Grand Cayman – New Year & Baby Moon

The Cayman Islands weren’t on our short list of places to visit but you become very limited on options when you have a very specific time frame to travel and are trying to avoid Zika. When we found out we were pregnant we immediately began thinking about where we could go on a “babymoon”, the last trip before we became a family of three.  We needed to travel over the holidays and wanted to go somewhere warm. We narrowed it down to the Caribbean where there were three islands that were Zika free. Of the three islands, the quickest for us to get to was the Cayman Islands so we made the plans to be there over New Year’s.

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Seven Mile Beach – Calico Jacks

Most tourists end up staying on Seven Mile beach which is a stretch of white sand beach that is covered in hotels and condos. We ended up staying at a great Airbnb in Bodden town which is about halfway between Seven Mile beach and Rum Point, another popular tourist destination. You could drive around the whole island in about 2 hours so it was a good place for us to be so we could be close to Seven Mile but off of the beaten path.

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Beach and Ocean View from our AirBnB

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Baby Conch

 

Most of our vacation was spent relaxing, exploring the island, and eating at some great local restaurants. A few of our favorites were:

  • Heritage Café, a local joint serving fresh fish either Cayman style, coconut, or pineapple.
  • Kaibo Beach bar, a hipster restaurant and beach bar near Rum Point. They had a great view, food, and drinks.
  • Casa 43, a great Mexican restaurant near Seven Mile beach, they have a great tequila selection, awesome snapper ceviche.
  • Czech Inn, this restaurant is getting a call out because it was right across the street from our Airbnb, was byob, had fresh fish and jerk chicken, and we ended up eating her 4 times.
  • Rankins Jerk, a jerk shop in Bodden town where mostly locals visit. Great jerk chicken and worth the trip from Seven Mile for some local food.

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Heritage Cafe – Photo courtesy of one of the locals

Dan ended up diving two days while we were there. The island has over 200 dive sites and some beautiful coral.

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Another must do is to go to Stingray city, a sand bar off of the island where you can swim with stingrays and hold them! We took the sunset cruise out there which was good choice because you miss the cruise ship rush and get to sail back during a beautiful sunset. While we were on the island we saw 3-4 cruise ships a day and the locals said there could be up to 7 in the harbor at once.

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Being limited on the amount of scuba diving we could do since Dan was the only one diving, we were searching for other activities and found the Cayman Crystal Caves. They have over 100 caves and currently only 3 are open to the public. The best one is the last cave that has an underground lake.

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See the tree frog? 

We ended up driving around the island exploring and stumbled across a set of concrete sculptures that someone has put up in their front yard.  Don’t forget to drive on the left hand side of the road! Also driving around you can appreciate all of the massive homes on the island. Apparently Grand Cayman doesn’t have property taxes so you can plant your money here in real estate.

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Just one of the many luxury homes..

Top 5 things to do in Grand Cayman:

  1. Have a drink at Kaibo beach bar
  2. See the Cayman Crystal Caves
  3. Dive one of the 200+ dive sites
  4. Swim with the Stingrays
  5. Eat fresh fish and conch fritters or jerk chicken at a local joint

 

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Mojito’s on the East End – Tukka Restaurant

 

Cartagena – Caribbean Columbia

Cartagena is a beautiful colorful city on the Caribbean. It was the richest city during Spanish rule because all of the gold and jewels from the Incas were sent here before being put on ships back to Spain. The old city is a UNESCO world heritage site and is surrounded by a huge wall. Because of all of the money in the city the Spanish wanted to defend the city to the max so the wall was built along with multiple fortresses.

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Cocktails on a rooftop bar at sunset. 

We spent 2 of the days in Cartagena on the Islas del Rosarios which is a cluster of islands about an hour boat ride from the city. We decided we needed to take a vacation from our vacation/traveling and just relax by the pool before heading back to the states. The Islas del Rosarios is surrounded by a protected reef so we got a few more dives under our belt. Our favorite dive was a night dive where we saw a ton of lobsters and crabs. Then at the end of the dive we turned our lights off and got to see the bioluminescence in the water.

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Another one of the highlights was during dinners one of the guests would play the guitar and sing traditional Spanish songs. It was such a cool experience. Then on the last night the owner of the hotel shared a bottle of rum and Cuban cigars with all of the guests and the musician to thank him for playing. He also invited us all down to the lagoon near the hotel because it was one in five lagoons in the world where you could see great bioluminescence.

