Sick at sea

Sick at Sea: in the last few days we have seen the tricky side of boat travel. Sailing to Tunisia we had rocky seas. Actually, rocky was an understatement. Walking down the hallways people looked like pinball a bouncing around. Faces were green and everyone was miserable. We couldn’t wait to get off in Tunisia to be on stable ground. The morning we arrived at port there were wind gusts of 50 knots. Apparently our ship isn’t designed to sail in winds above 25 knots. The captain made a a judgement call to not stop at the port and turn[…]

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Saved from the cold in Harbin

We are on the Chinese Siberian Russian border in Harbin for the annual Ice and Snow Festival. It is a subzero winter wonderland with ice sculptures greeting you as you exit the airport to ice slides outside the hotel. In our family there is nothing in our life experience or DNA to cope with this level of cold. We live in Hawaii- so there’s no real practice there. We have tried our best to buy every warm article of clothing and body warmer we can find. I counted 6 layers on my body yesterday. Lat night we visited Zhaolin Park[…]

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Bye bye comforts of a home base

Leaving Quy Nhon and Vietnam in a couple of days. These past few months have been about playing house, first in India and then Vietnam. About to resume the fun adventures. Heading to Beijing to stand on the Great Wall of China and then to the Harbin Snow and Ice Festival where we all plan to turn into Popsicles (-15) Posted from Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh province, Vietnam.

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Pushkar Festival- Mission Accomplished!

Pushkar Desert Festival- Mission Accomplished! We have made it to the Pushkar Festival! I feel like it is a milestone of sorts of our trip. We didn’t plan much before starting our 14 month journey, but Pushkar was one of the few things we spent time dreaming and fantasizing about. Pushkar is an amazing desert festival in the middle of rural and remote Rajastan. It’s main purpose is camel, horse and other livestock trading along with religious activities at the end of the festival. Thousands of people from all corners of Rajastan, most arriving on the backs of animals, come[…]

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Amazing Day

September 27, 2013 Amazing Day Last night Avinash cried himself to sleep for the first time. He cried because he did not want the day to end. It was also the first time ever that he expressed that feeling. What was probably an average, maybe even uneventful, day for those around us may be one of the most significant days for Avinash. We did not have a day filled with sightseeing, or playgrounds, or amusement parks. Just a day spent with family. Something we haven’t had on this trip and quite honestly have not had enough of since he has[…]

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Bye Madagascar

Bye Madagascar As we sit at the Antananarivo airport to catch our plane to Nairobi I am filled with mixed emotions as I reflect on our stay here. If I am perfectly honest with myself, I am ready…in fact relieved, to be leaving. I am also not sure that I ever want to come back. Madagascar is a place of amazing and breathtaking natural beauty, but it has one of the worst infrastructures to allow outsiders to enjoy it. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to come here. There are no short cuts[…]

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Madagascar

Madagascar It’s our 3rd day in Madagascar and we finally have seen Lemurs. A relief from what has been a rough start of our visit to this remote and wild area of the world. Before coming here we all had the romantic visions of stepping off the plane and having a lemur greet you by jumping on your shoulder and welcoming you to their island paradise. We probably have some cartoon movie to thank for that image. Landing in Antananarivo was the farthest thing from that idyllic welcome. Tana, as the locals refer to their capital city, is a gritty[…]

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Ants in our Pants

Ants in Our Pants It was our last night at Sala’s camp in Masai Mara. We just had the excitement of the elephant and hippo encounter the night before and we were slightly anxious about getting back to our tent. This time, the 3 of us left together with only 2 other guests. The warrior informed us that our elephant friend was close by and we had seen the hippo on our way into camp after our evening game drive so we know it was probably close too. We all walked single file and with purpose. Then suddenly the Masai[…]

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Cheetah Chase

Cheetah Chase On our second day at Sala’s camp we started bright and early with a 5:45am wakeup to start what ended up being an almost 8 hour game drive. Between the drive the day before and the successful evening drive we already felt contented in our sightings and felt anything more would only be bonus. Our spotter for our game drives was a Masai Elder named Mreku. He was born in a village not far from our camp and knew the area well. a kind of knowledge one would have if only they had spent every day of their[…]

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Africa: The Greatest Show on Earth

Africa: The Greatest Show on Earth As Avinash sat in the bush plane seat next to me puking into the sick bag I couldn’t help but wonder what we were getting ourselves into as we were flying into the Masai Mara. For the past few days we have enjoyed being spoiled at one of the most luxurious places we have ever stayed at, the Solio Lodge in the Lakipia area of Kenya. This lodge was ridiculous by any standards, let alone what I thought safari standards should be. As over the top as it was I can’t complain. I experienced[…]

