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Author Archives: Carrie

Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok, Thailand

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Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok, Thailand, epitomizes the new generation of hostel life.  It’s chic design emanates feng shui calmness to chill you out in the midst of your big-city adventure.  The dorms offer big, comfortable bunk beds with privacy curtains and the private rooms provide hotel-level luxury at a hostel price!  The backyard garden is a great space to enjoy the free breakfast, do yoga, or drink beers and play board games with your new hostel friends!

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Yim Yam is more than just a well-designed hostel.  It’s also a community.  “Yim yam” means “Happy smiling” in Thai, and staying here sure will make you smile!  The friendly staff will help you get involved with all the hostel activities, like free yoga classes, game nights, or trips to famous weekend markets.  By hanging out in all the beautiful communal space, you’ll definitely meet some friends who. you can go party it up with on Khao San Road.

Best of all, since Yim Yam has only been open for two months, their rates are still super cheap!  You can get a special 30% off deal for your entire stay just by liking Yim Yam on Facebook.  Just book your stay on Hostelworld and ask the front desk for the Facebook discount when you check in!

Services Included:

Super-fast WiFi

Free continental breakfast with dorm booking

Free hot breakfast with private room booking

Air-conditioning in all rooms

24-hour reception

Cafe and bar serving food and drinks

Activities, games, and books!

Address: 503/2 Petchburi Road, Phaya Thai District, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, Thailand 10400.  Only steps away from the Ratchethewi BTS Skytrain station.

Email: info@yimyambkk.com

Website: www.yimyambkk.com

Prices:

12-bed dorm: 420 ฿

8-bed dorm: 483

Female-only 12-bed dorm: 448 ฿

Private for 2: 1113 ฿

Family room for 4: 2450 ฿

Twin room: 1323 ฿

Double room: 1323 ฿

Deluxe double room: 1533 ฿

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Portlandia!

We were long overdue on a trip to Portland, Oregon.  Over the years we’ve met so many friends who’ve lived there or who were moving there.  It always sounded like a place that we would love.  And we did!

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Portland is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, so food was our number one priority!  Of course our first stop had to be the super-famous Voodoo Donuts!  They have regular and vegan donuts there.  I never used to be a huge donut person, but somehow in the last couple years I’ve become a super-fan of these creamy, dreamy delights.  With their funky creative looks and flavors, Voodoo did not disappoint.

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The rest of our two days was spent mostly wandering around seeing some of the sights and eating more.  Highlights were vegan chicken wings (really!) from Fire on the Mountain Buffalo Wings, shopping and coffee and pie from the Vegan Mini Strip Mall (which consists of a coffee shop, a grocery store, a vegan clothing boutique, and a vegan tattoo shop), ice cream from Salt & Straw, and the most amazing vegan pizza ever from Virtuous Pie.  Seriously, go there.

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Maple Fennel and Roasted Strawberry from Salt & Straw

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Virtuous Pie amazingness

We also enjoyed checking out all the amazing street art around town!  We especially loved the Alberta Arts District where we each found a mural of our favorite animal that perfectly matched the shirt we were wearing.  Crazy!

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Oh, and Portland also has a vegan strip club, which we didn’t have a chance to make it to.  I guess it’s great to be able to support veganism no matter what other activities you’re into!

We took a break from the city one morning to drive down the Columbia River Gorge, checking out several beautiful waterfalls along the way.  We ended our drive at Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, a PCT and road bridge spanning the river and crossing into Washington state.  Sadly, about one week after our visit, the whole north side of the gorge area was set ablaze in a careless human-caused wildfire and the views will never be the same.

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Multnomah Falls

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Back in Portland, we drove up to Pittock Mansion to watch the sun set over the city.  Our visit was too short so we’ll definitely have to go back for more someday!

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Havana’s Rumba Paradise

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Havana is a paradise for music and art, and on our Sunday there we decided to check out an amazing little spot for both!  Callejon de Hamel is a short block in central Havana that’s also the center of Afro-Cuban culture in the city.  Eclectic and artsy, it almost seems like the Burning Man of Cuba.  Funky art galleries, rapping buskers, recycled street art, Santería icons, performers, and wall-to-wall people enjoying the lively atmosphere.

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“I am art among the arts, and in the hills, I am a hill.”

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Bathtub art

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At the end of the alley was a whole rumba group.  The crowd was thick but we gradually made it close enough to see most of the action.  The rhythms were free-flowing and improvisational, each drummer vibing off the others.  The singers chanted, and other percussionists danced maniacally with maracas.  Check out the video below!  We loved it!

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Hotel Temazcal in Creel, Mexico

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Hotel Temazcal is a cozy refuge in Creel, easily accessible to all the Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre) activities.  The friendly staff can help you arrange tours and recommend local restaurants.  They also offer periodic “temescal” sweat lodge ceremonies, which we sadly couldn’t try out because we weren’t there on the right day.

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Our room had a comfy queen bed, ample storage space, an awesome loft area with a large mattress (would be great for kids!), TV, bathroom, and super-nice floor heating to keep it nice and toasty.

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The hotel has a DVD and book library you can browse, as well as a common kitchen for cooking and always-available coffee and tea.  Added bonus:  two super-cute chihuahuas, Nacho and her baby Hueso, who will follow you around trying to convince you to play!