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Heading back to the city we had a pretty epic boat ride where the driver seemed to only drive the boat at full throttle over enormous waves. All of the passengers in the back of the boat were soaking wet by the end of the ride. Dan and I lucked out and only got a little wet. During this ride Dan coined the term #backlivesmatter so more attention would be put towards passengers at the back of the boat.

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Once back in the city we spent our time strolling the beautiful streets and city walls. At night the city really came alive with street musicians, dancers, and a male Shakira impersonator. These performers would rotate down the plazas to each of the restaurants. So each night you could sit on the patio of a restaurant on the plaza and have free entertainment.

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Nighttime is when the city really comes alive. The streets fill with tourists and locals, street performers, and horse drawn carriages. We took one of these carriages around one night. It was actually real affordable for a 20 minute ride where the driver tried to explain in broken English what the sites were. It ended up being a really cool way to see the city at night.

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Since Cartagena is on the coast we had a bunch of great seafood including some delicious ceviche. We ended up going back to the Cevicheria twice during our stay. The Cevicheria was also visited by Anthony Bourdain.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Cartagena:

  1. Take a boat trip to the Islas del Rosarios
  2. Sit on a patio sipping a mojito watching the street performers
  3. Get a horse drawn carriage tour of the old city
  4. Wander the city walls during sunset
  5. Eat ceviche

Montevideo, Uruguay – Meat and Mate

Montevideo is the capital city of Uruguay and only a 1 hour boat and 3 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires (BA). A lot of portenos (Buenos Aires residents) board the boat on the weekends to head to the beaches of Uruguay. We decided to head to Montevideo after discovering that it was a pretty simple trek from BA. You would think that with Uruguay being so close to BA they would be very similar but that was not the case. Uruguay has a very strong African influence and is bordered by Brazil on the west so there was a lot stronger Latin flavor to the city. The first night we arrived we heard drums down the street so we went outside to investigate and found a troupe of 30 drummers and 20 dancers heading towards us. Apparently they were practicing for Carnaval so we got to stand on the street with the local and get a sneak peak of the show.

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Practicing for Carnaval on the street in front of our apartment. 

Montevideo seems to beat to the rhythm of its own drum (see what I did there?) where the people set their own schedules lunch in the afternoon, dinners not until 10pm, and dancing at 4am. I now know how they can stay up until the sun comes up. They are continuously drinking a caffeinated tea called Yerba Mate. You see most locals carrying around thermoses and mate’s with bombillas sticking out of them. Mate’s are the vessels that the mate is served in and the bombilla is the straw. These three accessories are crucial to drinking Yerba Mate because the Yerba Mate is a loose leaf tea that you pour into your mate, add hot water from your thermos, and sip through your bombilla. The Bombilla is a metal straw with a filter at the bottom that filters your Yerba Mate. You also have to carry around a thermos because the Mate (cup you are drinking from) only holds a small amount of water and mate so you are continuously filling and emptying. The locals especially liked to sit by the river on La Rambla during the weekends and evening sipping mate.

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Montevideo is covered in street art. Here is an example of some of the better works.

 

Another Uruguayan specialty is the Chivito. The Chivito is the ultimate fat kid meal and a heart attack waiting to happen. We ordered the complete plate which consisted of a pile of French fries, potato salad, and a small green salad topped with a steak, ham, cheese, and an egg. It was delicious but I could definitely feel my arteries clog a little while eating it.

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This is a chivito. Largest pile of french fries topped with meat, ham, cheese, and eggs.

A similarity between BA and Montevideo was the love of grilled meat. The Mercado del Puerto is an awesome market that is filled with Parillija’s. You pull up a chair, sip some medio y medio (half white wine have sparkling) or litres of beer, and order delicious grilled meats and vegetables. The chorizo we had here was the best probably ever. The Mercado del Puerto is also great because it is surround by local artisans selling awesome crafts so you can eat your heart out and then wander around the city shopping and looking at the beautiful buildings and striking street art/graffiti.

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Parrilla in the Mercado del Puerto.

Another market worth checking out is the newer Mercado Agricole there are some neat souvenir shops, a food court, brewery tasting, and Materia. Dan and I got the skinny on how to drink Yerba Mate so Dan could use his newly purchased mate and bombilla that he picked up at the Sunday outdoor market.

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Dan and I didn’t end up staying up until the sun came up but we did check out a cool live music and tango venue Baar Fun Fun where we got to listen to some authentic music and tried uvita which is a sweet wine drink. They have different acts every night so it is worth checking out the schedule before heading over.

