Where to Travel in 2018 According to NY Times, Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, AFAR, and Me

Many people get excited about the end of the year because of the holidays, the time off, the food, and seeing family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, all of that is awesome (duh), but another tradition I get excited about around this time is seeing the next year’s “where to travel” lists, the pinnacle, of course, being the NY Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2018.” Yes, I was one of the 9,000 people to apply for the job of visiting and writing about each of the 52 places over the upcoming year. I didn’t get it.

Myanmar | U Bein Bridge Don’t Know You’re Beautiful

I didn’t expect to see a pair of monks playing music on an iPhone, but I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined the music would be a song from One Direction, of all possible options. Michael Buble, maybe; Enya, of course; but One Direction? Then again, I’d never imagined myself in Myanmar to begin with, so wasn’t this just part of the experience of being continuously and wonderfully surprised by everything around me?

India | 9 Ways to Escape in Goa

I don’t always relax when I’m traveling. I want to see, do, and eat everything – just in case I never make it to Barcelona, Bratislava, or Bangkok again. After a few weeks in the chaotic, loud, traffic-filled, beep-filled, wonderful city of Bangalore, I was excited that there was some relaxation time built into our #escape2goa. While there, I tried my best to embrace the culture of susegad – a term my guidebook described as “a uniquely Goan term that translates as ‘laid-backness’ and is evident in all aspects of daily life and in the Goan people themselves.”

Here are 9 ways to relax (or, to experience susegad) in Goa, India:

India | Mysore from Bangalore

Just a day after our successful morning at Nandi Hills, Lauren (another Leave UR Mark volunteer) and I ventured off on another day trip – this time to Mysore. We knew there were several buses a day from Bangalore so without any planning, we took an auto rickshaw to the bus station to buy tickets. Communication was tough at the ticket window so we weren’t sure if we had the correct tickets or bus until a man standing outside the bus started to yell “Mysore, Mysore, Mysore” in a sing-song voice for the next 15 minutes. The ride took 3 hours and we arrived just in time for lunch.

India | Reaching for New Heights in 2017

When I woke up at 3 am on my final morning during #escape2goa in Goa, India to drive to a field a few naps away, I did it to take pictures of the other bloggers. Taking a hot air balloon ride didn’t seem like my thing. It’s an activity that feels kind of “luxury” to me, and because of that, not something I’d normally spend money on. That’s true, but the main reason, I’ll admit, is that I was just too scared to fall.

Myanmar | All That Glitters is Golden Rock

“She believed she could, so she did.” I reread the words engraved in the silver bracelet my sister had given me before I went on my first adventure after quitting my job to travel. The bracelet was just inches away from my face as I clutched the bar in front of me with all my might, knowing I’d have calluses on my palms later. My hands were cold and wet from the rain that was pouring down on top of us. I had a thin rain poncho on that would flap loudly in the wind to hit me in the face at the fastest moments and stick to my skin to make me feel claustrophobic in the slowest moments.

Myanmar | A Few Days’ Break in Inle Lake

Inle Lake is one of the top tourist destinations in Myanmar, but it still feels untouched and village-y, if we decide I can use that word I just made up. Many make their way into Inle Lake by trekking from the town of Kalaw, staying overnight in a local family’s home and waking up to them preparing the food for the day, in the most traditional way. I made my way in a shared eight-hour taxi (think: van) next to a woman who kept leaning her knee on me and leaving voice messages for her friends and then listening to their messages on speakerphone for all to hear. The next time I go to Myanmar, I’ll try to include some hiking in there, and I’d love to stay with a local family.

India | When I’m Out on Food Street

It’s no surprise to anyone who’s read this blog before that I LOVE street food. If you’ve been reading long enough, you may even remember when I went for a whole weekend in NYC eating exclusively from food trucks, thanks to a challenge from one of my cousins. When I found out that there was an entire street dedicated to street food in Bangalore and that it was even conveniently named Food Street (or Thindi Beedi), I knew I had to spend a night there.