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Services:

Free coffee and tea

WiFi

Hot water

Heat

Tourist information

Book and DVD exchange

TVs in rooms

Sweat lodge once a week or for groups of 5+ people

Address: Bakusuki S/N
Barrio Campo de Beisbol (Detrás del Centro Avanzado de Salud)
Creel – Municipio de Bocoyna
33200 Chihuahua

Phone: +52 635 4560990

Email: info@hoteltemazcal.com

Website: https://www.hoteltemazcal.com/

Prices:  Single or Double- 500 pesos

Family Suite- 700-1200 pesos

A New Adventure, Day 1: San Diego to Creel

We woke up at the crack of dawn without getting much sleep because we were so excited to finally put our backpacks back on and do some adventuring!

I feel like I’m finally doing what I am meant to do again!  It’s been a long year and half of helping other people travel (my job is Assistant Manager at a hostel), feeling a little bit more bored by the routine of it every day.  I’m happiest when I have a light pack on my back and a plane ticket in my hand!

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There is now a pedestrian bridge (Cross Border Express) from the San Diego side of the border into the Tijuana International Airport.  The cost is $15 per person, but it’s super convenient as opposed to crossing on foot and having to take a Mexican taxi to the airport. I slip in and out of sleep on the flight from Tijuana to Chihuahua, catching glimpses of the turquoise-blue passage over the Sea of Cortez, then dry, craggy, cardboard-brown mountains jutting violently out of the flat, barren desert.

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Chihuahua at first glance seems like the Wild West of Mexico.  Lots of men wearing owboy hats and giant belt buckles, very few gringos.  We had  to use an ATM to withdraw pesos because there was not even a “casa de cambio” in the airport.

Chihuahua is close to Juarez and the landscape reminded me of the scary, violent scenes from “Sicario” as we rode into town on a taxi.  I think it’s much safer, although not very touristy.  Our friend from here warned us to stay in the main tourist town of the Copper Canyon (Cañon del Cobre), Creel, and not spend any nights in the small villages, as that’s where we could get kidnapped.  Creepy.

Our taxi quickly dropped us off at the office of Autotransportes Turisticos de Noroeste.  The ticket saleslady said something about our trip being slow but our Spanish was not up to par enough to understand why at that moment.  On the bus, the city ended quickly and we rolled through open desert with mountains in the near distance.  About an hour outside the city at the first toll plaza we saw the protest.  People and trucks were blocking the highway in both directions.  Apparently the price of fuel had been raised 20% overnight and everyone was mad.  We had to wait about an hour before they let our bus through.  The bus was slow and we had to wait at another roadblock; the mountains got bigger and trees started replacing the cacti as we got higher.  It looked a lot like northern Arizona.

After roughly seven hours (should have only taken 4.5) we rolled into Creel, a cold and sleepy town after dark.  Hotel Temescal was welcoming and warm, with super-cute Chihuahua pups to play with!  Some authentic food at Restaurante Veronica was exactly what we needed.  Zach got “El Norteño”, a cast-iron skilled of beef, cheese, and veggies, a traditional local dish.

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Hueso, the cutest little Chihuahua in Chihuahua!

We dropped into bed early, happy to have made it through our first big travel day and ready for more adventures!

Anza Borrego Getaway

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We needed to get out of town and breathe some open air for a couple nights, so we settled on a hastily-researched camping getaway in Anza Borrego State Desert Park.  Boy, did it deliver!  The stars our first night out there were shining brighter than any I’ve seen anywhere else in California!  Breathtaking!

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We camped at Tamarisk Campground, which had spacious spots, clean bathrooms, and water spigots, basically everything you need for a good campout!  The temperature dropped to around 50 F at night so the campfire was much needed!  We spent the next day driving around the massive park getting our bearings.  We didn’t do too much hiking because we had the dogs with us.  They weren’t allowed on many trails and it was too hot to leave them in the car in the middle of the day.  We’ll definitely have to come back to explore the Mud Caves and do the famous Palm Oasis hike.

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We did check out the awesome visitor’s center, drove to the Ocotillo Sand Dunes, and then ate great cheap Mexican food in the tiny town of Borrego Springs.  There were huge rusty animal sculptures all over the town so we had some photography fun with one of those.

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The road home took us through Julian, so naturally we had to stop for some famous Julian apple pie!  I’m so glad we were able to get out in nature for a couple days.  My soul always feels refreshed after some time in the middle of nowhere!

Mangia Italia!

I’ve never been super into Italian food.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never really found the good stuff!  We CHOWED down in Italy!  Italian food is based on simple, fresh ingredients and exquisite craftsmanship.  Every restaurant worth its salt makes their own pasta and menus change seasonally.  Thank God we walked so much to stave off too much weight gain.

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Breakfast every day was cappuccino and “cornettos”, which are Italian croissants filled with Nutella!!!  Yummers!

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The antipasto was also amazing!  Here’s some bruschetta and prosciutto with melon before lunch!

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“Suppli” are basically breaded deep-fried risotto balls.  I want to eat these every day for the rest of my life!

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Cured meats, bread with gorgonzola truffle spread, tapenades, and veggies at the Mercate Centrale in Firenze.  Definitely go there for the amazing local food choices!

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The most epic meat and cheese board in the world from La Prosciutteria in Roma.

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Pasta made from scratch is SO MUCH BETTER than dried boxed pasta.  The pasta was really thick and rich!  I tried spinach-ricotta ravioli with garlic sage cream, spaghetti a la pesto, and many more!

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Last but not least, dessert!  Authentic tiramisu is not very sweet with a very strong coffee flavor.  This one was pistachio flavored, hence the green color.

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Gelato was also a daily occurrence.  This one was from Perche No! in Firenze, which I had dreamed of visiting since hearing so much about how good it was from a high school history teacher.  He’s now retired and I half expected to run into him there!  I can’t wait to go back to Italia with Zach someday and try all the goodies again!  Until then, I’m on the hunt for suppli in California!