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Uruguayan craft beer.

On our last day in Montevideo we stopped to check out the Museo de Andes 1972. This museum outlines and pays tribute to the survivors and casualties of the 1972 Uruguayan airplane crash in the Andes. The museum tells the story of how 15 people not only survived a plane crash they survived 72 days above tree line in the snow covered Andes. Their story is amazing. The plane that crashed was carrying a Rugby team and their friends and family. In order to survive that had to resort to eating the dead. It’s a great story and the museum was well done. Definitely recommended if in Montevideo.

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Top 5 things to do in Montevideo:

  1. Eat Chorizo and sip Medio y Medio at the Mercado del Puerto
  2. Wander the colonial streets looking for street art and appreciating the architecture
  3. Sip Yerba Mate with the locals on the Rambla
  4. Visit the Museo de Andes 1972
  5. Try a Chivito at one of the local diners

Buenos Aires – European City in South America

We spent about 10 days total in Buenos Aires and still feel like we didn’t even come close to seeing the entire city. There are so many cool neighborhoods and places to see the city will definitely keep you busy. The first half of our visit was spent in the Recoleta neighborhood and the second half was in Palermo. We would definitely recommend the Palermo neighborhood over Recoleta because there are a lot more restaurants nearby and it seems like the happening place to be. Recoleta was nice because it was near some of the main sites and really close to a subway line.

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At first we weren’t so sure about Buenos Aires because it seemed that too many things were going wrong. First Kristin’s checked bag was lost but was eventually delivered at 11:30pm that same night. Second we were majorly scammed for the first time on our trip. We needed to change money on a Sunday and had been reading that the street exchange rate is a lot better than the exchange rate that a bank will give you so we headed to Florida street where it was recommended by our host to exchange some USD to Argentinian pesos. As you are walking down Florida street you pass people offering you to change money. We ended up selecting a pair of seedy looking dudes to exchange money with. We then walked away from the main street and gave them $200 USD and we got our Argentinian pesos. After Dan and I walked away we had a bad feeling about the transaction and lo and behold when we tried to use the money the cashier took one look at it and new it was fake. We basically bought Xeroxed copies of pesos!! YEA! At first we thought about throwing the fake money away or maybe lighting it on fire but decided against it and will be bringing it home as a souvenir and maybe figuring out some way to use it.

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After getting over the initial ass kicking that Buenos Aires provided we ended up having a pretty good time. Buenos Aires is famous for their Parrillas which are restaurants that serve all kinds of cuts of grilled beef, lamb, sausages, and chicken. They usually have an open kitchen where you can watch the meat being grilled. These places are everywhere so we ended up eating at a few different ones during our stay. You really can’t go wrong with some delicious grilled meat, salad, and a bottle of Malbec.

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Our two favorites were the Parrilla Pena and Don Julio. Parrilla Pena was a really affordable option near our place in Recoleta. Don Julio was a little bit more expensive but so worth it. This was probably the best steak I have ever had and was perfectly cooked. I had the tenderloin and Dan got a ribeye. Dan also had a Morcilla which is a blood sausage that he said was out of this world.

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Oh and I forgot to mention the grilled meat is always served with Chimichurri. I love Chimichurri. The Argentinian chimichurri is a lot different than what we are used to. Instead of fresh herbs it is usually made with dried herbs, is less garlicy, and sweeter from the addition of roasted peppers. Each parrilla had its own version so it was fun to try different types.

Buenos Aires is also famous for the Tango and a Tango show is a must see while in the city. We decided on Tango Porteno which was near Recoleto and was more modern than the traditional shows. We really enjoyed it.

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A good way to see Recoleta is to participate in the free walking tour on the neighborhood. We did this one morning and got a good introduction to the city, some history, and overview of the great and differing architecture. Our guide was really fun and played the guitar/sang during different sections of the tour. During the tour we walked by a protest (we saw more than a few during our stay) and the guide proceeded to tell us that there is always a protest in BA and you never know what they are protesting about. The tour ended at the Cemetary Recoleta which is gorgeous to walk through and you can see Eva Perron’s grave (aka Evita).

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Another neighborhood worth checking out is the San Telmo neighborhood. It is more hippie than Recoleta and Palermo. The streets are lined with cool antique shops and boutiques. We explored the neighborhood on Sunday when there was a huge outdoor market. People were selling antiques, handicrafts, art, and all kinds of random stuff. The market ended at the Plaza de Mayo where more protests are held and the famous Casa Rosada stands where Evita spoke from the balcony to the Argentinian citizens. Near the plaza is Café Tortoni probably the most famous café in BA. We stopped here to grab some churros and chocolate but they were out of churros!! We ended up settling for the more authentic coffee and medialunas (aka sweet croissants).