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Africa

Africa In the past 5 days I have: Relieved an armpit itch of a Senegal bush baby monkey Had the two most memorable breakfasts of my life, one sharing our table with giraffes as they loomed overhead eating from our plates and the other sitting in camp chairs in the bush while looking out over the savannah watching rhinos graze and bring served freshly made omelets made in the back of a land rover. Watched my son ‘mark’ his out in the bush right next to a rhinos droppings Marked my own territory as zebras, water bucks and impalas watched[…]

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Preparing for Africa

We are less than a week away from our much anticipated Africa portion of our trip. Since we have started traveling Avinash has had very little to no TV or iPad time. So when I suggested that we all start watching some travel documentaries about Kenya and Madagascar he could barely contain his excitement. A few nights ago we watched some Wild Kratts Brothers episodes which are great because they are produced by PBS and designed for kids. Last night I suggested we watch a National Geographic documentary about the Wildebeest Migration. It was beautiful, showing the plains of the[…]

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Acclimating and Adapting – 3 months on the road now

We’ve been traveling for exactly 3 months now. Last night I lay shivering under the covers of our hotel room in Istanbul. Just 5 days ago when we arrived the thermostat was as the same setting and I couldn’t stop sweating. It’s amazing how our bodies adapt to our new environment. How about our psyches? We’ve spent the summer in the relative comfort of Western Europe. We planned it that way. There have been nights that I lay awake overwhelmed by the enormity of this trip. We all needed a few months to transition from our home and friends back[…]

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Italy musings

Italians need to discover skinny cappuccinos and carb free pasta! How come you guys don’t get fat???? Even the Italian skinny model types were eating double scoops of gelato. How??? How can Italians have shots of espresso into the night? All the kid friendly activities ( amusement parks, baby dance, etc. )STARTED at 9pm! When do your kids go to school in the morning? Why do you eat dinner at 11pm?? Restaurants don’t serve dinner until 9! Island culture (Sardenia) is the same the world over. We value the same things. Relaxed pace of life, clean oceans and air, and[…]

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“I would change the rules”- Avinash

About 10 days ago we went to visit the leaning tower of Pisa. There was an option to climb and once Avinash found out he was excited and wanted to bee line to the ticket counter. Unfortunately, we were all disappointed to find out there was a minimum age of 8 to climb. Fast forward 10 days later. In the car on our final day in Italy Avinash said “Mom, I need to talk to you.” He went on to recall how in Pisa he was “very disappointed” that he was not allowed to climb. He then so eloquently articulated[…]

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“I will Survive” my humiliating karaoke experience

Last night was our last night at hotel l’Esagono (aka Club Med). Avinash was excited to get the last bits of of our Bella Vita entertainment experience. We were eating in the dining room and baby dance hour started. He scarfed down the last of his food and literally ran to the dance area. All the kids were on stage dancing choreographed moves to what seemed to be well known Italian kids songs. I picked up Avinash and put him on stage. He froze. I was surprised to see him not want to dance. After a couple of minutes I[…]

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Club Med for 3 year olds?!?!?

So, our trip to Sardenia from Florence was literally planned in a day. Nam luckily found us a place to stay at what we thought would be a sleepy seaside resort in San Teodoro where we would waste the day away swimming and building sand castles. Little did we know that Nam had discovered the Club Med for kids. We checked in and walked by the pool where there was samba music blaring from the speakers and the lawn had kids with their moms and grandmas dancing. Avinash for his 3rd birthday party asked for an Opa Gangnam style theme[…]

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Cruisin’ to Sardenia- Who Fartin?!?

Italy has been amazing. Full of beautiful architecture, art and expressive people. But, the Vu’s are ultimately island folk. It’s the peak of summer and for days all we can think about is cooling down. Our first thought was drive north into Switzerland and find the highest peak with a glacier that hasn’t melted yet and lay on it till we get frostbite. The thought of such a long road trip from Florence seemed a little daunting, though. So, we pulled out a map and saw these huge islands to the west. Instantly drawn, we went to work figuring out[…]

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Discovering the Food Chain

We are vegetarian for ethical reasons and are raising Avinash with the same values. We are mindful to teach him that we made a choice to eat this way and he understands why. Simply, because “animals are our friends.” We also teach him that we are not critical or judgmental about meat-eating. Nam and I use to eat meat.  It is simply a choice to or not to.   Today at the country house we were staying in Maremma, our favorite house cat decided to bring Avinash a present. This kitty befriended us within minutes of our arrival and kept[…]

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Ciao Bella Roma

I’ve got a pit in my stomach. We’ve decided to rent a car and road trip for a month. Part of me is sad to leave Rome, which I truly have fallen in love with. Part of me is nervous about not having the comforts of the long-stay apartments we’ve been calling home. It’s been great schlepping our way-too-many-bags into a place and exploding into it without a care of the usual logistics that come with travelling. The kind I know we will have while road tripping. The other side of me is excited to wander through the country-side and[…]

