canyons, we drove to Hurricane, Utah. In the morning, we got up early and drove to Zion. However, I would actually recommend staying in Springdale, UT. It was much closer and really cute. 

Linville Falls

So my 29th birthday is next month....seems like a perfect time to finally write about my birthday last year amirite?!?! First of all, I'm going to be ragging on Gui a little bit in my next blog post (Joshua Tree – coming soon) so I'm gonna go ahead and talk him up right now. I told him I didn't want to think about and/or plan my birthday because I feel like my whole life is thinking and planning. I just wanted to relax. And I'll say, he planned a beautiful little weekend trip for me — one of my best adult birthdays ever. 

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It was a two night trip to visit Linville Falls. We stayed in Newland, NC in the Couple's Cabin, which I obviously died when I saw....I mean it was perfect. Just a bed and a fridge, what else do you need? Luckily for you, I've got the link right here.  It's a little cabin on a beautiful piece of land that has a few other small cabins, but  mostly it's a mobile home park. There was a big pond and tons of grass. We spent a lot of time playing frisbee and meeting the "local" dogs. 

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The town is small so prepare to enjoy the wonders of nature because everything closes early, and there's only a few places to eat! One night, we tried the Blind Squirrel Brewery.

On Saturday we went to Linville Falls. We hiked the various trails and took in the views. I could see from the top that people were swimming in the falls. So of course the whole time we were hiking, I was dying to get down there. 

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The trek down to the falls was actually a bit difficult; it would be hard with kids, so bear that in mind. Of course swimming was as magical as ever. I can't resist natural swimming areas, although it was a bit cold even in late June! There's some rock siding you can climb up and jump into the water as well. It was a little bit treacherous, but we followed other people who were already doing it so we knew it was safe. 

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It's such a wonderful place to hang out for a couple of hours. You can swim, take a break, lay out on a hot rock, have a snack, and then start all over again. 

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We took a much needed nap after that full day. Then we got some pizza, and the sun was setting just as we were pulling away....so we parked in the Food Lion parking lot to watch and eat our dinner. 

There's really nothing I love more than getting tired out during the day having all sorts of fun, eating a nice meal, and calling it a night early in a tiny little cabin! This trip really had me feeling like a kid again. It's going to be hard to top this one!

Vegetable Quiche

I've slowly been renovating my diet over the last few months, replacing one meal at a time with something healthy, organic, unprocessed, and/or low in sugar. I also make and plan almost all meals at the beginning of the week to eliminate the emergency Hardee's trips due to unpreparedness. (that $5 big bag tho!) 

This also keeps my grocery bill to $20-$30 per week. (yes, cooking for one #foreveralone #mycatsfoodbillishigher)


This week, for example, I'll have:
Breakfast: organic cereal and unsweetened almond milk
10am snack: tea
Lunch: grilled chickens and black beans
2pm snack: Chobani flip (this is the one thing I haven't replaced yet because I love it and it's my treat)
4pm snack: hummus and carrots
Dinner: vegetable quiche (our featured recipe) 

I can't say I've noticed many changes in my body. I haven't lost weight and I mostly feel the same. But hopefully eating mindfully will help me live long, prosper, avoid the doctor, etc. and such as. 

It's also nice to have more control over my diet, and theoretically, my willpower (although that's not always the case). Even though tbh I'm trying to relinquish control in ALL other areas of my life so maybe I should just eat whatever the F I want too! 

Anyways, the quiche...the reason we are here...is really delicious, and it's only about 200 calories per slice or 1/8 of the pie. You can put in whatever vegetables you like, but the radishes look good, right?! Enjoy! 

Ingredients:

Pie crust
6 Eggs
1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Radishes
Salt + pepper
Parmesan cheese (optional)
2 slices peppered bacon (optional)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Unroll the pre-made pie crust into your pie pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes. 
3. While the crust is baking, lightly whip your eggs with the almond milk. Generously season with salt and pepper. 
4. Chop your desired veggies and add to egg mixture. 
5. Julienne the radishes. 
6. Fill the partially baked crust with your egg mixture, and top with the sliced radishes. 
7. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Check periodically because you may need to cover the crust edges with foil near the end. 
8. Fry up the bacon while quiche is cooking. Then, chop into small pieces. 
9. Top fully baked quiche with parmesan cheese and pieces of bacon. 

Holiday Gift Guide for the Women in Your Life

I did a holiday gift guide last year, and it was so much fun. Here are my thoughts for a special 2016:

1. A Weekend Getaway — I love going on simple, low-cost getaways instead of doing gifts. It's a great memory and you can support local folks by shopping through sites like airbnb. For my birthday in June, we went to Linville Falls and stayed in the sweetest and tiniest little cabin. During the day we played frisbee, swam at the falls, and hiked. It was beautiful. 

2. Square Print Set — This is a very sweet way to look back on your year or life together. You can get these from Artifact Uprising, and they are great quality. Other places, like Parabo Press, may have them for cheaper, and sometimes free for your first order. There's lots of fun ways to display these at home. 

3. Jewelry — I feel like if you are successfully able to pick out a piece of jewelry for someone, you really know their style. Etsy has the coolest jewelry, and you can find some really affordable options. My favorite shops this season are Permanent BaggageDani Barbe, and Cartouche

4. Clutch — I don't usually like buying a lot of things that aren't purely practical. But for some reason, I'm sometimes tempted by cool and simple clutches, especially for holiday parties. If you are not on a budget...at all...the clutch pictured above is a really beautiful unique option. But I've also seen some really cool ones at Target that are 1/10 of that price. 

5. Donate or Volunteer Together — You could donate all your old blankets and jackets, spend a morning at the Soup Kitchen, buy gifts for a family in need, take food to a Ronald McDonald house...there's literally endless options. But it would be a special experience, that's a gift for you and someone else.