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There was a cool Jazz bar, Notorious, that we stumbled upon while we were exploring the Recoleta neighborhood. We stopped by one night for dinner and a show. They musicians were paying a tribute to Miles Davis. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the neighborhood.

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When we got back from Uruguay we stayed in the super hipster trendy neighborhood of Palermo. We fell in love with this neighborhood. There are tons of cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops that you can walk to and the sidewalks are full of locals milling about. We ended up finding a super cool coffee shop that was only a few blocks from our apartment and ended up heading here every day. It was so great to have a great light roast Aeropress or Chemex coffee (Yea I know. We are coffee snobs.) One day at the shop this guy on a bike showed up serving handmade New York bagels with cream cheese and lox. And he was a Jew from New York living in BA. It is amazing the people you meet while traveling.

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On one of our last days in BA we headed to the La Boca neighborhood which is totally worth the trip. The neighborhood is home to the Bocas Juniors soccer team stadium and Caminito a row of buildings painted bright colors where tons of artists hang out. We took a tour of the stadium and were impressed that they don’t let anyone in wearing another teams jersey. The stadium is pretty run down but you can tell that the locals love the Bocas Juniors because people are sporting their colors all over the city. Caminito was fun to tour around and look at what the locals are creating. There were also stands slinging fresh squeezed OJ!

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Top 5 things to do in Buenos Aires:

  1. Eat a perfectly cooked steak at Don Julio
  2. See a tango show
  3. Visit La Boca and wander Caminito
  4. Sip a hipster coffee in Palermo
  5. Take a walking tour of Recoleta and end with a café and medialuna at Café Tortoni

Great Barrier Reef and Cairns, Australia – Swimming with the fishes and some Evanyo’s

We were lucky enough on this leg of the journey to have Kristin’s parents, John and Sandy, fly from Denver, Colorado and meet us in Australia! We were able to grab breakfast with them in Sydney before we headed north to Cairns to meet them again and start our dive trip. Cairns is a pretty touristy town that caters to scuba divers and snorkelers wanting to catch a glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).

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We caught our 3 day, 2 night dive trip out of the harbor in Cairns.  It’s a 3 hour boat ride from Cairns to the GBR and pretty rough so they definitely recommend taking some Dramamine on the way out. Once we got to the GBR we had 3 day dives and a night dive the first two days and 3 dives the last day for a total of 11 dives! The diving in the GBR is pretty easy and shallow since the highlight is the coral reefs and they aren’t very deep. It was also great because the dive company we went with, Pro Dive Cairns, had exclusive access to a few reefs so our group  of 3 had the reef mostly to ourselves. You also got to dive at your own speed because you didn’t dive with a guide and they let you off of the boat with your dive buddy and let you fend for yourselves and navigate back to the boat. As usual my buddy was Dan and he was in charge of the navigating most of the time because I had no idea where the boat was so he got used to understanding my hand gesture of “Where is the boat?” under water.

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The coral formations are absolutely stunning. They consist of mostly hard corals and colored stag horned coral spread across the ocean floor.  Another thing unique to the GBR are giant clams that have beautiful bright colored insides. The biggest clam that we saw on our trip was about 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. They are ginormous!  We saw some other large creatures including bumphead parrot fish that were 3 ½ feet long and 2 feet tall and Bryan the large green turtle who we got to visit during one of the night dives.  And I can’t forget the 5 foot long barracuda that was chilling under the dive boat while we were taking our safety stop.

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We had some interesting animal interactions during our dives. The most memorable was the cuttlefish that Dan was trying to get to mimic him and when it was no longer interested in playing it changed colors all of a sudden and lunged at Dan’s face. Apparently it was not in the mood to play or it didn’t like Dan who knows. During one of the last dives a smaller reef shark decided it wanted to hang out with us during the dive and we got some great video of it swimming through the coral. A hilarious interaction that we witnessed was one with a pair of triggerfish who were guarding their nest and every diver that swam by was attacked by one of the triggerfish.