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I’m a sucker for a good infomercial

We decided to go to the open air market at Campo di Fiore to stock up on some fruits and veggies. Sitting at one of the stalls was this guy who should have his own spot on QVC. He had these contraptions that turned potatoes into pigtail ringlets and zucchinis into flowering blossoms. I was sold. In fact, I was sold not only once but twice. I bought 2 sets – still not sure why. The challenge was on. Could we go home and recreate this vegetable art that this man promised these plastic contraptions could magically do? We then[…]

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Hide and Seek at the Pantheon

We’ve been in Rome enough days that we are kind of ‘settling’ in. Part of settling in is looking for a place to kick back when the day is over. I think that we’ve made the Pantheon that place. We are kind of treating it like our back yard. We had just eaten dinner and decided to spend some time playing with these light up flying spinners we bought from one of the peddlers on the street in the Piazza around the Pantheon. We then decided to play hide and seek around the columns of the Pantheon. We’ve kind of[…]

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Gladiators- The cold hard facts

Before coming to Rome I debated whether we should spend time going to the ancient ruins. Not that Nam and I are not interested, but I just did not know how to keep Avinash entertained while looking at deteriorating buildings in the sweltering sun. Today, we decided to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Amazing part of not only Roman History but insight into what people and culture was like to be entertained by gladiator games of animal hunts, executions and battles to the death. I was excited as soon as we stepped into the arena, but I could see[…]

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Rome- Mi Amore, you are wooing me with your Cappucinos

I have a new cappuccino addiction. At the corner of the Pantheon is a coffee shop, with only stand up counter service, called Tazza d’Oro. The place is filled with locals and tourists trying to edge their way in for the tiniest sliver of space at the counter. The first time we walked in I was completely lost. People were seemingly just walking up to the counter and automatically getting served beautiful cappuccinos and decadent iced granitas. They barely exchanged words but the barista knew exactly what they wanted. I must have gawked for at least 5 minutes before I[…]

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3 years old- The world is his classroom and it’s going to be AWESOME

Since Avinash has been 2, one of the first questions anyone asks is if he goes to school and when we plan to put him in school. My response has been we are keeping him at home and I love being his teacher. However, living in Hawaii has its challenges with quality of public schools and there is a lot of pressure to get your child into the right pre-school, which will hopefully get them into the right private school from Pre-K or Kindergarten. I admit, I got caught up in the fervor of trying to find the perfect school,[…]

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London Musings

London Why I Love it Best public transportation system!  The tube is brilliant.  I have no idea how they figured out this network of tunnels and webs but it works.  I love that we just showed up, bought an Oyster Card,  hopped aboard and were off to see any nook and cranny we wanted to.  It’s a level of independence and stress free transportation that is a travelers dream Cultural Diversity-  London has got to be one of the most culturally diverse cities on the planet.  Maybe I think this because we got to spend so much time on the tube[…]

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Museums- Can we go again mom???

Avinash had never really been to a museum and I was curious to see how he would process them, especially at 3 years old.  When I was about 11, I remember going to the wonderful museums while visiting Chicago and spending days wandering and getting lost in them.  I figured visiting the museums would be more for us and it would be a good first exposure for Avinash. We decided to visit the Natural History museum first.  I never knew dinosaur bones could make Avinash hyperventilate with excitement for hours straight.  He loved it.  The next day Avinash and I visited the[…]

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Gola in Wembley- More Little India

How did all the Gujaratis take over this suburb of London??  I swear from the minute we walked off the train we were bombarded with smells and sights that made us think we were in India.  The only reason we knew we weren’t is because the roads were a little too clean (but only marginally).  There were street food stalls selling everything from dosas to pani puri to seasoned corn kernels.  But what made me stop and shriek with excitement was the gola stand. Now keep in mind that as much as we love Indian street food we CAN’T have[…]

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Little India in London

Little India in London Amazingly, Indians must be the largest non-Caucasian ethnic minority in London. SOUTH HALL We visited South Hall, which is predominately a Panjabi Sikh community.  We got off at the tube station and the signs were in English and Panjabi! There is a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) just off the tube station and our friend told us that all are welcome.  It was our first time visiting a Gurdwara and I was dusty on my understanding of the Sikh religion.  The temple hall reflected an atmosphere of communal meditation with bhajans playing in the background.  There were no[…]

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London Flat

Sun drenched flat in 5 story walk up on quiet residential street in Maida Vale. We have decided to use Airbnb for most of our accommodations.  Honestly, we need to be able to have some sense of ‘home’ while we are on the road and hotel rooms won’t cut it.  Besides being too expensive to stay in for extended periods there is just not enough room.  When we were in Boston for 3 nights and had to stay in one we were climbing over our bags to get to the bed and bumping into each other to get to the[…]

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