South Africa | Bucket List Birds at Boulders Beach (Penguins!)

A stuffed animal. A beanie baby. A knockoff brand beanie baby. A blanket. A snowglobe. A middle school research paper. A necklace. Matching earrings. Flannel sheets. Slippers. Pajamas. Proof of an obsession, listed out in just thirty seconds. I’m sure there was more. What did all of these precious collectibles in the nineties share in common? They were penguin-themed, of course.

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 | The Nandi Hills are Alive

When I first arrived in India, my jetlag was so bad that I was waking up every morning at 3 AM. That would have been a good time to visit Nandi Hills for sunrise, instead of two weeks after, when my body had adjusted to the right timezone. But alas, I woke up for sunrise anyway that November morning, as a car was waiting for us at 5 – but yes, you know where this goes, as all early morning adventures are, it was worth it.

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.

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.

February 2016 Recap | NYC, NJ, DE

For being a short month, February has been a little wild. I’ve overused the word “wild” to describe everything in my life the past few weeks, including the weather. Up one day, down the next. Luckily, everything is on the up and up right now, including the temperature. I started to take regular yoga classes again, mostly in an attempt to tone up my arms before I’m in a bikini next month, but also to RELAX a little, though it’s hard in a studio where your mat is always touching the mat of four other people. I also started my French 2 class with Fluent City, which I will complete just in time to help me out with my April trip. Here’s what else went on in February:

Kauai, HI | A Dolphin-itely Fun Experience

The desire to be “one with the dolphins” runs in my family – my dad races out to the ocean with his kayak whenever we see them from the shore and comes back with stories as if they were best buds. I was super excited that on our morning boat tour in Kauai, Hawaii with Na Pali Experience, it was almost guaranteed that we’d see dolphins.

Atlanta, GA | Under the Sea

When my friend and I were on our way back from New Orleans last month, our flight from Atlanta to NYC was cancelled because of the snow in the northeast. We weren’t able to get a new flight out until more than 24 hours later. At first I panicked (surprise), but once I got everything figured out with work, we decided to embrace an extra day on vacation and enjoy our time in Atlanta.

NJ | A Day At the Races

Last Saturday, a few frousins (cousins who are also friends, duh) and I journeyed down to Monmouth Park on NJ Transit to celebrate another of our frousin’s birthdays. It was also the NJ Thoroughbred Festival and my first time at the races. It made for an excellent day trip out of the city.

NYC | Shake ya Tailfeather

I’ve done a few items on my 28 Things list where I didn’t think I’d fit in with the crowd, like when I went to a New York Fashion Week Show or ate at Le Bernardin, but I never expected that a birdwatching tour would be where I fit in the least.

Thailand | Two Perfect Days in Phuket – Day 2

As incredible as our first tour with Phuket Sail Tours was, I think the next day was even better. This is probably because it involved two of my new favorite things, 1) animal experiences, and 2) doing things I didn’t think I could do.

Thailand | Operation Dumbo Ride

It was 9:00 am, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I had “first date” jitters. You know what I’m talking about, where you’re nervous about if you’re even going to recognize the guy you’re supposed to meet up with, if you’re going to mess up and say something stupid, and what you’re going to do when the check comes. But I didn’t meet any guys in Chiang Mai (unless you count the old guy who thought I was my older sister’s mom) and that wasn’t on the agenda for the day. I was going to meet elephants.

NYC | Take a Space Ride, with the Cowboy, Baby

Sometimes the best things about living in a big city like New York are the classics, like the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. Other times, the best things are not classic at all, like when on Friday night, Kat and I attended the Professional Bull Riding event at Madison Square Garden. It was a last-minute idea, but a good one.

NYC | I Want to Live Like Animals

The Saturday before the hurricane, a friend from Houston was in town and after catching-up and eating a delicious brunch at Elmo, we traveled over to the Central Park Zoo which has been on my to-do list for years. The zoo is tiny, but it has PENGUINS which I have been obsessed with since I was ten.