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The food on the dive boat was actually really good and the crew was super friendly. We were basically eating, sleeping, and diving so there was not really time for much else. Some entertainment was provided by watching the cook clean dishes off of the back of the boat. During his cleaning 20-30 huge fish would swarm the back of the boat to eat the scraps. They were so close that he was almost able to put one of these huge fish in his salad bowl. At night after dinner not only would these big fish show up the sharks would as well. It was a little unnerving to watch multiple large sharks off the back of the boat while you are getting ready to get in the water for your night dive but we survived.

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It was great being able to share this amazing experience with Kristin’s parents and to help them check off diving the Great Barrier Reef from their bucket list.

Singapore – Big City Living

Singapore is a crazy big, crazy busy, and crazy developed city-state in the middle of Southeast Asia. It is nothing like any of the other countries that surround it and feels like a big city straight out of the United States or some other developed English speaking country. We were lucky enough to have Dan’s relatives the Kilburn-Peterson family living in Singapore so we used their awesome condo as home base and then took 10-18 day trips around Southeast Asia. This allowed us to bring about half of our gear and come back to a developed country, hot showers, comfortable beds, and family every few weeks. It was also great having Singaporean “locals” show us around the city and take us to the best Hawker markets, sights, and restaurants.

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View from Marina Bay Sands. 
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Merlion! Thats right people the symbol of Singapore is a mermaid lion and it’s awesome .

Singapore has an awesome food scene from hawker markets to five star dining and a ton of Din Tai Fung’s aka DTF (Taiwanese Dumpling Joint)! Dan and I have been on a mission to go to Din Tai Fung if we have the opportunity because it is only in a select number of countries. So far we have been in Hong Kong, Los Angeles (two locations), Seattle, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. The other great thing about Singapore is the hawker markets because Singapore food quality standards are really high so you can eat their street food without worrying about what will happen in the next few hours or next day.  Singapore has large Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian populations so you can have the best of everything here! A few standout meals that we had (other than every time we went to DTF) were the night near the Merlion where we ate Black Pepper Crab, Dan’s bday dinner of Frog Leg Porridge, and Peking Duck and carrot cake (not the dessert) at dim sum. Really all the food was pretty amazing so it is hard to pick favorites.

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Eating black pepper crab on the bay.

Singapore has a lot of outdoor activities but most of the time we were there the haze from the Indonesian fires was keeping us inside. When we did get the opportunity to get out and see the sights we had to get to the Skytree’s and cloud forest. The Skytree’s are huge metal trees with a walkway across them that light up and night and the cloud forest is a cool indoor botanic gardens and waterfall. We also had to get to the world renowned Singapore Zoo and it was definitely worth it! Tons of orangutans and other monkeys in outdoor enclosures. Two awesome white tigers and we even got to see the Sumatran spitting black cobra that we encountered on our night walk in Malaysia.

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Cloud forest

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One of the coolest experiences we had while in Singapore was the opportunity to see the F-1 car race followed by the Jon Bon Jovi concert! Thank you Chris and Linda!! The F-1 race track went right through the heart of the city and you got great views of the cars racing by. We also were able to witness one of the attendees jump onto the track during the race and nonchalantly walk against the F-1 traffic (not so smart). Fortunately he was pulled off of the track uninjured. After the race was over there was an included Jon Bon Jovi concert and Jon put on quite the show and played most of his old hits.

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Rocking out at the JBJ concert.
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JBJ!!!!

Another great experience was the night of Dan’s birthday after we had frog leg porridge. (I know you guys are thinking eww!! But it is actually really delicious!) We went to bar on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands which is this huge fancy hotel on the bay. The bar overlooks downtown Singapore and is so cool because you are having a tasty drink on the top of one of the tallest buildings in Singapore with a killer view.

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View of Skytree’s and cloud forest from Marina Bay Sands.
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Frog leg porridge!
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Just a Lamborghini and Ferrari parked out front the frog leg porridge spot.

Last but not least we have to give a shout out to Maggie and Andrew, Dan’s niece and nephew, who kept us more than entertained and were great hosts while we stayed with them in Singapore. We had a great time relearning the card game Uno and getting tons of “feedback”, getting told many knock-knock jokes (have you heard the one about the interrupting cow?), and spending Sunday lunches at DTF. We miss you guys!!