October 2016 Recap | NJ, NYC, India

I’m writing this month’s recap on a bus on the way back to Bangalore, India from the town of Mysore. In the past few months, I’ve spent more time in Asia than in America and I wouldn’t have it any other way, especially right before the election.

India | I Just Dance the Way I Feel

“Where are you? I hear birds,” asked my mother the other night while we were talking on What’s App. I told her it wasn’t birds, it was actually the nonstop beeping of the auto-rickshaws and other vehicles. Considering I was on the 17th floor of our apartment building and she could still hear it in New Jersey, you can imagine how loud it is when you’re actually on the road.

Myanmar | What I Was Doing in Myanmar

“Doctor.” “Engineer.” “Swimmer.” “Nurse.” “Teacher.” “Football Player.” After the children warmed up to me a little bit, they took turns answering my question of what they wanted to be when they grow up. They all spoke softly but confidently, in English. I was visiting an orphanage near Insein, a small suburb of Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar. It was only my second day in the country, but I knew it would stand out.

Myanmar | Mastering the Art of Burmese Cooking

In my six years in NYC, I used my kitchen maybe three times a month. I didn’t exactly use my oven to store shoes, like SJP’s “Carrie” in Sex & the City, but I did (and d0) like going out to eat. Even if I wasn’t going out, I’d be perfectly fine eating cereal (or Chipotle) for dinner as I’d usually grab a bigger lunch at work to escape my desk.

Even though I don’t cook a lot, when my local Sundara friends mentioned that Thuya’s sister May taught a cooking class {Pennywort Cooking Class} in Bagan, I wanted in on it. I was absolutely LOVING the Burmese cuisine, as I knew I would with my little taste at Cafe Mingala in NYC. During my visit, I was especially obsessed with the green tea leaf salad, a traditional salad that was incredibly delicious but at the same time completely unrecognizable to me. I needed to be able to recreate these tastes for myself and also wanted to share them with my family once I returned back home, even though my dad can be quite picky.

Myanmar | Who Let the Dogs Out?

If you know me at all, you know about my intense obsession with dogs. When I walk around NYC, I wave to them and say “hi, buddy!” without acknowledging the humans walking them. I try to pet them when their owners aren’t looking, as long as they look friendly and fluffy. I follow more dog accounts on Instagram than I do of my actual friends. And I was more excited to see my parents’ dog after coming back home than I was to see them. Just kidding, Mom and Dad!

Because of my obsession, being in Myanmar was interesting for me. In every city I was in, there was a huge population of stray dogs. In most of the areas where I was hanging out in Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan, the dogs were pretty domesticated and used to humans. It was in Inle Lake where the dogs felt completely wild. There was definitely a canine takeover of the city after 11 PM and I was woken up several times each night by their fights. I felt like I was in a revival of West Side Story.

August 2016 Recap | NJ, Malaysia, Myanmar

I’m not even sure where to begin with this month’s recap. It’s the first month that my life has changed in a ginormous way, in quite some time. As you all know by now, I left NYC and the corporate world at the end of July, to try something new. I’m still in the midst of my first big adventure in Southeast Asia.

Malaysia | Monkeying Around at the Batu Caves

I had a weird introduction to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was signed up for a “premium car” from the airport when all I asked for was a taxi. I had issues finding my hotel due to the address being completely different than what was in Google Maps and the name being completely different than what I’d booked. I searched for street food on Jalan Alor but it was a weird in-between time so not much seemed fresh. I went to a bar to help me stay awake from my jetlag and my waist was grabbed three times by a questionable man (who, I should note, was not local). I fell asleep at 6 PM until 2 AM and was wide awake for a few hours, doing research on what to do in the city. Since I’d woken up early, I thought I’d get a head start on the tourists and visit the Batu Caves, which thankfully changed my feelings about KL at first glance.