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Maggie is the coolest 4 year old we know. 
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Andrew and Kristin selfie with a Linda photobomb

Top 5 Things to Do in Singapore:

  1. Eat at the many Hawker Markets
  2. See the Orangutans at the Singapore Zoo
  3. Get a fancy drink atop the Marina Bay Sands
  4. Stuff your face with soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung
  5. If you are lucky see the F-1 cars race through downtown Singapore

Vientiane, Laos – BeerLao and Boat Festivals

Vientiane is the capital of Laos and is pretty small compared to the other capital cities of Southeast Asia making it a great place to explore, there is plenty to see and you get to know the Laotian culture. We were lucky enough to be in the city during one of Vientiane’s biggest festivals Bun Nam. The streets were packed with people and lined with tents selling all kinds of goods, making food, and running carnival games. During the evening the stages were opened and concerts got going and a muay thai fight started. It was crazy loud because almost every tent had a few speakers either blasting music or egging people to come buy from their stall. It was madness. Along with the crazy party the main draw is the boat race that occurs the next day. The night before Loatians make or purchase little boats made of bamboo leaves, flowers, and candles and take them down to the Mekong river where they say prayers and send the boats into the water. The boats are supposed to carry any bad out into the water and away from you. So of course we had to buy one and send it out into the water (we wished that any bad travel juju would be sent out into the Mekong).

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Boat headed to the Mekong.
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LIght up boats and fireworks on the Mekong.
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Bamboo boats. These are the super fancy ones. Made of bamboo leaves, flowers, and candles to float in the river.
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Muay thai fight.
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Dan winning at Laos carnival games.

Since Vientiane is pretty small it’s a great place to explore on foot or bicycle. We rented bikes from our hostel and rode around the city seeing the main sites. Vientiane has a replica of the Arc de Triomphe and a large street that leads up to the building that people have referred to as the Champs D’Elysees of the east. (Fun Fact: They built the arc with concrete given to them by the US that was supposed to go towards building an airport.) You can climb to the top and get a good few of the city.

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Biking up the asian Champs D’Elysees.
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Asian Arc de Triomphe.
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Laos monks overlooking the asian Arc de Triomphe.

Vientiane also has a lot of Buddhist temples worth visiting that are within the city. They are beautifully decorated with colorful paintings and statues.

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An interesting attraction outside of the city is a Buddha park where someone decided to take a plot of land and put up a bunch of Buddhist or Hindu statues. We took the public bus here so it was pretty cheap to see the park and entrance reasonable so it was worth seeing since we had some time but definitely not on the must see list of Vientiane.

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One of the highlights in the city is the COPE visitor center. COPE stands for Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise and its mission is to provide prosthetics to people who can’t afford it. They started COPE for people who had lost limbs due to cluster bombs but have expanded to helping people with other disabilities. During the Vietnam war the US used cluster bombs to bomb Laos because the Northern Vietnamese were using Laos territory for supply routes and the Laos government was allowing this to occur. The visitor center is well done and isn’t too biased against the US which is refreshing.

On the last day we booked a tour to go trekking in the Phou Khao Khouay National Park. This forest land is about 2 hours outside of the city and is home to many species of animals including elephants and sun bears (which we did not see on the trek (sad face)). Our tour started with a boat ride in a long boat which is super sketch since the boat is so skinny and once all 5 of were in the boat it is only like 1 inch above the water line. Fortunately we did not fall in or get wet. The second part of the tour consisted of trekking through the Laos jungle and through tons of bamboo. Our guide (who was hiking in flip flops) set a pretty vigorous pace so by the time we got to the end of the trek we were all drenched and sweating profusely. The trek ended at two waterfalls and at the second waterfall we were able to swim in the cold water which was amazing after our run/trek through the jungle.

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Vientiane also had some pretty great food. There is a good mix of western food (when you need a break from Asian street food), street food, other Asian foods like Japanese and Vietnamese and Laotian cuisine. One of our favorite Lao meals we had was at Lao kitchen where we had Laab and this crazy stew that had buffalo skin and pepper bark. Even with the crazy ingredients the stew was pretty tasty. All Laotian food is served with super sticky rice that they serve in a wicker basket. You take the sticky rice and dip it in your food and eat with your hands.  As for drinks the Laotians basically only drink two things BeerLao (90% of the country prefers BeerLao as drink of choice) or rice whiskey. We ended up trying some rice whiskey and it is straight fire water, definitely have a chaser if you ever end up ordering it!

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Here is our ride to the airport.

Top 5 Things to do in Vientiane:

  1. Rent a bike and tour around the city
  2. Eat traditional Lao food at Lao Kitchen
  3. Drink a BeerLao while watching the sunset over the Mekong
  4. Take a tour outside the city to see the countryside
  5. Visit the COPE visitor center